SACS Principles of Accreditation
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Section IV: COC Programs

3.4.14 The institution's use of technology enhances student learning, is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs, and ensures that students have access to and training in the use of technology.



JUDGMENT OF COMPLIANCE

Compliance.

NARRATIVE/JUSTIFICATION FOR JUDGMENT OF COMPLIANCE

The University's use of technology enhances student learning, is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs, and ensures that students have access to and training in the use of technology.

Texas A&M International University is committed to the enhancement of student learning and the attainment of program objectives through the appropriate and effective use of technology. Support for educational technology is provided from two units on campus: Computer and Telecommunication Services (CTS) and the Office of Educational Technology & Outreach (ETO).

Office of Computer and Telecommunication Services (CTS)
CTS provides support for equipping, maintaining, upgrading, and replacing educational hardware and software for on campus labs. Since the University’s inception, CTS has been integrally involved in designing and sustaining a campus technology infrastructure that networks campus computers and provides access to the Internet. Within the past year, web-based email has facilitated access to information from off-campus sites.

The student-to-computer ratio is approximately 10:1. Most hardware is replaced on a three-year cycle, a schedule that ensures access to current technology. Software in the University’s ten computer labs is updated frequently. All labs are open to students and have variable hours of operation, some with extended hours during final exams. (Computer Workstations) Some labs are general use, while others, such as the lab in the F.M. Canseco School of Nursing, have specialized software to serve the specific needs of students in these programs. The student lab assistants provide hands-on training and support. Students have access to printing capabilities. The growing use of printing, however, has prompted the University to look at alternative methods to fund this activity.

Examples of ways that labs enhance student's access to technology include:

  • Labs in the Programs for Academic Support and Enrichment Center provide opportunities for students to take placement tests, complete make-up tests, complete homework assignments, work on projects, research, and receive computer-aided instruction.
  • The Canseco School of Nursing lab provides specialized software for nursing students to meet course objectives and prepare for the licensure exam.
  • The ETO lab provides access to commercial grade videoediting hardware and software for students in the communication program.
  • The Pellegrino Hall labs provide specialized software for students majoring in Business and Computer Information Systems.
  • Specialized workstations are available for students with disabilities.

A Media Center, with unique hardware and software, is available for use by the University community. Services are provided seven days a week. Training is available for students and faculty who wish to use the facilities to prepare presentations and videos to address class objectives.

A number of classrooms on campus are furnished with media projection equipment. In addition, portable technology units, including computers and projectors, are available for use by faculty in their classes.

In 2003, CTS implemented the Email for Life program, which provides access to free email services for all students and alumni. This program provides the University a mechanism to maintain communication with current and former students, for both assessment and development purposes.

CTS has a number of projects that are in the early stages of implementation. Three wireless access zones have been established. The campus One-Card system has been adopted and will be in place starting Fall 2004. This system combines the functions of a student identification card, a “value card,” a library card, and an access card to student labs. CTS is providing the technical support necessary for the system to function. The University is also in the initial stages of converting its current student information system to the Banner system. CTS will coordinate the effort by working closely with the University Registrar, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and related support units to ensure a seamless transition to the new system.

Office of Educational Technology and Outreach (ETO)
The Office of Educational Technology and Outreach is a relatively new unit on campus. Established in Spring 2003, ETO replaced the Office of Distance Learning. By renaming the unit, the University recognizes that educational technology is integral to student learning across all disciplines and programs, and is not limited to the off-site delivery of instruction.

The mission statement of ETO is in agreement with the Institutional Mission and is stated thus:

It is the mission of Educational Technology and Outreach (ETO) to provide instructional design and technology support services for academics to deliver quality educational and informational programs to students and the public by the Internet, radio, television, and emerging technologies. ETO will strive to meet faculty and student needs and provide electronic means of delivery for educational and informational programs and services.

