Rising to the digital literacy challenge in FE: JISC webinar, 28th Feb 2013

This is the second in a series of webinars in 2013 run by JISC as part of the Developing Digital Literacies programme. I’ve written up the first webinar and also put together some thoughts on emerging issues and themes.

The presentations and webinar recording are available here.

Andrew Eynon, ‘Embedding digital literacy in the classroom’, Coleg Llandrillo Cymru

PADDLE (Personal Actualisation and Development through Digital Literacies in Education) Project

This project approached digital literacy by focussing on the tasks and activities people are doing (an approach I approve of!). Again, like most projects they are looking at embedding digital literacy not tagging it on separately. They have developed Bitesize learning as part of basic/essential skills. They have also used Information Literacy Agored Units via the Open College Network. They have found an increasing focus on digital citizenship.

Some specific activities include using iPads in senior management meetings, webinar software being used for staff training and teaching (go2meeting), peer e-guides providing a point of contact, support and advocacy and support materials in Moodle. Communities of practice have been created using lots of different applications – I liked the fact they are trying out different tools rather than being limited to a ‘supported’ institutional platform. So far the most successful community is run by library staff on Google Plus.

Barriers the project has faced include:

  • Home access to technology is often better than in class
  • Staff and students may be IT confident but not necessarily competent
  • The ‘creepy treehouse’ problem – communities run by adults and viewed with suspicion by students (I had to look this term up! more detail here)
  • Blocked IT access for students in their workplaces, especially social media

Viv Bell, ‘Addressing the Digital Literacy Void: the FE Lecturer Challenge’, Worcester College of Technology

WORDLE (Worcester Digital Literacy) Project

Project web site: http://diglit.wortech.ac.uk/

Worcester carried out a survey of 240 staff and students, observing 4 areas: ICT, social tools, multimedia and information. There were differences between staff and students – staff felt more confident in information and IT skills but not up-to-date with new tools such as social tools. Students had more confidence in social tools and multimedia. However, the results showed confidence but not necessarily competence. This was observed when staff and students were asked to carry out information seeking tasks alongside each other, while being observed by library staff.

The college requires that 15% of all courses are delivered via the VLE, so this provides a driver for staff development. Open College Network Units were developed for both staff and students:

Student units

  • Online information skills
  • Online professional presence
  • Traditional library skills

Staff units

  • Blended Traditional and Online Learning Techniques
  • Structuring a VLE (with assessment to produce an actual course)
  • Promoting Active Learning Online

Online delivery of these units proved popular and these are now embedded into the staff CPD offer on a permanent basis. They are planning to look at impact on achievement – students like the print out certificate at the end of the units so this may have an impact on completion rates.

Ross Anderson, ‘The risks of NOT addressing digital literacy with staff’, Grimsby Institute

Ross outlined the risk of not addressing digital literacy with staff (by this he meant mainly tutors). Some consquences include teaching that did not have active engagement and didn’t reflect the real world. The opportunities provided by using technology for differentiation, assessment and accessibility, are missed.

Issues preventing the improvement of staff skills were lack of time, no desire to change, poor training being provided and staff stuck in fixed methods of teaching. Ross cited research that related social networking to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and that it is now a need for students which is being missed (I must find this research!).

Ross outlined his model for tackling the digital literacy challenges he faces in terms of Change, Resistance, Challenge and Creativity:


I thought this was a really positive way of looking at it – rather than seeing resistance as a negative, using it as a driver to find more creative methods of overcoming resistance.

Ross then outlined some of the ideas that worked in terms of staff development:

  • Bitesize sessions supported by VLE resources
  • Advice to teach online like you would deliver in class
  • Core sessions tackling the most current technologies and easiest to apply quickly
  • Broad level of training for all competencies
  • A range of times to fit into varying schedules
  • A fixed off-site venue for training (an admin building with dedicated room for staff development)

The 8 core sessions that were defined include:

  • E-learning techniques
  • Moodle 101
  • Websites to aid learning
  • Handheld & digital cameras
  • E-learning starters
  • E-safety
  • Understanding Digital Literacy

A question did arise about whether the above sessions could be tipped on their heads to address specific problems rather than technologies – again a key question in terms of the approach to digital literacy.

Read more about Emerging Themes from JISC Digital Literacy Projects.

This entry was posted in Digital literacy, Information literacy, Reports and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Rising to the digital literacy challenge in FE: JISC webinar, 28th Feb 2013

  1. Pingback: Emerging themes from JISC Digital Literacy Projects | hblanchett.com

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