UW Information Technology

UW-IT Insights — Winter 2017

Table of Contents

Partnerships transform the UW
Thousands of students apply to the UW via new university coalition app
UW’s homegrown email systems retiring as part of email modernization effort
On the road to Workday stabilization
New analytics tools will help improve student performance
Aaron Powell appointed VP for UW-IT and CIO
Thrive supports ‘wayfinding’ for the student experience
In brief

Partnerships transform the UW


A new series explores how information technology, when thoughtfully applied, brings out the best at the UW, furthering research, improving the student experience and allowing everyone to work better and more collaboratively.

Find out how through stories highlighting collaboration in UW-IT’s 2017 Partnerships report:

Thousands of students apply to the UW via new university coalition app

For the first time, prospective students applied to the UW this fall using a new, national online application tool. The University received more than 46,000 domestic and international applications from prospective freshmen in November via the new Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success app. The UW had more applicants than any of the other 133 public and private universities participating.

The new app was developed by member schools to improve the application process for students with a single, centralized platform that allows students to organize, build and refine their applications online. By moving away from separate paper application processes, students can now apply to multiple schools online with a single application. All UW freshman applications must now be made through the coalition app.

Increasing access to under-resourced and underrepresented students was an important goal for the coalition. The UW streamlined the student application fee waiver process within the app so that students had to answer a brief series of questions to determine their eligibility for a waiver. Initial numbers show 26 percent of UW applicants had their fees waived; 20 percent of UW applicants would be the first in their family to attend college.

UW-IT’s Student Program was involved in the multi-year coalition app project with other member schools, and expects to continue to help refine the system. Potential future work will be focused on the post-baccalaureate/transfer admissions process.

UW’s homegrown email systems retiring as part of email modernization effort

The UW is modernizing its email services and this effort will involve significant changes to our current offerings, including the retirement of our homegrown systems (i.e., Deskmail, Alpine and Pine). The goals of the Email Modernization Program are to provide current students, faculty and staff with the latest email, collaboration and productivity tools; to facilitate compliance and to protect sensitive data.
The basic elements are:

  • UW’s homegrown systems, Deskmail, Alpine, and Pine, will be fully retired by Dec. 31, 2018.
  • UW will provide two email options: UW Exchange Online, part of the Microsoft Office 365 Suite, and UW Gmail, part of the Google G Suite.
  • These systems will be made available only to current members of the UW community.
  • The UW can no longer support email and collaboration services for former students, faculty and staff. There are some exceptions, including emeriti faculty.
  • All services for retirees, alumni and former staff and students will be deactivated as of July 31, 2018.

The decision to undertake this program was reached after careful review of the costs, technologies and resources required for delivering email services, as well the impact on users. Email has changed dramatically over the past several years, and the UW’s homegrown systems can no longer keep up with more modern and cost-effective solutions, such as those offered by Google and Microsoft. In addition, given the growth of email use, keeping up with state and federal compliance requirements has become increasingly difficult.

To support the transition, UW-IT — which is overseeing the Email Modernization Program — will offer a range of online resources and migration tools to help individuals and departments upgrade to recommended, proven solutions.

For more information, see: the program timeline and details.

On the road to Workday stabilization

UWIT-Insights-Workday.jpgThe UW’s transition to Workday accomplished a major milestone on November 30 with the close of the first Open Enrollment. In one month, roughly 50 percent of all eligible employees (about 33,500) submitted changes to their benefits elections in Workday — a significant rate of participation for the still-new software system launched less than six months ago.

Open Enrollment, however, is just one of several “first-time in Workday events” the University will experience during this initial year. Working through the whole cycle of these first-time events is a necessary step for the new system to become fully stabilized.

“Each first-time event provides an opportunity to learn a new way of doing a once familiar activity and yields critical insight into how employees and units use Workday,” said Nancy Jagger, Executive Director of the Integrated Service Center.
Preparations for the next first-time event — calendar year end — are already well underway. Administrators can help prepare their departments for tax season by recommending all employees verify their home address and access their tax forms online.

Also, don’t miss how the College of Arts & Sciences prepared for Workday and what the college is doing now to make the system work for them, in UW-IT’s 2017 Partnerships Report.

