Project InformationProject Acronym            ESCAPESProject Title              Enhancing Student Centred Administration f...
ESCAPES CASE STUDYHeadlinesPlacement activity does not occur in isolation. It involves administration, teaching and learni...
   Make processes transparent and streamlined for the end user. Hide the wiring between      departments and present a un...
OverviewStudent employability is high on the UK Higher Education agenda, and there is growing recognitionnationally of the...
be very hard for an applicant to demonstrate the skills and competences they were looking forwithout any previous work exp...
We found that the wider HE sector uses a variety of different technology to support the sourcing,tracking and delivery of ...
ESCAPES overviewImplementationUsing techniques from Service Design, ESCAPES mapped processes against student experiences t...
   Use social media to present bite-sized pieces of information, tailored to the student’s         (subject) interest    ...
ePortfolios with the external examiner for their course, giving a richer view of the background totheir placement reports....
2. Benefits for students and staff:      Workflow: saving staff time, cost and other resources        o   Building the fa...
   Learning on instigating and embedding change within the University through identifying        appropriate channels and...
Employer focusFollowing on from ESCAPES and to meet the recommendations of the Wilson Review, there is acontinuing need to...
SummaryOverall, the project was successful : it had an impact on Relationship Management in the Universityin the area of p...
their meetings and tasks....We have 18-year-olds who work with us while studying for a        degree, and because theyre w...
We hoped that our findings would be of benefit to all models in use across the University. Werecognised early on that stan...
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ESCAPES Case Study - Improving Placement Processes

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Placement activity does not occur in isolation. It involves administration, teaching and learning, employability, networking, business engagement and more. The relationships between staff, students, departments, businesses and administrators are crucial in providing joined up communication, sharing of best practice, and effective management of the whole placement experience for students.

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ESCAPES Case Study - Improving Placement Processes

  1. 1. Project InformationProject Acronym ESCAPESProject Title Enhancing Student Centred Administration for Placement ExperienceSStart Date 1 March 2011 End Date 31 August 2012Lead Institution University of NottinghamProject Director Kirstie CoolinProject Manager Sandra WinfieldProject Manager sandra.winfield@nottingham.ac.ukContact DetailsPartner Institutions N/AProject Web URL www.nottingham.ac.uk/eportfolio/ESCAPESProgramme Name Relationship Management 13/10 Strand 2Programme Manager Myles Danson Case Study NameCase Study Title ESCAPES Case StudyAuthor(s) & project role Sandra Winfield Kirstie Coolin Jeanne BoothDate 31 August 2012 Filename ESCAPES case study v 1 0.docxURL if document is posted on project web siteAccess x Project and JISC internal General dissemination Document History Version Date Comments0.1 2 May 2012 Distilled from text gathered in Google Doc0.2 28 May 2012 Added collected notes from meeting in SU, plus materials from JB evaluation draft0.3 8 June 2012 Refinements, removal of duplication, streamlining and tidying to submit to AP for feedback0.4 10 August 2012 First redraft following AP comments0.6 23 August 2012 KC Highlighting recommendations, changes of emphasis following call with AP, reworked some text0.7 29 August 2012 Final redrafting to encompass comments1.0 31 August 2012 Final version for release to JISC 1
  2. 2. ESCAPES CASE STUDYHeadlinesPlacement activity does not occur in isolation. It involves administration, teaching and learning,employability, networking, business engagement and more. The relationships between staff,students, departments, businesses and administrators are crucial in providing joined upcommunication, sharing of best practice, and effective management of the whole placementexperience for students.Benefits arising from the project: For students  A student-centred placement ePortfolio, modelled and broadened for use in other Schools in the University  Careers/employability activity embedded into pre-placement preparation  Improved feedback and dialogue with placement and academic staff For staff  Improved administrative efficiency in managing placements  More effective management of the relationship with students during their placement, arising from a central single point of contact and easier methods of sharing information  Champions in good placement practice recognised across the University as a result of the project For the University  The project acted as a change agent for spread of new practice, leveraged through the University’s Teaching & Learning Board  An extended network of champions for placement good practice  An exemplar student-centred placements model, on pathway to maturity in teaching and learning practiceLessons learned: Realising change  Build a compelling business case to enable delivery to national and institutional strategies  A ‘middle out’ approach to change worked for us  Gain senior and practitioner champions and evidence from practice  Be an ambassador for the project: talk to people on their terms Managing relationships  Learning and administration are co-dependent in delivering the student experience  The placements co-ordinator role and the individual’s expertise in managing relationships between placement actors in teaching and administration are vital  Technology provides useful mechanisms to facilitate, enhance and manage relationships, but cannot replace the human element 1
