Monday, April 27, 2015

Improving Communication in Technology

In 2013, the Office of Technology formed a cross-unit departmental Communication Committee. The committee members serve one-year terms and rotate quarterly so that the committee always has members with varying degrees of familiarity with the committee.

The committee meets weekly to discuss communications and miscommunications within and outside of the department. Its members make recommendations to the directors and CIO about processes and projects to improve departmental communication. In 2013 & 2014, the committee proposed and helped implement (1) professional development opportunities in communication, (2) a communication blog and website, (3) a website redesign initiative, and (4) new branding. In 2015, the committee will continue to improve the communication skills of our department through a set of communication training tracks that include face-to-face training.

The committee also develops an annual Strategic Communication Plan with the directors and CIO that guides the work of the group through the year.

2014 Strategic Communication Plan – Goals & Results
 Goal 1: Internal communication will be free-flowing – up, down, and across the organization.  It will be open and collaborative.  Communication will be consistent and clear. 4 objectives, all met.

Goal 2: External communication with faculty, staff, and students will be frequent, clear, and jargon-free.  Communication with colleagues will be timely, empathetic, and encourage suggestions and feedback.  Collaboration will be emphasized. 5 objectives, 3 met.

Goal 3:  Emergency and contingency efforts will demonstrate competence, organization, and efficiency. 2 objectives, both met.

Goal 4:  Marketing will be credible, professional, and collegial. 7 objectives, 5 met.

Technology Communication Committee purpose:
To develop continual Communication Improvement Initiatives that create an environment where improved communication is everyone’s job. In particular, tactics should be used to foster dialogue between units and subunits across the Department and with external constituencies so that meaningful communication happens constantly.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Wearable Technology: Tech Talk Today!

Your Health:  The Next Wave of Personal Technology
Today, Thursday, April 23, 2015
2:00-2:30 p.m. Denton ACT 301 | Houston 7305 | Dallas 8720

Presented by
Michelle Reeves & Ruben Rangel, TWU Fitness & Recreation
Christopher Johnson, TWU Technology

Are you one of the 27 million Americans who plan to buy a fitness device in the next year?

Come to this Tech Talk to learn more about your wearable device options – including a preview of the Apple Watch – wellness apps, the future of wearable fitness tech, and more!
Reservations are not required.
For more information, visit

Can’t attend a talk? Events will be recorded and made available on the technology website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Future of Computer Labs at TWU

In spring 2015, the Students Advisory Committee for Technology (StudentsACT) researched trends and practices in computer labs at universities and applied that knowledge to a survey they made available to all TWU students. StudentsACT successfully surveyed the student population in spring 2014 to determine that student email would move to GMail. Response to the computer lab and printing survey was even greater, with a total of 2,169 students participating in the online survey.

To promote the survey, the committee members attended Student Government meetings on each campus and wrote a press release for The Lasso. Further, they hosted information tables on each campus and participated in a Commuter eLounge to engage 100% distance students. They presented at a Tech Talk to provide students a forum to discuss their experiences with campus computer labs and to consider possible enhancements to labs and printing.

Computer Lab & Printing Preliminary Results by the Numbers

56% use the labs multiple times per week 
44% most often visit the Library & Megalab  
Students use labs for printing, 85%, Blackboard, 73%, and to check TWU email, 58%  
41% visit a lab to print assignments more than 90% of the time

Future Features of Computer Labs

When questioned about potential features of TWU computer labs, respondents most favored: 

Tech Talks engage the TWU community

TechTalks are intended to connect the TWU community to trends and current events in technology. Business Analysts, Heather Davis and Christopher Johnson, reimagined the Talks as conversation starters. In fall 2014, the format was shortened to twenty minutes with ten minutes for questions and discussion. Topics would cover anything from software releases to social media to technology & society. The Office of Technology sponsors these talks as a learning opportunity and another means of building a tech savvy campus community. 

Tech Talk                                             Attendance
Inbox Zero                                                     30
Learning to Phish                                         14
Engaging Students with Social Media      14
Google Apps for Students                          23
Google Apps for Faculty & Staff               71
Data Collection Tools                                  12
Cyberbullying Panel                                   16
Future of Computer Labs                           13

Of the attendees who completed evaluations, nearly half had never attended a Tech Talk.  This indicates that the Talks are reaching new people and providing enough variety to engage the TWU community. 

Further, the Talks provide an opportunity for different groups to engage. TWU students attended Talks on Google Apps and Computer Labs, as well as Inbox Zero and the Cyberbullying Panel. The Talks also offer a platform for subject matter experts to share their knowledge. Lauren Meyer of the Student Union spoke on her experiences with social media last fall, and Michelle Reeves of Fitness & Recreation will partner with Christopher Johnson in Technology for the final Talk of the academic year to explore exciting developments in personal and wearable technology and health metrics.

One of the most rewarding Talks was the Cyberbullying Panel in February 2015. Faculty and graduate student engagement in the discussion was robust and lively. After the Talk, a new research cluster was formed and is being led by the presenters, Drs. Rosen and Trujillo-Jenks.

Learn more about Tech Talks at Don’t miss the final Tech Talk of 2014-15: April 23 – 2:00 p.m. - Denton ACT 301 | Houston 7305 | Dallas 8720 

TWU GMail Implementation

It started with a survey.

In spring 2014, over 1,000 enrolled students replied to a survey created by the Students Advisory Committee for Technology (StudentsACT) about the future of their TWU email. Over 60% of them voted for GMail. In fall 2014, the Office of Technology began implementation of Google Apps for Education which includes Gmail for students at TWU.

Through this process, all students, faculty, and staff have a Google Apps for Education account through TWU. Students were moved from Exchange to TWU GMail while faculty and staff had an option of moving to TWU GMail or staying with Exchange.

“Google Forms allowed our students and community partners to seamlessly communicate about observation visitation schedules.  In addition, Google Classroom allowed us to share resources that students may use even after they graduate and no longer have access to Blackboard. I also use Google Drive to collaborate with colleagues and students, using it as a central location for research resources (but not including confidential data files).”
--Holly Moore, Assistant Professor, Family Sciences 

Google Apps Communication Plan

Student, faculty, and staff testing of GMail and other Apps
Emails to students November through February
Website with help docs and live training in December

Phone bank led by students in January. Answered over 200 phone calls from students, faculty, and staff. 77% of calls (on average) were resolved at the phone bank, decreasing the burden on the Technology Service Desk