Personalisation in MyEd – project update
During the last two academic years we’ve been running a project to look at personalisation in MyEd.
About the project
MyEd already delivers a personalised experience: you get a different layout and set of services based on your role (staff, student or applicant) at the University.
However, we believe further and better curation and targeting of content within the portal – based on personal and usage attributes – will increase engagement and improve the user experience. We wanted to find out more about this, and test some of our ideas, exploring what types of personalisation could add value for students, and what processes and systems might need to be put in place to support this at scale.
What did we do?
We ran three pilots during this project:
- A school specific portlet for Moray House students
- Adding time-specific FAQ content to the existing Get help portlet
- An alternative Help and support portlet in place of the Get help portlet
Moray House students portlet
This pilot was run with colleagues from the MHSES Student Experience and Support Office. The school wanted to explore additional ways to communicate with their students, and to encourage a sense of community for their students. Portal Services wanted to explore how students might engage with school based content, and whether there was a need for this within MyEd. We also wanted to pilot highlighting different content based on the time of year.
The pilot ran for 2 years, from September 2021 until July 2023. We developed a School focussed portlet, which presented time-specific support content which was updated throughout the year, static content directing students to the school intranet and live chat support, and events listings. This was available to all students in Moray House on their MyEd homepage, and to Moray House staff through search.
From the pilot, we were able to evaluate:
- The benefit to the Student Experience and Support Office, who found it helpful to have another communication channel, in particular one which students already used regularly, and were familiar with.
- What support and training would be required for staff providing this type of content if the pilot was to be rolled out more widely.
- The value to students. Usage analysis and evaluation with students support the premise that students value more targeted content, and that this is an approach we should continue to explore. However, it is not clear that the school based approach is the best option to deliver this.
- Some of the issues that would need to be addressed to support a wider roll-out, or development of technical solutions to allow this to be supported at scale. In particular, the relevancy and timeliness of content is critical.
Get help FAQs
This pilot was run with colleagues from the EdHelp service. We wanted to explore whether surfacing specific help articles at key times of year would increase student engagement with the portlet, and with the EdHelp self-help materials.
The pilot ran from September 2022 until July 2023. Students already had access to a Get help portlet on the MyEd homepage, which linked out to the EdHelp knowledge base in Unidesk. For the pilot, we added a list of up to 4 FAQs, linking out to specific FAQs likely to be of interest to students at particular points during the year.
The changes were implemented in September 2022, and the portlet saw an increase in use of over 700% compared to September 2021. Subsequent months saw lower levels of use, but still substantially higher than the previous year. However, resourcing issues in both Portal Services and EdHelp meant that we were not able to update the FAQs as frequently as had been intended. This made it difficult to evaluate how effective this approach was for students.
Help and support portlet
This pilot created an alternative Help and support portlet to replace the Get help portlet for participants. Additional support content provided by colleagues in the Institute for Academic Development and Health and Wellbeing was included in the portlet alongside the standard EdHelp content. This pilot was exploring whether students would engage with additional time-based support content.
This pilot ran from February 2023 until July 2023. Unfortunately, delays in launching the portlet, and low numbers in our test cohort meant that we were not able to properly evaluate this pilot.
What did we learn?
- Students do see value in being able to access relevant and timely content. This was evidenced by usage analytics and feedback from students. However, it needs to have clear purpose and value. Where personalised content is included, it should focus on timely and actionable information, such as essential tasks at the start of the semester.
- It’s not clear that a school based approach is the best option. Much of the content that saw most engagement was not school specific. Some school specific information such as links to local help and support contacts and resources was used regularly, and students felt that it was useful. However this content may be better located thematically, for example alongside other help and support content.
- When students access MyEd they usually have a specific purpose in mind. They perceive it primarily as a functional tool, rather than a communication channel.
- Events and news type information was less used. Students typically used other channels for this information.
- It’s essential that content is updated regularly to ensure that students continue to reference it. Retaining out-of-date or obsolete content reduces student trust in the source.
- Getting relevant and timely content to update the portlets proved difficult. Alternative approaches or contingency plans to address this are needed to support any further work.
What happens next?
We will continue to explore different approaches to personalisation, but through business as usual activities and the MyEd Continuous Improvement project, rather than as a separate project. For academic year 2023-2024 this will have two strands:
- Continuing to explore the value of time-based content, but presented in a help and support context rather than school-based. We will continue to work with Moray House, including a smaller set of school specific content within the Help and support portlet.
- Exploring how more granular role and attribute data for users in MyEd can help us provide more relevant content, for example by being able to target content to new students.
Find out more
If you are interested in knowing more, or would like to collaborate with us to explore how personalisation can improve the user experience, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org