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Information Technology and Technology Upgrades

The Measure B Bond Program for Chabot and Las Positas Colleges contain new construction projects or facility renovations that require technology improvements in the data network and computer equipment.   These improvements include technology changes related to the facility structure such as fiber optic wiring and conduit between buildings that are required for the District networking infrastructure.   These improvements also include classroom equipment, network devices, communication equipment to support data, video, or voice, and all technology advancements that support the instructional environment.  

The ultimate desire for the students is to have open access to learning experiences and college services at any time and any place.   Therefore, the advances in technology to provide on-line access either from campus or from a remote location achieves this objective and additionally improves the overall communication with the students to help them succeed in their educational goals.   So technology is no longer just an “nice-to-have” aspect of our educational environment, but now has become an integral part of the student learning experience for all disciplines, even with the most unconventional uses of computers like art and music.   Therefore, the District wants to ensure that it provides high quality technology support for all instructional programs and administrative services.

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Network Infrastructure

The bond measure will give us an opportunity to replace or upgrade the entire campus infrastructure to achieve a state-of-the-art topology.   The technology improvements will include a new fiber optic cable plant with sufficient strands of both multi-mode and single-mode fiber from the computer data center to each of the college buildings.   At Chabot College, all buildings with the antiquated coax cable will be updated to the latest wiring standard.   The objective is to get rid of all the old coax and cat3 cabling throughout the Chabot campus, which was, not only slow but also had the potential of bringing entire segments of computers down when a failure occurred.   At Las Positas College, there exists no coax cable in the existing buildings and so the intent is to continue the fiber optics and communication loop on campus for all new structures.   Future data and video networking technologies will include high-bandwidth transport and a comprehensively planned cable installation.   Plans for the fiber installation will continue to perform upgrades every 2-3 years on the edge switches to take advantage of the emerging technology to migrate from 100 MB fiber to 1 GB fiber then to 10 GB and finally to 100 GB.

Another area that will be addressed is updates to the core switches and routers within the network infrastructure.   Investment in new network monitoring and alert tools will need to be added to ensure 24 x 7 availability and to identify potential traffic congestions that could affect the network performance.   In addition, security enhancements to the PIX firewalls will be required to keep abreast of the technology to avoid unauthorized entry into our secure network.

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Other Network and Hardware Improvements

All campus servers will be replaced with the latest hardware technology to maximize processor capacity and speed to support the college computer needs.   Redundancy of servers will be a requirement for all critical applications to guarantee system operation.  

Hardware upgrades will also be performed where appropriate based on the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) model utilized by the California Community Colleges.   Hardware replacements or updates need to be implemented to ensure 100TX connectivity to the workstation and gigabit connectivity to the backbone.   Also, the colleges need to maintain currency with industry practices and other transfer institutions. Printer capabilities will be consolidated where appropriate across the campus.   Network and local printers will be replaced or upgraded as well in accordance with the TCO model.  

The network infrastructure and security protections will be upgraded to implement Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities to make on-line resources accessible from off campus.   Currently, the District has made selected services available such as email, discussion board, and library databases and catalogs, but was not able to do so for all other resources without the additional VPN infrastructure.

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District Data Center

The District Data Center, which provides the network connectivity, hardware, and software to support the instructional and administrative computer needs at both colleges, will be relocated to provide adequate facilities and expansion capabilities to support the increased usage of technology at the colleges.  

The Chabot campus has been historically the site of the Data Center; however, the college has experienced increasing demands for classroom space that conflicts with the District ITS space needs.   The current ITS facilities at Chabot are inadequate in size and configuration to meet the current and anticipated staffing and technology infrastructure requirements of the colleges.   In contrast, the Las Positas campus has adequate space available to build an Information Technology Services (ITS) Building, which can be shared by both the District ITS and Las Positas ITS resources.   The Las Positas option was deemed the best choice based on space availability and reliability as well as proximity to the District where other ITS resources exist.   This proposed building will be 8,500 square feet and will provide adequate expansion, added security, operational efficiencies, and better protection against potential earthquake disasters.   This building will consolidate the network infrastructure, administrative and instructional servers utilized by the District as well as the colleges, and office space for the ITS staff from both the District and Las Positas.  

For the primary data center location, generators will be purchased to ensure full operation during any major power outages. Smaller generators will be acquired for the phone system for both colleges as well as the remote server room at the college that does not house the primary data center.   All primary data lines will be upgraded from T1 to DS3 for increased bandwidth and traffic throughput.   These include port-to-port T1 lines as well as ISP lines for Internet services.   All servers supporting the campus wide general services such as email and Web applications for Internet and Intranet will be upgraded and maintained under the TCO model.

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Application Software Enhancements

There are several software improvements that the District will pursue to improve the instructional environment for faculty and students as well as benefit the administrative resources.   The District will be acquiring a third party product to facilitate Room Scheduling with resource assignment and tracking capabilities.   Throughout both colleges, the demand for a centralized Document Management System for storage and retrieval continues to increase.   In addition, the variety of forms and procedures associated with the usage of these forms has warranted the need for a more automated approach with on-line Forms management containing electronic signature capabilities.

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Classroom Advancements

With the introduction of expanded technologies, the colleges will make the shift from a campus-centric to a consumer-centric model where learning centers will extend to homes, libraries, networks, job sites, and community groups.   Thus, course content will include video and digital images with text and audio rather than blackboards and books.

Portable wireless technology will be introduced into the classroom environment with the appropriate security levels due to the escalating demand for flexibility and sharing of computer assets for instruction.   Mobile carts will be adopted so that the wireless technology can be shared across campus locations.   The vision for the classroom environment is to seamlessly allow students to connect their own laptops or Personal Data Assistant (PDA) to the appropriate campus server using wireless technology; thus allowing faculty to access student's work on-line.  

The classroom setting continues to expand its usage of computer applications, videos, DVD, and Internet access to augment the learning setting.   “Smart classrooms” are electronic or technology enhanced classrooms that integrate networking, computers, and audiovisual technologies to allow multimedia and Internet access within the classroom.   In addition to local computer access, there is a need for expansion to show information or research data from outside resources worldwide. It is envisioned that the lecture classroom settings will require the installation of multi-media PC/video/audio capability.   The lecture rooms will be designed to become “smart classrooms” with computer workstations, wireless keyboards, LCD projectors, VCR and DVD facilities, retractable viewing screens, touch screen control, slide projector, cassette player, and stereo amplified sound.    Currently there are not very many “smart classrooms” at Chabot College whereas Las Positas has most of their classrooms with this technology.   The objective is to make this the standard classroom setting for both colleges and to continue to upgrade the equipment as new technology advances are on the market.   Portable laptops for instructors will contain standard application software with plug-ins for usage in any classroom.   Facilities for digital media will be improved to encompass audio, video, film, and graphic design.   Where appropriate, “smart” boards that are essentially electronic whiteboards with the capability of recording pen strokes will be strategically located on the campus for instruction.  

With the continued expansion of Distance Education courses as well, the computerized facilities are becoming an integral part of the student experience.   The adoption of the Blackboard Course Management Software system for the Chabot and Las Positas colleges as the District standard has facilitated the expansion of these offerings.   For some classrooms, the ability to broadcast on-going teaching sessions to the Web in “live” streaming mode will provide another forum to provide distance education to students.   In other locations, videoconferencing facilities will be expanded at each of the colleges to provide increased accessibility to this technology for meetings and conferences across the District.  

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