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Ideas and reflections from UCL's Digital Education team


Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) meeting – November 2013

By Jessica Gramp, on 28 November 2013

Digital Literacies at UCLFifteen academic and support staff from across UCL met for the first UCL Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) on Wednesday 27th November.   Jessica Gramp, form E-Learning Environments, delivered a presentation prepared in collaboration with Hana Mori, giving the Jisc definition of digital literacies.

We’re not sure about the term – some find it demeaning.  A better term than Digital Literacies is clearly needed so that it doesn’t offend and imply a deficit. There’s also a need to differentiate between kinds of digital literacy. Some areas that have been used at other institutions include: digital identity, managing studies; working in team; using other people’s content responsibly and digitally enhancing job prospects. There was a general consensus that digital literacies need to be embedded, not tagged on as a separate thing to do.

Currently, digital literacies resources are dispersed across UCL – there is no central space and no single sign-on.

There is support for finding out what is already happening in departments as there’s a lot of Digital Literacies activity – it’s just not branded this way. Working with UCL Advances and other networks, such as Hackathons, could generate some useful outcomes too. There is such a proliferation of tools and technologies that it can be difficult to navigate them all. In some cases students know more than staff about particular technologies; and in some cases students don’t understand that learning these tools can be important for their working lives. When asked to learn something, students often ask in response “What’s the point?”. They need context to help them realise how it applies to their working life beyond university.

What support is available to cater for these issues? Suggestions included improving UCL’s search engines to enable staff and students to more easily find tools; establish networks so students and staff can teach each other how to use technologies; promote a ‘Technology of the week and run events where people construct things and in the process learn how to use new tools. There is also a need for media recording spaces to develop materials for students to learn to use new technologies, which is a recent hot topic that has been raised in other special interest groups and technology forums as well.   A strategic conversation about digital literacies was held with UCL students and staff earlier in the year.  

It has been suggested that we need to let students be students and not ask them excessively to support each other. The counter argument is that teaching is a good way to learn and examples were given of where academics have set up times and rooms for students to teach each other to use software and this was embraced by many students in the class.

Suggestions included:

  • A vault of resources that can be used both independently by students and embedded into the curriculum.
  • Recommendations attached to the UCL software database that give examples of how staff and students are using tools and their pros and cons.
  • Skills audits could guide students to particular resources.
  • Reverse mentoring – where students mentor staff.
  • Flipped training.
  • Possibility of supporting and co-running events  with societies who already run similar programmes. – e.g.  the entrepreneurial and tech societies.
  • Providing badges and certificates.
  • Consider digital literacies as part of a wider key skills initiative.
  • Identify graduate attributes for each faculty and see how these can be supported by digital literacy skills.
  • Setting assessments that require students to make something, so students will obtain technology skills in the process.

Areas of interest from the SIG include:

  • Embedding digital literacies into assessment
  • Badges and certificates
  • Links to employability case studies
  • Benchmarking and bringing students up to the same level
  • Support and peer learning
  • Peer learning and support via forums
  • Student controlled Moodle courses
  • Self-organised mini-courses
  • Bring your own device (BYOD)
  • The employability agenda

If you are a UCL student or staff member and would like to join this SIG, or the others on media and video or assessment and feedback please register on the UCL: Moodle E-Learning Champions Moodle course: https://moodle.ucl.ac.uk/course/view.php?id=21489&section=3

3 Responses to “Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) meeting – November 2013”

  • 1
    DiscHowtoBlog wrote on 28 November 2013:

    Digital Literacies special interest group (SIG) meeting … – Blogs at UCL: A suggestion was made that we need… http://t.co/AYkpLm0XSs

  • 2
    Matt Whyndham wrote on 29 November 2013:

    What was the JISC definition, just so we know?

    I may well be one of the people for whom the branding is counter-productive, in that digitial- techno- and other literacies are firmly within the existing scope of “being alive”, and hence for a teaching valid as something worth transmitting!

  • 3
    Jessica Gramp wrote on 2 December 2013:

    Here you go Matt – from the presentation delivered at the SIG:
    Digital Literacies are:
    “those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society.”

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