Student experiences with digital literacies

Last week, the Digitally Ready team here at Reading invited staff to a workshop on ‘Students’ experiences with placements and opportunities for developing their digital literacies at the University’. Some 20 colleagues from academic and service departments across the University attended.

The event kicked off with a demo by my e-Learning Team colleague Guy Pursey who has been working to improve our online help and support area on the University’s Blackboard VLE. You may have seen his blog post earlier this week, ‘Put it on my tab’, which has further details.

Next, delegates heard from our placement student, the inimitable Rachel Glover about ‘Student experiences with digital literacies’. Rachel has been working with me on a research study into ‘Digital literacies for student employability’, focusing on the University’s embedded and extra-curricular placement schemes. Work placements present an invaluable opportunity for students to develop their digital literacies by practising their digital skills in a professional environment. I couldn’t resist sharing Rachel’s presentation in full as it’s such an excellent summary of the key findings and her reflections on her own experience.

After a lively Q & A sparked by Rachel’s presentation, delegates were suitably primed to consider what digital opportunities for students are currently on offer within their own School or department, and what further opportunities they might like to offer in the future.

Delegates felt that it’s our job to keep exposing students to as many digital experiences, tools and devices as possible as part of their Teaching & Learning experience at Reading. It was acknowledged that our Blackboard VLE, despite certain limitations, still plays a major role in digital learning, not least of all by engaging students with a variety of modes of communication, such as discussion boards, portfolios, blogs and wikis. Rachel’s talk also highlighted the importance of digital literacies in relation to communication skills, citing email etiquette as an example.

Student employability seemed to be at the heart of many discussions, with suggestions for future developments including more portable formats for e-portfolios and guidance for creating a positive online presence.

The event finished with a reminder of our upcoming events:

  • ‘The use of technologies in Teaching & Learning’, 
22 January 2013
  • ‘Closing the feedback loop’
, 12 February 2013
  • Making assessment count’
. Presentations by Gunter Saunders (University of Westminster) and Peter Chatterton (University of Hertfordshire), 27 February 2013
  • ‘Inclusive practices in Teaching & Learning and assessment’, 12 March 2013
  • ‘Digital literacies and skills for 21st-century learning’. Presentation by 
Steve Wheeler (Plymouth University), 30 April 2013
  • Presentation by our UCL counterparts Clive Young and Stefanie Anyadi from The Digital Department, 13 May 2013
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