Jisc Inform answers your questions on how to retain, attract and maintain learner satisfaction.
With improving A-level grades, rising competition for places and students paying more than ever for education, how can I use digital technologies to increase student recruitment?
Digital technologies can help to inform and prepare prospective students by helping to match students to the right courses and by streamlining administration. We’ve funded individual institutions to develop online guides, student handbooks, and student-created guidance. Open educational resources enable prospective students to preview course content.
E-portfolios enable learners to draw together prior learning and experience and as they’re particularly useful for capturing informal learning gained through work and life experience, they can help with widening participation and lifelong-learning
My institution is seeing a high drop out rate among students. How can we reduce this?
Institutions that provide a first-class learning experience achieve good retention rates and the appropriate use of technology in learning and teaching can enhance learning, motivate students and improve retention.
You can help students make informed decisions by sharing sample learning materials and lectures freely online through open educational resources. Online technologies, such as student handbooks, familiarisation materials and tools to help students find their way around campus using mobile phones, can also help learners develop realistic expectations of study and acclimatise to their new institutions.
Many learners enter further and higher education enthusiastic about the use of digital technologies, yet lack the skills needed to apply them to education. Unchecked, this could result in dissatisfaction, drop-out or failure. We’ve developed guidance to help institutions support students in developing these new learning and digital literacies.
The physical design of learning spaces can also have a bearing on student retention. Our infoKit contains ideas and practical templates to help you design your own technology-rich learning space to appeal to students.
Effective management information can also help institutions retain students. For example, ‘at risk’ students can be identified by tracking those who fail to log in to key services, such as library systems and virtual learning environments.
How can we develop our students’ digital literacy to give them the best chance of success, not just in study but in future employment?
Courses that embed core digital skills, as well as subject-specific use of technology, enable students to gain the skills and confidence they need to use digital technology, not only to support their learning but also in the workplace.
We’ve developed guidance to help institutions support students in developing new digital skills for study. This includes the need to involve learners in their own development and the need for academics to support learners’ use of technology, as well as to examine how they use technologies in their teaching.
Our organisational audit will help you to identify current areas of good practice and highlight areas for future development.
How can we improve the way we assess our students?
Our guide, 'effective assessment in a digital age' starts from the principles of effective assessment and feedback to identify the benefits technology can offer.
A number of case studies illustrate the different approaches taken by institutions when adopting technologies to improve assessment and feedback. These include aligning with an institution-wide vision for teaching and learning, using technologies to ensure quality and consistency in assessment, and using technologies to enable students to reflect and interact with tutors over feedback.
You may also find our assessment and feedback-planning tool useful when planning your move to technology-enhanced assessment.
How can you help me to keep the curriculum relevant at a time of rapid change?
Planning and designing the curriculum involves every aspect of an institution’s business, from market research and course development to quality assurance and enhancement, resource allocation, timetabling, recruitment and assessment.
Our advice and guidance can help you use technology during all these stages of the curriculum lifecycle, saving you time and money. We have also identified common issues and inefficiencies in curriculum design and highlighted areas where information technology can help.
It’s also important to review your existing curriculum design processes before you change them – our process-review infoKit can help.
A range of existing and emerging resources around curriculum design and delivery are available at The Design Studio. Drawing on the experiences of projects we’re funding, this free online resource covers a range of issues including: market research; quality assurance and enhancement; employability and responsiveness; assessment and feedback; and course information.
How can I develop online learning to my institution’s competitive advantage?
While online education brings opportunities, it cannot substitute entirely for face-to-face interaction. Consequently many courses benefit from being delivered through a blend of online and campus-based learning.
Making the transition involves much more than simply moving current courses to an online environment. Our advice and guidance can help you consider how to balance online and face-to-face learning, the effect on students and staff, how your online courses will be designed, delivered and promoted and how resources will be managed.
Open educational resources can transform learning by making a wealth of material available to staff and students. Institutions have been able to raise their profiles by sharing their resources openly. You can also use virtual learning environments (VLE's), incorporate e-portfolios (online records of individual achievement) into online learning, and specify, design, implement and benefit from a managed learning environment.
By storing your online learning resources in your institutional digital repository, you enable them to be maintained for future use and to be accessed easily by students and staff.
How can digital technologies help my institution recruit a wider mix of students?
Digital technologies can help institutions market themselves to a wide mix of potential students and ensure that the applications process is fair.
Social networking tools, life timelines and e-portfolios can encourage sixth formers who assumed higher education was not for them to reconsider. VLE's can be adapted to make them accessible to all learners including those with disabilities.
Mobile technology could also help students with disabilities or those juggling study with family or work commitments.
Our accessibility self-evaluation tool can also help you assess how accessible and inclusive your institution is to students whatever their background or needs.
This article originally featured in issue 31 of Jisc Inform (UK web archive)