Category Archives: Blog

Edtech is a Driving Force for UK Economy

The digital tech industry is playing a fundamental role in the UK’s economic growth according to the recent Tech Nation 2016 report. With an estimated annual turnover over £161bn and more than 1.56m jobs created over the last five years, it is widely regarded as an invaluable resource to strengthen the UK economy.

One specific tech sector that has proven its worth is edtech (education technology). According to London & Partners and EdTech UK, edtech is one of the fastest growing tech sectors in Britain with a global worth of £45bn – a number that is set to reach £129bn by 2020.

Business is booming for companies that choose to disrupt the traditional ‘top-down’ approach of universities setting the agenda for tutors and students.

James Grashoff, Scientia’s head of sales and marketing, EMEAA, said: “We had a very successful 2015, welcoming 24 new clients across both Europe and Asia Pacific regions.  This shows that institutions understand the value of improving the systems which underpin their education programme. As a result of edtech’s increasing popularity, we are focussing on cloud-based applications such as Resource Booker – an application that makes it easier for staff and students to manage bookings online for space, equipment and tutoring sessions – whilst maintaining our support for traditional software installations.”

Edtech is relieving the pressure on institutions as they endeavour to deliver a service that meets the needs and expectations of both staff and students. For example, Anglia Ruskin University, based in Cambridge and Chelmsford, has benefitted from the introduction of Scientia’s Enterprise Foundation, which has increased student and staff satisfaction and improved utilisation of facilities. Similarly, AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand, is also using Enterprise Foundation to deliver flexible and clash-free timetabling.

The demand for edtech will continue to rise as schools and colleges face more pressure to adjust teaching techniques to cater for today’s ‘connected’ learners. It is the responsibility of UK tech companies to supply innovative applications that help institutions deliver a better service to both staff and students.

Seeing Double: How Resource Booker Reduces Duplication

In the age of austerity, there is a greater need for universities and other academic institutions to effectively share resources and avoid buying multiple versions of the same equipment.

For example, chemistry and physics departments will often buy the same costly laboratory equipment despite the fact they are not using it at the same time. A more effective solution would be to allocate specialist instruments across both schools, therefore saving money and resource.

How can Resource Booker help?

Resource Booker is a cloud-based application that enables staff and students to book the most appropriate room, for the right number of people at the right time.

Among its many applications, the software provides institutions with the ability to share assets across multiple departments through an intuitive user interface, which contains up to the minute information on scheduling and availability. It enables students to identify free time to book equipment, while administrators have complete visibility so they know where the equipment is at all times.

In this video, Eugene Concannon, explains how sharing assets is a cost-saving exercise that could benefit any institution.

Enhancing Institutional Services to Improve Student Experience

Institutions are under growing pressure to deliver an interactive and engaging university experience. In today’s challenging academic climate, it’s important for students to have an increasing amount of choice that allows them to select modules and activities according to individual preferences, ultimately resulting in greater student retention and academic success.

How can institutions implement change without impacting on overheads and resource?

Student Allocator is an online web portal that improves institutional services and increases satisfaction with a self-service approach to administration. The software allows students to make suitable choices according to their schedule, with the option to select modules, tutorials and other activities based around their other commitments such as part-time work or childcare.

Academic and administrative staff can also benefit from the flexibility of Student Allocator by creating and reviewing programme structures and restrictions. It allows them to manage aspects such as class size or conflicting student demands in a controlled way.

When linked to Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation, Student Allocator can also maintain a clash-free timetable and facilitate improved attendance monitoring and retention rates; tracking student swaps between tutorial and seminar groups and the accuracy of class lists. By identifying issues early on, staff can intervene and prevent drop outs.

In this video, David Duffett explains how Student Allocator improves institutional services and satisfaction for both staff and students.

Student Satisfaction Guaranteed with Resource Booker

Student satisfaction is a key driver for institutions to keep existing students on courses and prevent drop outs; it is also important for attracting prospective students to the university.

There are a number of variables that can affect satisfaction; available facilities, cleanliness and quality of teaching. As part of the academic experience, students expect contact time with professors outside of designated seminars and lectures. Given the scale of institutions and the growing student population, it’s unrealistic for lecturers to rely on traditional scheduling techniques, which is why Scientia has developed a convenient solution to make it easier for students to book one-on-one time.

Resource Booker is a new cloud-based application that allows lecturers to specify when they are available for contact time, for example every other Friday from 9am to 12pm. They can release this information onto the system and any student on the course can see what is available and book a slot. What’s more, lecturers and administrative staff can monitor how the time is being used.

Further enhancements will be made to the product to allow lecturers to put controls in place, regulating how many sessions a student books or how many days’ notice they need to reserve a time. This gives them full control over their schedule while students can conveniently book additional sessions for extra support.

In this video, Eugene Concannon explains how Resource Booker helps students and lecturers take an active role in improving the university experience. If you would like to find out more about the solution please contact us to speak to a representative.

 

Modelling the Perfect Timetable with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation

Institutions are often under the impression that they are struggling to deliver a student friendly timetable because they are lacking in space. However, there are often several factors affecting how an institution utilises its properties; availability of teaching staff, complexity of the curriculum, or mixed expectations of students. So how can a university identify red flags ahead of schedule and improve space utilisation? Kim Moulding, Timetabling Specialist at Scientia, explains how Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation can be used to test scenarios and model the perfect plan.

Kim said: “Timetable modelling is about finding the real issue and analysing the outcomes of those elements to assess whether there are other factors involved. With Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation, timetabling teams can investigate additional factors and analyse how much of the conflict is due to available space or other independent factors.

