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INTRODUCTION

The UMA community has created a vision for its future and developed a realistic and progressive strategic plan to become a regional baccalaureate institution. This Technology Plan attempts to address the following goals of the UMA Strategic Plan through the use of technology.

  1. Enhance UMA's ability to grow as a regional baccalaureate institution and to continue to provide quality higher education in response to state and regional needs.
  2. Maintain and improve institutional effectiveness through embedded assessment and planning in all areas of the University.
  3. Increase student retention through continued high quality, comprehensive student support services, especially for first-year and incoming transfer students.
  4. Improve UMA's visibility as a desirable higher public education institution.
  5. Ensure the continued success of the institution through support and development of its human resources.
  6. Continue to serve the region and state by contributing to cultural enrichment, community service and economic development.

UMA's Technology Vision

  • The vision of the UMA Technology Plan is a future where UMA and its two campuses and statewide delivery operation continues to be a significant player in the education of Maine citizens as well as the development of a Maine based telecommunications-competent workforce.
  • The vision of the University of Maine System Technology Plan is to provide a System-wide IT infrastructure that provides access to information, resources and services that are available all the time, at any place and on any device.

Information Technology

For the purposes of the Technology Plan, UMA embraces a very broad concept of information technology defined as the combination of hardware and software systems used successfully by employees, students and clients of UMA to gather, store, disseminate and manage information in an efficient and easily accessible format. Creating the appropriate match between the user and the technology needed to enhance teaching and learning, as well as enhancing efficient management in each specific situation, are the institution's primary goals.

UMA's GOALS AND RECOMMENDED ACTION STEPS

A. LEARNING AND TEACHING

Goal: UMA will be a model among peer higher education institutions in the use of information technology in support of our learning and teaching missions.

The University of Maine at Augusta's early national leadership in distance education and the development of the University's Interactive Television System, now managed by UMS ITS, led to high levels of involvement by many faculty and staff in the technologies that make distance education possible. Technological tools used for instructional delivery facilitating faculty-student interaction over a distance, including electronic mail, list serve discussion groups, phone bridges, video technologies and web- based tools, all played a part in the early technological development of UMA's campus infrastructure, as well as its faculty and staff. Faculty distance teaching over ITV have applied these new tools and have insisted on carrying them back to their traditional non-ITV classrooms. Expectations of the campus for improved instructional technology support rose dramatically. Faculty continue to seek out new technology for use in their classes. As faculty interest in technologies such as video streaming and pod-casting increases, technical staff are needed to implement and support these initiatives.

ACTION STEP A1: STUDENT LITERACY

Ensure student technology proficiencies by providing assessment throughout the learning process and requiring that graduates have experience and proficiency in the use of technology appropriate to their field of study and relevant to their career paths.

As outlined in UMA's Strategic Plan, the academic unit will develop and adopt campus-wide definitions of "computer literacy" and "information literacy," will establish levels of competencies, and will begin assessment of these competencies throughout the curriculum by fall 2011. Communicating via e-mail with students as an exclusive medium will improve information distribution and better engage students with UMA, its staff and programs.

ACTION STEP A2: EMPLOYEE LITERACY

All UMA employees are expected to make use of technology to enhance their teaching, administrative, and support functions. All technologies obviously do not apply in all situations, nor can a limited budget support the purchase of the latest tools for everyone. However, UMA does believe that its employees should be technologically supported at the same level as businesses and state agencies within the region.

All UMA faculty and staff are expected to read and send electronic mail, do their own word processing, and have adequate web-browsing skills to access student information via DSIS and UMA's websites. Anyone not proficient in these skills may obtain training from the IT Department.

ACTION STEP A3:
Develop more targeted asynchronous Web courses.

