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

Background

The 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 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.

As well, this data will be reviewed by 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.

 

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

An online form is used to collect computer lab information:

Computer Lab Statistics Online Form (TBD)

A new form must be filled out for each computer lab being reported. So multiple forms will be submitted by a managing college, library, or center.  However, this data only needs to be reported to the University once a year, beginning with our initial trial data collection period in the last half of Fall Semester 2017.

 

SECTION 1: COMPUTER LAB DESCRIPTION

The first section of the online data collection form is used for every teaching or open student computing lab on campus. The form identifies what the purposes of the lab are, its operation hours, and the number and type of computers installed.

Here is a screen shot representative of the data points in Section 1:

Online-Data-Collection-Form-Section1.png

 

SECTION 2: COMPUTER LAB USAGE

The second 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.

Here is a screen shot representative of the data points in Section 2:

Online-Data-Collection-Form-Section2.png

 

In both Sections 1 and 2, there is an opportunity to add additional comments or clarifications regarding the data being reported.

 

How to Collect Computer Lab Data

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
    • 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.
    • LabStats offers data gathering capabilities for both Windows and Macintosh-based computer labs.

  • StacksWare (https://stacksware.com)
    • Overview quoted from the StacksWare website:
      • Discover and eliminate unused software with real-time and agentless software inventory, metering, and management across workstations, laptops, servers, clouds, VDI, network license servers, and more.
      • Real-time inventory, usage, and management
      • Windows and Mac Support
      • Desktops, hypervisors, cloud, network LMs
      • Detailed reporting and alerting
      • License tracking and optimization
      • Active Directory integration

  • 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.

 

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.

 

 

 


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

computer-lab-statistics@utah.edu

  


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

LabStats Getting Started Guide for the UofU

 


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

StacksWare Getting Started Guide for the UofU

 


 

 

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