Needs Assessment

Between August and December 2016, as part of the needs assessment phase of the Learning Technology Environment (LTE) Renewal project, instructors and students engaged their peers to determine each group’s priorities for UBC’s learning technology environment. The team gathered students’ and instructors’ feedback using a variety of methods, including surveys, focus groups, feedback sessions, interviews, and email.

Town Hall events held at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan in October 2016 gave faculty and students an opportunity to engage in conversations about the LTE Renewal project’s goals and to provide feedback and pose questions to the LTE Renewal project team panel. Watch a recording of the UBC Vancouver Town Hall.

The findings from these activities are summarized below.


Summary of the Needs Assessment Results

The analysis of all of the data collected during the needs assessment phase—including focus groups, feedback sessions, interviews, and surveys—has shown that usability is the top priority for UBC faculty and students. Faculty and students also both reported that convenience and reliability were among their top five priorities.

Priorities Identified by Faculty

Faculty members identified usability, convenience, the gradebook, collaboration, and reliability as their top priorities for UBC’s Learning Technology Environment.

Top 5 requirements identified by UBC faculty

Faculty definitions of these terms:

Definition: When there is a simple, user-friendly, easy-to-learn interface that allows users to efficiently perform their desired tasks.
What we've heard:

  • "Simple and intuitive to use"
  • "Quick and easy to update, intuitive, not complicated"

Definition: When online course content (e.g., lecture notes, videos, library resources, and other instructor-directed content) can be accessed, added, and edited at any time.
What we've heard:

  • "Simple and efficient upload, storage, and organization of digital files and resources (i.e. customizable folder structure, drag and drop)"
  • "Making content available any time, any place; allowing students to optimize their path through the maze of material, focusing on elements that they individually need most"

Definition: Ability to monitor and share students' learning progress within the course (e.g., grades, written feedback, etc.).
What we've heard:

  • "Students do practice tests and assessments online which are automatically and immediately graded (immediate feedback)"
  • "Flexible gradebook – be able to calculate more complex indices of performance. E.g. put together different measures, or parts of different measures into a score"

Definition: Ability to support and promote knowledge exchange between students, between students and the instructor, and between students and people external to the course.
What we've heard:

  • "Promote peer to peer knowledge exchange"
  • "Students post and share data collected in class (during lab time) for further analysis by all"
  • "Students need to be able to write and see each other writing in real time"

Definition: When the system is stable and responsive.
What we've heard:

  • "Needs to be able to handle peak load demands"

Priorities Identified by Students

Students identified usability, convenience, reliability, collaboration, and a seamless experience as their top priorities for UBC’s Learning Technology Environment.

Top 5 requirements identified by UBC students

Student definitions of these terms:

Definition: When there is a simple, user-friendly, easy-to-learn interface that allows users to efficiently perform their desired tasks.
What we've heard:

  • "It must be easy or easy to learn and intuitive"

Definition: When online course content (e.g., lecture notes, videos, library resources, and other instructor-directed content) can be accessed any time and there is flexibility regarding both students' learning process and schedules.
What we've heard:

  • "Technology gives me work/life/school balance as I do not have to organize extra travel to be in a class physically and at a specific date/time. I have so much flexibility. Online learning is the reason I chose UBC."

Definition: When the technology is reliable without defects or glitches so students can consistently rely on the program to do all tasks expected of them.
What we've heard:

  • "It needs to be there when I need it"

Definition: Ability for students to have discussions and work with each other, instructors, and people external to their course through peer instruction, group activities, and other ways to support coming up with answers together.
What we've heard:

  • "Opportunities for collaboration and connection via the internet with other students, with faculty, and thinkers both within my academic community and beyond it"

Definition: When there is a central place for accessing course materials/grades/due dates etc. in one place, information is not repeated in multiple places, and there is consistency across courses with respect to set-up and layout.
What we've heard:

  • "All on one site rather than spread out across multiple platforms"


Faculty and Student Surveys

In September 2016, students and faculty from UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan were invited to submit their feedback via the Learning Technology Environment Renewal survey. The surveys were designed to broadly identify functional and pedagogical requirements for supporting teaching and learning at UBC and to inform the development of questions that would then be asked in faculty- and student-led feedback sessions and interviews.

The analysis of the data from these surveys indicated that UBC faculty and students agree that the use of learning technology can positively impact student learning and that learning technologies play an important role in supporting teaching and learning at UBC.

Faculty Survey Results

The faculty version of the Learning Technology Environment Renewal survey asked UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan faculty about their current and desired uses of technology to support teaching and learning and about aspects of the current learning technology environment that need improvement.

In total, 478 faculty members responded to the survey. Faculty members who indicated that they would like to get more involved in the LTE Renewal project and would be open to being contacted for further discussions were followed up with by faculty on the LTE Renewal project team for individual consultations.

One of the primary goals for the survey was to determine faculty members’ functional and pedagogical requirements for UBC’s learning technology environment. Faculty members’ current and desired uses of learning technology are outlined in the table below.

Total Responses = 478

Faculty: Current and Desired Uses of Technology

 

This survey also asked faculty members for their view on technology-supported classroom
experiences. Faculty responses are outlined in the table below.

Faculty: Technology-supported classroom experiences

Student Survey Results

UBC students from the Okanagan and Vancouver campuses were invited to take a student-focused version of the Learning Technology Environment Renewal survey. Over 1,100 students participated, providing feedback on how they currently use technology, how technology can best support learning, and what they would like to see change for the better. Importantly, over 90% of student respondents agreed that technology could positively impact their learning.

Better understanding how students use (and would like to use) technology to support their learning was a key objective for the survey. Students’ current and desired uses of learning technology are outlined in the table below.

Total Responses = 1159

Students: Current and desired uses of technology

 

The survey also asked students about the use of technology to support their classroom and learning experiences. Students responses are outlined in the table below.

Students: Classroom and learning experiences supported by technology