Thursday, 30 October 2014

Simon Thomson Shares Digital Literacy Adventures at the University of Liverpool

On 28th October Simon Thomson (Head of E-Learning) was invited to participate in a development activity at the University of Liverpool. Read below to find out what he thought of that event and more broadly our own work on digital literacy.

The event was a collaborative activity between the students (noting that they don't have a students' union but a "guild") and the University, through their Digital Literacies Working Group.

Obviously I have a vested interest in Digital Literacy development as I was part of our own university working group that established the Leeds Beckett digital literacy definition for our graduate attribute and I am interested in some of the approaches taken by other institutions with regards to digital literacy development (of both staff and students).

It was useful to see that Liverpool had used the work undertaken by Jisc as a basis for their work on digital literacy: http://www.jiscinfonet.ac.uk/infokits/digital-literacies/
We too used this material to help inform the basis of our own digital literacy definition. It provides a very useful "7 Elements of Digital Literacy" from which to work from.

The session consisted of a couple of short presentations of examples where staff and students had used a digital service or technology to improve their experience. The sessions then moved to break out groups which included a mix of staff and students and whilst the conversation that took place here were agreed to be under "Chatham House Rules" we covered the following topics:


  1. Social Media use (staff and students - including digital identity and use for learning & teaching)
  2. University technology systems (e.g. VLE) vs wider Web 2.0 technology services experiences.
  3. Risks and benefits of online identifies (and where to create profiles for what purpose).
  4. Assumptions about student capability with technologies (e.g. lack of orientation sessions for students on using the VLE)
I think this kind of conversation between staff and students really opens the eyes of both the staff and students. Staff get a perspective from the students on their experience (e.g. trying to find things on the VLE that staff have put there) and students get to see it from a staff perspective (challenges faced with multiple systems for teaching, research and admin). There was also a member of their IT team there and a quick discussion  was had about the core support hours for the VLE being 9-5, whereas the students perhaps expect a 24/7 service.

At Leeds Beckett University, the Centre for Learning & Teaching is working with our Students' Union this year to establish a Digital Champions role. These are student roles who will hopefully work in their Faculties to support the digital literacy development activities for staff and students. Also it is hoped that they will be able to begin to bring a student perspective to the use of our technologies and digital services and help inform some of our decision making processes.

You can read more about the work at Liverpool here: http://digilearn.liv.ac.uk