Understanding our student and staff experience of learning technologies

‘Nothing endures but change’. Heraclitus. So true.

This time a year ago I was urging students to complete the 6th EHU Student e-Learning Survey and a whopping 798 actually did. Today I am able to publish the full report and recommendations based on the analysis of that survey’s results. We are very grateful for our students’ generosity with their time and feedback. It is our hope that we repay them with year-on-year improvements that show we are actually listening to what they are telling us.

students using a laptop. Cover of survey report

Cover from survey report

 

The survey’s findings shed light on a number of topics:

  • Access to technology
  • Trend analysis in the use/ experience of Learning Edge since 2008/09
  • Positive and negative features of Learning Edge
  • What students think makes for an ‘ideal’ digital learning environment

 

But there’s more …

 

In addition to publicising the student survey findings, this post is also a call for feedback via its sister survey into academic staff engagement with technology, library and services to support teaching. The survey is currently live until midnight on 29th January [now extended to midnight 5th February] and can be accessed from the Learning Edge home page. We’ve even been able to secure three lots of £15 Amazon vouchers for a free prize draw for entrants.

Please complete the survey and help us to better understand your experience of using technology and the services that underpin it. We have learned over many years that success in providing and supporting learning technologies doesn’t come from following a ‘how to’ guide, but is highly context specific, dependent upon properly understanding how people use them – and what it feels like to use them. Tell us how it is for you and contribute to the ongoing improvement.

Lindsey Martin Assitant Head of Learning Services

Lindsey Martin

Students – keep telling us what you think!

There is still time to win one of our prizes (£50 Amazon vouchers, 2 x £25 Amazon vouchers or a 1GB USB wristband) by completing the fourth Students eLearning Survey. We have now had 327 responses to our survey so a big thank you to all those who have completed it so far, but we need as many more as possible to give a truly representative picture.

We’ve had a look at the results to date and thought we would share some early feedback with you. We’re delighted to see that a high percentage of students (79.2%) feel that Learning Edge enhances the knowledge and understanding that they get from lectures and tutorials. Last year this figure was 75.2% so it’s great to see that this has increased. Similarly 88.1% of students agree that Learning Edge enables them to learn at a place and time of their choosing; this has increased from last years figure of 83.4%.

Another positive finding is that technical difficulties experienced when using Blackboard (now Learning Edge) have decreased. Last year, 60.7% of students had problems off campus compared with 43.5% this year. 45.9% of students had problems when on campus last year, but this has reduced to 38%. This hasn’t happened by accident; Learning Edge is a more robust and reliable system, underpinned by high quality technical and learner support. We’ve also created lots of new guides for students so we hope this has contributed to the reduction in problems!

We know how important it is to many students to be able to submit assignments online (84.7% said so this year and 82.7% last year) and we’re pleased to report that there are developments underway to improve this process and to offer more options to both students and tutors….so watch this space!

If you are a frequent viewer of our blog you will have seen previous posts about Mobile Learn, the mobile app for Learning Edge. Many students have already downloaded the app which is great news, and we’re keen for more students to make use of the app. The results of the survey show that last year 36.1% of students had an internet enabled mobile phone, but according to this year’s results so far this has increased to 78%. The launch of our mobile app was obviously very timely! For more information about the app have a look at this post.

The results mentioned above are based on the responses so far, so if you’ve not already completed the survey please do so and contribute to our findings for this year. Remember, as an added incentive, we are offering a grand prize of £50 Amazon vouchers and two runner up prizes of £25 Amazon vouchers to the lucky winners of our prize draw. We are also giving away one of our very exclusive Learning Services 1GB USB wristbands for every 20th response. We’ve already given away 16 of our wristbands – complete the survey now for your chance to be the next winner!

Current EHU students can access the survey from Learning Edge, the GO portal, your email or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_survey_2011/.

Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

Taking the online survey to the student.

How FM and LTD used tablet technologies for a student survey.

Taking the online survey to the student.In December Facilities Management wanted to know more about how students were using the HUB, and more specifically, the food services within the new building. They were considering how they could take a survey to the students, to encourage engagement, and maximise responses.

Danielle Doyle (FM Customer Service Team Leader) and Carol Austin (Facilities Manager for Customer Services) contacted LTD for advice on how to implement their ideas. LTD suggested using mobile devices to connect to an online survey, using the Bristol Online Surveys (BOS) service available to Edge Hill staff. The department loaned their own mobile devices to FM as a ‘pilot’ to learn more about using these mobile technologies.

Three students were recruited to conduct the survey for three days just before the Christmas break.  Two mobile devices were used – a first generation iPad and a Samsung Galaxy tab – the plan being to compare against the third student using paper copies of the survey.  Both devices were able to connect to and run the BOS service, though the battery of the Galaxy tablet ran out before the end of each session (10-3pm).  The interviewers said that the mobile devices were great at getting the engagement of students and the survey was completed in a similar amount of time as the paper version – the significant advantage of the mobile technology is the elimination of both transcription time and transcription errors.

Note, though, that the interviewers found the fastest way to gather the data was to get a group of students together and use one paper survey to record the responses from many students – though transcription time and errors need to be taken into account.

A later posting will discuss what LTD and FM learnt as a result of this pilot – and perhaps give some feedback on the results of this survey.

If you are considering how to use technology to enhance the student experience please contact the LTD team via ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk or 01695 650754.

You’ve got to be in it to win it …

Our fourth Students eLearning Survey has only been open for a week and we’ve already had 180 responses – thank you to everyone who has completed it so far!

As you know we are giving away one of our Learning Services USB wristbands for every 20th response so this means we have given 9 away already – check your student email to see if you’re one of the lucky winners.

Have a look at the picture below to see what these exclusive wristbands look like and complete the survey quickly so you don’t miss out on your chance to win one!

Don’t forget that the main prize draw will take place when the survey closes at the end of January 2012, with a grand prize of £50 Amazon vouchers and two runner up prizes of £25 Amazon vouchers!

On a more serious note, the survey really does help to inform developments and in fact one of the main drivers for moving to Learning Edge was the feedback from last years survey that told us you wanted a more reliable, stable and professional system. We think Learning Edge has provided these but want to hear your views .

Current EHU students can access the survey from Learning Edge, the GO portal, your email or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_survey_2011/.

Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

Students – win £50 Amazon vouchers!

Believe it or not the time has come again for us to launch our annual students’ e-Learning survey! This is the fourth year we’ve ran this survey and it’s great that we’re able to build up a picture of our students’ experiences and expectations of technology and see trends emerging over the years.

The survey informs change and developments and we really do take on board all of your comments and suggestions. As an example, last year you told us you wanted a mobile App for Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1)…..Mobile Learn was launched in September 2011 and as you can see from previous blog posts we have a lot of students now using the app and feedback so far has been extremely positive which we consider to be a resounding success! Keep an eye out for blog posts over the coming weeks telling you more about what changes we’ve made based on the results of last year’s survey.

Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1) was introduced this academic year and so it’s the perfect time to have your say and tell us your experiences of using it. We know how precious your time is, especially during the assessment period, so as a thank you for completing the survey we are offering a grand prize of £50 Amazon vouchers and two runner up prizes of £25 Amazon vouchers. We are also giving away one of our very exclusive Learning Services USB wristbands for every 20th response!

Current EHU students can access the survey from Learning Edge, the GO portal, your email or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/elearning_survey_2011/. We plan to close the survey on Friday 27th January 2012.

We look forward to reading your responses!

Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

Learning Edge goes mobile!

We are pleased to announce some exciting news … Learning Edge (Blackboard 9.1) has an app!

The Blackboard Mobile Learn app can be accessed by anyone with a smartphone or tablet device (iPhone, iPod, iPad, Blackberry, Android) for easy and convenient access to courses and collaboration and communication tools whilst on the go.  The app gives you mobile ‘friendly’ access to your course dashboard, announcements, assignments, grades, discussions and handouts.  You’ll also be able to contribute to and comment on discussion and blog posts, and staff will be able to update announcements and journals and create new discussion threads.

This is a timely development for EHU as our 3rd annual Students eLearning Survey (January 2011) revealed that many of our students currently use their mobile phones to access and share information about their courses. They told us that they wanted to access Blackboard in this way too.  We anticipate student use of Blackboard Mobile via the app will really take off. There are a couple of reasons for this – firstly, national data from Ofcom suggests that smartphone ownership in the UK is growing at a rate of 70% a year, with about 45% of 16-24 year olds now having internet-enabled phones. Secondly, thanks to Google Analytics, we know that people are already accessing Blackboard 9.1 from their mobile devices.

August is traditionally our quietest month and yet we we had 598 visits to the Blackboard 9.1 site from mobile devices. This is amazing as 9.1 is not optimised for mobile use. The graph below shows the breakdown of the devices used:

As you can see, the operating systems most used were iPod/iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry.  Our Mobile Learn app is available for all of these devices.

