University of London: Streamlining module evaluation with evasys

The University of London had a requirement for a unified, centralised system for the collection and analysis of student feedback on more than 1,000 modules delivered through distance and flexible learning. The university partnered with evasys to implement an institution-wide survey and evaluation platform that would achieve quick wins and lay the groundwork for future success.

Leading the project for the University of London was Huw Morgan Jones, Senior Manager: Surveys and Student Voice. Huw worked closely with senior management, academic and professional services staff, and the evasys team to achieve a launch of the new survey and evaluation platform within a short timescale.

“While making sure that all the data integrations work was complex and involved many of our teams, evasys worked with us to get our solution up, running and sending out surveys very quickly, letting us plan how to roll out additional rich functionality for phase two to ensure that we fully realised the potential of the technology.”

University of London coat of armsHuw Morgan Jones, Senior Manager, Surveys and Student Voice

The background

Since its beginnings in 1836, the University of London has become the world’s largest global provider of online and distance learning, with 45,000 students in 190 countries worldwide studying for over 100 degrees, diplomas and certificates.

Each student within the University of London is learning either online or in an overseas teaching centre. Around 10% of the institution’s students are UK-based, with the remainder living and learning in a wide range of countries including Singapore, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, the Caribbean and various parts of Africa, making for a fairly unique student profile in a UK university.

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University of London – Case Study

Find out how evasys provided a unified, centralised system for student feedback on more than 1,000 modules

Degrees from the University of London are designed in partnership with some of the federation members such as Queen Mary, UCL, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Birkbeck, Royal Holloway and Goldsmiths. Federation members provide students with academic content, and University of London delivers the degrees, providing a truly collaborative approach.

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Under and post grad modules

The challenge

An analysis of existing business processes showed that the University of London offered more than 1,000 different modules across the various undergraduate and postgraduate programmes and had in place a variety of methods for gathering student feedback from each of those modules.

Some programmes used Moodle, some used Microsoft Office forms, others used Survey Monkey and the central team had challenges with visibility on all of those results. This meant that all sorts of manual processing was needed to ensure the university had a collective insight.

Additionally, the team wanted a centralised approach to improve survey response rates and reduce the administration required to send reminders.

Another challenge faced by University of London was the need to improve the overall student feedback process in line with the new regulatory arrangements set by the Office for Students, to ensure that the best possible student outcomes could be achieved. There was a need to easily identify risks to student success and retention by consistently evaluating all modules to understand which were doing well and which needed improvement – all aimed at improving student engagement and success.

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These factors identified a real need for a unified system for end of module evaluations across the very non-traditional degree portfolio offered by the university. Following a competitive tender process, evasys was appointed to partner with the institution.

“We needed a process that removed painful data processing work and freed up the team to work on more value-adding tasks.”

Huw Morgan Jones, Senior Manager, Surveys and Student Voice

The solution

The team at evasys worked collaboratively with the University to review business processes and define requirements for the evaluation solution needed, with a particular focus on required integrations. This included defining data structures and coding needed for student record system integration and engaging with the institution’s IT team to ensure a smooth, collaborative implementation process.

The evasys survey platform connects with the University of London’s Moodle, Coursera and 2U, as well as the student portal, SITS student record system and Microsoft Dynamics.

The integration with the student record system allows for a weekly feed of data straight into evasys. A full, current picture of every programme, course, module and student sourced from the master version student record system is achieved, eliminating the challenges with inconsistency and lack of visibility on the processes used before.

Single sign-on was implemented to ensure that students and staff alike could access the system quickly and easily. Students can access their surveys through emails, the University’s VLEs and the evasys Student Portal. Staff are able to create, launch and manage surveys and view instant, real-time reporting that can be aggregated in a range of ways and provide an institution-wide picture.

