Initiative 7: IT Awareness and Training

Increase awareness of available IT services, strengthen technology training and provide timely, targeted communication about technology.

Strategic investment in technology tools, decision-making processes, and institutional policies provides the raw materials for an optimal technology environment. The value that technology investment delivers ultimately depends on the university community’s ability to utilize the available resources to realize Top Tier, Retention, Progression, and Completion, Academic Health Center, and other strategic goals.

UNLV’s largest investment and most significant asset is the talented community of students, faculty, and staff diligently selected to advance the institutional mission. The university needs to leverage and empower that community to make the most of its technology investment by:

  • Actively promoting awareness of available IT services
  • Strengthening technology training
  • Providing timely, targeted communication about technology changes

These improvements will ensure that both end users and technical staff are able to utilize available technology to the fullest potential.

Awareness

One of the more surprising findings during IT strategy discussions with campus constituents was how often the participants shared their need or desire for IT services that already existed on campus. The highly distributed nature of IT at UNLV combined with the rapidly changing technology landscape makes it difficult to keep the campus apprised of technology changes. To help campus constituents make effective use of UNLV’s technology investment, the university should increase IT awareness in four key areas:

  • Available IT services
  • Timely security concerns
  • New technologies being introduced on campus
  • Emerging technologies being considered for future adoption

1. Available IT services

The development and maintenance of an IT Service Catalog containing the full range of distributed and central IT services is a crucial first step in promoting awareness of available IT services (see Initiative 5). The new, easy to navigate catalog will help campus constituents identify and access existing services. Linking self-help materials and just-in-time hands-on training to the service listings will further improve understanding and use of the services presented.

These self-help tools should be augmented with human assistance. The IT Help Desk staff will require sufficient information to field questions for both the distributed and central services included in the catalog. Ultimately, the Chief Information Officer (CIO) is responsible for the IT Service Catalog including the efforts required to keep the campus apprised of its continuously changing content.

2. Security awareness

UNLV employees need to understand and adhere to new legislation and related policies for safeguarding university information. Helping employees change behavior to meet these rapidly evolving expectations requires security awareness efforts that are multi-faceted, targeted by audience, persistent, and repetitive without becoming relegated to the status of informational background noise. An awareness program that emphasizes collective responsibility for IT security is an important component of UNLV’s security strategy (see Initiative 8).

In 2015 the university launched the framework for an on-going security awareness campaign to help campus constituents understand the important role their actions play in the protection of data. For these efforts to have a sustained impact, the university must devote on-going resources to regularly refresh the security education, awareness, and training program content. Additionally on-going assessment of these efforts are recommended. The annual content review and assessment are the responsibility of the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) and the new Cyber Security Team (see Initiative 8).

Effective security awareness efforts help students, faculty, researchers, and staff protect data and avoid problems that disrupt their work. Prevention is the best way to keep UNLV’s talented community focused on the mission of the university.

3. New technologies

New technologies are continuously being introduced to the campus community at both the unit and enterprise levels. Increasing campus awareness of these changes will help UNLV optimize its use of new technologies.

If new technology adopted to help address a local need proves effective, it may spread and eventually become part of the enterprise technology infrastructure. Other new technologies may never leave the boundaries of a campus unit. In both cases, campus awareness of the technology as well as who to contact for information and support is important. Enforcing procedures that require new technologies be added to the IT Service Catalog will provide this awareness.

Introducing new technologies intended for adoption by large segments of the campus community (e.g., new human resources and financial systems - see Initiative 9) requires extensive awareness and training efforts. These efforts must start at the time the technology is being reviewed for adoption. The implementation plans must include details about how users will be introduced to the tools, trained, and supported both during and after the implementation. The new project review and prioritization process proposed in Initiative 4 will help ensure that awareness and training needs are part of all major technology implementations.

4. Planning for emerging technology

Currently, few good venues exist for informing the university community about what technologies are planned for the mid- and long-term future. Even fewer venues exist for the campus community to participate in discussions about acquiring or developing those technologies. Engaging the campus community in discussions about emerging technologies is an important component of the new leadership and planning structures described in Section 1 of the Plan.

These early discussions ensure that all major campus systems work together as seamlessly as possible. They also facilitate greater participation in creating an environment that supports and incentivizes experimentation and innovation in the classroom, the laboratory, the field, and the community.

Training

For some members of the university community, simply being aware that a particular technology exists and how to gain access is all that is needed. For others, initial training and help with use are critical for successful adoption and ongoing use of that technology.

