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TTI Fellowship Program -- Budget Guidelines
There is no "standard" range for a TTI budget. Projects have varied widely in scope and cost. It is appropriate to request funds for hardware, software, labor support, course release and summer stipend (capped at $5,000). Some departments have contributed in one or more of those categories, though co-funding is not a requirement.
The purpose of this document is to provide a set of guidelines to help the applicant create a realistic budget for the proposal. These guidelines assume that the applicant may require computer hardware, software, and/or labor support. Our recent experience indicates that the most crucial parts of the budget are funds for labor involved with:
II. Estimates for Typical Project Needs
A. Media Acquisition
Applicants should recognize that the conversion of existing visual material into digital form is a labor-intensive task, in addition to requiring various hardware and software components. For example, to scan a single photograph requires at least three steps: first, the image must be scanned and saved to a file; second, the image may need to be resized, edited for contrast, etc.; and third, information about the image must be added to some sort of an image database. In addition to these basic steps, images often need to be converted into other file formats, edited for specific purposes, and they need to be copied for backing up. In creating a budget, then, it is a good idea to include one or more student helpers, and to make a rough estimate of the number of hours per week of their labor that will be required to scan the images--or whatever other media--one expects to digitize.
An important part of the digitization process is the storage of image or other media files. Image files, which frequently are as large as several megabytes--and therefore cannot be stored on a floppy disk--must be saved on a disk drive large enough to accommodate many of them. A project that involves several hundred images will require significant amounts of storage space. In addition, applicants need to consider three uses for storage space, each of which requires a different storage device. First, media files need to be saved onto a primary storage device, preferably a disk attached to an Internet-accessible server. Second, media files need to be saved onto a secondary storage location for backup. A number of solutions exist for backing up media files, including saving them onto another server or onto some external device, such as a ZIP, tape, or Jaz drive. CD or DVD-ROM storage is another alternative that is useful both as a permanent and robust backup solution, and as a vehicle for the distribution and presentation of one's project.
Its a good idea to budget time for media digitization in terms of the material being digitized (number of images, length of video, duration of audio, etc.). Here are some rough estimates for each type of media:
Another labor-intensive area that should be considered in the budget is programming. Any "interactivity" that the project is expected to have, such as a Web page that contains a form to be filled out, will require programming of one kind or another. The amount and kind of programming will depend on the nature of the project and the applicant's scholarly field. Those in the natural sciences and engineering may need to construct program modules that simulate a mathematically described physical process, such as a differential equation relating to heat transfer. Such modules often require the use of a programming or scripting language. In the humanities, programming often takes the form of marking up texts with HTML or XML-based markup languages and creating media archives. In both cases, additional programming might be needed to construct and deliver Web-based interactive projects. Thus, applicants should consider including student help in their budgets. Of course, the same students who help in the area of media acquisition may be employed in programming.
Given the wide variety of programming needs and approaches, we think it is best to gauge programming costs in terms of anticipated hours per week for a given project. Project work may be classified as more or less programming-intensive, and rough time budgets can be estimated:
Many TTI projects have made heavy use of the Web to deliver digital content. The design complexity and media-richness of each web page has an effect on the amount of time it takes to create each page, but we've found that the biggest time investment is in gathering the materials for the individual web pages -- generating text, digitizing media, developing interactive components. Nevertheless, there is a learning curve for both creating an effective site and page layout scheme and for learning the tools to implement the web site.
Time estimates are difficult without knowing the individual nature of the specific project, but as a rough guideline assume at least an hour per page. This figure is a good balance between the slow pace of design at the beginning of a project as different layouts are attempted and tools are learned and the pace at the end of the project where text is essentially pasted into an existing template.
III. Existing Resources and Availability
To support those engaged in the creation of instructional technology projects, the University provides public hardware and software facilities for the acquisition of media and for programming. In addition, TTI Fellows have special access to the New Media Center at Wilson (NMC), located in Wilson 244, and to the Instructional Technology Advisors (ITAs). Ideally, a Fellow will use the NMC and ITAs to acquire training and technical support, and for access to specialized hardware and software. Applicants should consider purchasing some of their own hardware and software for the actual creation of their projects, in order to facilitate development. However, we have found in many cases that it is far more cost-effective to use the TTI money to fund students to use the existing equipment, software, and expertise available in the NMC and other digital centers for the bulk of the project work.
TTI Fellows will receive storage space for their projects on a server, but those who need more space for the long-term may purchase a hard disk to be attached to that server, or they may wish to add a storage device to a departmental or personal server. The various digital centers on campus also have the capability to create CD and DVD-ROMs.
IV. Student Labor
The going rate for student assistants is about $10-15 per hour. In most cases, the primary motivator for the students is the experience with the technology as opposed to purely financial rewards.
Students of all ages and from all disciplines have been successful as assistants on TTI projects. But applicants should realize that some programming languages and tasks are complex and may require special training. Students with the appropriate experience in the needed language or tool significantly increase the pace of the project. We have found that media digitization and much web page creation is easily within the grasp of most students.