  3. 3.  Make processes transparent and streamlined for the end user. Hide the wiring between departments and present a unified front-end service, either on or off line  Human resource matters. Relationship management is fundamentally about individuals relating to each other – who are the gatekeepers? How can their expertise be shared?  Can the institution resource good relationship management?  Promote an understanding of what people are doing and why, across institutional central services and academic departmentsWhat next?  How can relationship management in HE be defined?  How can fractures in practice be untangled and re-aligned on an institutional basis?  Need for a longitudinal investigation into the effectiveness of placements on employability 2
  4. 4. OverviewStudent employability is high on the UK Higher Education agenda, and there is growing recognitionnationally of the role that work placements can play in helping students to consolidate theirtechnical skills and develop the ‘soft’ skills that employers value when recruiting. Placement activityis therefore a key area which could benefit from improvements in relationship management.To support this agenda within the University of Nottingham, ESCAPES aimed ‘to maximise bothstudent satisfaction and administrative efficiency in the placement experience and to make asignificant contribution to students’ readiness for career progression’ through applying servicedesign techniques to a placements service, implementing changes, and then monitoring impact.Selected student-centred placement processes were investigated and refined to demonstrate amodel of good practice, using appropriate technology, to support students’ experience of theplacement from preparation through to conclusion.Working closely with three areas working on placements, improvements in processes were identifiedfrom the student viewpoint and executed through improvements to placement administrationsoftware and workflow together with learning and teaching activities using the Mahara ePortfoliosystem.These improvements were documented to inform central University placements activity, with thelong-term aim of developing further tools and methods to make provision of placements morestraightforward for the University. This will in turn improve provision for an increased level ofplacement activity in the light of anticipated rise in demand from students seeking to improve theiremployability.ChallengeThe national contextEmployability and transferable skills are ‘the most important factor taken into account whenbusinesses recruit graduates’ (CBI/Pearson Learning to Grow 2012).Placement experience is increasingly perceived as an important determinant of student success insecuring jobs – employers prefer those with work experience, and placements help to determinecareer decision-making and improve core employability skills. The Graduate Market in 2012, theannual review of graduate vacancies by the Times Top 100 graduate employers, reported that a thirdof the total number of entry positions would be filled by graduates who had already worked for therecruiting company through placements, vacation jobs or sponsorships. Over half of the recruiterswarned graduates with no previous work experience at all that they were unlikely to be successfulduring the selection process, and a number commented that regardless of academic results, it would 3
  5. 5. be very hard for an applicant to demonstrate the skills and competences they were looking forwithout any previous work experience. The increase in student fees in England, recommended bythe Browne Report and implemented through the HE White Paper Students at the heart of thesystem, together with the mandatory publication of the Key Information Set from September 2012,are focussing students’ minds increasingly on the likely return on investment from a universityeducation, and whether their choices will lead to a good graduate job.To meet these expectations, universities and colleges are increasingly focusing their attention on thepotential offered by episodes of student work experience via placements and internships. At thesame time, given the growing evidence of the importance that recruiters place on relevant workexperience, the offer of opportunities for supported periods in industry seems likely to become adetermining factor in young people’s choice of course. As student demand for high-quality workplacements increases, universities and colleges are realising the need to ensure that they haverobust processes in place for managing and supporting these, in order to optimise students’ chancesof gaining employability skills and increase the contribution these make to the overall studentexperience.The University of Nottingham contextThe University of Nottingham