Students can influence the future of education

To help universities get it right, it feels right that students should have a say in decisions about how their education is delivered, now and into the future.

For some years Jisc has been guiding members on methods to involve students in decisions about technology. More recently, colleges and universities have been able to better understand what students want, need and expect from technology through the creation of our digital experience insights survey, which last year gathered responses from more than 37,000 UK students.

Since Jisc exists to serve the education and research sector, we work with universities and colleges to develop a portfolio of services in response to their needs. We are also interested in the opinions and contributions of students and, for the past couple of years, we have formally involved students in our decision-making process.

Get fresh

As students graduate, or move out of education, we need to recruit a fresh cohort to our popular Student Partners programme – and we’ve just made another shout-out for more undergraduates, postgraduates and researchers.

As we navigate through the fourth industrial revolution – or Industry 4.0 – where emerging technology like AI and robotics are increasingly influential, the education sector must keep pace. But how? Education 4.0 is already here, but which technologies will be most helpful to tomorrow’s students, educators and researchers? How do students like to use technology in their learning, and which devices are most popular? So many questions!

The student opinion is vital here and many education providers and students’ unions are well aware of the influence learners can have on the digital priorities of their university. For example, while I was an education officer at De Montfort Students’ Union I worked with Jisc on a project called Changing the learning landscape, which supported HEIs to make strategic change to benefit the student experience. Over two years, Jisc supported 149 universities to think differently about learning enhanced by technology, and student engagement in digital transformation.

So what’s in it for the students?

The programme is more than just a focus group; we want students to get stuck in, guiding our strategic direction by giving their opinions about their experience, and helping us with communications work, including talking to the media. Partners will also contribute to sessions at our key events, including our edtech showcase, Digifest, a series of regional events called Connect more and the Change agents’ network (CAN) which is focused on staff-student collaboration.

Student Partners will be allocated a Jisc mentor and as well as contributing to research and development activities, students could shadow Jisc staff for a day in an area that particularly interests them, networking or software development, for example. This kind of experience will look good on a CV, too.

Don’t just take my word for it. Sam Jenkins, a Jisc student partner 2018/19, said:

Being a student partner has helped me to connect with other like-minded individuals across the country, who are interested in bettering the student experience. I have learned a great deal about the development of edtech within higher education while having the opportunity to feed to student voice in policy making.”

Students who want to get involved should contact studentpartners@jisc.ac.uk

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