How should institutions respond to students’ changing expectations of their digital environment? What experiences at university prepare students to flourish in a digital world? What are institutions doing to engage students in dialogue about their learning environment and to gather intelligence about their changing needs?
The student digital experience tracker will allow universities, colleges and skills providers to:
Gather evidence from learners about their digital experience, and track changes over time
Make better informed decisions about the digital environment
Target resources for improving digital provision
Plan other research, data gathering and student engagement around digital issues
Demonstrate quality enhancement and student engagement to external bodies and to students themselves
The tracker is delivered in BOS – an online survey service specially developed for the UK education sector. Institutions using the tracker will receive guidance on implementation in BOS, real-time access to their own data, are able to benchmark their data against their sector data, and access further guidance on how to understand and respond to the findings.
UCL students are invited to participate in the survey and a link has been added to students Moodle landing page on the right side. Alternatively you can access the survey using this link: http://tinyurl.com/ble-student-survey-2017 – please advertise to UCL students. The survey is open until March 31st 2017.
During the autumn term a group of 20 UCL UG, PG, PGR, PGT and PhD students attended a LinkedIn masterclass workshop series designed and delivered by Miguel Garcia, Global Instruct Manager from LinkedIn. The course consisted of six 2 hour workshops designed to develop the right mindset and enhance skills to enable students to use LinkedIn according to their own needs and interests.
The benefit of having Miguel Garcia delivering the sessions was apparent from the start – his knowledge of LinkedIn and how it can work for an individual or an organisation – is second to none!
Watch the video below to hear more from Miguel and some comments and feedback from students here:
He took his experience of helping customers grow their businesses using LinkedIn and applied this to helping students find and prepare for careers aligned to their personalities, interests, ambitions, skills, and values.
The first session asked the question Why Should I use LinkedIn? The students were shown how to begin to establish a professional brand, how to find the right people, how to engage with people, and how to initiate and build relationships as well as how they can see and measure immediately the effectiveness of their actions on LinkedIn. The session ended with recommendations on what to focus on and some actions to take in the next seven days.
Session two was called How do I build my personal brand? and was based on the premise that just because you are a student it doesn’t mean you don’t have experience or a personal brand. This session focused in learning how to showcase the skills and experience gained from student roles, volunteering or part time work in a compelling way to attract recruiters and powerful industry influencers. The students learnt about how to curate content from past experiences for their profile to enhance and improve the way this is shown by using the rich media options available to you on LinkedIn. This curated content along with a professional profile photograph provides a complete profile that is attractive to both recruiters as well as prospective employers.
The third session How can I communicate effectively? is probably something that most people have struggled with at one time or another – finding the right way to say things and then share them with a global audience can be daunting so this session concentrated on effective social sharing and publishing on LinkedIn. During the session students were sending messages, InMails, introduction and connection requests to begin to build their networks. One key aspect covered in this session was the difference between academic writing and business writing in respect of written posts for LinkedIn and the importance of finding ‘your voice’ to do so.
The fourth session How should I connect with others? was focused on connecting with the right people in the right way – basically networking effectively. The opportunity for students to connect with professionals, academics and influencers gives them access to unique career opportunities and informs them about the job market and how it works. The most effective students will be able draw on the expertise of their network before applications and interviews giving them unique and valuable insights and information or advice.
The fifth session How do I use LinkedIn to find a job or internship? is probably why most students signed up. The challenge is not just to find a job but the right career opportunity and something that you will enjoy doing. There are many examples of how others have managed to do this – even when it did not seem very likely. This session showed how by conducting research on LinkedIn you can access career and company pages to get an understanding of an organisation’s culture, benefits and opportunities to make sure they line up with what you are looking for. The session also included how to create a plan to stay in contact with employers so that when opportunities become available your chances are enhanced.
The final session How can I use LinkedIn to develop the ultimate career plan? was about how to put together a strategy and flexible plan to raise your chances of success in a changing world. The importance of having a long term plan and strategy for how you will use everything learned on the course and use it over the next 6 months in actionable steps. Students will set their own milestones, agree what further learning they may need or where they need to improve. Every student will make a 6 month commitment with regular check-ins to ensure progress.
The course was totally oversubscribed and I experienced something I never have before at UCL – an increase in participation for the first few weeks – a definite first for me. In fact the course has been so successful we are running it again this term – this time with 40 places available and have moved every other session online to Blackboard Collaborate.
