Monday, September 10, 2012

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Until recently, company IT Departments did their best to standardize the computer equipment used by employees simply because too many variables make technical support nearly impossible. And in almost every type of work, people universally agree that productivity relies on well supported technology.

Now, with the influx of devices such as smartphones and tablets, employees prefer using their own devices (BYOD) more and more - for work as well as personal uses. Needless to say, this concept is causing a shift in thinking among IT managers, including our Information Systems Department here at Hope. (Read about the Pros and Cons of Bringing Your Own Device To Work. PC World, 12/20/2011.)

Students have always been able to bring their own devices to use in the library – long before most students had laptops and smartphones. However... funny story:

When the library underwent a major renovation in 1999-2000, electrical outlets and phone jacks were installed strategically around the library's second floor to accommodate students connecting to the Internet using their own laptops. This was innovative thinking but there was a serious problem.

The people who installed the phone jacks did not activate them. No one talked to the telecommunications administrator about it until it was too late. It turned out that they could not be used for dial-up internet connection with the phone system we had at that time. So, those jacks looked good but they were misleading until we covered them with signs about the wireless network.

The library had the only wireless network on campus then. Cool, huh? Well, it was necessary because there was no easy way to run Ethernet cables to the new Information Commons computers. Of course, in those days people who had laptops did not always have these fancy compatible wireless “cards.” No siree, Bob! (AT&T U-Verse Commercial). Even so, the library lead the way with the support of the Information Systems Department. At least that's how it looked. In fact, as always, IS lead the way, technologically speaking, but the library was in the spotlight.

We do not take the good working relationship between the library and IS for granted. When ever we have a technical problem, IS comes to the rescue. They are the wind beneath our wings. We respect and appreciate the part the other plays in the overall mission of the university. In a way, the Library and the IS Department are the yin and yang of information resources at Hope. The library wants to enable the HIU community to access relevant information as freely as possible. IS wants to provide a safe environment in which the members of our community can use information appropriately.

But our ultimate objective is the same – to equip students to serve the Church and impact the world for Christ. And we believe in holding each other accountable to that.

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