is a Russell Group, research-focused university which has traditionallyfocused its provision of placements in vocational academic disciplines such as Nursing, Education,Medicine, Veterinary Science, etc. However in response to current challenges and expectations, anincreasing number of disciplines are offering (or considering the option of offering) undergraduateand postgraduate students the opportunity to spend a year in industry, or providing the opportunityfor short-term, usually project focused, work-based learning . The new model of PhD provision viaDoctoral Training Centres is placing an emphasis on skills and employability, and the University’slatest BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership mandates placements for all students. There is aplacement element in a number of modules in the cross-university Nottingham Advantage Awardwhich is open to all undergraduate students and administered by the Careers and EmployabilityService. Furthermore, a growing body of students are seeking out their own placementopportunities, not necessarily as a provision of their course, and looking to the University to supportthem in this.One challenge for the University lay in the existence of a variety of unconnected processes in variousstates of maturity used separately within its academic schools; there remained a need to ensure thatcommon best practice was recorded and shared, and to enable centralised recording of baselineplacement data to inform overall employability statistics, while not imposing centralised direction.Feedback from employers suggested that for students, there was a need to support the recognition,capture and evidencing of skills gained through the placement experience, providing them withconcrete examples to support future job applications and to discuss in interviews.Our initial research suggested that while there was a variety of technology in use to supportplacement management, this was largely designed to meet the needs of institutional administrators.In seeking to expand use of technology to support the teaching and learning involved in the wholeplacement process, we expected to enhance student relationship management in this area.ApproachESCAPES sought to explore the student viewpoint, using blueprinting and service design techniquesto research and record key features of the placement process with particular attention to whatstudents regard as important and in need of improvement. In order to gain an understanding of howthe placements process operates, we adopted the view that it is essentially a ‘service’ offered tostudents by an HEI. As such it has a tangible beginning and end, and is made up of a series ofprocesses which can be mapped, and then broken down further into tasks, involving a variety ofactors supported by a number of systems. 4
  6. 6. We found that the wider HE sector uses a variety of different technology to support the sourcing,tracking and delivery of placements. However we supported the view that no one universalapproach is possible (or, indeed, desirable): influencing factors include the institutional environmentand IT policy (for example, does everything need to be centralised, or do departments and serviceshave the freedom to choose their own approach?), and the status and management structure forplacements within the institution. All these variables prevent a ‘one size fits all’ approach bothwithin and across institutions, and the University of Nottingham was no exception to this.ScopePlacement, internship and work experience practice within the University is wide ranging: ourintention was not, therefore, to include all possible models within the timescale and resources of theproject. We made the decision to focus initially on institutionally sourced and managed placementsin the open market, whereby students sourced and applied for placements with some institutionalsupport, either within their course, or as an additional activity: well-established placementsprocesses within schools such as Medicine or Education were therefore not included in the scope ofthe project. However we did expect that our final findings would be of benefit to all the models inuse across, and beyond, the University. Touchpoints for core placement activityOur initial objectives were to:  Evaluate the ‘as is’ and develop the ‘to be’ processes within the targeted areas demonstrating good practice in placement management within the University.  Raise the profile of identified good practice within the University via the fledgling cross- institutional Internship Forum  Investigate priority concerns of the Careers and Employability Service, for instance, centralised recording of baseline placement data to inform overall employability statistics, while not imposing centralised direction  Enhance the use of existing technology used to support the placement processes  Identify how to reconcile the requirements of administration with good pedagogical practice (learning and teaching), as both impact on the student’s experience of the placement. 5
