Provost Kevin Carman paid a visit to the Associated Students of the University of Nevada senate last Wednesday to introduce and explain a proposed $2 increase for the university’s technology fee. The technology fee is currently $7 per credit for all students.
The fee itself pays for all the technology in classrooms around campus. It was instituted back in 1999 as a $4 per-credit fee for the whole Nevada System of Higher education that would fund what Carman called “smart classrooms,” or classrooms equipped with computers, projectors and the like.
The fee has since provided funding for computer labs around campus, like those in the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center’s @One, as well as technical support for all the various systems and hardware.
“Technology has changed a lot since 1999,” Carman said. “We have much more needs for the campus. Wi-Fi, for example, is a significant demand for the campus. The revenues generated by the technology fee are just simply not enough to stay up with the needs for our campus.”
Carman added that the current fee of $7 per credit hour includes the $3 “PeopleSoft” fee, which pays for the Blackboard platform that powers WebCampus, as well as the people who keep it running. That extra $3 will remain the same, should the increase go into effect.
The increase would add about $30 per semester to the total fees for a student taking 15 credits per semester. All in all, the university would receive about $1 million annually.
In terms of actual technology that would be put in classrooms, Carman called most of it “unglamorous.” Things like the computers on campus, of which there are roughly 1,000, would be replaced on a three-year cycle in order to keep up with changing technology. More generally, technology in the smart classrooms would be replaced on a four-year cycle.
Additionally, the fee would go to providing improved Wi-Fi in classrooms, especially those that utilize clickers, remote access for certain software, video-recorded classes and a proposed computer testing center.
The presentation also noted that the fee would help improve the technology situation gradually, and not everything would be fixed at once.
On the other side of the table, the senators had a variety of questions for the provost. Sen. Larissa Gloutak of the Interdisciplinary Programs was curious as to how useful a video-recorded class would actually be.
In response, Carman pointed that the video classes would be an opt-in program that would allow for certain teaching techniques like the “flipped classroom,” where students watch lectures at home and participate in discussion on campus. He was also adamant that the plan is “not to give anybody an excuse not to come to class.”
The administration is currently in talks with all major student and faculty groups on campus in order to build a consensus on the fee before bringing it to NSHE.
“We are proposing bringing this to the board of regents in March,” Carman said. “But we will only do so if you [the ASUN senate] support this, and in fact, are enthusiastic about this. We’re not trying to push anything on you.”
Carman also noted that the money generated by the fee, which would go into effect next fall, would be put back into the university “immediately.”
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