Manchester Met improves student experience with Presto

The Manchester Metropolitan University operates through four main faculties. The university identified that each faculty had their own varied processes for engagement management with no central system. This inconsistent approach meant that students were receiving an inconsistent attendance management experience; some were well supported whilst others were experiencing and absence of support and a higher likelihood of failure or drop-out. When the scale of this issue was identified, a central team was established to manage engagement across the university followed by identifying the need for a comprehensive system to support this. Further centralisation of timetabling and course management functions supported using Presto have helped MMU improve the student experience.

MMU and Simac have been working together formally since 2017 when Presto was first implemented at a basic level for identifying low-engagement students who could be offered support. As the relationship has developed and further potential uses of the system have been identified, the team at MMU has been expended to build on this functionality. The teams at MMU and Simac have then worked together to further develop and enhance the range of data and processes moving through Presto to make a one-stop-shop for academics to find the information they need about their students. During the implementation process, Simac displayed a strong appreciation of the wider picture, particularly the importance of the complexities of timetable integration, making a big difference with their understanding and use of APIs to integrate solidly with existing MMU systems.

Presto allows the team at MMU to proactively support students before it gets too late and to identify students with no given reasons for non-engagement to help the situation, possibly leading to earlier withdrawals, reducing the financial burden who want to reconsider their options.

Since introducing Presto, MMU have seen a 20% improvement in timetabling accuracy brought about through the data interactions supporting the engagement management process. The quality of the timetable had to improve to implement Presto initially and the data now visible through Presto has informed further improvements in timetabling. Students can confidently rely on the accuracy of the engagement data they see and on their timetables. This confidence has helped to support MMU’s approach to work-readiness for students, encouraging them to register when they attend, or to use the student webapp for reporting absence. MMU’s students love swiping in with their cards, almost as if they are showing off that they have made the effort to engage and want this to be recognised by the university’s data.

20% improvement in timetabling accuracy since introducing Presto. Timetabling had to improve to use Presto well and the use of Presto has driven further improvements in timetabling. Students can rely on the data and on their timetables.

Angelique Bueler - Student Engagement Manager

One of the greatest benefits from the project so far has been the improvement MMU have seen in how they can identify where students need support and what sort of support is best suited to the situation. Presto has been a worthwhile investment just for the way in which it allows the use of data to support students in various circumstances who may not otherwise know how to access support or that the university may not spot as being at risk through other means. Students reporting absence through the system receive tailored messages signposting them to the next stage of support.

There has been widespread appreciation of the overall Presto user experience with students and staff at all levels regularly accessing the system. Integrating Presto into the university’s Single Sign On environment and the use of easy institutional short URLs means that academic staff don’t have to go out of their way sign in to see accurate, accessible class lists at the start of teaching sessions.  Having accurate registers with student’s pictures on means that academics can feel more connected to their class and helps them to recognise and interact with their students to a greater degree. Administrative staff have access to tailored dashboards providing visual interpretations of multiple data types beyond attendance, including Moodle access and assessment information. Note taking for student cases is available and staff have been prepared to avoid leaving non-GDPR compliant notes on the system so is used to indicate when signposting or attempts to contact have taken place to support staff with the process.

Both MMU and Simac have enjoyed the productive collaboration to date, underpinned by patience and understanding. Presto at MMU has been so successful because of the great level of synergy and open communication between the parties. A regular example of this collaborative approach has been when MMU have suggested improvements which Simac have acknowledged and been able to identify ways to further develop the scope of the enhancement to provide further future benefits beyond those originally identified. The collaborative approach has allowed MMU and Simac to work together to develop the system, allowing MMU to revise their own processes using the system’s functionality rather than just allowing their processes to define how the system should work.

There has been significant backing for the project from senior management which has helped to strengthen the implementation of different parts of the system over time. This has developed through gradual implementation and iteration where the benefits of the system can be demonstrated to different parts of the university who then in-turn start to work with the system and identify further enhancements to be developed. The support from senior management has helped to highlight the benefits of the system across the university.

MMU are considered a sector leading university in terms of managing engagement and are happy to share information about how they manage the process.  Presto helps the university to support students, helping them to achieve success and to provide a better student experience. The data generated by the system and fed into the system allows a cross-university approach to positive student experience and achievement.

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