Communication challenges among higher education departments often get in the way of the work they want to accomplish. That was the consensus of innovation thought leaders from colleges around the country at a recent conference called HAIL Storm, short for Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners. They discussed hurdles such as getting buy-in from stakeholders and determining shared language and objectives.
Although the focus of the conference was “innovation hubs” specifically, the communication challenges these leaders face likely exist among working groups in other disciplines, too. In higher education, technology tools are proving useful as department members and other groups seek more effective ways to work together.
1. Collaboration and Visualization Tools Get Groups Talking
The same videoconferencing systems that have removed the barriers of traditional classrooms can be used to help campus departments collaborate. And it gets better: Combine videoconferencing technology with interactive whiteboards and multitouch systems, and you have a solution like the Mondopad. Multifunctional tools like these allow users to see each other on screen and share work seamlessly.
2. Data Drives Targeted Communication About Campus Initiatives
Colleges like Temple University’s School of Business are already doing this by gathering, analyzing and sharing data to personalize interventions with struggling students and boost retention. The keys to success are to understand what data the user does and does not need, and to “communicate the findings to a nontechnical audience, so they find data useful,” Miriam Greenberg, director of education and communications at Harvard University’s Strategic Data Project, told EdTech.
3. Cloud Tools Support Cross-Campus Collaboration
Cloud-based apps such as Slack and Google Docs have been vital in keeping students and teachers connected in real time, as they message each other and store and share files. The flexibility of these tools can easily translate to cross-department collaboration. On the software front, Valentina DeNardis, director of classical studies at Villanova University, uses Microsoft OneNote with success in her roles as professor, student adviser and program administrator. The Staff Notebook feature, for example, makes it easy to track committee work and administrative tasks that often span several campus departments.