Canadian University Dubai
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
~3,000 students; ~2,400 Undergraduates, ~600 Postgraduates
CUD identified the need for an automated survey solution with advanced reporting and integration ca-pabilities to help gather institution-wide student feedback.
- Automated Survey Distribution
- Advanced Reporting
- Seamless Integration with SIS and LMS
- Advanced Data Management
- Real-time Response Rates Tracking
Introducing Canadian University Dubai
In 2006, Centennial College and Athabasca University partnered to bring quality Canadian education to the United Arab Emirates by opening the Canadian University Dubai (CUD). Located in the city’s iconic City Walk district, this institution quickly rose in the ranks to become the 4th best in the country, according to QS World University Rankings 2023.
Boasting a diverse student community with over 120 nationalities, CUD offers programs based on a world-leading international curriculum. It gives students the unique opportunity to obtain a first-class Canadian education while experiencing the dynamic lifestyle of Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
CUD is a world-class institution with 18 accredited programs and over 30 majors from the Faculty of Architecture and Interior Design, Communication, Arts and Science, Engineering, Applied Science and Technology, and Management.
Challenges and Opportunities
In 2012, CUD identified the need to gather student feedback to help inform how they approached teaching and learning. The University started using paper-based surveys; however, the overwhelming amount of paper and human error led them to develop an in-house solution in 2015 and later transition to SurveyMonkey in 2017.
CUD’s dedicated Office of Institutional Research and Planning (IRP) – which ran the student feedback surveys – interviewed various stakeholders, including active students, exiting students, alumni, instructors, staff, and prospective employers, about the solutions they had used to date.
- While the two previous digital solutions made data collection easier and reduced human error, stakeholders expressed frustration with their limited ability to create advanced reports and automate distribution.
- They also wanted a solution that could integrate seamlessly with their Student Information System (SIS) and Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle.
CUD analyzed several vendors and finally settled on Explorance Blue because of its advanced features built to help increase student survey engagement and advanced data management capabilities.
Effective Governance of Institutional Surveys
Recognizing the need for proper planning at the institutional level, CUD developed a detailed guide to ensure the effective governance of its institutional survey implementation via Explorance Blue. The process consists of four main steps:
1. Implementation Checklist
The starting point for CUD’s successful implementation is setting a clear objective for the survey. This is followed by designing the questionnaire with the survey owners, selecting the target audience, and identifying the required number of responses needed to have proper analysis. Next, they set the date and time of the launch and decide on the preferred method of administering the survey: online, telephone, or face-to-face.
2. Campaign Based on the Guidelines
CUD survey campaigns start with an automated pre-launch message sent to all key stakeholders, informing them of the upcoming survey. After the questionnaire is launched, a designated campaign team works to help raise the response rate to the target. For this purpose, a timeline plan is prepared with the actions needed to increase the response rate.
3. Optimizing Response Rate
Tracking response rates includes keeping the survey owners informed. This ensures that the collected responses align with the required sample size, thus upholding the analysis’s validity. While CUD previously faced challenges with sample size, implementing Explorance Blue has resolved this concern. Explorance Blue offers many survey touchpoints and includes functionalities specifically built to boost stakeholder engagement.
4. From Results to Action
The last step is to analyze the results using Explorance Blue’s robust reporting engine and share them with the survey owners, who must develop an improvement plan. The Office of Institutional Research and Planning at CUD continuously monitors the improvement actions in future exercises to close the feedback loop.
Student Engagement Tactics Using Explorance Blue
An established concern within student feedback surveys is the lack of active participation and low response rates, resulting in inadequate sample sizes. Here are some of the measures adopted by CUD, utilizing Explorance Blue’s features, to address and rectify this issue:
- Automated pre-launch message sent to the students via Explorance Blue to notify them of the survey launch date and how to access questionnaires.
- Promotional videos, posters, and QR codes are shared with students on YouTube, CUD’s social media, and WhatsApp groups.
- An SMS is sent to the student’s mobile number from CUD’s communication office.
- Various reminders are scheduled and sent from Explorance Blue, each containing different text and a catchy subject line.
- Communicating with students during events and offering them incentives upon completing a survey.
- Involving the Student Council in helping to increase response rates.
- In-class communications for course evaluations, encouraging students to complete the surveys. This is a good opportunity for instructors to talk to students, get honest feedback, and ensure they can access the surveys and answer their questions.
- The use of QR codes created by Explorance Blue in classes has also been helpful, allowing students to access the link easily.
Explorance Blue’s Reporting Capabilities Shine
Course evaluation reports are now automatically generated in Explorance Blue and shared with the concerned stakeholders. With the help of the platform’s reporting feature, the Institutional Research & Planning Office (IRP) has created several dynamic and innovative reports.
IRP generates individual reports in Explorance Blue and automatically sends them to the Deans, the Heads of Departments (Hods), and Instructors according to their related courses. A report by faculty is also generated and shared with CUD’s President and Deans.
In addition, a report for students’ programs analyzes the results of the courses with respect to the program that the students are enrolled in. This type of report has become essential for program accreditation reports. The overall report analyzes all the evaluated courses as a summary. A course with a score less than 4.0 out of 5 is of concern and needs improvement. A clickable link is available for each area that directs the user to another report with the list of courses that fall under this area. This has made it much easier for management to determine which courses require attention.
How Explorance Blue Helps CUD Achieve Its Goals
Every semester, the Student Course Evaluation (SCE) evaluates courses of different types (lecture, lab, and studio) with different questions. What was previously three different projects that had to be harmonized together is now completely configured within Explorance Blue for easy management.
Explorance Blue also adapts to the student’s language by displaying the questionnaires in English or Arabic, making it easy for the students to view and fill out the survey while dramatically improving survey completion rates. The product also provides a QR code feature, which the instructors can share with students to access the survey easily.
The list of courses, users, and the relations that define each user’s role are stored in Explorance Blue. The software then reads from these data sources and generates course evaluation tasks for each student. The data sources are synchronized with CUD’s SIS and are scheduled for an update daily through Explorance Blue’s Data Sync Tool. This has made preparing course evaluations very efficient because updates to the SIS are now fully automated.
In addition, Explorance Blue automatically removes students who dropped from a class, eliminating a previously tedious manual task. Moreover, students and instructors can access their tasks from the email they sent through software or their LMS, Moodle, via Explorance Blue’s Portal Integrator (BPI).
The transformation witnessed at Canadian University Dubai (CUD) demonstrates the strategic and comprehensive implementation of technology in Higher Education. Guided by a clear vision and commitment to enhancing teaching and learning with student feedback, CUD’s journey with Explorance Blue emerges as a shining example. By harnessing the capabilities of this technology, they have elevated the significance of student feedback and data-driven decision-making in fostering educational excellence. Through creative engagement tactics, seamless integration, and sophisticated reporting, CUD showcases the potential of technology to revolutionize the education landscape. As the realm of academia continues to evolve, the lessons drawn from CUD’s experience resonate as a guide to embracing innovation, driving efficiency, and elevating the student experience in the dynamic educational environment of today and tomorrow.