Information Technologist Response, Hampshire College


What technologies could enhance student and faculty research/teaching/learning?

Software evolves constantly and it is difficult to pin down specific
applications but I am exploring the following technologies, each of which,
I hope, will address several needs:

1. Asynchronous conferencing
Web-based discussion space that enables students and faculty to extendand
initiate discussion outside of the classroom. Unlike a distributed mailing
list, this technology creates a sense of place, a sort of classroom outside
of the classroom, where groups can record their findings and share information,
as well as participating in more involved discussions. A transcript of
the learning process is created, which can be used for evaluation. Collaborations
with other institutions and virtual "visits" from individual experts are

2. Integrated course websites
Using an intranet and a data-backed web server, a searchable "one-stop"
system is created whereby faculty may post syllabi, contact information,
and resources, as well as linking to a virtual discussion where appropriate.
The data-backed interface means that knowledge of HTML (the markup language
needed to create a webpage) is minimized and data is highly integrated
and archived in a timely fashion. The main advantage over independently
maintained websites is in information architecture and usability, increasing
the ease with which students will find and use the information.

3. Standardized basic technology
This is not a technology as such but, rather, a way of presenting technology
to novice users. It is an attempt to draw boundaries around commonly-used
software (netscape, Eudora, etc) and to provide appropriate instruction
and training that establishes a basic level of technical competency a user
needs to do basic research/teaching/learning and attempts to limit how
much the user needs to learn in order to be able to function in a technologically
fast-paced environment.

4. Evaluation software
An intranet is used to increase the efficiency of the student evaluation
process. Evaluations are transported and stored electronically, platform/format
incompatibilities are eliminated, and the information is stored in a secure
database that enables authenticated access by appropriate students and

What roles and responsibilities do you currently assume regarding the
use and instruction of technology?

I respond to faculty needs on a one-to-one basis, helping individual
professors to develop web-based resources and interactive functions that
support their teaching. I help professors to identify peers or students
who can help them to increase their technological capability, through networking
and small gatherings. I help novice and advanced users to explore the potential
of email and web browsing technnology.

At the systemic level, I work with students and our system administrator
to develop the technological infrastructure that enables or will enable
the technologies I mentioned above.

What goals do you have for collaboration in this area? What resources
are you considering devoting to its future development?

I have developed strong relationships with individual faculty
members through specific projects but I need to do more outreach in the
faculty community to make sure I identify their needs and how I might best
serve them. Going to school meetings, attending faculty events, introducing
myself to new faculty, are all a critical part of this process. I also
wish to work more closely with the administrative assistants in the School
of Social Science, who are very knowledgeable about the technological challenges
facing individual faculty members.

We have a number of very talented students on campus and I am
working to develop partnerships with these students to help develop key
applications such as searchable course descriptions and data-backed website
technology. Finally, but very importantly, I hope to collaborate with my
counterparts in other institutions, who are facing the same technological

In the interests of developing collaboration, I am structuring
my own time to incorporate networking, relationship-building, and outreach.
Ideally I would spend 30% of my time on these activities but this is extremely
difficult in a severely understaffed department.

Abby Schoneboom
Internet Communications Coordinator
Hampshire College