Survey says email is good, collaboration is better

A recent survey conducted on Saybrook’s technology tools shows that most Saybrook classes are barely scratching the potential of communications technology.

According to the online survey, developed by Saybrook’s Dean of Instruction Eric Fox, the vast majority of students (73%) usually keep in touch with faculty via email, and almost never with text messaging or chat with audio or video.  About half of students reported using listservs to develop group discussions in classes, and less than a quarter reported that classes use blogs, wikis, or online portfolios.
By the same token, email is by far the most popular technology asked for, with an overwhelming majority (80%) saying they were “very interested” in contacting faculty through email.  No other technology scored as well, but 80% students reported that they were at least “somewhat interested” in the use of online bulletin boards, videos, self-paced online tutorials, and audio clips/podcasts. A majority of students also expressed interest in the use of online chatrooms or instant messaging, phone conferencing, blogs, wikis, electronic portfolios, listservs, and audio or video chats.
Students also say they’d like opportunities for increased collaboration.  Just over half of students (57.4%) would like to collaborate more with other students on projects or courses, and a majority of students (74.7%) either felt that Saybrook’s technological tools were insufficient for building community among students, or were neutral on the question.

That’s likely why over 90% of students said they would find more discussion boards and forums, and the ability for faculty, students, and staff to form collaborative online groups around any topic, to be “very” or “fairly” useful.

“These results will be very helpful as Saybrook begins to expand its use of educational technology,” said Fox.  “To address the concerns of students and faculty, we’re now evaluating a number of open source technologies that will make it easier to support collaboration and communication among community members.”

When it comes to Saybrook’s website, especially its public face, the results were overwhelmingly positive.

By clear majorities Saybrook students felt the public website “is professional looking” (81.4%) “adequately conveys the mission of Saybrook” (78/1%) “adequately conveys the values of Saybrook” (63.1%) and has adequate information for prospective students on Saybrook programs (61%).  Only a small majority, however, felt that “it is easy to navigate and find information” (55%), and students were about evenly divided on whether “it makes good use of graphics and imagery” (50.8%).

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