The University has been recognized by Information Week as a top technology innovator across the United States. The theme of this year’s InformationWeek 500 is digital business. Villanova is one of seven universities nationwide to be selected as a top technology innovator.
“It’s not about information technology anymore,” said Chris Murphy, a writer for InformationWeek. “It’s about digital business. The new description is a testament to IT’s advancement from a back-office, support-the-business role into a developer of products and apps that customers use directly.”
The University began its technology makeover about 18 months ago. The innovation included upgrading classrooms, migration to cloud/ data hosting infrastructure, the addition of adobe connect for video and web conferencing, digitized student recruitment and application processes, as well as the creation of a “VU desktop,” where students can access a suite of academic activities from the convenience of their rooms.
“Technology at Villanova plays several roles,” said Stephen Fugale, vice president for technology and chief information officer. “The primary one is to facilitate teaching, learning and research on the campus. I want teachers and students to be able to do anything, anywhere, at any time, without being restricted to a classroom or specific meeting time.”
In addition to the software upgrades, many classrooms across campus have been re-vamped. Mendel has the most classrooms upgraded, and the Tolentine basement lab has been outfitted for the added ability to utilize Macs as well as PCs.
“A lot of our technology initiatives are centered around consumerization, because faculty and students have to have access to a variety of technology,” Fugale said. “The key is being able to connect.”
In terms of future technological pursuits, there are still many plans for improving campus technology, such as increasing access to information in different disciplines across the globe, as well as increased collaborations with experts in different parts of the world.
Additionally, the University plans to continue to facilitate learning that is learner-oriented.“You’ll have an ability to pick and choose from a portfolio of things that can help you learn,” Fugale said. “Villanova is focused on the creation of a custom learning experience.”
Fugale expects that in the future, there will be “augmented reality, gaming and different ways of presenting information and fostering a collaboration.”
Additionally, Fugale added that our social media and virtual collaboration efforts will continue to evolve and “things like Facebook and Twitter will be completely different in a few years.”
In order for our technology to continue to improve on campus, Fugale stresses the importance of public discussion. He encourages student input.
“It was faculty and student need that drove the university to re-evaluate its technological pursuits 18 months ago,” he said. “And it won’t stop. It’s faculty and students who will drive the continued evolution.”
The University is being recognized for being one of the top institutions of higher learning through continuing to innovate the technology of the classroom experience.