Places where learning takes place (#moocmooc day 2)

So I survived day 1 of #moocmooc, and the collaborative task of creating a 1,000 word essay explaining the history, context and potential and potential pitfalls of MOOCs, worked surprisingly well. Thanks to the people in the group I was assigned to, who took charge and got things done. I’m curating the resources/ recommended readings from the course on Pearltrees and you can see links to all the group submissions in my #moocmooc pearl.

Today’s theme is “places where learning takes place”. Participants have been asked to create a video sharing their views, experiences and share them on Youtube. There there are some really great contributions which have been collated in this Storify.

Now, today has been not quite an average Tuesday for me. We had our almost annual CETIS Scotland meet up at the Edinburgh festival. This was a bit of a family affair too and so we went to see Horrible Histories - which is a very fine live learning experience in itself. Those in the UK will know what I mean – if you’re not from here, check it out for probably the best guide to British history. Anyway I was thinking about where I learn at various points during the day. For #moocmooc, it is primarily online – at the office, at home, on the train – anywhere with a decent 3G/wifi connection. But I do need quite space to contemplate too. This tends to be when I’m walking to or from work, sometimes in my favourite chair with “a nice cup of tea”.

However the level of contribution and activity in this (and any online, never mind “massive” online course) can be overwhelming. In the twitter chat last night a few of us agreed that boundaries were important to help stay focused, and also the ability to not feel overwhelmed by the sheer level of activity is a key strategy which learners need to develop.

It sometimes feels that you’re trying to juggle all sorts of mismatching things, whilst trying to doing three other things at the same time and speak to 200 people you’ve never met before.

This afternoon we stopped off to watch a street performer who ended up ten feet up a ladder, took his kilt off and then juggled three very large (and sharp) knives. All this on cobblestones! Sometimes being in a mooc feels a bit like that. Slight crazy, a bit dangerous, but great fun – particularly when you get good feedback and connect with others.

Anyway here is my little video (I’ve bent the rules slightly but using animoto and not posting to youtube ).

The Digital University – A Proposed Framework for Strategic Development (#apt2012)

At the Employer Engagement in a Digital Age Conference next Wednesday (4th July) Bill Johnston and myself will be presenting a workshop around our recent series of blog posts around what it means to be a digital university.

Our session, The Digital University – A Proposed Framework for Strategic Development, will give us a chance to present the background to the posts, but more importantly will allow us to get feedback from delegates as to whether or not our framework could actually be a useful tool for discussions about strategic developments within universities.

The session will mainly be discussion based, but we do have a short set of slides available. If you have any comments, then as usual please feel free to comment either on this post or via the comment space on slideshare.

Five new publications from JISC

The JISC e-Learning Programme team has just announced the release of five new publications on the themes of lifelong learning, e-portfolio implementation, innovation in further education, digital literacies, and extending the learning environment. These publications will be of interest to managers and practitioners in further and higher education and work based learning. Three of these publications are supported by additional online resources including videos, podcasts and full length case studies.

Effective Learning in a Digital Age: is an effective practice guide that explores ways in which institutions can respond flexibly to the needs of a broader range of learners and meet the opportunities and challenges presented by lifelong learning.

Crossing the Threshold: Moving e-portfolios into the mainstream is a short guide which summarises the key messages from two recent online resources, the e-Portfolio Implementation Toolkit, developed for JISC by the University of Nottingham, and five institutional video case studies. This guide and accompanying resources explore the processes, issues and benefits involved in implementing e-portfolios at scale.

Enhancing practice: Exploring innovation with technology in further education is a short guide that explores how ten colleges in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland (SWaNI) and England are using technology to continue to deliver high-quality learning and achieve efficiency gains despite increasing pressure and reduced budgets.

Developing Digital Literacies: is a briefing paper that provides a snapshot of early outcomes the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme and explores a range of emergent themes including graduate employability, and the engagement of students in strategies for developing digital literacies.

Extending the learning environment: is a briefing paper that looks at how institutions can review and develop their existing virtual learning environments. It offers case study examples and explores how systems might be better used to support teaching and learning, improve administrative integration or manage tools, apps and widgets.

