Between compliance and the desire to create a more positive, inclusive campus culture, there are a wealth of reasons why training courses are necessary for Higher Education (HE). How that information is relayed to students is just as important as relaying it in the first place. Student engagement depends on such training being interesting, relevant and easy to consume.
Professor Phil Vickerman, Pro Vice-Chancellor (PVC) for Student Experience at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), sat down with Chris Mansfield, Co-founder of GoodCourse, to speak about the critical components that make up Student Experience, and how his experience with GoodCourse contributed to rolling out effective training.
I’m the PVC for Student Experience at LJMU and a professor in Inclusive Education and Learning. The university is a large, modern civic university with over 28,000 students from over 100 different countries internationally.
Student experience is critical — one of our university values is to be student-focused; we put students at the heart of everything we do, looking to co-design and co-create the student experience alongside them. For me, there are three critical factors for enriching the student experience. First, academic delivery, including what happens in the curriculum; acknowledging the fact that many students come here because of their love and passion for a specific subject or vocational qualification. Second is student support and guidance, which is everything outside the curriculum, from professional services, advice, well-being and library services; these also play a pivotal role in the curriculum. Lastly is social engagement and experience; the importance of supporting and developing our students’ opportunities, particularly with the Students’ Union, our societies, and creating a sense of belonging and connectivity.
We have a large programme of Degree Apprenticeships ranging from professional programmes on policing, nursing, and engineering, to business and entrepreneurship. What we are finding is that there are more and more students who want to work for a degree but be closer to the world of work and a particular employer. The model varies here, but our programme primarily involves students coming to university for one day a week and spending the rest of the week with their employer. That in itself creates opportunities and challenges in terms of supporting the student experience.
The issue was that while delivering training, it was hard to see which students had engaged
Around eighteen months ago, we had an Ofsted inspection of our programme which was positive overall, but one of the things that came up was around safeguarding training and awareness, including Prevent. The issue was that while delivering training, it was hard to see which students had engaged with it and we lacked feedback where we could immediately intervene and support them where needed.
When we started working with GoodCourse, we spoke about safeguarding to start with, but through the conversations we had, we started to talk about Prevent and British Values, both of which are Ofsted requirements.
What I liked about working with GoodCourse was the opportunity to develop creative content. You can always do long lectures on these topics, but is this the best learning opportunity for students?
We wanted to know what we could do to engage students with bite-sized, meaningful pieces of information; tracking and confirming that students have been through the process.
It also becomes hard to actually track whether or not students are engaging with it. Looking creatively, we wanted to know what we could do to engage students with bite-sized, meaningful pieces of information; tracking and confirming that students have been through the process. Importantly, it's not just about doing a tick box exercise, but giving them referral points to more important information should students want that.
What I liked about GoodCourse was the ability to co-create a module so our teams could work together and come up with something that really does enrich the program. We could then look at the takeup on the course, letting us know that the engagement was really good, as well as following up with nudges to see whether or not students had completed it.
We decided to pilot the GoodCourse modules with our Degree Apprenticeship Programme, not just because Ofsted had raised it, but also because we wanted to find a different model for learning and teaching. GoodCourse meant that students could access them [modules] from any place at any time, right from their phone. It's more convenient than bringing people to a particular space or even jumping on a video call. It really challenged our thinking of the traditional methods.
It's more convenient than bringing people to a particular space or even jumping on a video call.
Some traditional models can be very dry. It’s, of course, important that students receive important information, but it's about providing that information in different ways. One thing you can pretty much guarantee is that all students have a mobile device, so they can receive reminders straight to their phone and do the course there too.
The Degree Apprenticeship Programme was a pilot so that we could get a feel for the GoodCourse content, and we loved that we were able to access the courses on our mobiles immediately before rolling them out. Now, we are looking into where we can potentially implement it elsewhere. We have developed confidence in the product and have established excellent partnership work.
We’re going to be looking at the Office for Students, Prevent Conditions of Registration, alongside seeing new conditions on sexual harassment from September.
We’re going to be looking at the Office for Students, Prevent Conditions of Registration, alongside seeing new conditions on sexual harassment from September. We are also looking into new and dynamic ways that students can give feedback and ask questions about what they learn.
We want to target support to a large number of students at any one time through these modules; the opportunity GoodCourse provides is an effective way of doing that, and I see no reason why it wouldn't work with other student groups in the same way. Especially since student feedback on the course has been very positive.