This presentation will give an overview of an internally funded learning and teaching project at our university. The project aims are to explore how our Faculty of Business can better support staff and students in “developing their digital capabilities for living, learning and working in a digital age” (Jisc, 2017). Using Jisc’s Digital Capability Framework the project has developed 3 toolkits
• a learner
• a teacher
• a curriculum toolkit.
We shall focus on the learner toolkit and briefly outline how the 3 toolkits have been designed to work together.
The learner toolkit consists of a Digital Learner Portfolio (created in PebblePad) based on the Jisc learner role profile. The Jisc profile outlines skills students need in order to be digitally capable in Higher Education and once they graduate. This aligns with our university approach which focuses on collaborating with students as partners. It also is aligned with our institution wide focus on Employability. With this in mind we created a Digital Learner Role Profile Portfolio that students could use and reuse during their programme and return to once they have graduated.
Working with academics and students we adapted the Jisc learner role profile. In some cases, capabilities were re-named, and more detail included to add context, so this better situates the student profile within our institution. In addition to using the descriptors provided by the profile we added some interactivity to support and encourage ongoing use.
The Portfolio is divided into the adapted capability areas, each consisting of questions to help students self-assess their capabilities and providing resources to help them up-skill. For each capability area there is space to reflect and evidence their development across all levels of their programme. The Portfolio is designed to encourage students to self-assess via checklists and Likert scale questions. At a later date, a student returns to the questions, and when they answer them they can see the distance they have travelled in terms of digital capabilities. Primarily the portfolio is designed for completion in their first year, but there is space to come back in years 2 and 3.
Although the main part of the Portfolio consists of more general digital capabilities, there is a programme specific section, where academics have collated a discipline specific picture of the digital skills, technologies and practices students studying that particular programme need.
We shall share the challenges to implementing this approach to enhancing student digital capabilities and how we overcame these. These challenges include encouraging students to engage in a non-assessed activity; and deciding where institutional responsibility for the Digital Learner Portfolio resides – is it with personal tutors, module leaders or programme leaders? Ideally, we would prefer that the Digital Learner Portfolio is part of a pre-induction activity, but institutional approaches to pre-induction support need to be examined for this to happen.
This presentation will be useful for colleagues wanting to contextualise the Jisc Digital Capabilities Framework to suit their context. There will be an opportunity to view the Digital Learner Portfolio.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The project has been running for 18 months. The project grew out of a recognition that it is myth that students arrive at university and are fully digitally capable from day one. Faculty of Business staff were reporting to us that a large proportion of students were struggling with some digital skills and there was a necessity for support and guidance to fill skills gaps. The Jisc approach was deemed to be an appropriate framework as a beginning to the project.
Our first phase was compiling a literature review that informed our next steps. The next phase has been piloting the Portfolio starting with an approach that is based on Rapid Prototyping. We created and piloted new versions of the Portfolio to small groups of users of volunteer students and staff and made changes based on immediate feedback. This then formed the portfolio we used for a more substantial rollout pilot with 100 students.
A survey has been distributed to this group of students and the results of this will be incorporated into an updated version of the portfolio. Further, in-depth evaluation through focus groups with staff and students from these 3 disciplines are planned in the near future. The results and analysis from the survey and the focus groups will be shared during the presentation. Feedback from the focus groups will inform how we can develop the Portfolio further and used alongside and within the curriculum ready for wider rollout in the new academic year.
We have collected instant, informal feedback through conversations with students and shared this with PebblePad (the portfolio software used). These conversations will inform future development for the enhancement of the software.
The project has highlighted the need for us to approach the process of rollout in a variety of ways. The approach, if it is to be rolled out at scale, needs to be sustainable and efficient. For some groups of students, the introduction was face to face. For others the introduction was entirely online. The presentation will report on the differences in uptake and present data showing the extent to which students engaged.
Barclay (2016) From Inclusion to Empowerment: The Barclays Digital Development Index. London, Barclay. https://digitalindex.barclays/
Beetham, H., McGill, L. and Littlejohn, A. (2009) Thriving in the 21st century: Learning Literacies for the Digital Age (LLiDA project).
JISC Digital Capabilities Framework (2017) https://www.jisc.ac.uk/rd/projects/building-digital-capability
JISC (2015) Developing students’ digital literacy. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-students-digital-literacy