Response to "UTS Student Experience Survey"

I don't get the same emails from UTS anymore, it seems. But I digress.

From Ruben's recent post:

It's my belief that you can give students the most technically advanced, easy to use university collaboration systems, but they won't use them (or will use them reluctantly if forced). Millennials engage in social networks with established friend lists, and they'll always revert to the tools they're used to. To that end, the best way the university can support learning is to deploy a small, fast, streamlined system that allows students to access the materials they need for a course with as little trouble as possible. Needless to say, Blackboard doesn't fit this role.

Of course the first point is true, but in more cases than not because the learning curve is something they don't care for - they don't want to be wasting time in learning a new system when they can understand an existing one. But the interesting thing in my case is that in a subject where we were allowed to elect as a class the system we wanted to use, most of the class chose to use the Discussion Boards on Blackboard.

Not only is the Discussion Board on Blackboard a pain in the nether regions for everyone and their cat, sometimes it goes down without warning and leave students milling and waiting for it to return.

Yet the students in my class preferred to keep their work and their social life separate. I've never been asked for my Facebook, but instead invited to Teambox or emailed and texted. Clearly not your average use case, seeing everyone else I know jump to Facebook as their first choice, but a clear indication that there are more choices out there than these. Also an indication that there are perhaps different needs for undergraduates and postgraduates.

Other than that...

To the second point, it's an intriguing idea that tech can be used to supplement lectures. Dr. Bernard Wong recorded his lectures for us during Business Requirements Modelling at UTS, which I used to study from during commutes. That said, as I answered in a previous question the key is to still provide engaging human contact. Some people just attend university for a qualification, others of us also go to engage with industry professionals and to learn from their real world experience. Technology (in an of itself) can't replace this.

Another of my subjects 'replaced' the lectures with online, recorded lectures that students watched at home (compulsory to add to the compulsory attendance), yet would still spend the first hour of each tutorial going over all the lecture content.

Funny enough, Ruben raised a point that I often mentioned in my Discussion Board discussions on Blackboard mentioned previously, though his perspective is a bit different. Technology is all very well, but it in itself can't replace the experience at university, because you don't get the feedback that you need in order to develop those ideas that will further your understanding. In itself it usually isn't interactive enough.

It would be nice to see more technology at UTS though. I've only ever had two subjects in 4 years where there were recorded/pre-recorded lectures.


Ruben updated his post to add that this wasn't by email, but upon checking UTS Online, I don't have this banner either - go figure!