Using data to strengthen efficacy of student and staff support


Charles Darwin University (CDU) students hail from across the Northern Territory and around Australia, in some cases from remote or very remote locations. It’s understandable then that almost 75 per cent of learners study online and rely heavily on the university support systems to improve their distance learning experience.  

To ensure CDU could offer a comprehensive support service to augment the team of staff operating Monday to Friday, the university worked with Blackboard to implement Blackboard Student Services to provide technical support to students. 

Bill Searle, Manager of Learning Technologies at CDU, said that to address the needs of its online learners and to respond to a complex cohort of users working with Blackboard brought considerable change to service and support. Student support was now available around the clock, 365 days of the year with Blackboard Student Services taking over from the internal teams at 5pm each day to support staff.  Additionally, the use of Student Services enabled the university to analyse data collected in monthly reports to identify trends and patterns and further inform some of the institution’s practices around help and support.

In 2016, CDU’s student Call Centre provided by Blackboard Student Services and its internal staff support integrated Blackboard’s SmartView ticketing system. A cloud-based software platform designed specifically for higher education institutions, SmartView enables advisors to research and provide secure and accurate solutions to students or staff who are looking for efficient and effective assistance, and to record the entire interaction for tracking and analysis. Moreover, Blackboard SmartView brings together disparate data to deliver one consolidated view, allowing for faster and more accurate support and a complete picture of the service experience.

In 2018, CDU further bolstered its efforts to drive change in its support system with the implementation of EesySoft, an international cloud service that provides tools to improve users’ self-service experience and increase proficiency. The combination of Blackboard’s IT Support capabilities with EesySoft’s engagement solutions enabled CDU staff and students to have access to better support when and where it is mostly needed: in the Blackboard Learn environment.

Good for students

In preparation for the EesySoft implementation, CDU looked at the data captured by SmartView and categorised it to create a targeted approach by devising key messages to address various issues.  

By looking at the key patterns, they found the four main issues were around:

1- Account login and password access
2- Assessments
3- Enrolments
4- Discussion boards

These issues are now addressed online by using the customisable functions in EesySoft to provide tips and help for students. 

Utilising this modern approach to student queries and combining it with 24/7 support that includes phone/chat options, contextualised help and integration with Blackboard Student Services, has proved successful and has seen a reduction in student ticket volume.

Good for Staff

Not only is the software useful for students, it is also useful for staff. CDU uses the data from Blackboard Student Services and SmartView to strengthen their understanding of any trends that emerge during the teaching cycle. For example, this allows the university to target ‘help and support’ opportunities at specific times throughout the academic year and to rationalise capability before issues arise.

CDU is a perfect example of how a complex university with limited resources can drive change utilising data and analytics to draw insights and drive actions.