Author Archives: Alex Carter

How helpful are our student helpers?

As we reach the end of the first week of teaching this is an opportunity to take stock of how UniDesk QuickCalls has played a part in the delivery of support to our new and returning students.

Student Helpers are existing students employed to assist new students at The University of Edinburgh

Each year Information Services Group have a team of dedicated student helpers available to support new and returning students at the Main Library.Survey data and anecdotal feedback shows that this has been well received in previous years but we haven’t been able to answer questions about exactly how many students have been helped or what the mix of enquiries have been worked.

This year we decided to use UniDesk QuickCalls to record the activity of the student helpers to give us this data. We’ve set up the students as operators, with no permission to use the normal operator interface so they can only record calls using QuickCalls. The students are then able to use the responsive system on their own mobile phones to quickly record any help they provide using 7 simple buttons.

A single button click records the support contact on a mobile phone screen

The flexibility of QuickCalls enables the staff managing the student helpers to quickly create these buttons and add, reorder or remove the buttons in response to feedback from the helpers as to what enquiries they are receiving.

By getting these records created as UniDesk calls in real time we are able analyse not just how many students are being helped, but also what the enquiries relate to. Not only can we do this but by having the time that the help was provided we can look at when the busy and quiet times are to enable better planning for future welcome week events.

Information Services Group staff work very hard to prepare for the start of term and ensure the most positive experience we can for new students. The student helpers are a very visible element of this and by using QuickCalls their use is backed up by measures and evidence of the value of this service.

So how did they do?

We can now look at some of the statistics for the student helpers from Welcome Week and Week One (records up to Thursday 19 September) analysed using QlikSense, our new analytics platform that is currently undergoing testing.

This shows the breakdown by date, enquiry and hour of day.

The overall figures show the Saturday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Welcome Week were our busiest days and Printing, followed by Directions and Card covered the vast majority of the enquiries. More insight can be gained by breaking down into time periods.

One welcome trend overall is that Wifi was the least enquired about topic, a welcome change from previous years and a pleasing reflection of the impact of the work colleagues across Information Services Group have put in to improving the student experience of getting connected.

Opening Weekend of welcome week statistics

Over the opening weekend directions and cards were the biggest enquiries.

Monday – Friday Welcome Week figures

As we move through Welcome Week card enquiries drop away and printing dominates with almost 50% of the total. Looking at the time profile (bottom right chart) there is a marked bias to the afternoon.

Week One figures

As we move into Week One as teaching starts Locating Materials and using the electronic library search (DiscoverED) leap up the chart and the enquiry times shift to being mainly morning.

More detailed analysis, combining with other data sources, to help tailor our services and staffing will be done over the weeks and months to come but immediately we can see the value of easy data collection combined with an analytics platform.

Finally, I’d like to wish all our students, new and returning, a happy and successful time at the University of Edinburgh.

Alex Carter – Head of Service Management

Adding timetables to calendars

An alert on a phone for a lecture

An alert on a phone for a lecture

In response to feedback from students, IS have developed a service to add Academic timetables to students’ calendars which they can access through Office 365 or via the Calendar channel in MyEd. This makes up-to-date timetabling information readily available on mobile platforms. Changes made to events at short notice* will be highlighted to students as UPDATED or CANCELLED in the title of the event.

We would like to move rapidly to roll this service out, initially with class reps in November and aiming for all 1st and 2nd year students by the start of semester 2.

*A cancellation is considered short notice if it happens 7 days or less before an event, but we are consulting with schools about changing this.

Keep it simple

The service is very simple – it puts what is in the timetabling system into individual students’ Office 365 calendars. Students can then access that information however they like – by adding to their phones or other devices, via the Calendar channel in the MyEd portal.

I think you’ll find it’s a bit more complicated than that

Unfortunately Schools don’t all use the central timetabling system in the same way. Some Schools record all taught activity (including tutorials, labs, practicals), some only lectures and some in between.

This raises the risk that partial calendars for some courses will cause confusion and degrade the Student Experience of what is a long desired and positive step forward. In order to help minimise this risk we need to help students answer one simple question.

What does it mean for me?

The good news is that we can help students answer this question by getting clear information from each School to explain what level of detail students should see in their calendar when it is fed automatically from the central Timetabling system. All we need to do then is check which courses the student is enrolled on and match this against the Schools that provide those courses.

How will this look?

We have mocked this up and are now consulting with EUSA and through them the Class Reps, to improve this during the roll-out.

A mockup of how the personal display telling students what to expect might look.

A mockup of how the personal display telling students what to expect might look.