Customer Service Pays Dividends

Customer Service Pays Dividends

Last month I asked How readers got past roadblocks to integrating multimedia technology into the classroom. With this technology being no small budget item, I was curious about what colleges and universities were doing to help make this convergence successful. Gary Friesen, director of Academic Technology at Indiana's Taylor University, wrote in to explain how they did it at his institution. TU is a private liberal arts college in north-central Indiana with an enrollment of 1,850 residential students. Every classroom has a ceiling projector as well as computer/multimedia podiums. Friesen says 85 percent of the faculty are using Blackboard, while 50 percent of the faculty use computers in their classrooms every day.

That's a pretty good result. How did they encourage faculty to use it? Friesen summed up TU's secret of success in two words: customer service.

"For the past six years our Educational Technology Center has bent over backwards assisting faculty in every way possible," he says. "The five ETC staffers and the student workers daily wear a button that says 'YES! (almost always)' to communicate that we will help those who walk through our doors--and if we can't solve their problems we will direct them to someone who can."

This kind of proactive thinking really sets the stage for success, because as faculty become more comfortable using the various technologies--without having to worry about how it works--it will result in a deep-seated change in how they teach and how their students learn.

The ETC offers comprehensive workshops in many varied formats to help faculty reach that comfort point. "This summer 25 of our faculty took advantage of individual one-on-one tutoring sessions (we provided a list of 54 topics)," Friesen notes. "Another 11 earned $500 mini-grants during a week-long workshop in which the ETC staff assisted each one with a different instructional technology project."

"Are we where we want to be with all of our professors? Not yet, but we're rapidly getting there."

Friesen's story highlights an important aspect of AV/IT convergence: The information technology staff plays an increasingly vital role in the educational mission. "Our faculty know that we are their advocates, and the trust we have earned is paying huge dividends in the adoption of technologies we are providing for them," Friesen says. "Are we where we want to be with all of our professors? Not yet, but we're rapidly getting there."

I'm sharing this story, in part, to call attention to the next in our series of University Business web seminars, called "Adopting Advanced Classroom Technology on Campus: Strategies and Solutions for the Management Team."

This free, one-hour web seminar is intended for IT and AV leaders, classroom designers, and financial managers as they collaborate to take advantage of the convergence of multimedia and information technologies for an improved educational environment--with an emphasis on watching the bottom line and responding to demands for ROI. Presenters will offer their strategies for successfully bringing advanced presentation technology into the classroom.

The web seminar is set for Tuesday, September 13, and readers can register for it at www.universitybusiness.com/webseminars.

Finally, you might have noticed something new on our Table of Contents pages. That is the addition of the UniversityBusiness.com online contents listing. As this publication continues to grow, so, too, does our website. You can visit us online to find additional information and resources for the articles that appear in these pages, as well as online-only content, such as book excerpts, interviews, opinion pieces, case studies, original research, and more.

University Business welcomes reader feedback. You can write to Tim Goral at tgoral@universitybusiness.com.


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