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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

September 26, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

News

ITS survey highlights technology flaws

Ithaca College’s Information Technology Services has released survey results that show faculty members often struggle with effectively bringing new technologies to the classroom.

The Instructional Technology survey, which was conducted Feb. 8, brought focus to many issues like wireless Internet service, software programs such as Sakai, the faculty web page service Web Profile Manager, classroom computer systems and campus tech upgrades.

The results of the survey showed many professors stay away from heavy technology use in their classes. Fifty nine percent of faculty members said they don’t plan to teach online courses. The survey also noted that while more than 85 percent of surveyed faculty members used Blackboard for their courses in 2011, only 33 percent of professors reported using other tools such as Facebook, iTunes, YouTube, or IC library Web resources.

Beth Rugg, assistant director for Technology and Instructional Support Services at ITS, said the survey was a way to share faculty’s electronic use with the campus community.

“The faculty took the time to complete the survey,” Rugg said, “So we wanted to share out what the results were. That’s our first goal, to show that we’ve read it, we’ve analyzed it and these are the results.”

Out of more than 1,500 faculty, 660 were asked to participate in the survey. Two hundred and twenty-three of the surveys were completed — a 34 percent response rate.

The survey, which was distributed last spring, was given to faculty members to provide feedback about ITS’s services, the value and quality of technology in the classroom and faculty members’ daily electronics use.

Mary Buehler, an administrative assistant in the school of Health Sciences and Human Performance, said she uses her computer and the Internet six out of the eight hours of every work day. She said she has problems using programs like Parnassus.

“All these staff softwares are totally awful,” she said. “They’re just so awful and not user-friendly.”

Wireless access is another issue, according to the results. Access to the Internet was found to be one of the most important classroom functions in the
survey and was given 2.65 points out of three in significance. Some professors believe it is too slow in the classrooms. Some, who believe students get too easily distracted, asked in the survey for an option to switch off Wi-Fi.

Nancy Menning, assistant professor of philosophy and religion, said the wireless speeds in some classrooms are problematic.

“There are some workstations on campus in the classrooms that are so slow that they will not stream an NPR audio clip or a YouTube video,” Menning said. “It makes those uses of classroom times, which could be very fruitful, absolutely impossible.”

Rugg said Internet issues often pertain to the amount of users online, a problem that can’t be fixed by ITS. She also said some of the complaints from faculty can’t be addressed because of a lack of understanding of the technology.

“We’re talking about the current use and perceptions of technology,” she said. “It’s not a very value-laden survey. We’re interested in getting peoples’ perceptions, and it helps us inform our decision-making. We shared it out, but we didn’t say how we were going to address things in the survey.”

Though faculty members shared a lot of negative feedback about the technology in the classrooms, many are appreciative of ITS’s support on campus.

Charles McKenzie, assistant professor of television-radio, said he finds their services helpful.

“People at ITS were really quick to respond to my issues,” McKenzie said. “Every time I’ve called ITS they’ve been there in two minutes.”

The survey conclusions do not cite plans to fix these problems. The suggested actions for the addressed problems, such as lack of student skills with productivity software, involve continuing ITS’s current practices. The survey suggests online training for students, measuring wireless on campus and possibly offering advanced training.

Rugg said these suggestions are still indefinite to help ITS make plans in the future.

“The next step certainly could be for us to have a more specific and concrete response,” she said. “We just haven’t done that yet. We’re just getting the info out there now.”