This story was written by freelance writer Joe Tougas, who will write a series of stories related to Campaign Gustavus this year.
It’s the difference between panic and presentation; between “I can’t work with this outdated computer anymore” and “You’re approved for a new laptop.”
It’s an excellent example of how Campaign Gustavus is helping to make a positive impact on teaching and learning for Gustavus faculty today and into the future.
Anonymous donors—described as entrepreneurs and parents of three Gustie alumni—have established a $2 million endowment for the College to use for technology renewal and replacement.
This means a campus where all faculty laptops will work on all the equipment in all the classrooms, with nothing lost in translation because of obsolete software or incompatible operating systems.
Key word: Seamless.
“In the old days,” says Provost Mark Braun, “every classroom had a computer and the computer was in this big box and every computer was different. And they had both a PC and a Mac but who knew if all the software and hardware exactly corresponded so that stuff you did in your office would actually work in the classroom.”
The solution, courtesy of the endowment, provides classrooms with wireless projectors that will work with the same computers faculty members use in their offices (and elsewhere) to create in-class presentations.
“Eventually, every faculty member will be issued a laptop, and what works in their office will work in their classroom,” Braun says. “In terms of effective teaching and learning, we’re very excited about it.”
It will be about three years before the endowment generates the estimated $100,000 annually for the College. When it kicks in, faculty will receive replacement computers about every three years. The donors in the meantime approved using a portion of the gift for faculty to get a head-start on the process of streamlining the technology during the next two academic years.
“Currently, some faculty members have machines that are five years old or even older, and in the technology sector, a lot can happen in five years,” says Faculty Associate of Technology Kyle Chambers, noting that iPhones are a relatively new technology.
“This older equipment,” he says, “has caused usability, maintenance, and security problems on campus, all of which will be ameliorated by the replacement cycle.”
Chambers also sees the loosening up of instructors via mobile technology as a gateway to innovation in the classroom.
“Faculty members can develop new assignments and discussion formats that take advantage of different classroom arrangements or locations outside of the classroom while maintaining access to the digital resources that they need for those activities,” Chambers says.
Overall, this endowment will give Gustavus faculty a new sense of confidence in an area infamous for unpredictability.
“This new endowment helps us to fulfill a vision,” Braun says. “There will be seamlessness between the professor’s work in their office—and then what takes place in the classroom.”
Campaign Gustavus is the $150 million comprehensive fundraising campaign that will help transform the College by funding recommendations of Commission Gustavus 150. If you would like to make a gift to support the campaign pillar of Teaching and Learning visit gustavus.edu/give.
Media Contact: Vice President for Marketing and Communication Tim Kennedy