Alumni Engagement: Using PDP at University of Kent

Photo of graduates wearing mortar boards and gownsPDP (Personal Development Planning) is generally done whilst a student is still studying. The EAT-PDP (Engaging Alumni Through Personal Development Planning) project at the University Kent looked at the benefits of extending access to their PDP software (Mahara) to alumni.

Challenges

The aim of the project was to extend access to Myfolio (based on the Mahara software) to alumni for at least a year. It also developed a Student Catalogue which will help prospective employers search the University’s alumni (with their permission). Some of the challenges include:

  • the difficulty in ascertaining the impact on data storage and server usage; for example although not all students are active on MyFolio, and only 25% of users are in their final year, uptake may increase as users start to see the benefits
  • data protection issues
  • providing access to a University branded platform once a student has graduated could damage the institution’s reputation, i.e. it is harder to sanction alumni than current students.

Benefits

The University wanted to offer practical assistance to the ongoing development of its graduates, particularly those who wanted to continue to record and reflect on their acheivements. Providing access to a PDP service after a student has graduated can:

  • help the institution’s reputation by improving the employability of graduates
  • provide alumni with a competitive edge in a difficult employment market
  • extend the relationship between the institution and the alumni to mutual benefit, e.g. by helping a graduate find employment, who could then mentor current students.

Recommendations

Prior to the EAT-PDP project, alumni were offered little formal guidance. However, when allowing alumni to use an instititutional platform:

  • give the user full control and ownership, e.g. by providing the ability to privately record self-reflection or publicly publishing profiles for potential employers to view
  • put procedures in place around the data archiving and deletion, especially if it’s no longer possible to contact the creator of the data
  • ensure that terms and conditions of service take alumni into account, especially if access to data is only available for a short time after graduation.

Further Information

If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help:

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