EDSIGCON Proceedings 2020

Virtual Conference, November 2020

Conference Highlights

2021 EDSIG Proceedings: Abstract Presentation

An initial evaluation of the impact of a workflow automation activities intervention on student self-perception

Victor Berardi
Kent State University at Stark

Vaneet Kaur
Kent State University at Stark

Donald Thacker
Kent State University at Stark

Gregory Blundell
Kent State University at Stark

In the last several decades, automation has had significant impact on employment, focused especially on manual labor and operators of well-defined processes. Automation, combined with the resultant offshoring that it often enabled, have over the last few decades reshaped the landscape for workers in these areas, especially in developed countries. Now, though, the tools, technology, and the platforms being developed and implemented—often in concert with artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistant components—make addressing less structured and evolving environments more feasible. This opens a whole new realm of workers, specialties, and careers that could see impact over the next several decades. This time around, though, the tools for automation are largely being made available to the very workers who are likely to be impacted, giving them an opportunity to evolve and upskill. Low-code, no-code (LCNC) tools and platforms are enabling what is often called citizen development or citizen developers who can develop their own apps, intelligent agents, virtual agents, and even cross-functional and cross-organizational automations and solutions. LCNC offerings, indeed platforms, are being developed by Microsoft, Google, AWS, Salesforce, IBM, and others, while more focused offerings like Zapier and IFTTT also have novel capabilities. This presentation will focus on the initial evaluation of survey results from classroom implementation of workflow automation activities using LCNC tools. These activities were designed to take the equivalent of one 75-minute class period with another 20 minutes of requisite outside preparation work. They can be delivered in traditional, hybrid, remote, or even asynchronous modes. Students were queried before and after the activities regarding their interest, ability, and perceived competence in this new realm. This includes student interest in learning more about creating workflow automations, creating apps or intelligent agents, as well as any impact on student confidence and perceived competence on solutions development.