USG Annual Computing Conference

Some of you may have noticed me posting on Twitter using the #usgre10 hashtag. This was the recommended tag to use when posting about the conference.

In talking to a director at a university in the University System of Georgia, he said something interesting which had been said to my CIO, “More good for the USG will be accomplished here at Rock Eagle in these two days then the rest of the year.” (This sounds like When Ideas Have Sex or Where Good Ideas Come From.) This conference had been canceled due to lack of funding from both internal and corporate sponsorship. Due to demand from many universities, the conference was restored.

First, one-on-one conversations happen which might not otherwise occur. My former boss at Valdosta State asked me about a decision my group had made which his assistant director kept pushing back as unacceptable. He explained what he’d understood. I explained what I understood. Suddenly it made more sense to him. I was then able to explain it to the assistant director so she understood. A huge problem went away from 15 minutes of conversation? That is a huge win-win for everyone.

Second, getting to see sessions on the work being done at other schools in the system I wish I knew was being done. UGA developed a tool called El Cid which accomplishes many of the needs we have with one “institution” with 43 different administrators because multiple schools participate in various programs. The administrators were provided rights I disagree are appropriate because their needs are not available at the level where they do have access. El Cid could allow them to do those things for their areas without having the rights to mess up other areas.

Third, criticism which might not otherwise be expressed. As much as it pains me to hear it, I do need to hear the complaints people have about the products we run, the service we provide, and the planned directions. With the phone calls, tickets, emails, surveys, and other communication we do, it seems like what is being done is okay. However, get those same people into a room and the criticism comes flooding forth. This is the food we need understand so we can make improvements.

UPDATE: 2010-OCT-22 at 17:12

Fourth, the wishlists which might otherwise languish. I suspect people are hesitant to put requests in writing which might be negative. We like tickets because they can be tracked and provide a history. However, we also put requirements on opening a ticket like the section, the users, and the time. These requirements mean people may not open a ticket because they do not have enough information. They also may not open a ticket because these requirements make it sound like the bar is extremely high to warrant of spending the effort. The act of speaking to me eliminates the filter.

Fifth, while we have email, phone, instant messenger, wikis, Twitter, (and soon Sharepoint and Office Communicator,) etc., the reality is none of these methods establish the strong social bonds we get from face-t0-face. A strong community has social bonds as the foundation. These tools work well when the social bonds are already there.

Self-Reporting

When I read something like this, I start to question the validity of the method.

Psychologist Sam Gosling analyzed the Facebook profiles of 236 college-aged people, who were also asked to fill out personality questionnaires… surveys that were designed to assess not only how study participants viewed themselves in reality, but also what their personalities would be like if they had all of their ideal traits.
The Psychology of Facebook Profiles | TIME

The better experiment here is to have half the participants maintain a normal Facebook profile. The other half would create a profile demonstrating their ideal self. Then compare those against the Big Five questionnaire looking at both. The list of personality traits in the article “openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism” gives away the test used despite not explicitly named. Of course, I’m no fan of the Big Five.

Should the results match you can say Facebook reveals whatever the Big Five measures. However, I’d be uncomfortable saying any instrument measuring self-reported information accurately reflected anything about a person’s real personality.

Students First

Yesterday Gina, a coworker, joined me for lunch. She asked about where GeorgiaVIEW‘s attention is focussed since we recently completed our upgrade to Blackboard Learning System Vista Enterprise 8.

She pointed out students are the most affected by and most important constituent for any decisions we make. Yet the student point of view is almost never considered. Capturing what is good for students might mean installing all the possibilities where students and faculty could compare. It might mean surveys, however, I think self-reporting provides so much erroneous data we could do without it.

My job’s focus is more toward what is the most efficient, least problematic system for me to start/stop, install, upgrade, and review logs. I am still mulling what job position we have who would focus on ensuring whatever we do will provide for the best student experience. Guess really that should be all of us.

Web Design Job

UPDATE: Position filled.

Valdosta State Information Technology is hiring 2 Web Design student assistants.

Web Design student assistants are responsible for creating and maintaining several department web sites, surveys, and other projects. Individuals will be responsible for interacting with representatives to build web pages and perform basic graphic design to complete websites from existing web template designs. Additionally, individuals work with any students, staff, and faculty who require assistance in developing class or work related sites.

Qualifications:

  1. Ability to learn. Candidate must show they can adapt to the rapidly changing technology landscape.
  2. Some experience with one or more web design or image applications:
    • Photo Editing: Adobe Photoshop, GIMP, Paint Shop Pro
    • Web Design: FrontPage, Netscape Composer, Dreamweaver
  3. Effective verbal and written communication skills and the ability to interact professionally with a diverse group of users and support staff.
  4. Ability to clearly document all projects.
  5. Desire to learn web scripting languages: Perl, ASP, PHP

Students majoring in computer science, art, public relations, or marketing preferred. Self-taught designers welcome.

Send resume and examples of previous work to me.