Digital discovery: planning

For a quick approach to planning, download and use our implementation plan pro-forma. You might also be interested in the strategic review pro-forma, used with a small number of pilot ‘plus’ institutions to help them think through the bigger picture. For a more thorough approach, read and reflect on the sections below.

You and your role

The Digital discovery process can be led successfully by people in a wide range of organisational roles. What matters is that you have the support of other key stakeholders, and that you have a well thought out plan. This should include your aims and objectives; how you will engage users with the tool; how you will support and respond to them as they go through the process; what resources will be needed; and whether any ethical or technical considerations need to be addressed. Ideally all of these will be considered as part of an organisation-wide strategic approach to digital capabilities.

Stakeholder engagement

Particularly if you are using the discovery tool as part of a wider digital capability initiative, you are likely to have more success with a larger team. Politically you may need to ensure that all parts of your organisation are represented. One idea is to bring together a working group that meets twice: once at the start to support the planning process outlined here, and again at the end to review the data and plan how to respond. This is not usually too much commitment for busy people to make.

Think strategically about your key players:

  • Who is your senior sponsor/lead for the project, who can give the project a high profile and lend their weight to any recommendations?
  • Who needs to see your organisational data and make sense of it in terms of recommendations and next steps?
  • Who can approve investment in staff/student digital capability and so who can use the project outcomes to make a good business case?
  • Who will ensure that local resources and opportunities are well signposted and ready for an increase in use? An early benefit of running the Digital discovery is to get people sharing resources and creating a more coherent support framework.

You will almost certainly want to consult with people who have the following responsibilities (some of these will be combined into one role, while others may be carried out by several staff).

  • Members of staff responsible for human resources and/or staff development and/or IT training
  • A senior member of staff responsible for e-learning
  • A senior member of staff responsible for the student experience
  • Student representatives
  • Academic staff representative(s)
  • Representatives of other staff groups, professional bodies, unions

Our case studies from The University of Hertfordshire and Cardiff University have insights into building a strategic team.

Your rationale and intended benefits

Consider your organisational motivation for using the Digital discovery tool at this time. Is it to encourage staff and students to take responsibility for their own development, or to push forward a more organisational agenda? Is awareness raising enough, or do you want to see tangible progress (and how would you assess that)? You have already told us something about your aims when you signed up to run the staff version of the discovery tool (see this blog post analysing the sign-up data). The most common was to ‘help staff to improve their own digital capabilities‘, followed by ‘support a strategic change agenda’. Later on we will help you to evaluate your outcomes against these aims.

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Click for a high-res view of this data

You should also consider the benefits of taking part for individual members of staff and/or students. These might be quite different to the organisational benefits, and they will be key to successful communication (see the Guide: engaging your users). Because they are committing time to the project – and because they are the end-users and ultimate beneficiaries – it’s really important that you support their experience properly.

Working with your users

In the sign-up process you will have stated how many staff and/or students you are hoping to engage. This is not set in stone, but you must know who your target users are. If your goal is just to test out the discovery tool you need a fairly small, engaged, and representative sample of users who can give you good feedback. if you have a big drive to engage teaching staff with digital methods, they should be your priority. You may have a ‘captive audience’ thanks to a particular meeting or event, it makes sense to have them complete the discovery process when they are receptive, and when you can provide on-the-spot encouragement and support.

If you want your data returns to be as meaningful and informative as possible, e.g. to compare different groups of staff, it makes sense to aim for a larger cohort. If your focus is on developing individuals, your roll-out (at least initially) may be limited to the number who can be accommodated on a development programme or mentoring scheme, or to people who you can rely on for high quality feedback.

Think about the setting in which your users will encounter the Digital discovery tool. Will they be on their own or in a group? With a formal introduction and walk-through, or with someone on hand they can ask if they need help? Particularly if you are engaging students, you will need to consider how this will add to their learning experience and how to ensure the level of challenge is appropriate. We do not recommend using the current student assessment with new or arriving students, and definitely not to assess their ‘readiness’ before a course of study. We are considering how the Discovery tool could be used for this purpose, but only in a highly supported context.

There is more about all of this in the Guide: engaging your users.

Resource (time) allocation

The Digital discovery tool can be used completely off-the-peg and does not need customising or hosting locally. But the main contact or close team members will need to allocate some time to the following activities (you can use these to create to-do lists and a project plan).

  1. Develop and manage a plan for the project (use these points and the Process section on this page to develop a timeline with dates that work for you)
  2. Convene a working group, and/or communicate with key stakeholders
  3. Communicate about the project with end users and encourage their engagement
  4. Support users to engage with the experience and follow up with personal development  (this support may be provided from existing resources but it does matter, especially if you are using the Digital discovery tool with learners)
  5. Run a focus group or consultation event and collect feedback
  6. Assess the data provided, in collaboration with Jisc staff e.g. Account Manager
  7. Produce recommendations and next steps for consideration by your working group or key stakeholders

Technical considerations

Digital discovery is available off the peg so there are few technical considerations, but some questions you may want to ask – as with any new service – are these.

  • Do all users have access to the tool via a networked device and browser, and with a reliable wifi or mobile connection?
  • Are there any firewall issues which may prevent users accessing the tool?
  • Do users know that they can pause and return to the discovery process at any time?
  • Do users know that they can save their profile and feedback as a .pdf for future reference?

Please report any difficulty with accessing the tool, any apparent bugs, and any browser compatibility issues to the Jisc team at

Planning evaluation

Individual users will be directed to a brief survey, the results of which will be used to further develop the Digital discovery tool. Please encourage your users to complete this.

There is guidance on running a focus group with users, to help you build on your findings locally, and to provide us with richer data about the user experience. You should plan a time, date and place for this, and a strategy for attracting participants (such as nice food and drink!).

We’ll also ask you as lead contact to complete an evaluation form, outlining how well the project has met the objectives you outlined when you signed up, and we may ask further questions about the value of the tool to your organisation.

Return to Guidance page