Customer Research Helps Drive Digital Initiatives

April 26, 2013

Research Drives Digital Learning


One of the major contributions Barnes & Noble College makes to higher education is taking a lead in the development of today’s digital learning and teaching systems. Nicole Guerrieri, Director Digital Education for Barnes & Noble College, believes this is key to the company’s core mission. “On the college campus, we really want to make sure we’re abreast of opportunities that help us to better serve our clients needs,” she says.

Digging Deeper into Today’s Learning and Teaching Environment

Today’s Learning Management Systems (LMS), software applications for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of e-learning education courses or training programs, have become an essential part of college education, and it’s an environment Barnes & Noble College understands well. As a guest speaker, Guerrieri recently returned from The Sloan Consortium’s 6th Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning, a conference designed for an audience of instructional designers and university faculty administrators. In her presentation, Understanding Today’s Digital Learning and Teaching Environment, Guerrieri shared findings from the company’s market research last year, surveying over 1,100 student and faculty respondents on their current LMS usages and how effectively it performed. “We found that although students and faculty access their LMS multiple times per day, their use was mostly transactional, such as faculty uploading course materials or students checking grades,” she reports.

Nicole Guerrieri, Director Digital Education for Barnes & Noble College
Nicole Guerrieri, Director Digital Education for Barnes & Noble College

Another discovery from the research highlighted an important relationship need. “Our findings showed there wasn’t a lot of collaboration or interactivity, although, overwhelmingly, users wanted more of those capabilities,” Guerrieri adds. The presentation concluded with ways to respond to customers by developing tools and strategies based on the research. For example, the findings played a key role in the design of the new FacultyEnlight™ website. Available from the faculty tab of the university bookstore’s website, FacultyEnlight includes reviews of textbooks, and the ability for users to see what other faculty across the country may be adopting for their students as a way to build a best-practices resource. The research also found that costs to students was a major concern for over 87% of the faculty surveyed, and consequently FacultyEnlight includes a feature where costs and available formats can be reviewed before adoption.

Watch This Space

As part of her role in developing digital strategy, Guerrieri has found her recent conference experiences have helped more firmly establish the company as a digital leader. “The kind of experiences students and faculty are obtaining differ wildly and the need for more comprehensive knowledge can be overwhelming,” she adds. In an environment changing and developing as quickly as digital learning, We’re well positioned as a company to respond to the marketplace, and Guerrieri promises some big developments are in the works, among them, new tools for the LMS. “We’re always going to be listening to our marketplace,” she says, “After all, that’s often where the next big idea might come from.”