In this guest blog post, Brent Comstock, Managing Director of the CarolinaGO mobile app and student body representative to Information Technology Services leadership, discusses the growing collaboration between ITS and Carolina students. Comstock is a UNC-Chapel Hill junior and a Robertson Scholar. He also owns and manages an IT services and consulting company and volunteers in a variety of tech, entrepreneurial and community roles.
Technology is an ever-changing component in our lives. As students, as faculty, and as people. At the heart of technology at UNC-Chapel Hill is the Information Technology Services (ITS) team. The ITS team oversees operations for the campus’ infrastructure and operations relevant to information technology. Imagine a classroom without a projector or a world without email and Sakai. Technology is embedded in our everyday lives.
Two years ago, when I began my collaboration with UNC-Chapel Hill ITS, I was simply a student assigned by student government to “build relationships.” What that meant was unclear to both ITS and to me, as the student representative. Over the last two years, however, I’m impressed and excited by the relationships we have established and continue to build.
When something goes wrong with your computer or you get that dreaded email that your Onyen password expired, you often think of ITS. In many cases, this is a negative thought. My primary goal for the last few years has been to change the negative relationship students have with ITS. This is challenging because, while many may think they know ITS, very few times do students physically interact or voice their concerns with the issues they are facing. Building relationships with ITS means extensive involvement in leadership committees that impact student decisions. We currently have student representatives on several ITS leadership committees including Faculty Information Technology Advisory Committee (FITAC), Instructional Technology Coordinating Committee, the CCI Software Load Committees, and the Student Technology Advisory Board (STAB). These students are not simply “sitting” on the committees, but are rather playing an active role in voicing students’ feedback to improve various aspects of technology on campus.
Building relationships with ITS has not only involved voicing concerns and issues. Our tech team over the last year has made several improvements to the student technology experience. From small things like changing privacy settings on the University directory to large resources like allowing every student at Carolina free access to Lynda.com training videos, our team has looked for opportunities to advance the technology offerings students receive.
This year the student relationship with ITS is reaching a new level. In the next few weeks, ITS’ leadership team and I will engage in a series of strategy sessions to build a roadmap for ITS + student relationships for the next three years. Both parties have recognized that we are making progress and need to continue this progress years into the future. Our largest project for the upcoming semester is the re-design of CarolinaGO, the University-wide app that allows students to track buses, log on to ConnectCarolina and much more!
What started out as simply an assignment to “build relationships” has turned into a partnership that is centered around the most important aspect of campus: the students. I welcome any feedback or ideas.