These services include the following:

  • Design, production, and evaluation of web-based instructional content
  • Design, production, and evaluation of interactive television (ITV) instructional content
  • Video conferencing
  • Training for developers and faculty in design, production, and evaluation of web-based instructional content
  • Training for developers and faculty in design, production, and evaluation of interactive television instructional content
  • Video production
  • Audio production
  • Audio and video streaming
  • WebCT training for developers, faculty, students
  • PowerPoint and document preparation for web-based and ITV presentation
  • Video CD and DVD, and VHS tape production

ETO defines distance education as credit and non-credit courses and programs delivered by the Internet, interactive television, and blended courses that are more than fifty percent off-campus and delivered by electronic means. Extended education is any physical location off-campus where an instructor-led course is offered.

When ETO was organized approximately one and one-half years ago, the University was in the earliest stages of developing online courses. During the first year a Sun Microsystems SunFire V880 server was purchased to run WebCT, a course management application that allows students and faculty to interact both synchronously and asynchronously with mail, discussions, chat, quizzes, presentations, and assignments. Soon after, a streaming media server was added to stream presentations both on the University web site and into on-line courses.

At inception there were no students using entirely online courses, but that has changed dramatically. Asynchronous courses have gone from zero to an average of ten per semester, enrolling approximately 200 students (Educational Technology & Outreach, On-line Courses). In total, approximately 2,700 students are using the online capabilities for supplemental, blended, or asynchronous course offerings. Interactive television has risen from occasional use to five day-a-week scheduling. ETO provides ongoing training in the use of WebCT and related technologies for both students and faculty.

The University is in the process of obtaining approval to offer its first degree program delivered entirely online, the Master of Science in Criminal Justice. This delivery system will provide working professionals in law enforcement, corrections, security, and related fields increased opportunities to obtain advanced degrees.

As a portion of outreach efforts, ETO staff has taught media technology in a local high school and conducted in-service technology training for a South Texas independent school district. Local schools are encouraged to partner with ETO to bring new technologies and additional skills to school districts.

The University participates in the Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus program. This participation allows students to access electronically delivered courses from member institutions, and also makes on-line courses available to students from other universities.

Through ETO, the University maintains an active membership in EDUCAUSE, the leading association of educational technology professionals. All distance learning programs offered at the University conform to the statement on best practices in distance education, as articulated by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Texas Distance Education.com and in the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Policies and Regulations, Section 4.105, Standards and Criteria for Distance Education and Off-Campus Instruction.

Future Directions in Educational Technology
All units associated with educational technology and technical support participate in ongoing assessments of the quality of their programs. In addition, in June 2004, the University commissioned an independent evaluation of its technology operations and support areas. The study was conducted by Jeffrey Noyes, Executive Director of Educational Technology and Chief Information Officer for the University of Texas at San Antonio.

Presented to the University on July 21, 2004, Mr. Noyes's study contains a number of observations and recommendations that are currently under review by the University community. The report recommends that the University reorganize CTS and ETO into a single administrative unit headed by a chief information officer (CIO).





SUPPORT DOCUMENTATION


SOURCE

LOCATION/Special Instructions

Computing and Telecommunication Services http://cts.tamiu.edu/
Educational Technology & Outreach http://www.tamiu.edu/login.html
Computer Workstations http://www.tamiu.edu/archives/comp_stations.pdf
Email for Life https://dusty.tamiu.edu
One-Card http://onecard.tamiu.edu/cgi-bin/login.exe
Institutional Mission http://www.tamiu.edu/general.shtml#mission
Educational Technology & Outreach, On-line Courses http://www.tamiu.edu/distance/online.shtml
Southern Regional Education Board’s Electronic Campus http://www.electroniccampus.org/
EDUCAUSE Membership http://www.educause.edu/memdir/memberlist.asp?ID=14708
Texas Distance Education.com http://www.texasdistanceeducation.com/
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Policies and Regulations, Section 4.105, Standards and Criteria for Distance Education and Off-Campus Instruction http://www.thecb.state.tx.us/cbrules/pdf/Ch4SubE.pdf


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