Information technology exists to help the College realize its mission- and values-related strategic goals through a portfolio of services, and the IT Group is accountable for responsible stewardship of a reliable and sustainable technology infrastructure.
The twin themes of this plan are the identification of essential IT initiatives and the assurance of high-quality services for the campus community.
Theme 1. Shared vision to guide mission-related goals and service-driven initiatives
The mission of the college and the services that are necessary to carry it out are the guiding principles for this long-range plan. But this plan also represents the contributions of many members of the campus community who have identified the particular needs, priorities, valuations, risks, opportunities, and interdependencies that have to be weighed in IT planning.
Success is aided by collaboration with colleagues in all parts of the campus; only plans generated from extensive consultation can truly reflect the College's mission. Correspondingly, there are no magical solutions in technology to throw at administrative problems or educational challenges. While information technology is deeply rooted in the working of the institution, it also provides opportunities to make changes.
Keene State College envisions goals in two interconnected sectors of activity:
A. Integration and Organizational Agility
IT is used in all aspects of the college's operation, but has yet to realize fully its potential to provide the campus community a unified base of information and working procedures. Part of the task ahead is to understand and improve self-established activities at the college. Just as important is the need to assist in bringing about change where appropriate and to consider emerging technologies for their potential contribution.
A set of values guides the implementation of this goal. These values are based on College values, higher education best practices, and technology trends:
- Information technology is as much a connection among people, through skills and work, as it is computers, networks, and software. The College's mission statement speaks of an intellectual environment to foster growth; it promotes strong relationships among students, faculty, and staff to support each other in the work of learning. The goals of IT need to support these same principles and values. The goals of IT will also support "inter-campus" connections as well as "intra-campus" associations. Technology can extend Keene State College's capabilities of teaching and learning to the City of Keene, University System of New Hampshire, and the State of New Hampshire and offers new opportunities for collaborative learning communities and shared administrative operations.
- Information technology is a catalyst for change providing the foundation, direction, and impetus to improve services at the college. Technology promotes rapid and flexible change by giving campus community members opportunities to revise their work methods. It enhances the quality of service by providing the campus direct access to information and allowing individuals to initiate communications and administrative processes. And technology breaks down the barriers commonly associated with department and office-based perspectives.
- Information technology opens new ways to manage the college. The content of the various information systems is available to raise the standard for decision support: data are in place to provide facts, trends, history, and forecasts. The college can use its trove of operational data to seek cost reductions and financial benefits. The ability to spin off recurring administrative transactions to technology and web-based self-service for campus community members frees administrative staff to concentrate directly on the unique needs of students.
- The management of information technology-related risks is a key part of college policy. Risk management concerns over personal privacy, data-sharing, intellectually property, and ever-changing state and federal regulations will necessitate the development of compliance solutions. Similarly, there are distributed responsibilities at multiple levels of the college for providing secure information systems and data handling, conducting administrative functions that maintain compliance with legal requirements, and insuring effective privacy protections.
Applying the theme of integration and organizational agility and the above set of values to campus-wide systems, the following framework for IT goals and initiatives emerged:
- IT planning is an important opportunity to help departments and campus groups implement new initiatives. Information technology's fullest value comes in promoting innovation and not merely automating existing practices. Departmental and/or college benchmarks provide peer standards, practices, and measures that identify gaps between Keene State and its peers. Innovation and change occur most effectively when technology becomes a support by which organizational goals and targeted outcomes are achieved.
- IT planning needs to be conducted in collaboration among departments and campus groups, helping them achieve their goals. Partnership and consulting assistance are services a centralized IT service provider can offer all organizations on campus by virtue of its involvement with information systems and services that are themselves increasingly interconnected.
- Technology planning at the College needs to be related to technology initiatives in the University System of New Hampshire, the City of Keene, and in higher education in the state and the region. All institutions of higher education have learned that information technology is too complex, fast-changing, and expensive to be undertaken on a solely local basis.
- The planning process needs to identify technology trends that might not have immediate relevance but could shape future planning. Some of these trends will involve risk and expense, others will offer solutions to existing problems or will bring cost reductions. With each year's return to the planning process, the progress of notable trends should be considered with respect to College plans.
B. Instructional Technology and Programmatic Effectiveness
The instructional program of the College is rooted in traditional materials and methods-books, lectures, the classroom-but is also constantly evolving. New knowledge, sources of information, and innovations in teaching and learning are vital to the College. IT planning, therefore, needs to support a range of purposes for the academic program, assisting faculty and acting with them as needs change.
Educational uses of information technology vary by academic discipline. These need to be added to the IT plan via consultations at the department level. The Deans also have an important place in planning, particularly where resources can be shared or coordinated for efficiency. The continuing education program addresses a different audience and uses different modes of instruction, considerations that also need to be reflected in IT planning. The modern academic library has been heavily transformed by technology, offering an ever-increasing volume of online information and relying on telecommunications to reach outside resources and to borrow and lend books regionally. And, as new buildings are built and old ones renovated, IT planning needs to ensure that these facilities receive the infrastructure and equipment they will need.
This IT Plan assumes that a set of guiding principles will flow from Academic Affairs strategic planning and will be used for leading instructional technology decision-making. The following IT goals and initiatives emerged from campus forums:
- IT planning needs to match the goals and priorities of departments and groups. Curricular assessment and change, faculty turn-over, and renovations of departmental facilities have implications that IT planning should accommodate. New initiatives in the academic program should also prompt careful review of IT plans, priorities, and projects.
- Academic resources are increasingly acquired and shared through partnerships among institutions. The College already participates in many such relationships, ranging from library collections to software licensing to Internet bandwidth. IT planning should seek new ways to aid the College's academic program through support that can be obtained through USNH, the City of Keene, and state higher education and technology initiatives.
- Emerging technologies need to be evaluated and selectively adopted through planned activity. Classroom instruction, in particular, has been widely affected at the College by the emergence of newer, better, and less expensive presentational devices. Computer-linked instruments are increasingly important in many academic disciplines. IT planning needs to provide the College with the resources and programmatic attention needed to identify new technologies and prepare to acquire those that make sense for the College.