Tech professors to be given more power in equipment selection decisions

El Camino “higher-field” area faculty may soon have more power when it comes to selecting and purchasing technology needed to properly teach their courses, according to plans presented during the April 4, Academic Senate meeting.

The current operation for requesting technology for faculty involves submitting a request to their respective director or dean who then puts the request in the annual plan, which is later to be approved by the Board of Trustees.

However, according to Co-Chair of the Academic Technology Committee and English professor Stephanie Burnham, many high-area disciplines on campus are not able to proceed with their teachings due to the lack of specialized, higher technology.

Burnham said the current disciplines that fall under the higher-field umbrella including architecture, computer science, computer information science, data science, digital arts and games and playable media.

She says these areas need more than just the standard Macs or PCs provided.

“There may be an urgent tech need that can’t wait for the annual planning process,” Burnham said. “In some cases, faculty in certain departments might need more than the current standard that is provided.”

While full-time faculty members are usually given the standard equipment and technology, Burnham said some situations fall out of the standard process.

The discussed solution is to allow faculty of the established high-area disciplines to be more involved in the decision-making for what technology is needed.

The Academic Technology Committee is in the process of creating an infographic that will outline the more streamlined procedure of requesting needed technology and how the committee and college can better respond to their requests.

Burnham said the Academic Technology Committee is trying to account for any scenarios that may occur under these circumstances.

She said they want the Information Technology Services of the college to be more aware of what is currently being used so they can make better decisions on what to purchase and/or upgrade.

English professor Kevin Degnan commented on the current disciplines that fall under the need for higher technology and wondered about the additional disciplines that could be incorporated.

“I am thinking about what I have seen in film and video and the programs they use,” Degnan said, “I was also thinking about journalism. I know they have their [newsroom]… and I know that they need very specific things.”

Burnham took note of the thought of incorporating journalism into the disciplines that need higher-area technology but would double-check on film and video.

During Burnham’s presentation, Academic Senate President Darcie McClelland told the story of a faculty member who needed a “more-powerful” machine than the standard issued laptop usually provided to faculty.

“They went to the college to try and get the technology needs met,” McClelland said, “And the district said no.”

McClelland said the professor almost left El Camino over the lack of faculty or discipline input.

“We almost lost that faculty member over the fact that they weren’t going to be able to teach,” McClelland said. “They didn’t have the equipment that they needed to teach their classes.”

McClelland said this issue is specifically towards disciplines that have a “greater than average” need for technology and not just the labs that use computers.

At the next Academic Technology Committee meeting, Burnham said their next agenda item is to create a flow chart of the procedures to allow everyone to be aware and to brainstorm possible inquiries and ideas.

“Letting faculty know that we have a process and procedure to apply for those things,” Burnham said, “Just so we can get the best and most upgraded technology for our staff, students and faculty.”