This session will provide the audience with an overview of the university’s effort to create a “sticky campus” by developing new learning spaces and embracing digital technologies that enhance students’ learning and engagement. There will be particular reference to ongoing efforts to improve digital capability across campus to support this strategic initiative.
We have chosen to submit under the ‘Wildcard Theme’ although it may relate partly to the Participation through Learning Technology.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The university has transformed its approach to teaching and learning since 2013, through whole institutional curriculum, overhauling assessment and feedback policy and practices, piloting new technologies to enhance student learning and investing in the necessary staff development to realise our strategic goals. The has led to significant rises in student satisfaction across all scales (for assessment and feedback we achieved the second highest NSS scores for a Scottish University in 2017 (75.6%) and a rise in the proportion of students graduating with good degrees but we still face challenges around retention and graduate-level employment.
Since 2016, we have been investing significantly in piloting new learning spaces, improving our IT infrastructure and trialling new learning technologies to enhance our students’ experience, sense of belonging and, frankly, to provide them with more reason to come on campus than their official face to face contact time. In other words, we are trying to create a “sticky campus”; somewhere students will want to come and stay, to enhance their sense of belonging, being part of a learning community with their peers and staff, thus leading to better student outcomes in terms of progression and attainment.
Key supporting activities behind this pilot have included the development of a number of learning resources, online courses and training workshops to assist staff and students use the new spaces and technologies; as well as classroom assistance and on-going functional evaluation of AV & IT systems to improve workflow and user experience. We have participated in the Jisc Student Digital Experience Tracker in 2018 to provide a baseline to evaluate our digital environment going forward and discover that works well and what needs to be improved. We received over 340 responses and our students are closely involved in the data analysis. At the time of writing, we are are also piloting the accompanying Staff Digital Tracker (survey open in June).
Finally, we are undertaking post occupancy reviews of our new learning spaces (including classrooms and science labs) to inform further campus development. An example of the impact of our new learning spaces is the increase in academic staff using the experimental high tech “Collaborative Learning Suite” with their students rising from 13 volunteer pilot users in October 2016 to 49 staff in spring 2018 (25% of academic staff at Abertay).
In conclusion, the trialling of new learning spaces is having a positive impact on our students’ learning experience. These spaces are opening up the potential for new, innovative ways of delivering teaching and enhancing our students’ digital literacy which is increasingly important for today’s graduate employment market. Improving space utilisation in all teaching spaces (usage and occupancy levels), maximising the potential of new technologies and extending the number of staff confident incorporating such technologies in their practice are all ongoing challenges. Enhanced timetabling, continued staff support, development and sharing of good practice, including learning from other institutions are all key going forward.
Jisc 2015 Learning Spaces. Available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/full-guide/learning-spaces (Accessed: 23 March 2018).
A.D.Robertson, ‘Active Learning Design at Abertay University’, in Creating the Digital Campus: Active Learning Spaces and Technology (2017). Edited by D. Peberdy. eBook ISBN- 978-0-9927903-1-8, print version ISBN- 978-0-9927903-2-5.
A.D.Robertson, ‘The Sticky Campus; improving our students’ sense of belonging through active learning, coffee and cake!’, Efficiency Exchange, January 2018.
A.D.Robertson, ‘Taking our learning and teaching strategy to the next level through technology enhanced campus development’, Proceedings of 11th International Technology, Education and Development Conference (INTED), Valencia, Spain, March 2017, 1674-1681, ISBN: 978-84-617-8491-2.
Resources for participants
N/A at the moment.