Meet our new Student Digital Champions for 2023

We are excited to announce that the DEO have recruited a new group of Student Digital Champions to work with the team for the next year to help us improve students’ digital experience whilst at University. You can find out more about them here. If you’re a student and want to get in touch with them, get in contact with your Course Rep who will be able to put you in touch.

Polly Davis

3rd Year, studying Environmental Geoscience. Polly has worked with the DEO since the start of 2022.

Polly Davis

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

Just like last year, I am a great Louis Theroux enthusiast!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

My favourite has to be command-f as it saves me a lot of time to find relevant information in countless academic papers. Just search for a keyword and it will direct you to the areas where that word is mentioned in writing!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

Always the smiley face Smile

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

Fortunately not.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Enhancing digital skills for students. Not only are they essential for university, but they will also be essential for many workplaces! It is vital that all students can access digital learning tools at every stage.

Daniel Cheek

1st Year, studying MEng Aerospace Engineering

Daniel

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I enjoy playing football and support Watford. I’m terrible at cooking but an avid food enjoyer. I also enjoy travelling and hiking.

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Windows+ (Magnifier)

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

Peace emoji ✌

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

AVDASI* – it’s a unit on my course but I have no idea what it means apart from A being aerospace.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Improving student experience in a more meaningful way so that when people have issues with digital learning I can take real action to help them.

Rosie Neville

3rd Year, studying Economics and Politics

Rosie

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

As well as playing football, I am an Arsenal fan (which probably fills me with more dread than joy!)

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Ctrl + F

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

Thumbs up – appropriate in most situations Yes

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

APR*

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

I am looking forward to being a student voice/ representative on the team. I think having lived experience of what works (and what doesn’t work!) will be beneficial in seeing how the university can use digital resources to improve the experience of students – whether that’s making the digital environment more accessible or improving feedback systems.

Conor Macdonald

2nd Year, studying Philosophy and Economics

Conor

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I can speak Welsh.

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Command + Tab (switches between open apps)

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

It has to be the simple thumbs up 👍

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

I’d like to think I know most of them, though I still sometimes get mixed up between summative and formative assessments.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

I’m looking forward to shaping the student experience of digital education at Bristol. Hopefully I can input their opinions on projects before they’re implemented. I’d also like to improve students’ opinions regarding their experience with present projects, such as Multi Factor Authentication (MFA). Hopefully I can show that it is a very useful security feature and not something to dislike.

Emma Yi Kwan Lau,

3rd Year, studying Veterinary Science

Emma

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I travelled to Ireland last summer for an internship to learn more about aquaculture and how it relates to veterinary medicine. You wouldn’t have correlated your pet fish with vets, but that’s possible and is an industry I want to be part of!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Ctrl+Z. Sometimes I accidentally delete what I wrote. However, with this shortcut, I can easily recover the sentence or paragraph I was writing!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

👍 A thumbs up!

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

Not yet.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Collecting students’ opinions on the current blended learning system and creating projects to improve students’ experiences!

Gen Kawaguchi

2nd Year. Studying Aerospace Engineering

Gen

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I worked as a volunteer in Tokyo 2020 Olympics!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Shift+Windows+S! Snipping is useful.

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

😵‍💫Dizzy symbol👍- When I get confused and understand.

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

A LOT!! I still find many acronyms that I don’t know especially when checking emails… (TSS, CAG, ILO, etc…)*

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Work collaboratively with team members Beaming face with smiling eyes

Hannah Harrison

1st Year, studying MSc Mathematics of Cybersecurity

Hannah

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I love to scuba dive!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Ctrl-F is a firm favourite, it saves so much time!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

The facepalm emoji – for when I’ve been stuck on a problem for ages and suddenly realise the obvious solution! Facepalm

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

SSLC*

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

I am looking forward to the opportunity to write blog posts, as I rarely write anything outside of the academic style. I’m also excited to share my ideas on how to improve student experiences with blackboard and online learning after the shake-up caused by COVID.

Nia Burkinshaw,

2nd Year, studying Law

Nia

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I am really terrible at using buses in Bristol, and have often gone in the wrong direction. I have ended up in practically Weston-super-Mare not once but twice!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

ctrl + f, saves a lot of boring reading!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

A simple smiley face for when my lecturer shows us his cats. Smile

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

No, but the ASS (library) can be great for making an immature joke.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

The team seem really great and exciting people, I’m looking forward to collaborating with others to help students get the most out of the amazing resources we have access to.

