The UK has a rich and varied array of universities, colleges and training providers for learners to choose from, but if there’s one lesson that has stood out most during the first few months of our co-design process, it’s just how many of them are facing very similar challenges.
During the course of two workshops in April, we talked to a group of our core customers from higher and further education to define the issues that digital technologies could help them to address.
Co-design challenge areas
From an initial list of more than 140 ideas, participants were able to bring many of these together into 24 overarching themes. They then voted on the time-critical ones that they wanted to start working on straight away to give us a handful of really key issues.
The Jisc board has allocated funds enabling us all to get cracking on the big four challenges, scoping them out, consulting more widely and planning some solutions.
Effective learner analytics
One of two challenges that focus firmly on improving student experience and attainment, this aims to enable learning providers to improve the amount and types of data they gather about students, and help them to analyse it better. If staff are equipped with effective tools and clear advice on how to use them, they will then be able to give students improved feedback and plan their interventions more strategically.
Students will benefit from more positive experiences, they’ll attain more, and providers will see their retention rates and reputation climb.
Our wider consultation on learner analytics in late spring and early summer has crystallised this work. We invited stakeholders to put forward and vote on ideas on how to address the challenges. Among other things, the feedback we’ve received will lead to the development of new advice and guidance, and exploring the creation of new software.
From prospect to alumnus
This holds the promise of joining up student information – from their first enquiry through to post-graduation employment – in systems designed to meet their needs more closely than at present. And we know that doing so will bring significant efficiencies to their institutions too.
This is a highly complex issue and our consultation on the finer detail has so far included workshops in London, Newcastle, Birmingham and Glasgow – with more planned.
Research at risk
Taking aim at the big issues universities face in defining and implementing research data management policies, processes and systems.
Our specific challenge is to streamline existing processes, which are sometimes fragmented. The end result is universities should be able to comply more easily with government and funder requirements and remove cost inefficiencies.
Building capacity for new digital leadership
A member of our steering group says that our fourth project is “key to effective student learning, teaching and efficient operation of universities”, which clearly gives us a lot to live up to. But we’re confident that the co-design approach will enable us to do it.
This challenge area will build on existing work by developing practical tools and guidance that should enable the sector workforce to exploit digital technology to the full and to extract maximum value from investment in new technology.
We are collaborating widely with the many bodies throughout HE, FE and skills that are expert in this area, working together to make best use of the available content to develop the digital capabilities of learning providers’ staff.
During this coming autumn, we’re going to be consulting more widely to make sure we capture the wisdom and experiences of as many people as we possibly can. There will be events for people to come along to, and we’ll be visiting universities, colleges and training provider premises for input as well.
Don’t wait until then though - if you’ve got comments you’d like to feed into the co-design process, do it now. Take a look at the co-design web page for more information, send me a tweet @andymcg or drop me a line: [email protected].