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Abilene Christian University Information Technology Long-Range Plan 1993-1995 CAUSE INFORMATION RESOURCES LIBRARY The attached document

is provided through the CAUSE Information Resources Library. As part of the CAUSE Information Resources Program, the Library provides CAUSE members access to a collection of information related to the development, use, management, and evaluation of information resources- technology, services, and information- in higher education. Most of the documents have not been formally published and thus are not in general distribution. Statements of fact or opinion in the attached document are made on the responsibility of the author(s) alone and do not imply an opinion on the part of the CAUSE Board of Directors, officers, staff, or membership. This document was contributed by the named organization to the CAUSE Information Resources Library. It is the intellectual property of the author(s). Permission to copy or disseminate all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for commercial advantage, that the title and organization that submitted the document appear, and that notice is given that this document was obtained from the CAUSE Information Resources Library. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republish in any form, requires written permission from the contributing organization. For further information: CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301; 303449-4430; e-mail To order a hard copy of this document contact CAUSE or send e-mail to:

Abilene Christian University Information Technology Long-Range Plan 1993-1995 Written: February 1, 1993 Information Technology Long-Range Plan Mission 1 Introduction 1 Current Environment 3 Future Environment 5

Impacts of Future Information Technology 8 Personnel Effectiveness 8 Collaboration 9 Integrated Services and Data 10 Teaching, Learning, and Research Excellence 10 Summary 11 Mission; Our mission at Abilene Christian University is to educate our students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. Our mission in Information Technology is to offer superior service and leadership to the ACU family including students, faculty, and staff in technology analysis, computer hardware and software, data, voice, and video networks, sound systems and recording, local and long distance telephone service, and, cable and satellite television delivery in support of ACU's mission. INTRODUCTION; ACU is on the threshold of making major breakthroughs in information technology. We have several major academic laboratories that are on the leading edge of technology. We became the host site for the Abilene Library Consortium in 1991, giving our students on-line access to the catalogs of all three universities plus the public library in Abilene. Patrons also have access to several on-line databases for research. Information Technology consists of Administrative Computing, Sound Systems & Recording, Technical Services, and Telecommunications. We have recently upgraded all of the major minicomputers on campus. The academic VAX was replaced in 1991, the administrative VAXes in 1992, a new VAX for our electronic identification system was installed in 1992, and the telecommunications VAX was replaced in 1993. These VAXes are more powerful, less expensive, occupy less floor space, and require less energy to operate than their predecessors. A central computer room managed and staffed by Administrative Computing houses most of the campus's VAXes. Another VAX used for word processing and local networking is located in the College of Biblical and Family Studies. Academic Computing has a VAX located in the Foster Science building. Administrative Computing's primary function is to write, evaluate and purchase, and maintain all of the administrative computer applications on campus. Most major software systems are licensed from Systems & Computing Technology (SCT). Systems obtained from SCT include: SIS, * * * * * which includes: Automated student records Degree audit Student billing Commercial accounts receivable Financial aid

* Admissions and Student recruiting FRS, which includes: * Accounts payable * Financial records * Budget development * Purchasing HRS, which includes: * Personnel * Payroll ADS, which includes: * Alumni records * Donor records LMS for Student notes Other systems include: * Dialogue, an automated telemarketing system in student recruiting licensed from Noel-Levitz. * Central stores inventory system * Document imaging system * Housing system * Restoration Serials Index * Post office system * Security police system * Work order systems for energy management, maintenance, and technical services * Key control system * Counseling center and health services system * Chapel attendance system Sound Systems & Recording is responsible for all functions using Cullen Auditorium and the sound systems both in Cullen and in Moody Coliseum. They are responsible for audio taping of ACU's daily assembly and various music activities all across the campus. They also serve as consultants and troubleshooters for all university sound systems. Technical Services manages the following: * Data, voice, and video networks on campus * Student identification system for campus dining services, debit card use, and electronic lock control * Microcomputer, terminal, and printer installation and repair facility Both Administrative Computing and Technical Services service the Abilene Library Consortium with their needs for network and computer support. Telecommunications manages voice mail, the long distance billing process for both students and administrative staff, cellular telephones, and cable TV distribution. They also manage the reception and taping of satellite TV programs for educational purposes for groups both inside and outside ACU. In the past, information technology simply meant computers and the software available on them. Customers were not particularly knowledgeable of the technical side of computers and were amazed at what the "black box" could do. As more of our customers get and use computers, they begin to grasp the power and flexibility in the systems that are now easily accessible to them. It is the challenge of Information

