Tech endowment key to helping campus keep pace

Teleconference

 

For any campaign looking to the future, such as Pitt-Bradford’s 50 and BeyondCampaign launched last year, technology is a natural priority.

            The ubiquity of technology has made it a natural part of today’s environment for students, who watch lectures, review and take notes, interact with experts and students from across the world, socialize, shop, compare notes, watch TV and play games all from the convenience of a wireless campus network.

            Demands on campus infrastructure are always increasing as students now come to school with two, three or four wireless devices instead of a single desktop as they did five or 10 years ago, explained Don Lewicki, director of computing, telecommunications and mediaservices.

            The money required for constant infrastructure upgrades means that some other technology items are being left off of the campus’s wish list. The 50 and Beyond campaign has set as a goal adding $550,000 to Pitt-Bradford’s technology endowment.

            “There’s a lot of neat stuff out there that we could do,” said Bernie Picklo, the campus’s academic technology integrator, who helps faculty with technological needs from videoconferencing with a class of students at American University in Cairo to installing interactive whiteboards for education students to use just as they will when they’re teachers.

            Members of the faculty have embraced technology and use it to record lectures and help students manage assignments.

            The criminal justice program will soon be using body cameras just as law enforcement officers do in the field. The new cameras and microphones will also allow an instructor to provide instant feedback or guidance to students as they investigate a crime scene.

            Another use of technology is to support an increase in online courses, which are more convenient for professors and students during the summer, when weather makes it hard to get to campus in the winter, or for professionals earning their degree while working.

            “Technology does not replace good teaching, it merely enhances it,” Picklo said. Technology is driving new pedagogical practices such as “flipping the classroom,” in which students watch lectures outside of class and use class time to discuss the material, take part in group exercises, take quizzes or use what they’ve learned to interview a “guest” who could be half a world away.

            In the future, the Internet will allow students to research using materials from a worldwide knowledge bank, not just the collection amassed by their own institutions. E-textbooks have the potential to provide material in more ways so that it can be used better by students of all learning styles.

            At the very least, all of these technologies will take an increase in infrastructure – high-speed, high-capacity cables and wireless technology, which, unfortunately, won’t be coming at a low price.

            To find out how you can help make state-of-the-art technology available at Pitt-Bradford through a contribution to the technology endowment, contact Jill Ballard, executive director of institutional advancement, at (814)362-5091 or jballard@pitt.edu.

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