At the start of Fall 2017, DTLT sent out a survey to UMW teaching faculty with the goal of gathering actionable feedback. We wanted to find out which of our services and events faculty find the most valuable, as well as things that we can do better. The entire DTLT team is new to their roles at UMW in the past two years. And while we’ve tried to build on good work our predecessors have done, we’ve also done some new things. The university’s Strategic Plan has also charged DTLT with specific tasks that affect our day-to-day and big-picture plans. We wanted to get a better idea of how well the things we’re doing ― both new and old ― are impacting the campus in general.
Overall, the results were very positive and gave us a few specific areas to target as we make plans over the next few months.
Our survey gathered both quantitative and qualitative feedback from UMW teaching faculty. We received 45 responses ― 6 anonymous and 39 non-anonymous. (The most recent University survey with a question about DTLT had 43 responses for that question.)
We asked faculty to rate their experiences with DTLT in the past year on a 6-point scale (1 = not satisfied, 6 = extremely satisfied). Respondents rated DTLT very highly, with a median value of 6 out of 6 ― in other words, over 50% said they were “extremely satisﬁed” in their work with us ― and 91% (39 of 43) gave DTLT a positive rating (4 or higher).
We also asked respondents what type(s) of experiences they had with DTLT in the past year. We offer a variety of different services, largely centered around consulting with faculty (workshopping syllabi, assisting in the design of digital assignments/projects, writing documentation, visiting classes, or even just chatting about pedagogy in general) and sponsoring events (Digital Pedagogy Lab, the UMW Digital Liberal Arts Series, and department-specific workshops).
Not surprisingly, one-on-one consultations ― via email or in person ― are the services faculty most take advantage of. After in-person consultations, the most popular DTLT offerings were our blog and written documentation ― both places where we share our thoughts about practices, tools, and philosophical perspectives that contribute to good (digital) teaching. About one-third of faculty respondents had attended a Digital Pedagogy Lab event, and slightly fewer had attended a Digital Liberal Arts Series event. Small department-specific workshops are new in the past year, and DTLT class visits were recently reintroduced and reinvigorated, so it’s not surprising that fewer faculty have taken advantage of those. (Though please get in touch with us if you’d like to!)
The survey also asked participants to describe their most positive experience(s) with DTLT in the past year, as well as provide suggestions for improvements or new offerings.
We saw the same generally positive responses. Faculty are happy with their experiences with DTLT, noting that our staff are always available to help, sometimes even on short notice. They appreciate the enthusiasm and support, as well as patience, when helping them learn a new took or skill, as well as the focus on pedagogy and the needs of the students. There were several comments about new ideas sparked from reading the DTLT blog or attending DPL and DLA events, praise for inspiring on-campus speakers sponsored by DTLT, and shout-outs to individuals in DTLT who were particularly helpful.
One recurring theme for improvement was the need for more entry-level, nuts-and-bolts support for faculty working with technology. This is something we’ll be focusing on more this academic year, including the expansion of our online documentation and new “just-in-time workshops” for faculty. There were also requests for more virtual consultation opportunities, since not all UMW faculty are full-time on the Fredericksburg campus. (Note: this semester we have begun hosting regular office hours at the Stafford campus ― complete with snacks! Faculty can also “walk in” from anywhere via video chat during those office hours, or email us to make an appointment for a virtual consultation at other times.)
These are only a few of the themes raised in the comments, which we’re already taking into account as we continue to adjust our plans. Stay tuned for announcements over the next few months, as we add some new programs and adjust some old ones.
And we’d be remiss if we didn’t end this post thanking the faculty who participated in our survey. The comments are immensely helpful as we continue to evaluate the work we’re doing. We are grateful to work with such an amazing faculty, and we look forward to more collaborations in the future!