Technology to help them in tapping into the University's resources. CURRENT ENVIRONMENT; All major activities on campus such as student records, financial records, payroll, personnel, and donor records are computerized and maintained by Administrative Computing. Systems & Computer Technology (SCT) is the third-party provider of this software and it is continually being upgraded. Applications are being developed to further enhance administrative processes, streamline office procedures, and provide greater access to University data. The data and voice networks on campus are in place to most buildings using copper cable. Cable terminates in a central location and access to computers is controlled, usually, by a MICOM data switch or networks communicating over Ethernet. The current system is at capacity and does not provide the speed necessary to provide a high volume of network activity. The MICOM equipment would be an adequate solution for networking if we only needed to connect to central computers or outside networks. It will not allow us to provide printer sharing, data sharing, and campuswide electronic mail. It also will not allow us to provide good distribution of video and voice services because of speed. We currently have a backlog of ten to fifteen users needing access to computers on campus. The next incremental upgrade to the MICOM equipment would require approximately $30,000. There are also AppleTalk and Novell local area networks (LANs) connected to the Ethernet cable. ACU maintains a telephone switch reselling long distance service to our students and distributing usage costs to departments. The telecommunications department also manages a cable TV system throughout the campus including connections in eachdormitory room, major meeting rooms, and other areas. We can receive programs via satellite for instructional purposes. We use the Identification System in various ways on campus. The primary purpose is for our campus dining services to monitor and allow meal plans and debit card sales. We also use ID cards to register attendance in our daily chapel assembly. Additionally, we are using it for electronic door access to computer labs and secured areas on campus. We are able to secure each major building on campus by an electronic lock as the need arises. We plan to begin converting doors as budget money becomes available. Additional tentative plans call for using the identification card in areas such as point-of-sale terminals in the campus bookstore and in copy machines. Sound Systems & Recording supports all departments on campus with sound system and taping assistance. The major income is from the audio taping of various music and theater activities all across the campus. This department schedules events in Cullen Auditorium and assists with the sound systems and audio recording of any major event on campus.

Academic Computing, reporting to the vice-president for Information Services, helps academic departments with their computing needs for instruction, research, and laboratories to support classes. They also help academic departments analyze needs and provide help line support for any computer users on campus. They maintain a VAX for general purpose use that also provides the gateway to outside networks and electronic mail. The College of Biblical and Family Studies maintains a VAX for use by their faculty. It is primarily used for word processing and as a file server. Some faculty members have microcomputers while others use terminals connected to the VAX. This VAX is their gateway onto the campus network. FUTURE ENVIRONMENT; Information technology will touch all areas of campus life. It must be a part of the University's strategic plans. Information Technology's emphasis will shift from managing information systems and data to a service orientation involving and helping its customers. We will be concentrating on hardware, connectivity, security and control, software, and information resources with the goal of promoting simple and intuitive access to the University's resources. We must provide more user services to simplify use of the information resources available. User services would include consulting on equipment configuration, software design and purchase, and training. Administrative Computing will be investigating future software technologies such as relational data bases, client/server processing, and touchtone registration. The goal of software/hardware integration is to make the interface between customer and technology transparent. We will be depending upon major software vendors and new advances in technology to aid us in making the transitions. Whenever practical, we will be equipping the customer to take control over the data and produce reports as needed without intervention from the central computing office. There will still be a need for a central facility to maintain the integrity of the data, to accomplish major projects, to help customers in needs analyses, and to ensure access to data is readily available for all customers. University data will be more accessible to anyone who has access to the campuswide network. Sound Systems & Recording is in the planning process for a major renovation of the sound system and lighting for Moody Coliseum. When the systems are updated, the present equipment will be used in smaller locations to upgrade their equipment. The lighting dimmer controls in Cullen Auditorium will be upgraded over the next three years. Technical Services is in the planning process for installing a fiber optic communications network backbone to each major building on campus. Within each building, twistedpair copper wire will be pulled to each workstation location. This will allow high-speed access to all workstations whether

