You have decided to work with a University and engage in a student knowledge exchange opportunity. You will need to decide what kind of project to offer them.
This tool helps you to scope an opportunity with your organisation that students can help with, whilst ensuring it is pitched at the right level to achieve success for all of the parties involved.
There are 5 key steps:
- Understanding the context of the SEKE project.
- Deciding on a projects that exist within your organisation.
- How business critical is your project idea.
- Consider other factors such as access to areas of your organisation, potential gatekeepers and non-disclosure agreements.
- How to put forward your project
Understanding the context of the SEKE project
The first step will be to understand the context of the SEKE activity you are participating in. How long will it last, what level of study are the students, are you working with a single student or a team, what do they need to deliver?
Deciding on a project
Once you know the context of the SEKE project, we will need to look at potential projects that exist within your organisation. Are these problems that you need to be resolved or are they things that have been on a wishlist that you haven’t had time or the resources to fulfil? Or is the project a community initiative?
Potential projects are likely to come from several sources, such as: issues that your organisation is currently facing or from a list of desired organisational objectives; a request from a community-based organisation (e.g. a school, a charity) for students to support or lead an activity; or the SEKE module is already embedded in the local area, such as Community Law Clinic.
Issues that your organisation faces can often be a source of SEKE projects. These could be issues that you currently do not have the resources to deal with, they could be something that has arisen externally that you would like some input on. It may be something that has been ongoing for a while and you would like a fresh perspective on. For example, how best to utilise social media or perhaps you would like a space on your premises to be more efficient or welcoming.
Perhaps a new opportunity has arisen and you would like some input on getting the most from it, or you have acquired a new business or would like to enter a new market?
There may be a number of organisational objectives you have wanted to pursue for a while. They are normally restricted by time, resources or expertise so you may not have been able to tackle them.
You may want your project to be quite open, to allow the project scope and content to develop through exploration with the students and their tutor.
How Business Critical is your Project Idea?
You have now created a short list of potential project ideas, the next step will be to decide how business critical these projects are to your organisation.
This is an important consideration in deciding whether or not this project is suitable for students to engage in. When using the term, business critical, we are talking about how large the potential impact of this project is to you and your organisation.
Your project needs to have some importance to it and impact on your organisation. It needs to be a project you want to have completed. Equally, it cannot be of such high importance that the project failing or having a poor result will have a largely negative impact on your organisation, and also on the students’ learning.
Now you have a project mapped out, you will need to consider any other factors that may impact the project running. Ensure you communicate with the host institution and they are satisfied with the proposed project.
Here are some things you likely will need to consider at this stage:
- Will students need special access to parts of your organisation or external factors limiting access? For example, organisations involved in the defence sector may be unable to grant access to students of certain nationalities.
- If students are handling or obtaining potentially sensitive information, would you require a non-disclosure agreement to be signed?
- Who will be your primary contact and by what means? Have you considered a deputy to substitute in case of absence?
How to put forward your project
Now your project has been mapped out you will need to present this to the institution running the SEKE activity for approval or inclusion. Depending on the activity this may be relatively simple as they may use an application form or method of data capture that allows for simple entry.
Considerations when putting forward your project:
- A brief but insightful description of the organisation.
- An overview of the project, being clear as to what the problem is, using language that an outsider to your industry or organisation can understand.
- The outcomes of the project - be clear, bullet point lists are really useful here. Students respond well to clear aims.
- The details of deliverables or outcomes for what you would like the students to achieve.
Depending on the SEKE activity in question, members of staff may speak to you about tweaking your project in order to get a good result. It was always worth working collaboratively with the University in order to maximise chances of a good outcome.
This tool helps you to select the right type of project to propose for students working on a SEKE module. You want students to feel engaged and excited about the project. Following the 5 steps above will help you tailor your project towards the students.