  7. 7. ESCAPES overviewImplementationUsing techniques from Service Design, ESCAPES mapped processes against student experiences todevelop an understanding from the student point of view, and to identify the ‘fail and wait’ pointswhich required further examination, remedial action or process change. The resulting ‘as is’processes were further refined in consultation with placement co-ordinators to identify changes,informing a ‘to be’ blueprint. The resulting actions informed either technical developments orprocess change.At the same time, we accompanied the blueprinting process with agile co-development oflightweight, modular technical system enhancements and the introduction of new activities toenhance career learning within a Mahara ePortfolio. These were piloted with student groups andevaluated to inform the next stage of service re-design and to assess levels of impact on studentsatisfaction. Drawing on further institutional examples and in consultation with placements expertsfrom outside the University, we tested transferability and established areas of commonality andoverlap in order to be able to document and promote consistent good practice.We focused initially on three sets of students: students participating in voluntary 6-10 weekplacements organised under an ERDF-funded project placing Nottingham postgraduate studentswith East Midlands SMEs, MSc students in Biosciences undertaking a summer placement, andundergraduate students in Biosciences doing a year in industry in the final stage of their course.These all involved project-based placements for which students have to source employers and apply.The project held three consultation workshops with students from these groups. While these wereinitially planned under the strict auspices of Service Design, the team developed a novice approach,taking the view that Service Design is effectively an evolution from the process design and richpicture techniques used in other domains. While this approach may not have resembled classicService Design, it nonetheless provided a useful framework to engage the students and drew on theteam’s extensive prior experience working with groups to develop user requirements. The methodwas successful in eliciting some key pointers for change.Further workshops conducted with academics, the Rate My Placement organisation and at the ASETand AGCAS conferences in 2011 expanded on specific learning from the Service Design workshops(http://mahara.nottingham.ac.uk/view/artefact.php?artefact=11399&view=2585).The resulting design documents and workshop materials are available on the project website(http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/eportfolio/escapes/documents.shtml ). Findings included:  Students value a single communication channel to find out about placement opportunities, rather than via multiple emails and sources 6
  8. 8.  Use social media to present bite-sized pieces of information, tailored to the student’s (subject) interest  Enable placement information to be broken down course by course, but tagged in such a way that a placement could be associated with multiple courses  Use ‘Amazon-style’ suggestions for placement companies (already implemented by Rate My Placement www.ratemyplacement.co.uk)  Students need to engage actively with the process: academics and placement coordinators are key to this  Placements require support from senior academic staff, but peer group networks are also an important and effective way of recruiting students to placements.Workshop activity also gathered feedback from students, the placement co-ordinator and theproject team on the prototype Postgraduate Placements Portal (originally developed through theCIePD’s SAMSON project to support the ERDF Nottingham Postgraduate Placement project). Specifictechnical work to develop and evolve the system was carried out iteratively through extensiveconsultations between the developer and the placement co-ordinator, resulting in a morestreamlined system with extra facilities for data reporting providing the placement co-ordinator withuseful management data, for instance, identifying students making multiple unsuccessfulapplications and who might therefore benefit from additional support. Notts PG Placements PortalBiosciences MSc students were already using functionality in the Mahara ePortfolio to provide amechanism to share weekly reporting with the placement co-ordinator, academics and theiremployer during their placements. As a result of the workshops, use of the ePortfolio was extendedto support pre-placement activities including career learning and making applications, and astandard template for a page to be used during the placement put in place. This practice was alsoextended to Biosciences undergraduates undertaking year-long placements in industry. Enthusiasticengagement by students and staff has resulted in provision of better and more timely feedback bothbefore and during the placement, and some students have made use of the ePortfolio to presentshort video clips and blogs. A significant number of students have spontaneously set up Maharagroups associated with their placement in order to share resources and interact with both theirpeers and academic staff. The placement co-ordinator is now using the system to managecommunication with groups and as a central point for monitoring activity and disseminating usefulinformation to all students, making greater use of forums. Students are also able to share their 7
