JISC Developing Digital Literacies projects blog roundup

Blog definition

Digital literacy vs. Information literacy

In an interesting post on Reading’s Digitally Ready blog, Helen Hathaway notes that ‘digital literacy’ often has a functional skills definition:

Much of the discussion on “digital literacy” seems to look at the plumbing of digital tools rather than the quality of the information flowing through them, or the nuts and bolts of technology rather than what it is supporting – and neglect the notion of literacy. For me being digitally literate means having all the cognitive skills of information literacy PLUS the technical skills to make good use of resources PLUS a dimension of creativity in outputs which are difficult to achieve through the written word and an immediacy and step change in communication whether as a learner, teacher, support staff or creator.

Project as programme?

Chris Follows at the University of the Arts’ DIAL blog reflects on the growth of their JISC-funded Developing Digital Literacies project into a university-wide programme:

The DIAL project was always going to be bigger than a project and by acknowledging this and looking at DIAL as a potential UAL programme we can better build a case for developing a UAL wide digital strategy and sustainability plans to develop and maintain progressive digital practice at UAL. So DIAL will run as a programme and do its best to acknowledge as wide a spectrum of issues as possible although it can not address everything. DIAL will concentrate supporting a small number of DIAL project groups, these focused mostly ‘grassroots’ projects  will address issues identified in the DIAL project plan, ‘Open education at UAL’ is one of DIAL’s first pilot groups

University College London presentation

Representatives from the UCL Digital Department project gave a presentation last week on their work thus far. Their slides can be found before:

[slideshare id=12147174&doc=sdapresentation20120320-120325044752-phpapp02]

All of the blogs for those projects involved in the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme can be found here.

Image CC BY dougbelshaw

JISC e-Portfolio resources launched

Two new resources from JISC offering guidance on large-scale e-portfolio implementation are now available at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/eportimplement

The e-Portfolio Implementation Toolkit has been developed from the JISC- funded e-Portfolio Implementation (ePI) study of successful institution-wide practice in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The toolkit contains over one hundred exemplars of e-portfolio use in a wide range of further and higher education contexts and eighteen case studies of approaches to wide-scale implementation. These form the basis of the Toolkit guidance that addresses the challenges, issues and stages in wide-scale e-portfolio implementation and presents an implementation model to assist your institution or programme in embedding and sustaining e-portfolio use.

Also available are five new video case studies, Stories of e-portfolio implementation, illustrating implementation strategies taken by five of the case study institutions. These rich-media resources provide additional personal insights into the challenges and benefits each institution has encountered. The videos are embedded into the Toolkit but can also be downloaded or played at http://www.jisc.ac.uk/eportimplement. Transcripts are available for users of screen readers.

Both resources are made freely available, providing practitioners and managers in further and higher education with a unique insight into current UK and overseas e-portfolio practice. Feedback, thoughts and comments are welcome on these resources, and the facility to do so provided in the Toolkit itself. The resources can be used in conjunction with Effective Practice with e-Portfolios (JISC 2008) and the JISC e-Portfolios infoKit to provide a comprehensive package of support and guidance from JISC on e-portfolios in further and higher education.

What’s up with evaluation for developing digital literacies?

by Jay Dempster, JISC Evaluation Associate

'Unbrella'

Sound evaluation designs for developing digital literacies stem from projects achieving clarity in two aspects: first, having a strong sense of what they are trying to do, for whom (beneficiaries) and in what ways; and second, identifying relevant and valid ways of measuring outcomes related to those aims and activities.

Outcomes may be short term, tangible outputs and benefits within the project’s funding period, medium term indicators of impact during and beyond the project lifetime, or shared successes that make a difference over the long term to institutional strategies and practices.

In the context of the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme, a review of project plans and discussion with project teams reveals aims and outcomes that span various levels and affect many different stakeholders, including:

With such scope and complexity come inevitable challenges to evaluation. As with any change initiative, it’s been important for projects to avoid trying to ‘change the world’; to resist biting off more than they can chew within the funded time frame and resource. Focusing early activities on baselining has been one way of identifying the relevant scope and parameters.

Right now, the synthesis and evaluation support role has been about helping projects to clarify, ratify and stratify the framework they are using for developing digital literacies, as well as to identify the practicalities of baselining methods and tools. Evaluation is supported by baselining, but it’s doing a different job. Support and guidance has centred on not seeing evaluation necessarily as separate and distinct to core proejct activities.

For many projects, baselining has helped kick start this more integrated approach to evaluation, one that involves key stakeholders in continuous data gathering and reflection. Some of the audits and surveys created for baselining may be reused or repurposed at key stages across the project lifecycle. Project plans have evolved as teams find opportunities to carry out evaluation tasks as part of the project’s development and consultative activities.

Projects will also need to reflect regularly on the effectiveness of their work processes and collaborations to maximise their short and medium term outcomes and bring about their organisational change objectives in the longer term. Projects are encouraged to develop their plans iteratively and transparently on the programme wiki, sharing the various ways in which they have been capturing evidence that is both credible and relevant.

We’ll be running an ‘evaluation’ webinar next month to talk through how projects have approached some of the ideas and challenges emerging from their plans and baseline reports. As we resolve some common challenges of evaluation collaboratively, we’ll be back to blog some more.

Image CC BY-NC-SA ecstaticist

Guardian live chat: Developing digital literacies in Higher Education

Guardian live chat - Developing Digital Literacies in Higher Education

Last Friday a number of those involved with the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme participated in a Guardian live chat online event.

Comments are now closed, but it’s worth going through the whole transcript. Some highlights are included below.

Helen Beetham, a consultant for the JISC Digital Literacies programme commented:

It’s easy to get hung up on terms, and I think we can agree that what we are talking about is the interface of academic and digital practice – and the personal capability to engage in both. For me, ‘literacy’ has some currency as a term for describing foundational capabilities that have a lifelong, lifewide impact.

[...]

It’s always useful to have different terms in use – I think it’s a sign of a healthy, developing field of interest!

Sarah Knight re-iterated JISC’s reference point for a definition of ‘digital literacy’:

Digital literacy defines those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society.

Gwen van der Velden raised an interesting issue:

I am struggling to see digitial literacies as a separate subject. I’d rather assume that digital literacy is an embedded characteristic of so much of what we do, that it would be hard to keep it separate.

In terms of simply getting started with digital literacies, Josie Fraser provided some advice:

My top tip is to begin by exploring the ways in which the group are already using mobile and web based technologies. Many of them will already engaging with tech for personal use – Skyping relatives, keeping in touch on Facebook, using mobile phones etc.

Dave White was interested at the point at which we can consider a skill, competence or attribute no longer part of digital literacy:

When does a Digital Literacy become a Traditional Literacy? Is texting a Traditional Literacy yet?

There’s much to read, think about and discuss in the exchanges over at the Guardian live chat. In addition, at least a couple of those involved have blogged about the event: