Lammy calls for technology to enhance student experience
[JISC Press Release]
Senior MPs for higher education called last night for better use of technology to enhance the student experience in a pre-election debate at the Royal Geographical Society.
David Lammy, the minister of state for higher education and intellectual property, David Willetts, Conservative shadow universities secretary, and Stephen Williams, their Liberal Democrat counterpart, all identified the student experience as a major factor in the competitiveness of UK higher education in the 21st century in the THE-hosted event.
Lammy said, “Students are all on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, i-Phones and i-Pads for their social life and their university experience is still divorced from that […] Universities have to be advancing technology.”
Their answers addressed the motion ‘Teaching and research in UK universities are among the best in the world. How will the next government maintain our leading edge?’
Lammy commented, “At Microsoft in Seattle I asked which university in the world is the best university at using technology for the benefit of the student experience. Microsoft said: ‘There isn’t one.’ There are certainly faculties that are good, but that has not yet really taken place right across the university and student experience.”
JISC Executive secretary Dr Malcolm Read says, “Technology is not meant to replace face-to-face time between students or with their tutors. Where it can really add value to that experience is by providing exciting learning and assessment opportunities, innovative ways of finding out about a new town or campus, or a different way of building the community of students. As universities strive to stay ahead of trends in what students want, JISC acts as a test bed for this digital innovation and provides best practice examples for institutions looking to make better use of technology.”
The MPs also discussed cloud computing and administration services as other ways in which universities could look to improve their offer through the use of digital technologies, two areas that JISC is currently investing in.
Stephen Williams said, “Students are entitled to be well-informed so we want to open up every single item of information and make far more imaginative use of the net. We need more models which enable prospective students to access current students.”
JISC’s student retention and motivation work is prioritising this induction process – for example through TAG, a project that aims to explore the impact of a dynamic, interactive, web based platform where potential students can interact with the universities to which they are applying and develop realistic expectations of HE will have on retention.
David Willetts concluded, “There are finance pressures out there but the main thing is to make sure that the student experience and access to student loans remains unharmed.”