Safeguarding Student Learning Engagement

University of New England

These institutional resources or artefacts illustrate the social justice framework and principles in action and show the inter-connected nature of the principles.

Members of the University of New England project Working Group have kindly agreed to make these resources accessible via the project website.  The project team would particularly like to acknowledge the contribution of  Rhonda Leece in developing the case study and providing the artefact.

Early Alert – The Vibe

Artefact type: Engagement tool


UNE’s Student Support Team utilises a variety of methods to engage and communicate with its predominantly distance education students. One method is via The Vibe (pictured below), a floating word cloud. Students are able to log into the student portal ‘myUNE’ and input words in an area that asks “what’s on your mind today?”. The size of the words in the cloud indicates how many students are saying the same thing. The Student Support Team keeps an eye on what students are saying and the words help the Team decide what to post on the UNE Insiders’ Guide (a blog site dedicated to supporting students). Student data is kept confidential and the only people who see exactly what students are posting are the Student Support Team members.

The Vibe word cloud

The VIBE is an Interactive feedback mechanism in a word cloud.

Students are encouraged to share their thoughts on a daily basis.

  •  The cloud updates with input every 10 minutes
  • The size of the words reflect the number of students who share the same opinion
  • The Vibe provides information on general issues and informs the content of daily communications with students via the Insider’s Guide.

Key benefits:

  • normalises students’ experiences. the larger the word, the greater the number of students who are experiencing the same thing;
  • ensures that content of outbound communication and support is directly relevant to current student concerns and interests;
  • reinforces a sense and respond approach to supporting the student experience.

More information on UNE’s The Vibe:

Early Alert – The Emoticons

Artefact type: Engagement tool


Another self reported student happiness or satisfaction tool are the Emoticons. Emoticons are a pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation marks and letters, usually written to express a person’s mood (Wikipedia,  UNE uses coloured pictorial representation of emoticons: Happy, Neutral, Unhappy, Very Unhappy (see below):

Emoticons used at UNE

Embedded in the online UNE student portal, Emoticons allow students to record an emotional reaction that they associate to a particular unit of study experience. For more information on Emoticons visit the Early Alert blog:

How to use Emoticons – MP4 Video (approx 35 seconds and 4.57MB)

Alignment to the Social Justice Principles:

Both these resources exemplify the social justice principles equity, access and particularly self-determination whereby the support is determined by the key themes expressed via the Vibe and the expressions used via the emoticons.