The student partners initiative launched this summer and the first five volunteers, drawn from both universities and further education colleges, are helping us to further understand the challenges faced by students and the ways in which technology and digital skills impact their experiences of education.
We are hoping to recruit a further ten student partners to offer insights into how digital fits into their learning, life and future career plans, and to help us communicate this effectively to universities, colleges and government. Student’s views and experiences will also feed into our future work to make sure that our vision for technology enhanced learning reflects the needs of learners.
The programme kicked off with a training session at our new London office where the student partners set out their motivations and hopes for the initiative:
Brad Forsyth from London is studying BA (Hons) digital film production at Ravensbourne University:
“I have seen first-hand how Jisc’s work inspires and makes a difference to young people’s studies by keeping the educational system ahead in a changing world, which is increasingly reliant on technology. Opportunities like this to be a voice for students is vital as not all learners feel they are listened to when asking for adjustments which are beneficial to them.
“In addition to discovering the inner workings of the education sector, I want to help spread the word of what this organisation does and put forward productive ideas; being part of what I consider a movement to guarantee learning is accessible for everyone, by providing the correct tools for the skills and needs of all students. I aspire to make changes happen that I feel are overdue and not considered to be a high priority by government and other decision makers.
“Aside from filmmaking, and starting up a photography business, I’m developing an app which will benefit students by narrowing down an occupation that is suited to their talents and abilities. I would like this to take off so that people end up in careers that satisfy them.”
Sam Jenkins from Somerset is studying history and the modern world at the University of Winchester:
“Becoming a student partner will enable students at my university through me to have a voice within the development of educational technology. The role will allow me to find out more about present and future digital opportunities for students, to see the behind-the-scenes work of developing these opportunities in action, and to feed this knowledge back to students and university leaders in Winchester.
“Faculty research at my university indicates that employers see digital capabilities as crucial to the day-to-day operations of their organisation, even alongside non-digital competencies like teamwork and empathy. As a student partner, I look forward to seeing Jisc develop new tools and services which gives opportunities for all students to develop relevant digital capabilities, improving the transferable skills which they take into the world of work.”
Jake Forecast from Essex is studying BA (Hons) primary education with qualified teaching status at Canterbury Christ Church University:
“I wanted to join this scheme, as I have worked alongside Jisc at various events while I was a Digital Voice Xpert at Epping Forest College and this has inspired me to progress my digital skills further. Not only will being a student partner help me gain knowledge and skills in technology, it will link back to the necessities of my study programme and my career path as a primary school teacher.
“I want to ensure we find ways that allow all students in further and higher education to have access to technology throughout their studies, to promote inclusion. Whist working in the early years and primary education sectors, I have found that we sometimes struggle to help support children with additional needs.
“Taking on this role, I will help to inspire more students to be digitally enabled in society and to improve their education through technology.”
Sarah Davies, our head of higher education and student experience, said:
“Jisc has been working to support universities and colleges with student engagement in the digital experience for many years, but it’s critical we initiate our own student partners scheme to ensure we can innovate with their views in mind. I’m looking forward to collaborating with them to help shape the development of our future services so we can transform the student experience and help deliver student success.”
Students will be involved in a range of activities under the programme, including joining a panel discussion at our events and contributing to research and development.
This programme builds on the work we have led on the change agents’ network, which enables staff and students to work together to improve the curriculum.