With tech, no student is left behind

Being the CIO at Wits entails understanding that everyone isn’t going to be in the same place when it comes to their levels of tech familiarity and competency. Dr Stanley Mpofu explains.

14 February 2023

Dr Stanley Mpofu. Photo: Karolina Komendera

When I speak with Dr Stanley Mpofu about his role as CIO at Wits University, he mentions something that I’ve never considered about the solutions powering everything that happens on campus and, with the rise of remote/ online learning and teaching, off campus too. As the man in charge of technology at the university, he has to manage expectations and cater to the needs of a very large group of people that spans Baby Boomers and Gen X to Millennials and Gen Z.

For Mpofu, this means that he must take the time to understand his users and be empathetic to the fact that not everyone is going to be in the same place when it comes to their levels of tech familiarity and competency. “So many of the problems that come up in IT are because of poor communication, inadequate change management, poor stakeholder management and a lack of understanding of user requirements.” To handle these issues, Mpofu believes that you need to take ownership when things don’t go according to plan. “It’s very easy to blame the technology. If something goes wrong, you just say it’s the network or the WiFi or you say the server is down. But all you’re doing is creating distrust in the technology.” If there is an issue, it’s important to be transparent; tell users you are aware of the problem and explain that you’re working on it. “In situations like this, you can’t cut corners and you definitely can’t find a workaround that will last. You have to work at finding a solution and keep communicating with everyone affected so that they know how things are going.”

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