  9. 9. ePortfolios with the external examiner for their course, giving a richer view of the background totheir placement reports. Biosciences placements page in MaharaBenefits and impactEvidence of impact was found primarily in two areas: building capacity and benefits for students andstaff.1. Building capacity  Providing new methods and lightweight processes to inform the University when responding to demands for work experience (from both employers and students). ESCAPES provided a space to draw departments together to discuss learning technology and placements (http://comms.nottingham.ac.uk/learningtechnology/2011/12/01/e-learning-community- liaising-with-students-on-placement/ )  The project directly informed the presentation of a successful business case for an ePortfolio implementation across the university, providing the catalyst for institutional change in the approach and management of work-based learning. As a result, a series of ePortfolio pilots (some involving placements using methods developed through ESCAPES) will be run in 2012- 13, with agreement to implement fully from September 2014  Consultation with a wide range of departments in the University identified new enthusiasts who were instrumental in spreading the word about placements and sources of expertise. Existing good practice (for example from the School of Veterinary Medicine) has been incorporated into ESCAPES. At least five academic schools in the University have subsequently approached the CIePD to express interest in using ePortfolios to support placements or work-based activity  New connections were explored with the University of Birmingham Careers and Employability Centre, further strengthening the partnership between the two universities  ESCAPES acted as a catalyst for change. Sustainability and continued change for project learning and deliverables has been secured through institutional ePortfolio implementation, funding under JISC eLearning Embedding Benefits programme to productise the Placements Portal, allocation of University HEIF funding to develop the technology for employer- University relationships, and the JISC BCE Ingenuity KnowledgeHub project to develop engagement with small businesses. 8
  10. 10. 2. Benefits for students and staff:  Workflow: saving staff time, cost and other resources o Building the facility for staff to produce their own management reports into the Postgraduate Placements portal o An easily reviewed record of placements improves administration o Improving workflow for placements co-ordinators o Creating a view for an external examiner to look at information and dissertations online in Mahara, saving administration, printing and postage costs o Centralised communication using Mahara is more efficient than sending 100 individual emails to students, and enables visibility and tracking of exactly what information has been communicated to all students  Teaching and learning o Students and staff can access and share information about placements in one place o Students submit their weekly reports through the system, resulting in better planned projects and enabling staff to review and monitor their progress more quickly and effectively, spotting issues as they arise o Formal self presentation through the ePortfolio supports enhanced students’ sense of professionalism o Career learning and information about employers is introduced into student pre- placemen t activity via Mahara o Mahara use enables consistent and threaded feedback for students, supporting the University’s Grand Challenge on assessment and feedback (the National Student Survey has demonstrated that receiving timely and constructive feedback is an important issue for students: this will be highlighted still further from 2012 with the publication of KIS data on course websites) o Blogs kept by students can inform other potential students; information can be reused for guidance, marketing and recruitment purposes.  Administration o More efficient administrative processes free staff time to focus on students o Access and support are available from the wider Mahara community o Streamlined financial processes introduced for students on paid placements o Information on eligibility to work in the UK introduced earlier into the application process.In addition, we observed the following unanticipated benefits:  Practical learning about placements, technology and University culture and practice that can be taken forward to inform other projects  Enhanced CPD opportunities for the (often non-academic) placement co-ordinators, as champions of good practice within the University and as ambassadors beyond, including presentations at large-scale conferences  Expansion of University Shibboleth capacity (developed within the Placements Portal ) through an intranet space to share learning and good practice  Widespread engagement of different institutional characters – enabling ‘change by stealth’ 9
