Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Technology Day focuses on sustainability

By Courtney Westlake

The 9th annual Technology Day was held at UIS on Wednesday, February 18 with the focus of "EnviroTech: Educational Technologies that Advance Sustainability."

Dr. Donald Spicer, associate vice chancellor for Information Technology and CIO at the University of Maryland, delivered the keynote address to start off the day's events. Spicer spoke on "IT’s Role in Campus Sustainability Efforts."

"Sustainability is an effort to leave the earth as we found it," Spicer said. "If anyone can provide leadership in sustainability, it's probably higher education's job to do so; it's the place that society looks to for research. Campuses look to building construction and waste management for sustainability efforts, but they don't look at IT often. IT is part of the problem, but it's definitely part of the solution too."

Small demonstrations and presentations followed the keynote speech until 4:30 and included topics such as teaching and learning techniques, resources, services and other creative uses of technology.

Several UIS students prepared demonstrations about the ways they have used technology as individuals or through the organizations that they help to run or work for. Evelyn Ivy's topic was on "Social Network: Trend or Fad, and Marianne Downey spoke on "The Use of WIKI to Organize Professional Development Training."

Debra Tudor gave a presentation on the "Showcase of Technologies Used by UIS Student Organizations," and Shana Stine spoke about "UIS, Orphans and the Internet."

Like many UIS student organizations and student-run groups today, Stine takes full advantage of all that the Internet has to offer, including social media resources, for her organization Jump for Joel. Jump for Joel was started in response to Stine's volunteer trip to an orphanage in Kenya in 2007.

Several other UIS students have gotten involved in the organization, and thanks largely in part to increasing awareness through technology, the group has raised more than $30,000 to help the orphanage. The Jump for Joel crew utilizes tools like Facebook, Twitter (which is a microblogging site), YouTube and more.

"We use the Interney to raise awareness and money, and we do that a lot through our web site,," Stine said. "We also use the Internet to collaborate with others in the area and across the world on our projects. And we use it to save money and waste because we don't use paper and postage."

Instead of newsletters and phone calls, Jump for Joel disseminates information about its activities and about the orphanage online through podcasts, blogs and Facebook applications.

"It's truly amazing what the Internet has allowed us to do: feed children from halfway across the world, raise money to send one of those kids to college and make a huge difference to the whole orphanage," Stine said.

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