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Md. studies colleges and new technology

March 23, 1998|By DAVE McMILLION

Md. studies colleges and new technology

No one is arguing that computers are not the wave of the future, but keeping up with the technology is causing concern at local and state colleges.

This month, Gov. Parris Glendening formed his own commission on technology in higher education, saying campuses must be at the forefront of technological innovation.

If the state is to be competitive, colleges must use advanced technologies in teaching and research, and graduates must be skilled in those areas, Glendening said.

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Local colleges have moved quickly to incorporate high technology into their programs.

Business students at Hagerstown Junior College have used computers to join fictitious manufacturing companies to give them job experience, and professors at Frostburg State University's Hagerstown Center are exploring ways of using the Internet to offer classes.

But the cost of keeping up with the technology, which seems to be ever evolving, is worrying colleges.

HJC recently spent $1.5 million to upgrade its computer system, but now there is a concern about maintaining it, said college president Norman Shea.

Shea said the school is having problems finding qualified people to run the system.

"We're OK now. Our concern is years down the road. How do we keep up with this stuff?" said Shea.

"The trouble is this technology is very, very expensive, and I think that's why some institutions are scared about this," said John Bowman, associate provost at Frostburg State University.

Bowman is helping to put together a survey for Frostburg to determine what the school's high-tech needs will be.

HJC has controlled some of its costs by charging students a $2-per-credit-hour, high-tech fee. The fee generates about $100,000 a year, Shea said.

The Governor's Commission on Technology in Higher Education will launch a six-month study of the state of information technology in higher education. The 11-member commission will review technology in colleges and make recommendations for system improvements and funding, according to Glendening's office.

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