Here is the final post in my series of short project overviews from the JISC funded Relationship Management Programme. Last, but definitely not least, the project team at Cardiff Metropolitan University have developed an online learning environment (GradSpace), as part of the DePCEA (Developing a Professional Community Engagement Environment for Alumni) project, for supporting the development of graduate employability skills, assisting alumni in their transition to work and encouraging lifelong learning and professional development.
GradSpace was developed to try and meet the following challenges:
- it’s becoming harder for graduates to find employment after leaving university
- the transition into work is not always easy
- students expect their time at university to prepare them for employment.
GradSpace has a number of functions: learning objects to help support the transition into work and professional development, an ePortfolio, and communication tools for promoting alumni services and events. Alumni are also offered taster sessions on postgraduate courses. Benefits have so far included:
- a greater sense of confidence when applying for employment noted by alumni
- improved application skills, such as the quality of CVs and application forms
- improved loyalty as graduates feel that the University still wants to help them once they’ve left.
Engaging alumni by offering them a dedicated set of resources may encourage them to re-engage at a later date. However, it may be worth considering:
- if more than one system is used, ensure that integration is smooth; for example alumni had to log on separately to both Moodle (GradSpace) and Mahara (ePortfolio), which meant that they did not perceive the ePortfolio to be part of the Gradspace offering
- implementing employability resources early in the student lifecycle to ensure that lifelong learning skills and reflective practice are embedded
- ensuring that any learning resources and materials are selected carefully; for example the project team found that practical resources were most valued.
If you would like to find out more about this project, the following resources may help: