Black Colleges Networking on Technology Issues

Article excerpt

Three Major Conferences Slated

When the school year starts, students are not alone in having to adjust to campuses that have upgraded their information-technology infrastructures and are using more technology in the classroom. Faculty and staff also struggle to keep abreast of the issues generated by rapid change.

This fall, faculty, administrators and staff at the nation's historically Black institutions have the option of attending three information technology conferences being organized for the historically Black college and university community.

The three conferences will examine campus IT products and services, along with the digital divide. Hundreds of representatives from historically Black campuses are expected to attend the following conferences: The HBCU/MI Educational Technology Conference, in Atlanta; the Hampton University Technology Conference 2000: Closing the Digital Divide, in Hampton, Va.; and the Seventh National HBCU Faculty Development Symposium, in Jackson, Miss.

"Individual HBCUs have a lot to share with other HBCU campuses in the area of [information] technology," says Debra White, Hampton University's assistant provost for technology.

The move by Hampton and Clark Atlanta University to sponsor respective IT conferences partly reflects leadership positions each school has attained with regard to having developed sophisticated IT resources. Hampton and Tennessee State University recently became the first historically Black institutions to make the Yahoo! Internet Life "Most Wired Colleges" year 2000 list (see Black Issues, May 25). Hampton is ranked No. 72.

After having established state-of-the art videoconferencing facilities in collaboration with the U.S. Army, Clark Atlanta University officials launched the first HBCU/MI Educational Technology Conference in 1999.

"This is our second conference. It was primarily through our work with the [U.S. Department of] Defense Information Systems Agency and the Army in the early 1990s on videoconferencing technology that we developed strong relationships with other HBCUs," says Dr. Diane Bowles, director of Clark Atlanta's Video Technology Resource and Education Center. "The conference is an outgrowth of those relationships."

Like the Hampton conference, the HBCU/MI Educational Technology conference -- with the theme "The Digital Divide: Connecting Institutions, Technologies and Communities" -- focuses on digital divide issues. …