Students in the Adams Hall art computer lab

Guiding Principles

These guidelines are the road map that give direction to the choices we make about technology at Wheaton College.

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Guiding principles are simple, direct statements that describe how an organization wants to behave in the long term. These principles establish a context for making operational decisions in areas that leverage technology across campus. They will provide a rubric to help the campus community (stakeholders) in interpreting operations and mission criteria. These principles in some cases are aspirational, something we will collectively work towards achieving in the coming months. These principles will be periodically revisited to ensure relevance.

1. Technology resources must be focused on efforts that directly support Wheaton’s priorities in the academic arena. Christ at the Core outlines Wheaton's strategy for strengthening its position as one of the top liberal arts institutions of higher education focused on developing Christian world leaders. Technology services should be adequate to support administrative functions and avoid unnecessary overhead for faculty, staff and students. In order to optimize the use of limited resources, needs that are not directly identified as strategic priorities will be met with technology that is adequate but not necessarily leading edge or best in class.

2. College technology principles apply to all of Wheaton. We will seek to work together rather than to create or expand duplicate solutions. The idea behind developing principles at the college level is to ensure that all technology functions operate in the best interests of the entire user community. Wheaton’s limited resources should be focused on areas directly related to its core functions. It is not an effective use of Wheaton’s resources for multiple departments to be developing different systems that perform the same function. Therefore, departments may have to compromise at times and adopt an enterprise system that provides the necessary functionality and can be supported at a lower cost. Individual departments who knowingly duplicate one another's efforts will cause all of Wheaton to have fewer resources available to direct toward the college’s strategic priorities. Failure to embrace this principle will result in the growth of haves and have nots and duplication of effort. We recognize that Wheaton currently has many duplicate systems and we will seek to simplify these wherever possible.

3. Academic and administrative users will strive to communicate their needs and goals as completely and clearly as possible to their technology partners. Technology projects are collaborative efforts between technology users and technology providers. Users must take their time to articulate their needs and goals in order that the selected technology supports the desired functionality. Providers must take the time to understand the needs and goals of users, and the larger context for them, prior to creating or procuring solutions. Projects should never be just about technology. Rather, they should be about the application of technology as part of a larger effort to improve a process or service or to enable a particular teaching or research activity.

4. Technology service providers across campus will actively solicit input from users and each other on product and service requirements and will include their input in our technology decision-making process. The user community must have a forum in which to articulate their needs in order for tools and services to have the greatest possible likelihood of meeting those needs and being accepted by the community. All required technology service providers must have an opportunity to ensure the existence of adequate resources to support the project.

5. We will work collaboratively as a community to evaluate and manage technology deployment projects utilizing project management best practices. By leveraging project management best practices we will increase the delivery of technology projects, on time, and on budget. This collaborative approach will require that all stakeholders work together to accomplish work assignments as agreed upon.

6. We will employ open standards and best practices where feasible and define our college technology architecture (specifications and guidelines.) We will favor technology options that embrace open standards and best practices rather than proprietary approaches. As a community, we will create a regularly updated technology architecture that will guide us in our decisions.

7. We will encourage exploration of technology innovation at Wheaton. Innovation frequently occurs closest to local needs. We encourage faculty, staff and students to evaluate new technologies and to involve others in those efforts. We will create a formal process that defines how prototypes or pilots can be supported, evaluated, how they might be adopted as enterprise-wide services and how older services and technologies will be retired. We will be alert for potential opportunities created by 'disruptive technologies' and create pilots to evaluate their usefulness to Wheaton.

8. We will provide and support tools and applications that facilitate electronic collaboration of the faculty, staff and students over diverse locations, in line with college goals. Wheaton College’s Strategic Priorities call for promoting liberal arts excellence and the globalization of a Wheaton education. We will support the teaching mission of the faculty by providing increased resources for curricular development and collaborative pedagogy. Wheaton’s global aspirations necessitate that we facilitate the collaboration of scholars and provide learning opportunities beyond the campus.

9. The college should ensure that electronic information is readily available to those who need it to accomplish their jobs, regardless of either the physical location of the user or the information. College work often takes place off campus and technology should facilitate, to as great a degree as is financially reasonable, secure access to this information from anywhere in the world.

10. Institutional data should be well defined and accurate. Wherever feasible, information will be captured once, as close to the authoritative source as possible, electronically validated and shared with those who need access. The accuracy of institutional data is of great importance. To maximize data quality, several things need to occur. Institutional data needs to be assigned to an owner or custodian who is responsible for its definition and accuracy. For each data element, the system of record and general means of access should be defined. Avoiding the re-keying of data will maximize data integrity. Institutional data should be integrated rather than copied wherever feasible; however we should have robust and secure methods of sharing institutional data that can be useful in specialized systems at the local level.

11. We will promote an environment that provides protection from unauthorized or inadvertent access, sabotage or disasters and ensures the availability, integrity and confidentiality of information yet does not unduly hinder the college from conducting business as usual. The teaching, research and scholarship of the Wheaton community are the college's greatest assets. The technology community has a responsibility to ensure that this collective investment is appropriately safeguarded from loss. We also have a responsibility to community members to keep personal data appropriately protected. Finally, technology stakeholders must build business continuity into its service development plans in order that the most critical functions continue to be available in the event of a disaster.

12. As a college community, we will adopt an IT service lifecycle process that provides robust and cost effective enterprise services. We must focus our efforts; we cannot deploy every useful technology. In order to control costs, we will focus on deploying technology that is useful across the largest possible set of users, that can serve as the foundation and building blocks for more specialized services, and that is secure, stable, reliable, robust, welldocumented, and easily integrated. We must select technology tools that are cost-effective in both the short and the long-term and be rigorous about the processes by which we adopt, maintain and retire these tools.

13. Highly routine manual processes will be automated when real benefits can be achieved and documented. The purpose of information technology is to optimize people's talent and time; we will focus people talents on relationships and knowledge-based tasks. We cannot afford to have people doing manual work that technology can do more effectively. Unattended operation, cost-effective automation of routine tasks and automation of deployment and provisioning are top priorities in any technological design and decision.

14. We will consciously establish quality objectives for each technology service and measure performance against those objectives. We will proactively identify and efficiently resolve all issues associated with the quality of our services. Users should understand what they can expect in terms of service availability and responsiveness. Service levels will vary depending on the classification of a service - e.g. pilot or production. In some cases, we may consciously decide that perfection is not the level of quality necessary and may seek 'good enough'.

15. We will facilitate training for approved technology tools purchased by the college and will support those tools. To accomplish its teaching and research goals, the college requires technology tools. Faculty, staff and administrators who depend on these tools should be able to count on the availability of training and support. The level of central training and support will vary depending on the criticality of the function and the number of people that use the tool. In some cases where the numbers of users are extremely small, it will fall to the academic or administrative department to provide this training and support. We will have a regular process to retire the use of outdated or redundant tools and technology.

Adopted Spring 2015

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