Skip to main content

Digital education

Re-develop the Student Mentor scheme with us

24 July 2023
Students working

Alex Stewart and Hannah Salisbury, both Learning Designers in the Learning and Teaching Academy worked in collaboration with Carly Emsley-Jones, Academic Skills and Mentoring Manager from Student Life to re-develop the online element of the Student Mentor scheme.

As part of the Blackboard Ultra Courses rollout, the Learning and Teaching Academy have been working with colleagues in Student Life to migrate existing Learning Central modules to the new Blackboard Ultra platform.

From this came an opportunity for the Learning and Teaching Academy to collaborate with Student Life to re-develop the online element of the Student Mentor scheme. The objective was to offer students a blended training package which allowed them to reduce in-person contact time and encourage flexibility.

In addition, we wanted to create a purposeful module where students could not only complete training but also use regularly as a resource throughout their time as a mentor.


Hannah Salisbury and I, both Learning Designers from the Learning and Teaching Academy, worked with Carly Emsley-Jones, the Academic Skills and Mentoring Manager from Student Life and her team to review and re-develop the existing training materials to create the online training resource utilising the Blackboard Ultra Courses platform.

Through MS Teams and shared documents, we streamlined the existing training contents, developed a storyboard for the online training and built the module in Blackboard Ultra Courses. Initially Hannah and I built the key structure of the module in Blackboard Ultra Courses, Carly and the Student Life team were able to take over the development in the final stages to add content and additional features to personalise the resource for the Student Mentors and collect student feedback.

Since the Blackboard Ultra Courses module was published, the Student Mentoring team have managed the administration and maintenance of the online training and will continue to do so moving forward with support from the Learning and Teaching Academy when required.

Carly shares, “Thanks to the support from Alex and Hannah, our team have found it very easy to use Blackboard Ultra Courses and we are now able to manage the module and ensure that it continues to reflect the needs of our student mentors. It allows us to present information in a variety of ways to suit different styles, encourage students to interact through discussions and they can refer to it for support if needed. I am confident that we are providing student mentors with a high-quality training experience using Blackboard Ultra Courses.”

The impact of the scheme

The Student Mentor scheme has been available to over 700 students since February 2023 and has received some very positive feedback. With 264 responses so far, 99% of students found the training material content helpful and 99% found the Blackboard Ultra Courses module easy to navigate and use. The module is currently rated 4.7 out of 5 stars. Themes from the feedback include – interactivity, ability to complete in own time and pace, informative, easy to follow and engaging.

From the feedback survey the following qualitive quotes were extracted:

“Easy to navigate with useful informative information to enable us to become the best student mentors. I feel even more prepared to take on this role after this training”

“Flexibility to complete whenever suitable and usability of the online training”

“I was given a lot of information without it being overwhelming or hard to follow and I was able to complete the training in my own time”

Reflection and takeaways

Reflecting on the project, the student feedback and the experience of the staff involved has been very positive.

The new Blackboard Ultra Courses module provides students with an engaging, user-friendly experience from the start and has helped to build an online community for the Student Mentors.

A takeaway from the staff involved in the project is that with some guidance, Blackboard Ultra Courses can be an intuitive platform where it is simple to add and manage content.

Moving forward, Student Life hopes to recruit up to 1000 volunteers a year and expect that the online element of the training using Blackboard Ultra Courses will appeal to students as opposed to all training being delivered in person.

The use of Blackboard Ultra Courses to deliver and manage the online training will allow staff to easily review and update content annually to reflect the student needs.

We hope that this project demonstrates how cross-team collaboration can actively promote skills and knowledge sharing across the university as well as positively impact the student experience.