As UNLV develops additional IT training, orientation, and professional development opportunities for students, faculty, and staff, attention must be paid to the way training is being transformed by technology. Traditional classroom-based training is diminishing and will be augmented with online content delivery, video links, and simulations. Learning will be embedded into everyday activities. Social media will play a more prevalent role in how and when individuals learn. Those involved in implementing training and professional development activities on campus will be able to leverage these pedagogical tools to create a learning environment that is:

  • Flexible
  • Enabled by technology
  • Focused on role-based responsibilities
  • Able to accommodate multiple learning styles

For the majority of students, faculty, and staff the technologies they must learn are tools that enable them to competently achieve their academic, administrative, and professional tasks. Learning outcomes should focus on quickly understanding how to utilize a technology to achieve other goals, rather than on mastering the technology. In order to realize these learning outcomes, effective technical training must:

  • Be easy to find
  • Be available just when needed
  • Take into consideration individual learning styles and constituent schedules
  • Offer both hands-on and self-help options
  • Focus on the outcome student, faculty, and staff want to achieve
  • Coordinate with professional development programs

Consequently, a comprehensive approach to providing technical training for students, faculty, and staff is recommended.

Technical training for students

Several units on campus operate independently to offer students training for the technologies they support (see Table 7-1). Greater emphasis needs to be placed on coordinating the available training opportunities for students. The coordinated training should be regularly assessed to improve delivery, identify gaps, and create easier ways for students to identify the full scope of available training opportunities.

Table 7-1: UNLV Student Technology Training Services
Type of Service Available IT Training UNLV Unit
MyUNLV Online and in-person training for Admissions, Registration, Class Schedules, Transcripts, Financial Aid, Advising, and Student Finances Enrollment & Student Services
Research Databases
Multi-Media Resources
Equipment Checkout
Training in technologies used for accessing in-print and online reference materials and major database; assistance with laptop and peripherals available for daily checkout University Libraries
WebCampus
Computer Labs
Wireless
Tip sheets, online tutorials and other resources for WebCampus, as well as other major campus technologies; hands-on assistance from lab monitors in computer labs; individual assistance through the IT Help Desk Office of Information Technology
IT Survery Courses Courses introducing basic technologies and technical skills (e.g., word processing, spreadsheets, databases, computer programming) Computer Science
Management, Entrepreneurship & Technology
Discipline Specific Technology Courses Courses offered by individual departments to teach technologies and associated technical skills most commonly used in their disciplines Academic Departments

In addition to the training described above, online training available through lynda.com can be used to help fill the gaps for students. It is recommended that the university work with faculty and students to increase awareness about how the available resources can be used to augment instruction and improve technical skillsets.

Technology orientation for students

Most students new to UNLV attend a campus orientation before they begin their first semester. The technology components of the orientation programs should be formally assessed to determine their effectiveness and provide insight into how they might be improved or enhanced to ensure that students are served by technology, not frustrated by it. Additionally, an online technology orientation should be developed for students unable to attend in-person orientation sessions and to provide students an easy-to-use introduction to campus technologies to be accessed anytime. An important component of that online orientation is an introduction to the functionality in WebCampus.

Training for faculty and staff

Similar to the student training offerings, various campus units provide faculty and staff training on the most widely used technologies. The training would benefit from better coordination. Additionally, it is recommended that information about available training be included in the IT Service Catalog.

Technology orientation for faculty and staff

New faculty are invited to attend an orientation at the start of the fall semester, which includes a brief review of campus technologies. While the new faculty orientation is important for getting faculty off to a good start each academic year, no such program exists for faculty hired at other times of the year. Additionally, the program does not include graduate assistants with teaching responsibilities, part-time instructors, administrative faculty, or classified staff.

It is recommended that UNLV develop a technology orientation for new employees to be completed within a month of the start of employment. It is further recommended that the orientation be offered both in-person and online to accommodate learning styles and schedules. Content for the orientation should be developed in collaboration with the Technology Review Board and the Cyber Security Team and piloted with substantial feedback from Human Resources and other appropriate units on campus. Orientations for faculty should include information about accessing additional training, professional development, and mentorship opportunities designed to support their individual academic pursuits.

Professional development for faculty

Efforts to assist faculty with their technology needs must go beyond training on how to use specific tools. To provide faculty the assistance they need to to incorporate instructional and research technologies effectively into academic environments, UNLV needs to strengthen ties between those providing technical training and those providing professional development. Increased collaboration between the Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research, the UNLV Libraries, Online Education, and OIT is recommended.

