The University of Essex puts students and their experience at the heart of its mission. Delivering a first class student experience through digital platforms is the cornerstone of the University’s digital transformation project.
Coast Digital were brought in to help the University better understand how students were engaging with the digital estate in terms of:
- How they were using the 1st and 3rd party tools available
- What they were using them for
- How long were they using them for
- Why they were behaving in these ways
To gather these insights in a way that was useful to the digital transformation project, we conducted:
- Stakeholder interviews
- Student surveys and interviews
- Biometric research
- Workshops with UoE’s key stakeholders
Kicking off the project
First we held a kick-off workshop with the University’s Digital Comms team to build an understanding of how students might complete key tasks online – for example:
- How do students access their timetable?
- How relevant are the emails that they receive?
- How do they collaborate on assignments?
- How do they access course materials?
Across the huge range of tasks students undertake online, we prioritised areas of focus – ensuring that our efforts were correctly distributed throughout the rest of the project.
First-hand accounts of the student digital experience
In line with the University’s ethos, we took a ‘student first’ approach to our research – this included:
- A survey sent to 10,000 students
- Face to face interviews with students at Colchester campus
- Telephone interviews with students at Southend and Luton campuses
- Exit interviews after Biometric research (more on this later)
This helped us understand which tools students used, which they liked using, and what the lifecycles of those tools might be.
While the student digital experience is important, there were also significant offline touchpoints within student life that related to that online experience. Talking to students allowed us to understand the crossover points between offline and online, and how the website could better facilitate that.