Timetable modelling with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation can improve decision making by using management reports to monitor and react to key information such as room utilisation and staff availability. Fast and efficient ‘what-if’ scenarios allow the timetabling team to plan new buildings, model new courses or increase student numbers with real confidence.

One institution that realised significant benefits from modelling was the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. In 2011, the university was hit by an Earthquake that rocked Christchurch’s central business district and eastern suburbs. The university was determined to reopen as soon as it was safe to do so, and three weeks later welcomed students back in make-shift tents. The institution promised to deliver a full academic year in 2011/12 and while lecture theatres and other buildings remained closed, the university was able to continue operating due to its move to centrally planned timetabling and room allocation.

What many institutions struggle to do is bring together students with very different requirements; for example full time and part time learners with restricted availability coming together in order to create an efficient way of using teaching resource, which may have an impact on space and teaching in general.

In this video, Kim explains how modelling can improve utilisation and what universities need to do to find a balance between institutional, student and staff needs.

Timetabling Triumph with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation

When Penny Charlish-Jackson, Head of Operations and Customer Service at the University of Hertfordshire, first encountered Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation, she thought the auto-scheduler software would be a ‘big button’ procedure; that was also the perception of her colleagues across the university.

However, she soon found that it wasn’t a simple process. Charlish-Jackson explains: “What auto-scheduling can do in the long-term is make your job a lot easier. However in order to make it work for you, you need a lot of cooperation, fact finding and data gathering and to do that you need your colleagues on board.

“Once that data is in the system and you run auto-scheduling, which in our case takes about 24 hours to run, you should achieve good quality data output and a significant number of activities that are auto-scheduled; we currently have over 80% of activities scheduled automatically. This enables you, your colleagues and schools to identify the activities that haven’t been scheduled, and the time and capacity to concentrate on the more complex things that you have to deal with.

“For me that is what auto-scheduling is about – for those who think it’s going to be a simple press of a button then they’re wrong; there is a lot of work involved. However, you will find the long-term benefits outweigh the hard work because you’ll create added capacity for you and your colleagues to complete more critical tasks.”

Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation is Scientia’s core scheduling and timetabling solution. It provides a suite of applications that help organisations to improve efficiencies by managing the planning and scheduling processes involved when producing a timetable.

Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation provides a range of benefits with a primary focus on the needs of students and staff. It can provide greater visibility of space available across the institution and integrate seamlessly with existing systems, and its flexible nature means it can be personalised to operate in a manner that suits individual needs.

In this video, Charlish-Jackson discusses her personal experience with Syllabus Plus Enterprise Foundation and how it has redefined the way in which the university manages its timetabled activities

Improving Data Collection with Dashboards

Business Intelligence is about providing the right information to the right people at the right time. Scientia recognises that institutional data is one of the most important assets and effective use of that information can help a university to thrive, attract and retain students and operate more efficiently.

Market Research Company OVUM found that 70% of universities have either invested or plan to invest in business intelligence tools to help provide more insight in to key strategic areas of operation including funding, estate and resource management, enrolment management, student engagement and graduate employability among others

Scientia Dashboards enables institutions to provide stakeholders with a self-service solution for accessing the key performance metrics that are appropriate to their role. Dashboards can enable data collection from any number of applications, providing a visually engaging view of institutional data. Emerging trends can be quickly identified so that intervention strategies can be put in place at the earliest opportunity.

Why choose Dashboards?

An increasingly discerning student population is driving institutions to demonstrate sustainable competitive advantage by capitalising on one of their most important assets – data.

Dashboards

Scientia’s Dashboards application utilises Intuitive Business Intelligence technology to enable institutions to translate data into knowledge and provide staff with the right data collection and analytical tools to help inform decision making, ensuring key long-term objectives are met. For example, institutions can use the information to identify what type of content is being accessed in a virtual learning environment such as videos, documents or PDFs. Dashboards can show which students from which courses are accessing these resources and at what times students are consuming these resources, be it before exams or throughout the term.

In this video, Jonathan Armstrong, Partner Product Manager at Scientia, explains how the Dashboards product consolidates data from a wide range of sources, bringing the information together in a scalable and intuitive application.

Taking Control of your University Timetable

How do you enable non-timetabling staff to make small but sometimes critical changes to the university timetable, without involving the specialist scheduling team?

The strategic importance of timetabling specialists is in creating a structure that optimises productivity and use of assets throughout the university timetable, ultimately driving student satisfaction. However, small tasks such as room or staff alterations can often divert attention away from the bigger strategic issues. That is why we introduced the Enterprise Activity Adjuster module (EAA).

EAA is designed to support users who need to make adjustments to existing timetables quickly and easily while on the move. The remote functionality of the system means alterations can be carried out in real-time, allowing staff to make immediate changes to the schedule onsite or off campus. It also enables the timetabling team to go ‘mobile’ and discuss the schedule with departments and faculties there and then.

One key benefit to using the module is that it can facilitate alterations to the university timetable from a range of users including the central timetabling team who act on requests from departments to change pre-existing arrangements, timetablers based within a department or occasional users authorised to make minor changes. For example, an academic may cancel a lecture from home, or the estates team can quickly relocate lectures owing to structural or technical issues.

In this video Duncan Corbett, Product Manager at Scientia, explains how the Enterprise Activity Adjuster module can empower staff to take responsibility for small changes and complete tasks independently, allowing timetabling specialists to fulfil time-critical processes.