May 23 2023

Holistic Communication Plans Help Enact Change in Higher Ed IT

Involving all stakeholders in technology decisions and keeping them engaged throughout the process can lead to outcomes that benefit the university mission.

Effective communication is a vital tool for organizations of any size. In higher education, where a segmented flow of information can leave departments and people feeling isolated, open lines of communication are the best way to move everyone toward a common goal.

Breaking down the silos between IT leadership and university leadership is a solid step toward reaching the overall university mission, but can you take it further? Ask faculty about what works in their classrooms or if there’s new a tool they’d like to try. Find out which technologies students want to learn how to use or if they have challenges with or concerns about campus technology. Keep an ongoing dialogue with these parties to find out what their needs are.

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How Institutions and Stakeholders are Working Together

Colleges and universities communicating with stakeholders can help improve or create new processes and opportunities. The University of Southern California designed its new Digital Creative Lab after learning about student interest in fields such as nonfungible tokens and esports. Elsewhere in California, Michelle Pacansky-Brock, faculty mentor for online teaching and learning at the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, teaches remote instructors how to better engage with their students for a more humanized learning experience.

Campus outreach can also lead to meaningful change. The University of Notre Dame’s Cybersecurity Carnival was campuswide event designed to teach the university community about security best practices. After the educational and entertaining event, 96 percent of attendees said they’d recommend it to their colleagues or classmates. And IT security experts can be vital members of a research team, which is why researchers at the University of Cincinnati, Indiana University and the University of California, Berkeley work closely with IT team members to ensure their valuable data is protected.

As Charles Collick, director of IT accessibility and academic technology for Rutgers University says, “Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum.” Fully informed decisions can only be made when all stakeholders are given an opportunity to weigh in. Staying engaged with the entire campus community is the best step IT leaders can take toward leading meaningful change.

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