Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A PC for every student

A day of feedback today. First we got some initial feedback on the student satisfaction survey, carried out annually centrally and which looks at all student services. We get a section to ourselves, and today saw a draft report, and will get the final one next week. Headline news is that our overall satisfaction rating has gone up with 86% of students satisfied or very satisfied with our services. There are two areas where they're not happy - one is quality of software, and we will have to wait until we get the data next week so see what this refers to. My suspicion is that it is to do with the versions of software we run - our priorities are often to stick to versions we know are reliable, even though these might be several versions behind what the students have on their own machines. Hopefully upgrading to office 2007 and upgrading our webmail client this summer will help with this, but I think we need to review all of our software.

The second, and by far the biggest, suggestion for improvement is availability of PCs. This is one we just can't win. Last year we opened the Information Commons which has 550 PCs in it open 24*7, 365 days a year, and there is a PC booking system allowing students to reserve a machine. In addition, there are another 1150 PCs on campus, giving a total of 1700. Our monitoring software shows that there is never a time on campus when every PC is in use. The problem is, the timing of the survey - in our busiest time, May, and the fact that students want to use PCs in the IC, and won't go anywhere else. During May when the survey was carried out, there was virtually 100 utilisation of the PCs in the IC, with people queuing to use them, and yet less than 5 minutes walk away was a very nice IT suite with 75 machines in, and only 3 were in use.

I don't think we'll crack this until we provide a PC for every student for a few weeks a year!

1 comment:

Richard said...

If you could just get a big information commons shaped tent, and put it over the top of our existing computer rooms I bet that would fool the students into going in.

I've seen similar things in Berlin ( found a photo on google). It's got to be cheaper than building another one...