On Course Archives
On Course, March/April 2001
There is no question that keeping pace with new developments in technology is an ongoing challenge, particularly for a University the size and scope of SUNY. What has become clear to me, however—and is easily conveyed in this issue of On Course— is that SUNY is better positioned to embrace technology because of its collaborative approach to sharing information and implementing new initiatives.
For example, SUNY libraries are joining together under a common library management system to ensure easy access to information resources for students and faculty. The SUNY Training Center provides technology-focused training to campus faculty, staff and administrators that directly supports efforts to implement new academic initiatives, meet changing student expectations, and enhance the learning experience. And the work of our academic researchers, as highlighted in this issue by work underway at the Health Science Center at Brooklyn, is undoubtedly enhanced by access to peers through collaboration across campuses, made possible through advanced means of communication.
A strong position relative to technology is critical to advancing the goals that Chancellor King and our Board of Trustees have set regarding the positioning of SUNY in the the front ranks of American higher education; it greatly enhances the services we offer to our students and the broader communities of this state and beyond. I look forward to providing you with continued updates on our progress in these and other initiatives. If you would like additional information about any of the topics covered in this issue of On Course, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.
Binghamton University, University at Buffalo, University at Stony Brook, SUNY Fredonia, SUNY Oswego, and Tompkins Cortland Community College have been dubbed the pilot six—the first SUNY campuses to install a new common Library Management System (LMS) using Ex Libris’ Aleph 500 software. This installation, one of the driving components of the SUNYConnect integrated library project, marks a significant step forward in greatly enhancing the information resources available to SUNY students and faculty
"SUNYConnect is a ‘leveling up’ of State University libraries—an effort that will ultimately allow 71 libraries and 18 million volumes to be accessed as though they were a single entity," said Provost Salins. "Our pioneer campuses in this effort will provide critical data that will guide us as we move forward with the roll-out.
SUNYConnect is designed to provide the SUNY community with anytime, anywhere access to expanded information resources. Its major components include:
"We went through a careful process to select a new LMS, have secured new hardware for all campuses so that they can most effectively run the system, and now, are hard at work getting the system up and running at our six pilot campuses," said Carey Hatch, Assistant Provost for Library and Information Services. Hatch explained that the transition to the new LMS is a time intensive process that varies by campus depending on library size and the functionality of their current operating platform. "Campuses must extract data from their old system, convert or map it to the new system, systematically load their data—student information, circulation transactions, acquisition records, vendor transactions, and more—and then begin an extensive testing component."
As the transition is taking place, the original system used by the library is still functional to avoid any delays for students and faculty. Hatch said that SUNY Fredonia was the first campus to actually have the new system in production. "In all, the transition is going as expected and we are gearing up to move forward."
The SUNYConnect initiative is managed by the Office of Libraries and Information Services (OLIS), part of the Advanced Learning and Information Services area of the Provost’s Office, in partnership with SUNY library directors. "SUNY library directors are a motivated and dedicated group," said Hatch. "They are working cooperatively and using each other as a resource along the way." Pilot campuses are communicating with one another and with Hatch and his staff via listserves, bi-weekly conference calls and face-to-face meetings. "The real benefit of being SUNY is we work together on things, we work together to find solutions." Hatch noted that his staff is developing a comprehensive guide to installation for other campuses, compiling detailed information from the pilot institutions.
The next group of campuses will begin implementation in summer 2001, with small groups of campuses following at six month intervals. "Our implementation schedule runs through 2004," said Hatch.
In addition to the work associated with the LMS installation, other components of SUNYConnect are also moving forward. "Based on recommendations of an advisory group of campuses, we have already begun to purchase content under the rubric of SUNYConnect, buying with the collaborative power of all institutions," said Hatch. "Once an acquisition has been made, all campuses need to do is point their web browser to the right server location and their library community has immediate access." Hatch also noted that discussions are underway with ground carriers to facilitate borrower requests, "Students and faculty will soon be able to request an item from any SUNY campus and have it delivered within 48 hours."
Further, through a competitive proposal process, Ulster Community College was selected to develop a web-based information literacy course that is being used as an important tool in ensuring that the SUNY community understands how to access the enhanced information resources available to them now and going forward. "Training and education are vital components of SUNYConnect and critical responsibilities of libraries in general," said Associate Provost Christine Haile, who leads the Advance Learning and Information Services area. "Working with Ulster to have this course developed meant that we could provide an important service to our communities without having each campus recreate the wheel." Haile said that many campuses have begun using the course or some component of it already.
