Indiana University

Indiana University use Social Squared forums

INDIANA UNIVERSITY is a major multi-campus public research institution, grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, and a world leader in professional, medical, and technological education. Indiana University’s mission is to provide broad access to undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education for students throughout Indiana, the United States, and the world, as well as outstanding academic and cultural programs and student services. Indiana University seeks to create dynamic partnerships with the state and local communities in economic, social, and cultural development and to offer leadership in creative solutions for 21st century problems. Indiana University strives to achieve full diversity, and to maintain friendly, collegial, and humane environments, with a strong commitment to academic freedom.

My name is Cory P. Retherford and I have been fortunate to been part of the Indiana University’s adoption of SharePoint 2010 as a central service with the goal to improve collaboration and possible cloud-oriented services. The Indiana University SharePoint Users’ Group was founded by me and established to help the community facilitate communications and share projects and business solutions that tailor to the University departmental and divisional needs. The group’s goal has been to improve our knowledge and understanding of SharePoint technologies and its potential here at Indiana University.

We have gradually added new features to the group’s website, one of which includes the SharePoint Social Squared Forums powered by the Lightning Tools solution. Since our End-Users are both technical and non-technical, we required a simple tool that would allow any of the University’s Faculty and Staff to communicate their needs to the group. The Social Squared Forums was the solution!

At Indiana University we have been using the Lightning Tools Social Squared Forums in place of the out-of-box functionality that SharePoint 2010 provides for our Users’ Group. The new forums improve upon the End-User interface which further resembles existing forums.

The Users’ group’s forums now enable us to better manage the collaborative efforts, projects, and content moderation for Users from across Indiana University’s 8 campuses. The forums allows us to further our partnerships with the various departmental units which further enhances the ability for us provide additional offerings to potential and new users. The customizable forums allow us to create categories for help and training, the reporting of bugs, Projects and solutions, Business Intelligence, and other useful topics of importance.

We have delegated each forum discussion to various individuals (moderators) in our community which helps with response and enrich the collaborative interactions. The new forums provide a place where any Indiana University SharePoint User can post a question, concern, or share project ideas with others.

My University role as a technical manager has afforded me the opportunity to be the facilitator and voice of SharePoint. My goal has been to surface the potential of SharePoint to safely empower our technical and functional community by leveraging the knowledge that exists at our University, and the Social Squared Forums continues to improve with that.

The problems we hoped to solve with the Social Squared forums were to improve upon the End User experience from the out-of-box forums presentation of post and threads. The burden to create out-of-box forum groupings and forums were not of value and the graphical user interface was not of the caliber of other internet forums and messaging boards. The solution provided us the ability to delegate each discussion group and forums, mark answers, rate each response, edit, and further allows the moderators/Administrators the ability to edit existing posts if necessary.

The solution has promise to further streamline support request and allows the End-Users involvement as the support community, thus has the potential to save on overall support costs for the University SharePoint support.

The solution has also improved upon general SharePoint user adoption and increased general usage since they are using the forums to interact with the community. That said, this product has great potential and the forums options are always getting better with each release.