During 2017 you can expect to see Academic IT Services staff out and about in a University building near you. This is following two trial IT Services roadshows in November at the Andrew Wiles Building (Maths Institute) and the Manor Road Building (Social Sciences), which were visited by more than 300 staff and students.
Academic IT staff were integral to the success of the trial roadshows, and generally very positive feedback about the roadshows was received, both from visitors and from our service managers. Our staff enjoyed the roadshows; for Academic IT in particular, it is the sort of thing we do in other contexts and so we felt completely at home with the format. At each venue staff from Technology Enhanced Learning, Research Computing and Support Services and the IT Learning Centre joined the service desk teams who constituted the main IT Services presence.
Using mobile phones we effortlessly gathered the names and contacts of everyone we spoke to. This was done with SUSI software developed in-house with funding from the University’s IT Innovation Challenges (a programme facilitated by Academic IT). With this software we only had to get the phone within the proximity of a visitor’s University Card in order to collect their basic details.
Academic IT staff answered several questions, including about our courses, and had lots of conversations about all our services with members of our target audiences. The most popular enquiry was about how to develop software programming skills; the Code: series run by the IT Learning Centre, including Lynda.com videos, are a good place for any staff or student to start. A few students said they were unaware of IT Services – or at least of the range of things we cover. For this, the leaflet about free IT services was so important for our conversations. Feedback included:
‘Good idea! Raising awareness is always useful for those who don’t join at the beginning of the academic year.’ (Maths graduate student)
Not all visitors were happy with provisions of IT (local issues or IT Services). Engaging with these people reinforced ways for them to report their concerns, and showed a human face instead of a bureaucratic incident response system. This can only help to provide a positive resolution.
We look forward to engaging around all the University with this sort of event over the coming months.