If you’re not going to support the technology, then don’t put it in the classroom. It’s worse than not having it.
Bill Lewis, Arizona State University
Evaluating and maintaining technology is vital to ensure that it continues to be relevant, useful and up-to-date. Christopher Johnson (Johnson, 2006) talks about how technologies can change: today’s cutting edge gizmo may not be relevant tomorrow.
When it comes to technological developments, obsolescence can arrive at speed and this can make you feel disheartened, as well as being expensive for those holding the purse strings in institutions. It can be argued that this is just one of the realities of the digital age. Johnson recommends that the availability of new technology should be balanced with the acceptance of a given innovation by both instructors and students. He believes that, ‘constant evaluation and assessment will ensure that support goes where it is needed the most. Well-used and well-supported spaces will help institutions meet the learning needs of our Net Generation students’.
The following sections list some of the ways in which you might want to collect information to evaluate the effectiveness of the space.
Questions to ask
Collection of data involves asking questions such as:
- ‘How many users are using the space?’
- ‘How is the space being used?’
- ‘What technology is being used in the space?’
- ‘Do potential users ever need to be turned away (due to lack of space)?’
- ‘What are the equipment costs involved?’
- ‘What are the costs involved in the servicing of the space?’
- ‘How frequently are help services used?’
- ‘What are user expectations?’
- ‘Do users feel satisfied by the overall experience of the space?’
- ‘What are the most important aspects of the space for users?’
- ‘What are the least important aspects of the space for users?’
- ‘What changes are required to improve the space?’
Glasgow Caledonian University’s Student Experience Project has been operating since 2001 and regularly surveys students at the University on their likes and dislikes about student life.
The survey includes questions on satisfaction rates on social, private and group study spaces as well as University services. It also collects information on student ownership of IT equipment and their use of University IT equipment. The data collected by the project is fed back through the university structures and used to help ‘make life better for students’ at the University and, also ‘to make sure that Glasgow Caledonian University staff understand the students they teach’.
Assessment can cover 6 broad areas:
- Service Quality