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The End-user's Desktop: New Center of the Computing Universe (166188098)

The End-user's Desktop: New Center of the Computing Universe (166188098)

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Published by EDUCAUSE
Our administrators and others who require access to administrative information now have personal computers on their desks and are connected to the campus network. We are planning to install new integrated administrative applications using one common database. An anticipated benefit from these new applications is the empowerment of our divisional and departmental administrators.In this new environment the end-user's personal computer ceases being a typewriter replacement and becomes their window to the University's administrative applications, electronic mail, analysis tools, information servers and possibly to collaborative work. At the UofC, administrators outside the large central departments tend to be solo workers, isolated in academic and support organizations where they may be the only person dealing with administrative concerns on a regular basis.How do we train and support these isolated administrators who must move from filling in blanks on a form to utilizing networked systems where the underlying administrative applications quite possibly have lost their identity? How do we develop an understanding of the disbursed administrator's needs?This presentation will review recent work at the University of Chicago and current research focused on meeting this critical challenge. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/end-users-desktop-new-center-computing-universe
Our administrators and others who require access to administrative information now have personal computers on their desks and are connected to the campus network. We are planning to install new integrated administrative applications using one common database. An anticipated benefit from these new applications is the empowerment of our divisional and departmental administrators.In this new environment the end-user's personal computer ceases being a typewriter replacement and becomes their window to the University's administrative applications, electronic mail, analysis tools, information servers and possibly to collaborative work. At the UofC, administrators outside the large central departments tend to be solo workers, isolated in academic and support organizations where they may be the only person dealing with administrative concerns on a regular basis.How do we train and support these isolated administrators who must move from filling in blanks on a form to utilizing networked systems where the underlying administrative applications quite possibly have lost their identity? How do we develop an understanding of the disbursed administrator's needs?This presentation will review recent work at the University of Chicago and current research focused on meeting this critical challenge. http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/end-users-desktop-new-center-computing-universe

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Published by: EDUCAUSE on Sep 07, 2013
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The End-user's Desktop: New Center of the Computing UniverseJHPorter Page 1 of 9 Cause93Copyright CAUSE 1994. This paper was presented at the 1993CAUSE Annual Conference held in San Diego, California,December 7-10, and is part of the conference proceedingspublished by CAUSE. Permission to copy or disseminate all orpart of this material is granted provided that the copies arenot made or distributed for commercial advantage, that theCAUSE copyright notice and the title and authors of thepublication and its date appear, and that notice is giventhat copying is by permission of CAUSE, the association formanaging and using information technology in highereducation. To copy or disseminate otherwise, or to republishin any form, requires written permission from CAUSE. Forfurther information: CAUSE, 4840 Pearl East Circle, Suite302E, Boulder, CO 80301; 303449-4430; e-mailinfo@cause.colorado.eduThe End-user's Desktop:New Center of the Computing UniverseCause93Presented byJames H. PorterAdministrative Information SystemsThe University of ChicagoInternet: j-porter@uchicago.eduViews expressed in this paper do not necessarily representthe official position of The University of ChicagoThe End-user's Desktop:New Center of the Computing UniversePresented at Cause93 by James H. PorterI. IntroductionOur current approach to end-user support is directed at achievingcomputer literacy. For the most part we provide our administrators,faculty and students with classroom training in the use of desktopapplications running on their personal computer (PC). Little effort isexpended on assisting the end-user integrate the PC, the network and thetask at hand, whether that be managing a department, recording studentgrades or researching and writing a paper. As a result, many--and somewould argue most--of our PCs are serving as typewriter replacements.
 
