Clearer communication to students in prospect
Students at KTH feel the information they get from KTH is unclear, fragmented, and communicated in too many channels. Representatives from KTH and THS have therefore joined forces in a project to develop communication with KTH students that is clearer and more coherent. For example, the Student Website now has a new web structure and is designed to act as the starting point for KTH-wide information.
The project, Coordinated Communication to KTH Students, was started in September 2020. The aim is to develop communication solutions and strategies that help make it easier for students to concentrate on their studies. The project group includes representatives from all schools and GVS, with a background in either education administration, communication, or IT, and a student representative from THS.
“We are working closely together. All of us are incredibly aware that communication with our existing students needs to be better, something that has been neglected for a very long time,” says Project Manager Sara Gunningberg, who is a Public Relations Officer at the Department of Education Support.
Via in-depth interviews with students, alumni, and employees, and a student questionnaire that was organised in May, the project has accumulated a great deal of knowledge about student needs. Something that clearly emerged from these interviews was the lack of a common strategy for communication with students and what should be communicated when, how, where and by whom.
A lot of time is spent looking for information
According to Gunningberg, students get vast volumes of information from different parts of KTH, and this information communicates in different ways depending on which programme KTH students are studying.
“Students spend a great deal of time finding out where the material is available, what contact details they should use, and what information is important. Not knowing where they can find different types of information is stressful for many students, and they often need to contact their study counsellor or a teacher directly to find out,” she says.
“If instead, students recognise communication from earlier courses, they can focus on the course instead of the course communication. The more teachers use the templates for course memos and Canvas, the easier it will be for students to navigate between courses and have less need to ask their teachers directly,” Gunningberg feels.
Kitty Thai, the student representative on the project, who is about to start her final year of the Computer Engineering Programme, agrees. The lack of a standard and guidelines for how communication with students should be done leads to a great deal of confusion, she says. The most disorder is within courses, but even other important information concerning things such as studying abroad, student health, student rights, and obligations, need to be more coherent, Thai feels.
“Before starting each new course, I have had to spend loads of time navigating my way around and looking for information on the course Canvas page as the teachers structure the pages in different ways. It has been time-consuming, and time I otherwise could have spent studying instead,” she says.
KTH joint communication must go via the Student Web
Some KTH-wide information is currently uploaded onto the programme webs, but what information appears differs from programme to programme, in addition, research students and non-programme students do not get this information.
“Ultimately, KTH should ensure everyone is given equal access and opportunities during the course of their studies. KTH-wide communication, therefore, needs to be equally accessible for all students,” says Gunningberg.
One first step is to collate all KTH-wide communication onto the Student Web, which was given an updated web structure with its own top menu in June.
“The Student Web should be the starting point for students looking for KTH-wide information. We are looking to make the Programme Web a site purely for programme specific information, so students clearly understand this,” says Gunningberg.
Over the course of the year, the project group has produced proposals for a communication strategy that is now in the process of being consolidated in different groupings. Based on this strategy, the project also aims to develop a KTH-wide process for communication with students.
“By developing a process with the Education Administration Committee (UU), it will be easier for everyone to communicate more equally and coherently across the whole of KTH,” says Gunningberg.