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A collaborative, agile, resilient, and future-focused community

Building digital capability and digital experience insights community of practice event – 17 November 2020

The joining of two established communities of practice for building digital capability (opens in new tab) and digital experience insights (opens in new tab) services has brought new energy to the drive to transform the digital environment and the digital capabilities of students and staff; connecting digital strategy and implementation planning with evidence-informed data on the user experience.

Active participation by the community is a strong principle for our events – our co-hosts bring extra insight to event planning and our short, focused PechaKucha (opens in new tab) style presentations provide an opportunity for members to share their stories, successes and work-in-progress.

The community continues to grow

220 participants registered for this online event and were able to participate on the day or at a time convenient to them, almost double the number who were able to attend face-to-face sessions.

  • Our building digital capability service now has 70 subscribed organisations with over 27,000 users (15,000 students and 12,000 staff) and 25,000 question sets completed so far
  • And our digital experience insights surveys have engaged over 200 organisations and 169,000 participants since 2016

Agile and dynamic

Our co-host for this event was the University of Derby (opens in new tab) and being digitally dynamic and building the best of blends was the theme of their keynote from Julie Stone (associate pro vice-chancellor of external affairs and director of online learning), Fiona Shelton (head of the centre for excellence in learning and teaching) and John Hill (head of library and digital learning). Their work on building digital capability is the result of several years of investment and effort. Something that has provided a strong foundation from which to build as they respond at speed to the challenges of the ongoing pandemic while upholding their vision, values, and strategic ambitions – achieving changes in practice that would normally evolve over several years.

“Digital Derby: All staff and students to have an appropriate level of digital capabilities with extensive practical application in the curriculum”

Key enablers for Derby have been their blended applied model, work with Advance HE on a student success framework, their Future-fit 50 programme and their pedagogically informed ‘best of blends’ staff CPD programme; a bespoke and experiential online course for academics that generated “real sparks of learning” for the 700+ staff who completed it in just 15 weeks!

Future-focused

Addressing the digital development needs of 3.1 million health and social care staff was the focus of the second keynote from Henrietta Mbeah-Bankas (head of blended learning and digital literacy workstream lead, NHS clinical entrepreneur). With a wide range of roles and needs to accommodate as well as differing skills and ability levels, the scale of the challenge is huge.

Work undertaken over several years includes liaison between our building digital capabilities (opens in new tab) team and the NHS, sharing our digital capabilities framework (opens in new tab), implementation experience, and wider research. Health Education England is now preparing to launch its self-assessment diagnostic tool in April 2021 and has plans to further explore the specific needs of a range of workforce and service areas and to develop profession or service specific tools.

Teaching staff are digitally motivated

We are all committed to actively engaging with and listening to the student voice but what about that of teaching staff? Our findings draw on responses from over 5,300 teaching staff to the 2020 teaching staff survey (opens in new tab) and complement our student digital experience insights survey reports (opens in new tab) published in September.

High numbers of teaching staff are motivated to use technology in their teaching (FE: 81%, HE 79%) but the report also highlights some challenges:

  • Strategic leadership is vital in driving digital transformation
  • More resource is needed to support staff to develop pedagogically informed digital practices
  • The digital environment and infrastructure require further investment

Member stories

Seven member stories were shared on a variety of digital experience and capability related topics:

  • Using Teams group site to provide collaborative support for staff digital capabilities as part of the COVID-19 response by Fiona Handley, principal lecturer in learning and teaching, University of Brighton
  • From crisis management to sustainable delivery by Bryony Evett-Hackfort, teaching and learning manager, Coleg Sir Gar
  • Getting to the heart of the discipline: enhancing digital capabilities in the curriculum by Dr Tunde Varga-Atkins, senior educational developer (digital education), University of Liverpool
  • Building on the foundations: thinking about the future of digital capability development for staff and students by Laura Hollinshead, learning technologist, University of Derby
  • Rebooting digital skills by James Wells, head of digital curriculum, Middlesbrough College
  • Encouraging student engagement in online learning by Sharon Perera, academic support team manager, University of Greenwich
  • Rolling out the digital discovery tool to FE staff during lockdown by Pam Thomas, OD advisor, Nottingham College

Slides and recordings

All slides and recordings from the community of practice event will be available on our event page (opens in new tab) soon.

Hold the date

Our next joint community of practice event will take place online in May 2021. Details will be announced on the service mailing lists (building digital capability mailing list (opens in new tab), digital experience insights mailing list (opens in new tab)), so please subscribe to these if you haven’t already done so.

Keeping the discussions alive

While the online events are great at reaching a wider audience there is no substitute for the wonderful opportune discussions we enjoy at face-to-face events. Do use the mailing list to continue the conversation after the event to share your thoughts and reflections.  and to collaborate. The team loved Sheila MacNeill’s analogy in her reflective blog post about the event The IKEA approach to digital (opens in a new window).

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Additional reports and resources

Community members may also be interested in:

By Clare Killen

Content insights manager, Jisc data analytics

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