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The Information Technology Infrastructure and Its Impact on the Institution This document was contributed by the named

author(s) 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 author are identified, 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 author. For further information: CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite 302E, Boulder, CO 80301; 303449-4430; e-mail July 25, 1994 THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE AND ITS IMPACT ON THE INSTITUTION by Karin Steinbrenner ABSTRACT: This document describes the requirements for and components of a campuswide information technology infrastructure and the impact it will have on the institution's culture and organization and its core business, the teaching and learning processes. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE The IT infrastructure must respond to the institution's need for easy information access, flexibility, smooth administration, reliability, and security by * maintaining the institution's information repository spanning data, images, voice, and motion video, * providing access to the information via a standard user interface from a single workstation via a one time user identification, and * providing tools that allow for identification and navigation through all information sources unconstrained by the information's origin. Current legacy hardware and software need to be integrated either by * surrounding mission-critical software until it can be replaced with state of the art software, or * building extract data files from the legacy data and storing them along with the new database. Unanticipated future demands must be anticipated and absorbed by providing sufficient computing power, scalability, and portability. In order to preserve investment, future systems must be able to perform with current applications. The institution should opt for open, standards-based hardware and software. Through the adoption of standards, IT departments will be able to construct solutions consisting of different

building blocks that work as a logical entity. Connectivity standards enable distributed systems to link isolated computing elements bringing the power and resources of many systems to the desktop as a single image. [The Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) from the Open Software Foundation is the most promising mechanism for accessing data across a variety of platforms.] Network The network provides efficient and convenient access to computing and information resources and facilitates the exchange of any type of information among all university constituents. The expense of traditional dissemination methods is often prohibitive and unnecessary. Most information today is generated in some type of electronic media; if not, it can easily be converted to it. The network will become the most critical component in the information distribution mechanism; therefore, reliability is an absolute necessity. With hundreds of components being part of the network, the failure of a single element may bring down the entire information delivery mechanism. Redundancy must be built into each component of the network and alternate routes be available if one fails. The network must facilitate voice, data, image, and motion video transmission. Broad-based access to all types of information may be a determining factor for the institution's success. In the information age, institutions that are 'most connected' will thrive. Hardware Platform The computing environment of the modern campus consists of a collection of servers linked to the network, where each server specializes in certain tasks. Some tasks may be distributed across more than one server. Examples of servers include: * the telecommunications switch facilitating voice communication, * multimedia servers providing access to courseware, training material, multimedia textbooks, and library materials, * database servers maintaining the institution's dynamic data manipulated by administrative systems, * document servers storing static information about the university in either text or images, and * electronic mail and/or fax servers. Information Repository The institution's information repository may be distributed over more than one server. Some servers may be dedicated to handle static and others dynamic data. Additional servers may maintain images, or soon motion video. The information

repository includes dynamic data for students, courses, faculty, staff, and alumni, and extends to the institution's policies and procedures, to library holdings stored on CDROMS, as well as research papers. Depending on the type of information, different software tools may be needed for its management, manipulation, and transmission. Information management systems are evolving from conventional database management systems. They expand the scope of data types, embed logic the way data are acted on whenever they are retrieved, facilitate data routing, and keep track of where information is stored and who accesses it. Information Access Tools Data without a meaningful translation into information are useless. Information access tools allow users to search databases, discover relationships, and interrogate data in different ways in order to obtain meaningful information from seemingly unrelated data elements. Meaningful information access is only possible where the contents of the data repository are well documented and understood by the user. Easy-to-use data access tools fail to deliver reliable information where users employing the tools do not understand the data structure and the meaning and coding of selected data elements. Data access tools have to include documentation about the data warehouse, and training should be a prerequisite for ad hoc user queries. Many institutions opt for the data warehouse concept, an information database that is an extract of the operational databases and is updated at regular intervals. This approach protects the day-to-day operation from being slowed down by run-away ad-hoc queries. However, it does require data synchronization and maintaining two database and access mechanisms. As computing resources become less and less of an issue, the data warehouse could represent a virtual database, a view of the operational one without the need to actually duplicate the data. An easy-to-use, ad-hoc query language allowing users to pick and choose data elements should be complemented by preestablished queries that are parameter driven and cover about 80% of all informational requests. Information Transport At many institutions, electronic mail has become the accepted carrier for transmitting information between users and departments. From its initial use of sending short notes between users, e-mail is now used by mail enabling applications and users for distribution of documents, event notification, predetermined routing of forms, as well as software distribution. Electronic mail is becoming the transport mechanism to move work and information associated with it; therefore, it is imperative for any e-mail message and its attachments to reach all users in the institution. Being an integral component of the UNIX operating system for more than twenty years, new versions of desktop operating systems are incorporating e-mail as a standard functionality. At the university, e-mail enhances the learning and teaching process by allowing students and faculty to communicate

