COMPUTER LITERACY/HARDWARE REQUIREMENTS
LEVEL THE FIELD FOR DISTANCE LEARNING
Staying current with technology has always been important to college students, and nowhere is this more evident than in the School of Information Studies professional master's degree programs. With a growing number of Independent Study Degree Program (ISDP) students taking classes via the World Wide Web, the school is setting down some minimum requirements for computer hardware and software. The students will also have to meet requirements for basic computer literacy and electronic communication skills.
Amy Merrill, director of distance education at the school, says many ISDP students have been out of school for some time and often lack experience with newer computer systems and the web. "We were spending too much time training them in basic skills they should already have, especially going into the information field," she says. "We had students coming in at all different levels, so it was frustrating for everybody."
Beginning this summer, the school's information technology literacy requirements for graduate students include the ability to format disks, save files, copy and paste text, install and remove applications, upload and download files, search the web, and use e-mail, listservs, bulletin boards, and chat rooms.
The school is also trying to level the hardware playing field, Merrill says, so it can implement more advanced web technologies in its online courses. Information studies graduate students must have access to an IBM-compatible Pentium or equivalent Macintosh with multimedia and Internet capabilities. Students will need daily Internet access, programs for e-mail and file transfer, and current versions of the Netscape or Internet Explorer web browsers. Other requirements include Microsoft Word or a compatible word-processing program, and spreadsheet, presentation, and anti-virus software.
Professor Stuart Sutton, director of the Master of Library Science (MLS) program, says similar requirements have been in place for some time for that program's ISDP students. "When you consider that 66 percent of the MLS students are studying through ISDP, having access to equipment with the necessary capabilities is fundamental to success," he says.
Sutton notes that WebCT, the school's online course management software, requires more powerful hardware for its wealth of multimedia capabilities. "If a student in Barrow, Alaska, is going to be fully engaged," he says, "he or she will at least need to be able to handle audio streamed over the Internet, as well as have a CD-ROM drive for multimedia resources prepared for specific courses."
He is confident that most students will have little trouble meeting the requirements and that all will benefit in the end. "The nature of these students' professional work will have them constantly interacting with information technologies, communicating with colleagues, and engaging in collaborative computer-based work," he says. "The foundations behind these requirements are part and parcel of the world they are entering and in which they must communicate and compete."
LAW, TECHNOLOGY, AND MANAGEMENT CENTER
TACKLES INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ISSUES
Inventors who want to develop their designs commercially face a daunting task. From patenting the invention to developing a prototype, determining market feasibility, and developing a business plan for producing the product, the complex process calls for expertise in many areas.
Theodore M. Hagelin directs the LTM center.
At the Center for Law, Technology, and Management (LTM), students study the commercial development of new technology and help companies determine the best way to bring their products from the laboratory to the marketplace. The center, which is celebrating its 10th year, offers certificates to students who take a 24-credit concentration of courses. Theodore M. Hagelin, LTM director, says the core of the program is a six-credit course that examines a range of legal and business aspects of commercial technology development. "We think about it in terms of intellectual property transactions," Hagelin says. "Just as you have real estate transactions, today people do technology transactions."
At the program's Technology Transfer Research Center, student teams take on projects for such clients as Eastman Kodak, Welch Allyn Corporation, the Center for Advanced Technology in Computer Applications and Software Engineering (CASE) at SU, the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, New York, and the New York State Technology Enterprise Corporation. The center does four projects per semester, with teams of four or five students working on each.
Students first assess a technology. "We want to know where the state of the art is in this area, and how this particular technology compares to what else is out there," says Hagelin. After learning a technology's strengths and weaknesses, Hagelin says, the students look at market applications where it will be of value, then analyze those markets to determine their size, structure, age, growth, customers, and competitors. The team then decides how best to move the technology toward market introduction.
Results are presented in bound 100-page reports that rival those done by professional marketing firms. "Our students get a unique learning opportunity," Hagelin says. "They work with cutting-edge technologies and, very often, senior management people and researchers at places like Eastman Kodak."
Jennifer Walters worked closely last year with two local companies at the research center to develop possible market-entry strategies for their new products. This spring she was one of eight teaching assistants at LTM, supervising a team of five students. A 1994 graduate of Le Moyne College in Syracuse with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and biology, Walters chose to study at SU in part because LTM allowed her to apply her science background to work in the legal field. "I have been able to work with clients and apply what I have learned to real-life situations," she says.