5.17 Technology Training

Background

Those at a university need to understand computer and information technology since technology solutions are frequently called upon to increase productivity and reduce costs and since technology has become an important means of teaching and learning. Several sections of this technology plan (5.4.2, 5.9.1, 5.9.2, 5.16.1, and 5.16.2, 5.16.3) refer to technology training. This section attempts to identify the current training environment on campus, where successes have occurred, and where improvement should be directed over the next five years of the plan.

Technology training is necessary for three categories of university users: technologists, employees in general (faculty, staff, and student workers), and the general student population. It’s important to remember that learning about technology takes place in a variety of ways — from reading a manual, to taking a course or a workshop, to consulting with a friend. Also training might occur in groups or individually, online or in person.

Technologists. Training for technologists typically must be done in off-campus environments since training for the level of expertise we demand from these people is not available locally. A very small sum of money is currently available for training of technologists. It is essential to consider training as a part of the cost of technology ownership and, specifically, a part that pays for itself in less downtime and higher productivity. As part of training, there is an ongoing need for books and manuals.

Employees (Faculty, Staff, and Student Workers). Currently at SCSU, faculty and staff may take advantage of training offered by CIS-AdC and LR&TS. They also may elect to learn from colleagues or students, from on- or off-campus course, from online tutorials, etc.

Student workers provide additional challenges because of their temporary employment, the sheer quantity of student employees, and their varying levels of expertise. A training program that provides academic credit and/or possibly a certificate in some aspect of software and/or hardware competence might be initiated.

General Student Population. Student technology training is currently delivered through courses in some programs, as parts of various courses in many disciplines, through student training workshops, or by consultants in the various open and closed labs on campus. Training of the general student population has evoked several proposals that might prove worth investigating.

  • Providing a more visible technology-training program for the general student population should be evaluated.
  • Students could be evaluated for technology competency, similar to the Math Placement test, and participate in a "Technology Skills Center" to provide current computer literacy skills. (See 5.4.)
  • Alternatively, technology and information systems training could be offered in a workshop format, and students could register voluntarily for general and/or specific training based on need and interest.
  • This workshop format could be expanded to provide training for individuals in the community on a fee basis or as an outreach program.

The following list includes questions about training that have already been raised by various campus stakeholders. In some cases, the concerns are about a particular kind of training; in other cases, the concerns are about training for a specific group. In general, technology training needs to be a higher priority than it is currently. In short, training should not be an afterthought.

  • Is training appropriately geared to those being trained?
  • Does training include legal compliance and an understanding of SCSU/MnSCU acceptable use policy?
  • How effective is training for each group?
  • Does training keep pace with technology needs, that is, match applications and purposes?
  • Is funding for training adequate to meet training needs?
  • Is the availability of training compatible with when people are available (i.e., scheduling issues)?
  • Does training of student workers
    • allow them to assist users satisfactorily?
    • provide them with an appropriate level of job satisfaction so workers are retained?
The committee is charged with a fuller evaluation of these and other technology and information system training questions and concerns.

Goals

In the next five years, SCSU should

  • evaluate current campus training models and methods for all groups
  • determine strengths and pitfalls in current training models and methods
  • establish procedures to ensure that
    • all those needing/requesting training have access to appropriate training
    • training is evaluated for effectiveness
    • the necessary funding for training is available
  • consider ways to make training an understandable component in the total cost of ownership of technology
  • document the cost/benefit of providing timely and appropriate training

Specific actions/timeline

A committee and appropriate sub-committees will be established to address technology training on campus. The committee will draw expertise from the various technologists and faculty members across campus who are involved in technology and information system training as well as from interested stakeholders.

  • The committee will follow the standard timeline (see 5.0) for carrying out and reporting on specific actions.
  • Although he standard timeline (below) should be followed, because of the breadth of issues associated with technology training, it may be necessary to determine in the 2003/2004 work plan a set of priority concerns. This work plan should establish a set of priorities for the current year and a framework for subsequent years of the technology plan.
  • The highest priority issues should be addressed in 2003/2004 and others examined in subsequent years of this five-year plan.
  • The committee will evaluate current data available relative to priority issues and determine what additional information is necessary to prepare a report to TLTR by February 15, 2004.
  • Data collection, analysis, and submission of findings will follow the standard timeline during subsequent technology plan years.
  • During 2007/2008, the committee will submit a final report and recommendations for the next cycle of technology planning based on the standard timeline.

Resources

Resources to provide training are essential to provide robust infrastructural support to technology and information systems. The level of training support is difficult to target because the current level of technology training funding is not tied to software application/hardware use. Advances in software and hardware will drive future training, but current needs are only partially understood. At the very least, substantial monetary and human resources will be needed to sustain a robust support scaffolding. The level of these costs will need to be determined, mindful of cost/benefit analysis relative to the total cost of ownership. In short, the more technologists and student workers know about what they are supposed to support, the more likely valid support will be available so that technology will be more effectively maintained and productivity will be enhanced.

Evaluation

  • Has the committee evaluated the current array of technology training models and methods on campus, determined their strengths and weakness, and produced recommendations regarding them?
  • Has the committee established procedures to ensure that users have access to appropriate training, including training relative to new and evolving technology?
  • Has the committee annually evaluated the training to ensure user needs are met?
  • Has the committee addressed coordination of technology training to provide structure for funding?
  • Has the committee established procedures to ensure that necessary funding for training is available (including consideration of the concept of the total cost of ownership)?
  • Has the committee submitted a final report in Spring 2008?
  • Has the committee made recommendations for the next cycle of technology planning?

Revised: May 2003