Designing for student wellbeing: challenging assumptions about where our students learn
Keywords:Student wellbeing, hidden learning spaces, technostress, analytics
Student wellbeing has been foregrounded during the recent Covid-19 pandemic but this is broad brush and contested with different models being followed across the sector. One aspect of concern is the extent to which access to the technology institutions require students to use contributes to additional stress. A student survey (n=30) in one UK HEI revealed the ‘hidden spaces’ where students learn, and the findings indicate that the formal institutional Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), with its sophisticated learning analytics, did not fully capture the student experience. This work was followed up with a digital wellbeing survey (n=172) and, by drawing together the two datasets, we report on a more nuanced student experience. Initial findings indicate a schism between formal and informal spaces where students learn, especially within our institutional reporting of students working online. Examples include students using their own preferred tools such as WhatsApp, Trello, and Slack to communicate outside the formal channels; these behaviours thereby devalue the validity of the VLE datasets that student-facing staff are encouraged to use for decision-making. This paper offers insights into accessing and interpreting data in ways that are more useful for academics, learning developers, and learning designers, and suggests ways in which we can effectively frame student support by putting the ‘real’ student experience at the centre of our practice.
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