Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000



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No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

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The University will creatively deploy new technologies, recognizing that technology is revolutionizing the ways in which knowledge is acquired, created, and disseminated.

  • Make the implementation of new teaching technologies a University priority
  • Ensure that there is sufficient support for training faculty, students, administrators, and staff in the use of new technologies
  • Implement, through acquisition or development, state-of-the-art information systems that will improve the flow of information and electronic communication across the University
  • Take advantage of new technologies that will improve Penn's academic, administrative, and capital planning processes

Given the regularity and speed of technological advances, Penn is keeping pace with our institutional peers on most fronts of technology and, in a number of areas, Penn is in the vanguard, as the following will show:

Penn's Classroom Technology Services program is considered a model of excellence among our peers in the New Media Centers Consortium.

The strength of College House Computing was recognized by its peers at other institutions by winning the bid to host the national ResNet Symposium in June 2000 and securing a position on the national ResNet Steering Committee. Over the next five years, College House Computing hopes to maintain the excellent level of technical support given to its undergraduates and to broaden the technical training opportunities offered to students living in residence.

Advances in teaching, scholarship, administration and campus life based on technology are summarized below:

Classroom Technology Services (CTS) was created by ISC, with funding provided by the Provost, in Fiscal Year 98. CTS supports faculty in the use of technology to enhance teaching and learning, and maintains and improves the equipment available for classroom use. It works in concert with the Provost's Classrooms Committee, which is charged with renovating Penn's central pool classroom and installing new technology for instructional use.

Technology in Penn's central pool classrooms has moved forward on several fronts. In support of PennAdvance (the College of General Studies' web-based distance-learning project) and other distributed learning initiatives, the Classrooms Committee, representatives from SAS, SEAS, GSE, and CTS have collaborated to develop the Innovative Learning Space. This multimedia classroom was designed for flexibility in both layout and in the application of educational technology.

In addition to the Innovative Learning Space, individual Schools have made similar investments in their own classrooms, including ASC, GSE, Law, Nursing, and Wharton. For example, the Graduate School of Fine Arts completed an ambitious program of networking all of its design studios, so that over 400 students can work at individual work stations connected to networks. GSFA also created four computer labs with specialized equipment for digital graphics, modelling, animation and video.

Penn Video Special Interest Group (Video-SIG). ISC, in response to an increased demand for information about digital video technologies and their applicability within the classroom, helped convene Video-SIG with participation across multiple Schools and centers. The focus is to disseminate information about video and emerging technologies related to video to Penn faculty, staff, and students, as well as to assist faculty and staff in their integration.

Blackboard Pilot. ISC, along with SEAS and SAS, led the Blackboard pilot and larger-scale deployment. The goal of the ISC contribution was to help launch course support tools university-wide. In support of this goal, New Tools for Teaching committee members offered training sessions to faculty and staff. One finding from the fall 1999 Blackboard student survey (over 40% response rate): 83% of students who used Blackboard in their fall courses indicted that Blackboard CourseInfo "enhanced the quality of their courses."

College House Computing and the IT Advisor Program: Almost four years ago the University implemented College House Computing and the IT Advisor Program. The goal of this program is not only to ensure that the personal computers of the undergraduates living on campus are functioning properly, enabling them to succeed in their coursework, but also to empower students to experiment with technology through training and project opportunities. This year, for example, ITAs successfully connected over 1,600 students before the first day of class and an additional 500 by the end of the first full week of school.

Information Security Training. One component of ISC's overall plan to ensure the privacy and security of institutional data and systems is to proactively provide training to campus system administrators. Classes have been well attended, and response has been uniformly positive.

Internet2: The University of Pennsylvania is one of the 34 universities that helped launch the Internet2 Project in October 1996. Internet2 is the collaborative effort led by over 180 universities, working with partners in government and industry to develop advanced Internet technology and applications vital to the research and educational missions of higher education.


MAGPI, the Metropolitan Area GigaPoP in Philadelphia for Internet2, now provides Internet2/Abilene access to three prominent Philadelphia-area universities. Drexel, Lehigh, and Penn are UCAID members with research and educational applications appropriate for high performance networking. MAGPI is a high-performance network aggregation point in Philadelphia, and will be providing cost effective connectivity to Internet2 as well as other services to a number of regional primary and secondary participants.

An on-line Travel Reservation System and an electronic Expense Reporting and Management System for travel and entertainment expenses are under development. The reservation system will allow Penn users to book travel arrangements while ensuring that they receive the lowest fares.

Strategic Site License Fund. ISC continues to support this fund, established in FY 1996, to help subsidize license costs for the campus in three general areas:

  • protection of University information and assets (e.g., anti-viral software)
  • endorsement of University standards (e.g., network connectivity software)
  • support for major cross-School academic initiatives (e.g., Maple for Calculus Instruction/and facilitating Systat software in public access labs in support of the Quantitative Skills Initiative).

Technologies in University Libraries. The Library has built one of North America's leading academic digital libraries, providing desktop access to the electronic equivalent of a multimillion volume print collection. Further, the internationally recognized Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text and Image was established. The Center contains:

  • the English Renaissance in Context, an NEH-funded resource for the teaching of Shakespeare. ERIC presents digital facsimiles of the First Folio and other original sources integrated with a multi-media set of instructional materials.
  • digitalized manuscripts, exhibit materials, an internationally known and celebrated web site on the life and work of Marian Anderson, and numerous finding aids that make Penn's great rare book and manuscript collections accessible to scholars' desktops around the world.

The Library also partnered with Endeavor Information Systems in the development of the Web-based online library catalog and Library Management System. The resulting system, Voyager, bears Penn's imprint, and has influenced the development and acceptance of Web interfaces as the norm for library catalogs.

Voyager provides:

  • multiple search functions and the ability to link to other kinds of digital information (e-journals, databases and text documents)
  • multitasking capabilities involving other software, such as bibliographic applications
  • greater integration of print and electronic resources
  • graphical user interface for improved technical processing efficiency used to execute book orders online, import vendor supplied cataloging into the bibliographic database and to electronically transfer invoices to Accounts Payable.
  • online services such as book renewal, recall, and patron-accessible transaction reports, and e-mail notification and Web-based forms for 24/7 placement of Interlibrary Loan requests, reserve requests, and reference questions.

BorrowDirect is a collaborative lending service among Yale, Columbia and Penn that allows our users to request books directly from Yale and Columbia from Penn's online catalog, and fulfills requests in about half the time of Interlibrary Loan.

With the Oxford University Press, Penn began an internationally recognized e-book project to study the scholarly uses and benefits of full-text e-books, and assess their impact on traditional publishing. The Penn/OUP Digital Books Project has been reported on in Knight-Ridder newspapers worldwide.

A chat reference service was implemented in Wharton's Business Digital Library to provide real-time online access to reference help 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Penn ranked 15th overall and top in the Ivies in the "1999 Yahoo's Top 100 Most Wired Colleges." The survey covers major aspects of a school's wired life, including student web usage, network speed, network resources available, and number of laptop ports.


PRINT this document

No. 32, SUPPLEMENT: Agenda for Excellence 1995-2000 (~ 375 k; 32 pages)

Note: To read Acrobat® files, download the Adobe® Acrobat® Reader for free!

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 32, May 1, 2001