Monday, May 11, 2009

Students, Faculty, and Staff as an Audience

One of the first steps in designing instruction is to identify and define your audience. At a small university like Juniata College, the audience includes faculty, staff, students, and administrators. To define the audience I have talked with a small sample from each group. Here's what I have found:

  • Time is an issue
  • Want technology to “just work”
  • Technology isn’t their top priority
  • Can feel intimidated by technology
  • Can feel intimidated that their students know more about technology than they do
  • Can feel stupid when technology doesn’t work during class – think students think they are “stupid” when technology doesn’t work during class
  • Need help keeping up with changing technology
  • Need to be motivated as to why they should keep up with technology
  • Using technology in instruction has to be related to instructional or student needs
  • Want one-on-one just-in-time consultations
  • Variety of technology skills – don’t know what they don’t know
  • Need access to instructional technology professional development – how to use technology in instruction

  • Need to work efficiently
  • Interested in learning new or better technologies if it will help them do their jobs better, faster
  • Not interested in the latest technology unless it helps them do their job better/faster
  • Not interested in technology with a long learning curve – don’t have time to learn it
  • Variety of technology skills – don’t know what they don’t know
  • Need quick access to just-in-time help
  • o Troubleshooting
  • o Tasks that are done very infrequently
  • Staff may be expected to troubleshoot for faculty and admins

  • Want easy access to technology that is required for class work
  • Don’t keep the same hours as faculty and staff – want/need 24/7 access to information
  • Variety of technology skills and skill levels – don’t know what they don’t know
  • Time is a factor when seeking help with a class assignment
  • More likely than faculty or staff to make recreational use of technology
  • More likely than faculty or staff to think they have good technology skills, however, their skills are often just casual and not as comprehensive as they think they are (don’t know what they don’t know)
  • Only want to attend face-to-face technology classes if the have to
These audiences seem pretty typical to me. What makes Juniata College different is it's small size. The environment is friendly and personal. People are used to getting help by picking up the phone and calling the helpdesk or walking down the hall and talking to a friend, collague, or someone at the helpdesk. Much of the knowledge used for tech support is found in staff members' heads rather than in a central repository. Unfortunately this system of support doesn't scale well. What is gained in personal relationships is lost in the lack of access to shared knowledge. The convenience of just picking up the phone is counter balanced by the frustration of trying to find the person with the answer to your question if it falls outside the arena of frequently asked questions.

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