Jisc welcomes the 2013 Student Academic Experience survey from Which? and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the information it provides about the range of student learning experiences in universities and colleges.
However, with its focus on ‘face-to-face contact hours’, the report may be missing the many ways in which institutions and academics are using technology to guide and support students, and ultimately transform the student experience.
In the digital age, the nature of the student experience is changing rapidly and access to resources and to teaching staff has been transformed. Contact time need no longer mean students and staff sitting in the same seminar room – lectures can be filmed and watched online at a time that suits the learner, academics may engage with and offer feedback to students via email, Facebook and even twitter rather than in time-constrained seminars or tutorials. In this type of model students can engage with digital resources ahead of face-to-face sessions and then use the contact time more fruitfully for discussion and interaction.
"The report's headline figures do not distinguish between different kinds of contact time, so there is a danger that an institution that primarily engages in old-fashioned 'chalk and talk' transmission-style lecturing might appear to be offering more contact hours than an institution that is using technology to deploy resources and contact time more strategically and effectively," said Martyn Harrow, chief executive of Jisc.
"As the student body becomes more diverse, so institutions need to find ways to ensure that their teaching modes and materials reflect different learning preferences and types of study and attendance. Technology offers a range of ways to do this and to enhance student access to resources and staff both inside and outside university owned systems."
Jisc has been supporting institutions to enhance the student experience for over 20 years. It offers advice and guidance on how technology can wrap the institution around the learner, providing accurate and personalised resources and services. It funds projects to help institutions better understand their learners' needs, from learning analytics and comparative course data to creating a seamless student experience.