As with many education settings at the start of lockdown, Bishop Grosseteste University (BGU) moved rapidly to delivering tuition online, a task that required a great deal of work for teaching staff and changes in working practices for learners.
With the end of one Academic year approaching thoughts turned quickly to the next and to student recruitment for 2020/21. Traditionally, as with other Universities and Colleges, BGU offered open days for potential students to visit. Typically, such open days give visitors the chance to tour the campus, listen to talks and to learn more about course and student life. Lockdown and social distancing measures certainly put an end to the idea of running physical open days for this year.
It was quickly realised that there was a need to create a Digital Open Day experience that would, as best as possible, recreate the day in an interactive online environment.
With over 40 different subjects to cover across undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as topics such as admissions and accommodation, this would be no small task. But with crunch time closing in, there was just six weeks to get from concept to completion in time for the first open day.
BGU turned to Cursor, an award-winning digital agency focused on helping businesses work smarter online.
Commenting on the collaboration, Daniel Westlake, Managing Director at Cursor, said: “Cursor works as a trusted partner and we are challenged to find ways to deliver business outcomes within the agreed budget and timescales. This gives our expert team the opportunity to come at problems in a different way. The team at Bishop Grosseteste University really bought into this new type of agency-client relationship and it paid dividends when we were able to pivot quickly to tackle the problem of bringing Open Days online.”
Working with the BGU team, Cursor determined that the Open Days must have:
- Interactive chat with multiple ‘rooms’ running simultaneously
- Single homepage hosting all elements, rooms for each subject area
- Pre-recorded video content (e.g. introduction from vice-chancellor, course presentations)
- Easily accessible ways to apply for courses
- A ‘live’ feed where website content can be scheduled to support video content
BGU had an existing bank of good quality video media, so this was included in the Digital Open Days, along with new pre-recorded subject-specific presentations. This meant that lecturers were free to answer questions using the live chat feature.
Just six weeks on from the first concept, Cursor had a working system in place containing 45 subject specialist or topic-based rooms and many hours of video content. The portal was launched in time for the first Digital Open Day on 13th June 2020. Insight into the development of this digital experience and the final outcome can be viewed at https://cursor.co.uk/our-work/university-digital-open-days
The Digital Open Day was a great success with over 300 prospective students taking part and there were high levels of student engagement across the rooms with very active chat conversations. The portal received high praise from University staff, including subject specialists who used the chat features to interact with potential students.
Ben Rook, Marketing Manager at Bishop Grosseteste University added: "The Digital Open Days portal is way beyond our expectations and it went down extremely well with staff and prospective students. Having looked at some other universities’ online open days, ours is light years ahead of the sector. We are really going to stand out with this.”