Student discussion forum: shaping the user experience

Posted on Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Author: By Amélie Leroux, Student Engagement Coordinator and Digital strategist

Screenshot of team video meeting

In a world where transactions are increasingly carried out online and experiences take place in the digital realm, user experience has never been more important. At the University of Ottawa, the student user experience is at the heart of the institution and Digital Campus Transformation Plan

“Students are central to all we do at the University. We must involve our students throughout our initiatives to improve their experience and meet their expectations for the University of tomorrow. We need to rethink our ideas with the help of past, current and future students, and not only treat them as clients or end users, but also as active participants in dreaming and building an enriched student experience.” - Martin Bernier, Chief Information Officer, Information Technology.

While preparing for the winter term, three students working within Information Technology, Amélie Leroux, Astha Tiwari and Alia Seffar, organized a student focus group and survey to discuss the current online experience and possibilities for future improvements. 

21 students participated in the focus group event and 65 students responded to the student survey. Feedback was collected about the services offered by Information Technology, and Teaching and Learning Support Service (TLSS). Suggestions for improvements zoomed in mainly on the communication of technology, solutions for their classes, lab capacity, and tool variety.

As a result of these valuable insights, improvements were implemented in real-time. Information Technology recognizes that working alongside students has mutual benefits for both parties. An outcome of these activities was the creation of a Student Discussion Forum for IT. During winter 2021, we are recruiting students for the Forum and they will be able to provide feedback on IT projects while increasing collaborations between students and Information Technology for the first time.

“This will allow the University to truly understand the user perspective of the end user, our students,” explained Deputy Chief Information Officer Kathleen Webster. “With this discussion forum, we hope to achieve innovation through collaboration and better solutions for all students attending uOttawa.”

Through this reciprocal collaboration, employees get to see the current user experience, and students get to learn and develop knowledge from IT experts. Students not only bring a different  perspective, but also ideas on how to improve solutions and introduce new technologies aimed at them.

As an added bonus, students interested in technology and pursuing an IT career can also benefit from career development workshops. The newly created Student at IT workshops allow students working within Information Technology to learn more about their areas of interest and discover new horizons, while developing skills and knowledge to progress within their careers. The first workshop addressed project management, integrations, and enterprise architecture.

To learn more about these initiatives, reach out to Student Coordinator Amélie Leroux

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