- IT support staff required training about the UW Flexible Option model.
Development of the UW Flexible Option educational, business, and operational models required a mindshift among all involved. That included IT support staff, who needed training about this non-term, direct assessment CBE model to understand students’ expectations for quick turnaround on requests in contrast to the less immediate environment of traditional students working in a semester-based program.
- During the UW Flexible Option implementation phase, the IT director added a working group to solve problems in the tech support area.
Technology support was not one of the original working groups convened in the early phases of the UW Flexible Option. However, IT leaders recognized this critical need and added a group that could solve tech support problems arising in this student-centric program in a complex university system.
The working group prioritized relationship management as one critical issue. The IT director subsequently hired a student support coordinator to manage relationships with institutional partner IT help desks and third party vendors that provide course software.
- Development and delivery of competency-based education as a university system added complexity for student, staff, and faculty support, relationships, and policy around technology.
UW Flex early steps: The use of multiple systems complicated technology support for students, staff and faculty. Students could, for example, be admitted through UW-Milwaukee and be enrolled in competencies both through UW-Milwaukee and UW Colleges.
Students wouldn’t have been aware of the multiple systems used for this multi-institutional UW Flex program. Ideally, their access would have been seamless. However, when they needed tech support, they might not know which system they were using. Furthermore, if they found their way to a campus IT help desk rather than the UW Flex central IT help desk, that staff wouldn’t necessarily realize students were in a Flex program. Tech support had to know how the user (students, faculty or staff) entered the system before they could help.
UW Flex central IT staff worked with help desks at each institutional partner and provided online resources for students to direct them to the UW Flex central IT staff.
Students also were reminded they could contact their Academic Success Coach with questions. The coaches, however, sometimes had to log into several systems to help a student.
Looking forward from 2017: Students now are directed to a single source for tech support—the UW Flex central IT staff—and assistance is available from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week, except for legal holidays. UW Flex central IT staff also provide online resources regarding campus login links and learning management system tech support.