Open University

Keeping remote students motivated and connected

The Open University was a pioneer in remote learning long before online learning exploded into the industry it is today.

The student engagement team wanted to come up with ways to better support students during their studies, to help more people complete their qualifications.

Our approach

We analysed tons of data, spoke to students and interviewed staff across the OU to spot where the opportunities lay.

Unsurprisingly, we found that remote learning can be a lonely pursuit, especially when many of the students are fitting the coursework around their day job and other commitments. Without a strong support network, it can be easy to fall behind and quietly quit the course. This is a lose-lose situation, where the student doesn't gain the qualification they set out to achieve, and the University loses a paying student.

At the same time, the tutors who are there to support students couldn't feasibly stay closely connected to all students all of the time.

Working with the hand-picked project team, we devised new ways to connect with the students and trialled different formats of intervention, from simple applications that reminded them of their schedules, to AI-enabled services that used predictive analytics to perform proactive student interventions and prioritising tutor tasks.

We prototyped and tested these solutions and landed on a hybrid approach, providing a peer-to-peer support network, community-led content as well as more intrusive and proactive notifications when students were falling behind.

The outcome

A new mobile app to help students keep in touch and feel connected in an often isolated learning experience. A validated prototype, a business case and a prioritised roadmap for development. Working with the mighty team at Infosys to work their engineering magic.

The product's first version is live and we're now working on new ways for students to interact with the university, their course and the content in the most frictionless way possible.

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