At the UCISA SS15 conference, one of the sessions was a presentation by a student, Emma Anderson, from the University of Leeds. The presentation was entitled ‘It’s not just Facebook and Twitter. How students use technology in their everyday lives’. It was an insightful account of the student experience and interesting from our point of view, as ‘providers’ of the service as to how it is interpreted and used which is not always how we anticipate that it is going to be accessed.
I blogged about the presentation here http://bit.ly/1LbG9aV
As providers and developers of the service whether it be a IT helpdesk service or library service or any student facing service in a university, we aim to maintain a complete and coherent physical and online facility that serves all parts of the student journey and experience. From a students perspective, they want to dip in and out and take what they need, where and when they need it – to take the parts that are relevant to them whether it be a online resource or a study space.
The interesting areas to look at further are concerned with number of devices, what different devices are used for, that a variety of devices are needed, that study spaces need power and space and that social media is a small part of studying but a large part of life.
I drafted a survey which was based on these areas and tested it out on three students (not from Heriot-Watt University but 2nd/3rd year UG students). I asked them a series of questions based on Library and IT Help Services and facilities. I asked them to answer for the particular institution they had attended but it was not intended as a reflection of a particular University, rather their experience of university life. It was carried out in a fairly informal setting and included some ad hoc answers and information.
Q1 Do you know how to contact the IT Helpdesk at your University e.g. if your email wasn’t working or a password needed changing
A1. No, would go to library service desk
A2 Looked up information online
A3 Yes, have office at back of library. Also can search website for email or telephone contact
Q2 – In the Library building – what are the 3 most important things that the library provides?
A1. PCs, books, study space
A2. Study space, PC, printing
A3. PC, printing, cafe/food area
Q3 – What sort of study space do you prefer to use or that you would like to see available?
A1. PC desk space, comfy chair, be able to whisper to the person next to me. Also group space.
A2. Reading room, books, lots of desks, sit with friends but lots of space so don’t feel crammed in and not people moving in and out of the room all the time.
A3. Sometimes PC, sometimes space with no computer but a power socket. Silent space e.g. alcove with partitions. Not enough group space to practice presentations.
The following question they just answered together in general
Q4 – How many devices do you use?
Have phone, ipad, laptop plus use PC
Sometimes if using PC for work then use iPad to look stuff up at same time i.e. research for essay
Don’t often take laptop into Uni so need PC at Uni
Wouldn’t use laptop and PC at same time but use either of these plus ipad or phone
Study spaces away from PCs need plug sockets for ipad
Sometimes print out lecture slides beforehand and annotate during lecture as this is easier than making notes and matching up afterwards
Q5 – What do you use the Library Service Desk for? What would you go and ask about?
A1. If can’t find a book. Pay off fines.
A2 If can’t find a book.
A3 To hand in lost property. Haven’t had to ask about books as bought text books and look online.
Q6 – What about using Self Service issuing and return for books in library?
A1. Good as quicker and don’t have to talk to library staff! Also said good in case the book is a reference book and so you wouldn’t feel daft if the machine displays a message saying reference only rather than being told.
A2 Good as same system as at another library so knew how to use. Good as gives a receipt showing date of return.
A3 Quick and simple. Good for out of hours. Good for short loans.
Q7 – Communication – what do you think about receiving emails from the university?
A1 Just skim read. Has to be relevant to studies. Don’t read if about general university wide matters.
A2 Has to be quick and urgent with a relevant subject line.
Q8 – Communication – using the portal for communication
They were all both positive about this and gave explanations of how it worked and what the interface looked like. They had a good understanding of how it worked and how to access their respective VLEs. They seemed to consider a VLE as perfectly acceptable and didn’t want anything more sophisticated or snazzy. The main reason for using the portal was to access the VLE and to receive notifications.
Q9 – Should the university use Facebook for communicating with students?
No to Facebook – although there should be a university Facebook page and a Library one – so I think what they meant was they would like to be able to view a University Facebook but don’t want to interact with staff or lecturers.
They used Facebook groups for collaboration with other students
e.g. Revision group
e.g. Group work – could use a Moodle forum but would have to log in so Facebook group easier and useful for chatting and making changes to presentations. Use with other students but not lecturers.
It was an interesting discussion and does reflect quite accurately some of the results we have had from quick surveys at Heriot-Watt Uni about the purpose of visiting the library and what facilities are the most important. It has given me some good ideas about surveys that can be carried out next semester especially with new students starting in September and also as part of customer service excellence.