New analytics tools will help improve student performance

UWIT-Insights-Dashbboards.jpgTwo new analytics tools developed by UW-IT will help instructors and academic advisers shape a better student experience, supporting students in improving their performance and guiding them to career paths that make the most of their passions and talents.

Data from the new Course Dashboard coming this winter quarter, can help instructors assess the impact of pedagogical and curricular changes they have made to a course. The dashboards provide historical data such as average final grade and how many students have failed the course, as well as comparative data, such as the average GPA of current students versus past students enrolled in the same course.

Instructors can also use data from the dashboards to improve the student experience in the classroom. For example, data on current students enrolled shows the distribution of majors and the other courses students are taking concurrently, helping instructors adjust the focus of the course to meet students’ needs and interests.

Another tool coming soon, Pivot, can help academic advisers better guide students in developing a clear plan for their intended major, and “pivot” to a back-up plan if necessary.

Pivot displays the average GPA and grade distribution of students who have been accepted and have declared for a particular major. It also shows the 10 courses most commonly taken by students who have declared a particular major and their median grade in the courses required for the major. This data can help advisers gauge a student’s competitiveness for a major or help the student set goals for upcoming courses.

Pivot allows advisers to guide students to academic degrees more efficiently, increasing retention while decreasing time to degree. It can also help advisers support students in recognizing and building on their strengths, while discovering that there is more than one pathway to a desired career.

Aaron Powell appointed VP for UW-IT and CIO

UWIT-Insights-AaronPowell.jpgAaron Powell, who has served as interim vice president for UW-IT and chief information officer for the past year, was officially appointed to the post on Nov. 16, 2017, following a six-month national search.

“Aaron has provided outstanding leadership, overseeing significant enhancements to the University’s IT infrastructure in support of the University’s academic mission and operations,” said Jeffrey Scott, executive vice president for Finance and Administration. “In particular, he successfully guided the HR/Payroll Modernization Program through go-live of the new Workday system and the launch of the Integrated Service Center.

“Aaron’s proven leadership and ability to build strong partnerships across the University will ensure his success in his new position,” Scott said.

As vice president and CIO, Powell will continue to provide strategic leadership in delivering world-class information technology support to the University and in helping to guide the UW’s administrative modernization efforts.

Powell previously served as UW-IT’s associate vice president for Information Management where he was responsible for leading the UW’s core administrative systems and Enterprise Information Management efforts.

Thrive acts as ‘wayfinding’ for students

UWIT-Insights-Thrive-photo.jpgLarge universities can be complex and overwhelming for new students, so the UW launched ” Thrive” messages in autumn 2015 to help ease first-year students’ transition to the UW and raise awareness of the support and wide range of opportunities available to them.

When research showed these messages to be successful for first-year students, the UW started sending them to transfer students this fall. Now, starting winter quarter, a second set of messages will target students beyond their first year to support them as they identify and declare a major. The messages will point to a key aspect of the Husky Experience, which is to look for opportunities outside the classroom, such as internships, study abroad, and more.

Thrive messages, part of the Husky Experience initiative, connect students to relevant resources, and help them maximize their UW experience inside and outside the classroom. Of the first-year students who read the messages, 92 percent reported finding them helpful in finding resources and thinking differently about their experiences. A three-year cycle of messages will ensure that continuing students see new messages each year.

Thrive was originated by the Office of Undergraduate Academic Affairs, the Office of the Provost, UW-IT, and other departments, with many more partners collaborating to create the messages.

In brief:

  • Save the date: The 2018 UW TechConnect Conference is set for Tuesday, March 13, 2018 in the Husky Union Building. The annual all-day conference offers the University’s IT professionals the chance to explore emerging trends, network, share ideas and learn how others are using IT solutions to meet today’s challenges.
  • UW-IT recently upgraded the UW’s network connections to the internet, significantly increasing capacity while providing a faster and more resilient network. As part of the upgrade, connections between the UW and Pacific Northwest Gigapop increased from 20-gigabits to 100-gigabits, enabling enhancement to the UW High Speed Research Network, a dedicated path for certain science domains.
  • Need your video captioned but don’t have the funds? Apply to have captioning done by UW-IT’s Accessible Technology Services (ATS), and make your videos more accessible to everyone. So far, ATS has captioned more than 450 videos, or more than 140 hours of free captioning for UW departments and units. To qualify, videos must be widely available and frequently viewed.