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President visits award-winning My Learning Essentials team

28 Nov 2017

Nancy hears how campus-wide collaboration created powerful programme for our students – and won an award

Nancy and the My Learning Essentials team

Our Library service has worked in partnership with our Widening Access Team to help support the University’s central Widening Participation programmes for a number of years.

But over the last 18 months, the teams have worked together even more closely to make better use of Blackboard and blended/distance approaches, in order to improve the student learning experience, to reach more students through efficiency savings, to remove geographical barriers to the students we can reach, and to make support available to the world.

They have done this by reusing and modifying existing open educational resources including previous Blackboard Catalyst Award-winning My Learning Essentials (Student Impact, 2014), and by focussing efforts on effectively embedding resources in Blackboard and public spaces.

They have employed this approach in three programmes of Widening Participation activity, with successful outcomes. Accessed in ten countries, 97% of its users reported that they felt more confident about searching.

As a result, the University’s contribution to Widening Participation through the Library’s My Learning Essentials (MLE) resources was recognised with a Catalyst Award for Community Engagement, awarded by Blackboard Inc.

Nancy met members of the Library MLE team and University Widening Access Team, whose strong collaboration made this all possible.

They discussed how working together from locations across campus and through partnerships with a variety of services, such as the Counselling Service, they were able to help all of our students to study better and even reach those who were more difficult to engage.

By October, it had seen 2,681 students in 52 embedded sessions, 1,013 in 51 open workshops and 10,200 hits to online resources.

Nancy noted that this work is also useful to international students and the group discussed future plans, including enhancing the service to work with University of Manchester Worldwide.

“It was good to see an enthusiastic and creative team come together from across campus to create such a powerful award-winning programme, undoubtedly enhancing our students’ experience,” Nancy said.

“And it was great to hear that other institutions have visited our University to see how we do it – a true testament to this programme and again our student experience.”

 “We are quite unusual,” Katy Woolfenden, Chair of our MLE Board, added.

“We share the resources we develop openly; these can be used straight away or modified, and we hope that other institutions – as well as our own – will benefit from the improvements this reuse can bring.

“Additionally, we have experienced the value of openness ‘both ways’. In particular, we have shown the viability of converting resources aimed at undergraduate students aged 18+ to suit a 16-18 school audience for WP activity.”

Stephanie Lee, Head of Widening Participation and Outreach, said: “The University's Widening Access Team has benefited enormously from working in partnership with the Library's eLearning team which has had a positive impact on the delivery of core widening participation work.

“The success of the eLearning aspect of MAP and MDAS exemplifies an institutional approach to improving access to students from widening participation backgrounds.”

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