E. General Recommendations

  • E.1 Solid Foundation of IT Infrastructure & Sound Fiscal Planning
  • E.2 Access to Network Resources
  • E.3 Institutional Commitment: Faculty and Staff Engagement
  • E.4 Teaching and Learning: Content, Access, Distributed Education
  • E.5 Research: Computation, Communication, Collaboration
  • E.6 Information Systems: Managing IU's Information Assets
  • E.7 Telecommunications: Applications, Infrastructure, Convergence
  • E.8 Support for Student Computing
  • E.9 Digital Libraries and the Scholarly Record
  • E.10 Security, Privacy, Intellectual Property

    IU's strengths, challenges, and needs require an effective overall strategy that covers the four main areas of information technology: Teaching and Learning, Research and Academic Computing, University Information Systems, and Telecommunications. These are in effect the bricks in our architecture, and this metaphor reminds us that at the same time this strategy must focus on the common structure that these areas share: Sound Fiscal Planning; Access to Network Resources; Institutional Commitment; Support for Student Computing; Digital Libraries and the Scholarly Record; Security, Privacy, and Intellectual Property. We discuss these all, in the process motivating and stating recommendations, which have an over-arching character. Later on in the plan (Section F) we will state more specific proposed actions that follow from these recommendations.

    E.1 Solid Foundation of IT Infrastructure & Sound Fiscal Planning

    Information technology is now a fundamental of higher education, internationally and on the campuses of Indiana University. Given the key role of information technology in research, teaching and service, it is no longer responsible to budget for it in an ad hoc manner and to fund it on a crisis basis. Planning for the full cost of technology, including on-going replacement and support, must be built into the budgeting of all units on all campuses. This applies to everything from desktop computers, to classroom technology, to central and distributed systems.

    A related issue, which also has fiscal implications, is the University's ability to recruit and retain the technical staff needed to support information technology, in the departments, on the campuses, and in UITS. It is critical to recognize that the information technology function depends upon the skills of technical staff, and that those skills are in demand in both the Indiana regional employment market and nationally where there are an estimated 200,000 vacancies for information technologists.

    RECOMMENDATION 1: The University should build a solid foundation of IT infrastructure that will help and enable IU to achieve a position of leadership, and to assure that sound fiscal planning permits the maintenance of this infrastructure at state-of-the-art levels.

    It should be the policy of Indiana University to build life-cycle replacement into its planning at every level of information technology investment (personal, departmental, and central systems, and network hardware and software). It should also be the policy of Indiana University to budget a standard amount per year, per FTE to support life-cycle replacement of faculty and staff computers, and to cover the cost of local support. These policies should be implemented in phases, to account for budgetary realities and constraints, but this phased implementation should begin immediately, in recognition of the seriousness of this need. Further, IU should review the compensation levels for technology staff in all departments and on all campuses, to help assure that technical support is available at the levels needed by faculty, students and staff.

    E.2 Access to Network Resources

    Leadership in the use of information technology at IU depends on providing students, faculty, and staff with outstanding access to this technology. The nature of academic work will require faculty and staff to have reliable and high-speed access to the network, on campus and off; from the office, at home, or in clinical settings; while traveling; or wherever they may be working. The transformation of teaching and learning and advances in distributed education will call for network access in classrooms and throughout campus, in residence halls and homes, or wherever students, faculty and staff may work and study.

    RECOMMENDATION 2: The University should provide students, faculty and staff with reliable access to computing and network services, on the campuses and off. (In the language of today's technology, "No busy signals!")

    The five-year goal should be to make the electronic borders between home, community, work place and campus invisible, and at little or no additional cost over current telephone technology. The need for reliable access to network services should guide the development of network services and the mechanisms to fund them; funding mechanisms should not be the primary determinant of what network services are made available. In pursuing this goal we must keep watch on advances in the telecommunications industry that may make remote network access a ubiquitous and competitively priced commodity. Along with access to the network itself, the University should develop and implement technologies (e.g., mass storage, metadata) that will allow students, faculty and staff to store, search for, and easily retrieve information using the network.