Katie Stoker

1st year MSc, studying Bioinformatics

Katie

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I studied in Italy for one year during my undergraduate degree!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Hm, I would say it has to be ctrl+ s…
I have learned from experience that you should save your work as you go!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

The heart! ❤️

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

As a newbie to the university, I was quite confused hearing people they were going to “ASS” to study (Arts And Social Sciences Library for anyone still confused).

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Working with the DEO is going to be a great opportunity to be a representative of the student voice. I look forward to contributing creative and innovative ideas to solve problems and improve the online university experience.

Bibiana Lebersorger

3rd year, studying English

Bibi

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I really enjoy cold water swimming, especially at home along the Devon coastline.

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Control/Command + F = Find a word in a document.

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

Thumbs up! 👍

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

AGM / EGM*

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

I’m really looking forward to helping to identify digital problems that students and lectures alike encounter, and coming up with creative potential solutions.

Samantha Travers-Spencer

2nd Year, studying Veterinary Science

Samantha

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

My favourite animals are donkeys!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

It has to be the classic Ctrl+V!

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

Definitely the thumbs up emoji. 👍

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

There are so many I have honestly lost count!

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

I am most looking forward to working with a diverse team, meeting new people and hopefully developing new digital skills along the way.

Timber Hill

1st Year MSc, studying Nuclear Science and Engineering

Timber

Tell us something about yourself (interesting or not!)

I’m a member of the judiciary!

What is your favourite keyboard shortcut?

Windows + X – opens up a menu to quickly open Task Manager, Device Manager or a PowerShell instance (and more!)

What’s your favourite emoji to use in online sessions?

😦 – the sort of face you’d make if you’re looking at something that has gone way over your head

Is there a University acronym or term you’ve still never worked out what it means?

Too many to remember! I come across AQSC (Academic Quality and Standards Committee) written down a fair bit, and only just found out what it stands for.

What are you most looking forward to being involved with in the Digital Education Office?

Getting stuck in with projects to make digital tools work better for all students! I’m especially interested in accessibility – with a focus on neurodivergence.

Useful links

You can find out more about the Student Digital Champions, and see some of the work they have created on the following pages.

*We knew most of these acronyms, but had to look a few up!

  • AVDASI – Aerospace Vehicle Design and Systems Integration
  • APR – Annual programme review.
  • Summative assessment – Assessments of learning provide a measure of achievement in relation to the learning outcomes of the unit or programme. These assessments are designed to test how much you have learnt, i.e. your knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • Formative assessment – Assessments for learning are designed to provide you with feedback on your progress and to inform your development, but do not contribute to the overall unit or programme mark. These assessments should help you gain further knowledge, understanding and skills.
  • TSS – Temporary Staffing Service
  • CAG – Casual, Academic, Guest
  • ILO – Industrial Liaison Office
  • SSLC – Student Staff Liaison Committees
  • AGM – Annual General Meeting
  • EGM – Extraordinary General Meeting

A reflection on my time as a Student Digital Champion

Written by Olivia Muggleton, Student Digital Champion

Olivia Muggleton

I began my role as a Student Digital Champion (SDC) in the Summer of 2021. Having recently returned from my much needed post exam holiday, I was re-energised and raring to start making some changes to our digital learning experience as students at the University of Bristol. Since then, I am proud to say that I have provided the DEO with a number of insights, resources and other miscellaneous contributions which I feel will prove useful, not only for current and future students, but also for the DEO in helping them understand what it is that works for us. Beyond this, however, I have also received an immeasurably valuable experience thanks to the DEO, as it has pushed me to develop my skills and confidence in a way that I could not have imagined prior to that Summer of 2021.   

As it was an entirely remotely based role, being an SDC enabled me to gain valuable work experience despite living at my home in South Wales for my final two years of study. Although I was wholly inexperienced in working remotely, I soon discovered that organisation, time management and the ability to work productively and efficiently with minimal supervision, were going to be key to adapting successfully to this new style of work (at the time I had also started Peer Mentoring so this lesson was learnt doubly as fast!). As I was afforded great freedom to select and complete my tasks and projects in my own time, the SDC role really enhanced my skills in all the aforementioned areas, especially as it was a role that I undertook alongside my fulltime studies – Self motivation and drive are essential! As a result, I am now confident not only in my ability to adapt to new modes of working, but also in my ability to produce high quality work in a timely and efficient manner, by setting my own deadlines and keeping a thorough log of my hours. 

