My name is Dr. Reed Sheard and I serve as Chief Information Officer at Westmont College.
Technology at Westmont plays a vital role in the life of our community. From personal computing to classroom technology to social networking, every service and platform has experienced major improvements in use and capability in recent years.
Westmont was one of seven colleges and universities named to the InfoWorld 100 Awards as one of the top 100 IT organizations that have “implemented and integrated technologies in innovative ways in pursuit of concrete business goals”. We also received a Circle of Excellence award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for our social media site focused on serving young alums.
The popular magazine eCampus News chose Westmont from nearly 4,500 colleges and universities as the eCampus of the month for January 2013. The publication says Westmont has “implemented predictive modeling and cloud-computing programs to save money and spend budgets efficiently, becoming a model for small schools looking for ways to survive the slumping economy.”
I mention these because they help demonstrate that Westmont is doing some very interesting and important work in the area of technology, focusing on a number of core areas:
We are committed to being a leader in mobile technology in higher education. The Westmont College iPhone app was introduced in 2010 and is updated frequently. It features a GPS-aware shuttle tracker, dining menu, live streaming of athletic events, calendars, email directory and more. A replica of the iPhone app was created (m.westmont.edu) to support non-iOS devices. Our popular college publication, the Westmont magazine, is available as a native iPad app. It includes articles from faculty members and stories about the amazing work being done by Westmont alumni and friends around the world.
Westmont was the first school in the nation to transition all wireless access to 802.11n. We implemented over 290 wireless access points across campus to provide nearly 100% coverage. In addition, wireless is also available at our off-campus apartments in Santa Barbara and at our urban center in San Francisco. Sign-on is simple, secure and reliable. Every day more than 3,000 devices connect to our wireless network.
Recognizing how much work occurs via the Internet, Westmont has invested heavily in this area. Since 2009 we have dramatically increased wireless speeds at the college. Residence halls currently have nearly 1 Gbps of Internet access while the library, classrooms and college offices have access to a dedicated DS3. All told, this represents a seven-fold increase from 2009.
Cloud-based computing services give Westmont students, faculty and staff access to Westmont’s Google Apps services for email, calendar and document sharing. In addition, library resources in Voskuyl Library were recently moved to the cloud, giving students a friendlier user interface and full-text access to nearly 3,000,000 eBooks with 88,000 eBooks being added each semester.
The recently renovated Voskuyl Library Learning Commons integrates technology and traditional library services in spaces designed to inspire students to learn, think and imagine. Students have access to online databases, nine new conference rooms integrated with technology designed to foster collaboration, two different computer labs, blazing fast wireless, over 200 electrical outlets for plugging in your favorite device and 500 free pages of printing per semester in the Library for all students.
Westmont iTunes U has over 3,000 videos and audio lectures, Westmont Downtown Lecture Series and other special events. We converted over 30 years of recorded chapel talks and making them available in iTunes. In addition, WestmontTV, a YouTube channel, provides access to much of the same content. Westmont was one of the first schools in the country to provide live streaming of the college’s athletic events on the Westmont iPhone app with over 40 WarriorTV video broadcasts made available each semester.
All of us in IT are working hard to insure that your data is adequately protected. The wireless network and all my.westmont services (email, calendar and contacts) are encrypted for your protection. In addition, electronic card access exists in most residence halls.
In order to assist in ensuring the best learning environment possible, classrooms are either equipped with a start-of-the-art widescreen projector or LED/Plasma televisions, fast wireless, and advanced audio for presentations and lectures.
These are just some of the areas Westmont’s IT team is working on to reliably provide for students, faculty, staff and friends of the college. The opportunity technology represents to higher education when appropriately aligned to the larger purposes of the college is unprecedented. I recognize how quickly technology is changing and we are working to deliver technology-related services that make your connection to Westmont more useful and fun. Our goal is simple: to become one of the top technology departments in higher education. I encourage you to connect and check us out!