Monday, February 02, 2009

Desire2Learn usage at UW-Madison

Now that the fall semester has ended (yikes, January and the Super Bowl have passed too!), I checked in on the data regarding D2L (Learn@UW) use here at UW. My hunch is that the trends we are seeing here reflect trends in other North American universities.

Active Course Sites
This is the stat most commonly referenced on campus, probably because it is the easiest to first. This is the number of course sites that were activated by instructors over the course of a semester. This data includes "non-timetable" courses such as used for non-credit outreach courses and internal administration. The trend shows a general increase but not at as dramatic a pace as in previous years. Obviously, there is a natural limit that will be reached for official timetable courses. The last time I compared this data with total number of courses offered, we were at approximately 30%.

Unique Users in Activated Course Sites
How many different people are we serving through our central course management system? Again, this measure is trending upward towards a logical upper limit. I am amazed that we are serving over 30,000 different people each semester. At UW, there are approximately 42,000 students and 2,000 faculty (not including the plethora of TA's and lecturers who are big users of the CMS).

Total Enrollments in Active Course Sites
This is where, I think, things get interesting. This is one stat that seems to still show linear upward growth. "Total Enrollments" is the sum of every course's total number of members, instructors + students. This data shows that the typical user has more courses in Learn@UW now than in the past. I wonder when we will hit the point where courses that do not have an online component are in the minority.

Help Desk Cases
Although not yet updated with Fall 2008 data, this too is quite interesting and satisfying. Although we are seeing a general increase in use of Learn@UW, use of the Help Desk for Learn@UW is not increasing proportionally. In fact, there's evidence that it might be decreasing.

This data does not show the total amount of support provided for Learn@UW across campus, just those official cases coming through the campus Help Desk. Hopefully, this data shows that more people are using Learn@UW without the need for support. Fewer bugs exist in the software than ever before. Performance and up-time have been outstanding for the past 6 months, at least. And indeed, there is something to be said for users' familiarity with a complex system.

Obviously, numbers are only part of the story. The real story lies within each course and in the value derived by the instructors and students. That's why I still love to be involved with faculty at workshops, brown bags, and 1-1 consultations. I enjoy hearing directly from them what is working, what needs improving, and ideas on how we can help.

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