Staff digital capabilities are central to student and organisational success. It's a digital world, and in addition to a chosen subject, students are preparing for work and life in a digital society.
This may involve searching for, processing and analysing data – as well as collaborating with colleagues online, creating digital artefacts and using industry-specific technologies. Whilst digital capabilities are not their prime focus, students rightly expect that technology will be used to support and enhance their experience.
Sector engagement and student feedback tell us that how confidently and effectively staff model appropriate digital skills and behaviours impacts on the development of student digital capabilities. In short, staff digital capabilities are central to success.
How do we know what works?
We surveyed over 22,000 students and learners from 74 UK organisations in the second year of our student digital experience tracker.
The tracker offers valuable insights into how students use and feel about the digital tools, environment and support they experience. It also provides benchmarking data for each participating institution against their sector average.
What learners like and dislike
We found that learners value the convenience of digital systems. They rely on robust wifi and expect mobile-optimised content and services.
Learners enjoy opportunities for group work facilitated via digital technologies, and many use technology to personalise the way they learn.
They’re frustrated by inconsistencies of digital use between staff and would like better use of digital systems rather than more of it.
They want digital systems to complement but not replace face-to-face teaching, and some learners feel that staff do not receive effective training or adequate support.
Our student digital tracker briefing booklet (pdf) summarises the survey’s findings and offers eight case studies showing how universities and colleges have used the tracker to support the development of the student digital experience.
Targeted support for staff development needs
Staff digital development needs are just as diverse as those of students, so knowing what is needed and where to target finite resources is essential.
Earlier this year 14 universities and colleges took part in a pilot of our digital capability discovery tool, which is currently in beta. The discovery tool supports individuals to identify and reflect on their current digital capabilities and make personalised improvement plans.
The engagement approaches used in the pilot are explored through six institutional stories outlining how insights gained are informing investment in staff digital capabilities development.
You can find out more about what we learned from the pilots and how this is shaping the next release of the discovery tool via the digital capabilities project blog.
Three proactive ways of advancing staff digital capabilities and confidence
We now have a rich collection of institutional stories, and three key enablers are emerging from practice shared by others:
1. Use a range of feedback and data collection tools to help target support
The student digital experience tracker, digital capabilities discovery tool and the NUS/Jisc benchmarking tool (pdf) specifically focus on developing the digital capacity of your organisation, staff and students.
2. Engage in discussions – locally and nationally
The importance of having discussions with staff about their digital capabilities is clear – at individual, team and organisational level. Discussions raise awareness, open up new channels of communication and surface new opportunities to make more effective use of technology.
Collaboration and sharing effective practice is cost-effective and expands the range of approaches and resources available to all.
3. Piloting is valuable but wider impact requires a whole organisation approach
The opportunity to pilot a tool, approach, or resource secures feedback and helps to refine your approach before scaling up. With so many competing agendas and pressures the pivotal difference that support for staff digital capabilities development can have on student and organisational success can be overlooked.
Our four-step strategic plan will help you to develop an organisational approach appropriate to your needs.
How you can get involved
- Sign up to take part in the 2018 student digital experience tracker and find out how students use and feel about the tools, environment and support you provide – register by 30 September 2017
- Take part in the pilot of the revised digital capabilities discovery tool (December 2017 to May 2018) - register your interest by 31 October 2017
- Attend our one-day training course, curriculum confidence: designing for digital capabilities in the curriculum on 16 November in Birmingham
- Attend our next digital capability community of practice event on 30 November 2017