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this page is part of the Educause wiki: IT Communications: Virtual Coffee Shop

11/18/2011 (postponed one week due to Veteran's Day holiday on 11/11/2011)


Announcement - submit proposals for annual conference!

PLEASE think about submitting a presentation proposal for the annual conference; there really just wasn't much for us (communicators)

There are so many opportunities out there for information sharing - we've launched Google Apps for Education and can talk about that.  Several people have expertise in moving their email systems, etc.  Think about a panel.  If you have something you want to share - even for 5-8 minutes - we can pull together a panel session of 5 different speakers and those are very-well attended and none of the speakers has to do a lot of work.

Post your topics to the wiki or the list.


Student Communication Initiatives and Events

Rice Unviersity, University of Texas at El Paso, Case Western University describe how they reach out to students with various strategies, resources and campaigns

Student Events

Carlyn Chatfield from Rice talked about 20 minutes on various student event, see PDF version of powerpoint slides below (mostly photos) below. 

2006 -We began hosting student events with "connect to the network" workshops after moving to a new network and implementing a required anti-virus security initiative.  We tested the idea and the tools we were using with student athletes who were arriving on campus in the summer, refined our tools and were sitting in the dining hall for every residential hall (we call them colleges) on freshman move-in morning.  About 60 IT staff members came in to work the dining halls that year.  The next year wasn't as challenging and only about 30 employees came in to work it.  Now, just student computing consultants (student workers in the Help Desk) work the dining halls.

Then we started setting up a table at the all-freshmen Academic Fair in the middle of Orientation week.  That is a terrific place for us to increase awareness about IT services and support.  We always feature our LMS at that table and our Help Desk.

For two years, we have put on a study break for students.  The first year, we had 85 people say they would attend in Facebook and 20 showed up.  The next year, we changed location, event coordinator, food, and had the new IT Ambassadors push the publicity and 917 people said they would attend, so we calculated that 25% would actually show up and that was our goal anyway - 200 undergraduates.  Well, the line went out the door. Someone said we actually had 800 people in line.  We worked the crowd, IT Ambassadors went up and down the line talking to other students, handing out book marks (each book mark featured a different service).  We used a graffiti table where the student could write down anything about printing (is there a problem?).  One person heard there was some negative feedback on Facebook since we ran out of food, but we hadn't actually included the IT logo very large on the poster and some how, the fact that it was an IT event seemed to have been missed.  Another FAIL, except if people were going to talk bad about it, at least it wasn't linked to our division.  Lessons learned: spread the food out around the room so that each station with IT service information has it's own set of food - "listen and you shall receive" - also change the promotion so it is more of an IT information event, not just a study break like the president gives for the entire undergraduate population with free food and games before finals.

Note: the new IT Ambassadors are paid IT cheerleaders.  There is one per residential college and every undergraduate is assigned to one of the residential colleges.  They provide our social network since we don't have a Greek system or a strong club system.  Colleges compete in what would be called intramurals at other colleges.  The ambassadors work 4 hours each month for $8 per hour.  We wanted students who were loud, had about 500 Facebook friends, lived on campus and were active in their colleges.  These people are usually so busy, they aren't looking for a 10-15 hour per week job and getting "eating out" money once a month is perfect for them.  They make IT announcements, put up fliers and direct their peers to the Help Desk for any IT question.

IT Ambassadors at Case Western, take 4-5 things they want to promote and have those people go table to table and sit with different groups of people to spread the word and then walk away. During one of the events we hold during move-in, we have a barbecue at our repair center where we repair computers and families are invited to the house (the repair center is in a house), while they are sitting there eating, one of us (IT) will sit down with them and seed this information while we are casually visiting.  This proved to be so successful that we took that kind of setting into other campus-events.

We hand out those tip sheets to the Ambassadors for any event like this.  Even people in the division who don't often have the chance to work with the customers on a daily basis are happy to fill this role from time to time.

