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The goal of the Student Engagement Initiative, begun in Fall 2009, is to gather and apply student input on how IT can most effectively serve the academic needs of students. Focus areas for the initiative come directly from the campus strategic plan goals:
- Increased undergraduate involvement in research
- More students involved in study abroad, internships, and field work
- Emphasis on active, engaged learning
- Sustainability and environmental responsibility
The initiative is student-led, built around the Informatics registered student organization (RSO). The students themselves determine the best way to engage their fellow students, gather their input, and associate it with relevant strategic plan goals.
Student input is channeled from the student leader of the initiative to IT decision-makers by way of the Office of the CIO. Several representatives from the Office of the CIO provide RSO leadership with information about new IT programs or capabilities and with opportunities for student involvement. Discussions with RSO leadership help ensure that the CIO representatives understand students' input and underlying motivations (e.g., barriers to effective learning that the students have identified and want to address) so that they can convey the input to appropriate IT decision makers. The other role of the CIO's office is to provide the students with feedback on how their input is used and describe its impact on IT planning.
Success metrics established at the outset of the initiative focus not only on whether IT planners obtain the input they need, but also on human perceptions (critical to the sustainability of the effort). Examples include the extent to which students feel as if they have a voice in identifying issues; whether student leaders have a heightened understanding of the campus IT environment and directions; and whether they feel as if they are valued partners with the people setting campus IT directions.