Digital capabilities at Digifest: reports from Brighton, North Lindsey and Nottingham

We were at Digifest in Birmingham last week to launch the new and updated Digital capability resources, including a brand new series of organisational case studies and a synthesis report on their experiences.

Key players from three of our case study institutions were there with us on Tuesday to speak about their experiences. Fiona Handley from the University of Brighton explained how a digital literacies framework for academic staff has supported their professional development. Elaine Swift from Nottingham Trent University outlined how their framework has evolved over time, and how a ‘continuum of support’ ensures nobody falls through the net. Ross Anderson from North Lindsey College showed us how digital badges and digital ‘missions’ are motivating teams of staff to work together on their digital skills. Here they say a bit more about their different approaches.

Ross
Ross Anderson

e-learning ambassador, North Lindsey College

Our approach had to be something that supported and nurtured our staff in their digital skills development. Our College strategy and e-learning action plan reflected this. We wanted to make sure that ALL staff were able to develop their skills and ultimately be rewarded for their work. We saw their skills development as a continuum and wanted to have a framework or process that reflected that. Jisc’s Digital Capabilities Framework was a great starting point for us at it helped break down the skills areas into their own subsets. From there we were able to develop this further and put the skills criteria across a stage-by-stage framework in order to give staff a progressive approach. This meant that staff can pick a starting point that suits their current skills or confidence and can not only be rewarded for the skills they have but can see a clear route to further progression.

The final element was to gamify this approach and promote it to curriculum areas. So DPD Go! was created. Staff are rewarded for completing digital ‘missions’ related to using technology in their teaching, learning and assessment. A team approach has proved the most successful method of engaging staff with e-learning skills development, so it made sense to use this for DPD Go! too. The team approach creates a collaborative (and competitive) atmosphere to help drive participation.
Video introduction to DPD Go!

fiona 1 - smallishFiona MacNeill
Fiona Handley
(L) Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching with Fiona MacNeill (R) Learning Technologies Adviser, both University of Brighton

The evaluation of our original Digital Literacies Framework highlighted the topics that really seemed to engage academic staff. The webpages under the Learning and Teaching category (for example Finding and Creating Resources) had many more hits that the other three categories, especially Administration, which covered topics such as Managing Time. During face-to-face sessions introducing the Framework we also found that when groups discussed literacies under each category, it was the ones under Learning and Teaching that sparked the most enthusiasm and discussion. The bespoke sessions that were requested focused on similar topics such as using social media in teaching, flipped classroom, and using mobile devices.

At the University of Brighton improving the learning environment is a key way of getting staff to consider their digital literacy. The updated Framework which was launched in 2016 reflects this, with more literacies under the Learning and Teaching category and fewer overall. The literacies that remain under Administration are more focussed on demonstrating clear expectations about digital skills such as using calendars and formatting documents. The Framework now attempts to inspire and support good practice while also setting out a baseline of knowledge and skills that support institutional policy and initiatives.

Fiona and Fiona’s presentation on sway
Brighton’s Digital Literacies web site

ElaineS_1
Elaine Swift
Digital Practice Manager, Nottingham Trent University

Developing digital talent at NTU is an evolving process. It started with the LFHE led Changing the Learning Landscape project initiating the strategic discussions at NTU about how to embed digital literacy as a core competence for both staff and students. Initially through looking at the continuum of support that we had in place for a variety of digital literacies, a framework of digital skills and competencies was developed and adopted. This framework is now being embedded through the institution in a variety of ways including through curriculum refresh activity, online support and case studies and linking through to other key initiatives with a digital element, such as our Respect at NTU initiative. Reflecting on the work at NTU, I think there are a few key points to consider when looking to introduce a framework such as the Jisc Digital Capability Framework:

  • A framework can be a useful starter for conversations and offers a common vocabulary.
  • Think about the support that wraps around it: this often involves numerous areas of the organisation.
  • Be open to different opportunities to embed a framework. It can work in many different ways.
  • Don’t be afraid to try approaches that have not worked in the past. Timing and readiness for change occur at different stages depending on the organisation.

Thanks to all three speakers and to all our case study sites for their valuable insights and inspiration. All the slides from the session are available on slideshare.

Follow #digitalcapability and check back here soon for more resources you can use to develop digital capability in your organisation.

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