By; Steve Wilaj
On Dec. 3, the faculty-assisting Instructional Technology Center in the Beeghly College of Education will be discontinued.
The ITC has been present for 16 years, providing Youngstown State University faculty members training and support with the use of educational technology. Specifically, the center provides guidance for Blackboard, the YSU online course management program.
Mohammad Jadun, director of the ITC for the past 11 years, called the decision “one of the biggest mistakes” YSU could make.
“As big as we are, it will have a terrible effect on the quality of instructions that the teachers will deliver to students,” Jadun said. “In a time where things are moving to digital work — to technology — pulling support from the faculty regarding technology will be the biggest mistake of the administration.”
The removal of the ITC is a result of the university’s recent budget cuts. Ken Schindler, YSU’s associate vice president and chief technology officer, said it was a difficult decision, but one that had to be made.
“I know Mohammed would disagree, and I respect his opinion, but I felt that the ITC and that position is not as necessary as some others,” Schindler said.
Jadun said from a technological standpoint, YSU will be digressing.
“Once they pull the center, they will be going back 16 years,” he said. “The result will be that all the effort we did in the past to bring instruction into technology levels that responds to all three learning styles will be eliminated. Eventually, the people will be frustrated because there’s no help, and they will waste tons of time.”
Jadun recently compiled statistics showing the importance of the ITC.
From Jan. 1 to June 30, the center dealt with 610 faculty emails, 427 phone calls and 273 Blackboard course requests. It also provided Blackboard workshops to 61 faculty members and served 39 one-on-one appointments.
“They’ll end up going back to the type of courses that only will be a minimum of uploading a syllabus or handouts,” Jadun said. “No multimedia stuff will be included. There will be no programs for the new faculty because workshops will be cut out.”
Jadun also predicts part-time faculty members will suffer the most.
“They use [the ITC room] as office space — printing, working and many other things — but that will be eliminated too,” he said. “There will be no place for them to prepare.”
However, Schindler disagrees that YSU will digress. As a solution for losing the ITC, technological services will be dispersed throughout the university’s departments.
“I made those choices [of eliminating the ITC] based on where I thought we could shift some responsibilities around and still provide a good baseline of services,” Schindler said.
The Tech Desk will handle basic Blackboard questions, while Classroom Technology Services will address the more complicated concerns. Meanwhile, content development questions and training will be referred to the Office of Distance Education.
Furthermore, Information Technology Services will be the primary liaison between YSU and Blackboard, and training videos will be made available as well. Also, Blackboard will undergo upgrades and enhancements throughout November and December for easier use.
“I have my opinion that it will be effective,” Schindler said. “How effective is a qualitative measure that I won’t be able to tell for a semester or two afterwards.”
Jadun predicts it will take only three months for the administration to realize the negative effects of losing the ITC.
For example, he said the tutorial videos — which he created — will soon become obsolete because they won’t be continually updated.
“The problem is that Schindler is not faculty-oriented,” Jadun said. “He’s a technical person. He does not know how the faculty needs help — the type of needs.”