Digital capability community continues to grow

The second network event for our digital capability community of practice took place in Birmingham on 30 November 2017 with around 100 participants from over 54 colleges and universities coming together to share practice, exchange ideas and work together. The presentations, resources and Periscope recordings are available from our event page.

The strong interest in this community of practice signifies the centrality of digital capabilities to all aspects of educational practice and a recognition that digital capabilities are not only vital for the employability and future career prospects of our students but also have the potential to enhance institutional reputations and aid organisational efficiency.

Sharing practice

The contributions made on the day, by our presenters and by collaborative engagement in workshop sessions were greatly valued.

“I wanted to hear examples of other institution’s approaches to developing digital capability, and there were plenty of examples.”

Developing a holistic institutional approach

Our keynote speaker, Karen Barton, director of learning and teaching at the University of Hertfordshire, shared their approach to developing a holistic institutional approach to digital capabilities development. The formation of a digital capability steering group has been a key enabler, engaging senior stakeholders and sponsoring wider participation with their teams.

The Jisc digital capabilities framework proved useful in getting dialogue going and helping others to get to grips with the language and vocabulary used to describe digital capabilities. Karen also talked about the University of Hertfordshire’s model for staff development at different stages of their careers and the work on mapping where digital capabilities fit into their broader CPD framework and learning landscape.

Ongoing work includes the establishment of a student experience academic research group with a sub group focusing on technology enhanced learning and exploring whether the academic CPD model can be applied to other role profiles.

Watch the Periscope recording of Karen’s session or view the slides on our event page. See also their institutional story on their participation in the first stage pilot for the discovery tool.

Community-led discussions

Group work at digital capability community of practice 301117

Participants at the first digital capability community of practice event in May 2017 requested time for community-led discussions and topics identified by those registered for the November 2017 event included:

  • Effective staff development strategies – how to upskill staff with digital capabilities
  • Developing organisational approaches to digital capability and getting buy-in from senior managers
  • Measuring the impact of initiatives, tools and strategies on staff/student capability
  • Student digital capability, embedding digital capabilities into the curriculum and student/staff partnerships

Facilitated by community members, participants were tasked with identifying critical issues and sharing experiences and solutions – the outputs are captured on our padlet. A variety of strategies were used – in one group, participants were challenged to come up with 20 ideas/potential solutions in just five minutes with most achieving the target before being further challenged to identify one thing they could action the following day. This proved a very effective way of moving from general discussion to action-focused solutions in a short period of time.

Strategies for engaging staff

Community members cited staff engagement in digital capabilities as one of their most critical issues and so the opportunity to hear from four community members on their differing approaches was informative and insightful.

Non Scantlebury and Jo Parker both shared innovative techniques they’d used to engage staff in conversations around digital capability. Non asked participants to share their favourite apps and reveal their digital superpowers mapped to the framework; Jo used the ‘love letters and break up letters’ approach which elicited deep and more emotive feedback about the digital discovery tool.

Randeep Sami and Delon Commosioung shared strategies and practical examples of how they are engaging staff in their respective colleges.  Randeep explored the concept of the digital classroom and shared details of their 21st century teaching programme; Delon outlined how working as part of the quality team has helped to position effective use of technology as integral to teaching, learning and assessment.

One of the highlights of the meeting was a series of five Pecha Kucha sessions from community members willing to share their experience, practice and strategies. These short seven-minute presentations shared journeys so far, outlined institutional approaches and transformative ambitions, bringing the day to a well-paced end.

Video recordings and presentations are available to view on our event page.

Looking ahead to 2018

Building digital capability project update

A lot has happened since the first digital capability community of practice event in May 2017:

  • Tabetha Newman96+ institutions have signed up to take part in the second phase of our pilot of the digital capability discovery tool which runs from December 2017 to May 2018.  See Helen’s Beetham’s blog post Digging deeper with the discovery tool which provides a useful analysis of the motivations and aims of those signed up to pilot the new tool. See also Helen Beetham and Tabetha Newman’s update on the digital discovery tool including a succinct and entertaining guide on the differences discovery tool and the student experience tracker – complete with appropriate hats!
  • New for 2018: senior leaders briefing and video case studies – Recognising the strategic importance of digital capabilities, Jisc will be producing a senior leaders briefing in March 2018 along with four institutional video case studies. A study of how HR departments are supporting the development of digital capabilities is also underway with a report and case studies available in April 2018 – see Lou McGill’s blog post for details of how you can take part.
  • Visioning the new building digital capability service – Jisc is also working on the development of a new web-based portal designed to provide organisations and individuals with clear routes through the wealth of information, support options and resources available to support digital capabilities development. Keep up-to-date by signing up to the digital capability mailing list and the project blog.  As the prototype of the digital capability service is being developed we are looking for volunteers to get involved in some short online user testing activities (30 minutes or less). If you would like to take part, please get in touch with Alicja Shah.
  • A series of training events and webinars on curriculum confidence, digital well-being and identity, and digital leadership is also running over the next few months.

Shaping the next agenda: your take-aways and thoughts for future events

While Jisc has founded this community, the focus is very much on building a sustainable network and in facilitating participants to share the collective wealth of experience. Feedback from the event is very positive and naturally reflects the different stages people are at in their own personal and institutional journeys.

Participants valued the opportunities to hear the developmental journeys of others and highlighted other areas they would like to see more focus on at future events.

“It was good to be able to discuss issues and ideas with like-minded people as a small group”

“It has given me some ideas to try out.”

Suggestions for the next event include creating time and space for:

  • Discussion on the changing landscape around learner expectations and needs, societal views on education and the effect of this disruption and how digital capabilities feature in this
  • Feedback and case studies from students and their experiences in digital capabilities development
  • Networking with colleagues

What did you take away from the event?

What would you like to see on the programme for the next event?

Use the comments below or share your thoughts via the digital capability mailing list.

Save the date

We are delighted to announce that the next digital capability community of practice event will be hosted by the University of Leicester on 22 May 2018.

Do join us for what promises to be another rich exchange of ideas, approaches, strategies and resources.

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