independent of time and place. E-mail encourages collaborative research within and beyond the institution, and it improves administrative services on campus through its workgroup enabling capabilities. For faculty, e-mail can shift the administrative balance from being a burden to an enabling element allowing faculty to concentrate their efforts on teaching. E-mail is probably one of the most frequently used tools in Business Process Reengineering (BPR) since it allows for the immediate elimination of non-valueadded processes like data entry, printing, duplicating, and mailing and delivery. In summary, e-mail has emerged as a mission-critical application at many institutions. THE IMPACT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY Cultural The implementation of a campuswide IT infrastructure will bring about many changes within the institution. Technology, by default, promotes open communication and access to information at all levels. It will be increasingly difficult to prevent students, staff, or faculty from obtaining the information they want and need. Where institutions are departmentalized and territorial, the implementation of a campuswide information infrastructure will break down departmental barriers. Departments working with integrated systems will realize that each builds and adds on to data established by others and they are contributing to a crossfunctional process. This heightens the awareness of interdependency and promotes recognition of functions outside the confines of the department. Technology will change how and what staff and faculty will do. The use of a computer and keyboard is no longer considered a low-level activity. Today upper management routinely uses computing tools such as e-mail and information access tools, and keys drafts of letters and papers. With access to technology at all levels, the role of the information transmitter becomes obsolete; this forces institutions to either redefine the role of middle management or 'flatten' the organizational structure. Electronic communication gives everyone the ability to have access to anyone. New etiquettes and policies for electronic communication are needed. Like many technology tools, e-mail and voice-mail systems often fail to deliver the anticipated benefits because they are implemented without changing existing policies and procedures that were in place before the introduction of these tools. With the ability to use e-mail as the transportation medium for letters, documents, and reports, the long predicted paperless office is moving closer to reality, not just because people want to save paper, but because electronic transmission is simpler, faster, cheaper, more reliable, and, most importantly, organizations and institutions cannot afford not to do it. Organizational

Organizational structures specify the working relationships among people in the institution. Many institutions are entering the information age with an organizational structure that was put in place long before any computers existed. The role of the middle manager could change or disappear altogether if his/her primary function was that of an information transmitter. The hierarchical organization designed to move the right amount of information up and down the hierarchy is obsolete when information is easily available at all levels of the institution and systems are in place that deliver the right information to the right population at the right time. Institution-wide information access allows for the decision-making process to be moved to the lowest possible level and for anyone to achieve his or her potential within the organization. People working at different locations easily can function as a team and communicate effectively via e-mail and share information with each other. The control span of managers can be expanded with the ability to disseminate information more easily and obtain feedback from subordinates electronically. The Library Universities are knowledge engines and the primary information resource of a university is its library. Future libraries must bring together users and information resources without the constraints of a physical environment. This can be achieved through the university's information and communication infrastructure. The library of the future will expedite access to information and knowledge management independent of time and location. New library information systems don't need to keep track any longer of who checked out which volume at what point in time, but they need to provide sophisticated access mechanisms allowing students and researchers to explore information online. With hypertext material, a student can 'dig' deeper and deeper into an area of interest depending on his or her own requirements and prior knowledge. The information retrieved in a single query may be stored at many physical locations totally transparent to the user: A single search could access several libraries and/or archives across the country or around the globe. The library of the future will not be rated by how many volumes of books it maintains but rather by its ability to provide access to any information regardless of its physical location. As more and more books are available in electronic form, a physical copy doesn't need to be taken out, but students can reference the material from workstations and print portions as needed. Electronic storage of books extend the scope of books as we know them today: they will contain text, images, as well as voice and motion video. They will feature keywords that can be activated by the user and initiate further clarification of a subject on demand. In the future, it may be possible to keep reference books up-to-date at all times by linking keywords to the most recent version of documentation about any given subject. Theoretically, only a single copy of any book needs to be maintained online, ensuring (as with the institution's data repository) that

