Student-driven engagement via the digital campus

As part of a strategy to connect the University of Cumbria's campus environments together and deliver a truly digital offering to its students, it implemented Collabco’s myday digital campus

The University of Cumbria has 9,000 students based on five UK campuses. It is the only university to be set in national park – Ambleside in the Lake District – and also includes Carlisle, Lancaster and London in its locations. As part of a strategy to connect its campus environments together and deliver a truly digital offering to its students, it implemented Collabco’s myday digital campus in 2016 and called it the “Student Hub” – where students could find everything they needed at the swipe of a finger on their smartphone or tablet devices.

“In phase one of the rollout we delivered the basics to our students that meant they could enjoy a one-click single sign-on via the hub to all the university’s core systems including email, VLE, OneDrive, and all our Library resources,” explains Jed Carr, Information services, University of Cumbria.

“We eradicated the need to sign into every single system independently, delivering it all in one place and making students’ lives immeasurably easier almost overnight.

“However, once we’d implemented phase one, we wanted to find out what students really wanted to see from the Hub and put it to the test, so we decided to research their views via the hub itself and take onboard their feedback to deliver what they wanted.”

Phase 2

The university conducted a student survey in October 2017 to ask students what they would like to see in terms of resources they could access and services they felt they could make most use of in their daily lives via the new digital hub. It had a new and powerful student engagement tool at its disposal and it was keen to deliver everything it could to make campus life easier and more engaging for its millennial student population.

The survey was placed on a ‘tile’ within the student’s dashboard on the hub where it was easy to see and easy to complete. That yielded a greater than average response rate and delivered the outlines for what came next. In January 2018, the university began implementing the results.

“Some of the ideas were suggested by the university and ranked accordingly in terms of preference by students, but some ideas were requests directly from the student population,” explains Jed Carr.

“Campus maps for each of our locations were overwhelmingly requested by students – and we were able to deliver on that with a stored campus preference, so that once a student had chosen his/her preferred location, the hub would automatically default to that location. This was exceptionally powerful as it was the first time we were able to personalise the experience for each student.”

Beyond maps, the university prioritised and subsequently rolled out a newsroom ‘tile’ on the dashboard, a money app where balances and top-up links for catering establishments, print facilities and accommodation can be easily accessed, an ability to personalise and re-organise dashboards for students to subscribe to campuses and newsfeeds of interest, mobile notifications and a ‘topical’ tile which constantly changes to showcase new features to the hub.

“The hub became the go-to point for finding and delivering information to both students and staff – and we saw a significant increase in student engagement by delivering a much more personalised experience,” explains Jed Carr.

“We’ve had a lot of very positive feedback about myday (Student Hub) – students expect it to be simple to use – and that’s what it is.”

What’s next?

The university isn’t finished yet – January 2019 brings more updates.

“We’re adding to and updating the Hub – it’s a constantly evolving thing – and it’s being adopted by more departments and areas of the university too,” explains Jed Carr.

“There is a ‘My Well-being’ app that will be rolled out this year to support content for student care and support which means that students can reach out to those who look after their welfare more easily if they’re struggling with life in higher-education for any reason. This brings yet another new dimension to the hub – pastoral care of our students.”

Beyond that, the university will deliver a contacts directory of academic staff by course for students to use, an RSS of news and events from the university’s main website to save double keying and a linked in learning integration tool too.

“The Hub has been remarkably easy to implement – I’ve been implementing systems for over 30 years and its very quick and easy to do,” concludes Jed Carr.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised – you’d expect that a digital campus might take six to nine months to implement whereas six to nine weeks is much closer to the mark, and once it’s in, you can continue to customise it to suit your requirements.”

Discover more at www.myday.co.uk