Digital Literacy workshops for students (pilots)

This week I have been lucky enough to be working with the 1st year students from the School of Systems Engineering in their post-exam period.  We run a number of workshops and presentations for them during this period, and colleagues asked whether I could run sessions on digital literacies.  Obviously, with our Digitally Ready project nearing the end of its first year, I was more than happy to take on the task!

The specific audience is typically fairly tech-savvy, although my assessment of learners at this stage in their studies in general is that they over-estimate their abilities.  The sessions were run after the exam period, which leads to low expectations in terms of turn-out; many students leave as soon as they can, and do not realise the importance of some of the after-exam events.
The slides (above) were used in the first session, to provide some context and provide a framework for some discussion and broader thinking on the topic of digital literacy.  The same survey was completed twice in the session, to provide some data on changes in perception.  A session feedback form was also used, and I have created Wordles from the  free text fields for “What was most interesting” and “What was least interesting”.
Firstly, then, the least interesting elements of the sessions:
The elements students felt were less interesting

Less interesting aspects

It is worth noting that in many cases, the feedback forms appear to have confused respondents – the ‘less interesting’ field was on some occasions used to describe things in complimentary terms.  Further analysis needs to be done to see whether we can realistically filter out the noise that this appears to have created in the data.
On the more positive side, the ‘interesting’ field was used only in a positive way, so the second wordle is probably more informative:
More interesting aspects

Elements students found interesting

It is interesting(to me at least) that the ‘song’ went down so well with a cohort who are much more musically inclined than I am.  However, I am happy with it being mentioned in either a positive or negative way, as the purpose of including it was to highlight that
a) everyone has more to learn
b) you can produce something to provide a basic ‘prototype’ using tools without too much effort
and to hopefully provoke a creative response from the audience.
Over the 4 pairs of sessions, we had 58 students attend the first part and 39 attend the second (out of approximately 120).  Of these, 5 or 6 are habitually late and/or disruptive, and their feedback forms have been analysed separately.
84% of students attending the first sessions on time thought the session was at the right level, with the remainder thinking it was too basic.  Of those who arrived late, half thought it was the right level and half too basic.  78% would recommend it unconditionally, with a further 14% prepared to recommend it to the right audience.
The second session was more hands on, exploring some tools and the wiki which has been set up based on the the eskills competence framework.  Actual engagement by the students with the wiki was poor (3 students prepared to edit it), and this is perhaps reflected in the second session only achieving a 67% recommendation rate, although a higher rate of students rating it at the ‘Just right’ level, at 94%.  Those who arrived late, however, were less impressed and 5 out of 6 would not recommend the second session.
The sessions themselves were sometimes lively, with good questions being asked and comments from the learners.  I think, however, that a couple of the students hit the nail on the head with comments along the lines of “This would be better at the beginning of the year”.

About patparslow

I am a researcher in the School of Systems Engineering, working in the fields of social media, digital identity and learning. I have previously worked in IT training/education, land survey, civil engineering, IT support, and as a software engineer.
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