The Emoticons

Early Alert is underpinned by four key technology driven approaches to identifying the individual needs of students.  These are the self reported student happiness (or satisfaction reported through tools such as Emoticons and The Vibe); system reported wellness (or preparedness for study) reported through the AWE; a computer-mediated communication strategy which utilizes a range of online tools; and system generated case management model which is used to manage the identified student issues. Combined, these elements provide a holistic program which seeks and responds to the voice of the student.

In 2008, with Senior Management sponsorship, the Student Support Team in conjunction with the Business Intelligence Unit and Information Technology Directorate developed and implemented a set of emoticons, as a way for students to self report their satisfaction with their study experience. Emoticons have long been used in on-line environments and have become predominant in social networking sites as a method of communicating feelings.  The emoticon system was embedded within the online UNE student portal.  This provided an opportunity for students to directly report an emotional reaction associated with an individual unit or their overall experience of study.  The take up rate by students was considerable (approx. 17% of the student population) with over 3,000 e-Motions being logged in the first 7 days of the soft launch.  This strongly supported the belief that students are willing to communicate their self-assessed levels of happiness to the university and this tool has fulfilled its potential to capture a wealth of student reported data.

Students have continued to vigorously use this method to alert us to their feelings of happiness (satisfaction)/ unhappiness (dissatisfaction).  The data from this system is reported to staff via daily automated reports and provides the opportunity for direct intervention with students.  Every student who reports an ‘unhappy’ or ‘very unhappy’ experience is contacted personally within 24 hours.

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