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Boosting e-learning engagement at Nescot College with single sign-on

30 March 2022 • Lauren Harding, senior marketing officer

As part of the UKSG Further Education Webinar Series 2022, Nescot College’s academic librarian Cristina Ruiz de Asua delivered a presentation on how she has helped to oversee a transformation in its provision of learning resources to students.

The pandemic created unprecedented challenges for education providers. Lockdowns forced students and tutors to stay at home – but courses needed to be completed, meaning alternative provisions had to be put in place quickly and effectively.

In this webinar, chaired by OpenAthens’ James Young, Cristina outlines the strategies adopted by Nescot to better serve its distance learners, including the integration of OpenAthens single sign-on.

Educational institutions have faced a whirlwind of disruption since the pandemic.

Almost overnight, schools, colleges and universities had to close their doors. With students having to continue their learning away from the classroom, using online resources where possible, the situation forced education leaders to adapt and think on their feet.

For Nescot College, the pandemic represented not only a series of practical challenges but also an opportunity to take stock, evaluate and improve the student experience.

Supporting the shift to distance learning

Based in the South East of England, the further and higher education college offers a series of vocational courses to more than 7,000 students, from business and computing to construction and performing arts.

A central pillar of its offering is the Learning Resources Centre (LRC). Packed with 17,000 print books, 1,000 e-books and numerous e-journals, it is open all year round and run by a team of eight people, including Cristina.

“Several years ago, we knew we were catering to a high number of distance learners, and that those learners were not fully benefitting from our resources, so it was important to do something for them,” she told us.

“Fortunately, we developed a number of improvement projects in 2019 before the pandemic arrived, including the delivery of our information literacy program across all 80 HE courses… this has given the students the skills they need to complete their courses.”

Opening up access to resources

With distance learning becoming the norm, the pandemic has added extra urgency to the LRC’s strategy, which since 2016 has also focused on improving its digital presence, making students more self-sufficient, and better at monitoring usage and KPIs.

Indeed, the Nescot library has made several improvements during the pandemic as well, including implementing OpenAthens single sign-on.

We often hear from frustrated librarians and students about the importance of making access to resources as painless as possible. In this case, Nescot was looking to provide easy and direct access to the majority of its systems, from Office 365 and Google Classroom to the abundance of e-learning material that became learning lifelines during prolonged periods of remote working.  

For Cristina and her team, it was vital to provide as simplified an access process to online resources as possible, and OpenAthens single sign-on offered a solution which eliminates barriers and the need for users to juggle multiple passwords and entry points.

An instant hit

The results were felt immediately. In the first term of the 2021/2022 academic year, users made 5,054 accesses via OpenAthens. This was an increase from 3,830 during the first term of the 2020/2021 academic year. Critically, the number of failed attempts to access services collapsed to just 45 from a previously lofty 971.

This underlines how our single sign-on has made it easier for students to access the online resources they need to make the most out of their experience with Nescot College.

“This has been a big success,” Cristina added.

“Previously, students had a lot of logins which was very confusing and stopped them from accessing resources. This year we have had almost 1,200 more accesses to resources [in the first term] even though we have fewer students with us.”

To discover more about Nescot College library’s improvement program and implementation of OpenAthens single sign-on, watch the full presentation and webinar with Cristina here

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