BEN THORNBURGH | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
In the fall of 2017, Piedmont College implemented a new $100 technology fee that was charged to all 2,264 of its students. This fee brought in over a quarter of a million dollars – so where did all that money go? Nowhere yet, according to Dr. Shahryar Heydari, Associate Vice President of Information Technology, Professor of Mathematics and Chair of the Technology Committee, which is responsible for deciding what the money is used for.
“We haven’t touched any of the money yet,” Heydari said. “The committee was formed in the late spring of 2017, and we’ve been entertaining several suggestions since then. There are so many ideas going around, and we’ve been working on narrowing them down. We’re going to start implementing those solutions soon.”
The committee is focused on improving instructional technology resources for all of Piedmont’s students and faculty. Heydari’s current priority is to make improvements to the computer labs on both of Piedmont’s campuses.
“There are various computer labs on both campuses that will be upgraded to the latest technologies both for computational purposes and for presentations,” he said. “That right there is quite a project, with so many computer and Mac labs on both campuses.”
The committee will also be making improvements to the online resources provided by Piedmont College.
“We’re going to focus on training and online education for students while they’re here at Piedmont,” Heydari said. “There’s one specific resource that we’re looking at called Lynda.com. They provide professional video and supplemental training materials for various applications. We’d like to provide that service to the entire student body.”
Finally, the committee would like to use the money to enhance Piedmont’s internet connectivity.
“We’d like to improve the network infrastructure on both campuses,” Heydari said. “Our Wi-Fi speeds are actually the fastest around, but some of the infrastructure behind it, like the fiber that’s laid between buildings, needs to be upgraded. Those fibers have been in the ground for a while, while other technologies have been advancing. It’s an expensive fix, but I’m going to do it. That’s one thing that I’m going to do this semester.”
The goal of the Technology Committee is to improve the overall student experience. In order to ensure that the student voice actually makes an impact on this, Dr. Heydari is working on improving communication channels.
“Since students are our main focus, we currently listen through various channels, like our faculty, our deans, and our student body president,” he said. “We will at some point provide a channel for students to contact us directly with any concerns or suggestions. We’re trying to complete a website for the student technology fee. Within that website, which will probably be a page in the student portal, students will have an easier way to write us.”
For now, students can reach the Technology Committee with any questions, remarks or concerns by emailing Dr. Heydari at [email protected]
“None of this is so the college can operate,” Heydari said. “All of this is so that the college can give students the best experience possible.”
Piedmont will continue to charge students $100 per semester for the technology fee.