UCF Wants to Make Coursework a Sn’App’ for Students

student_ipad resizedAs early as Fall 2014, the University of Central Florida could be looking at a technological revolution. The College of Sciences, part of an eight college and division collaboration, received funding to create a virtual apps program for UCF, dubbed “UCF Apps“. The proposal, written by JP Peters, the College of Sciences’ Director of Technology, gained the project close a million dollars. ($928,564.00 to be exact).

Great! but, what is UCF Apps and how does it help me? 

For students, UCF apps will allow you to access all the programs currently available on any computer in an UCF tech lab, like Microsoft Office and IBM SPSS. As long as you have a device (smartphone, computer, tablet, etc.) able to connect to the internet and use apps, you’ll be able to use UCF apps. The virtual apps program will work similarly to signing in on any UCF computer. After downloading the app, students put in their UCF credentials (NID, password) and will be taken to a suite of apps to choose from. Any work done in the virtual apps program can be saved to an external server so it doesn’t take up room on student’s devices. This way students can pull up and work on any project saved to the server, from wherever they are. UCF apps is tailored for student mobility.

Sociology majors will likely be one of the first adopters of the new technology considering the major is launching an all-new online bachelors program in fall 2014.

All right, how much will it cost? 

No additional direct costs will be assessed to students that are not already in place. This project is funded by the student technology fee; part of the fees paid when you pay your tuition. Other software costs will be taken care of by existing equipment fees – assessed by major.

Wait. What is the tech fee and why are students paying it? 

Begun in 2009, the tech fee is an assessment of about 5% of student tuition cost.  Fees are collected throughout the year and goes into a pot. The size of the pot is affected every year by student enrollment. Annually, colleges and divisions put together proposals on where and how to spend the money for the campus’ technological needs. Proposals must follow the guidelines and be submitted before the deadline. A committee, made up equally of students and faculty, review the proposals and either approve, deny or place the plans on contingency. A contingency project is funded if there’s any money left over in the pot after all the approved plans have been funded. So far, there hasn’t been a year contingency projects weren’t funded.

The College of Sciences alone has been awarded about 6 million dollars over the past five years for our tech projects. This year saw over $2.17 million, with the largest being UCF Apps and tech upgrades to 13 college classrooms and teaching labs.  Last year the college won $1.8 million, focused on improving the wi-fi in three buildings. This project was a building block towards the UCF apps project. Without the improved speed and bandwidth, the campus wireless internet would crash frequently and become a hassle for students to deal with.

For more information on the tech fee and what other projects were funded, click here.

Why does UCF even think this Virtual Apps program will work?

Simple. It has been done before successfully at other Florida universities. USF and UF have both rolled out successful programs. It’s about time UCF provided this valuable service as well.

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