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Pepperdine's 'Electronic Campus' Taking Computer Literacy Course.

Some innovative universities are making plans to confront the information revolution. Pepperdine University, located in Malibu, California, is committed to "computer literacy" in a way that goes beyond a responsibility to prepare students for the electronic technologies of the business world. Pepperdine's commitment puts the computing network into the hands of students, faculty and the surrounding community. Enormous resources and a great sense of adventure are speeding the institution toward becoming a model "electronic campus" that other institutions should consider.

The thrust started in June 1982, when Dr. Howard White, president of Pepperdine University, made a commitment toward computer literacy for the institution. In a speech made to participants at Pepperdine's First annual Computer Literacy Institute, White surmised that the computer revolution was presenting an immense challenge to educational institutions. He said universities that expect to attract economic assistance and provide academic quality would need to make the transition to the "electronic campus." Pepperdine announced that it would accept the computer challenge and use it as a competitive edge to position it with the likes of a few large and highly technical schools that were contemplating similar commitments.

Over 10 years ago, the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education predicted learning would be transformed by a fourth revolution. The first revolution was the shift of educational responsibility from the home to the school. The second was the use of the written word to facilitate passing information from one person to another. The printing press represented the third revolution, and the fourth is the impact of the electronic media--television, radio and now the computer.

Already the proliferation of personal computers in homes and in the secondary schools is exposing many students to information processing. With their appetites whetted, students should and do expect a heavier dose of electronic learning in college. Computer applications in business administration, research and the sciences are becoming a regular part of course work.

At Pepperdine, White predicted students would soon have access to computer terminals in their dorms, in the classrooms and laboratories. Said White, "It is evident that the wave of the future demands that all students graduating from Pepperdine University become literate in the usage of information technology." He went on to say, "Students should understand computing, word processing and communication devices, and the integration of these to the extent that they can use this technology to solve problems, thus enabling them to compete in and contribute to the world in which we live."

To bring about this massive undertaking, the University set up a task force, which in turn appointed committees consisting of representatives from various departments. The committees helped to define the goals, timetable and parameters of the program. A supporting budget was developed and the university published a mission statement. The strategy was to develop a university-wide decision support system and the academic goal of information technology literacy by 1984.

At the same time, Pepperdine reorganized to bring all information resource functions together. Academic computing, administrative computing, telephone communications, word processing, photocopying, data administration, institutional research and strategic planning were lumped under one umbrella of information resources. This new organization is called the Systems Division.

The move to action was propelled by three things: Pepperdine's recognition of the computer challenge; the ubiquitous commitment from the president on down the administrative line; and the consolidation of communications and computing resources. The catalyst to begin the implementation, however, was an outdated PBX that had been filled to capacity. In efforts to extend the life of the switch, a variety of features had been "Band-Aided" on, at best a temporary solution for service that continued to deteriorate.

It was during the process of finding a replacement for the telephone system when the possibilities of an integrated network were fully explored. "The task of replacing the switch hardware opened a window of opportunity for Pepperdine," explains Peter Quan, assistant vice president for systems and planning. Quan, who has been instrumental in the planning and implementation for computer literacy, feels the switch changeout allowed the university to transform itself into a new generation of technology.

As initial proposal to install a small, voice-only system for the administrative campus was soon discarded. Instead, Pepperdine's plans were escalated to incorporate all needs on campus as well as those of a new off-campus center located 20 miles away. "Networking benefits became attractive and the task at hand was expanded not only to bring in new hardware, but to put into action the whole concept of integration--voice, data and video," Quan adds.

Pepperdine is situated on 819 acres above Malibu's beaches. Campus buildings are dispersed about the mountainside and fringed by student dormitories and faculty housing. A total of 34 buildings make up the main campus. The distributed nature of the campus, combined with the off-site educational locations, presented a network problem that only few communications vendors could answer, says Quan. Went for Distributed Net Capabilities

The final decision was made to contract with InteCom for an IBX S/40 communication system. The voice/data switch was selected, tells Quan, because of its distributed networking capabilities and its ability to assume the responsibility for integrating a multi-vendor environment. The switch would be used to tie together the personal computers that arrived with students each semester as well as the university-owned potpourri of terminals operating off of Pepperdine's mainframes.

According to James Penrod, formerly vice president of systems and planning, Pepperdine has now developed sophisticated networking plans. "In the planning process, there surfaced a number of ways to accomplish our goals. The IBX was unique in providing all possibilities from other methodologies in one controllable system," he says.

