The Communicator :: November/December 2007
As you have already noticed, MTSU launched a new homepage in August. In follow-up of the Web response to a Stamats report, an ad hoc committee (Lucinda Lea, Bob Glenn, Joe Bales, Doug Williams, Cathy Lower, and Barbara Draude) was established to recommend changes to the MTSU opening homepage. The committee reviewed three potential designs and asked the Web applications team to survey students as to the preferred design. Once the design was settled upon, the redesigning process began.
The impetus behind the redesign was to improve the aesthetic appeal of the homepage as well as bolster its impact.
The launching of the homepage correlated with the unveiling of MTSU's "I'm One"; campaign, which includes testimonials from students describing the exciting and distinctive attributes of MTSU.
The changes in the new homepage provide a sleeker design and more options for the user. The links are now located in the center of the page, instead of on the left side. In order to minimize clutter, the links to campus news have been eliminated from the homepage. In addition, there are now options for prospective students, incoming students, current students, graduate students, and alumni to choose from.
The result is a cleaner, crisper homepage for both visitors and regular users to enjoy.
It's a harbored technological myth that professors are always catching up with their students. As the digital world expands, professors are now taking the reins and teaching students how technology can improve their retention. It's an exciting time to be teaching for professor like Dr. Randy Livingston.
Dr. Livingston, an assistant professor of Journalism at MTSU, has integrated all of his classes into a single Web site chocked full of student resources. It's a fifth-generation Web site that allows students to post messages and images as well as share files. There is also a Web-based calendar, the iCal, which lays out the course schedule.
"That itself has been great because students don't have as many questions about what's due and when it's due because it is all on the iCal,"; Dr. Livingston said.
A link from the main class Web site will take you to a video workshop Dr. Livingston has set up. It is a place where videos and tutorials can be streamed for student use.
The area Dr. Livingston most enjoys is his work with audio and visual Podcasts. "I like to use Podcasts to go beyond what is normally taught in the classroom,"; he said.
The technological methods he has been teaching his students have been appreciated. "The way I incorporate technology into my Media Design classes has been (received positively) because it is tools they can use,"; he said. "I have students seems to be more engaged. They already have some gears turning when they come to class on a particular topic and it enhances our classroom time together.";
Dr. Livingston took great care with the decision to make most all class information available on the Web. He wondered if students would spend their time online instead of attending class. However, the result has been quite the opposite. "I actually haven't seen (classroom attendance dropping). I'm not a teacher who takes roll. … But that information and lectures being online hasn't been a deterrent or factor in attendance.";
Delving into Middle Tennessee State's technological network can be a daunting task for some. It certainly helps to have a friendly face for guidance through all the intricacies and nuances. Add systems analyst Jo Ann Baston to that long list of personable Information Technology Division employees.
Like many jobs in ITD, Baston's job is constantly evolving. Currently, her main task is assisting users to set up programs using the recently installed Banner system.
"A lot of the users we have right now don't have the access (to Banner). Two other people besides myself are creating programs for them and giving them the information,"; she said.
While she is enabling others to create programs with Banner, she is still learning herself. It could be a potential minefield of problems, but Baston's positive perspective keeps the process moving forward.
"(It's a challenge) learning where everything is in Banner compared to the Plus system. And at the same time, getting people the information they need,"; she said. She said that maintaining poise in pressure situations is key.
Baston worked in Nashville for the state of Tennessee for 18 years before joining ITD in 2001. It's a move that has paid dividends for the Murfreesboro resident. Her warm persona fits right in with what she noted as the friendliness of the campus.
"Helping the user and getting them what they need (is the most rewarding aspect),"; she said. "Just knowing that you solved a problem or you got something they needed is nice.";
Baston enjoys being outdoors with her husband and spends quality time at home with her two Dachshunds. Her eldest son will soon graduate from MTSU, while her youngest son is enrolled at Motlow State Community College in Tullahoma.