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News Students' digital friend recognised at The Guardian University Awards.

A digital coaching app designed to support students has been recognised at national awards celebrating excellence in higher education.

Rob Oakes, Digital Solutions Manager and Andrew Proctor, Director of Digital Services at the Guardian University Awards
Image: Rob Oakes, Digital Solutions Manager and Andrew Proctor, Director of Digital Services at the Guardian University Awards

I felt very proud to be representing the University by showcasing our creativity, passion and dedication to student success.

Andrew Proctor, Director of Digital Services

Staffordshire University was one of two runners-up in the Digital Innovation category at The Guardian University Awards for its new mobile phone app Beacon which was introduced to students earlier this year.

The app, which uses chatbot technology, provides personalised and responsive information on student timetables, enables contact with personal tutors and answers frequently asked questions about campus facilities and support services. Beacon recognises students when they log in and students can interact with it via text or voice. As its use among students increases, the app becomes smarter.

Sue Reece, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, said: “We were finding a lot of our staff were being pulled into dealing with what was essentially providing information that could be accessed elsewhere and weren’t able to concentrate on more complex issues, such as counselling. Beacon has removed that burden by starting to answer some of those questions.”

The University estimates that within three weeks of being launched in January 2019, it had helped more students than a single member of staff would in a year. It is also one of the top apps in the App Store for education, and the University is also exploring with Staffordshire County Council how Beacon can potentially be used to support school children.

Director of Digital Services, Andrew Proctor said: “At an evening focused on recognising and celebrating the successes of UK higher education, it was fantastic that we were shortlisted for the Digital Innovation award, highlighting our position as one of the foremost digital universities. I felt very proud to be representing the University by showcasing our creativity, passion and dedication to student success.”

  • Winner of the Digital Innovation award was London School of Economics’ for State of the States, an in-depth, user-friendly online resource for those interested in US politics. Coventry University was also recognised in the category for its online degrees.



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