The University of Southampton
Digital Team Blog

Weeknotes 1, sprint 0: all about the base, vision and process

What we’ve been working on, what we’ve learned, and what we’ll be working on next.

This week was all about getting started. Our Alpha* roadmap is divided into a number of weekly sprints** and we will be communicating results from these on a weekly basis. Each week we will write what we’ve been working on, what we’ve learned, and what we’ll be working on next.

What we’ve been working on

This week we defined the baseline – the starting point from when implementation begins, how improvements will be judged, or comparison is made. We also need to ensure consistency and that the baseline is comprehensive enough to accommodate all the variety and flexibility we offer in our courses. Institutional Research (IR) have also challenged us to ensure that our sample courses are tapping into all those strategic values the University cares about and checked that our sample is representative enough.  

The course pages we’ll be working with:

Courses at University of Southampton
Our course categories


These courses were selected for different reasons. Essentially, they offer us the opportunity to explore how we market them, and how our prospective and current students perceive them. Our selection is broad and representative of the new faculties, but we ensured that they gave us a broad base to work from.

Some of the courses:

  • operate from different campuses (Winchester, Bolderwood, Highfield etc)
  • have a completely different market (eg art degrees)
  • have a complicated set of major and minor subjects, or doing two subjects of equal weighting, or have customisation attached to them
  • have interesting career prospects
  • operate from multiple campuses (eg Avenue and Highfield)
  • offer a study abroad option, or just a semester abroad
  • cater for multiple year cohorts (eg Medicine)
  • offer a placement year
  • include field work
  • offer innovative research environment
  • have a need for CPD and a path into a specialist role, which will require continuation of study via additional smaller modules
  • offer pathway on a course
  • offer two separate branches within the course
  • have a foundation year
  • offer industrial placements
  • offer flexible and part-time modules
  • have an integrated degree
  • have accreditation
  • are a two-year course
  • are influenced heavily by professional bodies
  • offer a lot of specialisation in different areas
  • offer placements in healthcare
  • offer time at the hospital as part of the degree
  • have a strategic value behind them
  • are ‘straightforward’ courses, but students still have a lot of flexible options
  • had extensive copywriting to tell a story

What we’ve learnt

This is still early days, but we started to have some good conversations with various stakeholders about content and some learnings from the OneWeb user needs workshops. We are also looking at some past research conducted by IR, and user testing our team carried out recently. We are also putting together a testing plan so it is clear what we’re doing, why and how this is going to help improve our internal processes and workflows so that we get better at commissioning, governing, designing and retiring course content in the future.

What we will be working on next

  • Next week will be about selecting Single Point of Contact (SPOCs) via the Heads of Faculty operations (HOFOs)
  • We are also attending a meeting with SAA to advise on how this pilot is progressing and how they can help
  • We are also going to audit all content on the sample course pages, including links. We will also map the user needs met by existing content
  • We will continue review the research provided by IR as a reference point

Thank you for reading. Please get in touch if you have any questions.


* Alpha is the development phase that comes after discovery. This is effectively our pilot for prototyping our deliverables.
** A sprint is a timeboxed effort; that is, it is restricted to a specific duration. The duration is fixed in advance for each sprint and is normally between one week and one month.

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