The results

The University of London now has a full range of reporting capability in place, powered by evasys:

  • Instant Feedback Report: a PDF report for module leaders offering an extensive range of configuration options

  • Report Creator: an advanced reporting option for evaluated data, including the ability to aggregate the data beyond each survey

  • Quality Management Views: an overview of quality management results based on guidelines

  • Qualitative Analytics: analysis of qualitative data through word clouds and student sentiment

  • A data mart delivering data for downstream systems

  • Dashboard Analytics: a series of dashboards configured to the University’s requirements, providing overviews of critical KPIs and institutional insights

And the evasys Survey Creator data integration bridge means that new surveys can be created and published to students in a matter of minutes.

Prior to the evasys implementation, overall module survey response rates were low, and the patchwork of arrangements previously used for module evaluation made it difficult and time consuming to analyse and report on results.

In the first round of implementation, across eleven programmes and 3,000 students, increases in response rates of 10%-20% were realised – a significant bounce that increased the potential of the data for planning enhancements to teaching and learning.

In terms of reporting, the immediacy of results has allowed a fast turnaround in reports to programme teams and senior leadership, providing a comprehensive summary of incoming results, including which areas may need improvement.

Reports include critical data and actionable insights. For example, the first surveys showed that the online library services at University of London are very well received by students across many different programmes. This underlined and strengthened the university’s commitment to, and investment in, eBooks and online learning resources that help students to succeed. Having students provide good feedback on the service already available endorses the institution’s approach.

Overall, the University of London now has an efficient and consistent approach to module evaluation that operates right across the institution.

“You can close a survey at 12 o’clock on a Monday and you can log into the dashboard and you’ve got the results there the same day – that has cut out weeks of work.”

University of London coat of armsHuw Morgan Jones, Senior Manager, Surveys and Student Voice

“It’s more important than ever to have detailed information about how our students are doing, and what they are telling us about their experience. The platform is flexible and intuitive, giving us summary and detailed data in a digestible form, so that we can keep improving our teaching and support from a solid evidence base, and be confident that enhancements will have a positive impact.”

University of London coat of armsSam Brenton, Director, Online Education

In conclusion

“The results from the evasys platform over the next year will help inform the constant improvements we are making to enhance the experience of our students, particularly around assessment feedback and student support.”

University of London coat of armsHuw Morgan Jones, Senior Manager, Surveys and Student Voice

The time and money savings achieved through using evasys to streamline the student feedback processes are implicit – on reporting results alone weeks of work have been transformed into the time it takes to complete a few clicks, allowing the team to focus on improvements for students.

But it’s the wider, more strategic benefits that can really create a lasting impact. Senior management within the University of London have been impressed with what has been achieved so far in terms of the quantitative and qualitative data collected through early survey work with evasys. There’s a common theme that the survey and evaluation tool, and the internal processes that surround it, will help delivery of the improvements that the university is creating.

Actionable data and insights gleaned from robust, consistent module evaluation will really help to identify which modules need to be redeveloped to ensure that student support is at its best. The system is also likely to provide evidence that sparks university-level changes, as well as at a module-level.

And with the continual enhancement of teaching and learning, and student support, comes student success.

The feedback

Huw had plenty to say on working with the evasys team!

One benefit of working with evasys is that they know the higher education sector really well. They understand the importance of closing the feedback loop, showing students that their feedback is acted on. That doesn’t come naturally to some suppliers in higher education. The way the evasys team offers support throughout demonstrates their understanding of the critical relationship between students and their HE institution and speaks to the values of evasys as a company.”

evasys have delivered, they are very responsive. If you email the support team, they get back to you within the day. If they can fix something, they fix it. If they can’t fix it, they tell you why. Communication has been excellent with weekly catch ups and they’re a friendly bunch of people – people you want to spend time with and talk to.”

It’s been a great level of project management – Glenda is very organised and really sharp with the action logs, and she’s very thorough. The whole team are pragmatic too; if a particular milestone had to be pushed back by a week because we hadn’t done something on our side, then it was fine. It was a practical, very professional and high-quality project, and it was definitely a partnership. The evasys team almost feel like colleagues rather than suppliers.”

About University of London

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