Reducing academic administrative overload using digital technology
In episode 46 of the Tales of Teaching Online podcast, Anthony Rendall speaks with Tara Draper and shares the story of how he used multiple digital tools to streamline the admin processes of a large cohort unit.
The Professional Practice unit
Anthony chairs a large cohort Professional Practice unit in the School of Life and Environmental Sciences. In the past few years, the number of students in the unit has grown significantly. The unit is also about to be made a core unit for multiple courses, making scalability of the admin processes even more vital.
The unit is an experiential placement unit, providing career education and skills to prepare students for the workforce. When Anthony took over the unit he identified a reliance on manual admin processes to manage student placements, inductions, professional external interviews, and assessment feedback.
Using digital technology
Anthony implemented PebblePad, an integrated ePortfolio platform, to manage the various forms students have to complete as part of the unit, as well as assessments and feedback.
He has also incorporated VMock, a career platform that uses A.I. technology to provide formative feedback on student resumes, and MS Bookings, to manage the logistical aspects of scheduling student interviews.
This technology made it an easier and more meaningful learning experience for his students and has significantly simplified the administration process, saving both time and facilitation costs. These changes are also scalable as student numbers increase.
His advice is to be prepared to ask for exactly what you need – don’t be afraid to reach out and have these conversations, but also be prepared to say no if it doesn’t meet all your requirements. He recommends choosing a small number of digital tools and then reaching out to your Faculty Learning Innovations teams for support with implementation.
‘There is a need to embrace technology in some respects, particularly from an administrative perspective,’ said Anthony. ‘I am a big advocate for face-to-face teaching and teaching in the field and experiential learning. I think that is really important. But I think technology has a big role to play in terms of streamlining a lot of our administrative processes, from a teaching perspective and beyond and that really could be incorporated more.’