Despite many existing and perceived roadblocks, Campus Technology Support Services (CTSS) is continuing to work to improve and expand upon campus technology.
Many of the ongoing improvements for the CTSS center are for the St. Mary’s Web site and the new Portal. Before the end of semester, it will be possible to pay tuition and fees online, increasing the functionality of the Portal, which already has financial aid, registrar, and the core curriculum available along with a personalized format. “This is just the beginning of what the Portal can and will be,” said Assistant Vice President for Academic Services Mark Heidrich. Beginning in 2009, Smartnet will be completely replaced by the Portal.
Recently, Heidrich and Integrated Student Services Administrator Nick Tulley set up stations at the Green Bean and Daily Grind at peak hours to aid students with potential Portal difficulties. However, most questions targeted specific registration issues, rather than problems with the Portal, which for the Portal was “a good sign,” said Heidrich.
“It seems to me that most users find [the Portal] intuitive and are able to get around without assistance.”
As for the school Web site, “all work is done behind the scenes until everything is ready to go up,” said Director of Publications Lee Capristo. For example, though only three club Web sites are currently online, ten more are in development.
The CTSS also works with academic departments to train users in the Content Management Structure (CMS) of their department links, allowing them to keep their content updated as needed. While the CTSS admits that the Web site is too large to be updated by only their administrators, they are looking into an overview process to ensure more up-to-date links.
Other areas of development include working with students, faculty, and the administration to provide desired technology on campus.
There may soon be a “five minute stop” computer in the library to allow students to quickly print out documents or check their emails, which interested students recommended and which Dean Bayless is investigating. Increasing the number of 24-hour computer labs is also a priority, though security issues such as the locking of academic buildings after midnight remains problematic for the labs currently in buildings such as Montgomery, Schaefer, and Goodpaster Halls.
Additionally, the CTSS is working with SGA Treasurer Jesse Lee to investigate expanding the campus’ wireless network to dormitories and is also working on improving technology in classrooms. The CTSS states that faculty are encouraged to apply via the administration for technology they feel will assist in education, so that “innovation isn’t hampered by existing technology,” according to Heidrich.
The CTSS is also a large provider of on-campus employment and training, and it hires many students. “We don’t expect our employees to stay that long, but they gain a lot of experience,” said Jeff Barnes, Associate Director of Enterprise System Services. With the Patuxent Naval Base nearby, offering many starting jobs with higher salaries, “we have lost technicians to the base but we’re not worse off,” said CTSS Director George Waggoner. “We give people a very good background. Some students graduate and come to work here.”