Category Archives: Related projects

Joint Summer School with the UCL Digital Department project

Last Thursday and Friday, I was part of a joint summer school with UCL’s Digital Department project. This was aimed primarily but not exclusively at teaching administrators, who are the focus of the UCL project. Over the two days, we explored issues of learning, teaching and technology in relation to sector-wide changes, developing pedagogies, changing student profiles and patterns of engagement, and also organisational change.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, with great input from the participants. Further information about the event will be made available in the near future, and I’ll link to it once there’s an update.

Update: here’s a link to the Digital Department project’s blog post on this event:

End of programme meeting

This Tuesday, we took part in the final programme meeting in Brimingham – quite a momentous milestone. It feels like a long journey from the initial meeting 18 or so months ago! The close of the meeting involved making an object or giving a presentation about the journey of our project. Here’s Lesley making our thing:

Lesley creating our installation

And here’s what it looked like at the end:

The journey of our project, with string

Is it merely a bunch of stuff and some string? Or is it an heterogeneous network of actants that has been engineered to achieve project completion? Either way, the cash has strings attached, digital devices are central an potentially oppositional binaries of new and traditional technologies (and texts) have been shown as linked.


Cluster meeting at the IOE, 8th November

Here’s our timetable for today:

09.30 – 10.00  Coffee, arrivals

10.00 – 10.15   Welcome (Carol)

10.15 – 12.30   Project updates – 10mins presentation and 20mins discussion

(With a short comfort break 11.15)

12.30 – 14.00  Lunch and networking

14.00 – 16.00  Planning for year 2

16.00 – 17.00   Planning and action points

17.00 onwards ‘cultural hour’.

Resources from the programme meeting, Brimingham

Last week, we gathered in Birmingham for a programme meeting; as part of this, all the projects presented outputs from their work in a ‘trade fair’ activity.

We offered two resources: a poster, that gives an overview of some of the evidence from our studies and raises questions for institutions to consider; and a guide to using qualitative data about the student experience to inform institutional decision making.

We chose these because between them, they cover both the process and the substantive findings of the work we’ve done to date. We designed them to give people resources to think with, without pre-judging what issues they might be facing locally. Since we recognise that our institution isn’t typical, we wanted to prompt people to think about how these concerns might play out for them.

Cluster meeting

Yesterday, we took part in a meeting with our cluster partners. Kudos to Greenwich for providing a fabulous venue for the event.

It was a useful opportunity to review progress (including the videos each project had made), talk frankly about some of the challenges we’ve been engaging with and also to go into more detail about ideas around dissemination, in particular.

Cutty Sark

Keynote at EdTech 2012, Maynooth, Ireland

On Thursday, Lesley and I did a double-act keynote at the EdTech 2012 conference. This is the annual conference of the Irish Learning Technology Association, who were kind enough to invite us, ship us over and act as excellent hosts throughout the event. It was an interesting mix of research talks, practitioner reports and some awards for some really stunning learning and teaching initiatives.

The day opened with Doug Belshaw providing a very engaging keynote that included an overview of the JISC digital literacies programme; this was really helpful, as it framed the talk we gave later.

Our talk picked up on discussions during the day about definitions of digital literacies; Lesley suggested “un-defining” as a title to respond to this, framing the way that we’ve sought a grounded, emergent way of engaging with this concept to get out of conceptual knots. We argued for a social and situated account of literacies, and used examples from our data analysis to illustrate how this looked for us. We also talked about the ways in which this analysis led us to change institutional structures and practices, and suggested questions that the audience could ask about their own students’ literacy practices. We also introduced our current, tentative thoughts around stances or orientations (instead of “skills”), and around resilience, and referred to Helen Beetham’s ideas from the Cascade project, shared at a one-day event in Exeter, about developing students’ repertoires of academic practice.

All sorts of interesting discussions have followed, since. Several people commented on the links we’re making between theory and data, and seemed really interested in the links between our studies and institutional policies and change initiatives. I also had some good discussions about some of the theory I am working with around technology, for example.

The slides we did for this are available on slideshare. We’ve been told that there might be a recording of the talk available soon; we’ll link that as and when it’s released.

