Setting out on the student journey – Launch of BE Ready!

Be ready cover photo


In Autumn 2023, the Digital Learning team launched BE Ready, a new orientation area for all students, designed to help them navigate the world of online learning. This is the first of a series of blog posts which describes our learning journey in developing BE Ready, the rationale, research and results of the design process.


Joining a university and starting to study is a new and possibly challenging experience for many. Even though UCEM has a well-established study support area and student hub to build required study skills, address student questions and challenges throughout their journey, we realised many students approach academics with queries or do not engage in the programme as much as hoped. Or, in some cases, it can be overwhelming to find the right information or right support when needed. Also, as students progress from semester to semester they face unique challenges. 

The idea

Our aim was to build a self-directed yet skinny orientation experience for students before they start their semester journey. This way it becomes easy for students to find required information when needed, build key digital capabilities, and find required student support.

We had an orientation area on our VLE, but it was a ‘one size fits all’ and was not tailored to study level, was generic in nature and anecdotally, we knew that students would access it only at the start of their studies. Prior to designing our new BE Ready area, we analysed the current HE landscape, eliciting best practice and made recommendations that we adopted (and continue to be adopted) into the UCEM student induction and transition.

We wanted the orientation area to be:

  • Self-paced;
  • Specific to Levels 4 to 6 Undergraduate and Level 7 for Postgraduate;
  • Simple –  some inductions can be overloaded with information, so BE Ready is designed to ‘drip-feed’ level-specific information at appropriate points in the student journey;
  • Lean – two parts to the orientation, one at the start of the level (induction) and another while progressing through the level (transition);
  • Interactive – instead of a series of instructions and documents, students can engage with interactive resources that explain and support the students’ journey;
  • Communicated in student-centric language rather than an academic language.

What do students get in BE Ready?

They can find:

  1.  Welcome events and activities for both new starters and returning students;
  2. Getting started checklist;
  3.  Level expectations;
  4. How to use the VLE and other online resources available at UCEM;
  5.  Help/support channels for studies, assignment submission, wellbeing, career development, financial and many more;
  6. Perks available as a student of UCEM;
  7. Information on digital capabilities for an online student;
  8. Basic information of Sustainable Development Goals.

How is it structured?

Be ready road map

Figure 1: BE ready road map – to help guide the students how to use this area.

The UCEM VLE contains all the information and support needed for students anytime. With BE Ready we wanted to provide a road map. The roadmap encourages students to navigate through their online learning in a logical manner, by using BE Ready as their ‘base camp‘ before moving on to attending welcome events, exploring the VLE and then starting their modules (see Figure 1). Instead of overfeeding information at the beginning of the semester, we created a ‘Getting ahead at Level X’ resource so that students can dip in and out in the later weeks of the semester. This way, required information is revealed when needed. The roadmap ends with ‘Leave feedback’ to remind students to provide feedback on their BE Ready experience. This last step has really helped us gathering student feedback in more numbers.

The launch and response

BE Ready was launched in September 2023 for Autumn semester students. From the feedback received so far, it is fascinating to see 88% students are happy with the style and delivery of the BE Ready Orientation module. 86% of those who gave feedback says ‘BE Ready helped me prepare for using the VLE for studying’ and 88% of them says ‘I know where I can access different kinds of support during my study programme’. We are delighted to know that students are benefiting from using BE Ready.

It is very positive and joyful to see how BE Ready has made an impact to students. Read the below student feedback.

”Thank you for the encouragement to be ready. The Scout motto ‘Be prepared’.”

”I liked the slide show style with links to further reading. It makes introducing a lot of information less overwhelming.”

”Clear, helpful & good interactive site.”

”I believe the Be Ready Orientation is a great feature. As I am new to studying with UCEM, It has helped me navigate the areas before my course starts. Everything is clear and well presented.”

”Clear layout helped ensure time management of course”

”Amazing introduction. it was clean, concise, and provided me with exactly what I needed to be ready for the new semester.”

The roadmap or future?

  1. Further enhancements for the Spring 2024 semester.
  2. Gather more evidence and feedback from students and other stakeholders and make bigger updates for Autumn 2024 semester.
  3. Use data from two semesters to better understand student behaviours and habits in accessing resources and why.
  4. Involve and encourage students through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) area.
  5. Design more interactive and engaging resources to better support students in their learning journey.
  6. We’d like to do more student voice here – getting students to work with us to create resources and to personalise their learning journey.

About the team behind BE Ready

The BE ready project was undertaken by the Digital learning and media services team. It was lead by Sarah Jarvis who did the research, curated content and made all the required consultation with different departments to make sure the information in BE ready is current, relevant and needed. On the other hand, Elisaveta Yancheva and Sharvari B Ramesh were the learning designers who brought BE Ready to life! They both carefully crafted the titles for each section, designed interactive content to improve engagement and retention, organised the resources on the VLE in a way it is easy to navigate and absorb the information. This blog post explains what BE ready is. Watch out for more posts which will provide a broader understanding of the design thinking behind BE ready.