Digital support for students

Jisc, the charity providing digital solutions for UK education will be offering further development support to two student digital projects

Students from the University of Southampton and Sussex Downs College who took part in Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation will each receive additional expert support and funding to continue developing their concepts over the next 12 months. Both of the projects are designed to improve the experiences of learners, colleges and universities through digital technologies.

The decision was announced during the Summer of Student Innovation showcase at theUniversity of Reading on Wednesday 26 November, which featured the 20 winning teams from the 2014 cohort.

Paul Bailey, senior co-design manager at Jisc said: “We are committed to supporting ideas that have the potential to make a tangible difference to learners and teachers by enhancing their experiences of academic life, such as these do.

“The two projects we are taking forward demonstrate some of the fresh and innovative thinking coming from students in the UK. We have been hugely impressed, not only by the initial ideas that were first brought to us, but also as they have evolved to become fully-fledged, workable solutions.”

In the first project the focus is on enhancing qualitative experiences between staff and students. Called Unitu, it is led by Ignacio Willats, who graduated from the University of Southampton this year, and aims to provide a system that can be integrated with any university structure to help them manage the feedback process and close the feedback loop. Staff, course representatives and students can all access a central issues board, where issues can be raised and resolved in a transparent and streamlined way.

Lingoflow, the second project, is designed by brothers Lukas and Kamil Ondrej from Sussex Downs College. Their app is intended to help learners master foreign languages by letting them create collections of vocabulary. It will send the user reminders to review certain items, score their recollection, and encourage repetition of the less well-known ones.

Projects of this nature really do make a difference, as seen with Call For Participants. It was one of the ideas to be put forward through the first run of Summer of Student Innovation in 2013, and has become the world’s largest open platform where researchers can promote their studies and connect with participants for free.

Matt Terrell, chief communications officer and one of the co-founders of Call For Participants, commented: “Through the backing we’ve received from Jisc we have been able to develop our offer at a much quicker rate, and with the input of mentors with proven expertise in the sector, than would otherwise have been possible. The support has meant we were able to launch an improved website at the end of the summer, and are now free to concentrate on growing uptake of the service among colleges and universities.

“Summer of Student Innovation is a unique opportunity for learners to see a major project through from the ground up. Colleges and universities can also benefit, by getting an internal, needs-led perspective of what students want, and the option to trial new technological developments coming from within their own institution.”

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