Over the past year or so, we at Jisc have redoubled our emphasis on helping customers find practical solutions across all their business issues, and our 12 Regional Support Centres (RSCs) are playing a vital role in that ongoing process.
They’re out in their local communities, visiting and advising learning providers and responding to their individual needs, and the results of that dialogue help us to stay strategically focused on customers’ changing needs and priorities.
This year, as in many previous ones, we have conducted a customer satisfaction survey to see how our RSCs have been doing, and how they can offer best value in the future.
Ninety-eight per cent of those who responded had made use of RSC support and communications over the previous 12 months, and 91 per cent said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the support they received. It’s important that we capture that information across successive surveys so we can make sure that there is ongoing improvement, and this figure is higher than in the last survey in 2011. Our aim each year is for our customers and users to find more value in the services we provide.
Respondents had made use of RSC services an average of 19.5 times over the year, which indicates that the RSCs are the go-to source of advice and support for many learning providers, and also that they have the perfect opportunity to get right under the skin of individual providers and find out what could really help them to improve learner experiences and business processes.
College case studies
Drilling into some of the successes revealed in the survey, we find the RSCs involved in a very broad range of work. Chesterfield College worked with its local RSC on a project to improve its use of data and review its management processes. The activity brought about a cost saving of £2m, significant improvements in student retention and a jump from grade three to grade one in the college’s Ofsted inspection report The college has been quick to acknowledge the role of the RSC in helping to achieve this.
South Staffordshire College asked its local RSC for help in devising ways to engage vocational learners and embarked on an innovative augmented reality (AR) project as a result. Ofsted applauded the college’s ‘bold and innovative’ use of technology when it awarded the college a grade two, and construction students’ better understanding of techniques has reduced wasted materials by 60 per cent. Most importantly, student feedback on the use of AR in their learning is extremely positive.
Halesowen College asked its RSC to help teachers in STEM subjects to move away from using Moodle simply as a repository for course materials. The RSC provided bespoke training in how to use resources and activities in Moodle to engage learners online more effectively. The training took place over 2012 and 2013 and it has helped to improve student use of the college’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and attracted positive comments from Ofsted, which now wants to use Halesowen as a beacon college.
All three colleges, and many of the respondents to the survey, said that they regard our staff’s expertise and knowledge highly. One work-based learning provider commented that they wouldn’t have achieved their ‘outstanding’ grade from Ofsted without the RSC’s support with developing its VLE, while others commented very positively on the RSC staff’s expert knowledge, responsiveness, and ability to help customers save time and money. As head of customer experience, that’s music to my ears.
It was also really interesting to see that the opportunities we provide through the RSCs for customers to network, share successes and learn from one another were among the most highly valued aspects of the service. One key aspect of our approach is that we send advisers out to visit customers on their own premises, but many customers find it equally valuable to meet like-minded peers at events facilitated by Jisc.
The survey also asked providers what they will want help with in the future, and 50 per cent expect to need advice and guidance on using technology to make teaching and learning more effective, particularly with reference to distance and mobile learning. That is likely to be an increasingly common request from our customers as more students start to use their own devices and to expect to be able to access learning resources at any time, and in any location. The issues of security, system capacity and compatibility will need to be addressed and then monitored carefully.
Three other high customer priorities are content management, training to keep digital literacy up to date so that teachers and managers can identify areas where technology can help them achieve their goals, and help to achieve cost savings.
Customers like to access support on these issues in a number of different ways. While some customers prefer face-to-face training and tailored support, others opt for webinars and online workshops: it all comes down to individual learning styles and, inevitably, to how much time and budget they have available. That’s why we currently offer a range of options, and why the staff are committed to listening to individual preferences and to trying to accommodate them.
Over to you
The RSCs are one of the channels through which, we at Jisc, provide tailored, practical support on the ground, and the customer satisfaction survey is important because it feeds into the constant dialogue that we need to have with all of our customers. Whether you took part in the survey or not, why not get in touch and tell us your views about your own priorities for teaching and learning, about Jisc’s services, and about how you think we can serve your sector better in the future?