Digital students, case studies, fairy tales and lumps of wood

I’ve spent a bit of time this morning looking at the newly published institutional exemplars from the Jisc Digital Student programme which is investigating “students expectations of the digital environment”.  Based on findings from a study commissioned in 2013, the programme has run a number of consultation events ( I’m really glad that GCU were able to host one of them last year ) and has identified a number of key challenges:

The exemplars now provide tangible examples of how institutions are tackling these challenges. They are very short but give a good overview of a range of approaches being taken across the sector.

The programme had an initial focus on HE but is now extending its work into FE. I am sure there is huge potential for sharing of experiences across the sectors.  Here at GCU we have a particular interest ensuring that our articulating students from FE have as smooth a transition (both in terms of the physical and digital environment) as possible into HE. You can see more about our approach in our College Connect strategy.

I sometimes think it is bizarre that we need to have programmes, sectoral themes, projects specifically aimed at “student engagement”. Surely engaging students is what education (at any level/sector)  is fundamentally about. However as we all know, those pesky students can get in the way of our neatly planned programmes, modules, exams.  Reading this gently powerful fairy tale from Graeme Arnott earlier this week also reinforced to me that in our fight against the “education is broken” meme, we can’t blame everything on evil technology companies – our own stereotypes and attitudes are just as dangerous.  I think that ensure we listen and act on what our students want from their digital environment can help us avoid more digital blocks of wood aimlessly wandering around our educational forests.