IT projects to advance WSU education

The Information Technology Division is working on new projects to set off an advance in Weber State University’s technology infrastructure for the upcoming years.

Some of these projects will benefit the staff, while a few will benefit WSU as a whole. Google Apps will also improve for faculty and staff, as it has for students in the past year.

Currently, the Classroom Capture project has started in the Marriott Health Sciences department. Classroom Capture is a timed camera for when a class starts and ends, and it will be used for students who have missed class to watch the lecture on video.

“The goal behind Classroom Capture is that the professor doesn’t have to worry about trying to set everything up; it just starts when the class starts,” said Ty Naylor, the IT communications, events, training and education coordinator.

The results of Classroom Capture will be produced further in the semester. As other departments recognize the project, IT will leave it up to them to decide whether to use the technology.

Another advancement, the Box, will be used as an alternative to Google Docs. The Box is a secure cloud documentation storage for faculty use, and it provides 500 GB per user. Faculty can collaborate with each other through the Box to share documents or other information.

“Since Box has an Internet-based component, faculty can access it with whatever tool they want, including tablets, iPads and other mobile devices,” said Nicole DeFriez, IT project coordinator.

Documents can be edited within the cloud storage so other faculty connected to it can see. Because users have 500 GB on their accounts, terabytes of information can be produced on the Box.

“These projects are all faculty/staff solutions,” DeFriez said.

The projects that would influence students, however, would be the Classroom Capture and eWeber Mobile.

Through eWeber, mobile access will provide WSU resources to students, faculty and staff. This will be the mobile alternative to the main WSU website for mobile devices.

“That’s going to make it easier for students to just do it on the go,” DeFriez said.

Students can access links to The Signpost, WSU on Facebook, Code Purple notifications, management of Wildcat Cash and other services on the eWeber Mobile. The project is still being worked on and will possibly be finished later in the year.

“Google and Box are the things that will have the most impact on campus,” Naylor said.

Bret Ellis, vice president of IT, said this year is much larger as far as IT projects for the university go. He said he believes the replacement of the faculty and staff e-mail and the access to the WSU website in a mobile way will have a big impact.

Ellis said the Classroom Capture project will be the largest, but the students won’t see the impact until the end of the 2012-13 year. The cameras will be installed at the end of the year in departments collaborating with IT.

“We’re trying to do things more efficiently, embrace the cloud, provide mobile options, and all of this is indirectly related to teaching better and having students have a better experience, and being able to help more students get an education,” DeFriez said.