Digital Student Skills sector consultation event – Bristol 17 February

Posted on behalf of Giles Pepler, project manager for the Jisc Skills sector study:

The first of three provider and learner consultations was held in Bristol on Wednesday 17th February. The event was full to capacity, with over 50 participants, with colleges, private training providers, ACL, universities and college learners all represented. We were particularly pleased to welcome a small number of learners (including their tutor!); we were initially concerned that the broad mix of sectors might cloud the discussions, but in practice the exchanges of ideas and experiences proved stimulating and productive and seemed to be appreciated by the participants, several of whom were looking for ideas for their institution’s digital strategy and how to embed digital literacy tools and digital learning in their classes. The event was well received, generating blog posts from several institutions, including the University of Bournemouth – see

When asked what single action providers should take to enhance their learners’ digital experience, four main themes emerged with listening to the learner voice and valuing what learners said by far the strongest theme. Awareness raising of available technology and two-way communication with staff and learners about this, curriculum development and staff training and implementing a BYOD policy received multiple mentions. Whilst most providers conducted student surveys and engaged student representatives in feedback, relatively few student forums focussed on digital issues and a number of providers confessed they had little interaction with their learners, especially on digital issues.

In a very busy day there was just time for participants to try out some of the card sorting exercise which has been at the heart of the learner focus groups. In the Access to Technology set, the availability of good wifi and devices (e.g. laptops / tablets) in the classroom came out top for the providers, as it has done for learners, together with access to a good VLE. The staff valued the availability of class notes online more than the learner focus groups, whereas the learners placed rather more emphasis on having access to a printer and, in some cases, a personal email account. It will be interesting to repeat this exercise at the remaining two consultations in Leicester and Manchester and compare staff and learner views.

Resources from the consultation day in Bristol can be found here –

To register for one of the other free consultation events, click the relevant link below. For an overview of the event, go to


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