It’s time for change.

It’s election week on campus and, as is true with the population as a whole, there is no better time to assess the mood of the campus and to take encouragement and inspiration from the candidates manifestos and the associated votes. Mixed in among the innuendo, stunts and bombardment with flyers that make up this week, there are the policies themselves which form the campaigns and the future direction of the University. This blog post is a look at the proposals which relate to our project – and in the interest of impartiality they have been anonymised from the original source:

Better use of technology actually takes up a decent chunk of the manifestos when you consider the wide range of topics that need to be covered in these elections – and this was not limited to any single role. There are repeated promises of increasing the use of social networking and improving both the style and use of websites, wanting up-to-date information, events calendars and discussion forums. Clearly we have students who are using technologies in their everyday life and wanting to integrate this further into their education. New ways of communicating with students is a popular theme, with candidates calling for the more effective use of emails and wider use of online discussion being touted alongside an idea to make sure that every student gets regular feedback from SSLC via a new ELE homepage and has the ability to instantly feedback through polls and open questions. This makes me think that the future of student engagement, in all senses, will always be online. Where do tablets and smartphones fit into this? Candidates want apps for all the functions provided by ELE and MyExeter. This will allow them to work on the go and to work with the tools they choose.

ELE received a vote of confidence from the candidates, being described as a “valuable resource”, but there is a clear desire for its use to be taken further. So, students want training and guidance to be given to members of staff (and students where necessary) on its use and upkeep, they want all modules to have adequate notes online, and they want these to be accessible on 24 hours (at least) prior to the lecture to give students a chance to prepare. This is not just an example of digital literacy; it is an example of diligence. Beyond this, it seems that students support online submission, want technological teaching aids (TVs or Smart boards for example) installed in every teaching room to encourage a more modern approach to teaching and for all lectures to have video or voice recordings made.

To take this outside of the classroom, one candidate wants to encourage the University and students to use the skills of Xmedia to create audio tours, podcasts, blogs and videos. This demonstrates a key finding in the CASCADE project so far – that students learn from sharing knowledge of others. Some candidates want to use MyExeter as a log book for students to record extra-curricular activities which can later be used as proof of participation for employers.

Of course, for all the praise and encouragement being displayed for technology, it wouldn’t be an Exeter election without a complaint about IT, MyExeter going down at peak times and Wi-Fi on campus. Direct quote from a manifesto: “WIFI. My grandma has it. Even Cornwall has it. So why do some of our lecture rooms and parts of campus not?”

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