  11. 11.  Learning on instigating and embedding change within the University through identifying appropriate channels and strategy to address  Raising the profile of JISC resource and student-focussed activity within Information Services  Providing evidence for the business case for ePortfolio implementation in the University, representing the culmination of many years of work by the CIePD, mostly sponsored by JISC  Supporting the CIePD in providing a change catalyst role within a central service, while also collaborating with a wide range of University schools and departments.The next stageDeveloping change – from early adoption to embeddingMembers of the ESCAPES team and steering group now have a high level of experience in managingplacements, and academic, student and employer relations, drawn from experience beyond andwithin the University. They are providing valuable input to the University’s pan-institutionalInternship Forum, run by the Careers and Employability Service, influencing the direction of thisgroup and sharing good practice with colleagues across the University. Mahara use is beingextended to support placement activity in other areas and the CIePD team is working with theInformation Services Learning Technology team to integrate it with the new institutional MoodleVLE. The CIePD is leading work to disseminate good practice through University teaching andlearning networks and in line with strategy.The Postgraduate Placements ERDF project run by the Graduate School has been successful insecuring funding for a further phase of development. The CIePD is continuing work to refine anddevelop the project’s placement administration and streamline the relationships between employerengagement and student employability learning.Focus on the student experienceService Design techniques may provide a useful method to engage students more widely with otherUniversity process evaluation. The CIePD will incorporate learning from these techniques within itsown work across and beyond the University, and is promoting these techniques internally with otherareas of Information Services.Promoting a cross-departmental student-centred approach to process improvementThere is an opportunity to investigate the horizontal workflow further, examining the impact ofother University administrative processes (such as Finance, Human Resources, businessengagement, etc) on placements. The CIePD is continuing to promote this approach through furtherinstitutional and JISC-funded project work. There is also still a need for central intelligence on thenumber of placements in the University, who is responsible for them and which companies areinvolved.Developing technologyESCAPES has provided the basis for a reference set of integrated and service-based coretechnologies to deliver best-fit , efficient administration and learning services to placementstudents. JISC has awarded funding under the eLearning Embedding Benefits programme for the P3project to develop the Placements Portal further over the next 12 months, with the aim that it bereleased as an open source beta system for use and further development by the wider community.Building on the raised awareness resulting from the project, the University is conducting aninstitutional phased roll-out of ePortfolio in 2013-14, starting with a series of managed pilots duringthe 2012-13 academic year. This will enable and sustain wider sharing of ESCAPES good practice inusing Mahara to support placements. 10
  12. 12. Employer focusFollowing on from ESCAPES and to meet the recommendations of the Wilson Review, there is acontinuing need to ensure that opportunities for student placement are maximised across a fullrange of employers, including SMEs, microbusinesses, Social Enterprises and the Third Sector. TheUniversity is investigating CRM processes to support this, and the CIePD is working with BusinessEngagement Innovation Services, Community Partnerships, and the Nottingham RCUK publicengagement with research Catalysts project to develop new methods of engagement with differenttypes of employers.A comprehensive list of placements and employers would be a desirable outcome for the Careersand Employability Service as well as for students: feedback from workshops as part of the SHEDproject suggested that students would welcome a University-provided, comprehensive and easily-accessible list of companies, tagged and searchable by sector, wage bracket, job description andcompany information (including record of social responsibility, employee benefits and informationabout former placements).The CIePD is leading the Ingenuity KnowledgeHub project, funded under the JISC Business andCommunity Engagement Access to Resources programme, which is promoting engagement(including placements provision) between universities and small local businesses. The CIePD is also akey player in a University bid for ERDF funding to promote use of technology by local smallbusinesses, which will also include building on learning from ESCAPES.Code of conduct for provision of placementsStaff working on placements recognise the need to create an agreed checklist of issues that have tobe thought through and/or evidenced as addressed before an organisation can take on a placementstudent. ‘Sometimes it’s not until you ask who the workplace supervisor will be that the companyrealises they have to allocate one’ [Biosciences Placements Co-ordinator].This need to be further supported by work on disability issues and placements: this would needsensitive handling to take disclosure issues into account, but it is important that there are processesin place to make sure a placement is suitable for a specific student’s needs, including taking intoaccount needs arising from, for example, dyslexia, dyspraxia and mental health issues.Lessons learned: communicating with students  Students would value a single communication channel to find out about placement opportunities, rather than via multiple sources. As students use social networks, this