Penrod feels Pepperdine's decision to go with the IBX is indicative of Pepperdine's free-enterprise, entrepreneurial philosophy. At the same time, he says Pepperdine did not rush into the decision blindly. They studied many technologies, and even considered a broadband system. However, a look at a broadband installation convinced them that while broadband was fully capable of video transmission, the voice side was still in development. Quan agrees, "The last thing I wanted to do was bank my job on a 2,000 line system that couldn't carry voice!"

He noted that InteCom's customer base is largely made up of companies involved in research, publishing and academics. The University of Chicago was one of the first InteCom installations and now has three IBXs operating on its campus. Pepperdine's committee visited Ford Aerospace in Newport Beach where an IBX has been operational since 1982. Finally convinced of their decision, Pepperdine contracted for a $3.9-million system in April 1983.

As Pepperdine looked through its window of opportunity, the horizons kept expanding. Quan says, I envision out of every plug the ability for voice, data and video. I'm looking at the institution in a five to 10-year timeframe. This is my only opportunity for some years to implement a change of this magnitude."

To prevent his neck from feeling the pinch, should the window of opportunity and its accompanying budget suddenly slam shut, Quan negotiated to install a broadband system along with the IBX network. "I anticipate that the IBX will have video capabilities down the line. But just in case I'm wrong, I decided to have the broadband cable pulled," says Quan. For now the cable is dormant, but it can have 52 channels to support commercial stations and the campus television studio."

According to Penrod, "We put in broadband to leave the door open for unexpected opportunities, such as offering courses through broadband media, two-way interaction with the Malibu community or transmitting continuing education programs from our campus TV station."

To build a network as distributed as Pepperdine's is, the university took extra precautions. Quan specified that all wiring for the IBX should be three-pair. InteCom normally uses two pair for simultaneous voice and data switching; Pepperdine specified the third pair of wire as growth for the unknown.

Every classroom and 1700 student dormitory rooms were wired for voice, data and, eventually, video. Pepperdine constructed a new building to house the IBX, battery supply and data-base control center. Fiber-optic runs were used extensively to line the distributed IM cabinets serving the 34 buildings and campus. From the switch, four strands of coax fiber-optic cable connect to interface multiplexers, or IMs, that are situated in the computer center, law school an other buildings. The IMs allow Pepperdine to distribute the switching service throughout its large campus without having to place smaller switches in the most distant areas.

Eventually, Quan plans to interconnect the Malibu campus with Pepperdine Plaza, an educational center located 20 miles away in West Los Angeles. This will be accomplished by placing a Remote Switching Partition (RSP) in Pepperdine Plaza and connecting it to the IBX with an IXL link. The IXL, for Inter-Exchange Link, is a high-speed data line. By using the RSP at Pepperdine Plaza, the school saves the investment of a stand-alone switch in that location. It allows the distant university center to share the same system features, and to dial into the Malibu campus as thought it were an adjoining office. Students at the Plaza will be able to access the university's host computers and share the data base.

Pepperdine has other education centers in the Los Angeles area--Sherman Oaks, El Segundo and Irvine. However, Quan says the number of instruments in those offices is too small to cost-justify linking them into the IBX in the near future. Some Homes Wired

There are approximately 50 homes on the Pepperdine campus in which university faculty and administrators reside. The homes were also wired so they would be a part of the network. Now the residents dial on-campus using a four-digit extention number, and share in the university's least-cost-routing scheme for long distance. Quan approached the homeowners and pitched them on getting their telephone service through Pepperdine's system rather than through General Telephone. He pointed out that the value-added service was available at less cost to them than through the telephone company. Forty-five of the 50 owners are now taking advantage of the discounted network services. They pay Pepperdine a monthly fee for telephone usage and are billed for long distance.

Pepperdine has developed a system to resell long-distance services to students in the dormitories. At the beginning of the semester, students pay a $50 deposit, which entitles them to unlimited use of the 213 area code. Since calls from Malibu to Los Angeles normally incur zone charges, this free service represents an added benefit to the students. Pepperdine also lets the students charge up to $100 a month in long-distance calls, which the university sells to them at discounted rates.

When Quan was pricing out the service, he says he explored the possibility of turning profits on the resale operation; however, Pepperdine is a non-profit organization. To resell services as a money-making venture might have required them to be regulated by local authorities and possibly jeopardized their non-profit status. Quan says his long-distance charges are based on cost of service but are still less than AT&T's rates. "Remember," Quan reiterates, "our objective is computer literacy. I wanted the dorms and faculty homes wired so that the data capabilities were there to use. The long-distance advantages are secondary."