Desk with a laptop and lamp. Photo by Rich Tervet on Unsplash

Being able to work autonomously in this sense was not, however, the only skill that I developed thanks to my work as an SDC. The ability to communicate and work well in a team was also a central requirement for this role. Thanks to the highly collaborative and open minded environment that the DEO and other SDCs have created, this is an ability which I feel I have strengthened tenfold. I now feel that I can better appreciate the value and insight that can be gained by encouraging individuals from diverse backgrounds and circumstances to share their ideas and perspectives, as these will inevitably lead to more effective problem solving and an all-round more supportive (and subsequently productive) workplace – From accessibility requirements and culture to professional background, everyone has a unique perspective which can enable you to see the bigger picture when trying to creatively solve problems and overcome particular challenges. In the same vein, the SDC role provided me with an opportunity to focus on the areas of my communication skills which I felt least confident in – For instance, I was able to coordinate and lead two presentations which portrayed the student voice to university staff and academics within and beyond the University of Bristol. This has increased my confidence in presenting and orally communicating my ideas to my team members and audiences in a formal, presentational setting. It has also improved my confidence in taking the lead on projects, a confidence subsequently demonstrated by taking the lead in creating the student digital glossary and keyboard shortcut guide. 

While I would love to elaborate on all the interesting projects and tasks that I had the pleasure of working on during my time as a SDC (and all the skills that I subsequently developed in relation to these projects), I believe it is sufficient to say that this was an incredible opportunity, for which I owe a great deal to the DEO. Accordingly, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to the following individuals who made working as an SDC such a valuable and enjoyable experience. Firstly, I cannot convey enough thanks to Naomi (Nay), my first port of call when I needed any guidance in this role – From the beginning Nay has always been in touch and eager to put our ideas into practice, she really cares about our progression as SDCs and what we get out of the role, not simply how we can benefit the DEO. She works incredibly hard and is generally a lovely person who always made me feel comfortable in expressing any thoughts or feedback and regularly encouraged me to pursue the things that I cared about most. I would also like to thank the rest of the DEO team – Every one of them truly respect and actively seek out the student perspective, going out of their way to do it justice. It was nice to be treated as an equal in a professional environment where my input was highly valued, and I have the upmost confidence that the team will continue to work hard to shape their work around the needs and concerns of the students at the university long into the future. Last but not least I would like to thank my fellow SDCs – Although I have seen many come and go due to my extended time within the role, each one of them has inspired me with their ideas and passion, enlightened me and opened my eyes to perspectives and challenges which I may never have even considered without their contributions. Everyone has always been friendly and eager to help each other to be successful, which made for a very easy environment to collaborate and work productively as a team, so thank you!  

Person walking on a beach. Photo by José M. Reyes on Unsplash

I think my three extensions make it quite clear that I would happily go on to continue my work as a SDC, but unfortunately I could not do the role justice as I am no longer a student! So where do I go from here? As of July I have completed my LLB Law with The University of Bristol and cannot wait to get stuck into the legal world in practice. It is fair to say that this role has set me up incredibly well and provided me with a level of confidence in many skills which will prove highly transferable when I commence my next role. From team working and communication (written and oral) to problem solving and even remote working (time management, minimal supervision, organisation), working as an SDC has enabled me to leave university feeling prepared and ready to tackle the next phase in my life, but it has also provided me with some treasured friends which I know will help me on that journey.  

Girl looking over hills. Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Unsplash

All that is remaining for me to say (in case I have not made it clear enough) is that I highly recommend that you apply to become an SDC – It is more than a source of extra income, it is an opportunity to shape the digital learning experience that is provided by The University of Bristol (and perhaps beyond) while gaining valuable experience and friendships along the way.  

Thank you 

Diolch 

Olivia 

Student experiences of online assessment

Written by Olivia Muggleton, Student Digital Champion.

Olivia Muggleton

Olivia recently presented at one of BILT’s Show and Tell events on Student Experiences of Online Assessment. It was a great event and we thought we should share it with the student community too.

