Computer News No. 114 Mar.-Apr. 2005

Results of Computer Centre User Survey 2004-05

  1. Introduction
  2. Importance and Satisfaction of Essential IT Services
  3. About Email Services
  4. About Network Services
  5. About Host Computers
  6. About the HKU Portal
  7. About PC Laboratories
  8. About WebCT Electronic Courses
  9. About User Support Services
  10. Overall Remarks about the Survey

1. Introduction

A web-based user survey was conducted by Computer Centre during the period from December 20, 2004 to February 15, 2005 to obtain users' feedback on the services provided by Computer Centre . This article reports the results and findings of this user survey. 

A total of 930 valid respondents participated in this survey. They include academic and non-academic staff members, postgraduate and undergraduate students. The respondents are grouped into staff and students for comparison of responses between these two groups. Table 1 shows the count in each group and the percentage of total respondents in each group.

Table 1: Status of Respondents

Status of Respondents Count in Group % of Total
Respondents
Staff Academic 98 246 26.5%
Non-academic 148
Students Undergraduate 535 684 73.5%
Postgraduate 149

2. Importance and Satisfaction of Essential IT Services

Users were asked to rate the importance and their satisfaction of the essential IT services. The rating scale was from 4 to 1, with 4=most important/satisfied, 1=least important/satisfied.

Table 2 lists the IT services and their importance to our users. First, the number of respondents are listed. Then, the percentages of each rating is listed. The missing values were excluded in the calculation of percentages. Then the percentages of ratings 4 to 2 are added together and presented separately for staff and students to compare the different requirements of staff and students.  The only significant difference is the use of PC laboratories.

Table 2: Importance of the IT Services to Staff Members and Students

Importance of IT Services Number
Responded
Rating=
4
Rating=
3
Rating=
2
Rating=
1
Rating=
(4 to 2)
staff only
Rating=
(4 to 2)
students only
Email service 922 90.5% 8.1% 1.0% 0.4% 99.6% 99.6%
Network service from campus 877 78.7% 16.5% 3.6% 1.1% 98.6% 98.9%
Network service from home 866 65.2% 23.0% 9.8% 2.0% 98.6% 97.8%
Using the HKU Portal 891 52.4% 31.1% 13.7% 2.8% 94.5% 98.1%
User Support services 685 40.6% 38.0% 17.2% 4.2% 98.0% 94.8%
Using PC laboratories 525 35.8% 29.9% 21.5% 12.8% 66.3% 90.8%
Computer Training courses 567 23.5% 29.6% 31.6% 15.3% 88.5% 83.2%
Using the Unix host computers 464 23.9% 33.4% 25.9% 16.8% 83.6% 83.0%


Table 3 lists the satisfaction levels of the IT services. First, the number of respondents are listed. Then, the percentages of each rating is listed. The missing values were excluded in the calculation of percentages. Then, the percentages of ratings 4 to 2 are added together and presented separately for staff and students.

Table 3: User Satisfaction of  IT services

User Satisfaction of IT Services Number
Responded
Rating=
4
Rating=
3
Rating=
2
Rating=
1
Rating=
(4 to 2)
staff
only
Rating=
(4 to 2)
students
only
Email service  915 27.9% 54.4% 14.3% 3.4% 95.8% 96.9%
Network service from campus 860 32.6% 42.0% 19.9% 5.6% 95.5% 94.0%
Network service from home 839 18.6% 46.5% 27.7% 7.3% 94.3% 92.2%
Using the HKU Portal 872 22.8% 52.6% 20.0% 4.6% 93.4% 96.1%
User Support services 638 16.5% 48.3% 24.3% 11.0% 86.0% 90.3%
Using PC laboratories 467 16.7% 46.5% 28.9% 7.9% 85.9% 92.6%
Computer Training courses 463 13.2% 42.8% 30.9% 13.2% 86.0% 87.1%
Using the Unix host computers 392 17.3% 50.3% 23.5% 8.9% 91.6% 91.0%

The above tables show that the email and network services are the foremost important to our users (as always), and that our users are mostly satisfied with these services. In comparing tables 2 and 3, we can identify areas for improvement of user satisfaction.  In the following sections, we shall report on the survey results of each service in more detail.


3. About Email Services

The bar charts below show the responses to the questions asked in this survey.  The questions are printed in the chart titles.  Underneath the questions, the "n=..." is the number of users who answered this question.  Each bar is also labeled with the number of users who made that response.  In the comparisons between staff and students, the responses are reported as percentages in the respective groups.

