President Makes Plans for Year of Digital Campus
On Nov. 4, President Judy Hample officially designated the 2009-2010 academic year as the Year of the Digital Campus, a follow through of a plan initially mentioned last fall during her State of the University Address.
“I invited a group of students, faculty and staff to initiate a year-long dialogue about the defining characteristics of a digital campus and to explore the ways in which the notion…supports, sustains and extends the core principles of UMW,” Hample said in an announcement she made to faculty by e-mail.
Vice President of Information Technology and Institutional Research and CIO Khalil Yazdi has played a large role in the planning and promotion of making this a digital year for Mary Washington.
“We intend to change the way we communicate with each other…right now we feel the institution doesn’t interact well,” Yazdi said in reference to the university’s new focus on technology. “As an institution, we face a challenge of how to broaden with everyone coming from different technological backgrounds.”
At this point in time, there is no clear definition to make this happen,Yazdi said. The intent is for students to become involved and own the plan, with the committee serving as a basis for organization and discussion starting.
“We want to create opportunities….we want students to engage and reflect, not just faculty,” Yazdi said.
Although there are no set dates yet, the committee is planning a series of events and seminars in the spring, allowing students to come together and present their opinions and ideas concerning technology and how it affects life at UMW.
One of the events will focus on digital copyright and its growing significance in the college world, Yazdi said.
To further encourage student involvement in the campus-wide digital movement, a Web site entirely dedicated to the Year of the Digital Campus is scheduled to be launched in the spring.
“We want the site to showcase music, performing arts, etc. here at UMW,” Yazdi said. The idea of hosting a video competition has also been considered in hopes to bring the campus closer technologically.
Another important aspect to be considered in this movement is the changes that will or will not be seen in the classroom as result. Due to recent cuts in the university’s budget, students may not see many new technological changes in their classrooms anytime soon, although Yazdi said that a long term goal of the campus is to go entirely paperless.
Describing the Year of the Digital Campus as being part discovery, part reflection, Yazdi said that much of the data and research collected during this time will be put to use in the planning of the new Technology Convergence Center.
The center, which is scheduled for construction in 2013, will represent technology on-campus according to Yazdi. It will be open at all hours of the day, and will serve not only as a place for students to further their technological development, but also serve as a place for students to study and work.
“We’re really encouraging students to take ownership…I really think students can shape this idea …We need to find ways to support…we need to find what’s useful…we need to find the right kinds of technology for us,” Yazdi said.