Expanding UMA's limited infrastructure including web resources and access to instructional design specialists to support the faculty in building asynchronous distance education courses and supplemental resources is necessary. The addition of UMS ITS supported access to Blackboard has facilitated progress. Additionally, individual faculty are working with publishers and software providers to introduce and apply alternative web-based delivery tools. The national and international success of UMA's asynchronous A.S. and B.S. in Information and Library Services is serving as a model for other departments. The majority of faculty support is handled by the Instructional Designer at University College through the use of Blackboard. Continued growth in the area of asynchronous distance education will require expanded financial support by UMA. UMA will need to place this agenda high on the priority list. Competition from inside and outside the state in the next few years is expected to increase dramatically.

The number of UMA students taking on-line classes from other UM System campuses is excessive – approximately 600 registrations during the spring of 2006 - which is a lost revenue opportunity for UMA. UMA has enormous potential for creation and delivery of more online courses in many disciplines and departments without stealing your own students from ITV or live classes, often used as the reason for not expanding online programming more rapidly. There is also increased interest in video streaming and pod-casting. Additional IT staff is needed to assist faculty in developing these interests.

ACTION STEP A4:
Protect the confidentiality and security of all student transactions. Define Information Security Risks: Regulatory – FERPA, HIPPA, GLB, PCI; Reputation, and Operational.

UMA along with the UMS and the other campuses are developing Information Security policies and providing training for staff and students to ensure use of strong passwords, acceptable use of IT resources, and ways to provide technical and non-technical information security. Operationally, UMS ITS is developing contracts with outside vendors to relieve UMS of credit card numbers and ensure security of student credit card payments via a third party, by June 2007. UMS ITS is replacing the use of Social Security numbers with student ID numbers by March 2008. UMA has an extensive Employee and Student Acceptable Use Policy as well as a Technology Purchasing Policy. Security and Identity should be the number one issue of strategic importance on any campus.

ACTION STEP A5:
Ensure cooperation and civility in electronic environments through the adoption and dissemination of policies for acceptable use of electronic resources.

The UMA Technology Advisory and Planning Committee continually develops policies and procedures to ensure acceptable use of UMA's technical resources. Student Acceptable Use policies and Employee Acceptable Use policies are reviewed and, if necessary, updated each semester. In collaboration with UMS ITS, the IT staff, and the Technology Advisory and Planning Committee, both UMA and UMS technology policies and procedures are continually updated and developed.

ACTION STEP A6:

The IT staff and the CIS faculty recognize the value of relevant work experience. The IT staff plan to offer Internships for students to broaden their skills base in information technology and cultivate mature life and workplace skills that prepare the student for personal and professional challenges, while at the same time assisting the IT staff with much needed projects.
Beginning with spring 2007, a student can apply for one of several proposed internships with the UMA IT staff, in which the major activities, learning components, and objectives of the internship are described. CIS faculty review the proposal, and once it is accepted, monitor the internship progress throughout the semester. During the internship experience, the student maintains a reflective journal that identifies effective communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills applied during the implementation of the IT project. At the conclusion of the internship, the student summarizes the highlights and challenges of the internship in a written report and presents the IT project development process, focusing on the transfer of theoretical and classroom and lab experiences to meet corporate challenges. The IT staff should then have a new or improved technology that can be put into production.

B. RESEARCH AND SCHOLARSHIP

Goal: UMA will assure that appropriate technology tools and applications are available to support faculty research and scholarship.

ACTION STEP B1:

Recognize and reward appropriate uses of technology through tenure, promotion, post-tenure and annual reviews. Review and modify, as appropriate, departmental and faculty assignments to address issues of developing and delivering technology-enhanced instruction. Include consideration, appropriate to the position, of ability to perform in a technology-enhanced environment when filling new or vacant faculty and staff positions.

Through the auspices of the UMA Distance Learning Council, UMA provides a minimum of $10,000 per year to develop asynchronous courses and new instructional technology applications.

ACTION STEP B2:

$18,000 per year is currently set aside for faculty computing and is used to provide technology on faculty desks. UMA must secure funding for appropriate hardware and software for use by faculty in pursuing research and scholarship. Additional funds are necessary for licensing of specific software needed for research.

