Digital student data – follow up from the pilot workshop

Sarah Knight has already posted about the recent pilot workshop in London where we tested out drafts of the digital student survey questions and ideas about what different stakeholders could do with the results. Students, Heads of Student Experience, Heads of IT services and e-learning specialists from over 20 institutions were represented so we felt we were able to get a really comprehensive overview.

Helen at workshopTabetha Newman and I put forward a long list of questions that we had already built from the outcomes of the digital student work and consultation process to date. We took participants through an exercise in considering which questions were most important to institutions, and which to students themselves. As a result of this exercise we have produced a radically reduced list of questions, focusing on:

  • ease of completion for students, recognising there is survey fatigue (though as students said, ‘we’ll complete anything if we know something will be done with the results’!)
  • actionable issues to which institutions can respond quickly
  • concerns shared by students and institutions, such as ease of use of institutional systems and use of own devices
  • questions of a style somewhat similar to the UKES (UK Student Experience Survey) to explore qualities of experience, including in the digital curriculum

Some of the questions we have included will be of interest to IT and e-learning managers, some to curriculum teams, some to heads of student experience, and all (we hope) to students themselves.

We have also helped to focus the whole project more clearly around three goals that we have identified are primary for institutions.

  • Have better conversations with students about their digital experience
  • Show students we care about their digital experience and will take action to improve it
  • Get reliable evidence from students to influence the direction of digital development

In addition to the survey itself, available via BOS, we have recognised that institutions will need:

  • Guidance on implementing the survey and making sense of the data in BOS
  • BOS itself for those institutions that do not already have a license
  • Advice about using the survey process and results to support conversations with – and effective responses to – students about their digital experience
  • Prompts for key stakeholders related to specific groups of questions, to support interpretation and action on the results
  • Links to resources and case studies here on the Digital Student blog

The project is undergoing an internal review by Jisc staff. If there is enough evidence of need from the sector we will then pilot a beta version with institutions to identify how useful they find it. Options for the future might include customisation of certain questions, choice of additional or locally-authored questions, and the capacity for Jisc to build sector research services on top of the sectoral data this will generate.

We went into this workshop still unsure whether there was a need for this service alongside all the other data that institutions already collect from their students. We came away with a real buzz, convinced that there is excitement among students about this project, and a genuine appetite from institutions to get involved.

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