Activity 4: Data Gathering

Improvements for Macintosh Support at UWS

     a)    Goal of  “improving the product” – Currently there is very little in the way of support for Macintosh users at UWS. All the labs I have seen are Windows based and as such the IT Support Departments at UWS probably lack the resources to provide much in the way of support for Macintosh users. My goals is to set up a campus based Macintosh User Group (UWSMUG) and develop a web site that can provide resources for staff and students using Macintosh computers on the UWS campus.

     b)    Observations and potential challengers – As a campus based group I need to consider staff and students from other campuses. This brings with it the inconvenience of making it hard to have face to face meetings, share resources evenly, provide information relevant to multiple campuses let alone having to deal with the existing political structure, policies and funding issues that any university has to deal with. For this venture to succeed there has to be a need that the stakeholders can recognize and support what is being attempted.

     c)    Use of the 3 data gathering techniques – To gather the required data I will need to use a range of data gathering techniques including interviews, questionnaires and observation. Already I have been in discussions with the Head of IT and Business at the Penrith Campus as well as checking out what type of support can be gained from Apple itself. I plan to develop a range of customized questionnaires for staff and students firstly to determine if interest in the project exists and secondly which type of resources will be needed to match user needs. By using triangulation I should be able to look at the responses from different perspectives.

     d)    Informed consent – Since the majority of my data will be obtained by observation and online questionnaires/polls in an informal manner initially I do not really think a consent form will be necessary. If a user chooses not to sign up they are perfectly within their rights. Likewise as some participants may be under the age of 18 their consent may not be legally recognized anyway.

     e)    Data gathering program plan

            i.    Running, recording and required equipment for interview – I have done many interviews and questionnaires many times in the past as President of the Sydney and Australian Mac Users Groups already and have all the equipment I would need for recording and analyzing votes and answers to questionnaires as well as microphones, video cameras etc if needed.
           ii.    Pilot studies and questionnaires – Developing questionnaires that can deliver meaningful and accurate data is a prime concern. As such initially interviews will only be carried out on people I see using a Macintosh in my classes. After fine-tuning these initial questionnaires a web-based study will need to be carried out.
          iii.    Observation type and testing – As a current Macintosh user and a student I can observe student participants internally as one of their own. When it comes to staff a professional and separated approach would be recommended originally until I can determine attitudes. Whatever the source thorough unit, system, integration and user testing will need to be carried out to ensure that both staff and students have an equally satisfying experience.

     f)    Carrying out study within boundaries of scope – The study will be carried out in 3 stages, initially a small study will be undertaken to ascertain that the scope is not too broad and focuses on key issues. Secondly a larger study will be carried out to broaden the sample and refine questions, techniques etc. Finally a major study will be carried out in co-operation with staff and students at all campuses. By this stage a clear picture should start to develop of the real scope of this project based on accurate user data.

     g)    Reflection and lessons learned – One lesson learned is the need for stakeholders to become involved with the project, it is too wide encompassing a project to be managed by a single person. If I were to repeat this project again I would try and get the major stakeholders more involved. This could be in the form of notifications on the UWS web site, more students and staff assisting in the process. Better use of resources would have made the job much easier.

Project Proposal | Manual Card Sorting | Automatic Card Sorting | Data Gathering