Stephanie Noble – Glasgow Caledonian University

Blog post for Darren Kelly and Sharon Flynn: DAY 1 STRAND B

This year the theme for the Blackboard Conference is Students as Partners and I found one session involving students really stood out for me. 2 first year students from NUI Galway took the opportunities there to create a new mobile app and one of them, Darren Kelly; now a second year student, was here to tell us all about it.

The case is very unique in that not every institution would require an app and even if they did, not every student is giving up their time at such an early stage in their University career to dedicate themselves to a project in liaison with staff. For Fionn and Darren this decision started as something else to do after seeing advertising for the EXPLORE initiative on campus.

EXPLORE was put in place to encourage student/staff collaboration and innovation and usually allows 900Euro funding. Upon seeing it the boys asked themselves who actually used these kind of schemes and what they would use them for, once they had an idea they decided to apply “for the craic”. This in itself highlights and interesting issue with the student engagement plans across the UK. If one of the most relevant and engaged projects we’ve seen in a while didn’t come from engaged students then how can it be replicated, or can’t it?

Darren told us all about the amount of research put into action to ensure the app was truly in response to student needs. First year students getting experience of this nature would help them greatly when they get to dissertation level and should hopefully be reflected in the result. This shows the potential of student/staff partnerships that has as yet went unseen.

He did highlight how the marketing team at NUI Galway was also a great help as they felt they weren’t taken seriously by others despite the co-creation of the app using Blackboard Mosaic. This does indicate that staff may need incentive or greater understanding of the mutual benefits in order to take down the red-tape on staff and student communication.

An insightful session leaving lots of ideas for improvement both for students and staff present.