• What Data Should be Collected for the Student Computer Lab Usage Statistics Initiative?

Background

The Student Computer Lab Statistics Working Group was chartered by the ANTC: Architecture and New Technology Committee in IT Governance in late Spring 2017 in order to "operationalize" the collection of computer lab data as recommended by the University of Utah Student Computer Lab Statistics Initiative. The members of this working group are:

  • Jonathan Thomas, Director - Teaching & Learning Technologies
  • Matt Irsik, Head of User Support & Computing Services - Marriott Library
  • Steven Dean, Manager of IT - College of Engineering
  • Demian Hanks, Manager of IT - College of Social & Behavioral Sciences
  • Robert White, Manager of IT - Continuing Education & Community Engagement, Undergraduate Studies
  • Andrae Meyer, IT Specialist - Teaching & Learning Technologies
  • Paul Burrows, Information Architecture - Teaching & Learning Technologies

The over-riding purpose of collecting computer lab usage data is NOT to drive specific infrastructure changes in colleges, libraries, and centers.  No assumptions are being made in collecting and reporting data from one computer lab compared to another. The University is primarily interested in our computer lab capacities, their overall utilization, usage trends, and cost sharing in either equipment or software when and if that is feasible or advisable. 

A mantra for the Working Group was adopted early on...  

"Just because we can, doesn't mean we should!"

In other words, enormous amounts of usage data is possible to collect, but would all of it offer insights? As well, the large effort expended to collect any and all possible data would not likely lead to useful information. The Working Group considered many data points, including matching computer lab usage to declared majors, class enrollments, CPU usage, secure card-access to labs, etc.  But in the end, it was clear that what was most important to the University is how the computer labs are being used and when, not by whom and for what purposes.

As well, this computer lab data will be forwarded to the annual Learning Spaces-Student Computing Fee Awards Process (LS-SCF) in order to help the Teaching & Learning Portfolio governance committee gain perspective on the status of our campus computer labs that receive extensive funding from LS-SCF for hardware and software.

 

Data Collection & Data Points

The general types of data that are to be collected include...

  • basic lab information, such as location and number of seats
  • number of logins
  • maximum/peak usage
  • time on machine
  • software use

In this table, the required data is itemized for you:


SECTION A: LAB LOCATION & REPORTING PERIOD
Academic Semester pre-populated
Starting Date for Reporting pre-populated
Ending Date for Reporting pre-populated
Building Name text entry
Building Abbreviation text entry
Room Number text entry
Managing College/Dept/Division text entry

SECTION B: LAB DESCRIPTION
What is the primary purpose of this computer lab?  picklist of choices, single selection
    __ Open-access lab for any University student

__ Restricted-access lab for specific student users in a college or department

__ Scheduled instructional/class lab

__ Lab with specialized equipment or software

__ Student assessment and testing

__ Other (please specify)

What are the secondary purposes of this computer lab? picklist of choices, multiple selection
    __ Open-access lab for any University student

__ Restricted-access lab for specific student users in a college or department

__ Scheduled instructional/class lab

__ Lab with specialized equipment or software

__ Student assessment and testing

__ Other (please specify)

 
How many hours is this computer lab in operation during a typical week? number, in hours, for a week
How many hours a week is this computer lab available for open use by all students across campus? number, in hours, for a week
How many computers are in this lab (including instructor or podium computers)? number
What are the types of computers in this lab? picklist of choices, multiple selection
 

__ Desktops

__ Laptops

__ Other (please specify)


SECTION C: LAB USAGE
How many total logins were recorded for this computer lab during the semester's data collection period? number, for reporting period
 What was the maximum number of lab computers in use at one time? number
How many days during the semester did the computer lab usage reach or exceed 50% of its capacity? number, in days, for reporting period
What was the average duration of time (in whole minutes) that users spent in a session with a computer in the lab? number, in whole minutes, for reporting period
Indicate your top ten software packages or suites in use in this computer lab for the reporting period. The most used software should be show first, with others in descending order. text entry
Also, report the number of hours logged for each software package or suite during the reporting period. number, in hours, for reporting period

SECTION D: ADDITIONAL COMMENTS
 Additional information or clarifications  text entry
 

 

An online form is used to collect computer lab information. A link to the online form will be supplied to IT Managers/Lab Managers through an email invitation. 

