How do we get past the daily confusion of opinion and anecdote to reach a clear vision and create a catalyst for change?
Immersion in the student experience
In 2015, ELICOS (English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students) conducted a unique project to understand how our students wanted to engage with technology now and into the near future (2-3 years ahead). The project aimed to generate a series of aspirational ‘vision statements’. Amongst other goals, these statements were intended to:
- Provide a better understanding of student needs and aspirations for the use of technology in their education experience with Navitas;
- Promote transparency, agreement and consistency of vision for the use of technology across ELICOS;
- Shape advice and guidance for teachers, academic leaders and providers of technology services who work with ELICOS.
An iterative process was designed which drew on our own quantitative Student Technology Survey findings and employed a range of qualitative research approaches such as in-depth interviews, observations and on-the-spot interviews. Four months later, and following extensive analysis of our notes, photos, instant messages and video recordings, we worked with key stakeholders in ELICOS to generate seven vision statements as illustrated in the visual below:
The statements were underpinned by some consistent themes we found throughout the research, indicating a seamless, technology-mediated learning experience where:
- Technology is personalised and just-in-time
- ELICOS is technology- and device-agnostic
- Communications have a single look and feel
- There is one central online space
- Students feel confident, safe and part of a community
Eye to the future
The vision statements and themes present a picture of the ways in which ELICOS students would like to experience technology within the ELICOS teaching and learning context. Future projects can draw on these with a number of potential impacts, including better communication between centres and students; more streamlined administrative processes; professional development initiatives for teachers and most importantly, more flexible and engaging learning experiences for students, both inside and outside the classroom.