Developing staff digital literacies for TEL: We need to go way beyond the audit

We are piloting a number of digital literacy audits for staff within Departments and course teams at UCS. The aims are to identify current skill and experience levels within the academic teams, map these to the emerging vision of technology enhanced learning within the department or course team, and operationalise these through the appropriate support and development packages.

The process involves teasing out a number of learning scenarios, based on their and teaching and assessment philosophies and vision statements from the Senior Management Teams and/or course Leaders. This will enable the creation of exemplars, getting started guides, and develop the audit questionnaire. The analysis will inform the design of the required staff development programme.

As with most change programmes, it’s loosely based around Kotter’s 8 Steps. Where the evaluation of impact is associated with Step 7 (Building on the change) and Step 8 (Anchor the change into Corporate Culture).

Reflecting on the likely effectiveness of the plan, the digital literacy audit and staff development programme are relatively easily deployed. However, they are unlikely to guarantee a longer term impact through a change in practice. This will require a cultural change within the staff group towards a Learning Organisation. The primary focus of a learning organisation is around valuing, managing and enhancing development of its individual employees in order to ensure its continuous transformation, enhanced innovation and competitiveness (Scarbrough et al (1998)).

The following evidence justifies the previous statement.

  • Drucker (1995: 176) suggested within an organisation knowledge is often specialised to individuals. Therefore, there needs to be a process to turn potential into performance. Otherwise most of the available knowledge will not become productive, it will remain as information.
  • Matley (2000: 204) proposes only fragments of the knowledge gained through individual (informal) learning are actually recorded or disseminated, either formally or informally for corporate use.
  • Moilanen, Ostbye and Woll (2014) identified the absorptive capacity of a team is a significant mediator in transferring external knowledge into higher innovation performance. Where AC is measured by learning activities, level of educational attainment and knowledge management processes.
  • Lee, Tsai and Amjadi (2012:35)) deployed a learning set approach with defined members, time-based activities, required direct participation and included an evaluation element to effectively create and share knowledge amongst workers.

The challenge for us is to facilitate the development of a learning organisation within academic teams who are characterised by being seldom in the same location at the same time, and they tend to work in small teams or on their own.

To facilitate the creation and sharing of knowledge within a dispersed team (temporal not spatial) , we will need to;

  1. publish a directory of expertise based on common TEL tasks which a person is confident teaching others. This will task focussed and allow team members to edit the directory as they gain more skills.
  2. improve the effectively and efficiency of online knowledge management (how to guides, FAQs, useful links) and channels of communication.
  3. design the staff development sessions (design sprints) around specific, authentic tasks, within a problem based scenario approach. The outcomes (how to guides etc.,) will be included within the knowledge bank
  4. identifying a person who is responsible for maintaining and updating the online knowledge resource. A standing item will be added to all Dept Learning and Teaching themed meetings to discuss the development of the knowledge store, arrange future staff development sessions and help the broader team celebrate successes.

A challenge will be the software for the knowledge bank, it needs to be a very simple authoring tool, a low threshold technology; easy and intuitive to author and contribute, while also integrated within single sign on. If single sign on wasn’t an issue, a Google Community would be ideal.

This also needs to be built in as a ongoing commitment, where we use programme validations / approavals as the key opportunity for major TEL curriculum developments.

Overview of the process

Phase 1: Discussion with Course Leader or HoD
Phase 2: Create the audit questionnaire
Phase 3: Capture the data, 1-2-1’s
Phase 4: Develop staff development programme, create guides, create directory of expertise, create blog (online knowledge management)
Phase 5: Implementation

Phase 1: Discussion with Course Leader or HoD

  1. Is there a vision for TEL within the learning, teaching and assessment model? If yes, what is it?
  2. What sort of learning and assessment tasks are students likely to need to complete across modules?
  3. Have you a minimum expectation in terms of the use of the VLE, e-Portfolios, Library Systems, Multimedia and Classroom technologies (face to face)?
  4. Where next?
    • Names of people?
    • Dates for data collection?
    • Who will provide the background information they will need?
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