As universities respond to the Covid-19 pandemic with a shift towards online and hybrid teaching models, digital technologies have become key within higher education. Greater reliance on these technologies, however, results in added risk to the digital safety and wellbeing of both staff and students, especially as the lines between work and downtime become increasingly blurred. The University of Edinburgh is responding to these challenges by raising awareness about online safety and digital wellbeing through a robust digital safety and citizenship initiative.
Over the past year, Dr Vicki Madden, the University’s Digital Safety and Support Officer and former student at Edinburgh, has been working with stakeholders and subject specialists across the University, including academics, learning technologists, the Edinburgh University Students’ Association and the Information Security team, to form a digital safety network and develop online resources, guidance, events, and campaigns to help students stay safe and healthy as they engage more with digital technologies.
Even prior to the new academic year, students reported feeling under-supported when faced with a rising number of digital safety-related concerns, including but not limited to online harassment, fraud, and misinformation, all of which pose serious risks to digital wellbeing. Developing digital safety awareness thus becomes key to enhancing wellbeing and ensuring that online spaces remain respectful and inclusive. As the initiative aims to instigate a cultural shift by increasing digital literacy, the project also reflects the Digital Identity and Wellbeing theme within the University’s Digital Skills Framework, based on the Jisc Digital Capability model.
This session shares the initiative’s methodology and key findings to date, as well as a roadmap for the future. Delegates will gain insight into the successes and challenges of the project and will be invited to discuss how universities across the UK can work together to promote digital safety and wellbeing.