Collaborative Technological Assistance - Educause

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Collaborative Technological Assistance
   Educause Project Helps MSIs Bridge the Digital Divide
by Isis Artze

      you’re a f aculty member or a dministrator at membership, currently over 1,800 instit utions of       1995-96 school year, HSIs received $7,300 in
      a minority-serving institution a nd your col- higher education, about the growing importance          overall funding on average per student, com-
      lege hasn’t already made use of the IT ser- of the network, on-campus and the Internet, says          pared to $15,000 received by all other degree-
vices offered by Educause’s AN-MSI (Advanced Ramírez.“Not only the tremendous benefits and                  granting institutions.
Networking with Minority-Serving Institutions) potential, but the difficulty and cost of staying                 “If the ‘wealthier’ schools are having a hard
project, you’d better hurry; the project is in its current,” he says, “even from la rg e, re la ti ve l y   time kee ping up with technology cos ts, how
fourth and final year. “What kinds of                                                                                     much more so the less well-funded
services you ask?” campus visits to                                                                                       MSIs,” affirms Ramírez.
assess campus network and IT, and                                                                                              During the project’s three years
provide reco mm e ndations; online                                                                                        running, it h as worked with roughly
training for campus network per-                                                                                          100 institutions, says David Staudt,
sonnel; hosting services for online                                                                                       AN-MSI project director. “We’re now
course development; assistance with                                                                                       ready to expand our services to the
distance learning; and many more!                                                                                         rest of schools that are interested.”
     AN-MSI was conceived in 1999,                                                                                        Brief descriptions of these ava ilable
when the National Science Foundation                                                                                      services are listed on page 18.
( NSF) set out to help ext e nd U. S.                                                                                          Ram í rez ad ds that a rece n t
res ea rch and ed uc a tion bey o nd                                                                                      development in their roster of ser-
schools that traditionally receive fund-                                                                                  vices was the subject of a Chronicle
ing, and created a four-year, $6 million                                                                                  article in July declaring: “Educause
grant. Educause, a nonprofit organiza-                                                                                    is see king a few good Am eric an
tion, was awarded the funds, and creat-                                                                                   Indian, Black, and Latino colleges.”
ed the AN-MSI project to help narrow                                                                                           “Actually, the remote host-
the digital divide that many minority-                                                                                    ing and support of online classes dis-
serving institutions (MSIs) face.                                                                                         cussed in the article of the Chronicle
     “Educause was compelled by the                                                                                       is one of our explorations into ways
research findings of the Department                                                                                       we can assist with distance learning,”
of Commerce on the Digital Divide,”                                                                                       s a ys Ram í re z . “ It’s not a separate
s a ys A lex Ram í re z , the projec t’s                                                                                  component of AN-MSI.”
Hispanic-Serving In s ti tution (HSI)                                                                                          The model is one that has
co mm u ni ty lead er. Of partic ula r                                                                                    worked in Wisconsin and has proven
in t erest wa s the re p ort A Na tio n                                                                                   to be cost efficient for the state, he
On line: How Am e r icans A re                                                                                            says, which is one reason other insti-
Expanding Their Use of the Internet                                                                                       tutions may want to participate. “We
( U. S. De p a rtment of Comm erce,                                                                                       may find sufficient interest to assist in
February 2002), and its report on the                                                                                     establishing a remote hosting and
traditional college-age cohort, 18- to                                                                                    support site or multiple sites,” says
24-year-olds. “Even when dropping                                                                                         Ram í re z . In es s e nce, s e lect MS Is
f rom the sta ti s tics Hi s p anics no t                                                                                 wo uld operate di s tance - lea rning
enrolled in college,” says Ramírez,                Alex Ramírez, Ph.D., AN-MSI project’s Hispanic-Serving                 facilities that other MSIs could use.
“the divide per si s ts when focusing                         Institution Community leader                                [Any interested colleges should con-
on the high Internet usage group of                                                                                       tact AN - MS I. For detail s, vi si t
18- to 24-year-olds attending school or college: well-funded institutions, let alone the smaller or]
only 49.7 percent of Hispanic students use the less-funded institutions like many MSIs.”                         Staudt calls attention to the project name:
Internet at home, compared to 74.3 percent of           He cites findings of the In t e gr a t ed           A d v anced Networking with Minori ty - S erving
non-Hispanic White students.”                        Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS)            Institutions. “Notice that the name specifically
     Educause was also hearing from its large of the U.S. Department of Education t hat, in the             says with MSIs–not for or to,” he insists, “we’re

