Final Project Pitch

For my final project, I will seek to do a bit of investigative journalism to explore ethical issues surrounding fair Internet usage by students at universities (specifically WSU) and the various gray areas and problems school authorities have with enforcing their own policies. Illegal downloading, file-sharing, pornography, and other potential unlawful activity happening on the college’s network bandwidth are subtopics that will be useful as I delve into this topic. We already know the potential issues so I specifically want to inform on how the university deals with these issues and what causes them to take action. In an age where practically everyone is connecting to the Internet on a daily basis and with us living and working at such a large university, I want to know how WSU deals with Internet crimes while students are operating under university owned computers and Internet access. I may need to narrow the scope and focus of this topic because Internet crimes can include a variety of things. I may run into problems with university officials not knowing of or not willing to speak about what exactly WSU does with offenders of their policy. Are the policies truly enforced or are they merely “scarecrows” meant to dissuade and steer away the majority of the student body away from committing Internet faux-pas? What has been done? What is being done?

Jeff Snell:

Com 425 Trend Story (Technology Beat): New “Search It” database at WSU Libraries coming soon

Outline:
-Introduction to trend
-Search It Nutgraph/Info
-Orbit Cascade Alliance
-General Consensus

Pullman, Wash. Washington State University students may find researching in the library a little less daunting when they boot up the computers in Holland and Terrell Libraries in January.

Over winter break, the school will be implementing “Search It”, an innovative new database tailored to the evolving needs of today’s college students.

Search It features a simplified, streamlined search box function that will in theory allow students to find what they’re looking for faster and grant them better and more plentiful results.

“Think of it as a way to collect resources that used to be separated from each other so that students can get one big bucket full of results quickly instead of having to look in a bunch of different places,” said web services librarian Ray Henry.

Corresponding with the adaptation of the new search interface, the WSU library system will also officially join the Orbis Cascade Alliance, a collection of 37 Pacific Northwest institutions for higher learning.

The main purpose of Orbis Cascade Alliance is the sharing of educational materials between each university, college, and community college that comprises the group, a growing trend within academic institutions.

Search It serves as the network that will neatly tie millions of new materials together for the participating schools.

According to Henry, six universities have already begun using Search It with rave reviews.

“The general consensus is that the program has been as good as advertised,” said Henry.

“It was rocky at first as all new technology is but as far as I know students are finding resources as available, and information is being transported between libraries.”

Beth Blakesley, the Associate Dean of Libraries at WSU, said she feels the project will be a big hit with students after receiving complaints regarding the complexities and unreliability of the library’s previous search technology.

“A lot of clicking and entering of key terms students currently have to do in terms of the article will now be more condensed and user-friendly,” said Blakesley.

“It seems to work better than our previous technologies because results will be more relevant and materials will be easier to get a hold of.”

Another advantage Search It offers over the previous Griffin technology is the ability for web administrators to more easily update and troubleshoot within the technology.

“The new cloud-based system will be more technically sound and any new developments in the technology will be brought to surface faster than before,” said Alex Merrill, digital initiatives librarian.

Victor Vargas, a library staff assistant said he is grateful for the changes being made because he always found the old system unnecessarily complicated.

“I’ve seen Search It in action at Western Washington University and I know its going to provide a welcome boost to the student experiences with research here at the library,” said Vargas.

Librarians will be on hand to guide students through operating Search It if necessary but Blakesley’s hope and intuition is that the program is self-explanatory and doesn’t cause students any headaches.

“Our librarians are going to make sure they’re properly supporting students through this change but for the most part we feel students will make a clean transition,” said Blakesley.

Students can expect to take advantage of the new library technology on the first day of spring semester.

Sources:

-Beth Blakesley
beth.blakesley@wsu.edu

-Ray Henry
ray.henry@wsu.edu

-Victor Vargas
509-431-4217

-Alex Merrill
merilla@wsu.edu