Together with our Flexible Learning Student Partners, we held 30 workshops over the past months to look at how we can make the move to blended and flexible learning a success for all our students and staff. The themes we focussed on were accessibility; assessment; technology; training and skills; space on campus and innovation. Below, the Flexible Learning Student Partners share their experiences.
Anish – supported the ‘assessment’ theme
I really enjoyed my experience as a Flexible Learning Student Partner. I am proud of how much valuable feedback we gathered from students and staff to develop the future Flexible Learning strategy. I helped to facilitate discussions during workshops – in total, we collected around 4000 comments from over 650 workshops participants.
For assessment, the main themes that stood out were to ensure that assessments are relevant, fit-for-purpose, inclusive and flexible. Similarly, we established the importance of personalised and high-quality feedback, as well as the need for adequate assessment support, for example through DASS and Mitigating Circumstances.
Once we’ve finished analysing all the workshop feedback, we look forward to sharing the outputs and offering more opportunities for students to feed in on the draft strategy.
Aisha – supported the ‘space on campus’ theme
My experience as a Student Partner has been really positive. I learnt a lot about the importance of giving students the option to learn more flexibly, while also gaining experience in leading and facilitating workshops.
My role was to collect feedback about how our campus should change to accommodate more blended and flexible learning. We found that both staff and students want more spaces where they can try new technology, collaborate on projects and create digital content. The Flexible Learning team will be setting up a space for this and will let staff and students know more very soon.
Caitlin – supported the ‘technology’ theme
Through my work as a Student Partner, I was able to develop my leadership skills as well as my confidence, through facilitating workshops. My theme was technology, and it was very interesting to see that both staff and students shared the same frustrations with how outdated some of the technology is. It was incredibly rewarding to see staff and students work together to come up with solutions to the challenges they face. Following this work, my view on Flexible Learning has changed, and it has become clear that it aims to enhance learning at the University, not to ‘move it online’.
Louis – supported the ‘accessibility’ theme
Through my work as a Student Partner, I learned that Flexible Learning looks at lots of diverse issues and is about making learning more inclusive and successful for everyone involved. It should be centred around what students need and want from the University, but staff input is crucial. That is why it was great to see students and staff collaborating in the workshops. From making learning more accessible by ensuring this is built into the design of courses and materials from the start, to giving students and staff better ways to communicate with each other, there is so much important feedback that the Flexible Learning team will take forward.
Rebeca – supported the ‘training and skills’ theme
I really enjoyed working with staff and students and listening to students’ opinions and ideas on blended learning. The biggest priority in the training and skills theme was to explore how students and staff can be supported in gaining the skills they need to make blended and flexible learning successful.
As part of this, the Flexible Learning team has already rolled out the Jisc Discovery tool to support students in developing their digital skills.
Hayley – supported the ‘innovation’ theme
I gained lots of valuable knowledge of the things that matter to students as we move to more blended and flexible learning. Ease of access is really important, whether that’s IT systems and digital learning tools, the ability to take interdisciplinary add-on courses, or communication with staff. Given the restrictions we’ve had over the past few years, many students thought that Flexible Learning is about a switch to online, however, the workshops have really broadened my view. The University truly wants to make teaching and learning more accessible – from in-person classes to virtual classrooms and new technology.
We will share the full workshop outputs with you on Student News soon. There will also be further opportunities for you to feed in on the direction of travel for the Flexible Learning strategy – watch this space.
If you are interested in becoming a student partner to feed in your ideas and contribute towards projects that will improve the Student Experience and Teaching and Learning across the University, you can find more information on the Student Partners Programme pages. These are paid roles that students can take part in alongside their studies.