[45] Unitu – an online engagement platform for student-staff interaction

WORKSHOP

Unitu – an online engagement platform for student-staff interaction

Author (s)

Patricia Xavier Senior Lecturer
College of Engineering
Abstract

Unitu is a online student platform where any issue (course related or other, e.g. access to PCs, accommodation) can be raised and discussed by students and staff. Unitu has been trialed at some Colleges at Swansea Uni for the past few years. Several lessons have been learned regarding the management of the platform. Students can post and vote on comments anonymously, and this has led to abusive behaviour. The appropriate responses to give to perennial complaints, e.g. car parking, are always difficult. We continue to debate whether comments on individual modules should be permitted as the module coordinator will often not see the comment thread until days later.

Despite teething problems, Unitu has quickly become a valued part of the engagement strategy in the College of Engineering. Beyond it’s usefulness as a reporting platform, it allows us to understand the strength of feeling on respective issues through the voting feature. Student comments from Unitu have been used to e.g. support the introduction of student-focused spaces on Bay. Students can also post ‘praise’ items when they want to commend something or someone.

Session Outline

With the University roll-out of Unitu next academic year, this is a session worth attending if you have any interest or role in student engagement and feedback. We will be looking at Unitu threads, understanding the issues this platform raises and testing the proposed university code of conduct for the use of Unitu.

1 Brief intro what it is (10 minutes)

2 (15 minutes) Each table will have a tablet/ laptop pre-logged into Unitu. Each table will have the chance to explore the site for 5 mins and will then be directed to one or more recent conversation threads (e.g. over-promotion of women in the workplace/ exam timetable complaints/ car parking and transport issues).

  1. (20 minutes) Each table reports back on the issues raised by their allocated conversation thread (e.g. who/ how should we be responding/ what should be the criteria for a potentially abusive or insensitive post to be removed?)
  2. (15 minutes) Wrap up with lessons learned by CoESS and other Colleges for (relatively) successful management of Unitu

Key Words

Unitu, Student Engagement

Key Messages

Use of the Unitu platform; experience of interactive online student engagement

 

 

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