Sunday, January 22, 2006

Since nobody can predict the future better than you can...

....I need your help.

I've joined a college-wide committee charged with looking ahead to 2010 and identifying the kinds of learning experiences, campus environment, and social experiences students will need and expect to have. Global culture is changing at lightspeed, and we have no crystal ball, but it's a valuable exercise just to have the opportunity to think critically about the questions.

As always, it seems to me that the best place to start in considering the next generation of Park students is through a conversation with our faculty and staff, and with the school's current and former students. So I'm asking you for a little bit of your time and imaginative energy: Take a few minutes (please) to consider the following news articles published about "wired" campuses in the past few months, and let me know: Does this reflect your experience? your relationships with technology? your "ideal" campus environment? And if it were you planning the IC experience in 2010, what would it look like? What amenities -- technological or otherwise -- would it involve?

And finally, if you were responsible for recruiting the next two generations of IC students, what aspects or elements of the college would you emphasize and promote?

The articles are here; in case the links aren't reliable, I've included the urls as well.

Newsweek, August 2005: High Tech Hot Spots

Forbes: America's Most Connected Campuses

If you want to read even MORE interesting information about today's college kids and the changes we need to be thinking about, try these:

Boomers, Gen-Exers & Millennials: Understanding the NEW Students

Taking back the Web: New generation, technologies return Net to social roots
The "millennials" usher in a new era


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must say that I am fairly pleased with the technological apsect of IC. I think the class rooms are very well equipped. However, there is always room for improvement. I would definitely would consider looking at the internet in the dorms. I for one think that the internet is entirely to slow.

That is true for those who cannot afford to pay for the upgraded internet so are forced to use the basic. I visited a lot of universities and colleges before choosing IC and they all gave their students free high-speed internet. I know for a fact, that is something students look at when they choose schools to consider.

I also have heard a bunch of people around campus posing the question, Why isn't the entire campus wireless? Imagine being able to walk around in any buidling and do work no matter where you are. One thing I would also like to bring up is more study spaces for people to go and study in. The library I think has out grown the student population.

I have watched so many kids who don't have laptops get completely frustrated because they walk into the library and there are no more computers to use and no more laptops to borrow. That is certainly a big concern of the student body.

I think I have gone on for too long so I will end it here, but those are a few of many that I have heard lingering around campus.

~Cornell Woodson

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one thing Park needs to work on is getting macs in ALL the labs. As an integrated marketing communications student, the indesign and photoshop programs are outdated, the computers are PCs which aren't ideal for my area of study, and they shut down all the time in the middle of important projects. I honestly believe this is one of the best communications schools in the country. But, this lack of technology in the classrooms which we are supposed to be learning about the programs that will shape our careers is unacceptable. Other labs on campus have the best equiptment and have macs...and we struggle with old PCs.....if we are a communications school, our communications equiptment needs to match the talent that we have...or pretty soon, we won't be one of the top schools for communications.....

Also, it would be nice to have a large park lounge for students to hang out in and do work in. The plasma screen hang out isn't large enough. We need a common lounge for us to work in....and it should be wireless as well. Ideas are best worked out in groups....and it's impossible to do that in Park. I think it would be a great addition to the school.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am writing as a student who has not been a huge fan of Ithaca for a long time. That said, I'm either the best or the worst person to ask for this kind of feedback...depends on your opinion.

I agree with the first post, asking why a campus like IC is not completely wireless. However, as a student who grudginly pays for the "gold service," I would also add even that service is not what I would consider up to wireless connection at home is significantly faster.

My sister will be applying to colleges in 2010, so I thought a lot about what it is that she might expect - a wireless campus, up to date computers and software (which, in contrast to the post above me, I think we have... there's a lab full of brand new MACs for OCLD students with InDesign software), ELECTRONIC METHODS OF INFORMING AND KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH STUDENTS (you as our dean are ahead of the curve, and we all appreciate it), those little remotes in the classroom that some of our science classes already have, class lectures being available to download on our iPods (which you should find out about if you haven't), and other small things that probably haven't been invented yet. However, I thought more about the fact that for her, as colleges strive to stay ahead of every other college, it seems unlikely (god bless millions upon millions of tuition dollars) that any one college will fall terribly behind the tech curve.

