Could your students have the next big idea in education?

Could your students have the next big idea in education?

Monday, 27 April 2015 09:36 The question that we’re constantly asking ourselves in further education (FE) is: “How can we use technology innovatively to support exceptional student experiences?”. 

For college principals and teachers, trying to come up with new solutions to enhance learning is clearly a big ask. Yet, technological developments should not only be made from the top down. Think for a moment just how powerful it would be to ask the students themselves how digital technologies could support them in their studies. It sounds simple, but inviting their opinion and involving them in the development means that you’re actually getting what students want and need.

Summer of Student Innovation 

Jisc , we’ve been doing just that with Summer of Student Innovation , our annual competition that asks learners to come up with solutions to improve learning, teaching and research through technology. The competition invites students to put forward new and novel ideas on technology that could transform education for them, with the best ones then selected to receive funding and support from Jisc for development.

Having grown-up with technology, students tend to be highly capable, confident and well-placed to comment on where it could play a transformative role, and I’m always hugely impressed by the calibre of entries we receive. In the past we’ve seen everything from tools to improve feedback between staff and students, to a ‘murder mystery’ game on a university campus that students make the transition from further to higher education (HE).

Success at Sussex Downs 

One of the most promising ideas from last year’s cohort came from Lukas and Kamil Ondrej, brothers from
 Sussex Downs College in East Sussex. Their winning idea was Lingoflow , a language-learning app design to allow learners to create their own collections of vocabulary, score them on their recollection, and then encourage repetition of the less well-known terms and phrases.

As Lingoflow was developed over a series of summer workshops, we quite quickly realised it could have real benefit to anyone trying to get to grips with a new language. When the initial Summer of Student Innovation run came to an end in the autumn we decided to 
offer further development support and extra fundingto help turn it into a fully functioning product. A few months down the line I’m pleased to say that Lukas and Kamil are close to launching a new and improved Lingoflow app and website, including brand new features.

Ideas in FE 

As Lukas and Kamil’s case demonstrates, learners in FE are very capable of coming up with ideas, but it can be difficult for young people who don’t always have the technical know-how to get their ideas off the ground.

With Summer of Student Innovation now in its third year, we want to make sure that learners in FE get a chance to express their ideas. For the first time there is a
competition strand specifically for learner led projects in FE or work-based learning. We’re not expecting these students to come to us with a fully-functioning solution. Instead, it is meant to encourage students to join up with their college or work-based learning provider, come up with ideas and work together to develop them, all with Jisc support.

Getting involved in Summer of Student Innovation is hugely beneficial for everyone. Students get the opportunity to gain important design, entrepreneurial and project management skills as they work up their ideas, while for the staff and participating organisation it ensures they stay at the forefront of new technology developments.

To help get people started we’ll be hosting a 
webinar to offer guidance, and ideas generation workshops in Bristol Birmingham and Newcastle . We have also pulled together some written guidance on how to create an idea . Entry is then made via a short video pitch, summary and 500 word description of your idea on the Jisc Elevator websitedetailing the benefits and how it will impact upon research and education. Applications are open until 18 May – good luck!

Paul Bailey is a senior co-design manager at Jisc, which provides digital solutions for UK education and research

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About Paul Champion

Some have called me a leader, and a entrepreneur, they say I have integrity, presence and skills to ensure continuous improvement and success in whatever challenges I face. They also tell me that I am positive, resilient and motivating. I say, I'm just a normaI guy from Gateshead in the North of England, who started as an apprentice engineer. I have been in the right place at the right time and in the wrong place at the wrong time! I have successfully initiated and led complex organizations and situations to completion and success, and I have been in some jobs where success seemed untouchable. Mainly though, I have tried to learn everyday, help people to progress and learn the skills they need to be successful. I have had the privilege of working with some great people locally across the UK and more recently internationally in Asia, Europe and now USA, where I am lucky enough to work for where I am head of 3aaa USA. This website is just me having an outlet to talk about all those thoughts, ideas and things I learn that pass through my head every day when I face the challenge of doing business. I will also rant on about how great apprenticeships are, and how you can help change peoples lives through them. After all thats how I got to do the great things that I have done, and also I am still an apprentice everyday! All I ask is that if you find it interesting then leave a comment and share what you read. THANK YOU.

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