All guides are available in PDF, ePub, MOBI and text-only Word formats. Briefing papers are available in PDF.

There are a limited number of printed copies of each guide for colleges and universities to order online.

New CETIS briefing paper on IMS LTI

A new CETIS briefing paper on the IMS LTI specification is now available online.

Written by Stephen Vickers (ceLTIc project and an early adopter, developer and user of the specification) the briefing provides an overview of the specification and illustrates benefits of using it for for developers, VLE administrators, teachers and learners.

The paper is available for download from here.

Digital literacy, it’s personal

As part of the the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme held yesterday (15th May), Helen Beetham (synthesis consultant for the programme), started the day by giving a very useful summary of key issues and themes emerging from the baseline reports from both the projects and the professional associations associated with the programme.

One of the common themes emerging from the extensive surveys of technologies undertaken by the projects, was is the divide between personal technologies (which tend to be lightweight, flexible, web-based) and more specialised (and largely institutionally provided) technologies, which often have a steep learning curve and aren’t reconfigurable. Digital literacy (and developing digital literacies) is highly personal. To move from adoption of technology to everyday practice there needs to be a high level of personal motivation – providing a system is not enough. This leads to some interesting questions about what should an institution be providing in terms of technologies and what areas should it be actively promoting in terms of developing staff skills, and indeed as Helen asked “what are institutions good for, and what should they leave alone?”

Most of the day was spent in group discussion sharing experiences around a number of aspects relating to the development of digital literacies. Summary notes from each of the sessions will also be available from the Design Studio over the coming week. But in the meantime, I’ve pulled together some tweets from the day to give a flavour of the day.

[View the story "JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme Meeting, 15 May 2012" on Storify]

Curriculum Design Technical Journeys – part 3

Continuing from my last post, the next part of the programme technical journey focuses on the Cluster B projects: Co-educate, SRC, P3 who had similar objectives in terms of organisational change.

SRC
*Project Prod entry

In terms of organisational change, SRC (Supporting Responsive Curricula) is part of larger set of project EQAL which is radically changing the way the MMU provides learning services (in the broadest sense) to its students. Other JISC funded initiatives e.g. the W2C project are connected to this major organisational change, of which SOA approaches is key. Professor Mark Stubbs’ keynote presentation at this years CETIS conference gives an overview of their overall technical approach.

MMU is in the processes “introducing a new curriculum framework, new administrative systems and processes, revised quality assurance processes and new learning systems to transform the student experience” and the SRC project has been at heart of the complete revision of all undergraduate courses, through developing a processes and workflows for a common curriculum database which feeds into a range of other learning services a part of their “corePlus” learning environment provision.

All course module and assessment structures have been completely revised (starting with first year and now extending to 2nd and 3rd). A new course database is now being populated using a common set of forms which provide a common set of tags (including competencies) and unique identifiers for courses which can be used a part of a wider set of “mash up” activities for students to access. When redesigning the course database, extensive stakeholder engagement and mapping was undertaking (using Archimate) in relation to QA processes which formed a key part of the project’s baseline report. A case study details this work and this blog post provides a summary of the new course documentation and QA processes including a map of the new peer review process.

A key part of the project has been to explore effective ways for students to showcase their experience and abilities to employers. A number of systems have been explored and an institutional e-porfolio strategy produced. A decision has now been taken to provide institutional support for Mahara, beginning in September 2013.

In terms of standards/specifications, this being MMU, XCRI is integral to their systems but hasn’t been a core part of the project. Like other projects, the institutional demand for xcri is still not widespread. However members of the team are key to developments around the integration (and thereby extension) of XCRI into other specifications such as MLO and various competency related initiatives.

Now the major technical implementations have been implemented, the team are now focussing on the wider cultural changes, engagement with staff e.g. the development of the Accrediation! Board game which I’ve written about before, and evaluation.

Coeducate
*Project Prod entry

“Coeducate is a cross institutional project that will focus our staff on a re-engineering of the professional curriculum. It will develop new processes and technical systems to support curriculum development and design that start with the needs of the learner and their organisation. This will be negotiated and delivered in partnership and with full recognition of in-work and experiential learning.”

