Baker College Technology
Baker College Technology
The Baker College System has over 7,000 PCs and other workstations on its campuses, about three-fourths of which are found in student laboratories and learning centers. All workstations are connected to the Baker College Wide Area Network. The College estimates that the replacement cost of this computer infrastructure is in excess of fifteen million dollars, and spends in excess of seven million dollars a year in new hardware and software costs to keep its technology current.
Baker College supports TCP/IP traffic on its computer backbone and a variety of Sun, Linux, IBM, and other servers are located on this backbone. Public servers are located in such a way as to allow access from the Internet. Other servers are protected from the Internet by firewalls, and administrative systems are further protected in various ways from possible breaches of internal or external security.
Multiple servers support users and applications in varied ways. Users log in to the appropriate server(s) and their applications are available from the hard drive, a local server, from another server on the intranet (the Baker College Wide Area Network), or from the Internet. One such Internet application is a shared automated library system called PALnet containing many online resources for research.
Many classes and programs at Baker College are available over the Internet and can be taken from any computer with an Internet connection. Baker Online currently boasts thousands of students attending class from the comfort of their own home.
On most campuses, Ethernet switches send data traffic over gigabit copper or fiber paths, depending on distances within or between buildings, and routers send traffic between campuses on the network. Users not located on a campus can access many Baker College resources by using any private Internet Service Provider.
Baker College students and staff also have wireless access in all public college areas.
The College provides full-time faculty members with PCs in their offices. Besides access to the Baker College Administrative System for advising purposes, faculty have access to e-mail, Web browsers, and the Microsoft Office Suite. Some faculty have access to specialized software as well if the syllabus guide for their teaching assignment dictates the use of that software. PCs are also available for part-time faculty in common areas.
The College supports a wide variety of software for the classroom. The Information Systems Department procures software licenses and software is installed in each classroom before the quarter begins to support each course that is taught in that classroom. A variety of non-standard classrooms also exist where students may be installing operating systems or networking systems.
Many faculty also use resources that are available on the campus or system intranet, or on the Internet. The Baker Web site contains links to many such sources on the Internet as well as to "local resources," which are created by faculty and are available to other faculty by authentication.
Dozens of standard PC classrooms, averaging about 24 PCs per room, are found on the various campuses. Laboratories where electronics, networking, engineering, graphics, and medical programs are taught have other specialized workstations or other computerized equipment to meet the needs of students in those programs.
Campuses also have PCs available to students in Learning Resource Centers and Campus Libraries to support out-of-classroom access and research needs.
Students also can access many course-specific Web pages where faculty place handouts, notes, and class materials and where students can participate in discussions outside of class.
A variety of computerized databases are available through the automated library system named PALnet and the Baker College Web page (www.baker.edu). Both on-campus and off-campus students can authenticate through Baker College’s Web site to access magazine articles or search such databases as CCH Internet Tax Research NetWork, OCLC Firstsearch, InfoTrac SearchBank, and ProQuest Direct.
The SOLAR (System Online Links to Academic Records) System also has proven to be a valuable addition to resources that help students track their progress at the College. The SOLAR System enables students to safely and privately access their own student data found on the College’s administrative computer from the Baker College Web site (www.baker.edu). To access the SOLAR System, students visit Baker's main Web page from either a classroom or home, select Student Resources, then follow the link labeled SOLAR System. Here students are allowed to:
- change their password or mailing address
- test their learning styles
- view their academic transcript, grade report, or attendance history
- view their own STEP plan to see their progress toward completing their degree
- view any open class sections that might help them complete their STEP Plan
- inform them of any unmet prerequisites or corequisites
- register for classes
- view their registered class schedule for all campuses and all terms
- view all classes that are open for any quarter where a class schedule exists on any campus
- view the status of their financial aid awards
- view the history of their payments and credits to their account at Baker College
- sign up for an Emergency Notification System
Any data that the student sees using the SOLAR System is "live data," which is exactly what would be seen by an administrative user. For example, during registration the number of seats left in open classes changes dynamically each time the Web page is loaded and the student’s transcript will change as grades are posted. Future enhancements and interactive features will be added to the system.
Registered students are assigned e-mail accounts and passwords for purposes of accessing all of these resources. E-mail is provided through a Web interface so that students and staff can access their e-mail through any workstation connected to the Internet.
All campuses also have equipment to deliver two-way interactive video to allow point-to-point or bridged video calls using the Baker College Intranet. Video classes and video conferences are used to enhance curriculum opportunities, as well as to allow staff and faculty to meet without significant travel.