South Essex College
South Essex implements myday to simplify access to digital resources
It has long been recognised that if students are not fully engaged then it is highly unlikely that they will succeed. Consequently, engaging a student is a major challenge for all educators. Whilst this process may be easier to control once the student is actually in the classroom, how do you ensure their engagement outside? This problem was recently faced by one institution in the South East of England.
South Essex College is located over three main sites in Basildon, Southend-on-Sea and Grays in Essex. It provides courses for students of all ages, from 14- to 19-year-olds to undergraduates, adults and businesses. Founded in 1899 as an art school it became South East Essex College of Arts and Technology in 1991 and in 2004, relocated to a £52m campus in the centre of Southend. The college formally merged with Thurrock and Basildon College on 1 January 2010, and was renamed South Essex College.
Today, it has one of the largest HE provisions in a FE centre in the country, with around 1,300 students. Programmes are primarily validated by the University of Essex but the college also has some courses validated by the University of East London. It also offers services to business through its Business Development Team, and leads The NOVA Partnership for Apprenticeships and Skills, consisting of 13 education and training providers.
Provide everything via one screen
Like many academic institutions in the 21st Century, South Essex was keen to provide its learners with the best possible student experience as Rhys Hughes, Head of Learning services, explained. “We offer a lot of digital services that need to be accessed via a variety of applications. From our VLE, through email, to library resources all these services had to be accessed separately, which meant that our students had to go to a variety of dispersed sources and remember multiple user names and passwords.
“We wanted to simplify this and improve their experience by providing everything in one screen. Effectively a ‘one-stop-shop’ where everything applicable to them was immediately available when they signed in, once, in the morning.”
After reviewing the market to see what options were available, South Essex eventually chose myday from Collabco. “It was far and away the best option available,” said Rhys. “We were particularly impressed with Collabco’s friendly approach and their experience in working with institutions like ourselves. They also had direct knowledge of bringing our key data sets into myday from their work with other colleges, so this gave us confidence that there would be no problems in meeting our requirements.”
Developed by Collabco, myday allows universities, colleges and schools to combine the information students need on a daily basis and presents it via a highly intuitive and modern interface. Because it uses information from existing internal and external systems the platform can be customised and delivered relatively quickly compared to traditional consultancy-led approaches.
The project started in March 2014 with a design workshop to enable the South Essex team and Collabco’s consultants to fully understand and scope what would be required in the final build of myday. “They also gave us access to a beta version of myday,” said Rhys. “This allowed us to fully
explore the functionality of the product and also experiment with pulling data from our existing back end systems, like Oracle, into myday to see how things worked.”
This approach enabled the College and Collabco to very quickly design and build the system and in particular configure the connectors that would pull the data from the College’s original systems into the myday framework. As a result myday went live in September 2014 – a very short timescale for such a major project.
Perfect tool for improving the learning experience
With myday now having been in place for a number of months, South Essex has had the chance to take stock of the impact of the solution as Rhys outlined. “Learners now have access to everything via one easy to read screen. When they login in the morning they get an overview of everything that is important to them in their day. From telling them where and when they need to be for a lecture, through highlighting deadlines for work to be completed, to highlighting which library books are now available or due back – everything is there for them from our internal systems. It also brings in their email and other external services to provide the perfect tool for improving not only their learning experience but also their productivity and time planning.
“Working with Collabco was great,” concluded Rhys. “We could tell from the outset that they really understood the problems faced by academic institutions, like South Essex, and would help us achieve our goals. Throughout the project they were very responsive and their experience contributed greatly to our ideas to help us come up with the final design. Since then their support has been fantastic, which is important as I see myday being a vital part of the student’s experience at South Essex for many years to come.
“We are looking at a number of ideas to develop the use of myday further and believe that these can only enhance both the service we offer our students and their engagement with the entire learning process.”
Would you like to learn more about how myday can innovate your digital campus?