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3.4.12 Technology Use

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

PVAMU SACS Accreditation - Judgement Compliance

Narrative of Compliance

Prairie View A&M University ensures that its students are trained in the use of technology that enhances learning and helps fulfill program objectives.  One of the core values of the institution, relevance, promises that "Prairie View A&M University will respond to the need for highly literate, technologically competent graduates educated to excel in the 21st century work force" [1]. To achieve this goal, the institution requires a technology component in its core curriculum, provides labs and technology supplementation for all courses through Information Technology Services, the Office of Distance Learning and Center for Teaching Excellence, and integrates technology into library services. For all students, access to computing labs is provided both on the main campus and other sites, and training is available from multiple sources. Some disciplines, notably nursing and engineering technology, utilize specialized technologies to improve educational outcomes and develop skills for future employment Core Requirement 2.9 and Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9.

The University’s commitment to technology begins with the undergraduate core curriculum, which requires the completion of a three-hour computer technology course from architecture, business, computer science, or engineering [2]. One of the most popular, COMP 1003: Introduction to Computer Education, focuses on "basic programming, current software and Internet applications" for computer literacy, while other choices train students in computer programming, multimedia software, and/or database management. Each class fulfills one or more of thirteen Exemplary Educational Objectives associated with the computing area of the core curriculum [3].

To practice their computing skills, students must have access to quality software, hardware, and technical support. Information Technology Services provides student email, wireless Internet services in campus buildings, classrooms, and residence halls, and multiple computing labs [4] [5]. Email, increasingly used for communication between students and instructors, runs on Outlook Web Access, and several in-house technical support and systems administrators work to keep the network secure and operational [6].

The largest student computing center, in Room 210 of the John B. Coleman Library, features 122 Dell Optiplex Windows XP workstations [7], 2 HP laser printers, and 2 areas for group study. SPSS for the University's many statistics courses and Microsoft Office 2007 are installed on all computers. Additional labs in the Willie M. Tempton Memorial Student Center (24 Gateway workstations) and Farrell Hall provide computer access on the far west end of campus. Most labs are open between 9 and 17 hours per day [8] [9] and have staffed information desks to troubleshoot problems. Additionally, each major campus housing development has its own computer lab and wireless Internet connections.

To meet the specialized needs of their students, many departments and colleges maintain their own computing labs, many of which are described at the end of Comprehensive Standard 3.4.9. For example, the College of Nursing runs a Virtual Tutoring Retention Program [10] that nursing students can access the program on their personal laptop computers, issued by the College and fully interactive with the multimedia seminar rooms in the facility. The College also runs a Human Patient Simulation (HPS) Center with three labs "expertly designed and equipped with High Fidelity Simulators, medical equipment, B-Line software technology, motion-sensitive cameras, and computers" [11]. In the past five years, between 92 and 100% of clinical nursing students have done a simulation exercise [12], and the technology may be one reason that the pass rate on state nursing licensure exams has risen from 90% in 2002 to 98-100% since 2006 [13].

In engineering, the Mechanical Engineering PACE Team center Lab has two servers, a Tandberg video conferencing system, and 25 student workstations installed with Unigraphics NX3 (computer-aided design), Altair Hyperworks and ANSYS (computer-aided engineering) software [14]. Students studying computer or electrical engineering technology enjoy the use of seven different laboratories for hands-on practice in areas like circuit design, computer programming, microprocessors, and digital signal processing. Labs reflect trends in the industry, with an emphasis on communication electronics for cell phone, computers, and satellite systems [15].

Whether they are working with a wireless connection, residence hall lab, or a departmental computing cluster, students can receive technical support by calling the IT Help Desk, staffed by professionals 24/7 and particularly helpful for those enrolled in distance education programs.

Integration of technology into every course on campus, whether in a traditional classroom or delivered through distance learning, also happens with a range of instructional services offered through the Office of Distance Learning. Technology services that enhance learning and build on the basic training that students have received through their core computing class include the following:

  • eCourses, which uses version 8.0 of the BlackBoard Learning Management System, supports traditional courses and delivers complete electronic courses with online syllabi, lectures, assignments, exams, discussion boards, and chat features [16].  Students have access to training through online FAQs [17]. Currently, the MBA and Master of Science in Juvenile Justice degrees are offered entirely through eCourses; the latter program offers students a brief orientation to the online environment [18].

