There are many aspects to the Digitally Ready project. We have a diverse set of people who the project seeks to help, across a range of different Faculties, Schools and Departments. In terms of their roles, some are staff, with varied needs in terms of digital skills and competences, and others are students who can be just starting here through to nearing the end of their studies.
The individuals themselves, however, come with an even more widely distributed skill-set and their own approaches to technology and learning new ways of working. Although our “baselining” exercise is far from complete, it is apparent that there is little to no correlation between the attitudes and technical competences of individuals and the role they occupy, beyond some obvious cases where roles clearly require specific skill sets.
Whilst it would be ideal to be able to capture information about the skills and competences of people throughout the institution, it seems reasonable to suppose that if this were to be used as the basis for designing curricula the process would have to be repeated annually. Not only does the institutional population change annually, but the rate of change of tools and services available mean that it is unwise to embed too much specific detail in the procedures and teaching materials used at the University.
We have a number of staff who already engage with a digital literacy ‘agenda’ in their teaching and practice. One thing we are particularly keen to do as part of the Digitally Ready project is to support their practice and disseminate it more widely in the institution and the HE sector. It is also important, of course, to try to look a little bit ahead and to try to see ways of embedding a culture of continuous improvement in the provision of digital literacy education. Trying to improve on the practice of those who already do the job best is, of course, a challenge!
Alongside this, there is the opportunity to develop flexible, personal learning for everyone across the University. That sounds like a big ‘ask’ – isn’t personalised learning awfully expensive? That depends on how much you try to ‘control’ things. In this case, I don’t view it as an area where we can really say “Here are some courses, and these are your learning objectives, so do X, Y and Z”. That doesn’t work. But what we can do – and I would argue probably should be doing across HE in general – is say:
“Here are a set of techniques you can use to assess your current skills,
to evaluate what skills and competences you need, and will need in the future,
and here are some suggestions of places to look for information and ways of learning which you might find useful”.
Assess (self and needs), Analyse (gaps), Acquire (skills & competences) – and Reflect on the process.