Student Experiences of Online Assessment

Last week I was tasked with presenting a few of my thoughts to university staff as part of the Bristol Institute for Learning (BILT) Show, Tell and Talk webinar event. This webinar focused on the topic of online assessments and included talks from university staff and BILT Student Fellows on the behind the scenes of online assessment and their feedback on its success so far – including the wellbeing and accessibility aspects of this new mode of learning. I was fortunate enough to be able to use my role as Student Digital Champion to represent the student experience and offer some feedback from the people who are impacted most by the move to online assessments – Us!

In my presentation I focused on the experience of preparing for online assessments and how this has changed quite significantly over the past couple of years. So firstly, how can you prepare? Beyond revision of the unit’s course content, online assessments carry with them a whole load of technical challenges, whether they’re timed open-book over a number of hours or days, or whether they require hand written text or diagrams to be scanned and submitted: and if you get that far, the next challenge is saving with the correct file names and formats and submitting into the right submission port – and as with any other online activity, accessibility is also an incredibly important factor. So in acknowledging these additional requirements, lets discuss some of the online assessment preparation resources that are available to us as students.

Digitally Ready ‘Digitally Ready for Assessment’

Digitally Ready on Blackboard

Digitally Ready provides students with resources and advice with respect to online learning. Under this specific subheading of the ‘digital induction’ links can be found to all relevant pages such as student services, wellbeing support, the university assessment and exam arrangement pages, as well as the Study Skills resources on Exams and Wellbeing.

As well as signposting, Digitally Ready provides a virtual walkthrough of the Assessment, Submission and Feedback (ASF) areas in Blackboard and a step by step checklist to go through as soon as we know about a timed online exam, including what to do in the event that something goes wrong – overall, a really extensive and helpful resource. The SDCs are also currently working with the Strategic programmes and projects team to provide feedback to improve the ASF area for students.

I’m particularly fond of the Padlet that sits in this section which allows students to view and input their own preparation advice. This provides helpful, practical advice, tried and tested by people in the same situation, but it also builds a sense of community among peers, which has perhaps felt a bit lacking owing to the transition to online learning.

Study Skills ‘Exams and Wellbeing’ and ‘Online open-book exams’ resources.

The Study Skills service create a wealth of resources for students which cover just about anything you could need advice or guidance with. Especially relevant for our purposes are the ‘Exams and Wellbeing’ page and the ‘Online open-book exams’ page. The first of these is a well organised and structured resource which particularly focuses on the stresses that students might feel in the run up to exams. Rather than focusing on the technicalities and revision as such, it provides students with a refreshing insight into recognising unhealthy stress and advice on how to avoid it by better organising yourself and maintaining perspective. The ‘Online open-book exams’ resource delves deeper into the specific requirements of this mode of online assessment and provides some insightful advice regarding certain myths which surround online open-book assessments and some tips on preparing and revising for different assessment formats – for instance unseen, short-term seen and long term seen questions. This resource does tend to be most helpful in terms of aiding an approach to revision, but it nicely caters this to the relatively new format of online assessments. What I like most about this resource is its interactivity and varying format which really encourages engagement – and combined with the possibility of catering it to your own assessment format I think it’s a really appealing and useful page.

Study skills

DEO ‘preparing your submission’

This is a resource that we as SDCs have been quite involved with, we worked with the DEO to give some detailed student informed feedback on the layout and content of this resource and its practical ease for us to follow. This resource really delves into the technicalities and thoroughly explains each and every step involved in preparing to submit an online assessment in multiple formats, on Blackboard or Turnitin.

While it is predominantly focused on the technical side of preparation, I feel that this, alongside the ‘Submitting assignments in Blackboard or Turnitin’ guidance, are really invaluable resources, especially to students in first year who are likely to be entirely unfamiliar with this form of assessment via these platforms. More generally, I feel the DEO’s resources are really helpful as they provide an interactive (and thoroughly detailed) resource for students to click through and follow.

Preparing your submission

What are your thoughts?

Do you have any thoughts on these resources or on online assessments in general? We SDCs are here to champion the student perspective and experience so if you feel that there’s something we should know, please reach out so that we can be even more representative of your voice! We are also always working on giving feedback on university resources and areas of the online learning environment including but not limited to assessments, so subscribe to DigiTalk to keep up to date on our latest developments.

Further resources

 

Appinions – Travel

Appinions banner

A great app will keep you glued to your device. Whether it’s lifestyle, social media, utility, gaming, productivity or news; apps are an essential part of student life.
Each month we challenge our Student Digital Champions to delve into a new category, delivering fresh perspectives and making proclamations for essential applications. Which features are dumb? What should be at the tip of your thumb?