Coeducate, has taken an the almost opposite approach to MMU in terms of a top down approach to creating and managing new courses. They have connected their SITS database with their new Moodle installation see this blog post for an overview, but unlike MMU do not have a set of course templates, or the same level of automatic course population. Instead, staff now have more flexibility in terms of creating courses suited to their specific needs, as this post and linked documentation describes. The IDIBL framework has also been developing as template for course creation, however the institution has developed an alternative undergraduate curriculum framework. The team have also produced a report on approaches to developing open courses, which again should provide a useful staff development resources.

Following this more bottom up approach, the team have also instigated an series of innovation support network seminars and produced a set of online resources (housed in Moodle) to support staff as new institution validation process are being introduced. Like so many of the projects being caught up in a sea of other institutional change initiatives that aren’t as tightly coupled as MMU, the project has focused effort on providing support to staff to guide them (and in turn the institution) through changes such as course revalidation. The project has been able to to influence and inform institutional strategy to initiatives such as course revalidation through some light weight data analysis of the VLE in terms of course structure, numbers and types of assessment etc.

Over the past year, the team have also been exploring the Business Model Canvas tool in terms of its suitability for learning design planning and/or conceptual modelling. The flexibility of the tool has been identified as a key strength. The team have found other more specific learning design tools such as the LDSE too prescriptive. This post outlines the approach of integrating this tool within Archi (which is being developed by colleagues at the University of Bolton). The tool is currently being trialled with PGCHE students, and again will hopefully provide another design tool for the University and the rest of the community. The team have been using the tool to support staff in course revalidation process, and are lobbying for its adoption into the formal revalidation process.

The team had hoped to do more work on integrating widgets into Moodle for course authoring. However staff issues and a refocus of project priorites has meant that not as much progress on this has been made as originally intended. However, over the last few months the team have been able to build a customisable 8LEM widget (more information and a link to a beta version is available here). The principles outlined in the 8LEM methodology are also the basis for the work of the Viewpoints project, and by the end of this June, it is hoped that there will be at least two versions of the widget available based on the approaches of the Viewpoints project as well as the “vanilla” version.

Bolton has also been successful in gaining funding for one of the JISC Course Data projects and this project will extend work started in Co-educate. The work done through the CoEducate project has help to articulate some of the key requirements for data reporting and practical uses of data collection, including key indicators for retention and drop out.

As with other projects, the challenge for the team is to ensure that the resources and approaches explored and advocated through the project continue to be embedded within institutional frameworks.

Enable
*Project Prod entry

“As a ‘hub’ initiative, the project aims to enable the University to join together its various change initiatives around curriculum development into a coherent and radical overall change process, which will ensure all stakeholder needs are understood, identify overlooked problems areas, and provide a sustainable solution . . .”

The Enable project started out with the vision of connecting and enhancing institutional processes. As with all the other projects, senior management buy-in was always a critical part of the project and a Senior Management Working Group was set up to ensure this buy-in. Part of the wider institutional story has been the relatively high number of changes at senior executive level which have impacted the project. The team have shared their experiences around managing change and information processes.

In terms of technologies, as well as being part of the Design Programme, the project has engaged with a number of other JISC funed initiatives. The team have been an early champion of EA approaches and have been involved with the JISC FSD EA practice group initiative. They have piloted TOGAF approaches in an Archimate pilot. Their experiences of using Archi in for their work in external examiners pilot are summarised in this blog post and embedded slides. Phil Beavouir, the developer of the Archi tool has also posted a thoughtful response to this post. If you are interested in EA approaches , I would recommend both these posts.

The team have also been experimenting with a number of different ways to automate their code build, acceptance, testing and deployment processes. These tools and techniques are being adopted and used in other areas now too. Again the team have promised to share more via the blog, in the meantime a summary of the technologies they are using are detailed in the project Project prod entry.

The team have been looking at Sharepoint and, another example of cross JISC programme fertilisation, were able to gain some of the benefits realisation funding for the Pineapple project to experiment with its software. An overview presentation is available here. The pilot was successful, but, at this point in time, no institutional decision on an institutional wide document management system has been made, so no further developments are being introduced in respect of this work.

