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Research portal open to students, faculty

Jessica Stoller-Conrad | Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Gartner Research portal, an information technology research tool, is now accessible to all students, faculty and staff on Notre Dame’s campus, said Peggy Rowland, senior director of Customer Support Services for the Office of Information Technologies (OIT).

The main function of the portal is to provide information on the pervasiveness of the latest trends in technology, Rowland said.

“When we look at a new technology [for the University], we want to see who else is using it,” she said.

Gartner uses worldwide trends to place existing and emerging technological tools in one of five phases on a “hype cycle,” which graphically measures expected popularity and utility of technologies over time. The “hype cycle” predicts which technologies will be important in the future and which technologies will soon be obsolete, Rowland said.

“We don’t want to invest in a technology just because it’s being hyped or marketed … we want to use it because it meets a business need,” Rowland said. “We also don’t want to ignore [new technology] just because it doesn’t meet our early expectations. So [Gartner] helps us be selectively aggressive, but not invest in something that may not pan out.”

The information provided by Gartner Research is particularly useful for faculty trying to identify trends in student engagement and learning, Rowland said. 

“We look at trends. Are students bringing desktops to campus? Not so much. Are students bringing laptops to campus? Yeah kind of, but almost every student has a smart phone,” she said. “Students are into instant communication … email is even too slow for them.”

Because of this trend, Gartner is researching educational technologies that focus on using smartphones and media tablets for mobile learning, Rowland said.

 “A flexible environment is the [current] trend,” she said. “The traditional rows of desks and seats don’t interest [students] anymore.”

The newly acquired University-wide license also allows students to directly access data from the Gartner Research portal. 

Rowland said students could access the portal through InsideND for independent research in technology and business trends.

“The University libraries are going to be in partnership with OIT in supporting Gartner,” she said. “The research librarians will be helping faculty and students do the actual research on the Gartner website.”

Rowland said a few administrative departments at Notre Dame have already used research from Gartner to select useful and cost-effective analytical investment tools.

“This [portal] is a great opportunity for faculty, staff and students to have access to this much data and information right at their fingertips without having to do the individual research themselves,” she said.