Hatch noted that there are also important advances on the horizon. "We will continue to make progress in securing electronic resources that best meet the needs of our community and will continue to work with Provost Salins to achieve his vision of an integrated SUNY library that is further connected to other libraries in the state and beyond."
Provost Salins acknowledged that this is a critical time for all libraries. "The trend that is moving us from a print-based
collection to an electronic one presents both challenges and opportunities. I am very pleased with the direction of SUNYConnect and with the
cooperative spirit in which this work is taking place. We are laying a foundation now that will provide enormous value well into the future."
Additional information on SUNYConnect can be found at:
Given the warp speed of recent technological advances, those that provide training in how to use technology—whether it’s a new software program or an entire new operating system—have had to be flexible, creative, and innovative; a mode of operation that the SUNY Training Center knows well.
"The Center was created 10 years ago in response to a need for training by 17 campuses that had undergone a major first, purchase of new mainframes," said Center Director Leslie Mayville. "Then with increasing speed, our mission has evolved to include training on an on-demand schedule that also encompasses professional development, from helping faculty and staff adjust to teaching in an online environment to training librarians for SUNYConnect [see related article above]."
Housed in the Office of the Provost, within its Advanced Learning and Information Services (ALIS) area, the SUNY Training Center acts as a one-stop resource for technology training and related development and also works to create networking opportunities among campuses for instructional development initiatives.
Although the Center is physically located in Syracuse (hosted by the Health Science Center at Syracuse), it is a "virtual" organization, drawing from and sharing expertise throughout SUNY. According to Mayville, Center staff provide training, facilitate training done by SUNY faculty and also contract with outside vendors for the provision of training services. Course topics range from "HTML fundamentals" and "Oracle 8i New Features for Administrators" to "Accounting for Non-Accountants." Importantly, the training schedule is flexible. "We go to campuses, they come to us, we offer training over the web and via video-conference," said Mayville. "We understand that timing is critical and we are geared up to serve campuses in the way that best meets their particular needs."
The Center offers programs for a variety of SUNY audiences—campus presidents, faculty, librarians, academic support staff and more—and is supported through both system-level funds and membership fees paid by campuses. The center is a driving sponsor of the annual Conference on Technology (see inset on page 3) and makes its facilities available for campus technology meetings and events.
Currently 41 campuses participate in Center programs. "As our services grow, I do expect an increase in the number of campuses using Center services," said Mayville. "We have received a great response to our relatively new efforts in the way of professional development; helping faculty become more comfortable using technology in the classroom and working to address the challenges that go along with the transition."
Mayville said that the Center is guided by a 41 member (one representative from each participating campus) Advisory Committee and an eight member Executive Board that meets quarterly. The Center has begun using surveys as one way of assessing what programs would provide the most benefit. "We want to be proactive in anticipating needs." The Center works closely with SUNY’s Information Technology Exchange Center (ITEC)—also housed within the Provost’s office—to ensure that campuses are prepared to meet the technology implications of new software installations and new program initiatives. "Whether its Windows 2000, Linux, ORACLE, or SUNYConnect, we are ready to provide support." The Center also works closely with the SUNY Learning Network, the University’s online education program, providing administrative support for faculty training.
"The Center serves campuses and University-wide programs alike," said Associate Provost Haile. "It is an important example of the benefits of collaboration, leveraging our investment in training many times over." Additional information on the services provided by the Training Center is available at: http://www.tc.suny.edu/.
Expected to attract hundreds of SUNY staff from across all campuses, the 2001 Conference on Instructional Technologies is an important part of the University’s ongoing dialogue about how technology can be used to improve learning and teaching effectiveness. "This annual event is a terrific opportunity for the SUNY community to share expertise and experiences," said Provost Salins. CIT features software demonstrations, workshops, roundtable discussions and more.
CIT will be held at the SUNY College of Geneseo this year and will run from May 29 - 31, 2001. Registration, accepted only online, will be ongoing through May 25th. To register or to view the event schedule, visit the CIT website at http://www.cit.suny.edu.