Presentation at the “Supporting Academic Practice in a Digital Age” symposium

Yesterday, I did a round trip to Exeter to take part in the “Supporting Academic Practice in a Digital Age” symposium at the University of Exeter. This provided an opportunity to showcase some of the work we’ve been doing with students here, with an audience of skills developers, academic support staff and  researchers. The event opened with a very thoughtful talk by Dilly Fung, followed by Helen Beetham and I as a double-act.

Without much in the way of planning, the talks coordinated really well. Dilly, for example, raised questions about the purpose of Higher Education, advocated student agency and described her “Telling Tales” project, which involved students talking about their experiences of study. Helen followed this up by showing the work that had led to JISC’s programme being put together, and then moved on to talk about specific areas of work in the CASCADE project, including really interesting developments around students as expert technology users and about writing development. Finally, I looked at some of the themes emerging from our baseline work, mainly focusing on the focus group analysis, but also including some early points from the ethnographic journalling work. This was all followed by a lively panel session, which drew in other participants, including two students.

There were lots of little moments – such as Dilly’s account of the spatiality of her knowledge when a student, in terms of library shelves – that had real resonance with some of the experiences our students are reporting, such as the way in which study colonises their homes, or the way in which they take over corners of libraries for their studies. The idea of establishing, maintaining or breaking down the boundaries between study, personal lives, professional work and so on kept coming back; it was also something that was picked up by several of the people who raised questions at the end of the presentations. The discussions led to some interesting connections between Helen’s work around building repertoires of practice and ideas of students’ ‘resilience’ (in terms of being able to cope with bits of their sociomaterial practice failing).

Sessions were video recorded, so I’ll link to these once they’re available.

Participating in the programme meeting

This week, we took part in the programme meeting, bringing together all the projects working on digital literacies. It was a really useful opportunity to hear what the other projects have been up to, and to hear more about the cross-project themes and issues that have emerged. Helen Beetham’s overview of the baseline reports was particularly useful, giving some programme-level context for what we’re doing.

We also took part in several smaller discussions, around topics such as disciplinarity, change management and evaluation. This was a chance to present and discuss some of our thinking about evaluation, as well as to listen to what others are doing. There was a pleasantly surprising level of similarity between what we are doing and how the project at Reading are undertaking evaluation, for example. It’s reassuring to know it’s not just us thinking along those lines.

All projects were required to prepare videos in advance of the meetings; these are to be made public soon, at which point we’ll link to ours.

SEDA’s update on its cross-programme role

Julie Hall, co-chair of SEDA, has put up a blog post outlining SEDA’s role in the JISC digital literacies programme. This project is explicitly mentioned in the post, as we were the only successful application that wrote SEDA in as a partner. SEDA’s programme-wide role focuses on events, dissemination and links into the professional development framework.

Project presentation at the Heads of e-Learning Forum

Today, I’m at a meeting of the Heads of e-Learning Forum, and “digital literacy” is on the agenda. Several of the projects that JISC has funded are presenting what’s called ‘lightning strike’ talks: a 10-minute introduction to what they’re up to. I’m going to try and provide a broad overview of our project, a quick summary of the background work we’re undertaking, and mention some of the theory that’s shaping this work. The slides are available here. It’ll be interesting to hear how the other projects who are presenting are doing.

The day included a very enjoyable talk by Gwen van der Velden, looking at engagement and consumerism in the context of recent policy developments. Here she is fostering engagement with her ideas by awarding Mars bars to people who could recognise policy makers:

Gwen van der Velden, presenting at HeLF (with chocolate)

…and here she is bribing Paul Bailey (here representing JISC) to pay attention with chocolate:

Who says behaviourism is outdated…

Maria Papaefthimiou gave an update on the “Digitally Ready” project at Reading.

Maria Papaefthimiou presenting on the "Digitally Ready" project

Matt Newcombe told us about the CASCADE project at Exeter (even if the meaning of the acronym remained a little opaque).

Matt Newcombe presents about the "CASCADE" project

…and Clive Young updating us on the “Digital Department” work at UCL.

Clive Young presenting on "The Digital Department"

In case you’re wondering, the odd “over-the-shoulder” gazes are because there are screens on two sides of the room, with an elliptical table in the middle. That in itself is interesting; it makes doing a talk really hard, because if you stand up so you’re visible, you’re always behind someone. All images were grabbed with my iPod touch, partly as a way of seeing how our data collection during the project might work out. Turns out photos of screens in a dark room are rubbish.