(Study Counseling) Communication with students

Short description

Due to growing numbers of students in our programs, the process of study Counseling needs to be optimized to keep the service level high and still have enough time for students who really need it. Also a growing number of students are (temporarily) notable to meet in person, because of international experience or participating in a program with multiple locations, like Data Science or EIT masters.

Students nowadays are used to more diverse, and other, ways of Communication, e.g. Skype, Whatsapp, chat and Facebook. Also, they might have other preferences regarding the ways to be informed about study related matters. They are not used to waiting for answers anymore and prefer real-time communication solutions. This is also indicated by the SAO/Student Sounding Board 2016 at STU as the wish for "Integrated just-in-time' study support".

This project focuses on the communication between study counselors and students, but experiences and insights might also be used for teacher-student communication or communication with prospective students.

The project will consist of 8 important steps. The first three are about retrieving information from students and study counselors to get a clear description of the requirements for ways of communication between them. With the description of requirements the project team will choose the ways of communication to further explore during the project. After a period of experimenting an analysis will be presented to stakeholders and a proposal will be written for the educational management team.

Project phases

  1. Assess and list wishes about communication methods by students Software Science and Web Science, concerning study related information and study Counselor Communication.
  2. Assess and list experiences with (innovative) communication methods by TU/e study counselors
  3. Assess and list wishes and content conditions with regards to communication moments with students by study counselors, like: A. shared viewing of OSIRIS views/Canvas information; B. shared viewing of scenarios in PlanApp; C. shared conversation notes;
  4. Analysis of the technical possibilities, taking into account the results of previous phases. No new program or tool will be developed, only existing off-the-shelf tools will be used and evaluated.
  5. Selection of communication methods which will be tested and evaluated in this project, taking into account the results of previous phases.
  6. Testing different communication methods (as indicated in previous phase)
  7. Analysis of the tested communication methods
  8. Processing analysis of experiments to: A. Proposal for educational management team, with regard to continuation of use of certain communication methods for study counseling; B. Information (Toolkit) for study counselors of (4)TU, and presentation in university wide study counselors meeting of the future proof educational organization (TOO); C. Dissemination activities of 4TU and 4TU.CEE as part of the return for a grant of the Education Innovation Fund.

Strong points

In general students are really happy with the way the communication between them and study counselors works at this moment according to the outcomes of the focus groups of our project and the focus groups of ESA. Nevertheless they surely see advantages of online communication in the non-regular circumstances, such as studying abroad and during the summer vacation.

We did not manage to implement and test the online communication tool on a larger scale. This is rescheduled for the academic year 2018-2019. During the project we could not conclude to have a great reduction in time spent on meetings due to the use of the online communication tool.

For now, the possibility to have an online meeting is mostly a special service for the student. We expect to offer this service more during the summer vacation when students are not in Eindhoven or even the Netherlands, but we still have meetings with them.

A positive outcome is the experience we now have with this tools on a small scale. Further there is a toolkit available for others who wish to use Skype for business for communication between staff and students.

Products

Several toolkits were developed for using skype for business in communication with students. These are attached as documents.