Digital literacy as a marker of excellence – working with the QAA

Recently I spent a busy couple of days at the QAA’s Quality Enhancement Network events on digital literacy. As a brand new review theme for 2015-16, digital literacy attracted a large number of delegates – around 90 across the two events – to hear about previous work in this area and to share practice around the review topic. It was great to have an opportunity to talk about Jisc’s long record, from the modest Learning Literacies in a Digital Age study in 2009, through Supporting Learners in a Digital Age, to the 12 institutional development projects under the Developing Digital Literacies programme (2011-13). That programme took digital capabilities out of libraries and e-learning teams and allowed new, whole-institutional approaches to flourish. (It also took Jisc into partnerships with a range of professional bodies, laying the basis for the current co-design approach.) Some of the institutional case studies which presented at the two QEN meetings originated with Jisc-funded projects from that time.

The greatest interest from delegates was in the current Digital Capabilities challenge, and the digital capabilities framework in particular. More than half the delegates stayed behind after the close each day to discuss how the framework might be used in their institutions, and how they could be part of developing practical tools and services based on it. My impressions are that:

  • institutions with well developed approaches to digital capability are interested in the option of local or customised tools, but most institutions want off-the-peg tools of proven quality and value;
  • curriculum design and personal appraisal/review remain key points for intervention around digital capability;
  • digital issues are now well integrated into most PG Cert courses for teaching staff, but sometimes this has been at the expense of giving the issue specialist attention and support;
  • some of the most interesting work continues to be done at the level of the subject area and embedding into the curriculum;
  • there are plenty of useful, generic resources for both staff and students which are not currently being shared across institutions or even within institutions as effectively as they might;
  • while people are developing different approaches to this issue, the prevailing mood remains one of collegiality and open sharing.

Feedback on Jisc’s contribution has been very positive, according to the QAA. Slides from the two events. If you are from a QAA subscribing institution you can contact to receive all the slides and resources from both events.

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