Tomorrow after another Coffee with Cole I am meeting to discuss the rollout of the UChicago Voices space. I am not calling it a service quite yet, because I want us to think about it a little differently. Could we challenge ourselves to rethink how we support it? Perhaps we look at it like just another social space on the Internet and see how people use it and where they might fall down?
I’ve launched these things before, both at Penn State and Stony Brook. Support is a necessary piece of the puzzle, but in my experience it tends to be the kind of support that an FAQ, a google search, and some Lynda.com videos can handle. The heavy lifting is in how we promote, encourage, and model its usage.
It is in that last notion, modeling, that I want to invite you in.
We aren’t yet ready to open the gates to just anyone yet, but I would be interested in having some local colleagues to write and publish with here on the UChicago Voices platform. If you’d like a space to explore and use, please let me know. I’d love to have someone to follow, link to, and comment on. If you are a member of the UChicago community and you want a space just leave a comment and I’ll figure out how to get you in.
Campus is alive in ways that I am only seeing for the first time. Students are hustling to classes, I see events happening on the Quad, and there are conversations happening in every quiet corner as I move across campus. UChicago was an inspiring place when I first arrived when it was nearly empty, but now that I see it coming to life with the spirit of our faculty and students I can start to appreciate it in new ways.
Having the students back reminds me of how important it is that we recognize the need to always focus energy on delivering services that work to delight them as they do their work. Being a student is hard and I think being a student in today’s World is perhaps even more demanding then it was when I was in college. Students are juggling demands that rival the rigor of the most intense jobs and many are doing it with the added pressure of being away from home for the first time. I want to make sure that while we are focusing intensely on replacing many of our enterprise systems, managing high performance computing environments, creating interfaces to data that drive administrative work, and developing new ways to protect Institutional assets that we keep part of our attention on the students walking around our campus. They are what should make us smile on days when smiles are tough to come by. The students love being here and we need to continue to pour energy into making sure we make this the best experience that we can. For them … and for us.
I have always found that focusing my energy on creating a great environment for students can in fact make the campus a much better place. These students come with intense expectations. Expectations that are born out of living digital from the time they were very young. Many of them only know a world where online experiences look more like the effortless stream of a television and are not plagued with waiting for connections, plugging into a network, or, in some cases, logging into spaces via a browser. I want to make sure we are challenging ourselves to look at the work they need to do through their eyes. I want to work together to understand their needs and deliver experiences that live up to those expectations. Simply, I want to make sure we are doing what we can to make them smile.