Staff and student groups differ significantly in their choice of email programs.  From the first chart, we see that Webmail is by far the most popular email software.  From the second chart, we can see that Webmail is used by 85% of the students but only by 42% of the staff who also use email client programs such as Eudora, Outlook or Netscape. 


4. About Network Services

This section reports on the results for network services which include the office/laboratory network, the hall network, the network in centrally administered classrooms, the ACEnet and the wireless networks.  

The overall response is shown in the first charts below.  Staff and student groups were compared in their use of the network in the second chart.  91% of staff members use the network in their offices while students use the network in the PC laboratories as well as the roaming network and the hall network more. 

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4.1  About the Hall Network

172 of the respondents stay in Residence Halls and use the hall network.  The distribution of hall residents and their rating of the hall network is shown in the bar charts below.  (From the survey data, those who rated the hall network 'poor' were identified to be residents in St. John's College and Starr Hall where a number of computer virus spreading and port scanning cases had occurred.)  

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4.2 About Network Services from Home

The network services from home were assessed and the ratings of the HKUPPP and HKUVPN networks are shown below. The overall responses are shown in frequencies in the first chart, and percentages of staff/student groups are shown in the second chart.

The next two questions were about network abuse by disseminating a computer virus or a Trojan horse, and how they manage to clean up their infected computers.  

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5. About Unix Host Computers

Host computers refer to the Unix servers HKUCC and HKUSUA  for general-purpose computing and the HKUHPCC and HPCPOWER servers for high-performance computing. 

Table 4: What users use the host computers for

What do you use the host computers for? %Total Respondents
Email 94%
Data storage 26%
Personal homepage 14%
Execute programs 8%
Other purposes 1%
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6. About the HKU Portal


7. About PC Laboratories


8. About WebCT Electronic Courses

The students and instructors were asked different questions for their feedback on the use of the WebCT system. Their responses to the questions are displayed separately in the charts below.

Student Responses:   170 of the 652 students who answered this question do not take any courses with materials on WebCT. Therefore, only the responses from students who had access to course materials on WebCT are used in the analysis of the remaining questions.     

 

Instructor Responses:  Only 47 instructors answered that they have one or more WebCT courses. Therefore only those responses were used in the analysis of the remaining questions on WebCT.

Table 5 lists features of the WebCT system which the instructors find most useful. Their responses are presented in percentages in descending usefulness. 

Table 5: What features of WebCT the instructors find most useful

Which features of WebCT do you find most useful? %  WebCT Instructors
Posting course notes 60%
Assignments 53%
Automatic account creation with Registry's enrollment data 40%
Sending email to class 28%
Discussion forums 21%
Student grades 21%
Group projects 13%
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9. About User Support Services

Table 6 shows where users go for help for IT problems.  Users generally seek help for their computer-related problems from the Help Desk, the CCBOX (enquiry via email), the enquiry hotline (2859-2480), FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions posted on the web), and Computer Centre Office at room RRS-223.  Respondents may choose more than one venue.  Responses are presented as percentages of their respective groups in the table below to show the different preferences for help between staff and students.

Table 6: Where users go for help for IT problems 

Where do you go for help for IT problems? Help Desk CCBox Call Hotline see FAQ CC Office
Staff 14% 33% 54% 37% 8%
Student  36% 17% 9% 48% 10%

The quality of our user support services are rated by the respondents and are depicted in the following bar charts:

 
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10. Overall Remarks about the Survey

    This user survey has provided us with useful information about our users requirements and their satisfaction of the current IT services.  Like our last user survey done in 2002, the recent survey revealed that email and network services remain to be the foremost important IT services to our users.  While we are very pleased to see that our users are satisfied with these two service areas, we will continue to improve them with new technologies and enhanced functionalities.  Spam filtering continues to be a challenge that we have to deal with.  We will continue to improve on the performance of the hall network while educating our hall residents in good network ethics and practices so that improper use of the hall network would be reduced.  

    The free-text comments and suggestions entered by our respondents are consolidated and edited for brevity and consistency of style. Some of these comments are actually enquiries or questions for the Help Desk. Please click the following links to see the users' comments and Computer Centre's responses to these comments.

    On behalf of Computer Centre , I would like to thank all those who have participated in this survey which enables us to work together in bringing about more enhanced computer services to make the best use of IT technologies to support the teaching, learning and research activities of the University.