In reviewing the data from two major Tracker pilots, and other work done by the Digital Student projects, we have developed a deeper understanding of the elements of the student digital experience.
We know that it centres on the course of study. Confident teaching staff, relevant learning activities, and up-to-date digital systems all contribute to learners’ sense that they are developing sound digital skills for the future. Students who have a regular experience of digital technology in their learning are more likely to say they benefit from it.
We know that important elements of the digital experience also happen beyond the curriculum. Student-facing services can have a profound influence – particularly library and IT services, but also learning support, accessibility, careers and outreach. Students gain digital confidence from work experience and from informally sharing their skills. Just having the freedom to experiment and explore is valuable.
For those explorations to be productive, learners need a sound digital infrastructure and support for using their own devices. Also they need to feel that their digital practices are valuable and worth investing time to develop. They need opportunities to talk about their digital practices and ideally to engage with staff in changing the conditions of their digital learning.
We have collected plenty of case study evidence that these issues matter, and that using the Tracker can help organisations to understand them better. But we still need to know how organisations succeed in building student digital confidence and satisfaction. In times of financial constraint, where should precious resources be invested? Where should digital champions direct their attention?
To address this challenge, the 2017-18 Tracker survey will ask more direct questions about student satisfaction. We are also, as reported in our last blog post, gathering data at the organisational level to give context to the findings from the Tracker. This is where you can help. What factors have you found to make a difference? What drivers of the student digital experience do you think we should assess?
We have already approached our most experienced pilot institutions with these questions. Now we are asking you to join in. Follow this link to a short survey that asks for your views. The second sign-up form for this year’s Tracker will be released in mid-September, so there are just a couple of weeks to influence the data we ask for. Thank you for your insights and experiences, and for any input you can give.