The team feel that the EA approaches have “enabled” them to define with stakeholders the key areas to be addressed in terms of developing effective processes. And, have found that having “just enough backing” for developments has been effective. Particularly in gaining senior management buy-in whilst Executive decisions are not possible. The project has been able to illustrate potential working solutions to recognised problem areas. They have also been sharing their experiences of EA extensively with the rest of the sector, through presentations at various institutions.

PC3
*Project Prod entry

“The Personalised Curriculum Creation through Coaching (PC3) project is developing a framework that places coaching at the heart of the personalised curriculum design. Learners will be able to select provision suitable to their needs, construct an award (or module set), access resources and learning support, and negotiate assessment, with structured support from a personal coach. The PC3 Framework will facilitate this process by developing the necessary processes, documentation, training and technological support, within the context of Leeds Met’s flexible learning regulations and systems.”

Again the PC3 project has been on quite a journey over the past three and and a half years. Changes at senior management level have meant that, whilst not changing the underlying principles of the project of using coaching (as explained in its curriculum model ), the project team have had to adapt some of their anticipated approaches and have experienced delays in decisions around key institutional wide provision of technologies.

A major milestone for the project has been decision to adopt PebblePad as the institutional portfolio system. The team acknowledge that there is still work to be done around the integration of resources in the VLE and in Pepplepad, in terms of the user experience of switching between systems. Perhaps Pepplepad’s planned LTI adoption will help mitigate some of these issues.

The project is now reaping the rewards of their early work in staff development and are now working increasingly to support students, and their use of technology whilst implementing the PC3 coaching methodology. The approach is now embedded into the Sport Business Management Degree programme (see this post for more information) and students are playing an increasingly important role as coaching ambassadors.

Earlier in the project the team had created a number of video based resources around coaching. Now they are supporting students in the creation and sharing of videos as part of their course work and as coaching ambassadors. The team are working with institutional AV staff around developing approaches to creating video resources with students. The project is also planning a conference, where students will be key contributers, and plan to video sessions and make the recordings available as a set of resources.

The team are also seeing increasing use of social media sites such as Facebook for communication and even for running coaching sessions. This has very much been student driven and developments are being monitored with interest.

The team have also been using a number of google products (forms and documents) for sharing of project information and for part of their evaluation by using google forms to collect session feedback.

Where possible, the project are releasing resources as OER. To this end have they have benefited from the experiences of the Streamline project which was funded through the JISC/HEA Academy OER programme. Institutionally there has been a significant development around workflow of OERs with the institutional repository and the JORUM national repository that the project has benefited from. Again another example of cross programme sharing of experience.

So, another set of projects with common aims but very different approaches to organisational change. In many ways, a top down approach as exemplified by MMU may well be the most effective way to gain widespread adoption. However, MMU have benefited from a more stable senior management perspective and have not had to re-articulate their vision to a different set (or sets) of stakeholders during the project lifecycle as some of the other projects have. Engaging staff and students at different levels, as Bolton and Leeds, have done may well be just as effective in terms of seeing real pedagogical change in the longer term. But whatever approach, the importance of modelling and being able to visualise, and develop conversations and engagement has been central.

Dev8ed – building, sharing and learning cool stuff in education

Dev8eD is a new event for developers, educational technologists and users working throughout education on the development of tools, widgets, apps and resources aimed at staff in education and enhancing the student learning experience, taking place in Birmingham on 29 – 30 May.

The event will will include training sessions led by experts, lightning presentations and developer challenges.

Confirmed sessions include:
*Understanding and implementing the IMS Learning Tools Interoperability specification
*Exploring and sharing tool for learning design through a number of design challenges
*Widget store: Sharing widgets and tools to help you design, build and publish your own widgets
*Mashing coursedata xcri -cap feeds
*Node js
*Human Computation related to teaching and learning

All participants will be able to share their own examples, expertise and opinions via lightning sessions, workshops and informal networking opportunities. So, if you have an idea or something you’d like to share, then sign up!

The event (including overnight accommodation) is free to all participants and is being organised by DevCSI and supported by the JISC e-learning, course information, open educational resources programmes and CETIS.

