The JISC funded Support for All project at North Glasgow College has been trying to improve access to learner support, both on and off-campus. This project is based at an FE (Further Education) College, which tends to face different issues fro those faced by HE (Higher Education) colleagues.
The project team team has tried to formalise the thought processes and relationships regarding provision of support and identified a number of challenges, including:
- developments in the real-world can get ahead of institutional strategy; e.g. there are issues around allowing the College to use Facebook
- the lack of strategy around the introduction of new technologies, such as iPads
- changes in personnel can affect any improvements being made.
The project team established several new approaches to improve access to student support, including:
- a structured and auditable “pipeline of support” through which learners can move; the ten steps in this process can be used as a checklist for performance evaluation of the support offered
- a Blackboard mobile app was implemented, alongside access to iPads, in order to extend access to support. This not only gives students access to learning content but also allows the learner to submit medical self-certification forms electronically
- these improvements should lead to increased student confidence, performance and retention.
When tackling improvements at a time when resources are scarce, it can be helpful to:
- give staff responsible for delivering a service the chance to take ownership of any activities leading to process improvement
- encourage staff to complete bite-sized activities so that they are not taken away from day-to-day operations, as this may reduce resentment to any new methods of working
- make small improvements, even if resources are scarce. For example, whilst social media services, such as Facebook, were seen as positive ways to interact with support services by students, staff resources weren’t available at the College to manage this. The project team addressed this issue by designing postcards with QR codes, so that students can get immediate access via their smartphone to the support team’s e-mail.
If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help:
- Blog: Shared Student Retention Blog: North Glasgow College
- Project Website: Support for All Website
- Case Study: Support For All (PDF format, 1.84Mb)
- Video: Support For All