    E.3 Institutional Commitment: Faculty and Staff Engagement

    Innovative applications of information technology are those which change in some significant way the research methodologies or learning strategies or service models within a given discipline. Disciplines are always open to such transformations, of course, but the information revolution has the potential to change the very way research, teaching, and service are conducted. Such innovative and transforming efforts should be implicitly and explicitly recognized as valued contributions to scholarship and pedagogy at each IU campus, to the various disciplines, and to the University at large. This in turn requires removing disincentives and putting in place a program of incentives to encourage and reward faculty and staff innovation in the use and application of information technology for teaching, research and service.

    In particular for faculty, these incentives should include recognition of the transforming role of information technology in statements of policy concerning promotion and tenure. Recognition and reward should be given, not for the simple "use" of information technology in teaching and research, but to acknowledge, as creative activity or creative pedagogy, the transformation of research or teaching within a discipline through information technology.

    RECOMMENDATION 3: Appropriate incentives and support should be established so that faculty and staff are encouraged in the creative use and application of information technology for teaching, research, and service.

    In particular the Deans in each school should ask their faculty policy committees to review tenure and promotion guidelines to see whether they do discourage the innovative use and application of information technology, and refine these guidelines as necessary in a manner consistent with the mission and standards of excellence of the school. Similar attention should be paid to criteria for annual merit reviews for both faculty and staff. As developed and adopted by faculty policy committees, these changes should be reflected in the Faculty Handbook and Academic Guides.

    The current systems of faculty fellowships and staff development grants should be reviewed with the idea of expanding them to promote design, development, or innovative application of information technology to instruction, research, or creative activity.

    Ways must be found to move faculty and staff along the ever increasing learning curve associated with mastering and keeping up to date with the information technologies relevant to their work. Experimentation should be tried with discipline-specific and peer education, with appropriate UITS staff involving departmental support staff and/or technologically aware faculty in a department (or cluster of departments) to develop appropriate training for faculty and staff. Evidence from Virginia Tech, the University of Iowa, the University of Delaware, and from recent efforts within IU, demonstrates that well-supported training efforts are appreciated by faculty and serve to raise the level of awareness and effective use of technology. The key is adequate funding to support the effort.

    E.4 Teaching and Learning: Content, Access, Distributed Education

    Teaching and learning are central to the mission of a university, and information is of central concern to teaching and learning. It is no surprise then that the revolution in information technology is changing the very ways in which teaching and learning are conceptualized by enhancing student access, removing obstacles of time or place, and increasing the level of interaction in learning. Information technology is also the defining characteristic of what is now referred to as "distributed education," meaning, technology-supported learning, provided both on and off-campus, and based on both synchronous and asynchronous communication.

    To become a leader in information technology, Indiana University must become a leader in the innovative application of technology to teaching and learning, both for use on its campuses to improve the education that its students receive, and also for external use to share and promote the University's best to new learners.

    Achieving this goal of technology leadership in teaching and learning will depend upon advances toward several of the goals outlined in this plan, most especially in the areas of Access to Network Resources, Engaging Faculty and Staff, Support for Student Computing, and building a sound IT Infrastructure.

    RECOMMENDATION 4: Indiana University should assume a position of worldwide leadership in the use of information technology to facilitate and enhance teaching and learning.

    The use of information technology will facilitate and enhance teaching and learning by:

    E.5 Research: Computation, Communication, Collaboration

    Revolutionary changes in information technology have set the stage for social and economic transformations. These changes, brought about by the convergence of computational and communication technologies, have created entire new industries. Information technology now allows problems to be solved in new ways and human communities to be thought about in a new light. All researchers work in intellectual communities and increasingly one of the most important uses of information technology in research will be to support their collaboration. It is essential that all researchers have access to at least a common base of collaborative technology such as Web access and email and, in addition, that more advanced collaboration technologies are introduced and systematically deployed at Indiana University.

    High performance computing has been an area of distinction for IU, and one that can only be maintained through continued attention and support. The University's participation in many national and international research partnerships will depend upon its capabilities in high performance computation and communications. Advances in computing and communication have created increased demands for data storage and management. And underpinning all of this is the need to provide researchers with good software tools and good support services.