C. WORK PROCESSES AND PRACTICES

Goal: UMA will transform the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative services through the application of information technologies and re-engineering of work processes.

ACTION STEP C1:

Collaborate with UMS ITS on planning and implementation of the multi-year migration to the new Systemwide and enterprise-wide administrative system, known as MaineStreet, that enhances work processes, efficiency, and access to timely information for faculty, staff, and students.

"MaineStreet UMS" is the road to on-line access in the University of Maine System. Through the MaineStreet portal, faculty, staff, students, and prospective students will find the University System's enterprise-wide administrative computing system. This new computing system incorporates software developed by Oracle® (formerly PeopleSoft®). This software is a web-based program that integrates Human Resources, Financial Management, and Campus Solutions (Student Administration) services into one central administrative computing system that supports the University of Maine System and all of its institutions. MaineStreet offers a wealth of new and improved processes, and web-enabled, self-service applications. In the areas of administration and management, the new system allows UMA to redefine and improve our existing business practices.

As outlined in UMA's Strategic Plan, it is the expectation that once MaineStreet is fully functional, all employees, especially department heads and budget managers will make regular use of information from MaineStreet for planning and assessment purposes. UMA plans to make future academic programming decisions based on the data provided by this system. Among the expectations of MaineStreet are the following:

  • Ease of access for employees and students from any location
  • Easy user-friendly screens and graphical interfaces
  • Easy document input and management from all sources (workflow)
  • Easy navigation through the systems
  • User-friendly retrieval tools for ad hoc and required reporting
  • Adequate System level support and training for all employees on a long-term and on-going basis (high priority)

ACTION STEP C2:

Provide greater access to software by achieving standards to leverage enterprise-licensing agreements.

In coordination with the UMS IT Directors and UMS ITS, UMA is able to enter into select agreements with companies such as Microsoft, Novell, and Adobe, enabling UMA to purchase software products at a substantially reduced rate. The IT Directors continually meet and work on site licenses for software used by all campuses. When a software package is used by only two campuses, these two campuses will work together to purchase their licenses as one entity in order to purchase at a reduced rate. For example, UMA and UM purchase AutoCAD software as one institution, allowing for substantial savings.

ACTION STEP C3:

Ensure a student-centered focus for services by developing and providing user-friendly, technology-enhanced features available any time, any place, including:

  • A single student information system, MaineStreet that accommodates all students regardless of location, campus of origin, or program. The single student information system will be completed as the following components of MaineStreet are brought online. Financial Aid ‚ January 2008, Student Records ‚ March 2008, Student Financials ‚ June 2008, and Advising ‚ December 2008
  • A Systemwide common Library ID card/ID card. The Systemwide common Library card and ID card are almost realized. The UMS has adopted two cards and each campus was given the choice of which card to use. UMA adopted the card used by USM and began issuing ID cards fall 2006. The Library barcode number is on student ID cards. Currently, if you are a student with an ID card from one campus, you must purchase a guest card to use services at another campus. During 2008 the two student ID cards should work on any campus.
  • Registration procedures that allow electronic payment of tuition and fees. With the implementation of MaineStreet, students will have access to electronic payment, which is scheduled to begin June 2008.
  • Campus Communication System. The Campus Communication System is a joint project between the SGA and the IT staff. Partial funding will come from SGA, with the majority of the work being completed by student interns in the CIS program. As students enter the major buildings of both UMA campuses, a flat screen will announce special notices and campus events. Work is scheduled to begin during spring 2007.

ACTION STEP C4:

Update and revise job descriptions, categories, and compensation levels that allow attraction and retention of qualified employees for mission-critical technology support functions in a highly competitive information technology economy.

