Out with the old, in with the new!

This is the latest update from the UROP Project: Digital Literacy, employability and placements in SHES…

Whether you’re sending emails, following people on Twitter or making friends on Facebook, Digital Literacy is an important part of people’s lives. Over the past few weeks I have carried out some background research with staff to find out just how prominent Digital Literacy is for them when methods of teaching and learning and students employability skills are considered.

As an overall collective, staff were aware of how important Digital Literacy can be for teaching and learning when used effectively and most highlighted the benefits that Social Media holds for student employability. New forms of Digital Literacy need to be showcased correctly and Social Media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, need to be understood from both a personal and professional perspective. Staff also stressed LinkedIn to have great importance from an employability perspective and students need to be aware that when LinkedIn is used, it is important that their profile is of a good standard that attracts employers. This is significant as one individual’s online presence could lead to a great opportunity whilst another’s could prevent one.

The majority of students come to University because it furthers career opportunities or they need a degree in order to succeed in what they want to do. The careers part of any module then should be something that students find extremely useful and information on how to create an above standard online presence could be added here to help with new and ever evolving forms of Digital Literacy. Staff agreed that there seems to be room for improvements in the careers sections of certain modules and more awareness of Digital Literacy built into the careers section could really strengthen the image of the careers module.

Rather than students creating a personal profile and a CV, something that students are likely to have already, new employability skills could be taught to students to give them the upper hand in the job market. LinkedIn workshops, Alumni students discussing how Digital Literacy has affected them in their careers and students who have already had an opportunity because of their online presence could offer students a better understanding and a greater awareness of how influential forms of Digital Literacy can be. With students paying three times as much as others who have come to University, students will be expecting more for their money. If something like this is offered for students, then they will be aware of and able to meet the expectations that employers now have.

The University has already implemented some of these new forms and some departments already have both Facebook and Twitter pages set up for their students but it would be nice to see this become consistent across each department. Staff also directed us to the ‘Being Online’ pages that the IT Services department have and suggested that they were good for what not to do but should also actively encourage students in what to do and how to succeed in creating an online presence. It seems that there is an awareness of the power Digital Literacy holds within the University and that the foundations of understanding are in place but extra steps need to be taken to expand this which would be positive for both the students and the University itself.

The research showed us that staff had concerns over the most effective ways of contacting and communicating with students. This has led us to begin developing a new method and idea that could be used for communication which we will work on over the next few weeks and can hopefully trial at the beginning of the academic year but anyway, more on this soon!

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