From January 2018, the JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker survey will once again be available for Level 4 students.

The survey is designed to help education providers understand more about their students’ experiences of the digital learning environment.

It aims to allow institutions to:

  • Gather evidence from learners about their digital experience, and track changes over time.
  • Make better informed decisions about the digital environment.
  • Target resources for improving digital provision.
  • Plan other research, data gathering and student engagement around digital issues.
  • Demonstrate quality enhancement and student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves.

This will be the third time Portsmouth has implemented the survey, and the Tracker has grown since it was first introduced in 2016. Portsmouth was one of only 12 HE institutions chosen to deliver the first iteration of the survey. In 2017, 74 UK colleges and universities ran the Tracker and some international institutions were involved as well. This year, 160 institutions have confirmed that they intend to run the Tracker. There is now a thriving community of people who are committed to understanding the digital experience of learners – and empowering them to work for change.  

The results of the Portsmouth surveys are available elsewhere, but here it might be worth looking briefly at some of the overall findings of the 2017 Tracker. These findings represent the voice of over 22,000 UK learners.

  • Students are generally positive about the use of digital technology in their learning.
  • Some education providers have problems with the basics – such as ensuring decent on-campus wifi provision. (One of the great things about the Tracker is that it allows institutions to track changes over time. In 2016, UoP students were highly critical about wifi access on campus. In 2017, following significant investment in infrastructure, students were much more satisfied with wifi.)
  • Students are likely to own portable digital devices (laptops, smartphones etc) but also to use institutional devices (typically desktops). This highlights the need for content to work on all sizes of screen.
  • Technology is more commonly used for convenience than to support more effective pedagogy. (What can we do to improve the situation? Thoughts welcome!)
  • 80% of HE students feel that digital skills will be important in their chosen career – but only 50% agree that their course prepares them well for the digital workplace. (Again, this finding raises the question: what can we be doing to improve matters?)

The more students complete the survey, the more confidence we can have that the results are robust. So if you have dealings with Level 4 students – please do encourage them to complete the Tracker!