Robin McCoy (Faculty - Business School)

"I'm not tech-savvy but I love what technology can do for me and my students"


Age: 54
Occupation: Non-tenure track Business professor
School: Faculty of Business, York University
Technology level: Comfortable with technology particularly email, excel spreadsheets, word documents and the web. 

Main Points

  • Innovative, dedicated and popular teacher
  • Thinks she knows less about technology than it appears to others
  • Has a consulting business


  • Gain student recognition and win best teaching awards
  • Use technology as a medium to create new thoughts and to provoke students into self-learning, rather than to convey her own knowledge 
  • Increase quantity and quality of interaction with students and amongst students
  • Work efficiently with her support staff and reduce time spent on administrative issues whenever possible to allocate more time and energy on teaching and doing research
  • Establish her reputation academically and in the industry
  • Secure extra income through consulting work

Frustrations & Pain Points

  • Grade assignments (see scenario)
  • Students assignments get saved in their own folder (by student name) so she has to go into to each folder before grabbing the assignments.
  • Email archive tool sends her the same digest 3 times per day.  The digest contains email from all her sites, not sorted in any useful way, plus the content is highly repetitious.
  • Forcing non-business school students to pay for course content from since only business school students get it for free.
  • She thinks the ability to create own icons and adjust layout is a waste of time for her.


  • Use a bSpace project site to collaborate in writing her book.
  • Set up and use bSpace project site to plan a course with her colleagues.  She sets up site to share stuff with others teaching the same course (though she's leary if anyone else uses it).
  • Set up project sites for my student groups to give them a space in which to collaborate.
  • Allow TAs to set up my course sites.
  • Grade assignments.
  • Pick readings from and have them show up directly in her course site.
  • Reuse some course material from semester to semester.
  • Copy course content from previous course in
  • Use bSpace for temporary storage.

Robin lives in Toronto with her two children, a 8 year old boy and a 12 year old girl, and her husband.  She finished her PhD in 2000 and started teaching at Schulich School of Business at York University right after. She is a popular professor among students, because of her enthusiastic teaching style, knowledge, and sense of humor. She has won best teaching awards in the past, and hopes to win more in the future.  Her schedule is crazy.  Not only is she busy with her teaching and writing a book, but she also owns a business consulting firm on the side.   She typically hires her grad students in the summer as interns. 

Though she doesn't think she is particularly tech-savvy, Robin uses a great deal of new technology in her teaching. She likes to be innovative and wants the students to self-teach.  She uses Sakai quite extensively, for data storage, a communication tool, an assignment dropbox and more.  She believes in giving her students access to course material from anywhere and uploads all of her course contents, including the lecture notes, assignments, readings, to her course site to make them readily available.  She wouldn't know what she would do without her faculty support staff. She works with an instructional designer to set up course sites online, upload and manage course contents, and monitor students' actitivities on the course sites. As well, she has admin staffs in the business faculty.

She is very organized. She keeps her office, the file space on her computer, and the online course contents very neat and organized. On her PC, all documents are organized in My Documents, with folders for each course. Within each course folder, she has Admin, Assignments, LectureNotes, and Readings folders.  She also has folders on her computer for her book and for her students theses. The contents on her Moodle sites are similarly organized, hierarchically in folders.

Robin spends a lot of time preparing for lectures. She uses Keynote to prepare her lecture slides and prepares "condensed" version of lecture notes to go with the slides. Sometimes she'll put the tables in the classroom into a U-shape to better facilitate student involvement.  She tries to make her lectures as interactive and dynamic as possible. She walks around the room with a microphone or sits among the students while she lectures to keep students engaged in class.  Robin cares a great deal about her students. She works hard to keep them coming to classes, and keep them engaged in classes. She tends to post a condensed version of her lecture notes, which is "just a skeleton of the lecture," to encourage students to come to class and fill in the gaps in the notes. During the lectures, she walks around the room and asks students questions to keep them on their toes.


  • Grade assignments - From bSpace assignments tool, she downloads all that students have turned in, comments on each and reuploads the commented version.  As she is reviewing assignments, she has a piece of paper that she writes all the grades on and then later goes into Gradebook to enter the grades.  She wishes there was a way to enter the grade as she was looking at the assignment.
  • Reuse some course material from semester to semester - She sometimes uses the copy functionality in bSpace but it doens't do exactly what she wants.  "In some ways, I'd rather start fresh".  For example, she doesn't want problem solutions posted until a certain time.  What she'd really like is a way to copy the structure of the course site.  She'd like all the folders copied but only about 1/2 to a 1/3 of the content copied over.