Satisfaction on wheels

Later this week I’m attending the association for learning technology conference – known as ALT-C. I will only be there for one day but will be there in connection with my experiences with lecture capture, as documented in showcased and captured on this blog earlier this year, and some bigger issues around change. And I’ll also be pursuing a very long-standing interest in how educational technology fits into an instution that’s based in a city centre, that relies on its physical location to attract students, and that uses face-to-face teaching as a primary method of instruction. At one time, students taking a university-based course such as an executive MBA were actively resistant to any sort of learning materials being delivered online, because they had often chosen their course in preference to a distance learning option and they would resent being offered anything that felt as though it was distance learning. Now students’ expectations are to have supplementary material available on the web.

Inevitably one of the issues raised at the conference is likely to be how we measure success, and I’m well aware that in the university context there is only a weak correlation between satisfaction and educational outcomes.

Unless I unexpectedly need to travel somewhere along the line out of Euston later this year, or Richard Branson succeeds in deferring the end of the his franchise, my trip to this conference will be the last time that I travel on Virgin Trains. While I don’t have strong views on whether Virgin’s joint venture with Stagecoach, or First Group, would be better at running the line, I was struck by this piece from the Guardian demonstrating that First Group came higher on measurable indicators of performance while passengers were overwhelmingly more satisfied with Virgin. Another example of satisfaction not being closely aligned with other outcomes?


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