                                                                                       12/02/2002             •     HISPANIC OUTLOOK                             1
working with them collaboratively to reach the        opened their doors widely so the team could               can join the collaborations among institutions to
goals, and they’ve guided the project.”               make an objective and confidential assessment             seek joint funding to meet common needs, and
    In fact, Educause asked MSIs for their inpu t     of the campus network infrastructure.”                    can attend AN-MSI conferences.
even before it had secured the grant. “We sent a            In addition to acting on some of AN-MSI’s rec-         Finally, for those who worry about some of
draft of the proposal to Hispanic Association of      ommendations and requesting follow-up assess-             the implic a tions of “collab or a tio n,” Sta ud t
Colleges and Universities (H ACU), the American       ments, UTEP was also the host campus for the              assures that “Hispanic, Black, and tribal colleges
Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC),           video conference series “Harnessing Technological         are finding they have a lot of the same problems;
a nd the N atio na l As s o c i a tion for Equ al     Change to Serve a Changing Stud e n t                     and that collab or a ting does no t, in any way,
Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO),” says        De m ogr a phy – St r a t e gies for In t e gr a ting     mean losing their identity.”
Staudt. “They made suggestions, and we changed        Asynchronous Teaching and Learning Approaches.”
the proposal accordingly.” The grant proposal               California State Univer si ty - S an Bernardino     AN-MSI Services
sent to NSF was accompanied by letters of sup-        (CSUSB) has also been engaged in the project since        • Campus Visits, in which a small team of infor-
port from these organizations.                        its early beginnings. “They, like other campuses,         mation te chnology experts assesses the ca mpus
                                                      were facing the issue of network security, and were       network and information technology organiza-
AN-MSI Achievements                                   even unable to hire a network security officer,”          tion and provides recommendations.
     This past October, Yuma, Arizona-based com-      recalls Ramírez; “The project brought together some       • Collaborations, in which AN-MSI institutions
m u ni ty college A rizo na Wes t ern Colle g e       of the HSIs in the Southern California area; they         develop cooperative efforts for Internet connec-
announced that, with the help of AN-MSI, it had       began to work out how they could confront the issue       tivity or education and research projects.
implemented an end-to-end network infrastruc-         of network security collaboratively in the region.”       • Cu rriculum and Faculty Development regard-
ture for data, voice, and video services. In so             “They then sought funding to carry out their        ing t he use of information te chnology in teach-
doing, the College, which serves a predominantly      plan, and submitted a successful Title V collabo-         ing and research.
Hispanic student body, took a major step forward      r a ti ve gr an t,” says Ramírez. “And the grant is       • Assistance with Dist ance Learning, from help-
in meeting the growing demand for online educa-       seen as a model for collaborative Title V grants          ing institutions get started to providing expert
tional services at its main campus and five satel-    by t he Department of Education.” In addit ion to         advice on advanced techniques.
lite campuses serving a 10,000 square-mile area.      C SU S B, the collab or a tion inc l ud es Californi a    •, which provides hosting services for
     Arizona Western became part of a collabora-      State Univer si ty - Los Angeles; California State        online course development using an array of
tion between AN - MS I, HACU, and the Network         Polytechnic U niversity-Pomona; Oxnard College;           courseware products. Services include: hosting,
Resource Startup Center, another NS F - fu nd ed      and Mt. San Antonio College.                              co urse management sys t e m s, in s t ruc tio nal
project at the University of Oregon, to perform                                                                 design consultation, software training, and the
the network analysis. After receiving t he assess -   Lessons Learned                                           Solution Center with 24-7 support.
ment and recommendations, the College chose                One of the benefits of joining the project at        • Monthly Newsletters, which provide monthly
Cisco Systems to implement a solution.                this stage, after three years of practice and even        u p da t es on the project, as well as upcoming
     “The AN-MSI project provided AWC with a          some trial and error, is that many of the kinks in        meetings and events.
team of highly trained network professionals          the system have been res ol ved. For instance,            • Online Training for campus network person-
who offered the technical assistance necessary to     Staudt says, they initially had planned “executive        nel, so they can update their sk ills without leav-
make our college network state-of-the-art and         awareness” sessions that entailed presentations           ing the campus.
move Arizona Western closer to being the hub of       at co nfere nces and meetings to co nvey the              • Potential participation in Remote Technical
technology in southwestern Arizona,” said Tim         importance of IT to key individuals.                      Support activities with other institutions, to share
Shove, vice president of information technology            Campus visits turned out to be much more             expertise in areas including security, virus protec-
for Arizona Western. “We could not have achieved      effective, he says. When invited, three to five AN-       tion, intrusion detection, and 24-7 monitoring.
these results without this type of specialized        MSI representatives go to a campus. One set talks         • Strategic Planning, in which an experienced
assistance from both AN-MSI and Cisco Systems.”       to the representatives about what they want and           facili ta t or can visit the campus and lead the
     Staudt affirmed that “What Arizona Western       what problems they’re having. Another set talks to        institution’s team towards development of a cam-
has achieved in the Southwest shows that non-         the IT people. They then write a report with rec-         pus information technology plan.
profit collaboration, technology expertise, and       ommendations and possible follow-up services.             • Student Technology Services (STS), a unique
public funds can help minority-serving institu-            “Training is also a huge area,” says Staudt.         service organization co n si s ting exclusively of
tions anywhere in the country develop the cam-        “Campuses have, on average, two to three IT               student em ployees, tasked with the operation of
pus infrastructure and national connections to        people, and they often don’t have funds for off-          various computer, media, and technology related
b ecome full partic i p an ts in the Inform a tio n   campus training.” AN-MSI has arranged relative-           campus services.
Age.”                                                 ly affordable online training options.                    • Technical Assistance in designing and imple-
     The Univer si ty of Texas at El Paso (UT EP )         Why else would MSIs want to participate in           menting an updated campus network.
was one of the first campuses visited by one of       this project?                                             • Consulting on imple m e n ta tion of Wireless
AN-MSI’s project teams. “UTEP is one of t he lead          For one, “HSIs need to engage in the thought-        Systems, including secure campus networks and
campuses shaping the project,” says Ramírez.          ful use of this technology to provide education           w i re less systems to assist in co mm u ni ty out-
“They also have a very informed,dedicated, and        comparable to other institutions of higher edu -          reach activities.
highly regarded p resident in D r. Diana Natalicio.   c a tio n,” s a ys Ram í re z . In ad di tion to taking
They were an outstanding host to the team a nd        advantage of the aforementioned services, MSIs

2    HISPA N I C OU T LO OK                •     12/02/2002

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