How student innovation is supporting efficiency in education

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Call for Participants in action
Following the shortlisting of six digital solutions for Jisc funding as part of the Summer of Student Innovation, Rosie Niven catches up with one of the 2013 winners to find out the progress of his project.

Over the past three years, Jisc’s Summer of Student Innovation has uncovered some creative solutions to the challenges that students are encountering both inside and outside of their academic life.

In this year’s competition, six teams from colleges and universities across the UK won support to develop their ideas for digital solutions, designed to transform the future of education.

They will hope to follow in the footsteps of Call for Participants, an advertising platform for academics to recruit study participants.

Since it’s launch, Call for Participants has provided researchers with an affordable recruitment service by providing a platform to help the researchers advertise outside their own networks.

Open platform

It is an open platform that allow researchers to advertise for free and accommodates all disciplines.

Matt Terrell, co-founder of Call for Participants, says that by allowing participants to self select into research studies, it can avoid the need to use costly recruitment companies, saving in the order of tens of thousands of pounds.

“Those academics who don’t have the resources to spend money on recruitment can advertise on our site,” Terrell explains. “It’s a way of making research more visible and a good resource to get recruitment calls out of closed circles.”

Researchers from 282 institutions from around the world use the service with 120 in the UK.

So far, research advertised on Call For Participants has received more than 12,000 participations from thousands of participants in more than 170 countries.

Terrell says the project came about when he and his co-founders were PhD students. “We didn’t have the means to recruit outside our immediate network so we decided to create our own platform for the recruitment of participants.”

The team has been working with Jisc for the past two and a half years and having all finished their PhDs, they are now planning to work on the platform this full time.

They are looking for ways to monetise the site and recently launched institutional digital noticeboards, which are currently being used by universities including Nottingham, Northumbria and Bristol. Other initiatives that are being considered include webinars and marketing material to guide researchers using the platform.

Ones to watch

The 2015 projects hoping to emulate Call for Participants include a team from the University of Teesside whose checklist and support tool for improving standards of academic writing at university won the backing of the judges.

Another shortlisted project was specifically designed to save money. The further education institution Swindon College designed an affordable online alternative to expensive computer booking tools.

Zone Booking allows students and staff at the college to find an available computer, book it and see where it is located.

The team behind Zone Booking would like the app to be customisable to different education establishments, so that universities and colleges will be able to create their own maps for their own various computer rooms and facilities. They promise that it will be “widely available” and that users will find it to be “lower cost than current systems that they may have in place”.

To find information on all six shortlisted projects, please visit the Jisc website: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/projects/summer-of-student-innovation

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Rosie Niven
Rosie is the content editor at Efficiency Exchange

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