CORVALLIS - In recognition of pioneering technology that can help steer students all the way from a college admission application to a job application, Oregon State University has been honored nationally for its electronic services.
OSU has been named as one of four universities in the United States and Canada that will receive a "Best Practice Partner" award from the American Productivity and Quality Center, a consortium of many of America's largest and most progressive businesses and industries.
The award will be formally presented in May, and OSU's efforts in this area will be studied by other universities, schools and businesses that wish to improve the electronic offerings they provide their "student customers."
"The online services that OSU is offering can now help a student in every aspect of their education, from getting enrolled to studying, research and eventually even finding a job," said Joy Hughes, OSU associate provost for information services.
Electronic technology that began only a few years ago with such small steps as telephone registration, Hughes said, has expanded rapidly to include admission, financial aid, advising, instruction, any many other areas.
"These online services are for the benefit of everyone, as much for liberal arts majors as computer science students," Hughes said. "And it's not just a different way of doing something, it's a better way."
A student might now get up-to-the-minute information about whether a desired course is filled, whether there are a couple spots left and who the instructor will be. In a single evening they might check their grades, download a journal article to study and set up an advising appointment.
"With the full scope of this technology, I believe that OSU students will be by far the most computer literate in Oregon and among the most advanced in the nation when they begin their careers," Hughes said.
"They should adapt perfectly to an Internet-based world in which everyone is connected electronically," she said, "and computers are used for everything from selling their company products to continuing their education."
The services are also a key, Hughes said, to OSU's expanding ability to deliver its courses and services off the Corvallis campus.
The university just announced "OSU-Statewide," which includes a commitment to deliver 17 undergraduate and graduate degrees at locations throughout the state and in "cyberspace"; and a new Alumni College that will help alumni obtain new credentials and keep in touch with each other, and the campus, electronically.
"Especially with students in continuing education, there's often a need to balance the competing demands of job, family and school," Hughes said. "Instruction delivered throughout Oregon is going to be a huge part of OSU's educational future, and much of it simply wouldn't be possible without these new technologies."
OSU has quickly adapted and fine-tuned almost all new technology as it has become available in recent years, Hughes said. Five years ago OSU's Valley Library was the first in the nation to have networked "CD access" available worldwide, to help scholars search for professional publications.
Residence halls are now wired for computer access. Students can review their electronic account of food purchases at the Memorial Union or books at the bookstore. They can obtain the full text and articles in more than 2,000 professional journals.
Even earlier, a high school senior working on a home computer can carefully prepare an admission form and make sure everything looks just right before hitting a key to instantly apply for college admission. And ultimately, the same student, when graduating, can do a job interview with a potential employer 3,000 miles away via interactive video technology.
As part of receiving this award, a team of experts will travel to OSU in early April to review the university's electronic service systems and other technology. A report, in turn, will be made available to other universities who wish to learn from and emulate OSU's approach.
The other three universities who were honored along with OSU were the University of Pennsylvania; University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; and University of British Columbia.
Anyone wishing to review some of the OSU's electronic offerings can begin at the OSU "home page" on the World Wide Web, at www.orst.edu.