they are located in dormitories, faculty offices, or administrative offices. When the network is in place, all customers can use Bitnet and Internet. Customers will have access to off-campus resources such as supercomputers, libraries, and electronic mail. On campus, customers will have the capability of file sharing, printer sharing, modem sharing, and disk services. The campus network will be vital to ensure we can use future technology such as client/server applications and campuswide electronic mail. It is possible that all the universities in Abilene will be connected using a fiber optic network encouraging more consortium activities such as the Abilene Library Consortium and the Abilene Research Consortium. When the fiber optic network project is completed, ACU will be ahead of most other colleges and universities in terms of "wiring the campus." The networking part of the project should be completed within one to two years. Each office and dorm room will have a phone/data jack. No longer will there be phrases like local area networking (LANs) or wide area networks (WANs) except in isolated instances. There will simply be "access." The customer will get to a computer or system via a digital telecommunication switch that will automatically select a campus, regional, state, or national resource. When the corresponding computer software is available in three to five years, this connectivity will also allow students to look up their academic records, check their financial obligations, select books and do bibliographic research in the comfort of their dorm room. Some features of the software will be available sooner. Access to the network will also be available through high speed modems. The complete networking project including program reengineering should be completed within three to five years. Microcomputer software availability will change in the future. With more network resources available, software can be more centrally distributed. There may still be computer labs with isolated file servers, but they will communicate over the network instead of using a LAN. Major advances in technological capabilities are occurring almost daily, but advances in using these new computer technologies come slower. Significant advances in the "friendliness" of hardware and software are developing rapidly, and must be made more readily available to reduce barriers of human acceptance and provide gains in productivity. Graphical user interfaces, touch screens, the mouse, artificial intelligence, voice commands, and natural language programs are examples of technologies that will be commonplace in the 1990's. Administrative Computing will be investigating new client/server software from SCT as it becomes available in 1994-1995. The cost for converting to the client/server software will be approximately $300,000. Client/server software will allow more computing to take place on microcomputers on the desktop and will make data readily accessible to the computer user for extraction and manipulation. Meanwhile, we are investigating potential microcomputer

equipment and software. To better serve our clients, we will be recommending some standard configurations of equipment and software that will position ACU for the future and enable support personnel to provide support more effectively. By settling on some standards, we also can negotiate more competitive pricing to get the most out of our limited resources. Standards also will allow us to better support our customers and answer their questions. After consultation with vendors and ACU customers, we will learn what is in the future of information technology. These standards will be available in the first quarter of 1993. Computer-aided instruction has been evolving for over a decade, but within the next five years there will be an increase in the availability of software and connectivity, so the faculty and students will freely communicate with each other for lesson assignments, grade status checks, analysis of difficult learning areas, and so forth. Academic Computing is playing a major role in helping the faculty with using computers for instructional purposes besides using them for research. We can assume that many students will bring their own workstations to campus, just as they now bring their own calculators and typewriters. They will need access to the campus network, and thus, planning for the size of the network load must consider student-generated traffic. Students who do not bring their own workstation probably can rent them locally or use them in public facilities. The assumption should be that every student has access to a workstation. We will give students a minimum configuration of hardware and software required to get to the University computers or network. Generally, they will only need a serial communications port. There will be another level of access available to a student who wants to spend extra money for greater access using an Ethernet network card in their computer. Additionally, specialized computer labs will be necessary either for direct instructional purposes or for indirect purposes such as specialized graphic, plotting, or printing purposes. In any case, a networking environment that permits authorized access to any appropriate resource is essential. However, systems that will provide this seamless computing environment will not be free. New technologies bring with them new management challenges. Our requirement for highly skilled personnel will increase as we provide this new technology, the consulting services, and the maintenance of equipment and software. IMPACTS OF FUTURE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Greater, enhanced access to information, and greater flexibility for information usage highlights the future of information technology. We can expect information technology to be more pervasive in all aspects of our lives, both in business uses and in personal uses. Information technology is becoming an integral part of campus life and it is likely that each employee and student will have access to the campuswide information using a microcomputer.