Now. If that's the case, then my sister probably won't actively be looking at the technological amenities of any one school and will alomst certainly not base a decision on them. But the whole point of your committee is to make them do just that, you say? Yes, I could see how that would present a problem..if tuition is going to go up 2,000 dollars a year then you guys have to be doing SOMETHING to justify it. And, I mean, isn't it easiest to just BUY that something in the shiniest model manufactured and then hope that 17 year olds with no concept of money will tell their parents that they "have to go to, like, 'a more shinier school' than, like, all their friends?"

Sorry if I'm being a little harsh...but I'm just trying to make a point. Too often at Ithaca, we hear of these committees of brilliant educators and administrators who so often end up just totally not getting it, despite their good intentions. With that said, I would like to suggest that rather than try to buy more new, expensive technologies to set Ithaca apart, perhaps you could use the abundance of technology we already have at our disposal to better effect. This blog itslef is an amazing testament to how technology can be used in order to really improve our institution. Whether you approach it as a learner or a teacher, a student or a parent, wouldn't you be more impressed by a school utilizing free technology to give students the opportunity to voice their opinions directly to their dean than a school buying up plasma TVs faster than they can be made and placing them, coincidentally I'm sure, at every stop on a walking tour? Park has made great use of its tour stop marker by showcasing student films and such...but the business school still uses theirs for nothing else but slideshows showcasing nothing more than the fact that its students will likely need to take a course on how to use powerpoint once they complete their 140,000 dollar degree. Could that money not have been put to better use?

I apologize for having rambled...I could go on for longer, but I won't. Effectively, my argument is this: Ithaca, I imagine along with most colleges, needs to stop thinking that they can buy students. Parents and students are becoming wise to the fact that everything they see on a campus tour they will pay for in the end. They are also finding that in an effort to remain competative, all colleges "boast" relatively the same technolgies in the end. Perhaps in order to set itself apart, Ithaca can begin to use technology to show a commitment to INNOVATION! Show prospective students and their parents that Ithaca is a school where thinking outside of the box is encouraged, taught, and practiced. While you're at it, focus on showing current students that as well. I can't guess how many times a year we collectively are asked by prospective students what Ithaca is like...


2:55 AM  
Anonymous Tash said...

As a child of the 80s, I had the good fortune to be exposed to both the card catalog and Google. I remember a world where having a cell phone was rare and where no one blogged. As these new things rolled in, I adapted to them. I have had several blogs since 10th grade and have been using Google since it was "the geek's search engine."

Milennial students will expect a lot of electronic access. They will want a campus that is completely wireless. They will not accept that their class selection tool does not work on certain computers. They will want to use cell phones instead of landlines in their rooms. To a certain extent, I bet you are seeing this now.

The problem with all of this is that workplaces are not usually as outfitted as a college. What happens when milennials need to look something up using hardcopy reference materials? If they have only learned how to Google and use online library resources, then they may have trouble in a workforce where "podcasting" sounds like some outerspace activity. Milennials need to fight their short attention spans as well.

Ideally, IC would provide access to the new technological breakthroughs while still using some hard-copy techniques. It would install wireless throughout the entire campus. It would also discourage students from sitting in front of a computer all day by making some assignments "book only."

Several of the schools listed in the Forbes link are tech schools that need the newest gadgets (ex. RIT, NJIT, Clarkson) or else their students will fall behind. IC is not a comp sci school, really. What does it say when IC starts a class for making video games and asking Cornell to do the programming labor? How does that let us grow as tech-savvy students?

As for marketing...I agree with above poster that parents will know that they will be paying for all of this, especially if they are purchasing the machines that their student will work on. I would play up the benefits of tech in each area. For instance, journalism majors should know how to do podcasting. Music majors should be able to convert their masterpieces into different formats.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that these articles definitely reflect what's happening at IC. The things that we can do with WebCT, SIS, Degree Navigator, etc. certainly reflect the idea of technology being incorporated into a college environment. However, it seems like in some areas (wireless access mainly), we are really lagging behind. I would really like to see all academic buildings be wireless by the time I graduate ('09) and then have the wireless access be expanded to dorms. I think that then we would be more up to speed with other schools.

10:20 AM  

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