The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) opened its doors in 1974. The school is located in the heart of the culturally and ethnically diverse city of Houston, Texas. UHD looks to reflect the diversity of its surroundings in its student body. UHD serves 14,000 students across 44 bachelor programs and 8 master programs.
At the start of 2015, the University of Houston-Downtown implemented EesyReports and EesyMessaging for Blackboard Learn. According to John Lane, the Director for Technology Learning Services, UHD was not getting enough information on student and faculty usage from the Blackboard system. After the implementation of EesyReports, John was finally able to gain insight into user activity on the Blackboard system throughout the day.
The reporting capabilities of EesyReports allow John to get specific information on the use of Blackboard. By establishing a baseline for tool usage John is able to identify departments and colleges, which may need more help than others.
According to Devin Dabney, Assistant Director for Technology Learning Services, EesySoft provides the means to find problem areas within the institution. Devin is responsible for faculty and staff training. His biggest challenge is that Blackboard training occurs in a single facility on campus. This strongly limits the reach of his interventions and causes the Blackboard usage of some departments to lack behind. By using EesyReports John and Devin can easily identify these neglected departments and organize targeted training for instructors. “We are almost at the point now where we can start rolling out specific training for instructors by college,” said John. With EesyReports John and Devin are able to assess the effectiveness of the training they offer.
Extension of help desk hours
Up-to-the-hour information about user activity in Blackboard throughout the day is vital for UHD’s support department. John’s suspicion was that the number of support hours should be increased to cover evening time usage of the LMS. By generating custom user activity reports he was able to confidently make the decision to increase the number of hours for support staff. With the insight provided by EesySoft, the helpdesk is able to support the actual usage of Blackboard much more effectively.
John uses EesyMessaging to place proactive messages within the Blackboard application. He stresses that proactive messages should be used conscientiously, to not interfere with the user experience. When used strategically they can however be very powerful. Recurring questions can be proactively addressed within the relevant context and timeframe.
For instance EesyMessaging can be used to periodically inform students about where they have to go within Blackboard to enroll for next semester’s courses. With a simple pro-active message frequently asked questions can be answered at the moment that they apply to a user, which according to John significantly reduces the number of support calls.
Promotion of tools
Vital information about the use of individual tools can be communicated through in-context messages as well. Instructors use a third party tool to administer tests. This tool allows instructors to lock assessments with a password, which is known to confuse students. With EesyMessaging John was able to place a message on the password field to prevent instructors from using it and prevent many unnecessary support calls. Messages such as these can be easily created and assigned to specific segments of users through Eesysoft’s Content Management System.
Contact the expert
Additionally, instructors and students have access to an extensive database, which displays help content relevant to the user’s role and location in Blackboard. If users cannot find what they are looking for they can put in their support ticket directly through the ‘contact the expert’ form. These tickets can also be submitted outside of support hours. This greatly benefits the time to resolution for support requests. John said: “It is better to get information about issues that students are having right there and then instead of them having to wait for the next day.”
Training and Support Specialist Manuel Fernandez adds: “The customer support provided to us during our initial launch and the period afterwards, has been extremely satisfactory. The Contact the Expert feature also provides us with additional information that helps track down the problem when students or faculty use it to request assistance.”
John sees the out-of-the-box reporting capabilities of the Eesysoft building block as its strongest feature. Trying to generate these reports manually would take many complicated data queries and a lot of time. With EesyReports these queries take zero effort and the results are nicely displayed in the dedicated reporting dashboard. In conclusion John said: “We can instantly pull up user activity data and separate it out by college or tools. Being able to see this information in real time is very important to us”.