    RECOMMENDATION 5: In support of research, UITS should provide broad support for basic collaboration technologies and begin implementing more advanced technologies. UITS should provide advanced data storage and management services to researchers. The University should continue its commitment to high performance computing and computation, so as to contribute to and benefit from initiatives to develop a national computational grid.

    E.6 Information Systems: Managing IU's Information Assets

    Information technology has become a key component of managing and operating the University's business systems. These systems are no longer back office operations. Ten or fifteen years ago a systems designer could meet face-to-face with every potential user of a new information system. Today the University's information systems are seen and used by tens of thousands of students who access these systems through the Web and thousands more staff and faculty in departments at IU. They are an essential component of the administrative and business affairs of the University in support of teaching, learning, research, and service.

    Information itself is a strategic organizational asset for the University and must be carefully managed, and managing the information resources of an institution the size of Indiana University is a huge undertaking. The University Information Systems (UIS) Division of UITS is responsible for the development and deployment of many of the University's business information systems. Although the goal of the institution's information systems is to make it easy for the end-user to execute day to day tasks, the technologies behind these require highly skilled staff for development and maintenance.

    However for many years now there has been no overall institutional strategic plan for the implementation and on-going development of the University's central information systems. Systems have been proposed, developed and funded in a basically ad-hoc manner without any overall central prioritization, coordination and planning essential for multi-million dollar, multi-year projects involving scarce and highly sought-after human and financial resources. Consequently the University is becoming over-extended in its ability to continue to develop new information systems.

    University-wide prioritization, coordination, oversight and planning are needed for the development and implementation of information systems. Standards are needed for software tools, development methodologies, project management, and computing platforms in order to achieve cost savings and make the best use of resources that are available. Leadership is needed in the implementation of enterprise-wide information systems to help continue the transformation of the administrative units of the University, and to support the goals set forth in other areas of this plan for teaching, research, service and support for student learning.

    Although University-wide coordination, planning, and standards will lead to more efficient and effective use of resources, without significant new resources it will not be possible to sustain the development and implementation of the various information systems presently underway and at the same time begin implementation of new information systems.

    Having said this, a top information systems priority is a new Student Information System. Such a system will contribute to the University's goals for recruitment and retention. It will enable students to move through the administrative processes required at IU with ease and absence of bureaucracy. Students should not need to understand how the University is organized in order to do this, but should be able to access these services from one virtual environment. Non-traditional students should be able to enroll in, pay for, and begin to take classes immediately. Students today expect this level of service, and soon will be dismayed if it does not exist and does not work flawlessly, on demand, from any place at any time. Staff in University departments must have access to the data created by these systems in order to make informed and intelligent management decisions. Faculty and students need to be able to access student and course information for planning and advising. The University's advances in distributed education will only increase the demands placed upon these systems.

    RECOMMENDATION 6: University-wide prioritization, coordination, oversight and planning are required in the implementation and development of institutional information systems. In order for these systems to work together in a seamless manner and accommodate an ever-increasing number of users, UIS should implement common interfaces and a common information delivery environment that facilitate their integrated use. A new Student Information System should be a top University priority.

    E.7 Telecommunications: Applications, Infrastructure, Convergence

    Telecommunications is one of the most important and fundamental technologies in the last decade of this century. It promises to be even more so in the next. It is revolutionizing commerce, industry, education, science and society.

    Telecommunications at Indiana University consists of two components: its voice, video and data intra- and inter-campus networks and services, and the connections from this infrastructure to national and international telecommunications networks and services. In a very real sense telecommunications is the "cement" that binds the University together and which binds it to the national and international research community in all academic areas.

    Indiana University also has nationally recognized expertise and organizational strengths and skills in the configuration and management of communication networks. These strengths and skills are extremely valuable assets in a particularly competitive part of the highly competitive information technology marketplace.

    As such this infrastructure, physical and human, represents a fundamental strategic asset for Indiana University. Harnessed properly, it can make a major contribution to Indiana University's quest for leadership in information technology. Thus it is vital that the University keep control over its telecommunications infrastructure so it can most effectively manage it to maximize its contribution to achieving the University's fundamental goals.

