Thursday, September 25, 2014

Southern Hospitality and Hannon Hill

Last week, I went to Atlanta for the annual Cascade Server Users Conference hosted by Hannon Hill.  In true southern form, we received the best in hospitality, and in true Cascade Server User form, everyone contributed in some way to the learning of all the other conference attendees.

In fact, the XSLT guru Jason Aller (to whom I bow down to with great respect, since I program in the XSLT language to make Cascade work), from University of California, Davis - School of Law, gave Tarleton State University kudos for our content management procedures in his presentation "In Pursuit of the Grand Unified Template." Consistency is important to provide a professional marketing and communications tool. If there are deviations from the branding, the style and tone, they look like mistakes and have the potential to push away our constituents.
Jason Aller and Karole Schroeder after his presentation "In Pursuit of the Grand Unified Template"
Jason Aller and Karole Schroeder after his presentation "In Pursuit of the Grand Unified Template"

During another presentation by Fran Zablocki, Strategist for mStoner, called "Information Architecture and User Experience: The Journey, The Destination, The Return Trip," I could only imagine Morgan, our Web Content Specialist, smiling wide-eyed as she consumed exciting new information at some points and nodding her head in agreement on others concerning many of the strategies used to make content work on a web page if she had been with me.

Sometimes it feels good to hear that others are thinking about things the same way we are because while we may be working on the technical aspects, very rarely do people outside our occupations truly understand the trials we go through to improve web design to increase usability for all our constituents. Conferences like these both teach us and build us up as a community. I appreciate what Hannon Hill does to constantly bring us all together working towards the benefit of all.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Student Employee of the Semester for Summer 2014!

We awarded the Student Employee of the Semester for Summer 2014 last night, and the award went to Maria Guillen!

Left to Right: Daphne Hunt, Maria Guillen, Morgan Hammond

Maria is a very hard-working student, taking much initiative to get work done for the College of Business Administration (COBA) on her own. She is skilled at organizing information on the web and collecting student testimonials for COBA's website. Maria works with faculty in order to get information needed for the college's websites. She will be graduating with her B.S. in Computer Information Systems in December, therefore moving on to new horizons. We are going to miss her!

We also had the opportunity to take a group photo of all the Web Services employees last night. I'm so proud of this team and all of their accomplishments and talents. Every single person is valued and appreciated in this office and I am so looking forward to working with this team this year!

Left to right: Josh Roelofs, Maria Guillen, Danielle Dunigan, Katie Taylor, Silvia Fuentes, Karole Schroeder, Tori Jones, Morgan Hammond, Daphne Hunt, Jennifer Kiggins, Ernesto (Ernie) Martinez
-Daphne :)

Tarleton Mobile App

Web Services, Information Technology Services (ITS), and the Digital Media Advisory Committee have been working for several months to prepare and implement a new mobile app for Tarleton.

The app is created by Ellucian, the company which also brings us MyGateway (Luminis), Ducktrax (Student Self-Service), and Banner. Becky Gray, CIO and Executive Director of Information Technology Services at Tarleton, saw a demo of the app at a conference during spring of 2013. Because Tarleton did not have a primary app for the institution AND there was a need to provide a mobile-friendly way to access student services, Becky investigated Ellucian's app further and made the decision to purchase.

The Digital Media Advisory Committee began discussing the app's look and feel as well as content to be placed in the app during the spring of 2014. One of the deciding factors about content was whether or not it is "mobile-friendly".  Currently, there is no "free" mobile-friendly interface for Blackboard, so the decision was made to not link to Blackboard from the app. However, since TexanSync already had a mobile-friendly interface, we decided to include a link to that website.

We also included links to student email, Tarleton's news and events, social media, emergency contacts, campus maps and directory, athletics, and several more items. And of course, students are able to access their grades and schedules from the app as well!

-Daphne Hunt

From a Student's Perspective
Tori Jones, Assistant Intern in Web Services:

From my perspective this app has really made my life a little bit easier. My favorite part of the app is when you click on courses - it shows you what courses you have, what time they are at and even has them all laid out in a schedule. You are also able to access your grades in classes from past semesters, which I found was really convenient because sometimes I like to look back and see what my grades are looking like as a whole, and being able to see that I had a B in that class, or an A in another class really helps things stay organized.

Another thing that the app comes in handy for on a student's perspective is the link to TexanSync. Being a student worker for Web Services, as well as a Residential Leader, I use TexanSync quite a bit. Having that direct access from the app to TexanSync allows me to have access to important things that I need to know and event times with a touch of a button, literally.

As a Residential Leader, there comes times that call for emergency contacts needing to be reached. With the new app, not only are the University Police Department's number available at the click of a button, but the Erath County Sheriff's Office, and Stephenville Police Department numbers are programmed in as well.

This app was something special for Tarleton that was long awaited, with all the new technologies coming into play, it was just a countdown to when we would finally get this app. It's got a really good look to it, and not only that it's extremely easy to use - from having links to student email, TexanSync, Emergency Contacts, and everything in-between, it's definitely a must have!