We Are the Champions: Building a Case for New Tech

November 15, 2021 Tayler Conklin

Howard University’s Institutional Research and Assessment team knew they needed to evolve their technology to improve their course evaluations and assessment processes. But, they had some hurdles to overcome first. From getting funding to securing faculty buy-in and support, they had their work cut out for them!

Glenn Phillips, Director of Assessment at Howard, and his team started looking for new technology solutions for their course evaluations, planning, and assessment processes with the goal of implementing them campus-wide. And for this to be successful, they needed a group of champions who could help get their project funded, rolled out, and embraced by faculty.

A “champion” for a technology initiative is a driving force behind the project and helps bring others along for the ride. They help spread the word about the project, alleviate concerns that others may have, and offer suggestions to make the project go smoothly.

Phillips and his co-champions successfully implemented their Watermark technology solutions by following these five steps:

Step One: Assess Your Needs & Build Your Team

Start by assessing who your institution is and what problems need to be addressed. Once you know what you’re trying to accomplish, identify others who are aligned with the mission and can act as champions for the project. Consider who would be a model user within each department — these individuals are on board with the technology initiative and are able to articulate their department’s unique needs to make the solution work best for them. Ask the following questions:

  • What are we trying to do?
  • How will technology help us reach our goal?
  • Do we have the resources needed to support the technology we want?

Step Two: Attain Your Assessment & Accreditation Solutions

Once you’ve identified your needs and the tools to support them, it’s time to find funding. Phillips states, “When you are advocating for multiple tools, the approach is different. You need to talk about how the tools speak to one another." By framing the conversation this way, you will demonstrate how each solution is a necessity, convey the impact it will have campus-wide, and ultimately have a better shot at getting the funding you need.

Use these ideas to guide your budgeting conversation:

  • Know how the tools work together so you can determine the order you'll purchase them in.
  • Stagger your purchase and implementation dates to get the most from your onboarding efforts (and your budget).
  • Collaborate with cross-institutional partners to maximize resources.

Step Three: Aggregate Your Tools

Before you can start onboarding faculty and staff, you need to learn the new software yourself. Take the time to understand how your tools interact with one another to create a complete set of solutions. "When thinking about how these interact with each other, we’re not just thinking about islands, but thinking about archipelagos,” states Phillips.

Your new solutions will also be interacting with your current tech tools on campus, like your Learning Management System (LMS). Essentially, each solution software you purchase for your campus will be under one collective umbrella. Phillips encourages you to leave no stone unturned while examining all of the benefits of your suite of tools:

  • Identify how the solutions interact with and support one another.
  • Think about how best to onboard users of each tool.
  • Understand that each tool is a part of a collective, and develop consistent branding so faculty and staff recognize it as a unified system.

Step Four: Alert Your Community

Finally, it’s time to roll out the solutions to your university community. To get the majority of your faculty and staff on board with the new solutions, prepare a thorough training on each new application using consistent messaging, and be sure to create helpful resources to go along with it.

Introduce each new solution software to faculty and staff as part of one brand (Watermark) and make it clear that this suite of tools is part of a collective and shared technology vision on your campus. The first impression of your platform will set the tone, so if your rollout is disorganized or you can’t adequately support new users, then faculty and staff may discount the product before they’ve even used it. To mitigate this:

  • Have a plan that recognizes (and minimizes) any burden for users.
  • Create all the resources you need before rollout.
  • Make yourself available to answer and follow up on questions.

Step Five: Assess Whether the Solutions Still Work for You

After your institution has been using your new technology for a while, take the time to reassess your solutions to make sure they’re meeting your institutional needs. Being a technology champion for your institution involves ensuring the solutions you purchase are driving evolution and positive change on your campus. Continually question whether the solutions are beneficial and make sure all of the most useful features are being taken advantage of.

Knowing how to effectively assess, attain, and implement multiple technology solutions will get your institution off on the right foot.

To learn more about Howard University's strategy for championing your technology projects, attend our upcoming webinar.

 

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