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Author Archives: adowning
Posts: 12 (archived below)
As we prepare for the launch of the new WiFi service in the library, we are examining how repeat “guest” users may be more easily accommodated. Alumni constitute an important segment of this user population. In the past three years the library created 3,773 guest accounts (with a 24 hour expiration) for 825 alumni users. The data suggest that the assignment of accounts to all alumni may not be worthwhile. Fifty-six percent of the alumni guest account users were “one-time-only” users. Eighty-four percent of the users obtained a guest account 1 to 5 times over three years. It may make more sense to reach out to frequent users and provide them with accounts that have longer service periods. Only 21 users averaged at least one use per month over three years and one user was responsible for 6% of the total accounts issued.
As a larger-scale follow up to the e-textbook project with the PSY 1000 class in January 2011, we arranged for the use of an e-textbook in four sections of CIS 9000 (Information Systems for Managers) in spring 2011 (n = 182). We followed the same procedures as the PSY 1000 project: students were offered the option of downloading any and all formats of the textbook from the publisher’s site at no cost. Students were asked to complete the same survey instrument that we used for PSY 1000. Below are some preliminary data and a complete report will follow. In the discussion of e-books at the last Tech Sharecase, I heard comments that students are not ready to use e-textbooks at Baruch. The data from last January and this spring would seem to contradict a generalization on this issue. There are incentives (e.g., financial) that will persuade students to use an e-textbook. Once they use one, the great majority report that the format was at least a welcome supplement to print use and in a large number of cases it was an acceptable sole format for use.
Which of the following formats of your course textbook did you use? (Multiple responses allowed)
1. An e-book that I loaded onto my iPad, SonyReader, Entourage Edge, or Kno. = 16 (9%)
2. A PDF file that I read on my computer or laptop. = 103 (57%)
3. An e-book that I loaded onto my Kindle. = 14 (8%)
4. A group of Web pages that I accessed from my computer or laptop. = 47 (26%)
5. None of the above. I only used a paper copy of the book that I bought from the publisher/bookstore or printed out by myself. = 19 (10%)
Did you print all or part of the textbook from the PDF version or from the web site?
Yes = 34%
No = 66%
Based on your experience with the e-textbook in this course, how interested are you in using an e-textbook in your other courses?
1. I am now more interested in using an e-textbook in my courses. = 64%
2. I am now less interested in using an e-textbook in my courses. = 8%
3. My level of interest has not changed since I took this course. = 28%
The students’ written comments on the survey are especially helpful in understanding their perception of the role for e-textbooks at this time and how the library may facilitate the adoption of e-textbooks. More to follow.
We are preparing to circulate 50 iPads and must decide which apps will be installed for Day 1. We already know that the Baruch College app and the Newman Library Anthology of World Literature will be loaded. (The Anthology is a collection of public domain e-books that correspond to titles that are used in courses at Baruch.) I have reached out to students to find out what they are installing on their own iPads. Bishop Mueller Library at Briar Cliff University has posted its selections. The Z. Smith Reynolds Library at Wake Forest University has also shared its app list.
Greane Tree Technology is the successful bidder for the redesign project. In advance of the first meeting with them, A. Downing held focus groups with students to gather data to inform the initial discussion. Here are some of the findings:
What students already go to the web site to do (and we should make very simple to accomplish):
1. Find Books – Textbooks for courses and books recommended by instructors (i.e., known items), but also items that they are seeking on their own to support their class work. Students do not think that we should give equal attention to other formats (DVDs, CDs, etc.) on the home page. They also need to check the status of what they have found and perform functions such as renewal. Students want an easy way to search for e-books. It was also clear that they tend to believe that all e-books require an e-reader device that is apart from their laptop or desktop computer. They want to know what books have been recommended by their peers (especially previous students in a course) more often than a librarian or instructor.
2. Search Databases -They use only a small fraction of our total titles. Federated search interests them greatly.
3. They look for tutorials, but think of them as help sessions. They look for help in areas that may not be associated directly with the library (e.g., Excel).
Other factors to keep in mind:
1. Keep text to a minimum. Whenever possible, use images and icons to convey information. They do not linger on the home page long enough to read lists.
2. Locate search boxes at the top of the home page.
3. Locate library hours at the top of the home page.
4. Place a reference chat button on pages where assistance may be required, such as at the results screen of a federated search.
5. Arrange services by those most heavily used. Order all lists by frequency of use or in some cases alphabetical.
Greane Tree will supply a map of the current site so that we can make decisions about organization. We will provide them with a description of how we intend to handle the functions in the current site that rely on custom code. BCTC has identified superior substitutes. We will give them access to a collection of images that we would like incorporated into the site. We will identify the first 10 announcements (graphics with text) that will occupy the main slide show on the home page.
We recently polled our students about their cell phone service carriers. Here are the results based on 3,437 respondents:
T-Mobile = 36%
AT&T = 30%
Verizon = 21%
Sprint = 9%
Metro/PCS = 2%
Nextel = < 1%
Other = 2%
We will be using this data to improve some services on campus. I will update this post with the details.