PERSONNEL EFFECTIVENESS; Appropriate information resources and computing tools that are easy to use and readily available will enhance personnel effectiveness. How well we meet the challenges of training individuals to take advantage of technology will largely determine their effectiveness. We can make significant increases in productivity with the proper training of our employees. * As more of our academic and business practices become automated, faculty, staff, and students will use technology more. * There will be a similar graphical user interface for all platforms. The introduction of Windows software was the beginning of a trend to make the interface to all microcomputers similar. While the actual method of entering data may be different, the "look and feel" will be similar. * Most customers will use electronic mail and voice mail. This will provide more flexible access to each of us. If the assumption that we will be using technology more is true, then as we are using a computer, we can easily send electronic mail to anyone who is electronically available. Similarly, voice mail allows access to others in at a convenient time for both parties. We can send messages to groups of recipients quickly, schedule the sending of messages, and conduct business without having to talk to another party directly. * Staff will be freed from repetitive tasks and will have more time for supporting faculty/students. As staff expenses continue to escalate, it is likely that ACU will reduce the number of employees. Technology will allow fewer employees to serve many students. COLLABORATION; New interconnected information services will cause enhanced collaboration. As the fiber optic network is completed in three to five years, we can expect benefits such as: * All workstations (computers) will be networked. * All computers will transparently exchange mail and files. * Electronic collaboration between people within and outside ACU will be easy. * Mail and messaging systems will be integrated (voice/email/pager). For instance, when a voice mail message is left for an individual, the voice mail system can page that individual. Similar capabilities will be available for electronic mail. Using speech synthesizers, an individual can send an electronic mail message to another as a voice mail message.

INTEGRATED SERVICES AND DATA Campuswide access to new information services and to integrated administrative data will contribute to a more cohesive university environment. More and more functions will be integrated as a result of information technology. * Customers will have access to various resources without regard to location or ownership (with permission from the custodian). * The primary access to information will be electronic. * Technology support organizations will become more organized according to functions performed than customers served as academic and administrative requirements/capabilities merge. Technical Services now maintains data, voice, and television networks whether the use is for instruction, faculty, or staff use. * Integrated online core data bases will be available for all major ACU administrative systems as client/server applications become the norm for the computing environment. From the customer view, the data will appear as if it is all in one place rather than split among systems such as SIS, FRS, HRS, LMS, and ADS. TEACHING, LEARNING, AND RESEARCH EXCELLENCE Information technology will contribute to the excellence of teaching, learning, and research activities. * Use of multi-media (image/video) in interactive systems will increase. * Many courses will use computer-aided enrichment. * Consulting services and departmental resident technology experts will grow. * ACU will be known for excellence in academic computing. SUMMARY; Technological progress will accelerate in the future. Since it will become more a part of each of our customers' daily lives, we must be ready to accept the challenges. These are exciting and challenging times for information technology. We are on the threshold of major breakthroughs in many areas all across the ACU campus. As we are more proactive in meeting these challenges, we will be better able to grasp the future and cause changes to happen. These will not necessarily be easy times, but working together as a family, we can make information technology at ACU a useful tool to serve our students and to help "educate our students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world."