USF turns to campus community for how to spend technology funds

High-tech group study rooms may be one way USF Information Technology (IT) decides to spend tuition-based technology funds. Or IT may choose one of the 60 other proposals from students, faculty members and administrators.

To decide how funds will be used in the 2010-11 academic year, IT created three committees – Student Technology Advisory Council, the University Technology Standard Board and Chief Information Officers Council – to review submitted proposals by July 1, said Vice President of IT Michael Pearce.

“The proposals from students help us to focus, so we make sure the fees are going toward something the students find value in,” Pearce said. “We should be using the fee where it serves the greatest majority and the needs of students.”

A student’s technology fee is 5 percent of his or her tuition per credit hour. USF is projected to receive $6.8 million from the fee in the next academic year, said Director of IT Business and Finance Nancy Baron.

Proposals must suggest how funds should be used in at least one of five areas approved by the committees: mobile computing, including applications for smart phones and iTunes; visualization projects, like computer simulation programs; safe, secure and high available learning environment, like improvements to the emergency system; and accessible and digital learning, which could fund tools to assist in organization and management, according to the Technology Fee Proposal Evaluation.

Submitted proposals – like using funds for the “iPad music ensemble,” a group of students that would perform songs through music applications on Apple iPads and eBooks used to promote textbook affordability – can be viewed on IT’s Web site.

Pearce said a proposal accepted last year focused on “classroom capture,” which streams video and voice recordings of online classes for students. The committees will decide how many proposals they want to accept.

However, Pearce said only one proposal is likely to be chosen.

Since January, 61 proposals have been submitted for approval, Baron said. For the 2009-10 academic year, 68 proposals were submitted.

Pearce said IT began accepting outside proposals last year and all submissions are weighed equally.

“We get a wide variety of different types of proposals as they can be from pretty much anyone,” Pearce said. “They can come in from a faculty member, a staff member or a student.”

Proposals cannot include suggestions to replace or install technology equipment in classrooms, or replace or buy new computers. Those must be funded by individual departments or the University,

A form available on the IT Web site provides step-by-step instructions for filling out proposals, which must include a detailed description, the estimated cost and resources needed to carry out the project.

Students, faculty and staff may still submit proposals online via the IT Web site.