We hope to see many of you in Birmingham in May.

App Stores Galore at #cetis12

Over the last two months, The Open University, the University of Bolton, KU Leuven, and IMC, with funding from JISC, have been working to develop a Widget Store aimed at the UK education sector using a codebase shared across and sustained by a range of other EU projects and consortia. (see Scott’s post for more details on the technical work and getting involved).

The Creating and Education App Store for the UK session at the CETIS conference, was the first opportunity for the team to share, firstly the vision of a shared codebase to underpin a range of existing and potential widget stores. And secondly, to share initial prototypes of UIs, and get feedback on the work to date and potential future development ideas from delegates.

Fridolin Wild (OU) gave a useful overview presentation “the university in a box” which highlighted the work of the OU in various widget related projects and initiatives which have built on the notion of the personalised learning environment.

Scott Wilson, (University of Bolton/CETIS) then set the wider context of widget developments, from W3C o the JISC DVLE programme, which is neatly encapsulated in the diagram below.

W3C Widgets and Widget Store Projects

W3C Widgets and Widget Store Projects

One of the key parts of the work is to provide extended community building features such as ratings, comments, use cases etc. As well as providing additional support for users of the store(s), Scott also outlined plans to share this “paradata” via the JLeRN Learning Registry node (which was discussed as part of a parallel conference session).

Over the 3 hour session there was much discussion around three key areas:

1. Institutional use of such a store: e.g. how would you use such a store? Have a local installation or use a hosted services? Implement connectors using IMS LTI for example.

2. Tracking and Recommendation services: what would be captured? how would it be shared? How could useful analytics be captured and used?

3. Widget Authoring: led by the Widgat team a useful discussion centred around their widget authoring tool.

For the conference plenary a two slide summary was produced, and look out for more details on the store over the coming months on this blog.

Summary of technologies in use in the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme

The JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme is now well underway. As I reported from the programme start up meeting last October , the aim of this 2 year programme is too

” . . .promote the development of coherent, inclusive and holistic institutional strategies and organisational approaches for developing digital literacies for all staff and students in UK further and higher education.”

with projects:

” . . .working across the following stakeholder groupings in their plans for developing digital literacies: students, academic staff, research staff, librarians and learning resources and support staff, administrators and managers and institutional support staff . . .”

As part of the programme support project, over the last couple of months I’ve conducting our usual technical audits with the projects to get a picture of what technologies and standards they are using/considering to use at this stage. The results of these conversations are recorded in our PROD database.

The projects are due to complete their baselining phase at the end of January, so it has been timely to discuss some of the wider issues around using various technologies with each of the projects. The rest of this post gives a snap shot of the range of technologies the projects are currently using. NB Unfortunately I haven’t been able to speak with the UCL team, but once they have completed their baseline report we will be meeting and I’ll update the data, however don’t expect the general trends outlined in this post to change much.

The map shows the locations of the 12 projects, with links to the prod entry for each. As the programme progresses, I’ll be adding a links to the design studio pages for each project too.

Map showing locations of DDL projects

Map showing locations of DDL projects

The mindmap below gives an alternative view of the data entries for each project (if you click on the picture it will take you to a live version, NB the mind map will be open so you may find it easier to close nodes before exploring it in full).

Mind map of PROD entries for DDL programme

Mind map of PROD entries for DDL programme

The focus of the programme is more on the effective use of technology rather than as with other JISC funded work, the development of technology. On saying that, there are a couple of projects who are planning to develop some mobile applications and there are strong links between the work of the W2C project at MMU in relation the provision of mobile services, particularly with the SEEDPod project, University of Plymouth who have been working with MMU in conducting surveys of students uses of mobile devices. There are a number of approaches to mobile provision. The Developing Digital Literacy as a Post Graduate Attribute project is providing students with ipods to record and share their learning journeys, and to some extent leaving it to the students to find what works/doesn’t work for them. Whereas other projects (SEEDPod, InStePP) are developing more holistic, device and location agnostic approaches to provision of services/content.

So far we have 94 individual technologies and standards. The wordle below gives an overview.

