There are four general purpose computer laboratories located throughout the campus. These areas – known as computer barns – provide the university community with approximately 400 desktop computers, printers, scanners and secure network connectivity.
At the close of each day, students are required to log off from the computers, and reminded to take their belongings.
Originally, this instruction was communicated via a public announcement system – far from ideal given the need to create a quiet, study-friendly environment, especially during exam time.
These announcements also had to be manually scheduled: an inconvenience given that the barns are often open at weekends and evenings, requiring a member of staff to be available.
The Information Technology Services Center team was also keen to elicit student feedback on the computer barn’s environment, and overall IT experience (response rates were disappointingly low from a previous survey sent by email).
Plus, the University wanted a visual and enduring method to convey its values regarding culture and sustainability.
One of four computer barns at HKUST where SnapComms highly visual messaging software overrides email and delivered direct to computer screens
Head of Teaching Technologies at HKUST - ITSC, William Wan, leads the student computing facilities in the campus. His list for a better communication solution included:
• Being able to elicit specific action at a specific time e.g. log off computer terminals;
• Help build internal culture using digital visuals;
• Increase response rates to student surveys; and
• Get attention without being disruptive, especially during exam time
After trialling SnapComms software, Wan selected three channels: Desktop Alerts, Corporate Wallpaper and Survey. Each of these tools completely override email systems, and are designed to achieve high message cut-through. All tools are cloud-hosted, enabling the University to benefit from the latest software and security upgrades from SnapComms.
The Wallpaper is the opening display a student sees when they first log on. It’s an opportune moment to get their attention before they start up other applications.
The Desktop Alert displays as a pop-up message window, straight onto the University’s computer screens. Effective for inciting immediate and specific action, the alert can be set to recur. It can be animated, and can include images, links and video.
SnapComms Survey tool presents as a pop up notification, appearing on screen, regardless of which application the student is working in at the time. Again, hard to ignore, the survey can be set to ‘read now’ or ‘read later’. Reminder messages can be set until a response has been submitted, dramatically boosting response rates.
"SnapComms helped us achieve significantly better survey response rates and reduce repetitive tasks for IT"
- William Wan, HKUST
Examples of HKUST’s Wallpapers; these are the opening screens students see when they log on to a university computer.
Meanwhile SnapComms Survey tool is used for specific projects – such as collating data on students’ feedback about recent upgrades or new software. This has replaced email-based questionnaires which were achieving poor response levels.
It’s been 12 months since HKUST introduced the new communication tools from SnapComms. They’ve proved to be super effective at getting attention of the intended audience, to the extent that the University has renewed its licence, and plans to expand usage throughout the campus.
The survey tool lifted response rates by 20%, giving Wan and his team meaningful data to help with important decision-making.
Besides improved message cut-through and significantly better response rates to surveys, Wan says automating these comms has eliminated time-consuming, repetitive and manual tasks.
“Resource saving has been a major benefit,” he explains.