How should institutions respond to students' changing expectations of their digital environment? What experiences at university prepare students to flourish in a digital world? What are institutions doing to engage students in dialogue about their learning environment and to gather intelligence about their changing needs?
Higher education study
The project has conducted an initial study in higher education to review existing evidence about students' expectations and experiences of study in a digital environment. This included the digital environment generally (eg Wi-Fi, IT support, access to devices and printers); and the study environment in its digital aspects (eg how digital resources and media are used; what software students access, how they use their own devices and services to support learning).
The study also looked at how universities collect, manage and analyse such information locally and how they engage students in a productive dialogue about their digital experience. In addition to a detailed literature review the study also undertook a student focus group, institutional interviews and stakeholder interviews.
Further education study
Our ‘enhancing the student digital experience’ guide is being updated with the findings from the FE study together with over 40 new snapshots of current practice from colleges and providers who are meeting the digital student challenges.
The updated guide, along with a synthesis report and briefing for college leaders and managers will be available in September 2015.
We have launched phase three of the digital student project which will explore the needs of learners studying in the skills sector in relation to their expectations and experiences of the digital environment.
The scope of the study covers work based learning (including apprenticeships), adult and community learning and offender learning. It will build on the approaches used in our HE and FE studies, adding to the FE sector literature review and conducting primary research with both learners and providers.
The study will run from July 2015 to March 2016.
Sero Consulting are leading this work. Access the key ouputs from the study via the project blog.
Student digital experience tracker pilot
Following extensive consultations and feedback, we have decided to take forward the development of a prototype tracker tool.
The tracker will allow universities, colleges and skills providers to:
- Gather evidence from learners about their digital experience, and track changes over time
- Make better informed decisions about the digital environment
- Target resources for improving digital provision
- Plan other research, data gathering and student engagement around digital issues
- Demonstrate quality enhancement and student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves
The prototype tracker is based on a concise set of questions which have been intensively tested with HE and FE students. The questions cover issues that are important to learners and/or to staff with a focus on the learning experience.
It builds on resources such as the Jisc/NUS digital student experience benchmarking tool and our guide to enhancing the digital student experience: a strategic approach.
The tracker is delivered via the BOS online survey tool. Institutions using the tracker will receive guidance on implementation, real-time access to their own data and further guidance on how to understand and respond to the findings.
Online learners' expectations and experiences of the digital environment
This next phase of the project will build on the previous HE, FE and skills studies. Initial work will consider the questions that institutions need to ask around online learners' expectations and experiences, which are likely to be quite different to those for campus-based learners.
The wide diversity of online learners raises significant challenges as it includes FE and HE students experiencing blended learning, postgraduate students doing full-time professional distance learning courses, informal learners as well as students paying for formal courses, and students studying on open online courses (MOOCs).
The review will run from March to August 2016. Lou McGill, Helen Beetham and Tim Gray are leading this work.
This work also links with our scaling up online learning project.
Find out more
For more information about the digital student project, contact Sarah Knight, senior co-design manager at Jisc.
Take part in online learning success week, between 4-10 July 2016, where you can share your views and help shape the future of online learning.
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