With the growth in Online Distance Learning, the integration of learning technology into everyday teaching practice, and the widespread use of Virtual Learning Environments, there is a pressing need for institutions and the sector to consider how to place the student voice and the student experience at the centre of this transition to new pedagogies and technologies.
sparqs is active in a number of initiatives across the sector to bring through the learner voice within learning technology and e-learning and assessment. We sit on working groups hosted by the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) such as the Colleges E-Assessment Group, and are represented on the Advisory Board of the Jisc Change Agents' Network. Our role in these groups is to make sure the student voice is at the centre in debates around quality and engagement in learning technology and e-assessment. It also allows us to share best practice across the sector after learning from practitioners working in individual institutions.
This has allowed us to highlight the work of Forth Valley College leading the way on Student First Responders, and student engagement in the development and design of e-portfolios. In March 2016 we contributed to a conference on e-learning in Ireland at E-Portfolios in Ireland: What now? Where next?, where we delivered a presentation and a workshop. You can view the slides from the presentation as well as a recording of the session, alongside all the other materials from the conference. Our unique position working across the sector allows us to highlight best practice and showcase it in new contexts.
Furthermore, we have designed and conducted focus groups examining what students prioritise in e-portfolios. Recognising that students in different courses prioritise different features in their e-portfolios, we have worked to develop a resource enabling institutions to go out and sample student opinion on this. By asking students to rank features in preference order we help institutions to understand whether their students value flexibility or formality, customisability or ease of use, and what additional features they would like incorporated into their e-portfolio.
We are also developing a series of resource packs aimed at giving students’ associations the tools to start discussions around key areas of their learning experience. As it relates to learning technology and e-assessment, we are developing a set of materials bringing together the literature on student engagement in this field, as well as a set of tools we are developing ourselves, along with resources produced by sector agencies such as Jisc.
By enabling students’ associations to engage with academics and sector agencies on discussions around e-learning and technology we can build on partnership in this area and continue to showcase the work going on to develop student engagement within existing structures.
For further information on this work area contact David Scott.