Students tend to only think of IT departments when something is wrong. At UFV, this ranges from wi-fi outages and signal deficiency to problems with Blackboard, the online and hybrid course software used for discussion forums, document uploads, and tests.
While IT notices and updates are occasionally sent out through myUFV, the institution has created a new administrative position: a chief information officer (CIO), whose job will be to communicate with the UFV community about what works, what doesn’t, and what the IT department can actually do about it.
Darin Lee, a business graduate from Mount Allison University, comes from OCAD University in Toronto, where he worked for four years. There, he oversaw the implementation of Project Chroma, a replacement for that institution’s student information system, which encompasses registration, finances, and other student profile information. Here, the current system for that is myUFV.
“My first order or business here is to get out and meet everybody here,” says Lee, who began the new position at the beginning of March. “There’s a lot of opportunity to make some really positive change here, to take IT [services] and thereby UFV, I think, in a really great direction that wasn’t being satisfied before.”
Lee says that, while it’s early, and he’s only beginning to get a sense of what working at UFV is like, he’s aware of comments about wi-fi and Blackboard. One of his first priorities is establishing a structure of governance at UFV to make sure that IT changes are made after communicating with all levels at UFV: students, faculty, and administration.
“The big push for me that I’m going to be implementing is integrating students into the decision-making process, into the design process, wherever we can,” he says. “That’s very challenging to some degree. You get a very small sample size, often, but I think that’s very important, getting the faculty, getting the students, and getting the staff all involved in IT decisions.”
Lee adds that one of the significant differences university IT departments hold compared to independent operations is this sense of a feedback loop, which Lee wants to establish in a stronger way.
“I think that’s a downfall of traditional IT departments, thinking of a student as a customer and dealing with them in a business transaction,” he says. “We really should be working together.”
For now, Lee will also be working to make sure decisions are made in line with UFV’s strategic plans. And Lee says that he’ll be meeting with Maureen Wideman, the director of teaching and learning, to find out how to better facilitate technology use in the classroom.
“I think that’s going to be one of the key relationships we’ll be working on in the next little while,” he says.
Lee says that he’ll be starting on these changes “in the very short term,” with more specific ideas about myUFV and other IT services to come only after additional research.