    A particularly important challenge for the University is the management of the convergence of traditionally separate technologies of voice, video and data. The dramatic new technology developments in this area promise great savings to the University if harnessed in a timely and effective way. They also promise major new services to the University in a fully converged digital world, as well as new interdisciplinary field of scholarship (e.g., the proposed School of New Media at IUPUI).

    RECOMMENDATION 7: The University should accelerate planning for a converged telecommunications infrastructure. The University and campuses must ensure that there is appropriate funding for telecommunications services and infrastructure in the base. Specific attention must be given to improving the state of the inter-campus networks, planning for and deployment of adequate commodity Internet connectivity, a university-wide base level of campus telecommunications connectivity, advanced networking infrastructure and applications, wireless networks and support for multimedia and streaming media.

    E.8 Support for Student Computing

    Advances in information technology in areas of teaching, learning, and academic research will depend upon the quality of support provided for student use of computing. In most cases, and this will only increase, students come to campus with an acceptance and understanding of information technology that pushes the institution, through its faculty and staff, to respond. While some faculty and staff may still need to be enlisted in the information revolution, students everywhere are already agents for change. The challenge is to make sure that students graduate from Indiana University having had the advantages and opportunities they need to explore information technology, especially as it relates to their chosen studies.

    UITS already has a good record in support for student computing, with computing clusters, support centers, STEPS, wiring to many residence halls, etc. IU should continue these efforts and prepare to support students for their increased use of computing and other forms of information technology.

    RECOMMENDATION 8: IU must provide the information technology tools, infrastructure and support services so that students may effectively engage in learning and research, appropriate to their various academic disciplines and areas of study. IT support for students should include technology support centers and a computing environment that is seamless across boundaries of campus, home, residence hall, and community.

    E.9 Digital Libraries and the Scholarly Record

    The transformation of teaching and learning through the use of information technology also entails the transformation of scholarly literature and learning resources through the widespread implementation of electronic journals, online databases, digital libraries, and other networked information services. Academic research is integrally involved with access to information and the creation of the scholarly record. While it is tempting to view the Web as the new paradigm for knowledge acquisition and distribution, this volatile collection of community culture was never designed to be the next evolution in research resources.

    There is a science to the management and mining of information, and the library is the heart of this enterprise. The nexus of the next revolution will not be based on Web technology alone, it will be based on tools that integrate intelligent knowledge acquisition systems with the ingenuity of the individual scholar, teacher, or learner who has access to a well catalogued, distributed, national digital library. In this process there will develop a new role for the academic librarian as information agent and information broker, working across many traditional boundaries of organizations and scholarly disciplines, providing a service to faculty and students by connecting them with the information resources they need for research, teaching and learning. The professional expertise of librarians in the IU Libraries and of faculty in the School of Library and Information Science will be invaluable in this transformation.

    RECOMMENDATION 9: The University should build upon and expand its digital library program, and develop the digital library infrastructure needed to support research, teaching and learning.

    E.10 Security, Privacy, Intellectual Property

    Security and privacy are important issues for IU to address in achieving a position of information technology leadership. Computing and network technologies have the ability to make local information available worldwide, and to access locally information from almost anywhere in the world. It is essential in this environment to both promote access to information and freedom of discourse, while ensuring personal privacy and protecting the intellectual property rights of individuals and other rights-holders. During 1997 the VPIT carried out a comprehensive University information technology security audit, the first of its kind ever done at IU. At the direction of the President the VPIT is presently implementing the recommendations of this audit.

    The security of information and information technology is a university-wide concern, requiring a university-wide response: institutional vision and commitment, clear and forceful policies, appropriate plans and procedures, and ongoing programs of education and awareness. The OVPIT must take a continuing active role in leading and coordinating this university-wide initiative; the President and leadership at the highest levels of the institution will need to engage and support these efforts.

    RECOMMENDATION 10: The University, with leadership from the OVPIT, must continue to develop policies and implement procedures that protect the security of IU's information technology resources and institutional data, safeguard personal privacy, and respect intellectual property rights, while at the same time promoting two traditional university values associated with academic freedom: access to information and freedom of discourse.

    D. The Goal  |  Table of Contents  |  F. Proposed Actions

    June 1998
    Comments to ovpit@indiana.edu
    Copyright © 1998, the Trustees of Indiana University