the text retrieved by anyone represents always the most recent version. Instruction Delivery Instruction delivery today is carried out pretty much the same way it was 2,000 years ago. Professors are the source of knowledge and wisdom that they transfer to students. While no one disputes the value of person-to-person contact between students and professors, what is questionable is whether the instructor is the primary source of knowledge, and if a lecture is the best format to transmit knowledge to students. Having grown up with TVs, video games and often computers, today's students are tuned into a different and more interesting way of learning. Through networks, students have access to knowledge and information that by far exceed what any professor could have accumulated during his or her lifetime. But students do need help in finding, interpreting and making sense out of information. The role of the teacher then becomes that of an information broker who assists students to find relevant information and derive the right conclusions from the information retrieved. The proliferation and recognition of the power of multimedia is sweeping higher education. Multimedia (MM) presentations easily compete with outside-the-classroom learning that students have grown accustomed too. MM course books stored on servers accessible via the campus network will complement classroom presentations. However, just as not every faculty member writes his own textbook, not every instructor will be proficient in the creation of MM materials, but needs to know how to utilize this technology. The IT infrastructure of the university has to be designed to allow for transmission of images, voice and video to and from classrooms all the way to student dorms. The university has to decide on standards for the creation and delivery of MM lectures. As an increasing number of textbooks and course material will be available on CD-ROMS, CD-ROM servers loaded with commonly used textbooks and computer assisted learning materials can be installed throughout the university accessible to students and professors. Universities should establish MM centers where experts will work with faculty to develop MM courseware from material chosen by the faculty. Software and equipment has to be made available for storing and recording lectures on CD-ROM. The same facilities can be available to administrative departments for training, policy and procedure manuals, or admission and development brochures. Instruction delivery is not only changing on campus, but many universities are reaching out to students beyond the confines of the institution's buildings. Experiments with distance learning use satellite communications, phones, or phones combined with Internet connectivity. However, all methods employed in distance learning today cannot compete with the level of interactivity and personal experience of the learning experienced in the university classroom. With the imminent merge of phone, data, and video communication, distance learning will become a much more acceptable solution

for many students. This technology, promised by the Information Superhighway, will allow faculty and students in different locations to see and talk to each other during the lecture or outside the classroom. At this level of sophistication, distance learning will become a true alternative to time- and place-bound methods of reaching educational goals for many students. The Learning Process The learning process of the current generation differs substantially from that of only one generation earlier. Most of the knowledge today's students have accumulated was probably not received via lectures or books but rather through television, radios, movies, video games, or computers. Many students entering college know how to use multimedia material and often are experienced in using e-mail and navigating the Internet. They grew up without boundaries: they are used to seeing the events happening throughout the world every time they turn on the TV and they routinely communicate anywhere electronically. They are accustomed to very high standards when it comes to information delivery and they expect to find the same sophistication at the university they choose. With the information explosion, contemporary students need to learn more than any other generation before them; unfortunately, they are ill equipped to learn in the same environment as their parents. They have little patience for monotone lectures but rather expect sophisticated graphic, motion video, or sound presentations. Professors cannot be the single source of the knowledge to be delivered in the classroom. Instead, they will coordinate and make available information resources for students to explore on their own for future classroom discussions. Students should be able to search for course-related material on distributed servers on campus or throughout the world. They will learn more by doing, experimenting and viewing than by hearing, writing, and reading. This doesn't mean today's generation doesn't need to learn how to read and write; on the contrary, viewing includes reading as well as absorbing visual data, and writing a paper today extends to the implementation graphics and the use of sophisticated presentation tools. The changing ways students learn today is revealed when the institution's IT capabilities are becoming a critical decision factor for selecting a college or university. SUMMARY A campuswide network that connects all workstations and servers, an information repository accessible via standard access tools, and an electronic transport system allow the university to take advantage of technology both academically and administratively. A university-wide approach to technology allows for benefits of scale and coordination while maintaining departmental flexibility. It paves the way both for distributed computing and centralized management, combining the best of both worlds.

The implementation of the infrastructure will initiate many changes on campus. The way people work and what they do will change, as will where they fit into the organization. In higher education the impact of technology on the learning and teaching process is just beginning to be realized. How professors teach and how students learn has changed more in the last ten years than in the previous two thousand. The library, as the locus of the university's knowledge, faces the challenge to transform itself from a provider of locally stored information into a gateway to information around the globe. As distance learning takes advantage of future sophisticated communication technologies, universities can reach students anywhere in the world. Karin Steinbrenner Executive Director UCIS Villanova University 800 Lancaster Avenue Villanova, PA 19085 Phone: 610-519-4400 Fax: 610-519-4435