This presentation shares some initial findings from a research project that explores student technology ambassadors schemes at 3 institutions. It examines the institutional contexts in which these schemes were developed, and the roles and relationships between student ambassadors, learning technologists and academics. The project aims to develop a better understanding of the changes in digital skills training and support by contrasting three institutions, and to consider this in the light of changing roles and responsibilities around learning and teaching involving digital practice. This has been highlighted through, for example, students as partners (HEA 2016), academics working collaboratively through teaching as a design science (Laurillard 2012), the increasing move to online digital skills training such as Lynda.com, and the debates around the future of IT trainers (UCISA 2016). The analysis of data, collected through analysis of institutional policy and initiatives, staff and student development materials, and semi-structured interviews with participants, highlights the potential opportunities these schemes provide, as well the potential for reorganising professional practices in the higher education context. The project takes a social practice-based approach to understanding the use of technology in learning environments, seeing it as culturally, discursively, and materially formed. This approach captures many levels of data from different perspectives, drawing on a view of practice being constituted from what people say they do, what they do, and how this relates to what other people do (Kemmis’  ‘sayings’, ‘doings’ and ‘relatings’).
The workshop session will be divided into a 20 minute presentation highlighting the key preliminary findings of the project, interspersed with opportunities for participants to respond to online polling questions. This will be followed by group activities that allow deeper discussion on perceptions of student technology ambassador schemes, and experiences of changing roles relating to digital skills training. Participants will gain a deeper understanding of these schemes, be able to explore a theoretical approach that can inform their work and contribute to defining the parameters of further research in this area.
HEA 2016 Student Champions. York: HEA
Kemmis, S. 2009 Understanding Professional Practice: A synoptic framework. In Green, B. (ed.) Understanding and Researching Professional Practice. Rotterdam: Sense p.19-38
Laurillard, D. 2012 Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology Abingdon: Routledge
UCISA 2016 Panel discussion: Do we still need IT training teams? UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities 2, 25-26th May 2016, Birmingham.
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