Over recent years interest in, and concern with, ‘student engagement’ and the ‘student experience’ have come to the fore across the higher education sector. For its part, the learning technology community has been exploring the digital aspects of students’ experience, particularly through projects funded by Jisc.
IT Services has for a long time collected information about the digital experiences of incoming students through the survey conducted at the annual Freshers’ Fair. However, to investigate the experiences of students who are already here the department has largely relied on discrete projects, including Thema and the two DIGE projects. The most recent project, DIGE 2, has reinforced the importance of keeping up to date with Oxford students’ needs and preferences in learning with digital technologies on an ongoing basis. So, the Academic IT group is currently exploring ways to collect feedback on the systems and services provided by IT Services on an ongoing basis. We have commissioned an enthusiastic group from the The Student Consultancy to investigate enhancements to the feedback form for courses run by the ITLP. They have already interviewed key staff within IT Services and are currently preparing to engage stakeholders in the rest of the University.
We have also been contributing to a broader effort which is being spearheaded by Jisc: to develop a prototype service to support the collection and analysis of data on students’ experiences of, and satisfaction with, digital technologies in their studies in post-compulsory education. The intention is to make it easier for institutions to collect and analyse such such data, and to make comparisons both internally (eg in Oxford by division) and with aggregated, anonymised data from similar institutions. So far, staff from Academic IT have been involved in two workshops and two extended Skype interviews to discuss the emerging prototypes. You can read about the latest workshop, which was held on 4th November, on Jisc’s Digital Student blog.