could be achieved using social media, with bite-sized pieces of information, tailored to the student’s interest. (The Business School at the University of Greenwich has been exploring this approach: https://showtime.gre.ac.uk/index.php/ecentre/apt2012/paper/viewPaper/227 )  Placement information could be broken down course by course, but tagged in such a way that one placement could be associated with multiple courses. ‘Amazon-style’ suggestions for placement companies (already implemented at Rate My Placement)  Students need to engage actively with the process: academics and placement co-ordinators are key to this. Placements require support from senior academic staff but peer group networks are also an important and effective way of recruiting students to placements. Students value input and feedback from previous students most highly, so accessible mechanisms for this need to be built in  Finance information is very important: students need to be clear whether they will be paid, how much they will be paid and when and how they will be paid  There are challenges for students, especially international students, with ‘employer speak’ versus ‘academic speak’ and balancing differing expectations employers and academic tutors have from their work while on placement. 11
  13. 13. SummaryOverall, the project was successful : it had an impact on Relationship Management in the Universityin the area of placement provision, and acted as a catalyst for change in the University’s approach toprovision of ePortfolios for students. A number of factors impacted on the original aims: one of thekey lessons has been a greater understanding of how change happens in a large institution, and thiscan be taken forward to inform design of future projects.Critical success factors included:  Support from senior management within IS and the Teaching and Learning Directorate  Close collaboration with subject matter experts, who have made incremental changes to their processes as the project has progressed  Non-political project team, able to work across the institution crossing territories, silos and priorities  Wider political impetus and focus resulting from the Wilson reviewThe project highlighted:  The importance of placement co-ordinator role as a pivotal conduit in relationship management  How administrative processes can be balanced with good pedagogical practice  The complexity and variety of placement practice internally and across the sector  Differing interpretations of the words ‘placement’, ‘work experience’, ‘internships’ by staff and students  The importance of ensuring that systems used are available and will enjoy continued use. Staff are reluctant to commit energies experimenting with new tools unless they know it is going to be supported in the long term.  The need to reconcile the needs of all stakeholders, in particularly, students and employers  How Service Design can be used successfully through flexible adaptation of its methods to suit different audiences.A pivotal relationship manager: the placement co-ordinator role  The Placement Co-ordinator role should not be underestimated. This person can help students to find and choose suitable companies, give support with their application, through to communication for both academic and pastoral purposes. ‘Every year a student will do something that astounds the placement administrator (e.g. turning up to work in their pyjamas!’ [Biosciences Placements Co-ordinator]). Where possible, placements/placement support should be personalised. Some students require more structure and guidance than others and need to be placed with employers that match their requirements; sending the right students on placements is important. An unsatisfactory placement experience can affect the relationship the University has with a company. It is important to manage student expectations, and that they are unlikely to, for example, ‘find a cure for cancer’ whilst on their placement.  Technology needs to supplement and free their time to exercise their skills to manage relationships, facilitate information flow and optimise learning, primarily for the student but also employer and university staff. Knowing the exact status of the students while on placement is a major requirement.  All of these activities contribute to the developing professionalism of placement students. ‘Many graduates need to learn basics like business etiquette – how to conduct themselves in meetings, how to make a point without being aggressive, how to use Outlook to organise 12
  14. 14. their meetings and tasks....We have 18-year-olds who work with us while studying for a degree, and because theyre with us while at college, theyre picking up the basics and being fast-tracked beyond pure graduates.’ [Fiona Moore, Head of Development at the Nottingham-based company Experian: http://www.insidermedia.com/insider/midlands/70104-graduates-need-smarten-business- acumen ]  Workload allocations for placement co-ordinators need to be considered: often this is a role undertaken by individuals in addition to their normal job. Some clarity is needed to establish how far it is an administrative/teaching role. Both elements are important in order to give participating students a worthwhile experience.Balancing administrative processes with good pedagogical practiceStreamlining processes for students and staff (and employers) facilitates their being able to supportgood teaching and learning. Measures to support this include:  Identifying and getting rid of unnecessary processes  Using technology to make things easier – for example utilising a unique personal identifier makes it possible to populate a database with student profile information without having to ask for it again; if anonymised this then allows harvesting of statistical information which can support management decisions  Getting all the placement applications in one place (for example through Mahara) rather than getting individual emails which have to be sorted and filed  Getting information to students in ways they are receptive to, including social networking media such as Twitter  Academics do not always appreciate who else has impact on their students: raising profile of non-academic staff.Institutional ChangeA challenge for all JISC projects is how to ensure outputs are taken up and developed within thefunded institution. HEIs are large and diverse, and change can be a slow, incremental process. Agreat advantage for ESCAPES is that it followed on from our earlier SAMSON project, which hasenabled change to occur at a more natural rate, reducing the abrupt ‘end of project’ which canrestrict the benefits gained.ESCAPES demonstrated the effectiveness of a ‘middle out’ approach to change. This was a mixtureof ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’, employing consultative methods, promoting ownership of newprocesses for users, and using institutional networks and communities to share evidence and goodpractice. Key University strategies and Grand Challenges provided a platform to introduce newmethods. Endorsement of the ePortfolio business case from the PVC-led Teaching and LearningBoard and synergy with other major institutional projects (such as the roll-out of the new MoodleVLE) provided a cultural context in which the project was able to influence strategy and embedchange. The JISC Curriculum Design projects provided useful models for this, as did the JISCePortfolio Implementation Toolkit.Rather than imposing wholesale change across the whole institution, the project supported theprinciple of new developments being centrally conceived and locally delivered. This ‘hub and spoke’approach, in which the primary focus is on the spokes, rather than the hub, helps to developmomentum to feed back to the hub. Cumulatively, these areas of activity can start to build up a bodyof institutional change. This also, however, raises potential tensions between local solutions andcentral collation of management information: a centralised system makes it easier to know thescope of activity. 13
  15. 15. We hoped that our findings would be of benefit to all models in use across the University. Werecognised early on that standardised blueprints do not work at all as there are so many differentmodels of providing placements, whose only commonality in processes lies in a division intoactivities before, during and after placement.Further informationThe project blog is at http://mahara.nottingham.ac.uk/view/view.php?id=2585Published deliverables and a link to the video are on the project website athttp://www.nottingham.ac.uk/eportfolio/escapes/index.shtmlRecommendationsFor the Sector  The importance of the placements co-ordinator role in providing the relationship ‘glue’ with students, academics and employers; Their knowledge about managing these relationships is extremely valuable and needs to be shared.  Ensuring transparency for students in aligning administration of the placement (e.g. tracking, communication) with Teaching and Learning processes. From the student point of view, they want a streamlined and coherent experience – all parts of the process are important to them, and both parts need to be managed together. Technical tools can make this this combined and student-centred process more streamlined and also provide a catalyst opportunity for changes in process.  A wider question for the sector lies in the capacity to deliver. If we are emphasising employability, what exactly do we mean and how do we communicate this to both students and staff?  We need to consider the wider student body, especially in the light of recent changes to visa regulations. So this includes recruitment of international students from the UK into international companies or companies in their home countries  Managing relationships: understanding what people are doing and why, across the institution’s centralise services as well as academic departments  CRM needs to be extended to encompass employer engagement for student benefit  Set up a platform to develop cross-sectoral awareness around placements practice, which is now greater than it has been. However, there is no uniform practice and no-one has all the technology to support this on a large scale basis.For JISC  Learning and administration are mutually exclusive and interdependent. One cannot function effectively without the other.  Recommend joining up placement data with alumni data and destinations data to provide a measure of the effectiveness of the contribution that placements make to improving employability  Continue to recognise and promote the importance of joined-up data able to service multiple functions and systems. 14

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