Retaining the current technical staff is an important factor in maintaining UMA's technological infrastructure. If technology at UMA is to continue to move forward, UMA cannot afford to have significant IT staff turnover. There is a national shortage of good technical workers to fill all the information technology positions. To maintain consistency, the technical staff needs incentives for remaining employed at UMA. UMA must invest in its technical workforce if it plans to continue its use of technology and to obtain future technological goals.

Planning for the future is the only way to prevent major problems or technical mistakes. However current staffing is inadequate to accomplish this within the foreseeable future. If UMA is to meet its goals, the proper use of technology and sufficient staffing to maintain the technology is imperative. Financial support from UMS to fund these costs is critical.

ACTION STEP C5:

Establish staff development opportunities that enable staff to apply technology in all appropriate aspects of campus and system services and activities.

Due to a limited budget and functioning at only essential staffing levels, technical training for the IT staff is almost non-existent. In order for the technical staff to efficiently perform their duties, they must stay current within their fields. Professional development should be considered a necessity, not a luxury. In addition to salary and benefits, access to training is cited as one of the major reasons that IT workers transfer to new positions.

ACTION STEP C6:

Establish and ensure basic and equitable access standards that provide all students with the maximum opportunity for electronic access to information and learning resources.

Development and implementation of MaineStreet, along with the use of the Interactive Voice Response System (IVR), allows students to access student grades, schedules, financial aid information and registration and add/drop functions allowing staff time for other important duties.

Students calling the Bangor campus do not have toll-free access. In a recent improvement instituted by the UMA Information Desk staff, when students call the Augusta toll-free number, their calls are now transferred to the Bangor campus to save the student a long-distance charge, however this services is not widely publicized. VoIP has been running over the Wide Area Network for some time. For example, a call placed from UMA to a Portland phone number goes over the IP network until it reaches the USM phone switch. The call then goes out of the USM phone switch to the local Portland number and no toll charges are incurred. This process is not true for the Bangor campus. The Bangor campus uses the phone switch on the Orono campus. Calls placed from the Bangor campus go over the regular phone trunks and toll charges are assessed.

Currently, all classrooms on the Augusta and Bangor campuses are wired for voice, data and wireless access. All future plans for new classroom construction include voice, data wiring, and wireless access. The Technology Advisory and Planning Committee continually upgrades classrooms into what UMA calls Smart Classrooms‚ Each year one classroom is upgraded on each of the campuses to include a computer, LCD projector, VCR, DVD player, and document camera in an instructor unit. Faculty can take advantage of this technology in most classrooms on the Augusta campus and many classrooms on the Bangor campus.

Polycom (video-conference) classrooms have also been added at both campuses. The Technology Advisory and Planning committee is working to address areas where more Polycom units are needed.

ACTION STEP C7:

Ensure the effective and efficient participation of all faculty and staff in the adoption of information technology standards for applications, systems, and telecommunications.

UMA staff rely heavily on computer and related technologies to perform their daily responsibilities including advising and registering students and have become much more efficient in recent years. Technological applications currently in use by all employees include electronic mail, voice mail, access to Web DSIS and MaineStreet. All employees are expected to utilize these basic tools as well as prepare their own documents using word processing applications. Additionally, all offices are expected to generate their own purchase orders via MaineStreet. This environment, along with the pervasive use of graphic applications and web-based tools such as the on-line library system, demands personal computers for all employees and connection of their machines through local area networks.

Growing need for analysis of data for virtually all aspects of the college's operation requires that all department heads become comfortable with basic analytical tools to the point where they can request information to help them make decisions. UMA's network infrastructure has allowed employees to share appropriately licensed software; common and shared documents; and hardware, such as printers. Backups are performed via the network, providing greater protection against loss of data.

UMA has a minimum hardware requirement for all faculty, staff, and student computers. This minimum is upgraded each year. UMA takes pride in having been commended as being the most technically up-to-date campus, regarding the level of computer hardware in faculty/staff offices within the UMS.

ACTION STEP C8:

UMA should address the needs of students, faculty and staff with disabilities in all information technology planning.

