Reinhardt University SACSCOC Compliance Certification

3.4.12 Use of Technology

The institution’s use of technology enhances student learning and is appropriate for meeting the objectives of its programs.  Students have access to and training in the use of technology. (Use of technology)

Judgment check box Compliance

Narrative

Reinhardt uses technology to enhance students’ learning, to access learning resources, and to develop scholarship. Technology is used throughout the University’s academic programs, student services, and administrative operations. Reinhardt provides a rich technology environment that enhances student learning, is appropriate for the University’s programs, and is highly accessible to students and faculty at all sites and through all modalities. Likewise, training is available and easily accessible in curricular and non-curricular formats.

Information Technology Services

University-wide support for information technology at Reinhardt University is provided

by the department of Information Technology, which is led by the Director of Information Technology.  The mission of IT is "to provide student services through network services in the academic and student life areas and to provide administrative and professional information services to faculty and staff.”  [1]

This mission is pursued with the intent of providing tools and services that enable RU students, faculty, and staff to productively use information technology and information resources to achieve success. IT supports the University’s network and communications infrastructure and systems, central administrative information systems, instructional technologies (including classroom technology, computer labs, and online management systems such as EagleWeb,  software licensing, information security, process and service automation, and business intelligence delivery.

The University Libraries also provide significant support to students, faculty, and staff in the effective use of information technology tools and resources, as described in the narratives for Core Requirement 2.9 and Comprehensive Standards 3.8.1 and 3.8.2.

Use of Technology to Enhance Student learning

The technology tools, infrastructure, and information resources discussed above play a major role in RU’s strategy to provide a technology-rich environment to enhance student services and student learning. Additionally, the University provides extensive technology resources for student use and instructor use in the delivery of instruction and creation of learning environments.

Most majors require the use of technology in their major area courses. Communication & Media Studies, History, and Mathematics have specific learning outcomes for technology and assess their majors in the use of technology in some way.

  • One of the student learning outcomes for Communications & Media Studies is “students will use technology to enhance communication projects and course assignments.” In COM 103 (Writing and Media) student complete Audio Slideshow assignment that involves significant self-taught technological knowledge as well as the integration of principles of storytelling, photography and sound. In COM 202, students develop a a series of “Web Essays” using principles and technologies of blog writing. And in COM 490 (Digital Culture) , they  work on a “Transmedia Storytelling” project, which involves extensive use of multiple technological platforms and techniques. The results of the 2015-16 assessment report for the program indicate that the benchmarks established for these three assessments were met. [2]
  • History majors have to meet the following learning outcome: “Students will learn methodological competence in using libraries and appropriate technologies.”  Students are assessed in 300-level courses where they have to cite sources correctly, choose appropriate sources (new scholarship), and make good use of library resources. Similarly their senior portfolios have to receive a rating of “good” or better on the “competence using the library and appropriate use of information technologies” category of the rubric. The results for 2016-17 indicate that the benchmark for success for this learning outcome.  [3]
  • In Mathematics, one of the student learning outcomes is to “solve a problem by consulting various resources, applying appropriate technological tools, and using adequate approximations.”  Among other assessments, students taking MAT 215 (Computer Programming) are expected to correctly evaluate a C++ expression involving int type values. The 2016-17 assessment report for the Mathematics program shows that the benchmark for this learning outcome was met. [4]

Although not all programs have specific learning outcomes for technology use, students in most majors are required to use technology in major area courses to complete projects and research. The supporting documentation includes examples of how technology is used across a representative sample of RU majors to enhance student learning.  [5]

Appropriateness of Technology

Data collected from various surveys indicate that the University’s use of technology is adequate for meeting its program objectives and needs.  For instance, students are asked in the course evaluations to rate the extent to which technology used in the classroom is up to date and functioning. Students ratings can vary from 1 (Very Poor) to 5 (Very Good).  Over the past two academic years average ratings for this question have ranged from 4.2 to 5.0 across Reinhardt’s schools. [6] Students, faculty, and staff can request Information Technology services by phone or via an online form. [7]

Access to Technology

Reinhardt University offers a variety of technologies to improve teaching and learning for instructors and students that include but are not limited to:

