This paper presents research undertaken as part of a wider project looking at student technology ambassador initiatives in UK universities. It directly addresses the Participation through Learning Technology theme because it looks at initiatives that involve students, library staff, learning technologists and academics working in partnership to promote technology use in higher education. In particular, the paper looks at how the digital aspects of these initiatives can change the relationships between participants and affect their success. The context to this research are recent writings including reflections on international approaches to staff-student partnership (e.g. Marquis, Black and Healey 2017), critiques of student partnership projects as product of the marketization of higher education (e.g. White 2018), and reframing staff-student relations towards collaboration (Jensen and Bennett 2016). Further insights are drawn from writings on critical digital literacies, particularly the work of Potter and McDougall (2017) who are concerned with how digital literacies are formed in what they describe as the third space, outside home or formal education, which relates to wider culture and lived experience. They understand this space as where new non-hierarchical pedagogies are formed which can then inform teaching and learning practices.
These ideas are explored using data (interviews, policies and project documentation) collected from 6 UK institutions that have or have had student technology ambassador schemes, and the wider landscape of student as partners work developed through the work of Jisc and initiatives such as the Change Agents Network. The paper reflects on what aspects of digital practice are emphasized in these initiatives, if and how they disturb traditional teacher student power hierarchies, and how we can apply this in developing institutional approaches to digital education. Results suggest that most partnership activities fall into the middle of scales of active student participation (Bovill and Bulley 2011), and that the most dynamic partnerships are those between students, and learning technologists and librarians.
Session content: evaluation and reflection
The session is draws on desk-based research into students as partners and data collection from 6 UK universities that run student technology ambassador projects. It is one aspect at a bigger project looking at the relationship between policy and practice in digital education that focuses on student technology ambassador type initiatives. The session will give an overview of the key findings of the project, with a focus on introducing participants to the latest writings in this area, through using them as a lens to examine the data collected as part of the project. The session will also inspire participants to reflect on how, where and why students and staff become digitally literate, and consider how this can help universities develop new initiatives.
Bovill, C. and Bulley, C.J. 2011 A model of active student participation in curriculum design: exploring desirability and possibility. In: Rust, C. (ed.) Improving Student Learning (ISL) 18: Global Theories and Local Practices: Institutional, Disciplinary and Cultural Variations. Series: Improving Student Learning (18). Oxford Brookes University: Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development, Oxford, pp. 176-188.
Jensen, K and L. Bennett, 2016 Enhancing teaching and learning through dialogue: a student and staff partnership model. International Journal for Academic Development 21:1 41-53.
Marquis, E., Black, C. and M. Healey 2017 Responding to the challenges of student-staff partnership: the reflections of participants at an international summer institute. Teaching in Higher Education 22:6, 720-735.
Potter, J. and McDougall, J. 2017 Digital Media, Culture and Education: Theorising Third Space Literacies. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
White, M. (2018) Student partnership, trust and authority in universities. Educational Philosophy and Theory 50:2, 163-173.
Resources for participants