This short commentary, which should be read in conjunction with the ‘Tutor Feedback Summary’ produced by Mike Kelly, gives an introduction to the Blog Feedback questionnaire responses. These gleaned feedback from staff and students who took part in the 6 month pilot rollout of the teaching and learning blogging platform at http://myblog.arts.ac.uk prior to the service being further developed and made available to all students and tutors at University of the Arts London from August 2011.
Two online questionnaires were made available - one to be completed by staff and the other by students. Visual information taken from these questionnaires is also attached. In addition, some further qualitative feedback and comment has been obtained from paper based questionnaires.
Feedback received via these questionnaires largely reflected the findings of the focus groups and vice versa, but additional questions were also asked and answered, and clearly splitting the respondees into staff and students allowed both for some interesting comparison of responses as well as additional questioning appropriate to the target groups.
Several introductory questions were asked to probe pre-existing familiarity with blogs and blogging and to understand how the users accessed and engaged with them - noting and exploring any issues they may have encountered. It was interesting to note that the staff who responded appeared to be more active in their engagement with blogging - with almost 55% already having their own blog (25% in the case of students) and only 18% of staff never having used a blog (over 33% in the case of students). However, as the staff involved were in the vanguard prepared to take part in the pilot this may not be so surprising.
As regards to how the blogs were accessed, in the case of both staff and students access via their own computer / laptop was the most usual option with access from within and outside the university split 50/50. Other options favoured by students included Smartphones whereas Pad devices were included in staff access methods.
Over 90% of staff required support to use the UAL Blogs (compared to under 16% in the case of students). However, most of the support received by staff related to the initial setting up of the blogs, involving design, setting up groups and choosing functionality. Students occasionally needed help in uploading photographs and other files. It was also noted by students that they had received induction / training in blog use - often by the Course Leaders / Tutors (who had their turn received support from CLTAD).
Where support was sought by staff they in most cases found it either excellent or good; the students who received support rated it from satisfactory to excellent.
When asked for what purposes they are using the UAL Blogs, the most popular staff answer was ‘For communications between students and tutors’ whereas the most popular student answer was ‘Documenting and reflecting on my work and practice’. ‘Receiving feedback on my work and practice’ and ‘As a showcase on the internet’ were answers also selected by students. Collaboration and communication were popular reasons chosen by both staff and students.
Where problems were encountered uploading files (and to put this in context almost 55% of staff and 71% of students said they had encountered no problems) the issue was usually identified as the file size or format not being accepted.
Group blogs were found by both staff and students to present problems, with approximately 50% of the students who used them finding them difficult to use. This figure was just over 27% in the case of staff.
Almost 73% of staff gave a clear ‘yes’ when asked whether they would like to continue using the blogs, the remainder replying ‘possibly’ (depending on a variety of factors). No staff said they would not like to continue using the blogs. From the student respondents, over 60% gave a clear ‘yes’, approximately 26% replying ‘possibly’ (depending on a variety of factors); just over 13% replied ‘no’.
Examining the respondents’ comments and supplementary answers also yielded some useful insights. Staff comments relating to what they particularly liked about using the blogs cited the opportunity to read student reflections, the opportunity to easily communicate with students, to share work and the community aspect of blogging. Student comments when asked the same question addressed the collaborative aspects, the ability to share thoughts and comments, the opportunity to document their progress and to upload and make available a variety of content types. Some students also mentioned they found the system easy to use and well thought out - albeit not perfect.
When asked what they disliked about using the blogs, staff who had a view on this addressed its complexity and the ‘visual aspect’ and the limited design options. Students asked the same question who had a view also cited complexity, confusing layout design and usability concerns. Some students also highlighted the fact that blogging itself required a learning curve, dedication and was time consuming whilst others noted that they already had a blog and a new one represented duplication of effort.
Apart from the concerns noted above, which can be addressed in the way the service is developed and rolled out, the overwhelming majority of staff and students who took part in this pilot found it a positive experience and a valuable contribution to teaching and learning.
Educational Developer (eLearning)
CLTAD / University of the Arts London
- Staff Blogs Questionnaire Responses Visuals
- Student Blogs Questionnaire Responses Visuals