Written by Polly Davis, Leah Parker, and Kexin Li: Student Digital Champions.

Polly Davis  Leah Parker  Kexin Li

June 2022: Travel

The travel industry has taken a battering over the last few years. Staffing cuts in aviation have led to recent flight cancellations, whilst providing proof of negative covid tests have once again been dashing plans at the last minute. However we intend to spend our well deserved time off, somebody has inevitably found a way to enhance the experience using a mobile app. But are they any good?

Step: Your world

app icon Step is a new travel app based on a public, interactive map where everyone can pin their favourite places of culture, drink, health, shopping, stay, and food. With Step, you create your own profile with your own specific tags of places where you are from and where you mostly visit- this does not limit where you can pin, the map covers the world! By simply searching a place you have visited, you can create a recommendation by pinning this on the map. Scrolling around, you will be able to see so many recommendations around you which really helps to get a feel for the culture and life of the community of the place you are in. Even more so, following your favourite Culture Creators and accounts allows you to see their own personal recommendations. This has been extremely helpful whenever I have been in London visiting friends and we are lost as to where to go- each pin is attached with pictures, the website of the business, opening hours, address, and phone number, with additional comments from users. I have found so many places around me that I would not have taken a second look at if I was using Google or even my own eyes.

 

Pros

  • Interactive map with the ability to comment
  • Create your own profile
  • Follow other creators
  • Can add photos
  • Can build up a following

Cons

  • Relatively new app so pins are fairly limited to popular places
  • Cannot specify what type of establishment you are looking for, such as filtering by the nationality of the food
  • Pins are not reviewed by any critics, therefore recommendations are subjective
  • Not available to download via Google Play

Reviewer: Polly Davis

Download link:

app store link

My Travel Tracker

app icon

I love travelling, and I have always been tempted to make a travel blog- but I have also always been quite intimidated by that large and scary environment. My Travel Tracker is a way to document your travels into categorised trips that are displayed on your own personal map. Each trip can be pinned with photographs and geolocations and descriptions to give an in-depth feel to your itinerary. These trips can be viewed by others as it is also a social networking app where you can take inspiration from other travellers and interact by commenting, liking posts, and sharing. Like Instagram, there is a community page where you can view recent travel posts from other creators and view their own Bucket Lists. Even more, there is a section where you can post short films of different places around the world- this is especially helpful if you are stuck on what place to travel next to, get a grasp of the environment, or to simply reminisce on your own time there. Some travellers decide to categorise their posts by the best places to eat, drink, visit or stay in an area which can be searched for in the community section if you need guidance when you are visiting an area!
This app creates a safe and friendly community full of creators with the same passions of adventure and curiosity about the world!

 

Pros

  • Can create a profile area with a colour map that highlights the countries you have visited
  • You are free to post in whatever format you would like, whether it be a blog, tip list or just pictures
  • Can follow other travellers and interact with their posts which will appear on your timeline

Cons

  • Not every place in the world has been posted so popular tourist locations have more posts attached with them
  • The community page is ordered in terms of popularity of a post or profile
  • All communication with other creators is public

Reviewer: Polly Davis

Download link:

app store link

 

Bristol Guide

Bristol guide app icon

This app provides a distinctive guide to Bristol, pointing new visitors wanting to explore the city to an exciting array of attractions, or perhaps even helping residents discover new places they were not previously aware of. This app aims to encompass a full Bristolian experience to the user.

This app allows you to locate the nearest attractions and sites around you for you to go and  visit. Or, if you prefer, you are able to look at places to visit in a specific category you are interested in. These categories include events and festivals, parks and greenspaces, pubs and bars, and restaurants and sport, to name a few. By pressing on the event you are interested in, it provides a brief overview of the site, including contact and website details if you would like to learn more, and its exact location.

Pros

  • Free
  • Simple to use
  • Range of categories containing a wide variety of sites and events, including popular and lesser known ones.

