I.T. Times Brings Visitors from New Zealand
Robin Harrington is the Director of the Computer Services Centre at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and an avid reader of the I.T. Times. His interest in a story about the network ports installed in the Shields Library (see April 1997 issue) prompted a follow-up question: Might he and four other information technology directors stop by UC Davis on a trip they were planning to Apple Computer in June? The answer was an emphatic yes.
Accompanying Harrington were Gerrit Bahlman of Massey University in Palmerston North; Ron Wilson of the University of Waikato in Hamilton; and Martin Anderson and Neil James of the University of Otago in Dunedin. As directors of the information technology divisions of their respective universities, all were particularly interested in UC Davis' Network 21 project, as well as in Odyssey '97.
The visitors were quick to point out that each of the universities is different from the others, although similar challenges face them as well as UC Davis. Funding issues are of primary importance. Many New Zealand universities are moving from a distributed environment, with faculty working in isolation, to a campuswide network. Funding might happen in peaks, said Bahlman. Large sums might be raised for a major project, but it is often more difficult to find the money to maintain infrastructure. Issues of authentication, core competency, distance learning, and staff training are being addressed at New Zealand universities as well as at American ones.
The Internet and other technologies are finding their way into the classroom. Information Technology Services at Otago University hopes to one day become a "one-stop shop" for faculty wishing to develop programs for use in teaching, said James. Otago last year held a technology fair similar to Odyssey, but was disappointed in the turnout of faculty and staff, he said, adding that he'd like to give the fair another go. Wilson too expressed enthusiasm for Odyssey and said the idea of a technology fair was one he would take back with him.
The group had also visited Microsoft in Seattle, and made a stop at Lake Tahoe while driving from Medford, Oregon to UC Davis, the only university on their itinerary.