Training for IT service providers

Ensuring that technical staff members stay abreast of the changes in the technology they support is important for providing a robust and reliable technology environment and for retaining staff. Maintaining the many technologies on campus requires continuous training and, in some cases, specific professional certifications. More coordination between distributed and central IT units to provide opportunities for cost-effective training is recommended. The coordination would have the added benefit of creating stronger relationships between members of the campus community who support the same types of technologies. In addition to technical training, IT service providers also require training in project management, documentation, communication skills, team work, and customer service. Where possible, the university should take advantage of the expertise residing on campus to assist with both the technical and non-technical training needs.

Furthermore, the Continuing Education unit within the Division of Educational Outreach has been working with various members of the campus community to help determine what IT training needs exist in the local community and how best to meet those needs. With some coordination, that work could lead to more opportunities for cost-effective and convenient training for IT staff on the UNLV campus.

UNLV augments its formal training opportunities with memberships in national organizations for IT professionals. Table 7-2 includes information about UNLV’s institutional memberships.

Table 7-2: UNLV Membership in National IT Professional Organizations
Organization Brief Description Eligibility
EDUCAUSE EDUCAUSE is a nonprofit association of IT leaders and professionals. Its programs and services focus on analysis, advocacy, community building, professional development and knowledge creation to support the transformative role that IT can play in higher education.
https://www.educause.edu
All UNLV students, faculty and staff 
Internet2 Internet2 is a community of international leaders in research, academia, industry and government who create and collaborate via innovative technologies. Members accelerate research discovery, advance national and global education and improve the delivery of public services.
www.internet2.edu/
All UNLV students, faculty and staff 
Gartner Gartner is an IT research and advisory company for CIOs and senior IT leaders in corporations and government agencies, business leaders in high-tech and telecom enterprises, professional services firms and technology investors.
www.gartner.com
Senior leadership at UNLV 
HEUG The Higher Education User Group is a non-profit, international organization consisting of higher education institutions that use application software from Oracle. Members share information and experiences and leverage their voice to impact product expectations and directions.
www.heug.org
All UNLV employees 
Education Advisory Board IT Forum The IT Forum provides research and advice for CIOs and IT leaders on leveraging information and technology to further the higher education mission. Members benefit from the experiences of thousands of other universities facing similar challenges.universities facing similar challenges.
www.eab.com/research-and-insights/it-forum
All UNLV students, faculty and staff for research studies 

The services and resources provided by UNLV membership in the national IT professional organizations are currently underutilized. It is recommended that UNLV develop ways to share the available resources with both the IT community and the broader campus community.

Communication

Timely and targeted communication about a variety of technology topics is key to improving the technology environment at UNLV and a foundational component of many of the initiatives in the UNLV IT Master Plan. The communication effort should include:

  • Enhancing the tools used for communication on campus (see Initiative 14)
  • Increasing the available information regarding technology topics
  • Developing channels of communication that allow for timely messaging to target audiences

New ways to provide information about timely technology matters such as planned outages (e.g., MyUNLV unavailable for maintenance) and security alerts that go only to those who are impacted (e.g., browser vulnerabilities) need to be developed. Individuals must be able to select the kind of technology information they want to receive as well as options for how they access that information. Over time, the implementation of an identity management solution should provide increased ability to create more individualized communication channels (see Initiative 10). Additionally, the recommendations for enhancing mobile access to university services should increase the options for access (see Initiative 11).

Increasing access to the information about all aspects of the technology environment at UNLV is included in the charges of both the Technology Advisory Committee (TAC) and the Technology Review Board (TRB) (see Initiative 1) and is a key requirement of the new Chief Information Officer (CIO) (see Initiative 3). Additionally, the proposed Cyber Security Team has responsibility for awareness, training, and communication with regard to information security (see Initiative 8).

Increasing communication and collaboration among IT professionals is important for creating a strong IT community at UNLV. The TRB should take an active role in increasing distributed IT’s participation in IT Forum, an informal group comprised of technical staff from the campus, and in facilitating ad hoc groups around topics of mutual interest (e.g., mobility, web development, instructional technology).

Initiative Owner

  • Chief Information Officer

Consultative Role

  • Technology Advisory Committee
  • Technology Review Board
  • Cyber Security Team
  • Human Resources
  • Coordinator of Instructional Development and Research

Budget Estimate

Costs for the recommendations in this initiative are partially covered by the time and effort of existing IT staff, both distributed and central. Central IT has already purchased online training materials from the SANS Institute for use in the security awareness campaign at a cost of $6,000 and will be using the existing learning management system to help deliver the training materials. Approximately $50,000 annually will be needed to develop more online training materials that will include the use of video. A cost recovery rate for use of the learning management system is being developed to make it possible for any group on campus to use the tool for training purposes. The costs for new communication and collaboration tools are provided in Initiative 14.

