You can find Uni4Me at www.Uni4Me.co.uk
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic all higher education organisations are looking to take outreach online. This project aims to achieve this in a co-ordinated manner which will facilitate online engagement through the pandemic and into the future.
Our April 2020 NEON survey showed that over 90% of respondents are attempting to move their outreach work online in response to COVID-19. Even when schools/colleges return, widening access will not return to what it was pre COVID-19 as schools/colleges prioritise making up lost ground with learners and the HE sector faces unprecedented financial challenges. Even given the fundamental role that face-to-face work has in widening access and concerns over access to technology amongst target learners a blended learning approach to outreach work will increase in importance.
Over 90% of survey respondents also felt that the higher education sector needs to find a way of sharing effective methods of offering online outreach. We are proposing a new capacity building initiative to support HE providers and Uni Connect partnerships to enhance their online provision. NEON Outreach Online will support the widening access community to make the best response possible to COVID-19 and maximise the opportunities online provision presents for widening access. Outreach Online has two parts:
The online platform was launched on 1st July 2020 by the Minister of State for Universities,Michelle Donelan MP.
If you have any questions about the Uni4Me website please contact Martin Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Appendix 1: How NEON’s Uni4Me website works
The purpose is to signpost learners to appropriate activities dependent on the stage they are at in their educational journey, enable teachers/lecturers to access activities and help practitioners to share the activities they are developing across the sector via one central point.
The aim of the Uni4Me website is to host online materials contributed by HE providers/Uni Connect partnerships. This would include:
While as outlined above the platform will include activities from across the year groups, given the concern regarding year 13 learners progressing to HE this year the platform will look to highlight particularly activities for this group over June – September 2020.
The landing page will signpost learners, teachers/lecturers and widening access professionals to content and content search routes applicable to their needs for learners. Learners will be able to search for activities by themes, year groups and by the organisation who developed the activity.
When searching by partner, learners will be taken to that organisation’s own page which will contain its own branding, brief information about the organisation and list all the activities that are offered by that organisation. It will also offer links to their own corporate webpage. Learners will also be able to register on the site allowing them to see personalised content according to both their locality and/or subject interests.
Teachers/lecturers and widening access professionals will be able to search by both content description and member. The hub will also contain generic information on HE and HE entry accessible directly via the home page but the focus of the platform is on the activities. There are other websites which provide readable information on HE e.g Discover Uni and UCAS. The aim is to not replicate this.
Providers who have subscribed to the Uni4Me website will be able to upload their activities to the site and feature them on their own, branded page. Providers will be able to upload as broad a range of work as they like but the value of having the website is they will be able to see what the overall provision looks like nationally and tailor their efforts in the most strategic way. Partners would promote the activities on the website to the schools, colleges and learners they engage with.
NEON will manage, maintain and promote the Uni4Me website including collating information on the profile of users. NEON will also be able to analyse the postcodes of registered users enabling us to assess the take up of activities by POLAR4 and/or IMD data.
If you have any queries please email Martin Webster (email@example.com)
The NEON April 2020 survey along with the NEON Online Conference looking at the impact of COVID-19 on widening access work attended by 600 delegates showed that there is a significant demand for professional development support to enable online outreach activities to be delivered. The programme complemented the platform to enable online provision with the highest impact to be delivered.
The programme included five sessions. Each session was delivered virtually and an interactive way. The aim was to construct a coherent course rather than a series of stand-alone sessions.
Key to the course has been delivery by experts but this was also predicated on a community of practice model. This means that the participants shared progress in their work at each session and NEON will collate information on progress. This approach is essential to build the knowledge base here. The group learning approach will allow us to develop the best work.
The areas covered throughout the course have been:
The first two sessions gives delegates the skills needed to immediately start developing and delivering content. The second two sessions considers some of the challenges they have encountered and how these can be addressed. The final session involves getting participants to critically evaluate the interventions that have been developed and enabled them to revisit key themes of the course in relation to their own outreach online.
NEON also set up an online discussion board for participants from the which has helped to facilitate discussion between sessions and allow participants to support each other as they develop their approaches. The discussion has been supported by the course leads and has been important part of the group learning aspect of the course.
If you are interested in future sessions of this training please email Martin Webster (firstname.lastname@example.org)