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Enhancing Student Support

I had a couple of illuminating meetings with Prof Ian Pirie, who is leading a university-wide project to improve how we support students and help them take more control of their learning within the university.  Ian has a bold and wide-ranging plan, of which the Personal Tutors system that we implemented over the summer is just the beginning.  He has been working with sample groups of up to 100 students, of all subjects, years and backgrounds, to find what works for them and where the university falls short.  Key to the project will be improving feedback, while other elements will include giving them a "one-stop shop" for inquiries and giving them better information about their course options.  Existing initiatives such as the Personalised Timetabling project also form part of the vision.

To date, I've been somewhat on the periphery of this, although some of my staff have implemented the IT systems.  So I found it really helpful to learn how the work we have done so far will fit into the overall scheme.  My immediate aim is to decide how we can best support the goals of the project.  I'll be looking at some possible systems that we could bring in from elsewhere (either proprietary or open-source), and what technologies we should use for the systems we develop in-house (and how they should link to the SITS student record system).

This has the potential to be a really exciting initiative, with some good ideas for IT that will make a significant improvement to students' lives and learning.

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