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The Digital Department


Developing digital literacies for teaching administrators


Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

NUS Charter on Academic Support stresses importance of admin support

By Stefanie D Anyadi, on 19 February 2012

The recently published NUS Charter on Academic Support is a tool for student representatives and student unions, which sets goals for good practice in academic support. One of the aims of the Charter is of particular relevance to the Digital Department Project:

Support, and recognition, should be available to those who provide support to students

There are many people who provide support to students, from central student services, academics and library staff to students themselves. Institutions should give these people time and resources to develop their skills as a mentor, and should give them the space to discuss the challenges they face. This will not only ensure that they feel that their contributions make a difference, but also help institutions to develop their support practices by sharing best practice across the institution and highlighting any development needs.

This fits in very well with The Digital Department project approach:

 At UCL, the partnership between academic and non-academic staff is recognised as being essential in order to achieve the highest standards in UCL’s academic mission. Moreover “the use of online technologies is an essential component of the way in which students access and engage with the curriculum at UCL” (Institutional Learning and Teaching Strategy 2010-2015). It is becoming clear that for this vision of the modern university to be realised the digital literacies of support staff must be developed as a strategic asset.

The ambition of The Digital Department is to professionalise the digital literacy of teaching administrators (TAs) in order to enhance the teaching and learning environment. This is not simply the development of a specific group of staff; we see the digital literacies of students, academic colleagues and TAs as being interconnected via the digital learning environment.

Further information on the NUS Charter on Academic Support is available at http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/campaigns/highereducation/learning-and-teaching-hub/academicsupport/




Report from the first TDD workshop

By Clive Young, on 2 September 2011

The notes are now available from our first TDD Workshop on 16 August 2011. The aim of the event was to introduce the project to a group of UCL teaching administrators and do some initial brainstorming (a method known as ‘knowledge spaces’) with the group around the areas of;

  • digital literacies i.e. what tools we use and what skills we need
  • what kinds of areas the TDD should investigate (e.g. mini-project)
  • what kind of skills training and development we should consider.

The results were fascinating and perhaps surprising. We were struck by the number of processes, systems and applications TA need to learn and apply.

The report is avilable Notes from workshop 16 Aug 2011 v2 (PDF 5pp).

New project logo

By Clive Young, on 2 September 2011

All projects nowadays have to have a logo, and The Digital Department (TDD to its friends) is no exception. Thanks to UCL student Max Naylor for this excellent, simple design.


First UCL workshop

By Clive Young, on 16 August 2011

We ran the first meeting of The Digital Department this morning with 14 partcipants from across UCL. Stephanie and Lorraine opened the workshop then Clive introduced the project (see slides below).

TDD first workshop

We then ran a lively and very productive ‘knowledge space’ exercise. This is a sort of brainstorm activity where we discussed three key questions;

  • Digital literacy skills – what should be included?
  • What should we investigate (new ideas, mini-projects, case studies)
  • How do you want to get involved, what types of training, how to develop skills?
  • We produced with three extensive lists which we will publish as a report over the next few days.

    New UCL ‘The Digital Department’ project funded by JISC

    By Clive Young, on 11 July 2011

    UCL Portico stepsWe have just been awarded funding from JISC for a two-year project to develop a ‘digital literacy’ framework and training programme for teaching administrators (TAs) at UCL. As well as developing the professional profile and expertise of TAs at UCL we aim to obtain external accreditation of the training programme through the Association of University Administrators.

    The UCL team are

    • Stefanie Anyadi (UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences)
    • Lorraine Dardis (UCL Institute of Child Health)
    • Clive Young (Learning Technology Support Service).

    Overview of the project:

    As the complexity of providing education in an increasingly digitally-rich HE environment has grown, a new cadre of well-qualified teaching administrators (TAs) is now emerging as critical ‘change agents’. TAs provide a range of ‘just in time’ support to academic colleagues. They often manage VLE resources, communicate directly with students and facilitate key educational processes such as assessment, feedback and consistent quality standards. Although TAs contribute directly to the student experience their specific digital literacy needs have so far been rarely recognised or addressed. The Digital Department will therefore analyse the diverse skills and abilities needed in a modern ‘digital department’, and explore how can we can benchmark, develop, share and evaluate best teaching administration digital practice across UCL. Supported by the Association of University Administrators (AUA), we aim to work together to establish a sector-wide certification framework.  In parallel the project will explore how technology can enhance the business efficiency and educational effectiveness of academic processes. Achieving consistent quality of teaching and learning support is important to students but is undoubtedly challenging in a large, diverse research-led university such as UCL. By developing a common framework of digital literacies among a committed staff group and by engaging students, support staff and academic colleagues throughout the process, we believe we can establish a practical, sustainable model of institutional change which can be applied to other staff groups across our institution and the wider HE sector.