Wordle of technologies & Standards in DDL progamme (Jan '12)

Wordle of technologies & Standards in DDL progamme (Jan '12)

This bubblegram gives another view of the range and instances of technologies and standards. Again if you click on the picture you’ll go to a larger, interactive version.

Bubblegram of technologies and standards in DDL, Jan 2012 (v4) Many Eyes

The projects area all blogging (you can access aggregated feeds here) and WordPress is top of our chart with 8 projects using it, the majority of these are also using institutionally hosted versions. What is also noticeable, is the (relatively) high instances of non- institutionally based services such a social networking sites – particularly twitter and Facebook. At the moment the main (and anticipated) use of both is for general project dissemination, however a number of projects are both to communicate with staff/students e.g. to get people involved in focus groups. The PADDLE project are planning to use existing facebook groups as collaboration/communication point with some of their focus groups.

Other external services such as drop-box (for document sharing), doodle for arranging meetings and a range of google apps (docs, calendar etc) are also being widely used. For the later there is a mix of institutional provision and more general use of, for example google docs for sharing project team related information. As with other programmes and the following a general sector wide trend, Moodle comes out as the most common VLE across the programme.

In terms of standards, the main focus was on packing formats with IMS CP, IMS CC and SCORM all getting one mention each. As we are still in early days, most projects haven’t got a clear idea of what format they will release any content in, however there was an overall interest in, and indeed knowledge of OER (i.e. the DIAL project is building on experiences from a previous UK OER project) and most projects expressed an desire to release any relevant content as OERs.

A number of projects (e.g. The Exeter Cascade Project, InStePP) are looking at greater integration of digital literacies into wider competency frameworks through for example making more explicit curriculum links to institutional graduate attributes; and also through working with other wider programme related stakeholders such as SCOUNL and ALT.

As mentioned earlier, projects are just coming to the end of their baselining work, and at this stage they are keen not to be prescriptive about the technologies they will be using, as they want to be as flexible as possible. Also, key to number of the projects is the exploration of the how, what, where and why of technology use (both hardware and software) of staff and students and then making appropriate interventions/recommendations for wider institutional policies.

When I repeat this exercise next year, I have a suspicion that there may be a subtle shift to more institutionally based services as more content will have been created and being used/shared within VLEs/repositories. As any changes to curriculum provision, and institutional policies, if not in place, will be fairly well scoped by then too. I am wondering if we will see, similar to the Curriculum Design programme, an increase in the use of Sharepoint for more formal documentation and a decrease in use of more informal sharing services such as drop box. At the moment there the project teams are using drop box primarily for the convenience of any time/where/device access.

One of the things I was curious about was if these projects would be more “literate” in their choices of technologies to use, and what would be the balance between use of institutionally based services and more general web based services. I don’t think I have an answer to the question, but I have seen a healthy sense of pragmatism displayed by all the projects in terms of their approaches.

I’ve had some really interesting discussions with projects (particularly Digitally Ready) around the definition of technology and what it was I really wanted to record i.e. everyday /commonplace technologies like email, calendars etc; was I interested in what the project team were using for project management or more what they were using for stakeholder engagement? In fact it’s all of the above – which probably goes some way to explaining the number of different technologies recorded to date. I feel it’s also worthwhile every now and again just stepping back and reflecting on how our expectations of peoples and projects use of technologies (JISC programme digital literacy perhaps?) have evolved. A few years ago, we’d be lucky if we got all projects to have a blog with more than 2 or 3 entries by the end of a programme – now, it’s one of the first things on a projects to do list, and most institutions provide some kind of hosted blogging service.

When we were developing PROD originally it was to record the tools, standards outputs and development processes of very technically focused projects. However as we’ve started to use it more widely across the JISC elearning programme, we’ve used it not just to record what projects are building, but the what, how and when of technologies projects are actually using. In the not so development focused projects such as DDL this is central. I think that this is starting to give us some real evidence of the diversity and commonality of approaches within and across programmes, and give us greater understanding of how actual use of technologies is being enabled and embedded both from the bottom up and top down.

