Workgroup No. 2 combines suggestions to start draft

Kalyn Hayslett, Editor-in-Chief

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Workgroup No.2, focusing on university technology, talked about implementing a new position that will focus on helping the campus’s technological needs.

The suggested Chief Information Officer position would be responsible for developing an ITS plan that will address all of the campus’s needs while communicating directly with Eastern President David Glassman.

The group plans on pairing the new position with a steering committee.

Biological sciences professor Billy Hung said if the committee is approved, the committee member’s first tasks are to lay out a plan that fits common needs, revise technological fee structures and audit campus processes.

At a meeting Thursday, the group ended a series of interviews they conducted with various university employees with Stacey Knight-Davis, head of library technology services.

With this interview and the results of a survey the group sent out, they were able to refine the first draft of their preliminary report to the vice presidents.

Before proposing any recommendations, Webmaster Ryan Gibson said he wanted to hear from faculty, students and staff members.

“I did not think we were equipped as a committee to decide who will have a domain or not,” Gibson said. “We want to empower the right people to make those decisions.”

Gibson and Hung combined previous meeting notes and interview responses to create an outline of the main topics they will present with corresponding recommendations.

There are four areas the workgroup looked at were current software; seeing new technologies that would improve marketing and branding; how to make technology services more efficient; and any eliminations or consolidations of services.

Hung said creating recommendations to improve the current technological system would be the most extensive part of the report.

Throughout the meeting, the members brainstormed what they would recommend for the CIO’s job description and expanded the tasks to disaster relief.

IT manager Ben Merry said disaster relief is one of the more important tasks because it will create security for all of Eastern’s software.

“You talk a tornado coming through, all of the technology Eastern has would be gone,” Merry said.

Knight-Davis said a robust backup system would be helpful, especially when the library has about 300 computers and it has already been proven to work.

“States have managed to pull this off and actually have a digital perseveration base,” Knight-Davis said.

The CIO would be tasked to decide on both establishing and maintaining an off-campus backup system.

Along with the CIO position, the group suggested switching to using a Virtual Desktop Interface.

The VDI will allow the information on the desktops to be stored on a server that could be accessed anywhere.

Gibson said this would eliminate the cost of replacing old desktops because if a computer crashes, all of the information and software could be retrieved.

“VDI has the possibility to save us money,” Gibson said. “We are spending money to save money. It will make us more efficient, but it will take a substantial investment upfront.”

The workgroup suggested ways to improve the network hardware, including using better cables, expanding the bandwidth for both landlines and Wi-Fi, and focusing on training staff and faculty members on how to use the current technology.

Hung said for Eastern’s technology to keep up with demands, a technology staff needs to be hired and more time should be invested in training faculty members to use it.

“We need to improve training instead of only hiring experts,” Hung said.

An enhancement that was considered that could possibly increase Eastern’s marketability is establishing a manageable app.

Hung said if the app is created using software that is agile enough to evolve, it would be more user-friendly and easy to manage.

“It would be really nice to have an EIU app,” Hung said. “As EIU technology evolves we can adjust the app.”

Joshua Awalt, interim assistant director of information security, said he agrees with the idea of creating an app, but he believes starting a laptop or tablet iniative would make for a huge selling point to prospective students.

The iniative would include providing every student with a tablet with all of the software they would need already downloaded on it.

“Everyone can get the same experience,” Awalt said. “Students were prohibited (before) from a positive learning experience compared to those who can afford a new laptop.”

However, the group is still considering this initiative.

Before the workgroup solidifies its recommendations, Gibson and Merry will read all of the survey responses from students, faculty and staff members and take their suggestions into consideration.

Hung said that the survey response was not only from faculty but that about a one-third of students and staff members replied.

The next meeting will take place 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday in 1631 McAfee Gym.

 

Kalyn Hayslett can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]