IT services

esse quam videri
Jump to: navigation, search

Columbia College Chicago

IT services wiki


  • Kevin Cassidy
  • John Upchurch
  • Sabina Ott
  • Bob Thall
  • Barbara Calabrese
  • Michelle Citron

Thoughts on Computer Lab report from spring 06

Basic premise – asking the departments to do the job of IT

Recommendations are full of logical flaws

Basic misunderstandings:

Computer facilities are not just equipment and space, they are:

  • Peripherals (high end, large format scanners and printers)
  • Software (special purpose, beyond Office Suite – 3D modeling, game engine, high end sound editing, motion graphics, vector and raster graphics, etc.)
  • Specialized equipment configurations (2 monitors for programmers, audio recording and mixing facilities)
  • Personnel – Computer and facilities technicians student workers including tutors, equipment specialists

How control access by non-majors to peripherals once they are using the space?

Why have high-powered machines equipped with extensive and special purpose software being used for word processing?

Why are some facilities, like Avids, exempt?

Computers are increasingly ubiquitous. If they should all be shared, why stop at Avids?

If we want resources to be shared, why stop at computers? If Dance students need to shoot images or moving images for their web pages, shouldn’t they be able to Go to photo, film/video, and TV to check out cameras?

Under Short Term objectives

Increase sharing of dept. servers and other network resources

Who will manage? If this means that departments contribute to a shared pool of resources, then that might work, if the resources are adequate for all their needs

But does it mean that existing network resources and servers owned and maintained by individual departments should now accommodate the needs of other departments? Annoyingly vague.

Specter of fairness- not all depts.. need the same things. Is it unfair that Graphic Design doesn’t have a soundstage or a dance studio or an acoustics lab?

Last short term objective

Ensure compliance Flagship departments whose needs far exceed those of other departments are not to be supported, but rather to be penalized for being unruly and demanding. IT misunderstands its role to be that of policeman rather than facilitator.


Short Term

Find space to install more open labs.

Long Term

Laptop initiative.

If what is needed is more computers for relatively undemanding applications, why not go with a laptop initiative immediately rather than build labs and then scrap them later? There are many precedents, googling brings up many URLs of different approaches that various colleges have to requiring laptops. for eg: Quick review of laptop programs:

Data incomplete and inaccurate. 6th floor Mich. Ave., former IMM, completely missing - as is the InterArts lab and one of Photo's labs.

Bob Thall:

My additions to comments.

All major changes to IT and the computer labs should start with the goal of improving the students' quality of education. The Proposal that we have seen does not start with any idea of improving the quality of education. Instead, the purpose seems to be some vague utopian goal of universal access in all campus buildings and the strange idea that all students, regardless of major or need, should have identical access to an identical set of hardware and software. The many ways that this proposal will damage the educational quality we can deliver in specific majors is not considered.

The current Proposal does not recognize that Columbia students are divided into two basic groups of computer users. All students, of course, need basic word processing and internet (email and Oasis) access. College-maintained computer labs are appropriate for this. But approximately half of the programs in the college have digital technology components which are specific to the medium and totally integrated into the departments' educational program. This is an entirely different situation. In those production-based departments (Photo, Film, TV, etc.), hardware, techniques, software, usage, and standards are part of the curriculum - designed and prioritized by the faculty and Chair. The labs that have been constructed in those departments are designed to serve the education needs of specific classes and are tailored to the priorities of each program by the Chair, faculty and staff.

In our department, we carefully separate teaching Digital Labs, Darkrooms, and Studios from Open Digital Labs, Darkrooms, and Studios. In both the teaching and open areas, further distinctions are made between basic classes and students and advanced classes and advanced students. This allows us to tune the equipment, processes, and procedures for specific classes and curricula. In each area, staff and faculty work together to train students in the specific way to use that facility. In all areas, the faculty and Chair can set priorities and solve problems based on the learning goals for those classes and students. For example, in our Open Digital Lab, we have specific areas for scanning, file adjustment, and printing. The students are carefully trained to move between these areas and to use the Digital Lab in certain ways. Students in basic classes have access to only some equipment until they complete first courses. Software, output, and procedures are carefully determined to further the educational goals in those areas. Output is partially paid for and allowed by class fees.

Computer facilities are different in different departments because the educational needs are different in different departments. In some programs, the Chair and Faculty have prioritized digital facilities and sacrificed other needs to build and maintain those facilities. The purpose of the department Digital Labs is not general computer use (email, Oasis, and word processing). Those labs are designed, structured, and maintained solely to allow the students to complete specific homework assignments for the classes in that department. That core mission would be seriously damaged by the current proposal.

Finally, I have to remind everyone that in the current situation, the crucial department digital labs are well-run and generally very efficient. The staff and faculty work together to set priorities and respond to problems and educational needs. Students get what they need to serve the learning objectives of their specific majors. Generally, the IT area is not doing nearly as well with serving its current responsibilities and responding to problems. It seems preposterous to remove the crucial responsibility for class-related computer facilities from the departments (which are doing a good job) and give it to IT, which is struggling with its current job.

Thoughts on IT services to the departments in general

IT problems

Webserver going down with no backup

Course files going down when faculty/staff were revising them (10/19)

Multiple attempts to get training for staff (since 6/06)



Make IT accountable to educational goals of the college Improve responsiveness Better academic management software Integrate across systems (peoplesoft, budget, oasis, etc.) Improve speed and reliability of network, including pipeline to the outside to support media streaming, etc. Improve communication with students - allow them to forward to their personal accounts, don't let boxes fill up, give them a system they want to use

How: Begin with outside review Change purview of IT, make responsible only for infrastructure Create AT with responsibility for actual data, under auspices of Provost