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Student Technology Standards Process

IT Standards

Published March 4, 2013

By Rick Lesniak, lesniak@buffalo.edu

Does a student need a new laptop when he or she first comes to UB? This is a question often asked by new students and their parents. Having clear recommendations ensures that students are suitably prepared for their academic work from their first day onward. The Hardware/Software Standards Committee, currently chaired by Peter Rittner, Assistant Dean for Educational Technology, College of Arts and Sciences, determines the answer for the incoming class of students each year.

The committee is composed of Information Technology professionals who represent the technology needs of their individual college or schools. Rittner convenes the committee each fall to determine the technology that new students needs to function adequately at UB in terms of their ability to load software, view academic materials and communicate with instructors and other students.

First, the committee considers software requirements for new students by comparing the previous year’s recommendations with software version information, usage data, and license restrictions. The updated recommendation of titles translate into standards that determine the software load in public labs, virtual computing environments, and available for student download and installation on their personally owned devices. The committee works to retire software titles from the standard as well to remove unsupported and little used software from costly support and to encourage people to upgrade to current packages that offer up-to-date features, better security, and more.

Next, hardware recommendations are prepared which are affordable and sufficient to support the suggested software. Rittner says it is important for the committee to keep student hardware proposals in synch with the UB 2020 workstations standards that are determined for faculty and staff workstations. It’s important for faculty and staff devices to keep up with students’ personal capabilities as well. “There is a balance to strike between functionality and price when making these recommendations to respect the financial limitations of students,” cautions Rittner.

Peter has chaired the committee for the past seven years, taking on a leadership role that transitioned from the UB 2020 IT Transformation Workstations Standardization team.  He reflects that over the years the committee has proven better at providing standards recommendations by staying focused on usage data for software utilization in labs, following UB’s “early follower” position when adopting new technology, and ensuring that configurations reflect what 100% of students will need minimizing frills and costly upgrades.  

Software and hardware standards are published on the UBIT website as soon as the committee completes their recommendations. Updates are published throughout the year as needed.