Changing the learning landscape

Adam Bailey image

Digital Literacy in the disciplines

One of the reasons for increasing the use of technology in Higher Education is to develop students’ digital literacy. Anne Hole, a member of the Sussex Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) team, recently attended a Higher Education Academy (HEA) event at the London School of Economics which featured reports from Jisc-funded projects that explored ways to embed digital literacy within disciplines. This is her report.



The background

The disciplinary focus is important because, as the introduction to the event made clear, ‘Digital literacy is an essential element of the student experience, but it will vary between disciplines and also institutions’. It is crucial that academics are involved in the discussions and activities around digital literacies and that they are not seen as a separate set of skills to be acquired outside modules and courses.



Some key ideas

Lesley-Jane Gourlay and Martin Oliver (Institute of Education) reported on qualitative research looking at students’ practices in relation to technologies. They found no single experience for all students – practices were individual but discipline and time specific. There no generic core of technologies that students had mastered, instead people were ‘coping’ in personalised ways that served them on a particular course and in their own social context. You can read more about the Digital Literacies as a Postgraduate Attribute project in the Jisc Design Studio.


Individualised coping

Individualised coping with technologies across time, space and devices was explored further in the afternoon when the audience drew maps of their own technology working practices. You can see some of the results in this Storify of the day. This was a great conversation starter that could be used amongst colleagues to kickstart sharing ideas and productivity tips.

Student ambassadors

Sharing ideas, resources and tips is the sort of thing that the LSE Student Ambassadors for Digital Literacy (SADL) project hopes will happen amongst students. So far the project has seen library staff and student ambassadors learning from each other to develop resources for the wider community. Students were recognised and rewarded for their contribution by an entry in their Personal Development record and open badges.

Lightening Talks

The event used a ‘Lightning Talks’ format that packed in lots of short presentations from academics across a range of disciplines who had been working on projects funded by Jisc, from dentistry to theology. It was great to see Sarah Atkinson and Adam Bailey from Brighton University talking to a wider audience about the OER project they presented during Open Education week at Sussex.

You can read more about all the projects by following the links below, but for me the overarching messages were about the willingness to explore options alongside students in a spirit of openness. Moving towards the digital and the open can be an evolutionary process. Helen Beetham, in her Skyped presentation, suggested that we look at the activities that students are already doing that leave a trace of some sort and think about whether that could become a digital trace instead – and then possibly an open digital trace. For example, could a concept note or field note become a forum post or a blog post?


Further Resources

All HEA Changing the Learning Landscape funded projects

Programme of the event Presentations and more resources will be on the HEA website soon.

Padlet virtual wall from the event

Storify of the day

Inclusion technology advice from Techdis


Image (1) with thanks to Learning Technologist Adam Bailey from Brighton University for kind permission

Image (2) creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by olga.reznik

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Posted in External events, Technology Enhanced Learning

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We are the Educational Enhancement team at the University of Sussex. We publish posts each week on using technology to support teaching and learning. Read more about us.

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