Developing a digital infrastructure which creates a supportive, adaptable and secure digital environment is critical for digital literacy development to flourish. As the use of personal mobile devices increases so does the need to provide more flexible and personalised access to institutional services and technologies through fast, reliable and secure networks and services across multiple locations.
IT strategies, policies and processes will set the direction for the development of the digital environment so develop these continuously and engage users throughout the process.
Student engagement with technology
The Jisc digital student project is working with a number of partners to investigate the expectations incoming students have of technology provision in further and higher education.
The findings and recommendations from an initial scoping study on students’ expectations and experiences of the digital environment (2013) already highlights some key considerations for institutions around connectivity and access to IT as well as staff capability and support services.
The Institute of Education’s digital literacies as a postgraduate attribute project also has some key findings around the digital environment and student engagement with technology.
The increasing use of personal devices and social media tools in learning and teaching brings with it responsibilities to keep vulnerable learners safe online and manage and monitor access to content appropriately. The e-safety detailed guide provides guidance and resources in this area, especially for the further education and skills sector.
A key message from institutions is – involve students! This will help focus on developing institutional technology that really meet students’ needs and help make core institutional systems more usable and personal through student testing of new services and applications.
More generally continuous dialogue between ICT teams and users is important to find out how the environment is inhibiting or supporting innovation and how policies need to be adapted to better reflect digital practices across the organisation.
The visitors and residents approach provides a model for engaging users and evaluating digital services to users through an exploration of individual behaviours and preferences.
Case study: bring your own device (BYOD) initiative at Grŵp Llandrillo Menai
The PADDLE project uncovered a number of barriers across a group of colleges related to the digital environment such as wifi access, support for BYOD and attitudes to supporting social media.
The project developed a pilot to encourage the use of mobile devices by students in the construction programme area at Coleg Llandrillo. This development has been seen as a model of good practice within the college and the area has now been given a more permanent and robust wifi provision. It is hoped other programme areas will follow suit.