Whether you graduated from business school 25, 15 or even five years ago, much has changed in the fast-moving world of technology and connected learning. This is especially true at Wharton, where we innovate and deploy cutting-edge technology every day. It’s so exciting to be CIO in such a dynamic environment, where technological innovation and creativity directly contribute to the success of the School.
Now that we’re in the midst of the fall semester, we’ve had a chance to catch our breath and review what we’ve done in the past few months in terms of technology. Most visible to alumni is probably the launch of our new alumni directory, which is easier than ever to use. In addition to including social network features, alumni can quickly search for each other and even find their classmates from specific classes.
In addition to connecting with fellow alumni, another important component of the directory involves lifelong learning. Alumni now have access to the same course materials that are available to the Penn community, such as videos of Leadership Lectures and course lectures as well as Knowledge@Wharton and Executive Education materials. Over time, we’ll add even more rich content, and you’ll be able to customize the materials based on your preferences.
We’ve had quite a few significant technology improvements on campus. We’re upgrading classrooms with high-definition screens and increasing our recording abilities so that every class can be recorded upon request. And if you visit Jon M. Huntsman Hall, you’ll notice that the old pay phone pods have been converted to videoconferencing pods. This is particularly helpful for our international students, who use that space to connect with friends and family in their home countries via Skype.
We successfully completed a project during pre-term in which we offered to customize all 825 MBA students’ laptops to improve ease of use in the Wharton environment. By the end of that project, we had configured 600 laptops.
Meanwhile, we had loaned out several iPads to students at the beginning of the year, and have been gathering information on how they consume content, create content and collaborate using that technology.
We continue to look at ways to improve students’ ability to access information on campus with their mobile devices. Although they currently can use their handhelds to do things like check the status of a course auction, reserve a group study room and receive course packs electronically, we are refining that process to make it even more effective.
Whether we’re supporting faculty research, enhancing teaching and learning, connecting alumni or helping to run the business of the School, we strive to deliver the best technological experience for all members of the Wharton community. Stay tuned for even more technology updates next semester.