Miguel has brought with him a set of unique skills and experiences that have greatly benefited UCL students –there really can’t be many who have experience of the full recruitment cycle from both an employers and employee perspective along with such a deep understanding of how a platform like LinkedIn works. Having completed the course students are now confidently and happily making connections, reaching out to prospective employers and building networks of contacts on their own.
There is usually a distinct lack of control for a graduate who is job searching – they are often limited to contact with a HR department or a recruiter and with most job applications being made online – they seldom get feedback or guidance on why things may not have worked out as the volumes of applicants are far too high to do so. This is one of the many benefits of using LinkedIn – you are much more in control of things and generally the communication is direct and also in real time.
Nowadays it is increasingly important for students to understand how online recruiting and job searching works – what the pluses can be and also any pitfalls. What has worked so well with this course is how Miguel has perfectly balanced the blend of coaching, activities and presentations – yet still managing to address each and every person’s needs in the group. There have been some quite remarkable transformations during the course and some of the first cohort are now working on a 1 minute video to add to their LinkedIn profile – watch this space!
In 2014 Michele Farmer (Disability IT Support Analyst – ISD) came up with the idea for developing some projects and put in a bid with help from Steve Rowett (Digital Education Developments Team Leader) and was allocated some money to run a project for disabled students.
The idea was to give students a chance to develop resources that they felt would be useful to disabled and non-disabled users whilst gaining new skills, work experience and a bit of pocket money.
We recruited four students who worked on a variety of outputs and ideas. Mark Shaw worked on a film that compared different referencing tools which is helpful to all students. Two others, Richard Kendall and Lewis Hopper, worked on a series of informational films that told users about the various support systems available to disabled users as well as a short film on Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) from a personal perspective. James Prime worked on resources for blind users.
We are extremely impressed with the students’ efforts. Check out the links below to view the films they produced.
These projects were delivered with support from Digital Education Developments who helped to access some additional funding through the UCL ChangeMaker Digital Literacy programme.
Mark Shaw – comparison and demos of reference programs.
The next UCL Digital Literacy Special Interest Group will be taking place on June 9th from 2- 5.00 pm (ticket link at the end this post).
The report ‘Digital skills for the UK economy’ (ECORYS UK, 2016), strongly suggests that the vast majority of the workforce increasingly need the confidence, skills and competences to use digital resources in the workplace. Although Higher Education institutions provide support for their learners in developing these skills, often at a high level, these efforts may be more focused on enhancing the student experience and achievement within the education environment than on their employability.
Indications are that workplace skills are better developed outside the traditional functional skills development model designed for the more specific occupations of the past and instead perhaps should focus on real-world learning experiences and novel approaches to help graduates develop the workplace skills needed today. A recent Spectator article about their internships highlighted ‘ If you write well but can’t edit an audio file or make short video (or work out how to) then this internship is probably not for you’ (Nelson et al, 2016) and novel ways of such as interactive infographics instead of CV’s being used to attract prospective employers attention becoming more commonplace such as this example – http://www.rleonardi.com/interactive-resume/.
Jisc have suggested embedding these skills within ‘connected curricula’ and recognising the lifelong learning aspects of employability as a graduate attribute could be underpinned by technology (JISC, 2015). The recent introduction by QAA of the themes of digital literacy and student partnership in developing employability have highlighted the need for higher education to face up to the challenge of delivering practical support in digital and workplace know-how to enhance graduate attributes (QAA, 2015).
Adaptability, flexibility, complex problem solving, working in a team and an ability to use an ever increasing range of digital platforms, technologies and environments are the abilities that the modern workplace requires – irrespective of role or career choice.
Who is responsible for developing these digital skills for employability – the university, the employer or the student?
This event will explore the issues around technology, digital skills and employability in order to provide an opportunity to reflect on evidence, good practice, challenges and opportunities.
Hugh Mannerings – Academic Lead for Retention & Attainment at Higher Education Academy
Laura Firmin and Sophia Donaldson – UCL Careers – internships at UCL
Charlie Inskip – UCL Department of Information Studies
Please note the programme will be updated in due course with further details about the sessions and is subject to change.
ECORYS UK (2016) Digital skills for the UK economy. Available: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/492889/DCMSDigitalSkillsReportJan2016.pdf [ Accessed March 7th 2016]
Nelson, F., Ross, D., Thompson, D., Chancellor, A. and Beasley-Murray, B. (2016) Internships at the spectator for summer 2016. No CVs, please | coffee house. Available at: http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/03/internships-at-the-spectator-for-summer-2016/ (Accessed: 14 March 2016).
