Education professionals are developing new skills and practices to meet the new demands: supporting digitally-enabled students; teaching new digital subjects; researching new questions with innovative methods; publishing in open journals; working in transformed spaces and organisational structures. Being digitally ‘able’ has different connotations in different subject areas and professional roles. But whatever new specialisms are required, the extent of change in working practice means that digital capability is no longer about adding on skills: it is about profound changes to professional and academic identities and to how academic work is valued.
Jisc has recently commissioned work on how the new digital professionalism in education is being framed. This has involved research into literature and practice, and interviews with over 60 professionals. Importantly, it has involved consulting with the professional and representative bodies whose members are dealing with these issues in their daily lives. Just as digital capability can no longer be owned in one part of the institution or by one group of professional staff, so there can be no overarching account that meets everybody’s needs. But there is a need to share our understanding of the direction of travel, and our experiences of meeting new digital challenges with positive modes of professional and organisational development. To support this shared approach we have worked collaboratively to identify how the demands on education professionals are changing and are likely to change over the coming 5 years and beyond. From this foresight we have developed a high level framework that maps six elements of digital capability to different professional roles.
Our research indicates that high level frameworks are useful for cross-boundary conversations and for establishing a shared sense of direction. The overall goals are that:
- institutions understand, plan for, develop and reward the digital capabilities that enable them to thrive;
- professional bodies develop and achieve recognition for the digital capabilities of their members;
- individuals develop and achieve recognition for their digital capabilities in the context of their chosen work.
Good practice exists in all these areas but the processes themselves are not always well connected. It is difficult to get a joined-up view of expertise across an organisation. It can be difficult for individuals to gain recognition across the different roles and spaces in which they have digital know-how. By working with professional bodies and with pilot institutions, we are exploring how the high level framework can be expressed within existing processes such as accreditation and recognition, professional and organisational development, role definition and career management, and how it can be reframed to fit new contexts. The ALT community is critical to this effort, and through this session we will seek to support better conversations across role and institutional boundaries about the changing nature of professional work in education.
The session will include an outline of the overarching framework and a number of use cases that are being developed in practice (15-20 minutes). There will then be an opportunity to comment on these outcomes and for participants to identify opportunities for taking the work forward in their own institutions and professional settings. For more information see: http://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org
Neary, M. and Beetham, H. (2015) The Nature of Academic Space, in Lea, J. (ed.) (2015) Enhancing Learning and Teaching in Higher Education: Engaging with the dimensions of practice. Maidenhead: Open University Press.
Cunningham, B. (ed.) (2014) Professional Life in Modern British Higher Education. London: Institute of Education Press.
Goodfellow, R. and Lea, M. (eds) (2013) Literacy in the digital university. London: Routledge.
Locke, W. (2014) Shifting academic careers: implications for enhancing professionalism in teaching and supporting learning. Higher Education Academy. Available online: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/sites/default/files/resources/shifting_academic_careers_FINAL.pdf
Whitchurch, C. (2012) Reconstructing Identities in HE: the Rise of the ‘Third Space’ professionals, London: Routledge.