From informal discussions with students to leveraging the expertise of UB’s Faculty Senate, UBIT partners with the campus community at every turn to inform short-term decision making and long-term strategy.
Each fall, UBIT staff directly engage with the student body. In 2017, UBIT conducted our 20th student IT experience survey, which an average of 3,000 students respond to every fall. Services and vendor partnerships like discounts on the Top Hat response system all started as a result of student IT survey responses. Student survey feedback sparked the three-year Wi-Fi Boost project, which doubled the amount of access points on campus, and also solidified the need for UBIT to use email to better reach students. In addition, UBIT has increased our involvement in new student orientation to ensure that students are in the know about IT services from day one.
UBIT also reaches out to leadership through the Student Assembly, Student Association and Graduate Student Association to conduct informal focus groups throughout the fall and spring semesters. Student feedback is invaluable; they tell UBIT how they are using, or not using, our services, and how they feel we could improve or where we’ve been successful.
Often, ideas for new services come out of these sessions, most recently the Tech Squad, which allows students to request tech help from their residence hall or other on-campus location.
UB Tech Squad was designed to deliver the same high-quality customer support to which UB students are accustomed, in an entirely new way: by empowering students to choose when and where they get help.
Students use Tech Squad’s online scheduler to pick a convenient time and place, and Tech Squad meets them anywhere on UB’s campus. From the beginning (2016), Tech Squad was developed through student input, surveys and focus groups, to meet the need for flexible help with technology. The result is a customer-focused service platform standing by to help students from day one with their most common tech problems.
Their first priority was to develop a baseline for supporting further decision making. To that end, in 2017, the subcommittee worked with UBIT to develop the first-ever Faculty IT Survey. Data collected during that survey prompted several new initiatives, including the Faculty IT Liaison program and a series of ongoing Faculty Town Hall events that were designed to engage faculty and promote two-way communication between the faculty and IT staff. The subcommittee also helped to develop a policy for security standards on devices, written with faculty in mind.
The Faculty IT Liaison program is a collaborative team composed of faculty members and IT staff, meeting regularly to unpack and experiment with campus technology together in order to foster better communication, understanding and awareness.
Applications are solicited from faculty, with an emphasis on those who can best demonstrate how typical customers approach and use technology. These applicants also learn technology best practices from IT staff that they can take back to their unit.
The first liaison groups met during Spring 2018, and, through a series of collaborative design sessions, explored ways to improve UB’s email (UBmail for faculty and staff/Outlook), cloud storage (UBbox) and learning management system (UB Learns).
In addition to these conversations, UBIT conducts usability studies with students, faculty and staff at least twice each year. These studies often focus on new and upcoming services, but UBIT also regularly reviews existing services for opportunities to improve. By carefully watching how a student or faculty member interacts with technology, often in their own office or working environment, UBIT is able to address pain points that technical staff are simply unaware of.