Digitally Ready, a retrospective

Claudia's Climate Change and Gardening survey blog received over 4000 hits.

Claudia’s Climate Change and Gardening survey blog post received over 4000 hits.

In October 2011 I drafted a brief description of my digital education interests for this blog (when it was just starting) but didn’t get to the point where I wanted to publish it.  Looking back over the two years of this project I now see how far my digital readiness has moved and how far the institution has developed its digital literacy.  I’ve also written and published a lot of blogs.

At the beginning of Digitally Ready I was a user of Blackboard, Facebook, WordPress and Blogger, LinkedIn, Google and had a Twitter account as well as running the web pages for Biological Sciences.  I also had a commitment to e-science infrastructures through two large EU funded projects: 4D4Life and i4Life. I’d felt my level of knowledge was that of the interested professional.  My profession, however, is that of a Botanist. Continue reading

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Construction Chat

A reflection by Conor O’Connor, Reading graduate

The Construction Chat summer school here at Reading is the first project of its kind. Set up by myself and Ashley Davidson, our goal at Construction Chat is to inspire more school children and college students to enter the construction industry at a number of different levels.

As students we set up and designed the Construction Chat website to guide students through their degrees at education institutions across the country and abroad especially in the field of construction.

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Sharing Good Practice – A journey to using Facebook as an educational tool

I’ve been at Reading University for quite a long time now.  Arriving at Reading fresh from my PhD, during which I managed my research data and wrote my thesis using a Sinclair QL (with optional disk drive), I told my new head of department that I really did need a computer for my work. Thankfully the Royal Society start up grants help solved that issue and I bought a Mac IIvx which seemed unimaginably powerful at the time. Most of my colleagues did not see the need for a desktop computer.  It seems unimaginable now that anyone can function without not just a computer but also the World Wide Web and other benefits the Internet has brought. Having been branded as someone who likes computers I then got involved in producing the School of Plant Sciences web pages in the mid-1990s, with Rupert Wilson, and later became the School’s e-learning representative trialling the early versions of Blackboard. Continue reading

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Digitally ready – a report into digital literacy in the Part 1 Classics course

I have used Digitally Ready funds to experiment with capturing lecture audio (

I also commissioned a report into Digital Paedagogy in Classics. It seems to me that we expect fairly high levels of digital literacy without systematically equipping our first year students with the tools to use – as well as saying ‘don’t use Wikipedia’ I’d like to start pointing them towards reliable online resources and, more importantly, developing a sense of critical engagement with digital content similar to that which we teach them bring to print material. This report is a useful step towards doing that, in several ways.

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UROP Placement: How much is too much for Social Media?

Almost every student has a Facebook or Twitter account that is usually used to maintain and organise their personal and social lives but we want to know just how important digital literacy is.

Digital Literacy can be defined as the ability to use and understand information that is communicated through digital technology which of course includes these social media sites. Digital Literacy involves a working knowledge of technology and a good understanding of how it can be used and deployed and digitally literate people are able to communicate and work more efficiently.

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Pharmacy students and e-books: conclusions

Regular readers of this blog may remember previous posts on my Digitally Ready funded project that looked into the use of e-books by Pharmacy students. This project has now been completed. Faiza AbRahman, a PhD student from the Education department who I was able to appoint thanks to the project funding, and I conducted a survey, analysed usage statistics of the e-books collection and organised a focus group. The findings will be used to inform the promotion of e-books to students, the content of information skills sessions that Library staff deliver, and the management of the Library collections. Our project uncovered a number of core issues that have a bearing on each of these aspects.

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Partners in curriculum change: Digitally Ready at the Annual Higher Education Academy Conference, 3-4 July 2013

The theme of this year’s conference was Powerful partnerships: defining the learning experience, with three strands: students as partners; employers as partners; and organisations as partners. The conference was packed with very interesting sessions – so much is going on with student engagements across the HE sector!
I was involved in a discussion session, delivered with two other JISC projects FASTECH (Universities of Bath Spa and Winchester) and E-AFFECT (Queen’s University Belfast) – where I had the opportunity to showcase the work that Digitally Ready carried out with students. Continue reading

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Digitally Ready ‘Sensors, circuits and sculpture’, Kate Allen (Art) and Nic Hollinworth (Systems Engineering)

Interactive sensory objects made for and by people with learning disabilities, is a three year AHRC funded research project which explores the potential of newly developed easy-to-use electronics in making the experience of members of the user-group more vital and meaningful when accessing heritage sites.

Liverpool Echo feature Sensory Objects

Liverpool Echo feature Sensory Objects

The Digitally Ready grant gave us the opportunity to experiment and share our research from the Sensory Objects research project with students from the art dept, giving them an introduction to interactive and digitally enhanced sculpture/installation. Technology plays a major role in many contemporary installations, but art students may not have easy access to the kinds of technologies that can add a sensory dimension to their work and learning curves can be steep. Continue reading

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Are we ‘Digitally Ready’ yet?

At 10am on Monday the JISC funded Digitally Ready project group, which broadcasts its progress via a blog and Twitter, met for an evaluation of project progress.

A new emphasis for future JISC funding is likely to be student engagement however there is no open call at present.  A move towards micro funding perhaps of £5-10k may be the future approach.  Sustainability is seen as essential to all future funding.  The JISC website has a sustainability toolkit available to help with this. Continue reading

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Blogging assignments – comments and experiences part 2: BSc Honors Projects

One of the challenges with undergraduate projects is to give the student experience of publishing their work.  Sometimes a project fits part of a larger research area and the student gets co authorship of a paper.  Three years ago one of my tutees gained from this by working with Liam McGuffin on the modelling of protein folding patterns and became co author on three papers (Roche et al 2010; Roche et al. 2011a; Roche et al. 2011b).  However this is unusual and the student often has only a limited role in the writing of the paper but gains experience of teamwork in research. Continue reading

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