Symposium: Supporting Academic Practice in a Digital Age, 17 May 2012

Kim Shahabudin writes:

I recently attended this one day symposium at the University of Exeter, hosted by the JISC-funded Exeter CASCADE Project and the University of Exeter Academic Skills team. Over 80 delegates attended from universities mostly in the South and Midlands. A variety of roles were represented, including learning developers, educational developers, librarians, educational researchers, subject academics,  and ICT tutors. This meant an early recognition that in digital literacies, as in any other area of HE, there’s no chance of applying a one-size-fits-all approach.

Differing needs, applications and anxieties quickly became apparent, as did differing levels of confidence. The ‘desert island’ question at the end of the panel session was especially telling: asked what one piece of technology they would retain on a desert island, one panel member said she’d be glad to be rid of all of it, while another said as long as there was no email, he’d be happy. (I empathised.)

Twitter still seems to be a particular source of anxiety, especially anxieties around boundaries and digital identity. It does seem as if the only effective way to understand Twitter is to use it, and the ‘follow ten people for a couple of weeks’ advice is a good way in. Perhaps some of this anxiety could be overcome with a more structured timetable of tasks – something like the ‘23 Things’ approach?

The event began with two plenary sessions, Dilly Fung (Exeter) on New Academic Literacies, followed by Helen Beetham (Exeter CASCADE) and Martin Oliver (Institute of Education, London) on Students’ Digital Practices: Studying in the Age of Google. I found Helen’s idea of overlapping and interacting digital tribes (e.g. social media users/programmers/email and WPers etc) a much more useful way of thinking than the natives/immigrants or even residents/visitors schema that have been proposed previously.

The panel session that followed these included our very own John Hilsdon, and two very articulate student members. One stated that in her experience most students are more concerned about success in their studies and less about employability. Perhaps some of the current emphasis on the latter risks making a separation between the two in students’ minds?

In the afternoon workshop sessions included hands-on experience of using screencasting to give feedback, using social media for peer-mentored learning, referencing tools, and knowledge production via tweets, blogs and wikis. We will certainly be trialling screencasting for producing resources at Reading this year – engaging, easy and effective.

The day gave me plenty to think about (and lots of new Twitter followers…) but perhaps the strongest impression I came away with was that there is much talk about training staff in digital literacies, but little about who takes responsibility for training students – people were quick to say that they didn’t have time/expertise/hardware. But there are plenty of good training resources already out there (see Paul’s elearning resources from Paul Andrews at Newport for an especially useful collection), and a good first step would be to collate and evaluate them, and to produce some examples of how they could be embedded into teaching practice.

For another view of the event, see the CASCADE blog .

New training resources on ALDinHE Professional Development blog

If you haven’t stopped by the ALDinHE Professional Development blog recently, now might be a good time to do so. It’s packed with useful resources for training and development, including lots of shared experience from other learning developers. It also has a section devoted to Digital Literacies, which includes a list of tips for using Twitter, screencasting for learning developers, and ethical issues in using social media for research.

And if there’s something you want to know more about, let us know at

Guide to implementing the UKPSF in the digital university: call for contributions

ALDinHE has been invited to contribute to a JISC & Professional Associations Guide to Implementing the UKPSF in the Digital University.
We now invite contributions in the form of short descriptions and case studies – no more than a few hundred words/one or two paragraphs – for this Guide. These may be on:
– how you developed your own, or helped others to develop their digital literacies (including training via PGCert courses, or other sources of training, including self-training).
– how you have used digital literacies in your learning development practice
We have provided a template to make producing your example as easy as possible. Note that we need to know your role and institution to get a general idea of the context, but in the final guide this information can be excluded. Please email completed examples to
The finished Guide will be particularly focusing on training for digital literacies in formal PGCert courses. However, we welcome any case studies and examples which might feed into this.
Suggested format:
– Area of digital literacies the example refers to (e.g. social networking, Prezi, screencasting, using wikis etc)
– How you developed your skills in this area – a few sentences (e.g. PGCert, other formal training, self-training, help from colleagues etc). Any additional comments about what did/didn’t work and why would be good.
and optionally
– How you have used your skills in this area in learning development practice – a few sentences (e.g. marketing services, teaching, communication, resource development etc).
We will be seeking to link descriptions and case studies to the UKPSF, so if you are aware of how your example ties in, it would be helpful to include that. We also have a document produced by the ALDinHE Professional Development working group which maps the UKPSF onto learning development activities
We are able to offer a small thank you in the form of £25 in Amazon vouchers for any case studies that are forwarded by us for consideration for inclusion in the final Guide. 
The deadline to accept case studies and examples for consideration is 28 May 2012. If you would like to discuss an idea for a case study before you write it, want more information on what to include, or have any other queries, please contact Kim Shahabudin at If you have an idea but do not have time to write it up, do send me brief details anyway by email or send your contact details and I will call you to discuss it.
The Guide will describe, explain and illustrate some ways in which the development of digital literacies / fluency can be demonstrated in each of the areas of activity, core knowledge and possibly also the professional values of the UKPSF. For each element of the UKPSF, the report will suggest some practical principles and approaches to both developing (on a PGCert) and demonstrating (in teaching) digital literacies / fluency.