Arden University offers access to degrees, master’s and MBA programmes via online distance learning or flexible blended learning study modes. This flexibility attracts students of all ages, from 18 to 80 years old, who are supported both at study centres (in Birmingham, Manchester or London) and online. With a philosophy of taking ownership and working to create a nurturing environment for all stakeholders, listening to students is an important component of the institutions planning and development.
As a private sector University operating a primarily distance learning institution Arden was struggling to gain a clear oversight of the student experience amongst it’s students body. A challenge with any course, which is felt even more strongly by distance learning providers, is the need to obtain continuous feedback from students and student leaders. Arden believe that student feedback is vital as part of a strategy to support students to be successful.
In addition, staff and student leaders have not had an easy way to engage with their peers and the entire study body. They would rely on course leaders or surveys that would provide pockets of information at specific moment in time.
Unitu is an effective solution for improving student and staff engagement in the feedback process for both on-campus students and for distance learners.
For Arden we have been able to provide a solution which has engaged student leaders and staff through an easy, accessible and streamlined platform which interacts with other systems used by students. It is at least as important for distance learners as those on-campus to see staff addressing concerns and issues quickly.
WHAT DO ARDEN UNIVERSITY STUDENTS THINK OF UNITU?
Unitu has produced some really interesting results for Arden University in three areas. Of particular interest is the extent to which feedback through Unitu has focussed on actions that improve online course content such as additional information, links to useful websites and tidying up content where there has been a potential lack of clarity.
These developments improve not just the student experience but also help to enhance student attainment and reduce the risk of the retention issues often associated with distance learning courses where students struggle with a lack of support and guidance.
Student reps have also noticed a dramatic increase in student engagement within the private area of the feedback board, where students can discuss issues and concerns as a cohort group. Students’ experience of the platform has been very positive. Feedback suggests that they feel much more like a community – something which is really important with distance learning courses.
As well as positive feedback from students, staff have been equally complimentary. Unitu has enabled course leaders and online tutors to gain valuable feedback and representative data on students’ opinions and concerns much more quickly than with previous methods.