Jisc fund backs students’ technology plans

£5,000 each for 21 projects

July 25, 2013

An online platform that helps students to work together on extracurricular projects is to be developed at the University of Edinburgh thanks to a £5,000 grant.

PitchPatch, the idea of five students at the institution, works like an online noticeboard, connecting students with different skills across campus.

For example, students who need to produce a flyer can get in touch with budding graphic designers, while those hoping to produce a video can make contact with would-be film-makers.

“We noticed that a lot of students wanted to put together material for student societies, or were putting on events, and they needed other students to help them out. It was difficult for them to make contact with the right people,” explained Caroline Nguyen, a fourth-year social anthropology student who is part of the PitchPatch team.

“We definitely took inspiration from the traditional noticeboard – I went around taking photos of them to find out what students were looking for. However, although there have been attempts to do something similar online, using pages on Facebook…nothing has really worked so far.”

The project has been awarded the grant by Jisc, the higher education technology consortium. The money comes from its Summer of Student Innovation fund, which has awarded grants to 21 projects.

The PitchPatch team will spend the next three months building a prototype website. In September, Jisc will require the students to test it with other universities and colleges across the UK.

Among the other projects receiving Summer of Student Innovation cash are Konnect, a University College London project that allows for greater student engagement during lectures via a website and smartphone app; NoteDump, a Cardiff University app that allows students to share and discuss their notes; and Progress from Lancaster University, a program that gives students the chance to forecast their marks and view their development throughout the year.

Organiser of the fund, John Shemilt, director of ICT at Imperial College London and member of the Jisc Futures Forum, said: “Improving the student experience is widely recognised as one of the most important strategic drivers for universities and colleges. We strongly believe that students should have a prime role in developing novel ways to improve their learning experience.”

chris.parr@tsleducation.com

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