Cons

  • Some categories lack essential information – e.g. the events and festivals tab has no information on the dates and times
  • Would be nice to see some reviews of the places shown
  • Includes some pictures but would say it definitely needs more!
  • Not available to download via Google Play

 

Overall, I really like the idea of the app! I think it includes a wide range of sites and attractions to visit, which would be useful for not only first-time visitors, but also residents wanting to explore more of the unknown parts of the city. Through using the app, I was able to discover lots of green spaces I did not know existed just right near me which was amazing. However, I would say it’s clear this app needs an update, as there is some information lacking which would be useful, such as dates of festivals and events. I also think more pictures would really benefit the app, as it only contains a single image for each listing, which does not always truly represent the beautiful appearance of these sites. Overall, I do like the app and would definitely recommend it to those living in Bristol over the summer so they can go and explore the city.

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download link:

app store link

Voi

Voi app icon

Voi is a new, innovative way of travelling round the city. This app provides a new mode of transport, aiming to cut down our emissions while still getting to places quickly. Voi scooters are bright red, and operate simply through twisting the handle to accelerate, and pressing down bike-like brakes at the front to stop. They are now equipped with indicators as well, which you can use to signal when you are turning left or right.

The way it works is you first download the app, and set up your Voi account on the app by scanning your driver’s license. The app then allows you to find your nearest Voi parking spot, where you can also see the number of Vois available. You simply scan the QR code on the Voi and once you’re ready you can unlock it and begin voing! When you’ve reached your destination, you then park your Voi in the closest parking spot and are asked to take a picture upon completion.

Voi offers regular users the opportunity to buy Voi passes, whether this be just for the day, or a month. There are designated parking spots, discounted parking spots, and also marked slow zones and no Voi zones. Voi scooters also stop working past a certain time and have installed a software aimed to test your reaction skills to promote safe use.

 

Pros

  • Passes are relatively cheap.
  • Quite fun way of getting round.
  • Especially round Bristol, quite easy to find and locate Voi parking spots.
  • The app allows you to locate Voi parking spots and places you can find Vois
  • Voi prevents you riding on the pavements, ensuring the safety of pedestrians

Cons

  • Have to find a designated parking spot to put your Voi in – If travelling to a new destination it may be difficult to determine where exactly to find these.
  • Potentially scary particularly if you are not a licenced driver, or the weather conditions are harsh.
  • The Voi may run out of battery in particularly inconvenient locations.
  • Only accessible in certain cities.

 

Overall, I love the idea of Voi as a way of travelling, especially in a busy city such as Bristol, where bringing your cars may not be feasible due to the lack of car park spaces, or if you’re like me and you just can’t drive! I find it particularly useful when the buses may be unreliable or I need to get somewhere quite quickly if I am running late. Yet, I will admit, I have suffered a fair few scary instances with Voi, and so I personally do not use them often unless I am on quiet, residential roads. I would definitely recommend learning your road rules before attempting to ride a Voi, and definitely practice before heading to the main roads. I think with a careful and responsible user, Vois can be quite fun and provide a cost effective way of travelling to places, and not to mention they are much more environmentally friendly than other modes of transport. I would definitely recommend using Vois opposed to a car when you can, but just as with any mode of transport, make sure you do your research before riding them and learn your road rules!

Reviewer: Leah Parker

Download link:

app store link

 

Google Translate

Google translate icon

One of the biggest problems you may face while travelling is probably the language barrier. Google Translate will be your best aid for basic daily communication in most countries! Google Translate is a free translation service, which provides instant translation between 133 languages, and supports the translation of words, sentences, and web pages between any two languages. The interface of the app is very concise, with only three pages: Home, Saved, and Settings. In addition to inputting text for translation, you can also directly translate the text in the photo through the camera. For tourists, the instant translation of conversations and the transcription function provide great convenience. You can record your voice directly, and Google Translate will automatically translate it into the target language and read it aloud.

Pros

  • All features are free
  • The translation speed is fast, and the communication can be translated instantly
  • Very simple and convenient to use

Cons

  • There may be translation errors leading to misunderstandings, and grammar and structure errors occur frequently
  • The choice of languages is limited. “Conversation mode” is available in 71 languages; “Transcription mode” is only available in 10 languages
  • Accents may lead to inaccurate voice input

 

I personally think Google Translate is the most frequently used and helpful app for travellers, and it helped me immensely when I travelled to Turkey last week. When I was communicating with my Turkish host, we used Google Translate the entire time, making our conversation smooth and pleasant. Google Translate solves all the problems related to language barriers to the greatest extent possible with simple functions, which I think is amazing. Although there may be grammatical errors due to machine translation, I think it has no impact on the communication between tourists and local people, so it is a very excellent app for me in general.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download link:

app store link

 

App in the Air

App in the air icon

If you have frequent flight needs and are easily troubled by problems such as flight information changes, App in the Air can effectively help with air-related problems to ensure you travel smoothly! The main function of App in the Air is to help you manage your hotel and flight reservation and give timely notifications and relevant information so you can optimize your travel experience. Different from other OTA (online travel agency) apps, App in the Air is more like a personal travel assistant, because you can not only book air tickets and hotels from this app, but also manually import your flight number and hotel reservation, and it will give you all relevant information and suggestions. Beyond that, it acts as a memoir by collecting statistics on all the flights you’ve ever taken and competing on the global leader board. You can also invite your friends and compete on the friend list for flight stats.