 

  • TrueOutcomes is a web-based, evidence-driven assessment system for monitoring Student Learning Outcomes and documenting continuous improvement efforts. Like eCourses, TrueOutcomes has online student FAQs to assist them with logging in and uploading assignments [19].
  • Videoconferencing services support classes, research, and collaboration among students, faculty, and staff. The Office of Distance Learning operates its own systems, with a StarBak Video Conferencing Gateway to provide on-demand, streaming videoconference courses and the Polycom MCG 100, the RMX 2000, and the CMA 4000 as the facilitators of multi-point conferencing in Room 123 of the O'Banion Building and 1A108 of Hobart Taylor [20]. The Northwest Center, where selected graduate programs are taught, has two fully functional videoconferencing facilities, while at the College of Nursing, five classrooms, three conference rooms and the auditorium are equipped for such technology.

 

Currently, the programs for RN-BSN completion and MSN for Family Nurse Practitioners include two-way interactive videoconferencing via the Texas Trans Video Network (TTVN). According to the 2005-2006 TTVN Annual Report, the College of Nursing logged over 1000 videoconference hours that year [21], and seven nursing courses were delivered to students in College Station in 2006-2007 [22].

  • CourseCast, a web-based application, supports real-time lecture-capture and online content delivery and has been made available through Title III funding [23]. Faculty can record and synchronize audio, video, and slides and then broadcast the presentation to students, who can watch it either at a computer with a broadband Internet connection or download it as a video podcast on their portable media devices. CourseCast content may also be imported directly into the eCourses system.

 

  • Access to Internet2, a partnership of universities, industry, and government that works on high-speed networking technologies, is available to students and faculty at Prairie View A&M through a Texas Sponsored Education Group Participant (TexasSEGP) agreement with Texas A&M University [24]. Internet2, with a download speed of 100Gbps, allows for bandwidth-intensive network demands like high-resolution videoconferencing, which is crucial for supporting students at distant learning sites. The University’s access grid node in Room 217 of the Delco Building provides multi-camera, multi-display support for collaborative teaching and research efforts.

To further introduce relevant technologies into the classroom, the Center for Teaching Excellence offers equipment and training activities for faculty. Instructors can check out televisions, VCRs, DVD players, LCD projectors, and laptop computers to use in their classrooms. They also can learn how to use Microsoft Office; more recent offerings have focused on the explosion of Web resources and their applications to student learning: blogs, wikis, electronic portfolios, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, online assessment, and developing online orientations for distance students [25]. The Center's courses help faculty select appropriate technology and use it effectively to engage students.

Finally, the John B. Coleman Library offers a full range of technology-based services to support student learning, including 85 full-text research databases and over 30,000 electronic books available to those on campus as well as to distance learning students [26] [27].  Electronic course reserves, or Eres, make materials available 24/7 to any student with an Internet connection [28]. Reference librarians teach regular classes in information literacy on the main Prairie View campus, at the College of Nursing, and at the Northwest Center facility; additionally, librarians have created an extensive collection of help guides and tip sheets to help students use the online resources. Students can even use the "Ask a Librarian" online form for their research questions or call the Reference desk directly [29]. Further information about technology in the library can be found in the responses for Core Requirement 2.9; Comprehensive Standards 3.8.1 and 3.8.2.

In terms of students' perception of the importance and integration of technology in the learning experience at Prairie View A&M University, the 2008 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) offers some insight. In this survey, 93% of freshmen and 99% of seniors reported using e-mail to communicate with their instructors, while 84% of freshmen and 93% of seniors "used an electronic medium (listserv, chat group, Internet, instant messaging, etc.) to discuss or complete an assignment." 70% of freshmen say that the University has improved their ability to use computing and information technology quite a bit or very much; 85% of graduating seniors agree that their skills have improved. Finally, 72% of freshmen and 89% of seniors say that Prairie View A&M emphasizes the use of computers in academic work a great deal [30].

Supporting Documentation and Links


Comprehensive Standards 3.4.12

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