As they move into the next phase of the programme it will be fascinating to see how the projects start to use the findings from their baselining and how that will impact on their next phase of development.

A conversation around what it means to be a digital university

Over the past 18 months I’ve been having a series of discussions with Bill Johnston (a colleague of mine here at Strathclyde) around notions information and digital literacy and of what it means to be a digital university.

We moved from a series increasingly long, and wide ranging ad hoc “in the kitchen/pub” chats to slightly more formal meetings with the idea of writing a paper. However, as the months have passed, we’ve actually come round to the idea of extending our conversation in a more informal way, and (hopefully) to a wider audience via this blog.

In this post, I’d like to introduce you, dear reader, to Bill and the some of the key questions and issues we’ve been been working on.

Bill Johnston is recently retired, but he is still an active Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde. Bill has spoken, researched and published in the areas of critical thinking, educational perspectives on the student experience, curriculum design, and information literacy. Together with Sheila Webber, he developed a credit bearing Information Literacy class for Business School students at Strathclyde University. They also completed the ground breaking and influential study of UK academics conceptions of information literacy.

Early on in our discussions we agreed that using an information literacy framework would provide a unique lens to explore a number of internal and external drivers for institutional change and to explore notions of the term “digital university”. We felt that exploration of this overarching term offered the potential to act as a catalyst for fundamental change throughout an institution from administration to teaching and learning. We deliberately chose not to use the term “digital literacy”, as we felt that at the institutional level, the more holistic notion of a digital university was more encompassing. It was also a term we were both hearing being used both in our own institution and by others. However, we both found it was being used in a very narrow context, mainly relating to digital technology like repositories and/or VLEs. Digital literacy, is also a term that although increasingly being used in HE (e.g. the JISC Developing Digital Literacies Programme) it is still not commonplace, and digital literacy is often seen as narrow, computer science related skills, as exemplified by Michael Gove’s recent speech, and not as a developing set of wider ranging competencies as identified by Josie Fraser’s excellent response. Bill and I also believe that digital literacy is an extension of information literacy, and that one cannot exist without the other. So, the “literacy” of the digital university is the literacy of information. This in turn raises wider social issues of digital inclusion and the role universities can play in the wider community, but more on that angle in a future post.

We felt that information literacy could act as a gateway to creating dialogue at the institutional level as it provides the means, knowledge and skills needed to allow meaningful interactions between people, digital content and technological systems. In other words, it affords a way to allow optimization of digital participation and measure progress. Furthermore, in true abstract writing style ;-) , using an information literacy lens provides us with a means to produce a coherent outline of a digital university and suggest strategic developments of the digital infrastructure, learning environment and management culture required to fully achieve the potential of the digital technologies. We are also both convinced that a truly digital university only occurs where there is a fusion between technology and staff/student developments driving innovation and creativity.

The diagram below shows an integrated view of the topic areas of a matrix we have been developing. We feel that these areas are key for strategic conceptualization of provision of the required functionality for any 21st Century University.

Information literacy based planning matrix

Some key questions we’ve identified around these topic areas include:
• What constitutes an information literate learning environment? The physical campus? The VLE? A mix of both? What are the common understandings of information literacy ?
• How can we understand the requirements for the provision of institutional learning environment for the next 10 years?
• What are they key operational requirements from digital infrastructure? To support:learning, teaching, research and management? What balance is required?
• What type(s) of infra-structure is actually needed?
• Is key data about courses easily available for a variety of purposes including marketing, formal reporting requirements such a HESA, KIS?
• Is there ubiquitous, stable wifi connection; refurbished physical teaching and learning spaces as well as state of the art research facilities?
• What are the key digital literacy skills needed by both staff and students currently?
• What are the key digital literacy expectations for/from students and staff?
• What will be the key digital literacy skills needed by both staff and students in 10 years time?
• How can institutions begin to distinguish their unique features and make them explicit to increasingly demanding student (customer) requirements?

Over the next few posts, we’ll begin to expand more of our thoughts behind the matrix, organisational issues and digital inclusion. We’re also very interested in hearing other views, so please, share any thoughts you may have in the comments section.

*Part 2
*Part 3
*Part 4
*Part 5