Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Needs and Frustrations of Teaching Staff Using Vula at UCT

Jameson Hall, Jammie Steps and Jammie Plaza at...Image via WikipediaIn this presentation I am going to explore the common themes as they appear in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 staff surveys. I will be analyzing the comments on the annual staff survey using Nivo to establish the common complaints and likes/dislikes and determine how this issue relates to the use of Sakai at UCT. I will link this to the debate regarding online teaching and learning at a tertiary institution and whether the needs and frustrations have changed over time.

Presenter bio: Roger Brown: Despite a background in environmental studies (BSc Protected Area Management; Mphil Env. Management) I've worked in online teaching environments for the past 15 years - 1st at Griffith University in Queensland Australia and now at the University of Cape Town, where I am the operations manager of the learning technologies team.I am responsible for effective delivery and support of Sakai, Adobe Connect, the open educational resource directory, Turnitin and other initiatives for online teaching and learning. In addition I manage the front line support team and provide faculty and general staff training.At the moment (June 2011) I am, amongst a lot of other things, working on the Opencast/Matterhorn pilot project and an Early Warning System for at 'at risk' students at UCT.

I think it is really refreshing that there is a session dedicated to the problems with Sakai. He is sharing the comments that were made in a 2008 - 2010 survey. He wanted to know what they liked best and what they thought needed improvement.

UCT is largely a face-to-face institution. They are running 2.7.

His surveys are open for 2 weeks and open to all staff. His response rates are only 6-7%. They survey about tech in general. They are getting a large percent that generally agree that it has improved their teaching. He is looking at how staff look at the tool in environment, Ease of use, effectiveness, engagement, administration, and other.

What his staff liked the most was that it allowed them to easily administrate their classes.

The most frustrating things about Sakai was how complicated it was to use - small fonts, clunky, grading displays not in chronological order, not intuitive. TRANSFERRING FILES FROM ONE YEAR TO THE NEXT.

To most important improvements are about ease of use: they want the ability to change the layout of the page and make the calendar easier to use. They want to be able to mass download multiple documents, easier to bring in images. Simplify the course evaluation tool.

There were comments about needing to integrate SMS (phone texting).

What would help you use Sakai better? Increased bandwidth, more hours in the day, The help files need improvement.

One of the respondents referred to their IT staff as "clueless, in-fighting depressives."

Conclusions: staff use and value Sakai even when they don't see positive direct benefits in terms of teaching and learning. UCT teaching staff DO NOT see Sakai as a platform that enables effective education or better student engagement.

I think a lot of this is about integration of tools and a user interface. There needs to be more customization available.

Needs to be made easier to use - break down the silos between the tools.
Streamline internal processes
Sakai needs to move beyond an administrative too
Strengthen Sakai as a platform that enables student engagement and effective teaching

I think a lot of these issues were addressed in Angel Learning.

Collis (2001) "A model for predicting the educational use of information and communication technologies"
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