Raritan Valley Community College plans to spend about $2 million to improve technology on campus. The spending started this academic year and will continue through next year.
The money came after RVCC matched a $1 million grant sent last year from the State of New Jersey. A deadline to spend the money will be set after the college’s first-year report with the state in a few months.
“That funding allows us to do three times as much as we would normally be able to do in one year,” said Chuck Chulvick, Vice President for Technology, Assessment and Planning. “This is not a regular thing. Last time the state gave a grant was eight years ago.”
New technology this year included replacing 300 computers in labs (which accounts for about 25% of computers on campus), projectors in 50 classrooms, equipment to expand wireless network capacity and new printers in every computer lab.
In recent years RVCC has experienced a 300 percent increase in the use of mobile devices by students, most of whom bring their own gadgets. To accommodate this, the college has bought some tablets for classroom use. But before more are bought, the college has to figure out which tablets work the best and devise a policy so students and faculty are using the same tablets. This is to ensure software functions the same on all devices.
The college also hired new MIS employees to support technology, which is paid through the tuition technology fee. The fee this year rose to $100 from $75 for full-time students and to $80 from $65 for part-time students.
Over the summer 500 desktop computers are being replaced, possibly the last time this will happen because the college is currently testing the use of virtual desktop infrastructures (VDI) to permanently replace desktops.
This technology runs desktop operating systems and application software through a server instead of a computer’s hardware. The most popular example is a Chromebook. Half of the computers in the Somerset Computer Lab will be VDI by next fall as part of a test program.
“This will allow older computers that are not well-powered to run faster by getting software served from a server,” Chulvick said. “The hope is to drive down prices of keeping computers up-to-date.”
The college will also replace the Lion’s Den with new portal software by next fall and run focus groups around it.
The Lion's Den currently runs on outdated technology. Some students could not view their Lion's Den this year because it requires a browser to run SSL V3—the old version of the security technology used to encrypt a link between a web server and a browser to ensure data is private. However, most browsers dropped the ability to enable SSL V3 because it is vulnerable to a security risk known as POODLE.
The RVCC mobile app will also be replaced around this time. Unlike the current app, the college can make additions to the new app without going through the developer.
Beta testing for the app will begin at the end of the semester. The most popular request from students is to register for classes on a phone. All current features will remain, and the college will add new features based on responses from focus groups.
Chulvick said the college hopes this new technology will aid professors in the classroom. “This new technology will make sure the right infrastructure is there for new ways of teaching for faculty who want to be more involved.”
In addition, a self-service password reset is available in Lion’s Den, so students no longer have to go to MIS should they forget their password or get locked out.
“If you log into Lion’s Den, it will ask for answers to three different security questions. If you forget your password, or it has expired, all you have to do is answer two of the three questions and it will allow you to reset your password,” Chulvik said.
Resetting passwords is the most popular request at MIS.
Featured image caption:
The new projectors RVCC bought for classrooms hovers over whiteboards .