Pros

  • Convenient and easy to use. The app design is very concise and straightforward
  • Helping you record flight statistics and keeping track of your accomplishments during your trips
  • You can add your loyalty programmes to track status and bonuses
  • Providing very detailed information and tips for travellers

Cons

  • There is a fee for membership, and regular users only have a 14-day free trial
    • £9.99/year for Basic.
    • £29.49/year for Pro.
    • £44.99/lifetime
  • The functions of this app are not unique, and most of them can be replaced by other free apps
  • Users have complained about bugs in the app and incorrect flight information being provided
  • Hotel and flight information booked on other platforms require manual input

 

I personally think this app is more useful for regular travellers, but it is not very attractive to me as a student. It can effectively help travellers to manage all reservations and plan your trip, and its notification function can greatly help you to avoid missed flights and other problems during the trip. However, as far as I am concerned, all this travel information can be found on free platforms, and I do not need to spend extra money to obtain such information. This app can only provide flight information, but not bus or train related information, so the frequency of use for me is very low. Also, all the hotel and flight information I booked from other platforms have to be entered manually rather than displayed automatically, which makes the function of recording travel statistics a little troublesome.

Reviewer: Kexin Li

Download link:

app store link

These apps aren’t supported or managed by the University of Bristol. Don’t forget to think about what data you are adding to these apps if you decide to download and use them. Our Online Identity video highlights some of the factors you may want to think about when you are online.

Next month: Security

A student reflection on communication and social media

Written by Bobby Joynes, Student Digital Champion studying Theatre and Film.

Bobby Joynes

During my time as a Student digital champion, I’ve been quite interested in the relationship between the student body and the university through the use of social media. Students use their phones on a regular basis. Combining both social interactions with workflow as they use popular apps such as Instagram, snapchat and Outlook. I began work with the DEO to utilise this and to merge the connection between the two parties closer together. In doing so, we would be able to relay information efficiently and effectively, while also allowing students to take the initiative to begin their own explorations into their digital activity and to boost their knowledge of how things worked in the world of work.

Yes, it sounds like a tall order. However, I felt that if we were able to bridge the gap, it would be one step closer to securing a stronger connection between the student body and the university itself. I spearheaded a project, that is currently ongoing, to create more online awareness from the DEO to the body, with things like Instagram takeovers with the SU and other societies being the first step, and the project finally concluding with the full integration of an Instagram page run solely by the DEO and supported by the uni. The page would be a direct way of sending out regular tips and updates about ongoing events in order to keep students in the loop and much more aware.

Person holding phone showing Instagram logo
Photo by Claudio Schwarz on Unsplash

As I said, the project is currently ongoing, and the DEO is working hard to try and achieve the goals that I originally stated. On top of this, I wanted to also make a comment about my own perspective surrounding my digital usage every day. As a theatre and film joint honours student, my interactions with technology come in irregular amounts, with the majority being used to support physical performance or film creation. Online learning is something that has generally been kept to a bare minimum because of how little of the course can be completed online. However, the communication that the staff have with the students is something that I truly appreciate. Regular forms and email lines of communication are sent out as a way of checking up on what we think works well and what doesn’t work so well within the department. At the end of the day, communication is the fundamental element that keeps any healthy relationship alive, whether it be between students or students and staff. Without that line of contact, unhappiness and anger can be allowed to build up, resulting in students not wanting to interact and even attend classes.

People working together
Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

I’ve personally found that this communication has been great at allowing me and my peers to express our thoughts which have then actually been publicly addressed, opposed to other empty promises and dead-ended emails sent by other departments which don’t foster any kind of interaction between themselves and students.

