Making Progress: Measurement, Collaboration and Communication at EDUCAUSE 2009, Denver

Presenters: Rebecca King and Pattie Orr of Baylor University

Location: EDUCAUSE 2009 Conference, Denver, CO

Resource: EDUCAUSE Page for this talk

Here are my notes on this talk.

Yesterday Jim Collins pointed out that there are different levels of change. At Baylor, the need to attain SACS reaccreditation has been one recent driver for change.

Measurement – we don’t always like the idea of measuring or assessing what we’re doing. Why care? We need to make good decisions about how to allocate limited resources. Also need to achieve the university’s mission and goals. And: build trust, understand community needs, and correct problem areas.

Measurement efforts – these include a customer feedback form, after Help ticket resolution, after training classes, in self-service help, the annual ECAR study of students & IT, the EDUCAUSE Core Data survey, annual departmental assessments, and a MISO (Merged Information Services Organization) survey.

ECAR Student Survey – Baylor students are more likely to text message and use social networking technologies than students at other universities. 70% of Baylor students have a smart phone or plan to get one soon.

On the importance of making data driven decisions: “Data is only helpful if you use it.” A number of IT functions do the surveys but never use the data.

MISO (Merged Information Services Organizations) Survey – get a benchmark for the satisfaction level with current tools and applications available to students. Baylor found that overall, students really appreciated the IT services. Students appreciated the outage notifications. High marks for BearWeb (Baylor’s banner self service app) and Baylor’s implementation of the Blackboard system. But students felt less informed about issues of information security and privacy, reported less satisfaction with the level of Mac support. Concerning how they learn, students were open to experimenting more than was expected.

MISO Survey – IT actions. For staff/faculty desktop computers, Baylor switched from 5 year replacement cycle to 3-4 year cycle. Improved Mac support through training Help Deskers. Improved the reliability of wireless access. Students “hated” the help desk phone recording because it was too long: Baylor shortened it. Baylor created a BearAware alert that’s to be used only in emergency situations where students must read it.

Commitment to collaboration – see the forest for the trees. Build community. Emphasize professional development. Show a commitment to sharing. Political reasons for doing this: you need to be seen as a team player on campus. And do what is best for whole organization.

Some Collaboration Experiences – Library/IT advisory council. Academic technology directors. Administrative department IT liaisons. Security working group. Libraries student advisory group. Information systems ITS/client teams.

Communication, Baylor IT Communication – They emphasize openness and transparency. Created a director of communications and marketing position. This position works on branding, but also on news releases.

Baylor has 230 IT and library staff alltogether. Pattie sends an electronic newsletter to the staff each term. A monthly electronic newsletter goes to division. Quarterly e-newsletter to campus. They also use a blog to facilitate some of their communications work.

Outage notification process – the need is approved by IT AVP or manager. An outage request form is completed. Pending outage notification gets sent. An official outage notification is sent out. Use of a DOWN phone line which needs to be kept updated for both planned and unplanned outages. Baylor also added a twitter account to communicate status information on services.

It’s about more than information overload – develop certain messages for certain audiences. Focus on correct timing, on building trust, and on demonstrating competence and credibility. IT is a huge budget item so we need to “tell our story” and let them know we use the results of the measurement and collaboration we conduct with them.


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