By: Damon Turner
The Office of Information Technology at Western Michigan University has plans for new software, new programs and new equipment to be installed in the coming year to better serve the campus and to save money.
OIT is facing its 13th year of budget cuts, said Tom Wolf, Chief Technology Officer. The IT budget from the 2012-13 fiscal year was $40.4 million.
With these cuts, the department has had to become resourceful and think of new and affordable ways to help serve students, staff and faculty.
Recently WMU has contracted with Charter Cable to put in digital channels across campus. With this change, the university will begin to save approximately $30,000 per year on the cost of the cable. WMU will also see an increase in the quality and number of channels provided on across campus.
One tool being used to help decide where cuts can occur is Lab Stats, a program that tracks usage in 1,300 of the 2,500 computers on campus. Lab Stats will help the technology department determine if a program is being used in a certain lab, how often and how many licenses are really needed.
Some of the many new programs being considered include Camtasia Relay, a graduation media site, and an instant messaging system created specifically for WMU students.
Camtasia Relay works with E-learning to allow for easy video capture, light editing and uploading of class assignments. Camtasia Relay is not yet available for student use; it is currently being developed and tested by the IT faculty. Once the program is fully working and tested, Camtasia Relay will soon after be available to students.
A benefit of the media site for students, family and friends is access to downloadable videos from graduation ceremonies. No more need for DVD duplications.
The instant messaging software will allow students to communicate with classmates without giving out other personal information such as their phone number for texting. Students will be able to login to the program with their Bronco net id and password. This will also be created into a mobile app to help with the ease of anywhere access.
All of these proposed programs are virtually free and at no cost for the department.
“We know you guys [students] like to do a lot online,” Wolf said. “So we’re trying to accommodate that the best we can.”
WMU is considering the purchase of new hardware that would allow for a stronger signal and connection to the campus Internet service provider.
Wireless printing will be introduced to large computing labs next year, allowing printing from laptops, tablets or phones. While ease of printing might suggest more printing, a new printing software, Paper Cuts, will better maintain printing quotas. The allotted amount will be monitored and kept more organized. Staff and students will not lose prints in the case of a paper jam.