San José State University: One of The West’s Top Public Universities

Consistently ranking one of the West’s top public universities offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees, San José State University (SJSU) provides a wide range of undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs that promote intellectual inquiry and independent thought. From the arts to engineering, SJSU’s academic environment is one of the most challenging in the nation.

The founding campus of the 23-campus California State University system, SJSU provides a comprehensive university education. With more than 32,000 students and nearly 4,370 employees, SJSU annually contributes more than 7,000 graduates to the workforce. Thus, SJSU is proving to be Silicon Valley’s – an innovation hot bed – number one source of graduates in education, engineering, computer science and business.

Terry Vahey, is the Associate Vice President for IT Services & Chief Information Officer at San José State University. Prior to joining San José State in January 2012, Terry held senior IT leadership roles at California Polytechnic State University as Information Security Officer and Director of Technology Services.

According to Ms. Vahey, “Unleashing innovators doesn’t happen by accident.” At San José State University, it comes from a marriage of pedagogic and technological innovation. Ms. Vahey and her team were responsible for transforming the technology landscape to realize the vision of 21st century learning.

Ms. Vahey’s greatest inspiration and motivation comes from being tightly coupled with the mission of the organization. She says,

“It is both a privilege and a challenge to evolve and transform the technology landscape of a major university by aligning with the evolving pedagogical models employed by faculty and the dynamic student population.”

Ms. Vahey adds, “Constantly evolving technologies available and the changing dynamics of our student population create a very challenging and engaging environment in which to lead and manage.” Ms. Vahey finds this highly motivating and rewarding.

“Offering a robust suite of collaboration tools”

San José State University combined a robust suite of collaboration tools to create a holistic 21st century university, resulting in actively engaged learning for its students.

But what exactly is collaboration? Ms. Vahey elaborates, “We know collaboration is crucial in today’s global environment in order for any business to succeed -including higher education. The earlier we can get students to understand collaboration and working in collaborative, interdisciplinary environments, the more successful they will be when they enter the workplace.”

The goal and the power of collaboration technology is that it allows people to share information as naturally as possible. This is accomplished by providing the best collaboration tools to connect with peers and other organizations and empowering people to work their way—where, when, and how they want—without limits.

Ms. Vahey added,

“In this digital age, it has often been said that technology won’t replace teachers….but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who do not.”

By using all modes of teaching—in-person, online, and hybrid—faculty are better able to engage students using a mix of synchronous and asynchronous learning.

Through virtual classes that add flexibility, bringing in experts to enrich learning via interactive video in the classrooms, the faculty of SJSU is integrating technology into their courses. Attendance in classes is rising as a result of faculty using collaborative technologies and student academic performance is improving in key courses.

“Global Learning Programs by SJSU”

SJSU is using collaboration technologies to conduct global learning programs in nursing, community health, education and many other disciplines. Instructors use video conferencing to connect SJSU students to classrooms in Europe, enabling them to exchange ideas and share academic experiences. Students from different continents can easily work together in groups, and teachers invite guest speakers from any location to share their knowledge with students.

SJSU advertising professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communications is using collaboration technologies to help students pitch ideas and get feedback on their work from leading advertising agencies live, interactively in New York, London, and California.  And, faculty in many of the colleges at SJSU extend their office hours to off-campus students using video conferencing software, extending flexibility to the students.

Providing these tools is a team effort enabled by a reliable infrastructure, regular communication between IT, SJSU esteemed faculty and students. Knowing there is not one size fits all, IT staff make adjustments with the tool recommended so the right tool fits the use case. Ms. Vahey’s team includes IT and Academic Technology staff, working with faculty in and outside of the classroom to solve problems with them. They also give faculty opportunities to share what they are doing with other faculty peers so they can all learn first-hand from each other what’s working well and repeat good recipes.

Both Gartner and Educause 2016 survey results rate Information Security as a top significance for organizations. IT teams of SJSU have antivirus and patch management deployed across campus to minimize vulnerabilities of malicious software. They consolidated active directories to tighter control access to key applications. Campus-wide standards and practice, including encryption, are being deployed to ensure best practice security procedures are enacted across campus departments.

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