CIT 2001 is co-sponsored by the SUNY University Faculty Senate, SUNY Faculty Council of Community Colleges, and the SUNY Training Center.
Joining the Health Science Center at Brooklyn as Director of Clinical Chemistry in 1983, Dr. Randall Barbour was quickly intrigued by a concept outside of the traditional domain of chemists; he believed that body tissues could be imaged optically using scattered light. With the help of colleagues at the Health Science Center and at neighboring Polytechnic University, Dr. Barbour began with a novel-imaging scheme that has, over time, resulted in the creation of a new, near-infrared technology that allows for continuous 3-D imaging of large tissue structures.
"There is no question that the Health Science Center at Brooklyn is dedicated to an expanding research environment, one that provides an enriched academic experience for our students," said Dr. Eugene Feigelson, Senior Vice President for Biomedical Education and Research and Dean of the College of Medicine. "Dr. Barbour’s work is at the cutting edge of optical tomography. He has a grand vision fueled by energy and creativity."
Now head of the Optical Tomography Group at Brooklyn, Dr. Barbour’s patented approach generates images of internal body structures through computerized analysis of the patterns of scattered light. This technology, unlike other imaging methods, does not require the use of nuclear materials or tissue-damaging radiation and has broad implications for both detection and monitoring of breast cancer, various forms of vascular disease, imaging of brain function and trauma, and much more. "Previously, optical measures of the type we perform were restricted to the near surface (< 1 mm)," said Barbour. "Now, for the first time, we can see and measure changes in the tissue dynamics of blood volume and its oxidation state throughout a large structure in real-time. This is critical because there is essentially no disease state that will not have an impact on the vascular response. If there is a problem in blood flow anywhere, you know you have a problem."
Dr. Barbour referred to research underway at Harvard University relative to the theory that tumors grow by recruiting their own blood vessels, thus, if that blood flow can be interrupted, the tumor can be killed. "We think that our technology will provide researchers with the capability to monitor varying drug therapies and their effect on this generation process," said Barbour. "Optical tomography is low-cost, ultra-sensitive, non-damaging and capable of being miniaturized." Barbour noted that there are even possible applications for NASA. "We often see pictures of astronauts in space with swollen faces. There is no question that the absence of gravity influences vascular dynamics. Optical tomography would be the ideal way to measure and study those changes."
Barbour, in cooperation with the Research Foundation of SUNY and the Health Science Center, has established an independent company called NIRx Medical Technologies Corp. It is through this company that the hardware and software to actually put the technology into practice is being developed. The DYNOT (DYNamic Near infrared Optical Tomography) Imaging System incorporates scalable hardware and advanced software to provide investigators with the capability to measure and image hidden structures in tissue and other highly scattering media (even substances like light-colored drug powders). The system is commercially available for research investigations, though it cannot be used in diagnostic or therapeutic applications until it receives FDA approval.
"Optical methods applied to tissue studies are following a growth pattern similar to how magnetic resonance imaging has evolved," said Barbour. "Within 3 to 5 years ours and related technology will be part of routine practice and within 10 years, it will be available everywhere." Of note is that the first human images using magnetic resonance imaging were produced at the Health Science Center at Brooklyn in 1977 as part of the work of Dr. Raymond Damadian.
Barbour does not anticipate that optical imaging will replace now widely used technologies such as MRI, ultrasound and the more recently available Positron Emission Tomography (PET). "Each of these technologies, having been identified by the National Institute of Health as leading technologies, offer uniquely beneficial qualities, but they can also work quite well together."
Citing the importance of research to the student academic experience, Dr. Barbour said he currently has students working with him from the high school through the post-doctoral level.
Dr. Feigelson noted that increasingly, academic medical centers are known internationally first for their research. "From housing what is perhaps the best hippocampal group in the world [studying the part of the brain known as the hippocampus], to ground-breaking studies in the genetics of alcoholism, epilepsy, AIDS in women and children, and cardiac medicine, the Health Science Center at Brooklyn continues to excel in this regard. Dr. Barbour’s work has made an invaluable contribution to that growth and to the Center’s prominence."
Also a member of the Polytechnic University faculty, Dr. Barbour expects continued collaboration between the two institutions and sees the possibility of alliances with multiple SUNY campuses down the road. He said that immediate priorities include proposal development for additional grant funding for new imaging studies in specific areas of the body.