An instructor for a Winter session course has adopted a textbook that is also available from the publisher in several e-formats. I want to work with students in the course who are interested in using e-readers to learn from their experience so that we can design services to support wider adoption. I asked the 75 students who have already registered for the course the question below. So far, 54 students have responded:
I want my textbook to be (check all that apply):
1. An e-book loaded onto my iPad, SonyReader, Entourage Edge, or Kno. = 11 (20% of the respondents chose this format)
2. A PDF file that I would read on my computer or laptop. = 34 (63%)
3. An e-book loaded onto my Kindle. = 10 (19%)
4. A group of Web pages that I can access from my computer or laptop. = 27 (50%)
5. ONLY a printed, paper book. (Do not check this if you checked any of the above.) = 15 (28%)
I am disappointed that more than one-quarter of the respondents want no e-book option at all. The large number of responses in favor of PDF could indicate an interest in simply printing out out the book using the student printing allocation. I am pleased by the variety of formats that at least some students were willing to use. There is probably enough interest for us to work with the class. If that occurs I will share more information about the course and how the e-book will be used.
Update: Based on the responses to the survey the BCTC will run a test with this class to determine what technical support from us is needed for students to work with textbooks in these digital formats. We will also document their experience working with them. Today the students will receive a message from me indicating that on the first day of class they will get a code to access all the digital formats at no charge, including the ancillaries to the textbook. They will also be able to purchase a print copy of the textbook from the Baruch College bookstore or directly from the publisher at the list price.
Update: At the end of the Winter session we administered a survey to the 84 students who completed the course. Here are the key findings:
- One-third of the students opted to use only digital formats and reported not printing any pages from the textbook.
- 55% of the students required no assistance with downloading and using the digital content. The students who did require assistance rated the support from BCTC and publisher very highly.
- Three-quarters of the students reported that this experience increased their interest in using an e-textbook in their other courses. 18% said that it had no effect. Several students reported that their interest decreased, but their answers to other questions indicates that they did not use the digital formats.
- The average number of formats used by students was 1.86 out of a possible 5 formats, including print. The highest number reported was 4. Students used the formats for different purposes and different situations. For example, PDF or Kindle when on a subway and or when Web access was not available.
- Students liked: accessibility, convenience, ancillaries (flashcards, quizzes), not having to carry and risk losing a textbook, using chapters at a time, and helping the environment.
- Students disliked: not being able to annotate, the absence of an active table of contents in one format, download time for PDF files, not being able to load onto a smartphone, and eye strain.
- The free access to the digital files in this project contributed greatly to the positive experience.
Anticipated vs. Actual Use of Formats
Prior to the start of classes we measured interest among the students by polling them about their anticipated use of each format (see above, n=54). We repeated that question in the exit survey (n=84) and the students’ reported use of formats is compared with their anticipated use below.
1. An e-book loaded onto my iPad, SonyReader, Entourage Edge, or Kno. = (20% anticipated vs. 5% actual)
2. A PDF file that I would read on my computer or laptop. = (63% anticipated vs. 66% actual)
3. An e-book loaded onto my Kindle. = (19% anticipated vs. 6% actual)
4. A group of Web pages that I can access from my computer or laptop. = (50% anticipated vs. 30% actual)
5. ONLY a printed, paper book. (Do not check this if you checked any of the above.) = (28% anticipated vs. 11% actual)
The publisher reported 32 downloads of the textbook in ePub format (38%) and 22 downloads of .mobi files (26%).
Undergraduate Student Government recently released its own website baruchconnect.com. It provides some insight into the type of information that students are interested in receiving about the college, as well as how they would like it organized and presented. The clubs section links to the public area of a hosted service that we license to manage club finances. A few of the features, such as the reporting of problems to USG, will be incorporated into the iPhone app. At some point the University will send them a “cease and desist” letter for unauthorized use of the College’s name on a .com site, but in the meantime we can learn something about how we should re-design our own site.
The 2010 CUNY Student Experience Survey is available now available from the Office of Institutional Research & Assessment. In addition to providing satisfaction scores for campus services, the survey reports on students’ IT preferences and use. Here are some highlights for Baruch students:
- Preferred means for communication with faculty – Email (67%), Text Messages (1%), Social Networking (1%), Blackboard (2%), In-person (25%), Phone (3%)
- Preferred means for communication with other students – Email (36%), Text Messages (23%), Social Networking (10%), Blackboard (1%), In-person (25%), Phone (6%)
- Preferred means for communication with administrators – Email (50%), Text Messages (0%), Social Networking (1%), Blackboard (1%), In-person (42%), Phone (6%)
- Satisfaction with online access to faculty (virtual office hours, video conference, etc.) – Very Satisfied (11%), Satisfied (34%), Neutral (36%), Dissatisfied (12%), Very Dissatisfied (25)
- Use library’s online services – Never (29%), Once/twice per year (25%), Once/twice per month (26%), Once/twice per week (15%), Every day (4%)
- I would like my college to offer more fully online courses – Strongly Agree (20%), Agree (22%), Neutral (35%), Disagree (16%), Strongly Disagree (8%)
I am interested in collecting information about library web sites that we consider exemplary for their design and functionality. Please comment on this posting with URLs to sites that have an outstanding overall design or pages that you think handle a function well.