ECAR Benchmarking Report 2014

In March 2014, UBC faculty were invited to participate in the first iteration of the ECAR survey of faculty and IT (http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/2014-student-and-faculty-technology-research-studies). In total 471 faculty responded (15.4%), giving a high confidence in the validity of the data collected (±4.2 %) This page presents various levels of summary of the UBC response data, some short-term steps that were undertaken by CTLT and UBC-IT over the summer of 2014 to address some of the issues raised, and details of how we plan to utilize this feedback in our discussions around the future evolution of our learning technology ecosystem.

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Please get in touch if you have questions about the data analysis at ecar.survey@ubc.ca. Note that we do not have the ability to split the raw data per Faculty, nor can we distinguish between local and central support.

In response to feedback from the ECAR survey, and also through additional consultations with faculty and support staff, we identified the following issues that we were able to respond to:

Improved How-To documentation for commonly used Connect tools

Based on the 5 most commonly used tools in Connect, we have redesigned QuickLaunch documentation to give just the basic facts on how to use these tools: adding content, discussions, assessments, announcements and external email. Please visit here to learn more about the QuickLaunch .

Lightweight Connect template

We have implemented a lightweight Connect course template that has only the most commonly used tools and features activated (but retains the capability to add other functionality that you may need). For more details contact your local Instructional Support Staff or the Learning Technology Hub ( connect-admin@it.ubc.ca or 604.827.4775).

Easier integration of external tools

For some time it has been possible to integrate external tools seamlessly into Connect using a protocol known as Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI). (e.g., Webwork or iPeer) We have extended the LTI capability by obfuscating user information between the LTI-enabled external application and Connect, enabling integration with tools run on servers outside Canada. After the necessary Privacy Impact Assessment, and in collaboration with the service provider, we have used this approach to integrate the Piazza discussion board software with Connect (Piazza was already used extensively at UBC, but this enhancement will make it easier for faculty who want to use it as an alternative to the Connect discussion forum). Piazza is an easy to use question and answer discussion tool. Single sign-on into Piazza is available through Connect. It supports wiki style collaboration, instructor moderation, optional anonymous posting and customizable online polls.

Connect response time benchmarking

Since the beginning of the year we have been working on improving performance and stability of the Connect system. This work included deployment of additional hardware, work with the vendor on identifying root cause of stability issues and implementing new patches to address those issues, and stress tests of the system to measure its performance at peak times and tune the system accordingly based on those results.

We have also benchmarked response times of UBCs installation of Connect against Blackboard hosted sites. Using data from real traffic to Connect in the first week of the current semester, we are finding average response times (~1s) are very similar to that for the global average of all instances hosted by Blackboard and also similar to a hosted instance of a Canadian institution of comparable size and complexity as UBC.

We are committed to ensuring that this feedback is used in informing our thinking and discussions as to how the learning technology ecosystem at UBC develops in the next few years. This process is getting underway in the Fall of 2014, and we anticipate a number of different modes of engagement with relevant stakeholder groups around campus. These will include open-invite face-to-face workshops, online discussion and feedback gathering and using existing governance and committee structures.