Melanie at UTEP - we also used the scorecard idea, had a drawing for a backpack, water bottle prize.  We had 700 people come through in just 3 hours.  We don't have a lot of people who live on campus at a 22,000 student school so there is no central cafeteria or other setting where all the students are.  But our lab with 300 computers is always packed. I'll go down with my students, approach a group of 10 or so and ask if we can give them info for 1 minute and then we walk away.

The graffiti board was a great idea! We can get feed back that way rather than just push out information.

UTEP - we also got some marketing signs that are 6-foot  and hold posters, then got a poster printer (we charge other people to print, so it covers our own costs).  We use these around campus anytime we have something big to push.

We also had a workshop that we couldn't fill (3 out of 30 seats), and now we push out announcements 5-10 minutes before the wr

Case Western - SCVNGR - multi-device app where you can create a scavenger hunt, can create your own.  They can be required to do or get something, collected via Google Maps, play a game and it is captured electronically.

Student move-in - the process starts in the fall when we work with Admission to include IT information with the Admit letters as early (Early Decision) as December.  We try to get that to them as early as possible.  We are also engaged in the Open House events when families are on campus shopping CWRU. 

During Orientation, there wasn't a chance to see everyone as they were coming in, so we sponsored a lunch.  After they sat down, we had IT people going table to table.  To enter the raffle drawing (iPad, sweatshirts, etc), they had to listen to the CIO talk for only 10 minutes after the meal.  That allowed us to reach all the in-coming studnets and their parents.  One of the things that Case does, is the athletic teams actually unload the family cars - takes everything to the student's room via muscle-power, golf carts.  When the students get to their room, we have a network cable for them, social media QR codes (enter to win).  Help Desk personnel go room-to-room for the 2-day Freshman move-in and answer question in every building.  All Freshmen are required to be in orientation.  The barbecue is held on both move-in days.

New student orientation at UTEP begins as early as March for our large public campus.  The IT center has most of what they need, but I will probably target the residencs halls in the future for that group of students (700 out of 22,000).  We (IT) have been cut out of a lot of the intro-student events, but we're starting to make our own announcements.  Since most of the IT services are offered out of the IT Center in the library (21,000 out of 22,000 students logged into the library last year).  We also use the wall paper on the 1500 public student computers to post our messages.  We rotate messages on that wall paper, not the screen saver.

And we have really worked on how we word things - getting rid of Geek-speak.  We had collaboration spaces that were really never used.  So we called them study spaces and now they are full.  Same room, same equipment.   Used the wall paper on the IT Center computers (300 computers).  One group of computers (30) are designated for high-powered work like videos.  When we see a group of people crowded around a machine, we walk over and say, hey did you know we have these study centers? and they go over there.

Kirsten is so right, you've go to go out there and talk to them.  From May to the first of September, I have a table at every event.  Here is what you need to know before school starts.

The other thing that helps is if you can tag onto another event.  The only UTEP "IT" event we do is that open house, but by tagging along with other events, that is equally as good.  Having a table at an event that is already well-attended is just as good as doing all the work to sponsor the event yourself.

Kirsten said Case went into the residential halls and had essentially "focus groups" but we didn't call them that...still we haven't gotten that off the ground.  Thinking about Carlyn's paid Ambassadors in the dorms is something else we'll try next year.  Volunteers aren't really working.

Melanie also said use T-shirts as give-aways.


Q: how do the families respond when a tech person approaches them?

A: we don't interrupt them if they really have their head down, involved in a conversation, don't stay more than a minute.  That seems to work, as long as you don't interrupt them for more than a few moments.

A: Carrie, this is Sherri at LSU, you don't really do that in New Orleans - well except for Mardi Gras.  It is a cultural/location thing.

A: Carlyn says Rice and Tulane are similar (smaller, private campus) so the ambassador role might work better for you.  Have a student the others already know in their dorm or if you have a strong Greek culture, one of the fraternity or sorority members talk to the rest of their club/organization.

Chat Notes








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