BYU student panel discusses technology concerns


Technology is tightly woven into students’ social lives; for BYU, the challenge is to bring the same integration into the academic sphere.

A panel of four BYU students spoke about their technology needs, wants and expectations to an audience of university faculty and staff during the Digital Transformation Showcase on Thursday in the Varsity Theater.

Brandon Hatch, president of BYUSA, moderated the student panel. Hatch was quick to express gratitude for the progress that has already been made across campus.

“I feel like if there has been one overarching theme as we have talked to other students, it’s gratitude,” Hatch said. “We are very grateful to all of you for all of your hard work, for all of the innovation that’s happening on campus.”

Each of the panelists suggested different areas for technological improvement identified by other students as well as through their own experiences. Recommendations included a centralized university calendar with customized feeds, increased BYU website continuity, better Wi-Fi coverage and the recording and streaming of lectures.

Increasing integration between myBYU and Learning Suite was a common concern among students.

“I think myBYU is supposed to be that centralized website that we all head to first, but as I’ve talked to other students, one of the things that I’ve found is maybe it’s not as central as it could be,” Hatch said.

Sam Gubler, a panelist majoring in computer science, also proposed a more manageable schedule view on Learning Suite.

“It would be nice to be able to view your schedule a week at a time, so I can see for every day, for all of my classes, what I have for those teachers,” Gubler said.

Panelist Zach Miller, an advertising major, advocated a Learning Suite mobile app which would increase students’ ability to keep up with schoolwork remotely.

“I know if a student is in Salt Lake and remembers, ‘Oh, I have to take a quiz tonight,’  being able to access Learning Suite on their phone could really expand their schooling,” Miller said.

Miller stressed the importance of continuing to gather student feedback as BYU strives to assimilate different technologies.

“We’re only four students of 30,000 students, only four voices that you’re hearing today,” Miller said. “I’m sure there are a lot of other students who have opinions and could easily contribute to something like this. I would hope that there’s more dialogue and a better forum for students to contribute these ideas.”

Michael Brown, director of communication for the Office of Information Technology, said that many of the students’ suggestions are already priorities at IT and will come to fruition in the near future.

“It was mentioned that we’d like to see more integration with Learning Suite into myBYU. There are plans already in the works to address that,” Brown said.

A Learning Suite mobile application may not be far off, either.

“Scott Hunt, managing director of Edge Services at BYU, presented a mock up of what they’ve done so far with a mobile application,” Brown said. “He demonstrated the BYU mobile application and more specifically how they’re tying Learning Suite into the mobile application.”

Consistent Wi-Fi coverage, another student concern, is also on IT’s radar.

We’re constantly evaluating areas of campus and going out and bolstering systems or adding systems if they’re not currently there,” Brown said.

Students can receive immediate help with IT issues by calling the OIT service desk and can also offer feedback through this communication channel.

“We make every effort to welcome feedback and work it into our road maps and address it as soon as resources are available and it is feasible,” Brown said.

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