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    Digital Literacy: Friend, Foe or Fad?

    By Moira Wright, on 16 December 2015

    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) :

    Click here for tickets and programme details – Digital Literacy:Friend, Foe or Fad?


    Further reading

    Jisc Blog: Building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency

    Jisc: Landscape Review
    Jisc: Frameworks mapped to 6 elements

    Jisc: Digital Capabilities 6 elements, Helen Beetham pdf

    QAA: How we review higher education

    QAA: Higher Education Review: Themes for 2015-16

    What do students really use?

    By Fiona Strawbridge, on 20 November 2011

    Did you know that current graduates can expect to have between 5 and 9 different professions by time they are 42? If I heard correctly this is what has been predicted from the growth of the knowledge-based economy and emergence of new professions.   This means that in addition to having strong IT skills, our graduates also need to be highly digitally and information literate and to be able to ‘knit together’ their use of institution and external – often cloud-based – technologies into a coherent learning experience. This was the theme of a thought-provoking presentation on a JISC-funded student digital literacies project by Helen Beetham (independent consultant) and Neil Witt (Plymouth Uni) given at the SEDA conference last week.

    The project involved student focus groups which looked into students’ real study habits and strategies – for instance how – and how much – they really use and depend on Wikipedia, Google, the e-library etc. Students were asked to do a ‘technolog

    Technology card sort choices

    Technolgy card sort

    y card sort’ – they were given cards with different technologies on them and asked work in pairs to group them according their usefulness for study.  Then – and this was the revealing part – they had to say which five could be taken away. And then to sacrifice three more. The facilitators were as interested in the dilemmas and arguments the students were having about their choices as in the choices themselves – these conversations gave a lot of insight into the students’ learning strategies.

    The outcomes?

    • The bare essentials were – Google, Google Scholar (“it’s more up to date than the library”), online journals and Athens
    • Valued – lecture notes, textbooks, the VLE, Metalib (i.e. official course resources); Google books; Citation software and e-portfolios (both were highly valued by those who used them)
    • Background use included – Assignment criteria, module overview, own use of capture media – photos of what they’ve done

    One interesting observation was that ‘game changing’ technologies – portfolios was given as an example – had almost always been introduced to them in class by tutors. This is counter to the common assumption that the game changers are the gadgets in students’ pockets.

    JISC have a toolkit of resources for institutions to run similar studies – maybe worth considering at UCL…