Change Agents Conference

A report by Diana Stone, Student Digital Champion

As a Digital Champion, I had the exciting opportunity to attend the Jisc Change Agents conference in Exeter with my course leader, John Crossley, to present the work we’ve done so far on the ADR Records website and talk more about the project.

I had never been to Exeter before, so to me it seemed interesting to visit a new city, and I really enjoyed it. In the past, I’ve always been afraid of presentations as I am a pretty terrible public speaker, so I saw this conference as a way of challenging myself.

We attended both days of the conference, so as we were presenting on the second day, we decided to attend some of the talks throughout day one. It was great to see how other universities collaborate with their students and the results of their work together. I particularly enjoyed a presentation on students working with Unicef and the volunteering opportunities they provide. I spoke to several people from other universities throughout the day, which was a great way to network and explore other perspectives. Sadly, there weren’t any other music students there.

Day two was presentation time, and the nerves were definitely kicking in! In the morning, I made sure to go over everything I wanted to say about my involvement with ADR Records, so that everything goes as smoothly as it possibly could. Our presentation was in the afternoon, and quite a few people attended. We presented a few slides of the proposed web design, talked about the purpose of this website, which is to provide a platform for musicians at the university to promote themselves, and also talked about some of the challenges of getting it off the ground. Despite being nervous, I think it went as well as it possibly could and the audience thoroughly enjoyed it – we even had a few questions from them.

Following our presentation, there was a student from the University of Exeter presenting his work on MOOCs designed to educate people on climate change, which was completely free of charge. This was by far my favourite presentation, both because it’s an issue that I feel very passionately about and it’s fantastic to see projects that are changing peoples’ perspectives. The guy also had great presentation skills, that I could learn a lot from.

To conclude the two-day conference, there was a well-needed barbecue organised, which, again, provided a chance to talk to the participants. I received a couple of compliments on the design of the ADR Records site, which, of course felt great and encouraging to persevere with our project.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the Jisc conference and witnessing the impact of student-university work relationships can have on projects of any kind. I think Digital Champions is definitely a fantastic idea and I hope it can benefit the learning and working experience of as many students as possible in the future.

JISC Digital Capability Discovery Tool

Digital Capability Discovery Tool​​

The University of Derby is one of fifteen institutions working with Jisc to pilot their Digital Capability Discovery Tool, which has been developed for staff to self-audit and reflect on their digital capabilities. The development of staff and student digital capabilities are of strategic importance to the University so this is an important opportunity for all University staff to take advantage of access to this tool (the pilot is now live until the end of June​ 2017).
 
The Discovery Tool​ will give you the opportunity to find out more about your own digital capability through a series of reflective questions. Completing the questions will give you an opportunity to reflect on your confidence and capability and provide feedback including a summary of your digital profile, suggested actions you can take to build your capability and links to resources that you can use to support your development.
 
The individual summary will be private to yourself, but it could be useful for developmental conversations, e.g. DPRs, identifying training needs for teams, etc.
 
As part of the pilot, the University will be provided with an institutional picture of the outcomes, but this will not provide information about individuals. From these institutional results Learning Enhancement (as part of the Digital Derby project) will work alongside other professional service departments to develop additional resources to aid digital capability development.​ The development of digital capability is a key goal in the new University TEL Strategy 2017-2021​ as the foundation for confident and effective use of technology for living, learning and working in a digital society.​

JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker

We would like to understand how students view their ‘digital experience’ at the University, so we are asking students to take part in a short survey. The JISC Student Digital Experience Tracker survey was launched via Student Experience on the 1st December. The survey is being promoted to students until the 15th December. Please could you encourage students to complete the survey, so we can get a fair reflection of the student digital experience.

digital-experience-tracker

Digital Challenges, New Tech & the Space In-between: Thoughts on JISC Connect More

This week, a few of the TEL team attended the final event of the JISC Connect More series at Nottingham University. The day provided opportunities to connect with peers, share practice and explore new ways to teach and learn using digital technology.

Barriers, Challenges and Aspirations

The first presentation, led by Rachel Challen from Loughborough College, was on the barriers, challenges and aspirations that we face in the field of Learning Technology. Tying together institutional strategies and processes to work effectively within the changing digital landscape requires a lot of people and systems to work together, and it’s a tough job.

This theme continued throughout the day and it was encouraging (I think) to see that we’re all in the same boat – How can we engage with everyone in our institutions to think differently (and cohesively) about Technology Enhanced Learning and digital capabilities? It’s clearly a difficult challenge, and one of the things that’s great about events like this is that we can share the different ways, however successful, that we are trying to solve it. I got the sense that we’re all trying to move away from the perception of Learning Technologists as ‘point and click’ presenters, and embed ourselves much more within the academic community as specialists. Personally I think it’s a great thing, offering better value to the staff and students we work with in a collegial environment.

New Tech!

We also got the chance to try out some new technologies like the HTC Vive and Nao, a programmable robot. The HTC Vive was particularly interesting given the work I’ve already done with virtual reality in the last year. This was the first chance I’d had to use handheld trackers and they enabled me to create something in a 3D space – I was virtually painting, using TiltBrush by Google.

Instead of just having a flat canvas to draw on, I could now interact in all directions – forwards, backwards, up, down and everything in-between. If I drew a three dimensional shape, I could get inside it. I was able to experience the digital world as an actual space in which I could interact and move around, not confined or separated by a twRob VRo dimensional screen. There was a sense I was taking ownership of my own personal virtual space.

And this week, as I’ve watched Pokémon inhabit a shared digital space in the world, I’ve wondered if the convergence of technologies like VR and AR will allow us all to create our own personal digital spaces – They probably will and that’ll provide us with lots of exciting opportunities for creating new digital learning environments.

The Gap In-between

It was interesting to experience new technologies that are heading towards the classroom and at the same time hear how colleagues are meeting the current challenges of embedding digital capabilities within education. There’s clearly a gap in the middle that a lot of us sit in, connecting the dots between ever newer technologies and their educational application. It’ll be fascinating to see what an event like JISC Connect More looks like in 10 years. Over to you Nao…