Individuals with disabilities increasingly rely on adaptive technology to optimize participation in programs and activities of the University. Students with disabilities work with the Learning Support Services Department, while employees work with Administrative Services to explore disability-related accommodations.

A work station is available on each campus with current versions of commonly used adaptive software. As other adaptive technology needs are identified, they are purchased, in consultation with the IT Department, through the ADA budget maintained by Learning Support Services. The Director of Learning Support is familiar with various categories of adaptive technology. The Adaptive Technology Specialist at the University of Southern Maine is available for consultation, and contract services are purchased as needed for additional expertise and training.

D. LEADERSHIP AND PLANNING

Goal: Develop distributed information systems and structures to achieve programmatic goals in information technology.

Developing the Technology Plan

This document evolved as a parallel process to the development of UMA's strategic plan. As goals and objectives in the strategic plan were outlined, and technology planning issues were discussed in the Technology Advisory Committee, it became clear to everyone that it was essential to create this detailed Technology Plan. Once the draft was prepared, it was shared informally with members of the Technology Advisory and Planning Committee members. Then a draft was shared with UMA's senior staff and their input integrated into the document. As with the Strategic Plan, this document is considered a "living document and subject to ongoing improvements."

Consistent with the strategic planning process, this document is an attempt to gather what UMA has established to date as components of its technology infrastructure. Through an interactive process of staff and faculty review, a picture of the current structure and a plan for the future of technology at UMA can be developed. The recommendations provided as part of this document will be fully integrated with the campus strategic plan and implemented as funding allows.

Telecommunications

The Augusta campus currently has a traditional type PBX switch, whereas the Bangor campus is currently receiving phone service from the UM campus. UMA has a vision of expanding and upgrading the Augusta system to integrate the Bangor campus voice services as well as taking advantage of advanced features for new services for safety and security, such as E911 to the desktop. If UMA were to use VoIP technology to serve the Bangor campus, the Bangor campus could then call UMA and other campuses via the Wide Area Network and avoid toll charges.

The UMA Structured Cabling Specifications document defines the model for low voltage wiring (data) for the Augusta and Bangor campuses. A minimum of category 6 wire is specified for all new wiring. Existing wiring on the Augusta campus has been upgraded to category 6, and the goal is to bring the Bangor campus up to category 6 as soon as possible.

Currently, all classrooms on the Augusta and Bangor campuses are wired for voice, data, and wireless. All future plans for any classroom construction include wiring for voice and data, as well as provisions for wireless access.

An alternate WAN connection to/from the Augusta campus is planned for 2007 and will be completed by UMS ITS. This will allow for redundancy in the event of a failure. Neither the Augusta nor Bangor campus has redundancy for fiber in the LAN. If extra funds were available, alternate fiber routing would be desirable.

E. FINANCES AND INVESTMENT PRIORITIES

Goal: Substantially increase UMA's internal capacity through realistic and prudent investments in support services, hardware, and software.

ACTION STEP E1:

Identify and establish predictable, equitable, and sustainable base and capital funding mechanisms for technology acquisition, replacement and support consistent with the strategic importance of UMA's information technology mission.

Expectations that UMA meet the educational needs of the citizens of central Maine to add new associate and baccalaureate degrees is in direct competition with UMA's limited resources and heavy tuition dependence. In order to respond to this dilemma, it is critical that the UMA budgeting process allocate and reallocate resources according to academic programs of highest need, greatest achievement and greatest potential growth. Accordingly, program cost data never before collected, faculty teaching loads, delivery methods, as well as feedback from students, graduates, community advisors and employers are essential to decision making.

These internal and external realities have motivated UMA to establish technology as one of its highest budget and planning priorities, and to make advancements in all areas. Discussions about the placement and replacement of technologies on the Augusta and Bangor campuses is a continuous process and includes the Technology Advisory and Planning Committee made up of members from all UMA constituencies. As the IT department at UMA has evolved to become a better staffed operation with control over technology funds, campus-wide standards have been established, purchases limited to equipment and tools the campus staff can support, and expectations set for technology applications from the institution's leadership.

