Building on an exercise to re-design the academic personal tutor system used in the Universities Faculty of Business and Law, it was identified that a 24/7 chat-based service to answer student queries could be beneficial to the overall student experience.
Since that exercise, the Lab has developed a bare-bones prototype of how this chat system might interact with students, based on a triaging system which signposts information available and speeds up the student interactions. We developed the prototype in under a day, based on a combination of a WordPress website and an installation of open-source software service Live Chat Helper.
This allowed us to produce a prototype platform which we could test with students across the faculty at their Student Representatives Forum on 14th March.
We provided students with a link and QR code to get to the landing page of the system and asked them to provide feedback on the user interface, usability, and usefulness of the platform tested. Whilst the user testers were all student representatives, by their very nature engaged individuals, the feedback across all areas was positive and useful. Students seemed to engage with the idea of a chat-based support service positively, especially if it were to be available 24/7 to answer their questions.
All of this feedback is vital in ensuring the faculty produce a system co-designed with students to serve their needs. This will be developed further over the coming months, with a view to launch a live prototype service at the start of the 2018/19 academic year.