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Rainford and Sinclair: Widening the (out)reach - EAN conference 2014


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Widening the (out)reach: Using interactive webinars to extend
widening participation beyond local geographical boundaries
(Outreach & Recruitment) Practice

Jon Rainford, Access Partnership Support Officer & Trevor Sinclair, Access
Partnership Lead Officer, University of Bedfordshire, UK

This paper focuses on the effectiveness of utilising webinars in place of
traditional campus based events for outreach activities with pre-entry
students. The presenters will discuss the challenges and opportunities in using
the Blackboard collaborative software in a pilot project to engage with a
specific cohort of learners in one school where geographical barriers would
normally have made this sustained engagement unfeasible,

Published in: Education
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Rainford and Sinclair: Widening the (out)reach - EAN conference 2014

  1. 1. Widening the (out)reach: Using interactive webinars to extend widening participation beyond local geographical boundaries Jon Rainford (@jonrainford) and Trevor Sinclair Access Partnership Team (@BedsATeam)
  2. 2. University of Bedfordshire 2 Widening Participation Landscape • Changes in Higher Education funding in England post-2012 • Every HEI wanting to charge more than £6000 per student must write an Access Agreement. • Need to track and monitor more effectively • Focus is constantly evolving. Interim report by OFFA (2013) stated: • Outreach is most effective when it is a progressive, sustained programme of activity and engagement over time. • Outreach programmes need to be directed towards people at different stages of their education, starting at primary level. • Challenges this creates: • Ability of schools to timetable and staff visits to HEI’s • Restrictions on time, especially in examination heavy years
  3. 3. University of Bedfordshire 3 University of Bedfordshire • Established 2006 following merger of University of Luton and DMU’s Bedford Campus • 6 campuses – Bedford, Luton, Putteridge Bury, Butterfield Park, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes • 24,000 students • Diverse population (100+ nationalities) • 34% students are over 25 • 97% students from state schools • 35% entrants are from BME populations • 53.2% of our young full-time undergraduates are from NS-SEC 4-7 • Care leavers
  4. 4. University of Bedfordshire 4 Our Access Programme Sowing the Seed Event • Aim 4 Uni Days – Years 8 - 10 • Year 9 Options • Access Partnership Associate activities • Taster Days • Pilot Mentoring Scheme • E mentoring • Making a successful UCAS application • Preparing for university life • Student Finance & Money Matters • Information, Advice & Guidance on HE Finance, Options & UCAS • Access Partnership Associate activities • Targeted Summer Schools • Considering and Experiencing HE • Vocational Days • Subject Specific & Targeted Summer Schools • Access Partnership Associate activities •Access Event • Access Summer School •Breo training • E mentoring • Access PA activities • Student shadowing • Uni visits/lectures • Summer Schools • PAD PALS • Careers talk • Motivational talk • Networking Event
  5. 5. University of Bedfordshire 5 The Case of eOutreach • Reduces Geographical Restrictions • Removes issues of travel time and costs • Allows targeting of specialist groups • Subject based (e.g. Midwifery, Law, Health and Social Science etc.) • Also provides subject specific work for associates • Protected characteristics (i.e. Disability, Ethnicity, LAC etc.) • Access Students transitioning to HE • Provides access to facilities that might not hold groups • Labs, Specialist / Remote facilities – Crime Lab / Butterfields • Facilitates opportunities for prolonged engagement over time • Easy route to data capture for monitoring purposes
  6. 6. University of Bedfordshire 6 Choosing technologies •Working with colleagues in CLE •Historically we have used Wimba Classroom for remote teaching •Wimba was brought out by Blackboard and merged into Collaborate •We chose to utilise the software the institution already had •Also provides experience working on platform they might use as undergrads
  7. 7. University of Bedfordshire 7 Pilot implementation • Initial plans to pilot with group of students for a session on study skills but this session was deferred to next academic year. • Instead pilot involved training of 8 associate students who work on within our Access team. • Session was delivered from one campus with 5 attendees to another where 3 students attended.
  8. 8. University of Bedfordshire 8 Activities • Aim was to try different activities we do in face to face sessions remotely to see how they worked in a Webinar scenario • Quiz • Had to establish a ‘buzzer’ system • Led to increased competition • Audio delays caused some issues • Jigsaw activity • Had hard copy resources at both ends • Required a facilitator at both ends who understood activity • Proved interesting due to lack of visual feedback
  9. 9. University of Bedfordshire 9 Challenges • Remote participants found the lack of visual cues difficult in communicating • Dropping of connection • Delays in audio • Technological challenges • Java • Initial set-up • Needing a ‘technician’ • Content of session needs to be adapted for remote participants • Briefing the lead at the remote location is important
  10. 10. University of Bedfordshire 10 Future Opportunities • Pre-visits for Primary schools • Cross campus events (Associates training) • Visits to crime scene lab / Nursing simulation centre • Foundation degree e-learning (assist with transition) • Access for offsite students in FE to university lectures • Specialist sessions (i.e. introduction to Law – Debating perhaps) • Weekly ‘drop-in’ sessions (Buddy scheme & mentoring for prospective applicants)
  11. 11. Any questions? September 2006University of Bedfordshire 11