Maui College Information Technology Services

 

Overview. Information Technology Services is housed in the new Ka`a`ike Technology Center (Fall 2001). It is comprised of media services which supports and produces distance education telecourses and teleclasses, as well as traditional services, such as copying and graphic arts, and computing services which supports the college network, central servers, web activities, user support, and repair/ maintenance of more than a 1100 computers on the tri-island campus.

 

Computing Plans. In 1982, Maui College created its first computing plan to achieve the goals and satisfy the needs determined by a college-wide assessment. Its focus was fourfold: 1) integrate computing into curriculum, regardless of the field of study; 2) create the necessary hardware/software/staff infrastructure to support in-house administrative and academic support computing, including fiscal, personnel, library, and student information systems that could share data with other branches of the University of Hawaii; 3) implement a campus-wide information network to support e-mail, word processing, spreadsheet and file transfer applications; and 4) create a college Cable TV station for delivery of telecourses and teleclasses. Funds for implementing this initial plan came from a five-year Title III grant that began later in 1982.

 

Since Cable TV was not widely available on the Island of Lanai and the remote area of Hana, Maui College developed a distance education technology plan and received a half-million dollar grant from NTIA to engineer and implement the first interactive full-motion video teleconferencing system in Hawaii. The resulting microwave system, SkyBridge, was first used August 1988, connecting UHMC’s Education Centers on the Islands of Lanai and Molokai, and the remote region of Hana, with the main campus in Kahului, Maui.

 

Since the above plans were either finished or nearing completion, a third plan was created in 1988. Its focus was on the creation of microcomputer classrooms for instruction and computer labs, placement of computing capability in every faculty office, training faculty in the newly emerging PC technology, and change the campus network infrastructure from serial connections to Ethernet. In 1993, a fourth plan was created, to upgrade WAN connections to two T1 lines, to shift to new information technologies on the Internet, and to envision a new technology facility to house distance education teleconferencing classrooms, specialized computing and multimedia labs, a new conduit infrastructure with fiber connecting all facilities on campus, and upgrade SkyBridge using digital technology. It was also necessary to plan additional microcomputer classroom and computer lab facilities to meet expanding instructional needs across the curriculum, and take advantage of the increasing amount of information available on the Internet.

 

The current, fifth, plan is being developed to fully utilize the new technology facility, fiber infrastructure and OC3 capacity to each outreach center and the outside world. Key components of the plan are: 1) create mechanisms to maintain currency in hardware, software and network connectivity for the 16 microcomputer classrooms, 14 computing labs, and 12 distance education classrooms; 2) train faculty in the instructional use of multimedia, particularly for distance education, to take advantage of broadcast video and on-demand video technologies; 3) develop new instructional and degree programs in Information Technology to meet community needs and fully utilize UHMC’s unique facilities and sophisticated equipment; and 4) provide faculty and staff to instruct, train, maintain and implement new technologies.

 

Communications. Campus buildings are connected by both multimode and single mode fiber, the latter being used primarily for special video functions. Multimode fiber is used for traditional data communications via switched Ethernet at speeds of 100mbs and 1000mbs. The four outreach education centers and the main campus are connected with each other, the Internet, and other branches of the University of Hawaii via OC3 links (154mbs) which carry both traditional data and interactive video over the TCP/IP network. The main campus has two OC3 links, one via microwave and the other over fiber. This provides redundancy and reduces congestion that might be caused by large amounts of interactive video traffic. Within buildings Cat 5e or Cat 6 support Fast Ethernet or gigabit communication speeds.

Central Servers. The more than 1000 Maui College computers connect to servers at the University of Hawaii for e-mail, personnel, fiscal, student information, and Laulima instructional systems. Maui College supports a variety of central servers for a variety of functions, such as web servers, facility scheduling and calendars, placement testing, skills development applications, work requests and maintenance, file servers for faculty, staff and students, storage of large files necessitated by 3D modeling and animation, and software license control. Server hardware includes legacy VAX systems, Alpha, Compaq (single, dual, and quad processor systems), and miscellaneous PC servers. IT Services also supports instructional PC-Clusters used for high performance computing technology at Maui College.

Facilities. IT Services supports seven new distance education classrooms that employ teleconferencing technology for instruction. An eighth classroom is used to produce Cable TV classes, and a new video production studio (sound stage) is used for professional production and training of students. The college has 20 microcomputer classrooms (each usually employs 24 student work stations, one presentation system for instructor, and two printers). There are 14 specialized computing labs, including the new Ka’a’ike optics and laser lab, a 24-station Electronics and Computer Engineering Technology lab, a 34-station business lab, and 44 computers in The Learning Center. Maui College boasts a student-to-computer (computers used only by students) ratio of 1 computer to 4.6 students. Beginning with 250 students in the 2009-10 academic year, Maui College is piloting a program which will eventually provide a notebook computer for every student attending the college.

Staffing. Three full-time media specialists produce interactive video teleclasses for delivering instruction to UHMC’s educational centers on the islands of Molokai and Lanai and in the remote locations of Hana, Kihei, and Lahaina on Maui. The three media specialists also provide programming for MC-TV and instructional design support services for faculty utilizing campus technology. A media coordinator/director oversees the distance education technical activities, instructional design activities for faculty and staff, a professional TV studio and audio studio, and online editing facilities, and a facility to develop multimedia materials, including printing, duplication and desktop publishing services. The department’s graphic artist supports these multimedia services. Two electronic engineers maintain the center’s distance education facilities that include a digital microwave communications system and two satellite downlink stations. They are also tasked with installing and maintaining plasmas screens, video projectors, SmartBoards and other classroom presentation systems. A third electronics technician specializes in maintenance and repair of the more than 1100 computers, printers and peripherals on the main campus and three outreach centers. This technician is supervised by a communications coordinator/director who is responsible for network infrastructure, central computer servers, college web site, instructional and administrative systems and support of faculty/staff computer usage. A systems programmer, two applications programmers, user-support/computer-trainer, webmaster, a fulltime technician for the four outreach centers, and fulltime and half-time clerical staff also provide their necessary services.