  • Eagleweb: Reinhardt’s primary learning management system and student information system, based on Jenzabar’s JICS (Jenzabar Internet Campus Solution).  Eagleweb provides the University a secure online environment for teaching and learning, as well as providing online class registration and financial account access.
  • Savant: Another of Reinhardt’s learning management systems.  Savant is a contracted service provided by Savant, Inc.
  • LiveText: A learning management system used by the Price School of Education provided by LiveText, Inc.
  • Online library resources: Reinhardt’s Library provides access to several hundred online research databases (http://library.reinhardt.edu/research/electronic-resources-alpha.php) as well as an online card catalog (http://rclib2.reinhardt.edu/vwebv/searchBasic) and interlibrary-loan request form (http://library.reinhardt.edu/services/Interlibrary/request-form.php).
  • Computer labs: Reinhardt operates eight instructional computer labs (Lawson 204 and 207, Tarpley 111, Dobbs, Paul Jones G004, Fincher, Edit lab, Piano lab), and three special-purpose labs (Academic Support Lab, Student Success Center, Music Library).  Of the instructional labs, three are configured for general use and the remaining five have specific hardware or software for department-specific instruction.  The special-purpose labs are for the Academic Support Office, the Student Success Center, and the Music department’s Music Library.
  • Computer access: There are forty open access computers available in the Library for student, faculty, staff, and local community use. (http://library.reinhardt.edu/services/library-computers.php).  Certain labs have open-access hours when not being used for classes.
  • Available software: The University provides a wide variety of software in the computer labs, in the Library, and on the other publicly-available computers.  The university’s licensing agreement with Microsoft allows all computers to have Microsoft Office professional.  The university also provides SPSS, which is used by a number of different disciplines in various schools.  As of 2016,  the university has begun providing access to Adobe Creative Cloud software in selected computer labs.  There are also numerous smaller software packages for specific disciplines such as physics, theater, history, biology, and math.
  • Wireless networking: Reinhardt runs multiple WiFi networks to provide network access within any classroom, residence, or administration building on campus.   The WiFi networks in the residence halls provide Internet-only access, while the networks available in the classroom and administration buildings provide access to internal servers as well as the Internet. (http://www.reinhardt.edu/IT/Internet_Connectivity.html)
  • Email: The university provides all students, faculty, and staff with an email account through Microsoft’s Office365.  In addition to the email account, Office365 also provides access to Lync, OneDrive, and Sharepoint, and gives each user 50GB of online storage.
  • Classroom technology:  All classrooms on campus have, at a minimum, an instructor computer as well as a projector and sound equipment. An inventory of classroom technology is included in the supporting documentation. [8]

Training in the Use of Technology

With the increase of online learning and with the various systems that the University uses, a key component of the effective use of those systems is insuring that the instructors are trained in how to use them efficiently.

  • For Eagleweb usage, there is a faculty workshop hosted and taught by existing faculty to teach newly-hired instructors the capabilities of the Eagleweb system [9], and there are also introductory videos from that class that are always available at http://www.reinhardt.edu/facultystaff/training.html
    This training class generally happens prior to, or soon after the start of, Fall and Spring semesters, depending on the number of new faculty members that have been hired to that point.
  • Instructors using the Savant system are required to go through an online tutorial in the use of the Savant system before it will allow them to begin creating classes. [10]  The online tutorial is hosted in Savant’s system.
  • Instructors in Price School of Education take an online tutorial for LiveText. [11]

Students are also trained how to operate within the online systems.   During the New Student Orientation, new students are shown how to access their Reinhardt email account and are given a tutorial that covers the general use of Eagleweb for checking their financial accounts and registering for classes (http://www.reinhardt.edu/accepted-student/orientation/mission.html).  [12] Students are taught how to use Eagleweb for online classwork during class by their instructors.  In addition, Vcamp 360, the Learning Management System for the online degree programs has an online student tutorial that students in the online Bachelor’s of Health Care Administration program have to complete at the start of the class. [13]   Students in the online Bachelor’s of Criminal Justice and Bachelor’s of Business Administration have to take RHU 101 – Orientation to Online Learning, which trains them on the use of Vcamp360 for classroom work and the use of library resources. [14]

Course (group) instruction in library and information resources is available to all classes at all instructional levels and locations as well as online courses. The library offers varying levels of instruction depending upon the needs and requests from faculty. Faculty teaching First Year Seminar (FYS) classes are encouraged to schedule an instructional session to introduce students to library resources, policies and procedures, and basic research techniques. The training includes how to access and utilize the vast array of online research databases such as Galileo, EBSCOhost,  Proquest, and others, as well as how to use the Library’s Voyager online card catalog for printed books, and how to make an interlibrary loan request online.

