Proposal Title

Expanding Opportunities for Students in IT through Participatory Service Design

Session Type

Interactive Presentation

Session Location

University Hall, ADP Center 1143

Start Date

30-5-2019 2:15 PM

End Date

30-5-2019 3:00 PM

Key Terms

IT Services, Undergraduate students, Participatory design

Brief Abstract

The current case study aims at analyzing an undergraduate student led IT service at Penn State University called ‘Tech Tutors’. We discuss how a group of young IT professionals began working as Tech Tutors believing they would learn more about technology, but ended up learning a lot more about people. This case study also presents an example of how to enhance IT services by using a participatory design framework.

Proposal

Link to a downloadable word file:

https://psu.box.com/s/9qvs0hp8ob8l2g6tsjwkxtyvm21atypo

Expanding Opportunities for Students in IT through Participatory Service Design

Abstract: The current case study aims at analyzing an undergraduate student led IT service at Penn State University called ‘Tech Tutors’. We discuss how a group of young IT professionals began working as Tech Tutors believing they would learn more about technology, but ended up learning a lot more about people. This case study also presents an example of how to enhance IT services by using a participatory design framework.

Summary

This case study germinated from a motivation to understand the relevance of the services currently provided by Penn State’s Tech Tutors services to meet the University’s technology learning needs and to understand how the experience of working as a Tech Tutor helped the student workers develop as professionals. Tech Tutors are a group of student employees within Penn State IT who support their fellow students and faculty members by providing 1-1 technology tutoring. Over Fall 2019 we conducted a multi-dimensional review of the Tech Tutors services by using a participatory design framework. We engaged the Tech Tutors directly in the process of evaluating and redesigning the service to improve either of its two key dimensions: the value it provides to them as employees and the value it provides to the University community.

This proposal aims at sharing the insights from a semester of collaborative data collection and shine a light on this group of 14 tech-savvy student employees who are eager to help their clients, but frustrated by an apparent lack of awareness of their services. Our study discusses the changes we propose to the group’s leadership and the new feedback channels we provided to the tutors which allow us to better understand the student employee experience and collect their ideas for improvement throughout the term. This study also aims to bring to the forefront the approach of participatory design framework in enhancing student employment experience.

What we largely observed in all of this data was a group of young IT professionals who started their Tech Tutors employment believing they would learn more about technology, and who ended up learning a lot more about people. Some of the specific issues we uncovered with the existing service included misalignment of client expectations, lack of just-in time software learning resources, underutilization of the services, and a lack of community awareness about the services. We will share these findings along with our specific proposals to expand opportunities for our student employees, to help them continue to grow their skills as technologists, learning professionals, and leaders while also maximizing the value and impact of the Tech Tutors service to the University community.

Context

The Tech Tutors group was established to provide technology tutoring for the University population. As the name suggests, Tech Tutors not only help their clients solve technology problems but also tutor them to become more knowledgeable consumers of the technology that they are working with. Embedded within IT learning and development, the current study assesses learning experiences for the undergraduate students who are promoting technology based learning for diverse group of student and faculty members. Analyzing their experiences, the study proposes different kinds of change at organizational level to better support their professional growth.

Student Employment: Why do we need to care?

Over the last three decades, a large number of undergraduate students have been full-time or close to full-time workers (Torres, 2017). The most challenging aspect about recruiting student workers is to create work environment that will equally benefit both the student workers and the University (Goddard, 2014). Towards this goal of achieving a balance between the University’s technological needs and the services provided by one of the student worker groups, we conducted a case study with ‘Tech Tutors’, who provided technology related individual tutoring, at the Pennsylvania State University campus. We approached the case study from a participatory design research in order to include the experiences of a diverse group of stakeholders in conceiving and implementing change within an existing system. Participatory Design is grounded in the belief that multivocality of experiences leads to the development of more meaningful socio-technical solutions (Muller & Kuhn, 1993).

Presentation Outline

The presentation will discuss two main aspects about the study. First, the organizational changes within the IT services that emerged from the proposed study. Second, the design of the study and its unique approach of involving diverse kinds of stakeholders to influence the organizational change. By focusing on the product and the process of conducting the case study, we intend to engage our audience with the idea of focusing on the ‘human’ side of technology. Through our experience of conducting this case study, we want to emphasize on the notion of enhancing people-related skills in IT services. We would tentatively achieve these goals by discussing the following:

  1. Introduction to the Tech Tutors group and its services

  1. Existing difficulties that motivated the study

  1. How we collected the data

  1. How we interpreted and analyzed the data

  1. What we found in the study

  1. How we converted our findings into organizational changes

  1. Reflections about the process

  1. How will we continue integrating research in enhancing the services

References

Torres, M. (2017, June 5). New survey shows majority of college students are working and paying their own tuition. Retrieved from https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/college-students-working-tuition-survey

Goddard, M. W. (2014). Student Workers as Library Programmers: A Case Study in Automated Overlap Analysis.

Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), 24-28.

Presenter Website

http://sites.psu.edu/kbenefield/

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May 30th, 2:15 PM May 30th, 3:00 PM

Expanding Opportunities for Students in IT through Participatory Service Design

University Hall, ADP Center 1143

Link to a downloadable word file:

https://psu.box.com/s/9qvs0hp8ob8l2g6tsjwkxtyvm21atypo

Expanding Opportunities for Students in IT through Participatory Service Design

Abstract: The current case study aims at analyzing an undergraduate student led IT service at Penn State University called ‘Tech Tutors’. We discuss how a group of young IT professionals began working as Tech Tutors believing they would learn more about technology, but ended up learning a lot more about people. This case study also presents an example of how to enhance IT services by using a participatory design framework.

Summary

This case study germinated from a motivation to understand the relevance of the services currently provided by Penn State’s Tech Tutors services to meet the University’s technology learning needs and to understand how the experience of working as a Tech Tutor helped the student workers develop as professionals. Tech Tutors are a group of student employees within Penn State IT who support their fellow students and faculty members by providing 1-1 technology tutoring. Over Fall 2019 we conducted a multi-dimensional review of the Tech Tutors services by using a participatory design framework. We engaged the Tech Tutors directly in the process of evaluating and redesigning the service to improve either of its two key dimensions: the value it provides to them as employees and the value it provides to the University community.

This proposal aims at sharing the insights from a semester of collaborative data collection and shine a light on this group of 14 tech-savvy student employees who are eager to help their clients, but frustrated by an apparent lack of awareness of their services. Our study discusses the changes we propose to the group’s leadership and the new feedback channels we provided to the tutors which allow us to better understand the student employee experience and collect their ideas for improvement throughout the term. This study also aims to bring to the forefront the approach of participatory design framework in enhancing student employment experience.

What we largely observed in all of this data was a group of young IT professionals who started their Tech Tutors employment believing they would learn more about technology, and who ended up learning a lot more about people. Some of the specific issues we uncovered with the existing service included misalignment of client expectations, lack of just-in time software learning resources, underutilization of the services, and a lack of community awareness about the services. We will share these findings along with our specific proposals to expand opportunities for our student employees, to help them continue to grow their skills as technologists, learning professionals, and leaders while also maximizing the value and impact of the Tech Tutors service to the University community.

Context

The Tech Tutors group was established to provide technology tutoring for the University population. As the name suggests, Tech Tutors not only help their clients solve technology problems but also tutor them to become more knowledgeable consumers of the technology that they are working with. Embedded within IT learning and development, the current study assesses learning experiences for the undergraduate students who are promoting technology based learning for diverse group of student and faculty members. Analyzing their experiences, the study proposes different kinds of change at organizational level to better support their professional growth.

Student Employment: Why do we need to care?

Over the last three decades, a large number of undergraduate students have been full-time or close to full-time workers (Torres, 2017). The most challenging aspect about recruiting student workers is to create work environment that will equally benefit both the student workers and the University (Goddard, 2014). Towards this goal of achieving a balance between the University’s technological needs and the services provided by one of the student worker groups, we conducted a case study with ‘Tech Tutors’, who provided technology related individual tutoring, at the Pennsylvania State University campus. We approached the case study from a participatory design research in order to include the experiences of a diverse group of stakeholders in conceiving and implementing change within an existing system. Participatory Design is grounded in the belief that multivocality of experiences leads to the development of more meaningful socio-technical solutions (Muller & Kuhn, 1993).

Presentation Outline

The presentation will discuss two main aspects about the study. First, the organizational changes within the IT services that emerged from the proposed study. Second, the design of the study and its unique approach of involving diverse kinds of stakeholders to influence the organizational change. By focusing on the product and the process of conducting the case study, we intend to engage our audience with the idea of focusing on the ‘human’ side of technology. Through our experience of conducting this case study, we want to emphasize on the notion of enhancing people-related skills in IT services. We would tentatively achieve these goals by discussing the following:

  1. Introduction to the Tech Tutors group and its services

  1. Existing difficulties that motivated the study

  1. How we collected the data

  1. How we interpreted and analyzed the data

  1. What we found in the study

  1. How we converted our findings into organizational changes

  1. Reflections about the process

  1. How will we continue integrating research in enhancing the services

References

Torres, M. (2017, June 5). New survey shows majority of college students are working and paying their own tuition. Retrieved from https://www.theladders.com/career-advice/college-students-working-tuition-survey

Goddard, M. W. (2014). Student Workers as Library Programmers: A Case Study in Automated Overlap Analysis.

Muller, M. J., & Kuhn, S. (1993). Participatory design. Communications of the ACM, 36(6), 24-28.

https://digitalcommons.montclair.edu/eldc/2019/Thursday/13