Support for digital literacy is delivered by a wide range of services and through various support models which are distributed, connected or integrated in different ways. Making support activities more coherent is important.
Joining up activities through a ‘hub and spoke’ model where a central team coordinates and oversees these, such as the ASTI model at Plymouth University, is a good approach. Others include:
- Developing collaborative digital projects between support services to build better links
- Recognising the value of informal support networks between peers
- Engaging students alongside staff in co-mentoring roles
- Improving signposting for staff and students to appropriate support
- Ensuring mechanisms are in place to appropriately assess and progress the digital capabilities of students and staff
- Recognising that support services staff need to upskill their own digital literacy
- Recognition and reward are key motivators for staff and students to engage in development activities
Case study: Cardiff University - bridging the gap between practice and services
The Digidol project at Cardiff University took a ‘digital enablement’ approach to bridging the gap between the practices of academic staff and students on the one hand and staff development, libraries and information services on the other.
Academic staff and students are best placed to know what they require in terms of their practices and what they are trying to achieve, but they know less about what is available to support them in terms of technologies and services. Professional services on the other hand are responsible for supporting these technologies, so know what is available and what is required to use them effectively but know much less about what academic staff and students actually want and what they are trying to achieve. So there is a knowledge gap between these two groups.
Through their model, learning literacies are the building blocks to bridging this gap with ‘enablement as conversation’ the process for framing conversations around requirements and solutions to help facilitate this.
Investment in the professional development of staff across the institution is an important factor in the strategic development of digital literacy. Routes to this range from accredited programmes to in-house workshops and training to developing communities of practice. The section on supporting staff digital literacies explores tools and approaches but a key message for institutions is that policies and processes need to support development across different academic and support roles in a range of ways.
A number of professional associations have staff development programmes and resources which support digital literacy development including competence frameworks, online courses, development conferences and networking opportunities for their members. These are useful sources of support for developing staff in a range of different roles. A number of these associations, working with projects, have reviewed, adapted or mapped their professional standards and frameworks to help embed digital capabilities. The Association for Learning Technology (ALT) provide CPD courses for staff such as ocTEL (Open Course in Technology Enhanced Learning).