II. 2000-2001 Priority Issues
F. Support and Training for Faculty and Students
1. Need Reflected in Survey and Computing Support's Perspective
50% of faculty would consider reallocation or definitely reallocate funding to improve faculty computing skills, 22% of faculty would definitely reallocate funding, and for 16% of the faculty, IT training is their single top priority.
84% of the faculty find the computing support staff friendly and courteous. 74% believe computing support staff are competent. Almost half of the faculty would like faster response times to IT problems. 51% of faculty maintain that the network and basic systems need to be more reliable.
Computing support is provided to the WSU community--students, faculty, and staff in, mainly, two ways: 1) education to help users help themselves and 2)technical support for more complicated computing problems. Approximately 275 requests are received per month, the most being received in September, 436, and the least in November, 216. There are about 90-100 outstanding requests at any given time.
Computing Support offers assistance with a core set of operating systems, Windows 3.1, Window 95 and modern versions of the Macintosh OS, and in standard general applications, including GroupWise, WordPerfect, Quattro Pro. Support for specialized, professional software, such as compilers, statistics packages, HTML editors or graphics systems, is not offered because of staff limitations with Academic Computing and Computing Support. No formal program for this type of support is offered on campus.
Although user education is the highest support priority, training was minimal after the CSS Education specialist resigned in February 1997 and before the new specialist was hired in December 1997. With the hiring of the new Education Specialist, training needs are being evaluated and provided on a request basis. Results of the ARCC faculty survey and the CSS secretarial survey have identified specific areas faculty and staff desire more training.
Technical support requests are fielded centrally at #7777 (phone), csupport(email) or TE209 (office). Most support requests are resolved over the phone or in the field by student hourly technicians. Walk-in support has decreased significantly since the Network Group implemented student email account activation over the internet. The decreased need of CSS assistance for walk in support, which was mostly student GroupWise accounts, and the increased experience of the CSS hourly technicians has allowed CSS to assign each Tech to a particular area (usually a building). Techs are able to get to know the staff and follow up more efficiently on the computing support requests. Feedback from Deans and staff has been positive about this approach. Indeed, the ARCC survey indicates that faculty believe the CSS Techs are competent and courteous, but desire more prompt attention.
CSS has, on the average, ten hourly Technicians working 20 hours/week at a $7.50/hour, a total of $85,000 in hourly wages/year. In the '97-'98 hourly wage budget, $24,000 (+ benefits) came from E&G money with the remainder from one time money, $23,000 (+ benefits) of which came from the ARCC.
Faculty also receive useful information and support through the Teaching and Technology Roundtable. This is a purposely informal group which shares information regarding the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning. Open meetings are held monthly at which faculty describe their uses of technology and discuss problems and solutions.
3. 2000-2001 Plan.
The ARCC recommends an allocation of $15,000 to Computing Support. Substantial additional one-time allocations from sources other than ARCC will be necessary to continue present support levels. Computing Support proposes that the hourly wage budget be funded annually with E&G money. See future recommendations.
4. Future recommendations.
a. Technical support--Funding for technicians should be base budget dollars not one-time money. Twelve technicians would more efficiently cover the computing support requests, requiring a budget of $100,000 per year (includes wages and benefits). However, with more efficient training for technicians and development of systems which require less technical support, hourly technicians could offer more assistance to faculty in academic computing projects.
b.Software support--Formal support for commonly used professional software, such as compilers, statistics packages, etc., should be established by the University. Computing Support should develop a proposal for how this could be established. See section II D. Discipline Specific Support.