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Technology and student integration

The benefits of close staff-student interaction are made increasingly difficult on large campuses and with the different lifestyles of today's students. There is also an increasing tendency towards subject silos as cross-department contact lessens - partly because of the increased use of email. VLEs, on the other hand, provide a seamless service and counteract feelings of isolation in students.

The Responding to Student Needs Theme suggested that 'roundtable groups' are used as a way of furthering technology initiatives within institutions. Such groups consist of academic staff, technology professionals, students and librarians.  Read more about integrating academic and central support services and academic support and guidance

One of the benefits of technology quoted in the report is the growing availability of online application and registration, which allows easier access to facilities such as the library. There was mention, however, of the mismatch between some of the ICT skills possessed by the tutors as opposed to the students, though it was also emphasised that the high skill levels of some students might centre on gaming environments rather than other e-literacy areas, such as office applications. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of ICT for teaching, learning and assessment.

Although The First Year Experience Theme recognised the use of electronic learning environments in the promotion of personalisation, the strand did not develop this aspect further.

Largely due to the particular participants at workshops and in interviews, there was no discussion of the use of personalisation within electronic learning environments. This is a huge area of development across the sector. However, it was widely recognised that HE provision has been slow to react to changing demands, the changing student marketplace and, in particular:

"The changing use of new technologies in the everyday lives of today's students. They all have their personal web spaces and are very familiar with a whole new way of sourcing materials and, arguably, a whole new way of learning. We need to catch up with these times". (Quote from workshop/interview participant.)

Source:  Personalisation of the first year

The impact of technology was discussed for the Student expectations, experiences and reflections on the first year practice-focused project, part of The First Year Experience Enhancement Theme. It is clear from student comments that the use of techonology is highly variable across the sector.