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IT Signals Newsletter Profile: Sketches: Kirit Basu, Academic Technology

By Martin England, Computing and Information Services
January 20, 2010

Kirit Basu grew up in Bombay, India, somewhat insulated from its noisy, crowded streets, but also removed from the region’s intense, beautiful forests. Perhaps this is why he now finds solace in the wilderness of New England. “Kids growing up in New Hampshire know how to be in the wilderness or out in the ocean,” Basu said. “Growing up as a city dweller, I had no such concept. We used to visit national parks when we were kids, but did touristy things, like drive up to a spot, step out, take pictures and step back in. There is a huge difference.”

Basu started as associate director of IT Academic Technology in May 2009. He is currently leading an effort to answer the growing demand from students and faculty for rich media (audio/video). Basu has specifically focused on implementing a rich media platform as a tool for the university, both for academic and marketing purposes.

This platform will allow students, faculty, and staff to record, edit, and publish audio and video content to Blackboard, Web sites, and at some point, a university-wide video content management system (think YouTube for UNH), to share their knowledge with others in the campus community. “Our basic goal is to have rich media integrated into the very fabric of the UNH experience,” Basu said. “It’ll open up a lot of different possibilities of how media is used.”

According to Basu, this technology will not endanger traditional classrooms, but instead add to professors’ growing list of tools as a means to connect with students. “To be able to go into a classroom to attend a lecture, to me, is huge,” Basu said. “But, then, if the professor can bring up audio and video content to show examples, and possibly allow for a later review of the lecture on the web and smart phones, that’s where the real value is at.”

Basu recently came to higher education from corporate America. “We owe it to our students and community to give them the best technology has to offer” he said. “As service providers, we have to challenge ourselves to constantly innovate and push the bar of quality, efficiency and agility much higher, as we maintain and develop new services.”

As a product of the global economy, having spent time in India, Europe, and in the last decade, the United States, he is convinced that innovation and an entrepreneurial outlook are big allies. “The world’s been flat for a while now,” he said. “The dynamics of global competition continue to favor innovators. The sooner we deliver cost effective and innovative enabling services, the sooner our faculty can use those modalities to give our students yet another competitive edge in the global workplace.“

Outside of UNH, Basu spends much of his free time tinkering with electronic projects and behind the lens of a digital camera, photographing people and nature. Since moving to the Seacoast, he volunteers at the Cocheco Valley Humane Society in Dover, where he helps photograph pets for adoption, but also helps train dogs. “We had an amazing teacher who taught us how to train dogs,” he said. “We spent six intense weekends learning this skill. I always knew I wanted to be involved in working with animals, and since I don’t yet have dogs of my own, volunteering at the shelter helps me satisfy that wish.”

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