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The Digital Department


Developing digital literacies for teaching administrators


Digital literacies and identity

By Clive Young, on 12 October 2011

In the second leg of our JISC Digital Literacies tour last week our TDD team went to Bristol for the Developing Digital Literacies workshop. Again a very interesting event, with all the workshop materials available online.  The main emphasis was on why digital literacies are important  – mainly impacts of digital media on knowledge and the new demands on education. We discussed ‘ways of knowing’ , ‘graduate attributes’ and how universities are investigating this strategically.  There was an excellent presentation  by Charlotte Fregona of London Metropolitan University on their SLiDA case study. The surprisingly-overlooked link between staff literacies and student literacies was explored and I was impressed by London Met’s Minimum Standards for Digital Learning and Teaching and their excellent Elearning@LondonMet  pilot portal.

One area I thought fascinating from a TDD perspective, though, was the link between digital literacy and identity. From the initial stages of TDD we understood that for our colleagues the project framework could consolidate the idea ‘Teaching Administrator’ as an accepted professional support role with some level of status. Individuals and organisations would recognise and identify with the job description. The framework itself would describe a development path to a desired set of professional attributes. We hope the framework becomes a  benchmark for both self-evaluation and aspiration. Helen Beetham presented the digital literacies ‘stages of development‘ model (right) she had developed with Rhona Sharpe. She had intended it as a Maslow-style hierarchy but came to realise the flow wasn’t always upwards. If people could self-identify as wanting a set of professional attributes that make up a professional identity they could ensure access acquire skills and develop practices. We are hoping that will happen with our TAs.

As the discussion developed we also wondered if some academic identities actually excluded digital literacies i.e. “as a professional academic I’m simply not interested in that online stuff”. As identity is deeply important to people it may explain why some have in the past reacted so strongly against apparently innocuous uses of technology.

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