Three tiered approach to involving students in HUIT

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The below is a work in progress that is being circulated and feedback being collected and is welcome.  It’s a high-level strategy proposal that, if implemented, could help drive decision making and planning. Please feel free to comment below, or let me know by email <srice@fas.harvard.edu>. Our next steps are to meet with students and senior leadership to discuss this proposal.

Best, Shannon

HUIT High level goal: Involve Students

This outlines three key ways that HUIT can plan to involve students. We can develop our processes to give students ‘a seat at the table’ of IT planning and discussion, we can develop our infrastructure to facilitate collaboration with technically skilled students, and we can work to develop HUIT culture to more broadly consider students as important stakeholders and potential collaborators in solving IT problems at the College.

1)    Develop processes to give students a role as stakeholders related to projects where they are impacted, such as student facing web applications.

  1. We could create a new* ‘student/HUIT committee’ that would meet regularly, and students could bring their ideas and concerns related to HUIT projects.  Representatives from HUIT could provide updates on projects and ask for student feedback and try and identify opportunities for collaboration.
  2. On a project level, we could have student representation and key project planning meetings, so that they could bring a student perspective into planning discussions.
  3. Ideally, eventually a student could have a seat at the College IT committee meetings as well.

Students are very busy, and since this would require a time commitment and responsibility. I would envision this as a paid position(s) along the lines of peer advising fellows.

2)    Develop an infrastructure for our code/data that is accessible and encourages collaboration.  HUIT currently does not have a shared code repository, which is a limiting factor to collaboration.

  1. Planning is underway to create a shared code repository to be used by HUIT.  A key requirement of this should be to support a student being added to a team, and being able to check out source code for a specified project.
  2. HUIT should work towards building a dedicated hosting environment that enables students to quickly set up virtual machines on which they can develop.
  3. HUIT should work towards establishing officially supported APIs to various data.  Just as the MBTA shared its real-time bus data with the world, we could share APIs to officially supported data and application code.  There are some examples of success in CS50 and Hack Harvard related applications.  We’d like to extend this approach and build greater support.

3)    Develop a culture and way of thinking that is more transparent, and encourages collaboration.   *As we develop our processes and infrastructure to support and encourage student collaboration, we will be implicitly making change in our culture. However, I think this is important enough an item that it warrants its own listing as student involvement is one of our driving goals.

  1. Across the organization, we should be thinking of ways that we can involve and incorporate students, and should be asking students how they’d like to participate.
  2. We also need to communicate this goal of involving students to our non-student clients as well, and invite their collaboration in adjusting the way we do business.
  3. We need to work to educate and create relationships to build trust and sense of partnership (i.e.  working  to dispell any ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ attitudes and assumptions that may exist.)

*(would be in addition to existing groups such as Student Advisory Group for Educational Technologies. (SAGET).

Update by: Shannon Rice (based on ideas from discussions with colleagues and students) October 31, 2011; ver. 1.1

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