What you need to know
Students learn better when they are actively involved in their learning. Not only does this mean designing digital activities for students, it also means working in partnership with them to create, use and evaluate digital designs for learning.
Why this matters
Staff with only limited experience of technology have found this enables them to ‘enter their students’ world.’ Doing so can also alter students’ misconceptions about your chosen approach to learning - for example, by helping them understand better what they will gain from independent online learning.
Students are also more likely to be engaged if they feel themselves to be actively involved in shaping the design of their learning.
Inviting them to act as digital ambassadors, content creators or researchers, even to evaluate learning designs which include the use of technology, all encourage more active student participation which ultimately improves their ability to learn.
What the experts say
“I was most struck by a comment made by one of the students: that her involvement in the interdisciplinary research group has encouraged her to do things that she never imagined she’d be able to do. That for me seems to get to the core of what education should be about – enabling students to imagine and then develop the skills and knowledge to enact new ways of working that in this case benefit themselves, other students, and the wider institutional community.”
Sarah Davies, Jisc
Be inspired - case studies
University of Lincoln – student consultants support good teaching
The University of Lincoln recruits and trains student volunteers to act as consultants to teaching staff. Student consultants, as they are known, observe and give feedback on an aspect of teaching or assessment practice outside their own course of study to provide an impartial perspective.
Volunteers are recruited from across the university so that they are in a position to compare the teaching they observe with teaching in other disciplines. International students add a further dimension by providing insights from higher education elsewhere in the world.
Pooling this body of experience enables students to develop a framework they can use when making judgements about the quality of teaching in another discipline. Their feedback also helps staff understand better how students respond to different approaches to learning.
“Working with a student consultant gives you the opportunity to access fresh insights into the student experience. By involving students from outside your course, programme or school, you can get new information you might not get from other sources.”
Jasper Shotts, principal lecturer, University of Lincoln
University of Winchester - setting up a student fellowship scheme
A student fellowship scheme at the University of Winchester started by our Fastech project has flourished as a result of partnership working between the university and the student union.
The scheme recruits and trains students to work on educational development projects. Those passing a rigorous selection process receive guidance to prepare them for their role as educational researchers before working under the supervision of academic staff.
By bringing together students, academic and professional staff to work on important new projects, the university has been able to understand and respond faster to the needs and concerns of students. For their part, students gain invaluable skills and experience which stand them in good stead when they enter the workplace.
“The opportunity to devise and control our own research project (with supervision) was one of the most rewarding things we have ever done.”
Student fellow, University of Winchester
Epping Forest College – students as co-creators of learning
The Digital Voice Xperts (DVX) scheme at Epping Forest College involves students in improving the digital capabilities of their peers and teachers by creating presentations, web pages and videos on good online practice.
The DVX scheme grew from experience built up from an earlier learner-staff e-mentoring initiative at the college. While e-mentoring still continues, students have taken up a fresh challenge – that of ensuring their peers and staff have the skills to live, work and learn successfully and responsibly in a digital world.
“The roles of students and staff have changed. Information is out there and the teacher is now a facilitator and questioner. The role of student is also changing.”
Vikki Liogier, formerly head of digital literacy, voice and innovation, Epping Forest College
Watch our video on driving institutional change through staff-student partnerships: