Digital capability, confidence, inspiration and intimidation

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Jisc Digital Capability Framework

Digital was certainly a key theme of last week.  Jisc held it’s annual digital jamboree digifest which I’m now trying to catch up on. Unfortunately I couldn’t attend this year due to internal commitments. One of which was our annual programme leaders learning and teaching event which did have a very strong digital element to it too.  The theme of the event was digital learning, and we used a number of the resources developed from the great work Jisc have been doing around developing digital capability as the basis for some activities.

In particular we adapted the Jisc/NUS Student Experience Benchmarking Toolkit to get people to start discussing, reflecting, sharing and benchmarking their programme, module and personal digital capabilities.

I really like this tool, the principles it has identified and particularly the criteria of first steps, developing, developed and outstanding.  They are easily to relate to, and I think, give a non-threatening progression overview for teaching staff. It is useful to illustrate that you don’t have to got from first steps to outstanding all in one go,  there is a progression. For any programme (or module) moving from first steps to developing, or developing to developed could represent a significant change in practice, capabilities and (hopefully) a more successful student experience.

During the event we had a number of presentations from colleagues about their practice. Of course, we had to deal with the irony of the wifi at our external venue not working ( key part of digital capability always have a non internet accessed back up plan!). We heard about some really great examples of how colleagues are developing more blended and fully online delivery approaches. Podcasting, annotated slides, rethinking of contact time with more project/flipped approaches, developing use of more interactive approaches to using videos (with zaption) were all shared.  You can see more in this storify (a few of us did manage to tweet).

Of course it is always great to (almost) see and hear this type of practice. However as the discussions unfolded, I was reminded of the importance of confidence and support in helping colleagues use more “digital” and blended approaches to their learning and teaching strategies. So whilst on the one hand the presentations were inspirational, they were also a bit intimidating to others.

At the table where I was sitting, this digital intimidation was expressed by a number of colleagues.  I wasn’t altogether surprised by this, but it did make me remind me of the balance that we need to strike in terms of inspiration and giving people achievable exemplars. I did also have to remind one colleague of some of the innovate practice she has added to one of her modules. It’s so embedded now, and “so last year” that she had forgotten about it.  Sometimes we forget that many “things ” and “stuff” which are now badged “digital” are actually “things” and “stuff” that people had been doing before someone decided to badge them “digital”.

We can’t (and I certainly don’t) expect everyone to change everything overnight. It’s easy to forget the incremental changes when just viewing a presentation.  All changes need to be contextualised within modules (programmes). What works for one may not work for everyone – there is no one size fits all or template. Part of being digitally capable is being confident enough to try, or indeed know when not to try, new approaches. Like everything it comes back to learning design and making time to reflect on practice and effective engagement.

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