Yellow telephone
Photo by Mike Meyers on Unsplash

I want to finish by just saying how important it is for students to communicate with their staffing bodies. It may be tough and challenging, but if they don’t know, then how can they help you? And your opinion matters. It may not feel like it but raising issues with staff via emails or digital forms etc. can make the world of difference to how this university is run.

Find out more about the Student Digital Champions.

Why the student voice is so important, and how I am using mine to shape the digital learning experience for others

Written by Helena Thornton

Student Digital Champion and Undergraduate student of Psychology


When I began at the University of Bristol in September 2020, I had no idea what to expect. If university at all is a big step to take, moving across the country to start my degree in the middle of a pandemic felt like a giant leap. There were so many unknowns: of course, I had the more usual university concerns of whether I would like my flatmates, learning to cook for myself, and working out how to write a university-style essay. However, alongside these I faced Covid-specific questions: How I would receive my teaching? What would online teaching look like? Would it be accessible and engaging, or isolating and frustrating? Could I still build a social life with impending lockdowns and restrictions? 

A year on, many of these questions have been answered in some way or another. And, I am pleased to say that, while my first year of university was certainly a strange one, there were definitely positive elements of the experience. A lot of this has been down to how the university has managed to facilitate learning and even social opportunities online over the past year. 

Online learning took a while to get used to. One of my favourite things about it has been the flexibility it provides: I have enjoyed being able to watch pre-recorded lectures wherever and whenever during the week! This has been particularly helpful for me as someone with a disability: being able to break a lecture up across a longer period of time when needed, or spend a bit of time re-playing a part I didn’t understand, has definitely made the content more accessible.  

As expected, there have also been difficulties associated with learning almost completely online: from the more general problems, such as feeling more isolated from others on the course, to the more specific confusions around how to get Blackboard and other pieces of software to work!  

As the year progressed, I began to realise that, despite having almost exclusively online learning, there were still a lot of ways I could get involved with the University, and with other students. I started off by joining societies, and as I had an interest in Accessibility and Inclusivity, I sat on various committees as a Disability & Equalities Representative. This was a great way to meet people, and to help to build student communities online, by organising virtual events and participating in campaigns.  

It also made me realise the huge variation in student experiences of online learning, and of university as a whole. The switch to remote learning and online assessments has been much easier for some than others. It’s so important that anyone disadvantaged by the new systems, or struggling to adapt to them, is given a voice, and access to the support and resources that can improve their experience.  

With this in mind, this year I have started as Chair of the University’s Disability and Accessibility Network, leading the student platform for students with a disability, mental health condition or neurodivergence. This is an exciting opportunity to work with other students, finding ways to amplify their voices and improve their experience. 

As well as this, this role – alongside the others I have had in the past year – have (and continue to) offers fantastic opportunities to work with University members of staff, particularly those focussed on improving the student experience. As someone both with a disability and in a representation role for other disabled students, it has been really great to get involved in this type of work, being able to feed back about the different experiences students have had, and looking at ways to resolve the difficulties that come up.  

When students are placed in a position where they can speak and be listened to about the problems – and successes – of university learning, powerful changes can be made. For example, last year the Disability & Accessibility Network worked with the University to highlight the gaps in disability accommodations being provided in online assessment formats. As a result, new solutions were found, which have had an important impact across the University to the student assessment process. 

Going into second year, I have also started working with the Digital Education Office as a Student Digital Champion, a student role where I can give feedback, work on projects, and create resources alongside the DEO staff members. Although I haven’t been in the role very long, working with the DEO has been a really positive experience: it not only gives students a voice, but also provides a channel through which to collaborate with staff at the University to improve the resources available to students ourselves.  

The Student Digital Champions, alongside the DEO, are able to work together to improve the online learning experience for students. As we all have unique experiences of online learning and assessment, we can use these to ensure that the DEO’s priorities are as relevant as possible, and are approached in ways that can make a lasting impact for students.  

As a result, I am now not only able to answer the questions I had as a new student facing online learning, but am able to help create these answers myself! At a time when there has been so much change to the university learning experience, this is a great way to ensure that the new systems and ways of learning are positive changes, and I am very pleased – and proud – to play a part in that. 

If you would like to find out more about the Disability and Accessibility Network, feel free to visit our SU Network Page: https://www.bristolsu.org.uk/groups/bristol-su-disability-and-accessibility-networkor our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/BristolDSN,or join our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bristolsudisabilityandaccessibilitynetwork/. 

Skip to toolbar