You can download the app and start using it now by following these four simple steps:

1.  Search for “Blackboard Mobile Learn” in your app store.
2.  Once the app is installed, search for Edge Hill University using the search bar that automatically appears when you open the app.
3.  Select Edge Hill University.
4.  Log in using the same username and password you normally use to access Learning Edge.

You can find installation guides and helpful FAQs about Mobile Learn here –

Apple users click here
Android users click here
Blackberry users click here
Setting your Mobile Learn course notifications

The Learning Technology Development team will be offering some awareness-raising sessions throughout the coming semester for staff wanting to know more about developing mobile ‘friendly’ courses in Learning Edge, but if you would like to start sooner, contact us to find out more by emailing ltdsupport@edgehill.ac.uk

Katherine Richardson
LTD Operations Co-ordinator

Students, have your say – the EHU Student eLearning Survey #3

Where does the time go? The third EHU student eLearning survey went live last Friday and lots of you have already been taking time out to fill it in. Telling us your experiences and expectations of technology to support your learning helps us to understand what works and what hinders. Last year we had 775 completed questionnaires and this year it would be great if we could top that as the more responses we get the more influential the survey is in continuing to improve current services and inform future direction.

The survey isn’t just an academic exercise, it informs change – have a look at last year’s survey. Since the survey report was published we have completed the VLE Review, drawing upon views, comments and suggestions contained in the 2009/10 survey – the new version of Blackboard we are upgrading to in September 2011 will contain lots of features you told us you wanted – like blogs, wikis, mashups with Facebook and other Web2.0 tools. We have also overhauled how we manage staff and student queries and problems with Blackboard to ensure a proactive, speedier, more joined-up service.

If you are an Edge Hill student, please (please!) complete our survey. We realise that your time is precious – especially with end of term assignment deadlines looming – and so we have added a sweetener of a prize draw of one £50 and two £25 Amazon vouchers.

The survey may be accessed from Blackboard, from email or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/ehu_elearning_2010. We plan to close the survey on 29th January 2010. We look forward to hearing from you …

Students, have your say about the VLE … and a few other technology-related things

The VLE Project Review team have been running workshops with different groups of Blackboard users in order to develop a clear picture of the VLE and associated technologies that will meet (and hopefully exceed) the needs and expectations of Edge Hill students and staff.  Feedback from those attending the workshops has been incredibly positive about the process and the opportunities it provides for everyone to have their views heard. Last workshop for staff this semester is Friday 11 December 9.30 in Solstice and will be followed by a Festive Lunch with mulled wine. All welcome. To book a place and lunch, email Katherine Richardson (Richark@edgehill.ac.uk) asap.

Which brings me now to the 2009 EHU Student e-Learning Survey. This is the second online student survey produced by EHU’s  SOLSTICE Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning. It aims to develop an understanding of our students experience, expectations and use of technology-enhanced teaching and learning and this year will also feed into the VLE review. We used the findings from last year’s survey to improve our services to students and we will use this year’s responses to continue to improve existing services and inform new developments and improvements, especially concerning the proposed VLE  requirements.

If you are an Edge Hill student, please (please!) complete our survey. There is a prize draw and two lucky participants will each win £50 worth of  Amazon vouchers.

The survey may be accessed via the GO portal, from Blackboard, from the SOLSTICE webpages or from http://surveys.edgehill.ac.uk/student2009/. We plan to close the survey on 20th January 2010.

EHU students, have your say! EHU staff, you are not forgotten as we’ll be running a survey for you in the New Year.

In the loop …

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front as the team’s energies have been focused on the round of consultative workshops we have begun. So far, we have run them for teaching staff in the Faculties of Education and Health and with Central Support staff. The workshops are generating lots of discussion and ideas which are being captured and analysed by the team. Next up is the workshop for the Faculty of Arts and Science (next week) and still in the pipeline is a workshop with students.

It doesn’t end there either! SOLSTICE are repeating their survey into students’ perceptions and expectations of technology-enhanced learning at Edge Hill. This is due to launch in the next week or so (watch this space). You may be interested in reading the results of last year’s survey.

We will also be following up the staff consultation workshops with a survey for all staff. Hopefully, nopbody should feel left out of the consultation.

If you can’t wait to get your voice heard, we’re happy to take your comments via this blog.