Minnesota's vast higher-ed system comes together online
The 53-campus system includes seven state universities and 25 community and technical colleges offering more than 3,500 programs to 374,000 students and 140,000 continuing career education enrollees. With campuses five to six hours apart, Karen Bergmeier, ITS project lead- er and Cisco WebExTM solution liaison, found herself traveling four to five hours two to three times each week to conduct training on the system’s proprietary software.
“The situation made frequent in-person meetings not feasible,” says Bergmeier, who began to use Cisco WebEx Meeting Center to conduct online training and provide user support. She realized immediately that a comprehensive online web collaboration solution would not only help her decrease travel time and expense, but would also improve collaboration within the entire MNSCU system.
Bergmeier evaluated several solutions. “We chose WebEx because it provides a strong backbone, operating on an independent network that ensures maximum security and reliability,” she explains. “With WebEx, we’re also able to receive a broad range of solutions from one unified vendor.” To meet a wide variety of needs, MNSCU chose to implement WebEx Meeting Center, Cisco WebEx Support Center, Cisco WebEx Event Center, and Cisco WebEx Training Center throughout its many campuses.
Today, MNSCU uses WebEx Support Center to pro- vide continuous service to students and faculty using the statewide Learning Management System (LMS), as well as helpdesk support for all employees. “When students, faculty, or staff call our helpdesk, we launch a WebEx Sup- port Center session and immediately take control of their desktops. WebEx Support Center enables us to address their technical problems within 30 seconds of receiving a support call,” says Bergmeier.
MNSCU uses WebEx Meeting Center to conduct a broad range of meetings on local campuses and across the state to improve staff collaboration. “Our information technology group consists of CIOs and deputies from 32 institutions across the state, and this group now uses WebEx Meeting Center to conduct bi-weekly meetings,” says Bergmeier.
In addition, the human resources department at MNSCU uses Meeting Center for training and support of new employees, while the chancellor’s office conducts academic fairs and a variety of faculty and staff meetings online. WebEx helped MNSCU improve the quality of employee communications and collaboration and gain the full benefits of operating a statewide system.
“WebEx provides a personal connection between MNSCU staff. Meetings that occurred once a quarter in the past, now take place instantly as needed,” says Bergmeier. MNSCU often holds daily meetings now to track project status. “WebEx enables us to leverage the benefits of our statewide system fully, facilitating staff and vendor meetings in which critical planning and negotiations take place.”
WebEx enabled MNSCU staff to save time, improve productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. “WebEx dramatically reduces the time required to resolve support tickets, enabling us to address more calls in a shorter amount of time. In August, we connected with a total of 386 students, faculty and staff using WebEx,” states Bergmeier, who has cut travel by 90 percent while significantly improving results.
And MNSCU is just beginning to leverage the many e-learning options that WebEx offers. On the drawing board are plans to use the recording feature to record sessions for the nursing program and post them for on-demand access. Another feature -- The Hands-On Lab -- would let students take classes from home. “We’re finding that the applications for WebEx are endless,” Bergmeier says.