Monday, 30 March 2009

More titbits from the Student IT survey

When asked "How important is it that the University provides the following services for students?" The most important service is University email account, with 90% saying this is very important. After that ResNet, Public Computers, & Printing all have 78 or 79% of students rating them very important.

ResNet is the most highly rated service, with 85% saying the service is excellent or good (excluding those with no opinion). After that Laptop Clinics, Portal, Email, Help Desk & Electronic Library Resources all rate above 70% on the same measure.

Out of nine possible suggested new services, the most requested were
  • Access student filestore from anywhere over the web,
  • Audio or video recordings of lectures,
  • An email address you take with you when you graduate.
Awareness of the Student Laptop Clinic, 24 hour Help Desk & IT Skills training is poor (around a third of students know about them)

98% of our students own at least one computer. 91% of these are portables of some sort. 11% of computers are Macs, 89% are Windows systems.

Cloud Computing & Google Apps

I recently organised an event on Cloud Computing & Google Apps, with two excellent speakers (Sam Peters & Andrew Charlesworth).

Write up is on the Futures Cafe blog...

Monday, 23 March 2009

Estimating iPhone / iPod Touch owners at Bristol

How many staff and students have we got at Bristol with an iPhone (or iPod Touch)?

With help from the Student IT Survey and mail server logs (big thank you to the mail admins!) I have some stats:

Number of unique users sending email via Bristol mail servers over a 30 day period, expressed as a percentage of the staff and student populations:

iPod Touch0.2%0.3%

Respondents to the Student IT Survey March 2009, expressed as a percentage of the 1439 respondents:

iPod Touch4.5%

What does this tell us, and how do we account for the discrepancy between the figures?

The much lower numbers for email use than ownership suggest that many owners aren't using them for their University email account (but might be using them for personal accounts?)

Ownership of the iPod Touch is high, but email usage is low - perhaps with the lack an always-on data connection this is unsuprising (waiting until you are at the nearest wireless hotspot can be frustrating)

Could selection bias (which students chose to respond to the survey) distort the figures? I have no particular evidence for this, but it is always a suspicion. We true to reduce selection bias by offering an attractive prize draw to respondents - but in this case the top prize is an iPod Touch!

Monday, 2 March 2009

One phone or two?

How many phones do you want - one smartphone that does everything, or separate devices for work and home use?

Personally I'm firmly in the one device camp, I can't back this up with firm data, but my observations at Bristol are that many employer-issued phones languish uncharged, left behind in the office. They are only used occasionally - when someone knows in advance they'll be off-site for a few days. The same people carry a personal mobile with them.

Think of our different users within a university:
  • I reckon that most academics want one device. The traditional of the academic for whom work is their vocation plays into this - work & personal life merge.
  • Our students certainly only have one device (we don't pay for their phones!).
  • Our estates staff (electricians etc) have particular requirements and definitely need a work phone as they are out on call around the campus.
  • Our academic-related staff: this is where there is the greatest divide into the two camps. Some people are strongly of the opinion that they want two phones to keep work and home separate, others want one phone and somehow manage to juggle their identities.

Is this a divide between the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (of whatever age?).

Leaving aside who owns the devices, I'd like an approach with at least two prongs, as per Gartner's Managed Diversity Strategy:

1. Provide basic low-level support for all devices. For example, we have step by step instructions on how to access our email and Calendar on all major phone platforms.
2. Provide comprehensive support for one specific platform (eg phone preconfigured before you get it, help desk support, perhaps custom applications).

I want to do both, but in the current economic climate option 1 looks attractive while 2 is difficult to justify.