Currently, UNLV has only one person dedicated to technical training for students, faculty, and staff. An additional staff person is needed to expand training around commonly used instructional technologies and facilitate professional development opportunities for the IT community. The salary range is approximately $60,000 plus benefits.

New Positions: 1 FTE; Total One-time and Recurring Costs FY16-FY19: $464,863

Action Items to Implement Initiative

  1. Increase awareness of IT services and IT training options.
  2. Implement TRB recommendations for training requirements to support technology changes.
  3. Provide multiple IT training approaches (e.g., train-the-trainer, just-in-time, hands-on, self-help).
  4. Annually refresh UNLV's IT security education, awareness, and training program.
  5. Deliver technology orientation programs for new students, faculty, and staff.
  6. Coordinate technical training and professional development opportunities.
  7. Increase cost-effective professional development opportunities for the IT community.
  8. Annually assess the effectiveness of technology orientation and training programs.
  9. Provide tools and opportunities for the IT community at UNLV to share expertise.
  10. Increase utilization of resources available through UNLV's membership in IT professional organizations (EDUCAUSE, Internet2, etc.).
  11. Develop topic-based and audience-based communication mechanisms for timely notifications affecting technology services.

Anticipated Benefits

  • End users and technical staff are able to utilize available technology to its fullest potential.
  • A more secure technology environment through successful awareness efforts.
  • More extensive use of the available features in new and existing technologies at UNLV.
  • Technological experimentation and innovation in the classroom, the laboratory, the field, and the community are incentivized and supported.
  • Faculty can refer students to online training to address gaps in student technical skills.
  • IT services are delivered by well-trained experts with updated skills.

Measures of Success

  • Increased awareness and utilization of available technology services at UNLV.
  • Increased awareness of safe computing practices.
  • Increased satisfaction with and confidence in using new campus technologies.
  • High adoption rates for online technical training resources.
  • High levels of satisfaction with new student technology orientations.
  • High levels of satisfaction with new faculty and staff technology orientations.
  • Increased participation in and satisfaction with IT professional training opportunities.
  • Higher utilization of university memberships in national IT professional organizations.

Contextual Information

Peer Institution Research

At Arizona State University (ASU), many IT leaders around campus are part of the “IT Council,” a group that meets quarterly with the CIO. This council has helped central IT communicate its functionality campus-wide. Several other committees interact with central IT to keep lines of communication open with departments outside of central IT.

Other relevant research

At Creighton University new students are provided access to an online technology orientation. The orientation is available via video and text and introduces students to the technology they need to get started. The training includes:

  • Information security, passwords, and account management
  • An introduction to the major software applications students use
  • Other technology services (e.g., wireless, emergency alert system, printing)

The full orientation is available online at: http://doit.creighton.edu/doit-new-student-orientation

​On the 2016 EDUCAUSE Top-10 IT Issues List[1], Optimizing Educational Technology: Collaborating with faculty and academic leadership to understand and support innovations and changes in education and to optimize the use of technology in teaching and learning, including understanding the appropriate level of technology to use” ranks at number two. The authors of the Top-10 list recommend that IT organizations take the following actions to address issues related to optimizing the use of technology in teaching and learning:

  • Implement practices (don't start with technologies) that strengthen relationships: faculty to student, student to student, faculty to faculty.
  • Consider how faculty curate and create relevant content (and partner with libraries for this).
  • Promote active involvement by students in and out of the classroom
  • Keep students on-task/invested/engaged/persisting.
  • Partner with other service units, faculty affairs, and administration to:
    • ​inventory best practices for promoting student engagement and persistence
    • probe for ideas for new practices
    • link existing practices to current and desired tools, services, support
    • pilot and evaluate new tools and services, which might be different by discipline
  • ​Tap into existing expertise in the faculty ranks, using effective practitioners as role models and facilitators.
  • Provide appropriate and effective instructional design support and resources to maximize opportunities for effective use of technologies.
  • Develop ways in which faculty and students can share their experiences with one another and showcase innovative uses to campus stakeholders and leadership.

  1. Grajek, Susan and the 2015-2016 EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel, “Top-10 IT Issues, 2016 Divest, Reinvest, and Differentiate,” EDUCAUSE Review, January 2016, http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/research/top-10-it-issues