Pepperdine has computing labs and pockets of micros at both main locations. The facilities contain a variety of terminals--Apples, IBM PCs, Commodores, Ataris, Victors. Students, of course, are free to bring in their own personal computers. To encourage this, Quan made sure every dorm room was equipped with the capabilities for providing data transmission.

While Pepperdine was considering the PBX changeout, new mainframes were explored. The university had a Univac 90/80 system and needed additional computing power to support its increasing usage. In the end, quan says, they decided to install a Sperry 1110/70 because the MAPPER language was "the best relational language available." The new Sperry is now connected to the IBX, and is shared by academic computing and the staff who use the decision-support programs for administration and strategic planning.

In early 1983, InteCom introduced LANmark Ethernet, a new feature for the IBX that allows the switch to perform local-area networking speeds and functions without the need for a separate coax data network. Pepperdine intends to install LANmark Ethernet in the academic labs during 1984. Initially, it will interconnect Ethernet compatible CRTs to file servers and printers. Then, dorms and classrooms will use Ethernet node emulation, with approximately 1,000 nodes on the system. In this particular application of Ethernet, there is no existing Ethernet LAN installed at Pepperdine. The IBX will become the LAN, using the two-pair network. Data terminals will be plugged into InteCom's ITE electronic voice/data instruments. The ITEs are outfitted with special LANmark circuit boards that eliminate the need for Ethernet boxes or similar devices.

Quan wants to make computing as friendly as possible to abbreviate the learning curve for new users. To do this, he is incorporating a number of system features aimed at minimizing the manual activity required to access the network. This will help to usher in computer literacy and to cut down on equipment vandalism caused by frustrated and bewildered users. One of these user-friendly features is called Machined Keyboard Origination (MKO). It's part of what InteCom markets as InteNet Packet Controllers, a format and protocol-conversion family of applications. MKO allows students to sit at a terminal and key in the number of a destination computer port on the terminal's keyboard. The terminal transparently dials the port so that modems and telephones are not involved.

When modems are required, for example when accessing distant data banks, Pepperdine has installed a modem pool in the IBX. Not only does this make modem operation transparent to users, it also allows many users to share a smaller number of modems.

Quan says the voice and data applications including LANmark Ethernet represent Phase One of his implementation. Once completed, he will direct his attention to the installation of the RSP at Pepperdine Plaza and extend all of the voice/data capabilities to that center.

After that, Quan wants to interconnect the word processing systems on campus. Pepperdine is using CPTs and IMB Display Writers. Each of the systems is linked to the IBX, but the capability to transmit a CPT document to the IBM has not yet been developed. To this end, Quan negotiated work with InteCom to design the IPC format/protocl conversion for CPT. (An IBM 3270 IPC already exists.)

Quan also plans to install an electronic mail system on campus. He sees the day when students will draft term papers on a terminal in their dorm rooms. They will access the university computers to run forecasting models, dial into the library's data base to research their projects, then type them on a word processing program. Instead of printing out the term papers, the students will send the reports by electronic mail to the professors' offices. The professor will add comments, attach a grade and send them back to the dorm addresses electronically. Students who find their network ports have been disconnected might be getting an important message from the dean! Sharing the Expertise

With the computer network well underway, Pepperdine's computer gurus are now sharing their expertise with the community. Every year, the university sponsors a Computer Literacy Institute, in which selected administrators from universities around the nation share their knowledge. Computing applications in the academic environment are discussed and traded among the schools.

Pepperdine also holds an annual Computer Fair for Southern California educators and a summer computer camp for youngsters. The university has strengthened its curriculum with more courses stressing computer literacy and computing applications, and offered special training for staff and employees.

Recently, IBM selected Pepperdine as a participant in a program to train high-school teachers in computer literacy. Pepperdine serves as a major training center in exchange for $100,000 in IBM equipment and software.

Penrod, who has now moved on to the University of Maryland, says the thing that makes Pepperdine unique in its quest for computer literacy is that the number of universities involved in telecommunications and computing to the degree that Pepperdine is, is small. "Most of the others are large public universities or technical schools," says Penrod. "Pepperdine is neither; it is a private liberal-arts school stressing teaching. They will use the technology of the information age to be better educators. At the same time, the technology gives them a competitive edge, which is significant in today's academic environments where institutions are vying for quality students."
COPYRIGHT 1984 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1984 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Jul 1, 1984
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