MBA students pitching solutions for IT

Last week the ITS management team got to hear presentation from the MBA840 class.  Earlier in the term they had been divided into teams and given two questions to consider.  One around enhancing the student experience and one on nurturing a culture of assessment in ITS.

Topic One

How can Queen’s  “enhance the student experience using technology”? This topic encourages teams to think about how graduate and undergraduate students are interacting with universities today and how they may interact differently in the future.  The challenge is to describe one or two ideas or innovations that Queen’s University should consider implementing that would make it easier for prospective students, current students, and alumni to know about and interact with Queen’s

Topic 2

Given the push for more accountability in public sector institutions and Queen’s move to an activity based budget model (, we need to nurture a culture of assessment in IT Services. Your project would require you to propose a small number of measurable indicators (3-5) that will best represent the performance of IT Services in its mission for the University

These were very different questions, the first being open to creativity and exploration, while the second, although requiring some creativity had a more particle outcome.   The students were challenged to clearly identify their ideas and how they could be implemented.   I saw the presentations as a pitch to ITS and we were looking for doable ideas.

Needless to say we were not disappointed with the breadth of ideas that came out.   On the student experience side there was a lot of discussion on SSO and creating a “portal-type” experience.   I think we were a bit surprised about this.  The issues haven’t changed much from those we first heard almost 10 years ago.  What was different was the understanding of SSO and the influence of “apps”.    The students really want a simple point of entry to everything they do.   They find the current disjointed approach frustrating.  Whether it is disjointed apps, with various authentication schemes, or simply disjointed ownership and support.

The problem here seems so easy to define and the solution so simple to undertake, but we still struggle with challenges, particularly those of disjointed ownership of applications.

Other interesting ideas included distributing tablets, with the university negotiating licences for e-books.   The distribution of tablets is a case of déjà vu.   We went through this with laptops and too many times the technology was put in place looking for a solution.  I really like the negotiating e-book licences, which has the potential to be a game changer.

Another group delivered  a pitch around something called “classroom connect” .   It is an attempt to integrate the back channel into a classroom discussion.  It works very similar to something like Adobe Connect, except the piece were comments come up is vetted through synchronous peer review and only appears on the professors screen if it has been determined to be ‘worthwhile’ by a students peers.

Creating community was also discussed.  One group talked about linking with existing communities, but connecting the dots between potential students, current students and alumni.  I really see potential in creating this and the business students are probably the ones who would see the most value and be the best place to pilot something.  It likely all comes down to identity and how we provision and retain peoples identity so that they can generate their own trusted communities around Queen’s.

This post doesn’t do justice to all of the ideas.  I haven’t even touched on the analytics, but will leave that for another day.  This was very helpful for ITS and I hope the students got something out of it as well.

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