Friday, April 25, 2008

More data from UW-Platteville students

I previously mentioned that the UW-Platteville student senate will be urging their faculty senate to mandate gradebook use of Desire2Learn by their instructors.

Their resolution was based on a 2008 online survey done of UW-P students, the results of which the current vice-president of the student senate generously shared with me. 346 of the 5837 students responded to the survey.

Two questions and results jumped out at me:

1) "Would you be in favor of a mandate that would require ALL UW-Platteville Faculty Members to post Student Exam & Homework grades on D2L?"
YES: 79%
NO: 21%

2) "Do you feel having the chance to view your grades online would increase your motivation in the classroom?"
YES: 80%
NO: 20%

I like the fact that this survey connected use of the online gradebook with motivation in the classroom. It is noteworthy that 80% responded affirmatively to the question.

I can't envision a faculty senate voting in favor of any such mandate, but at the very least, this action by the student senate will heighten the awareness of what students desire in their learning environment.

Learn@UW/D2L usage at UW-Madison

I've always found it a challenge to answer the question "What percentage of courses (or sections depending on who's asking) use Learn@UW?"

First of all, at UW-Madison, we are a ginormous institution with a lot of instruction taking place in every shape and mode imaginable. Defining "course" and "section" is a tough task.

Recently, I attempted to figure this out with the help of staff that work with our student information system. I limited stats-gathering to official/timetable courses, including the professional schools, including independent study courses, excluding study abroad and excluding any bogus courses that the registrar's office creates. Also all members of cross-listed courses are counted as separate courses. All combined sections are counted separately, not aggregated. Phew.

Here are our results:
Fall 2007Spring 2008
Total Official Courses43844405
Total Official Courses w/ Activated Learn@UW Sites1292 (29.5%)1474 (33.5%)
Total Official Sections1496014550
Total Official Sections w/ Activated Learn@UW Sites4598 (30.7%)5062 (34.8%)
Total Enrollments in Official Courses w/ Activated Learn@UW Sites6869673224
Unique People Using Learn@UW3065829449

My director, Kathy Christoph summarized it nicely: Learn@UW is being used in about 1/3 of the courses by nearly 3/4 of the students for an average of about 2.5 courses each.

At this large R1 university, I'm personally pleased with 33% usage of the central course management system. Also on our campus, there is a number of local schools and departments using other course management systems such as Moodle or their homegrown solution which raises the overall saturation numbers. But that's another story for another day...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wisconsin-Platteville students want faculty mandated to use D2L gradebook

In a move similar to that at Marquette University, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville students senate voted to recommend to their faculty senate a mandate that would require all instructors to use the Desire2Learn gradebook for each course.

Marquette students want faculty to be required to attend one D2L training session and post the course syllabus in D2L. UW-P students want their instructors to be required to use the gradebook at minimum.

Neither resolution has much chance of passing their faculty senates (a previous and broader student resolution at UW-P requiring faculty use of D2L failed to pass through the faculty senate), but these moves indicate that today's students value the use of the course management system--particularly the posting of course materials and use of the online gradebook.

I'm curious as to the extent faculty and instructors are required to use a course management system or attend training, particularly in a hybrid environment (Obviously, many fully-online programs require this.) Of what examples are you aware?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

5-Year Review of Desire2Learn at University of Wisconsin-Madison

After 5 years of using D2L as the central course management system (branded "Learn@UW") at UW-Madison, our Academic Technology department asked me to lead a milestone review process. Naively, I said OK to what turned out to be a 10 month project culminating in a 25 page report.

The executive summary and full report are posted at the DoIT Academic Technology site.

Some of the key findings include:
  • 30,000 people use Learn@UW each semester at UW-Madison
  • 77% of students report a positive experience
  • 73% of instructors report a positive experience
  • Instructors primarily use Learn@UW for course administration
  • Students most value convenience and the gradebook
  • Instructors report problems with the interface in general and specifically with the quiz and gradebook tools
If you scan the report, do you find anything in it surprising?
Has anyone conducted, or read, a similar report from a university?