Information technology is now essential to the effective running of a university or college, and a suitably high-tech image will help a higher education institution to compete in attracting the best students. The Cybercollege Scorecard will enable you to determine whether your institution is successfully riding the IT wave. Furthermore, if you have the necessary information you can go on to complete scorecards for rival institutions which you admire, envy or despise.
Does your institution have: a learning resources centre? a multimedia production centre? a cybercafe? degree courses on the Internet? a videoconferencing suite? a satellite uplink? a library OPAC (online public access catalogue)? a MAN (metropolitan area network) connection? a virtual reality centre? student smartcards? a prospectus on CD-Rom? a 5-rated computer science department? an IT strategy? a pro-vice chancellor responsible for information technology? Score 5 points for each of these. Score 10 points if the learning resources centre plan is on hold, as you realise that if students can be forced to buy their own PCs the LRC won't be necessary.
Add 5 points for each megabit/second bandwidth of your institution's SuperJanet connection, 10 points for each major Janet resource or CTI centre hosted at your institution, 20 points for each Asian tiger economy which franchises your computing studies BSc, a point for every 50 student rooms with network sockets, 5 points for each campus spin-off IT company to reach 10 million pounds capitalisation, 3 points for each school you have connected to the Internet, and 2 points for each City finance house which has bought your Neural Networks course.
Take a point for each BBC Micro which is still working and interfaced to at least 20,000 pounds worth of equipment, and a point for each 100,000 pounds of income from open learning delivered online to local businesses. Award yourself a 20 point bonus if at least 40 per cent of your computing undergraduates are women. Lose a point for each "top 5 per cent of the web" logo or similar evidence of psychological insecurity on your Web site. Lose 20 points if your institution still has no Web site.
Lose 10 points if your institution was involved in a disastrous Teaching and Learning Technology Programme project. Lose 5 points for each member of staff profiled in UK Wired magazine. Lose 2 points if your institution's staff have sad email addresses like email@example.com. Lose 2 points if the vice chancellor's secretary still prints out the VC's email. Lose 5 points if your institution's computers have been hacked. Lose 10 points if nobody thinks they are worth hacking.
Lose a few points (determined by self-assessment) for each European Community collaborative project which failed to develop anything useful. Score 1 point for pragmatism if you cheated on the previous question.
Finally, a check that your computer science department is on the ball. The first language taught to undergraduates should be: (a) Pascal (b) C (c) B (z) Z (d) Lisp (e) Prolog (f) Smalltalk (g) ML (h) Ada (i) Visual Basic (j) Java (k) HTML (l) whatever Microsoft is offering cheap this year. Lose 2 points if you actually think it matters. Lose another point if we left out your favourite language, another if it was APL, and another if you thought we could possibly have meant that. APL is cool! It just needs a special kind of student.
You should now have a positive, or possibly negative number of points. Because of the scoring system there is no absolute upper or lower limit, but a high score suggests you are a successful cybercollege, able to leverage your knowledge assets in the global marketplace to deliver a compelling lifelong learning experience into the information millennium. A low score may merely indicate that you have not tangled seriously with the technology yet. However a negative score suggests that despite your institution's undoubted enthusiasm for technology, you have messed up bigtime: every piece of silicon you touch turns to sand.