A new form must be filled out
for each computer lab you are reporting.

Multiple forms are likely to be submitted by a managing college, library, or center ... one for each computer lab for the reporting period specified.

Below are screen shots of what the online form looks like for each section.

 

Section A: LAB LOCATION & REPORTING PERIOD 

The first section of the computer lab report asks for location information and the reporting period for the data collection:

lab-report-form-sectionA.png

 

 

Section B: LAB DESCRIPTION

The second section of the reporting form describes the type of computer lab and its services.

lab-report-form-sectionB.png

 

 

Section C: LAB USAGE

The third section of the online data collection form focuses on logins and maximum concurrent usage. As well, the top 10 software packages are to be identified for the lab; this information helps confirm the computer lab's purposes, determine the number of purchased and licenses applications, and assist the Teaching & Learning Portfolio and the Office of Software Licensing (OSL) in determining software needs and opportunities for best pricing at an enterprise scale.

lab-report-form-sectionC.png

 

 

 Section D: Additional Comments

lab-report-form-sectionD.png

 

 

Report is Submitted | Email Attachments

After completing a report you have an option to send supplemental supporting documents as attachments to an email. As well, if you need to report on additional labs you manage, a message prompts you to re-use the original link from your original email invitation..

lab-report-form-endofsurvey.png

 

How to Collect Computer Lab Data

What is asked of all computer lab managers and operations is to gather and supply data so that analysis and aggregation can be conducted to produce snapshot profiles of the University's computer labs used by students.

To facilitate the data collection and decision-making, the University will purchase on behalf of participating colleges, libraries and centers two computer lab statistics gathering packages:

  • LabStats (https://labstats.com
    • LabStats offers data gathering capabilities for both Windows and Macintosh-based computer labs using Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
    • Overview quoted from the LabStats website: 
      • The LabStats software provides a simple cloud-based solution for measuring technology usage in computer labs. Customizable reports make visualizing usage data quick and easy.
      • Do you ever wonder which computers are being used the most/least?
      • Do you think you may be paying for software licenses that aren’t actually being used?
      • Do you wish you could back up funding requests with hard numbers and prove that your hardware and software resources are being fully utilized?
      • LabStats delivers the insights you need.


  • Sassafras K2 (https://sassafras.com)
    • Sassafras offers data gathering capabilities in virtual computing environments where virtual software deployments are used by colleges and departments.
    • Overview quoted from the Sassafras website:
      • Computer inventory data
      • Software product recognition
      • Policy-driven software licensing
      • Usage and optimization reports

 

  • Unix/Linux Scripting
    • For computer labs in which the operating systems are Unix/Linux, scripting is often required to gather data. Scripts are being shared to deploy in those environments.

 

  • DIY
    • Installation or implementation of the two purchased software utilities is not a requirement for the collection of the needed data. It is understood and expected that some departments/colleges have existing, alternative procedures for collecting computer lab usage statistics.

 

 

Who to Contact

  1. For the School of Medicine and the Health Sciences:
    Jeff Folsom - Eccles Health Sciences Library (jeff.folsom@utah.edu)

  2. For all others on Main Campus who will use LabStats:
    Matt Irsik - Marriott Library (matt.irsik@utah.edu)
    Daniel.Marsh - Marriott Library (daniel.marsh@utah.edu)
    labstats-users@lists.utah.edu

  3. For those needing help with virtual computing environments and using Sassafras:
    Demian Hanks - College of Social & Behavioral Sciences (demian@csbs.utah.edu)

  4. For the Sciences, Engineering, and High End Computer Labs using DIY scripting and/or Unix & Linux on Main Campus:
    Steven Dean - College of Engineering (sdean@eng.utah.edu)
     

 

 


Email any and all questions, comments, and concerns to:

computer-lab-statistics

  


For a Getting Started Guide to the data gathering solution LabStats:

LabStats Getting Started Guide for the UofU

  


 

 

 

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