Last spring, Student Services surveyed the iSchool students to get an idea of what technologies you are using to access information. Around 25% of the iSchool student population responded to the survey.
What did we learn? Well, we learned that there are a lot of different preferences for how you like to receive information. Some are happy with email (but not too many), some want the opportunity to communicate between class cohorts, others would like pictures and more social updates, others want all the information on the web, and still others would prefer messages be no longer than 140 characters.
So, how do we make sense of this challenge? Since we realized it would be challenging to create one source to accommodate all those communication desires, we have identified four immediate ways we can enhance our communications with iSchool students.
Cohort listservs: We have created listservs for each class for each degree program, except the PhD program. These lists are not moderated, so more spam may get through than on the degree program lists. While Student Services and the iSchool’s primary mode of communication to you will be the degree listservs (iMajors, iMSIM, iMLIS, iPhDs), these class cohort listservs will allow you to communicate with a more targeted group.
imajors2010 at uw dot edu (for Informatics majors projected to graduate in 2010)
imajors2011 at uw… (for Informatics majors projected to graduate in 2011)
imlis2010@ (you get the idea)
Emails: Most of our announcements and communications to students have traditionally been via email. In order to help you better identify the content of an individual email, Student Services is standardizing the subject line. The first word in the subject line will give you an idea to what the message pertains (i.e., registration, research, graduation, etc.). This is a bit of re-training on our end to do this, and it may take time before we are doing this consistently.
Student Services Blog: Many messages, like this one, are really too long for email. Also, we’d like to be able to store the content and tag it so that students could easily revisit the message. To help us do this, we’ve created a blog. The nice part about that the blog is open to anyone—you don’t need to have an account like you do for Twitter or Facebook to access it. You can access our blog at https://ischooloss.wordpress.com/.
We are just starting to populate it, and have some beginning of the year messages to get things rolling. In the coming weeks we will have introductions to the various student services staff members, potential guest updates from student organizations about some of their events, and on Thursdays, we will post a weekly update with career news—tips and suggestions to help you with your job or internship search.
Speaking of Twitter and Facebook, we are branching into the social networking areas and have created Student Services sites with both of these technologies.
Facebook Page: Primarily we are using this to augment our events announcements, share pictures and allow other students or student organizations to do the same. You can friend us at http://www.facebook.com/home.php#/pages/Seattle-WA/Student-Services-University-of-Washington-Information-School/59833387909.
Twitter: We are still venturing into “tweet-land” and are trying to determine the best use for this technology. Right now, we will only be using it for update reminders. For a capstone project last year, one MSIM student looked at how Twitter could be used to streamline some of our email communications, and we will consider how this can work. You can sign up to follow us at http://twitter.com/uwioss
In addition to these initiatives, there are some other changes in the work by IT including a revamp of the academic web pages and new faculty profile pages that will give you more information on their research and courses they teach.
There are also changes happening to email and cloud computing service options at the UW level. Scott Barker recently sent a message outlining your options. We’ll post Scott’s message on our blog for your reference.