UMA Student Computing Equipment and Technology Fees

UMA was fortunate to have had its budget for technologies increased significantly with the Student Technology Fee, now a part of the student-paid Unified Fee. These monies have allowed UMA to maintain state-of-the-art computing resources for students at both the Augusta and Bangor campuses; as well as provide specialized software and hardware for Music, Biology, Photography, Nursing, Architecture, Financial Services and other academic programs including support for online library databases. Given limited campus base budget resources, UMA will continue to be dependent on these technology fees for student computing needs for the foreseeable future.

The Process of Acquiring Technology at UMA

All UMA technology purchases flow through the IT Department to ensure compatibility with current technology, and to coordinate availability of technical staff to install and maintain the technology. (Technology Purchasing Policy) Upon request, research is performed and prices are obtained for individual departments. The requests are analyzed for application appropriateness, and recommendations are made to the requesting party and his or her supervisor. Price comparisons or sole source approvals are completed via members of the IT staff as approved.

To avoid problems of document sharing, transfer of information and compatibility, a standard set of software tools are installed on all users' desktop by the IT department. UMA's standard for general office use is the current Microsoft Office Suite, an anti-virus program purchased by UMS, GroupWise email, and Adobe Acrobat Reader. Other specialized software is approved and installed on an as-needed basis. Some transition issues remain in the process of converting some offices to the Groupwise E-mail product, but work with these departments continues.

Funding for UMA's Technology Plan

The ideas presented in this document require a major changes in resource allocation of priorities. Expanded financial support from the UMS and/or the legislature is necessary to fund these critical initiatives.

Acquiring new technology as well as upgrading existing technology is essential for the growth and future of UMA. However, support services to accompany this technology are also critical. According to conventional wisdom, five times more should be spent on support services than on the technology itself. Additional technical staff and resources to support technology must be planned for and provided with every acquisition. By properly funding technology and its support services, the academic programs will prosper. Financial support from the UMS will be necessary.

Technology expenses and support services must be included as a necessary operating expense in the base budget. The current successful program of upgrading, replacement, and purchasing of new equipment to enable the students and faculty to take full advantage of evolving technology must continue. UMA can not afford to only allow innovative users to acquire new technology. UMA should have sufficient funding to provide appropriate technology and support services to all students, faculty, and staff.

Funding for necessary technology should come from several different areas. One source is the Technology Fee paid by all students. This money is dedicated to student technology needs. It should continue to be used to upgrade and acquire equipment and to support and improve the educational experience of the student.

Another area of funding is reallocation of resources within the base budget. Each department must take responsibility for ensuring that the technology and support services needed for their particular area is identified and included in the funding plan for each coming year which may require campus-wide reallocations.

As with all institutions, UMA has critical needs for new money to fund technology and the related support services.

ACTION STEP E2:

Consistent with Action Step A3, identify funding to support rapid development of asynchronous Web courses targeted for support of programs.

F. General Recommendations for Technology at UMA

(Note: this is a work in progress and the priorities may change)

  1. Programming needs and access to System data for decision making especially in the area of cost effectiveness, quality assurance and student satisfaction is essential.
  2. Creation of a research function and user-friendly reporting/access system for all users at UMA.
  3. Increases in operational/technical staff and ongoing training for IT department.
  4. Creation of an instructional development support team and system for faculty in traditional classrooms and for those teaching at a distance is essential if UMA is to move ahead with expanded distance education efforts.
  5. Enhanced development of asynchronous courses and distance programming should be supported by UMA as potential new revenue streams.
  6. UMA's Library collection budget needs additional base funding to respond to the addition of new academic programs.

H. Conclusion

UMA has made significant progress toward establishing itself as a techn