Information age moves forward at CBU

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Technology has come a long way, especially in the last 20 years, and California Baptist University always upgrades to match the times.

CBU had a rather steep technology curve through the ‘90s and has only continued to grow since then. Prior to that, technology developments were slow and incremental.

Tracing CBU’s history with technology before the 1990s is difficult. However, it is known that CBU never had the original large, old-fashioned computers that filled entire rooms. Some professors in the 1980s used early machines with dial-up connections, none of which were provided by the university. Advanced technology devices were few and far between. In the mid 1980s, some secretaries in various departments got AOL email addresses for their department.

Dr. Bruce Stokes, professor of anthropology and behavioral sciences, said in the 1980s it was up to each person to bring his or her own computer.

“When I came here in 1984, there were chalk boards and telephones. If you wanted a computer you had to bring your own… Those of us who were using computers saw the benefit they could bring,” Stokes said.

Sometime in the early 90s there were a few scattered computers that students could access. However, these were early machines that were not part of a greater network.

In 1994, the student information system first came online, a self-contained system that  allowed professors to store students’ grades, but this did not allow internet access until 1997 or 1998. The first computer lab for students that allowed full internet access opened in 1996 in Mission Hall.

According to David Marley, director of infrastructure in Information Technology services, CBU installed ethernet in 1997 or 1998 in Smith Hall, Simmons Hall, some of Lancer Arms and offices. This was a major upgrade over the old phone-reliant connections.

A network was finally built in 1997 as well. The campus had a three-megabyte connection that was wired only. Today, CBU has three gigabytes of connection and has offered wireless connections in lobbies and the library since around 2009. In 2010, CBU expanded that connection to be campus-wide.

In the early 2000s, PalmPilots were all the rage with CBU faculty and staff. These were devices that allowed people to receive emails and view their calendar at any time. Around this time students were required to have email addresses.

InsideCBU was developed in 2003, and most of the old tube monitors were replaced with flat-screen monitors around 2008 or 2009.

CBU began using Blackboard for courses in 2001. Laptops became big in the early to mid-2000s as they became more affordable. The first 3D printer at CBU came on the scene in the mid-2010s as well. Around 2007, CBU converted all of its classrooms to smart classrooms that either had a computer in class or had a connection for one, according to Dr. Gayne Anacker, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“When I first got to CBU we had many classrooms that weren’t smart classrooms. The big push was to make them all smart with a digital projector and either a computer in class or a hookup for a laptop … I came here in 2004 and that was taken care of by 2007 or 2008,” Anacker said.

Around 2011 CBU began offering its first purely online programs, which are currently a part of Online and Professional Studies.

Marley said when you look at CBU’s technology history as a whole, it has done a good job of keeping up with other colleges. “If you compare CBU to other private colleges, we have done a good job of staying either ahead in some areas or right there in others. We have really worked in the last 10 years to stay current,” Marley said.

Technology continues to grow at a rapid rate and if CBU wishes to continue its academic and student body growth, it will need to adapt with the times.

“I don’t think we have fully appreciated the benefits and the liabilities of computer technology in education. I am not sure you can fully appreciate that because its changing so rapidly,” Stokes said.

When looking at CBU’s entry into the information age, one can see how quickly information tech has developed and taken root since the early 1980s. Who knows where society or may be in the next 30 years?

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