Needless to say, with our PCs serving as typewriter replacements, littleof the reduced costs and increased organizational effectiveness expectedby many from desktop computing is being realized. Indeed, it could beargued that since we tolerate non-use and our organizations incur thecost of duplicate administrative and communication systems, PCs havecontributed to increasing costs rather than reducing costs. For example,we do not require all faculty, staff and students to use electronic mailand we do not require all administrators to use only electronictransactions to submit, say, a purchasing requisition.[1] There isalwaysthe option to use a paper form, fax, paper memo, messenger ortelephone.This is rapidly changing. The option to use, or not use, the desktopcomputer will soon disappear. The end-user's personal computer will sooncease being a typewriter replacement and will become the end-user's onlywindow to the university's administrative applications, electronic mail,analysis tools, information servers and collaborative work. Empoweredusers will accomplish all work and most communication and informationexchange through their networked personal computers. The end-user'sdesktop will be the new center of the computing universe.[2] Soon, ouradministrators, faculty, staff and students who do not understand anduse their networked desktop computer in accomplishing their universityrole will become isolated, separated from the administrative andeducational mainstream.Our end-users, our organizations and our technological infrastructuresare not ready for this rapidly approaching computer-mediated future. Ourusers are struggling to master the computers already on their desks. Oursupport organizations are struggling to train these end-users[3]This paper addresses the importance of the end-user's desktop by:* looking at the university administrator's work environment and howit is changing* reviewing various user-support and training models* expanding the definition of end-user to include faculty and studentsas well as administrators* reviewing user-services experiences at The University of Chicago* proposing possible user-services models and organizationsThis is a complex subject involving cultural, sociological,organizational and technological issues. A short paper such as this canonly explore one or two thoughts in any depth. There is some interestingwork being done in the private sector on this theme. Hopefully, otherswill take these ideas and use them to help us better understand how tobuild, support and utilize the human and technological infrastructuresin our universities.II. Administrators and Their WorkOutside of our central organizations and the larger academic units, ouradministrators are "Lone Rangers,"--one person tending to mostadministrative matters such as purchasing, personnel administration,budget management and report preparation. We have observed that theseadministrators are generally interrupt driven in that they must dealwith the current demand or crisis crossing their desk.[4] Theadministrators are isolated in that they are the only person in theirunit with such responsibilities.[5] Since these administrators report upthrough their organization, there is little reason to talk to peers inother units--so cross training is limited. We have also observed thatthese administrators have no forums in which to share common problems
 
and have no champions to advance their agenda.The administrative work environment has been relatively stable for manyyears. With the introduction of PCs and networks, the technologicalknowledge and skill required to perform as an administrator haveincreased--but individual administrators have not yet fully incorporatednetworked PCs into their daily work. Since our administrative systemsare paper- or mainframe-based, there is limited organizational or peerpressure to master networked desktop computing. In addition, therequired network and PC resources are not in place and the requiredorganizational support and direction is not available.In our work with campus organizations, we have loosely identified threegeneral categories of PC user: the early adapters, the laggards who willnever be able to, or will not, adapt and the remaining 'adapt asrequired' majority.[6] This majority will use technology if they can seethat it adds value, if they are trained and if there is anorganizational expectation for its use.[7] The early adapters, on theother hand, are the ones who love technology for its own sake. Given therapid change we will be experiencing, a challenge facing user-servicesis to adequately train the 'adapt as required' majority and to somehowleverage the talent, enthusiasm and knowledge of the early adapters.More on this later.III. Rapid ChangeThe administrator's world is rapidly changing. Figure 1 presents a modelof the administrator's environment today while Figure 2 gives acomparable view of tomorrow's environment.FIGURE NOT AVAILABLEMany of the change elements in the 'tomorrow model' are already here. Tome, these change models support the idea that, like it or not, we aremoving toward an electronic community where we will work, communicate,teach and learn through our desktop. Our organization's effectivenesswill depend upon successful interaction through the desktop. Today thedesktop is inconsequential. In the rapidly approaching future, the end-user's desktop is critical.IV. Disappearing Applications and New Organizational StructuresAn interesting phenomenon is taking place. Our central applications arelosing their identity to the end-users. Today, with our mainframe-basedlegacy systems, we log into, say, the purchasing system to initiate apurchasing transaction. Likewise, we take specific steps to log into adifferent system to inquire about a personnel matter.With the current commercial client-server applications available for thehigher education market--which are based upon integrated relationaldatabase management systems--end-users log in through the network andselect the transactions they need and are authorized to use. Themovement between the various traditional systems, such as theaccounting, personnel and student systems, is seamless. To the end-user(in this example a departmental administrator) there is oneadministrative system. The accounting, personnel or other central officethat today 'owns' the application and data and processes the papertransactions may, over time, become blurred into one central supportoffice in the minds of the end-users[8]

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