From the CTO

10 May 2023
By Janet Scannell

I just celebrated my 10-year anniversary at Carleton. It’s been a productive and rewarding decade, but there’s no standing still in higher ed technology. Since ITS is working on a 3-year technology strategic plan, this seems like a good time to reflect on my original goals and current priorities. 

My Original Goals

There were many reasons why becoming Carleton’s CTO felt like the right step for me. First of all, I loved the IT staff that I met; they were smart, fun, and very dedicated to Carleton. Second, I loved the Learning & Teaching Center and that Carleton faculty talked with each other about their approach to teaching and the effectiveness of their experiments. Third, I loved the pragmatism that I sensed from the administration about how big decisions were made. Given this environment, I felt confident in creating a set of goals for myself focused on listening to community members, building bridges between campus needs, and striving towards clarity in how to align all these fantastic resources for the greatest impact. 

Community Feedback and Our Responses

During my initial conversations at Carleton, I heard a lot of positives about working with the ITS staff, along with some specific technology and process suggestions. Several of those were reinforced by results of the 2014 MISO satisfaction survey, which identified three services that were higher in importance and also lower in satisfaction: WiFi, Moodle and The Hub. In response, we dramatically increased the coverage of WiFi and streamlined Moodle and The Hub for a better user experience. All of those services had increased satisfaction in the next survey and have held those levels. 

The most pervasive requests have been for better communication and increased transparency into what ITS does and how it makes decisions. As a result, we created a communication template for announcing changes and outages, and we started this newsletter and our annual report. Over time, we created a catalog of ITS services on our website and were able to replace our ticketing system with a more modern system. We also added professional staff members to answer Helpdesk calls from faculty & staff work phone numbers. 

Current Priorities  

The biannual MISO survey results have affirmed our sense that technology services are becoming more and more important to faculty, staff, and students. Given that, and that the community was going to need support learning Workday, ITS hired a professional to provide a full-time presence at the Helpdesk. Our new team member is Nolan Zippel, who joined us in July after having served a similar role at St. Olaf. I’m grateful that Workday funding will be supporting this approach for three years. 

We also have a list of ways we want to create clarity around IT services. For example, Les LaCroix created a public document that articulates the extensive range of user roles and their access to Carleton technologies. Iris Jastram has been expanding and modernizing the ITS Knowledge Base. Next up is information about digital storage options and suggestions for new and departing members of our community. 

Looking forward

Over these past 10 years, technology has become infused throughout our work lives and our personal lives, in some cases becoming pleasantly invisible. For ITS, it’s essential to periodically step back and reflect on the evolution of the services and changes in priorities. During Fall Term, we’ll share more about what we’ve discerned about campus needs and steps we’ll be taking over the next three years to move Carleton forward. If you have suggestions that you haven’t expressed recently, please do let me know. I wish you a good end-of-term and a refreshing summer.