Subject specific classes receive more in depth instruction of library resources, information literacy strategies, and research techniques including assignment specific instruction. [15] [16] Library staff works with faculty to tailor instruction to a course’s particular needs. [17]  After completion of the training, the Library asks students to take a quiz to gauge their comprehension of the subjects and ideas presented to them in the training.  As the chart below demonstrates for the Fall 2016 semester, the vast majority of students do gain a solid grasp of how to make use of the resources the Library offers.

Course Name Date of Instruction # of students in class # of  0% # of   20% # of 40% #of 60% # of 80% # of 100% Average score
BUS 120 8/26/16 22 1 2 19 96.36
BUS 453 8/25/16 20 6 14 94.00
EDU 510 8/29/16 8 8 100.00
EDU 510 8/31/16 17 2 15 97.65
ENG 101 9/26/16 17 1 16 98.82
ENG  101 9/26/16 12 12 100.00
BUS 303 10/3/16 23 1 4 18 94.78
BUS 290 10/10/16 24 2 22 98.33

Students in online programs receive instruction on use of library resources as part of the RHU101 course. While the instruction of library resources is administered in RHU101 by the course faculty member, the information on library use and resources was designed by library staff. [14]

Technology and Security

A chief concern in the use of technology is the protection of personal information.  The University has safeguards in place to ensure that information is only available to those who need access to it.  First, a student’s email account is considered the starting point for many of the security protections, since that is where the various online systems (Eagleweb, Vcamp360, etc) will send password resets and official notices.  As such, the University makes it plainly known to students to maintain the confidentiality of their email login credentials. [18] Second, all of the wireless networks across campus use current secure data encryption standards and protocols so that data “in flight” cannot be captured (http://www.reinhardt.edu/IT/Internet_Connectivity.html). [19] Third, any email correspondence between students and the University dealing with “official” business are required to use Reinhardt accounts exclusively. [18]

To protect the technological assets of the university, Reinhardt employs a multi-tiered approach.  At the level closest to the user, the university utilizes anti-virus and anti-malware software on all university-owned computers.  This software is managed through a central console that is administered by the IT Department, and is updated regularly.  Above that level, users are given only the minimal access necessary to network resources such as file shares and databases.  This helps to minimize the damage that can be done in the event of a malicious user or a new virus outbreak.  At a higher level still are firewalls that continuously scan for malicious activity in the traffic to and from the Internet.

Conclusion

Technology is an ever-changing field full of challenges and issues that offers immense capabilities and rewards to those who have access to it and can utilize it.  The University strives to provide current, accessible technology, and to make sure the students and faculty know how to make best use of that technology.

Supporting Documents

[1] 2016-17 Assessment Report – Information Technology

[2] 2015-16 Communication & Media Studies Assessment Report Excerpt

[3] 2016-17 History Assessment Report Excerpt

[4] 2016-17 Mathematics Assessment Report Excerpt

[5] Examples of Uses of Technology Across Majors

[6] Course Evaluations, Fall 2015 to Spring 2017

[7] IT Service Request Form Screenshot

[8] Instructional Technology at Reinhardt University

[9] Faculty Activities for Opening Week, Fall 2016

[10] Vcamp360 Instructor Guide

[11] LiveText Guide

[12] SOAR New Student Orientation Schedule

[13] Vcamp360 Student Guide

[14] RHU 101 Syllabus Spring 2017

[15] Library Business Resources

[16] Library Resources for Effective Research

[17] Library Reference Services

[18] Student Handbook, Information Technology

[19] Screenshot of Wireless Connectivity Site