Looking ahead to ALT-C 2019: Data dialogue and doing

In my role as head of change for student experience at Jisc, ALT-C is one of conferences I look forward to the most each year. The conference offers a valuable opportunity to find out about current practice in universities and colleges, and to learn about some of the challenges associated with technology-enhanced learning.

Each year, the conference brings together staff from across the UK and internationally who are innovating their practice, and this is a great opportunity to network and share ideas. After the summer break, I find the conference energises me for the new academic year ahead. I am particularly looking forward to hearing this year’s inspirational keynotes from Sue Beckingham, Ollie Bray and Jesse Stommel.

This year’s conference theme of ‘Data, dialogue and doing’ reflects some key areas of work at Jisc. At ALT-C, my team will be presenting sessions on the evidence-informed guidance we can offer, providing insights from the data we are collecting to facilitate dialogue and enable the ‘doing’.

We are looking forward to launching the ‘Digital experience insights survey 2019: findings from students in UK further and higher education’ report at 11:30 on Tuesday 3 September. This gives a summary of the high-level findings from 29,531 students. We are delighted to have support from Shakira Martin, outgoing president of National Union of Students (NUS) and head of student experience at Rose Bruford College. In the foreword to this year’s report, Shakira highlights the importance of actively engaging students in discussions about technology, and the importance of preparing all students for a digital workplace.

As our digital experience insights student survey has been running since 2016, we are gathering a valuable longitudinal data set on how students’ expectations and experiences of technology are evolving. This data is key in informing colleges and universities how their digital environment is being used by both staff and students. With high investment in technology and supporting infrastructure, it is vital that organisations have evidence of impact, and that they recognise the benefits of co-designing the digital environment in partnership with staff and students.

This impact will be discussed in our workshop, ‘The value of an evidence-based approach to creating a digitally enabled organisation’. Taking place on Tuesday at 13:30 and led by Clare Killen, we will hear from Drew McConnel, University of Glasgow, and Derek Robertson, University of Stirling. Drew and Derek will be sharing their experiences of how data from the digital experience insights surveys is informing the development of their digital strategies.

On Wednesday at 12:15, we will continue to explore how students are using technology to support their learning, with Tabetha Newman and Helen Beetham discussing their research into creating functional digital student personas based on the outcomes from our digital experience insights data.

Our other area of focus, which is still identified as one of the key challenges for universities and colleges, is how we can support staff and students with the development of their digital capabilities. This challenge has also been identified through our digital experience insights surveys, and it’s one we are working closely with the sector to address. Through our building digital capability service we are supporting organisations with tools and resources to help staff and students better understand their levels of digital capability, and how these can be developed further using our discovery tool.

Although supporting individuals with their digital skills is an immediate priority, it’s also essential that organisational digital capability is developed. On Thursday at 14:00, Lisa Gray will be launching our new organisational digital capabilities maturity model. This model can be used by organisations to support their development of a holistic approach to building digital capability, with good practice principles based on our digital capability organisational framework.

An element we have been researching within our digital capability framework is digital wellbeing. On Wednesday at 15:30, Alicja Shah will introduce this work and offer a taste of the supporting guidance we will be sharing later this year. You can follow this work by subscribing to our new mailing list, and by joining us on 27 November for our digital capability community of practice event in Edinburgh, where we will be discussing this theme.

I am looking forward to being inspired at the ALT-C conference, to meeting new colleagues and sharing our work. Please do visit the team on the Jisc stand, and we hope you will join us for some of our sessions so we can work with you to support your practice.

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