By Shaun Chornobroff
After a school year plagued by a myriad of issues with Rider’s outdated classroom technology, plans are in place for a majority of the university’s classrooms to be updated with new technology over the summer.
In an April 4 email to faculty and staff, Rider Senior Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer James Hartman said a bulk of classrooms will be outfitted before the 2023-24 school year commences.
In an interview with The Rider News on April 14, Hartman said while he did not know precisely how many classrooms will be uplifted, the school is mostly focusing on the “small-to-medium” sized rooms that make up most of the university.
“It’s really sort of a domino effect,” said Hartman. “If we can get these done now, this summer, that’s going to address the majority of the classrooms. It’s just the large classrooms that we’re still working through and how we’re going to address those.”
Hartman said the new classroom applications will be much simpler for teachers, quipping that “you almost need an advanced degree to work the technology,” the school has currently.
The upgraded equipment will be leased, allowing the university to replace it every five years, which Hartman described as a more affordable option.
“We’re going to lease all of these things so that we’re rolling every five years with the newest technology instead of spending all the money now,” said Hartman. “Then it sits there and five years from now, ‘Oh, heck, how are we going to afford to replace all this stuff?’ So if you’ve kind of built those leases in your budget, year after year, you’re constantly replacing them and have the finances to do so.”
In an April 3 interview with The Rider News, Emre Yetgin, a member of the executive committee for Rider’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) detailed the abundance of technological challenges professors have faced this year.
“It’s not just affecting us internally, but it’s also starting to make us look bad to be honest,” said Yetgin.
While a number of programs will be able to function properly on technology upgraded every five years, specialty departments reliant on cutting-edge software, will have their own individual standards set, according to the email.
Among these programs is Rider’s game design major, which has become one of the university’s fastest-growing since its development in 2019.
Wil Lindsay, an associate professor and director of the game design program is one of the members of Rider’s Academic Affairs IT Committee (AAIT), overseeing the implementation of the new technology.
“Teaching in our field means we’re continually learning when new software comes out, we have to learn the whole new batch,” said Lindsay. “So, it’s not a hardship to wait a year. But it’s definitely noticeable, it absolutely changes how I deliver content.”
For the freshmen and sophomores in the game design major still learning the basics of design on programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, the outdated technology does not pose a major threat to their education, Lindsay explained. As the students rise into upperclassmen, learning the intricacies of game design, updated software and technology become a necessity, potentially impacting students’ portfolios.
“A clean portfolio definitely gives students self esteem in their work,” said Lindsay. “Most people who work in the field are cognizant of how fast things change.”