Following on from 2 previous investigations into students’ expectations and experiences of technology in higher and further education, this project has adapted the same methodology, using learner profile forms to gain an overview of the technologies used by learners, along with cards to prompt discussion in learner focus groups about their expectations of learning providers. These focus groups have been universally well received, both by the learners and by the learning providers, who have found the methodology a useful way to better understand what their learners want, encouraging the active participation of students in setting and supporting institutions’ digital agendas.
The Skills sector is under-funded in terms of research but is also difficult to research because there is such a wide variety of learners. Ages range from 16 to 90+; they may be full-time or learning for just two hours per week; they may have good access to broadband and digital devices or none at all, either through poverty or through prison policy; digital skills can vary widely, according to age and other factors. Learning providers are also very disparate and often small, with limited ways of sharing experience and best practice. Yet the value of engaging with technology, whether for potentially isolated apprentices and elderly or for rehabilitating offenders, is very clear. These challenges and potential rewards have made the research all the more valuable and the aim of our presentation will be to share both our methodology and our findings.
In this session one of the researchers will explain the challenges and findings of the project. (10min)
Another researcher (who was also involved in the FE project) will explain the card sort exercise (5min) before delegates have a go at the exercise themselves. (20mins)
Learners and a learning provider will reflect on the value of the card sort exercise for them (5min) before opening this discussion for observations from delegates, including feedback via padlet. (10mins)
We will also hear from the manager of all 3 Digital Student projects (in HE, FE and Skills) to give an overview of this initiative to amplify the learner voice and to explain the student tracker project. (10 min)
Participants can access advice to progress this agenda in their institutions from the Digital Student online guide: Enhancing the student digital experience: a strategic approach (Jisc, 2015)
Jisc (2016) A Study of the Skills Sector’s learners’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment
Further Education Action Group (2014) Report. Available from http://feltag.org.uk
Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. (2014) Exploring themes to improve quality for students. Gloucester: QAA.
Jisc (2014) Digital student final consultation Report. Available fromhttp://digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org/wp/outcomes/