Digital Literacy

Digital Literacy

The Digital Literacy project has been designed to facilitate a greater understanding of individuals’ digital skills, experiences and expectations, both staff and student digital literacy/competency levels will be explored across the University of South Wales (USW). The project aims to produce a final report recommending the relevant policy changes and guidelines to embed digital literacies into the curriculum in preparation for employment and developing a core set of graduate attributes across the University.

What is digital literacy?

JISC define Digital Literacies as ‘those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society’ (JISC, 2015). Digital Literacy levels of University of South Wales (USW) staff and students are often assumed and this project aims to eliminate the assumptions and create a bigger picture of what ‘Digital Literacy’ means and looks like for staff and students at USW.

What CELT are doing

CELT are currently supporting and working with faculties to develop staff digital literacy skills to enhance pedagogy and using Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) to facilitate active and experiential approaches, simulation and immersion at course level to move pedagogy away from transmission of information to dialogue (e.g. through flipped classroom learning) and to create resilience to staff changes through access to quality online resources with reference to the objectives S07.3 and S02.8 in the Student Experience Plan.

The Project 16/17

The Digital Literacy Project derived from an introductory study completed in August 2016, which was originally designed to facilitate a greater understanding of individuals’ digital skills, experiences and expectations across the University of South Wales (USW). In September 2016, a graduate intern was appointed to continue with the project and help establish the current levels of digital literacy across the University. A project team was established and a staff survey was designed, USW also took part in the JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker to find out more about students’ digital experiences and expectations. A series of focus groups and semi-structured interviews were advertised to staff and students across the University following the surveys; a summary of the findings of these groups and surveys are presented in the full project report.

Findings suggest that over 72% of staff engage with the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE) and whilst some staff are confident exploring additional technologies/tools that they can use as part of their practice, others are still very reluctant and are unaware of what tools are available to them and often, feel they don’t have the capabilities to use such tools. Staff agree that developing digital literacies is part of their role and students are made aware of the relevance and importance of digital skills in their chosen career. Staff are generally unaware of the types of assistive technologies available for teaching and learning and feel there is not enough support to guide them to investigate such tools further. 
Students are autonomously investigating new tools and technologies that they can use as part of their own learning but there is a continuous need for further development around industry specific skills. Students are recognising the gap between staff competence levels with technology and some are frustrated with academics assuming they already have a certain level of digital skills prior to entering Higher Education.

This project has yielded some interesting results which will provide an initial platform for developing staff and student digital literacy at USW. Further sharing of good-practice between staff at the university and the wide-spread dissemination from the findings of the Digital Literacy project across the institution will continue to enable a better understanding of individuals’ experiences and expectations of the use of technology for teaching and learning.

The project makes the following recommendations;

i. USW to develop a Digital Literacy framework that will guide both staff and students on how to develop both their own and others’ digital literacies which aligns to USW graduate attributes as part of a distinctive curriculum.

ii. USW to provide guidance for staff on inclusive technology-enhanced learning and offer support where appropriate.

iii. USW to continue to provide well-communicated structured guidance to staff and students and offer further training and development opportunities to ensure both staff and students feel confident with the technologies they are required to use to support their teaching and learning.

iv. USW to provide digital guidelines/policies for staff, which will highlight good examples of technology-enhanced learning and list what technologies/tools are available to support staff pedagogies.

v. USW to complete a Digital Literacy audit every two years to ensure there is a clear understanding of all individuals’ digital skills, experiences and expectations to date.

For access to the full report detailing the findings of the Digital Literacy Project 16/17 please click here.