Magazine article University Business

Customer Service Pays Dividends

Magazine article University Business

Customer Service Pays Dividends

Article excerpt

LAST MONTH I ASKED HOW READERS GOT PAST ROADBLOCKS TO integrating multimedia technology into the classroom. With this technology being no small budget item, I was curious about what colleges and universities were doing to help make this convergence successful. Gary Friesen, director of Academic Technology at Indiana's Taylor University, wrote in to explain how they did it at his institution. TU is a private liberal arts college in northcentral Indiana with an enrollment of 1,850 residential students. Every classroom has a ceiling projector as well as computer/multimedia podiums. Friesen says 85 percent of the faculty are using Blackboard, while 50 percent of the faculty use computers in their classrooms every day.

That's a pretty good result. How did they encourage faculty to use it? Friesen summed up TU's secret of success in two words: customer service.

"For the past six years our Educational Technology Center has bent over backwards assisting faculty in every way possible," he says. "The five ETC staffers and the student workers daily wear a button that says 'YES! (almost always)' to communicate that we will help those who walk through our doors--and if we can't solve their problems we will direct them to someone who can."

This kind of proactive thinking really sets the stage for success, because as faculty become more comfortable using the various technologies--without having to worry about how it works--it will result in a deep-seated change in how they teach and how their students learn.

The ETC offers comprehensive workshops in many varied formats to help faculty reach that comfort point. "This summer 25 of our faculty took advantage of individual one-on-one tutoring sessions (we provided a list of 54 topics)," Friesen notes. "Another 11 earned $500 mini-grants during a week-long workshop in which the ETC staff assisted each one with a different instructional technology project. …

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