The Higher Education arena is bursting with exciting digital products and platforms for teaching and learning. These can be used to great effect to enhance student learning and experience. But what if your need is so specialised that the web tool or app does not exit? Answer … build it yourself!
This talk will showcase a suite of small, bespoke web applications, developed “in-house” for Life Science students at the University of Liverpool, and signpost the skills and knowledge required for others to start designing and building their own applications. The talk is submitted under the “Wildcard” theme for the conference as it is felt that the work “does not relate directly to any of the conference themes”. However, the work does relate to the conference themes of “Student Data/Learning analytics” and “Learning Technology for a wider impact”.
Each of the apps discussed has a highly specialised, niche purpose – from increasing confidence and reducing anxiety in students studying maths, to helping students make module choices based on data from previous cohorts, to collecting “micro-feedback” from students on lectures and seminars at the point of delivery. The apps are currently being delivered to up to 400 students within Life Sciences, across 9 degree programmes, at University of Liverpool but it is demonstrated that the web apps are scalable to multiple cohorts of students at multiple institutions.
These apps provide a “frictionless” user experience with the aim of increasing student engagement. To achieve this, three design rules are consistently adopted:
1. Login-less: No registration or credentials are required for students to start using the apps.
2. Click minimal: The relationship between the probability of a student accessing a resource online is inversely proportional to the number of clicks they need to make to get to it. Care is taken at all times to minimise clicks and not to hinder already ‘disengaged’ students further .
3. Designed for mobile devices: Students are increasingly accessing learning resources via mobile devices . All apps are developed using a “mobile first” approach.
4. Gamification: Every opportunity is taken to use game-based learning strategies to increase and maintain student engagement .
 Maltby, S. and Mackie, S., “Virtual learning environments – help or hindrance for the ‘disengaged’ student?”, ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology. V.17 pp. 49-42, 2016
 Delcker. J., Honal, A. and Ifenthaler, D., “Mobile Device Usage in Higher Education”, Digital Technologies: Sustainable Innovations for Improving Teaching and Learning, Springer, pp.45-46, 2018
 Ebner, M. and Holzinger, A., “Successful implementation of user-centered game based learning in higher education: An example from civil engineering”, Computers and Education, V.49, pp. 873 -890.