JISC (2015) Technology for employability. Available: http://repository.jisc.ac.uk/6252/4/Technology_for_employability_-_quick_read_report.PDF [Accessed March 7th 2016]
QAA (2015) Higher Education Review: Themes for 2015-2016. Available:http://www.qaa.ac.uk/en/Publications/Documents/HER-Themes-Guidance-15-16.pdf [Accessed March 7th 2016]
HM Treasury, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, The Rt Hon George Osborne and The Rt Hon Sajid Javid (2015) Fixing the foundations: Creating a more prosperous nation. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fixing-the-foundations-creating-a-more-prosperous-nation (Accessed: 10 March 2016).
HEA, Learning and Employability series 1 and 2 (2006) Available at: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/id116_employability_in_higher_education_336.pdf (Accessed: 10 March 2016).
Are we using technology effectively to support student employability?
Available at: https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/digital-education/2016/01/19/are-we-using-technology-effectively-to-support-student-employability/ (Accessed: 22 March 2016).
You can follow the link and listen to my chosen soundtrack whilst reading this blog. The link is embedded in the image above and will open in a new window.
So why exactly did we ask participants of the workshop run at the UCLU Education conference to build and decorate a cardboard box which explained their digital journey to UCL – asking them to use Lear’s masterpiece – Owl and Pussycat  as inspiration for their own story?
Well, the simple answer was that we wanted to gain insight into the student digital journey to UCL. Faced with survey fatigue from students and our desire to hear what they think we felt this would be a lot more fun to do than another Opinio!
You can hear what one participant had to say about it all – and make your own mind up about how well the workshop went by following the link below to the UCLU Education Conference YouTube video and a 1.5min interview with a participant sharing feedback and their thoughts about the session.
…and if you are wondering why I chose the song – well it’s all about challenging conformity 🙂
References and Notes
 Little boxes (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Boxes (Accessed: 5 March 2016).
ESL and Popular Culture (2012) The owl and the pussycat ~ poem with text. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSjNk5Fi_6Y (Accessed: 6 March 2016).
Please click on the image above to see more photographs from this session.
The UCL DL SIG invites UCL staff and students to an afternoon of discussion, networking and debate on digital literacy on Thursday January 7th 2016 from 2-4.30pm.
This event is planned to address the question ‘Digital literacy: friend, foe, or fad?’ through an exploration of the benefits and challenges in the conception, delivery and evaluation of this hot topic. Delegates will be encouraged to reflect on their practices and discuss.
Highlight of the event is that Helen Beetham, Education Consultant to UK HEI’s and Jisc, will speak. Helen Beetham is an author, researcher and innovator in the field of e-learning, with particular expertise in Higher Education. Since 2004 she has played a leading role in the JISC e-learning programme as an advisor on pedagogic issues. She is an experienced workshop leader and a regular speaker at conferences in the UK and abroad. An edited volume of essays, Rethinking Pedagogy for the Digital Age, was recently published by Routledge. Her areas of research and advisory expertise include: e-learning policy and practice; learners and learning in the digital age; pedagogy and educational theory; design for learning; e-portfolios for learning; academic writing and academic literacies.
The QAA HER at UCL is upcoming and as part of this they have asked UCL to provide a snapshot of digital literacy activity at UCL. This report is not part of the scored element of the review. Steve Rowett and myself have been conducting interviews to learn more about what is happening at UCL. Some of this work was conducted using Jisc tools and it has uncovered a fabulously rich and varied picture – this event will include some presentations and examples of exciting current practice from UCL staff and students including Diana Lee – hack organiser, blogger, tech society and student, Free Hype – voluntary student society, Professor Martin Oliver and Dr Lesley Gourlay UCL Institute of Education, Dr Viv Jones UCL Department of Geography and Dr Sunny Bains (please use Eventbrite link for tickets below to view the full programme).
About the UCL DL SIG
When the UCL E-Champions network was formed a UCL Digital Literacies Special Interest Group (UCL DL SIG) was set up at the same time. The SIG was created for UCL staff to promote the use of technology in learning, provide a platform to ask questions, exchange ideas and also to get support from colleagues beyond E-Learning Environments.
We’re using the Jisc definition of digital literacy: ‘the capabilities which fit someone for living, learning and working in a digital society’ (see link Jisc: Digital Capabilities 6 elements below).
Refreshments are provided along with time to network.
Tickets are via Eventbrite (use the password: UCLDLSIG) :