“Making the Campus Cloud Matter to Your Users” by Jennifer Roland was first seen on Edcetera.

As an IT professional, you probably spend a lot of time designing an information architecture for your school. What goes in the cloud? What must stay here on campus? Can a private cloud help us bridge the gap and provide cloud benefits with in-house security?

But when it comes to users, the thing that really matters to them is whether the computing infrastructure works. They don’t spend any time wondering where their data is stored or how secure it is — they just want to access it when they need it.

The issue is that you need them to care so that they will use secure passwords and respect the bandwidth of the network. How can you help the cloud matter?

Give users what they want. Make sure your cloud service is well integrated into your existing infrastructure. The goal is a completely seamless user experience so that your students, faculty, and staff never have to wonder what is served where. All they need to know is that it works.

Educate them about the behavior you want. You know that users can be the weakest link in your security protocol, but with a little education, you can help users see the importance of all of the security procedures you require. Help students integrate into the campus IT culture during orientations by providing training on choosing good passwords. Hold faculty and staff inservice sessions to remind them of your security requirements, such as not sending student data while on unsecured WiFi networks.

Communicate about changes to the user experience. When your cloud provider pushes an upgrade, it can cause connectivity issues and interface changes that cause concern. Communicate about these changes through your normal channels, including screenshots if there are new login screens or other visual changes. Also make sure that users know if there are steps they need to take, such as changing passwords or downloading updated plug-ins.

You might also check to see if there are browser-specific changes to communicate about, such as if Chrome users need to download a plug-in update, but users of Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari are fine. If none of your users access through Chrome, based on recent analytics data, you probably don’t need to do too much with such a specific change, but it is worth sharing if even 5% of your access is through the affected browser.

What challenges have you had with the user experience as you have transitioned more IT services to the cloud? And, more important, how did you solve them? We’d love to learn from your experiences, so share them in the comments.

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