2012/13 has been an important year for the development of Learning Landscapes at the University of Lincoln, both in terms of engagement activities online and offline, and the physical transformation of the campus. Let’s take a look back at the year and then look ahead to 2013/14.
Let’s start by looking at our online engagement activities: the Learning Landscapes website, social media, and Daily Alerts.
The Learning Landscapes website is at the centre of our communications effort. It’s public, and anyone can comment, whether they are inside or outside the University.
We have greatly expanded the coverage of the website, with over 60 posts and 24 pages of content now online.
We have received 36,416 pageviews from over 8,061 unique visitors during 2012/13. To put this into context, the University has a combined student and staff population of around 15,000. We expect that the vast majority of traffic has come from students and staff, and so we estimate that 45% of students and staff have visited the website at least once this year. This is great, but there is clearly scope to grow both the number of readers and the level of engagement significantly during 2013/14. You can help with this by sharing the address with your friends and colleagues.
In April 2013, we relaunched the website, adding a new structure of pages around the original blog. We now have sections focusing on projects, the campus masterplan, engagement opportunities for students and staff, and Learning Landscapes research at Lincoln and globally.
The new project pages provide more detail on the major changes we’re making to the University’s learning landscape, including rationale, design information, timing details and progress updates. Dave Prichard has done a fantastic job keeping these project pages up to date with the latest progress photos from behind the site fence.
Comments are an important aspect of the website. We’ve now had over 230 comments, questions and responses from students, staff and project team members, including some critical and challenging responses which have directly influenced the development of new projects and spaces.
In June 2013, we added a Subscribe by Email feature to make it easier for people to follow new developments on the website. (to do this, go to the home page, fill in your email address in the “Subscribe to Email” box in the right-hand sidebar, and click the “Subscribe” button).
We’d like the blog to become a multi-author conversation, and to this end, we’ve been looking for guest bloggers. We’re working with two students at the moment to publish some content this summer (no pressure, I and J!).
We continue to tweet from @LincolnEstates and have recently introduced automatic tweeting of all new blog posts. With a relatively small follower count (245), our tweets have been most effective when retweeted by @unilincoln, @LincolnSU or others.
In June 2013, we started a Facebook page, where all new blog posts are now automatically listed. We expect this to become more popular once the 2013/14 academic year starts.
Also in June 2013, we added Facebook and Twitter sharing buttons to each post and page on the website, to make it easier for students and staff to share content with their own networks.
We have made use of the Daily Alerts for staff and students, and this has been quite effective. However, we haven’t posted new content as consistently as we might. This is something we’ll work on for 2013/14.
We’ve stepped up our efforts around Learning Landscapes offline as well. We have organised and participated in an unprecedented number and range of engagement activities:
On 17 October 2012, Mike Neary and I ran a seminar room focus group with academics, focused on evaluating the new seminar spaces MB1012, MB1019 and MB1020. This generated valuable positive and adjusting feedback on the new spaces, which we have taken into account in the design of this summer’s new teaching and learning spaces.
On 5 December 2012, we attended the University’s NSS improvement event in the Engine Shed. This generated a very useful overview of student and staff thoughts regarding all aspects of the student experience, including some suggestions for improving the learning environment. We are implementing several of these this summer, including more informal study spaces and a better room booking system.
On 18 January 2013, Dan Clayton presented the campus masterplan at the Students’ Union’s Annual General Meeting and took questions, which were documented by Dan Derricott. We’ve published this Q&A for the benefit of all students and staff.
On 1 February 2013, we ran a learning space design workshop at the Student/Staff Conference organised by the Students’ Union. This was exceptionally productive, generating four new learning space concept designs, two of which we are implementing on the third floor of the Main Admin Building this summer.
On 22 February 2013, the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) for Higher Education published its Institutional Review of the University. Lincoln was commended for the enhancement of student learning opportunities. The QAA’s report praised, among other things, “the systematic engagement of students at all levels across a wide range of quality assurance and enhancement processes” and “the impact of the ‘Student as Producer’ initiative on the enhancement of student engagement at all levels and on learning and teaching practice across the University”.
On 25 April 2013, The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013 was published. The University has moved up 43 places, from 66th last year to 23rd this year. The University’s overall ranking was boosted by high scores in ‘central / convenient facilities’ (5th nationally), ‘high quality facilities’ (14th nationally) and ‘good environment on / around campus’ (also 14th nationally). These are fantastic results, but we have already formed a working group and action plan in Estates & Commercial Facilities to improve our standing for next year.
On 26 June 2013, Drew Cook and I ran a Leadership Group session on ‘creating an interactive and responsive real and virtual estate’ for 40 senior staff and SU representatives. Like the NSS event in December, this generated a great deal of useful feedback from students and staff – you can see the session notes here.
Site hoardings across the campus this year now refer campus users to the Learning Landscapes website, which replaces many of the project-specific sites and pages we have used in the past. Students and staff have told us that they like to read about even projects which don’t affect them directly, so this is very helpful.
In general, we have received a huge amount of positive feedback relating to this website and our efforts to make campus development at Lincoln transparent and interactive.
Next time, we’ll review the physical changes to the campus and look ahead to 2013/14. In the meantime, please get in touch if you have comments, questions or suggestions for how we can improve what we’re doing. Thanks!