The University Record, April 3, 2000

Faculty, confident about abilities, need reliable electronic resources

By Wanda Monroe
Office of the Chief Information Officer

“It’s getting to the point where for everyone to do their best teaching job, they need ready access to computer resources.”

“I work at a computer an average of four hours a day—and I am not in a technology-related field!”

These are just two of the many quotes collected from faculty members who completed the 1999 survey on information technology (IT) uses and needs at the University.

Co-sponsored by University Chief Information Officer Josˇ-Marie Griffiths and the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the survey reveals that faculty view themselves as skilled in using computers, with the need for IT resources increasing dramatically. More than 52 percent of the 1,500 individuals responded to the survey.

Of those surveyed, more than 95 percent said they use technology tools every day. Ninety-nine percent of full professors with tenure said they use a computer every day, and 100 percent of associate professors with tenure use a computer every day, either at their offices or from their homes. Eighty-three percent of all respondents rated themselves as intermediate to advanced computer users, with 8 percent rating themselves as expert, and only 9 percent considering themselves novice users.

E-mail, word processing and Web browsers were the top applications used by faculty members. More than 75 percent use spreadsheet software and 66 percent use presentation software. Other software used included graphics, publishing, database, calendar and statistics. Reflecting the increasing technological sophistication of the faculty, 32 percent use a Web editor, with 26 percent using multimedia.

If made available, more than 50 percent of faculty members said they would like to use Web pages with course materials, e-mail lists of students, audio and/or video clips, animations, slides, and class bulletin boards or forums on the Web. Close to 70 percent of faculty would like to use the Web for collaboration and presenting their work to others around the world.

“It is clear from the results of this survey that our faculty are skilled users with growing needs for information technology,” says Provost Nancy Cantor. “Our challenge will be to continue to provide the computing environment they need to expand their teaching, learning and research.”

According to the survey, faculty members are happier with the University’s ability to deliver IT services than they were a few years ago. Seventy-nine percent state the University’s IT services meet their needs as compared with only 16 percent in a 1996 survey who felt the University IT personnel understood their needs and/or were helpful. While faculty members are happier with the service provision, there are still concerns. The 1999 survey indicated that faculty members’ top three concerns are support, reliability and access.

Faculty members were clear on how they like to learn about IT. Of those surveyed, 66 percent want a person to assist them in gaining new skills, and they want that person to be someone who knows their work—friends, family or colleagues. The report indicated that it is individuals close to the faculty members who are most likely to understand what they want to accomplish and can tailor assistance to their needs.

IT reliability was overall the number two concern for faculty—and the number one concern for a significant number of faculty. The survey indicated that for the technology to be useful, it must always be available and it must be reliable.

The results of the faculty survey provided specific, relevant data that measures progress toward the three strategic goals of academic initiatives, infrastructure and core services, and collaborations services that were established in early 1999. Data from a 1996 survey of faculty, students and staff were used for comparative analysis where applicable.

The report summarizes some of the relevant information provided by faculty in the recent survey along with comparisons with the 1996 data.

“The results of the survey validate many of the initiatives and directions we’ve established for IT at the University,” Griffiths says. “We now have useful data to assist us in advancing information technology support, reliability and access to meet the growing and constantly changing requirements of the faculty.” The survey will be repeated every other year.

“The University of Michigan Faculty Information Technology Uses and Needs” report is available on the Web at www.cio.umich.edu/itum/facultysurvey/.