Tag Archives: digital capabilities

Making the move from the radio…

Old Radio

At the recent AELP Autumn Conference I was having a discussion about the challenges that online delivery can be for training providers and employers. Often they have excellent instructors and trainers who work well in face to face classroom situations.

There is often an assumption that is made that because someone is excellent in face to face learning scenarios, they will be able to easily transfer these skills into an online environment, as the scenarios are very similar.

This is quite a risky assumption to make, as though there are similarities in delivering learning in classrooms and online, they are not the same.

It was and can be challenging for radio personalities to move into television, even though both broadcast mediums, and there are similar programmes on both (think News Quiz and Have I Got News For You) the skills for the different media are quite different.

In a similar vein, many stars of the silent cinema were unable to make the move to the talkies. Those that did, certainly thrived, those that couldn’t, didn’t!

If we are to make the move to a truly digital apprenticeship experience for all apprentices, then we need to ensure that the instructors and trainers involved in the delivery of learning have the right capabilities and skills to deliver effectively online.

Having the digital confidence, capacity and capability is something that often needs to be built in those staff who may already have excellent skills in delivering learning in face to face scenarios. Certainly there are many things which are transferable, but the skills in facilitating a classroom discussion are different to those in running a debate in an online forum.

So the question is, how do we build that digital capability? How are you building digital and online skills? What are you doing to ensure the successful transition to online delivery?

Image Credit: Old Radio by idban secandri CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Introducing James Clay and Lawrie Phipps #altc

train

This year I am attending ALT-C 2016 in Warwick and along with my colleague Lawrie Phipps will be running a workshop on the Wednesday looking at digital capabilities and organisational mapping.

Digital technologies are driving some significant changes in the world of work, and are deeply implicated in others.

Effective use of digital technology by college staff is vital in providing a compelling student experience and in realising a good return on investment in digital technology. To help managers and individuals understand what is needed, Jisc have published a digital capability framework which describes the skills needed by staff in a wide range of teaching, administrative and professional roles to thrive in a digital environment.

What does it mean to be digitally capable? Not just for an individual, but from an organisational perspective. How will you lead using the plethora of digital tools and channels available to you?

The Jisc building digital capability project has been addressing these issues for institutional leaders, for those on the front line of teaching and research, and those who support them. Universities and colleges across the UK have been participating in the pilots for the Jisc Building digital capability project This workshop will bring those experiences to the participants.

A person’s capabilities (what they can do) are no longer attested to simply by their certificates and grades. Digital devices and systems have the capacity to: record learning, achievement, and evidence of practice e.g. using digital video; capture data related to learning and achievement e.g. from learning records, learning environments; organise the evidence e.g. using tags, file structures, structured e-portfolios; showcase learning, achievement and evidence of practice e.g. using a blog/vlog, eportfolio, personal web page. We can use mapping to explore a person’s or an institution’s digital capabilities.

Collaboration between academics, TEL teams, professional services, business support and learner support is critical in ensuring an organisation can build digital capability across the institution and help provide a compelling student experience.

This workshop will ask and provide responses to the following questions, through an individual and group mapping exercise.

  • How do you build digital capability?
  • How do you ensure collaboration across the institution to build a breadth of capability to make more effective use of technology?
  • Why is collaboration essential?
  • What is the role of leadership in building capability?
  • Who within an institution needs to be involved?

The Visitors and Residents mapping exercise in the main covers digital communication, collaboration and participation. We then started to think about how we could use a similar concept to map teaching practice and curriculum design. This lead onto thinking about mapping the “learning” of our learners. Where are they learning, is that learning scheduled and formalised? Is that learning ad-hoc? Is it individual, group, collaborative? So the next stage was to map this in a similar manner to the Visitor and Residents. This is the approach that will be used in the workshop.

Structure of the session

15 mins Introduction to what we understand by digital capability and how we can use mapping to explore organisational capability

15 minutes Individuals will map their own institutional contexts in relation to teaching and learning and assessment

10 mins reflection on their maps and the maps created by others in the room. What maps are interesting and what patterns and similarities are their across the maps.

10 mins in groups exploring how collaboration across an organisation could help them to move and inflate/deflate areas on their maps to create an institution where technology supports teaching, learning and assessment more effectively.

10 minutes summary discussion and what next steps individuals and organisations could take and how could they encourage collaboration.

Mapping is an useful exercise to think about practice and though any such map may not be accurate or complete, it does allow you to consider and think about actions and training required to change behaviours or how spaces and tools are used.

Biographies

Lawrie Phipps and I are often invited to give these sorts of sessions on a more regular basis than other speakers that may or may not be at ALT-C.  We thought these biographies might give people a sense of who we might be.

Lawrie Phipps

Lawrie, the son of a politician[1] was destined for business but instead got into the business of souls, preaching to congregations across the southern US[2], also known as “Milk” is a keen follower of the arts and regular helps to organise and attend art and music festivals[3].

Lawrie resurrected the Arapahoe Hunt Club, a prestigious group of horsebacked hunters who, aided by a band of eager foxhounds, pursued coyote as opposed to the English tradition of foxes[4].

A keen naturalist, Lawrie has appeared in several natural history documentaries and BBC Countryfile.

Lawrie managed to beat a north sea cod into second place.[5]

Lawrie is from Dudley.

James Clay

Unknown to most people, James Clay frequently goes by the nickname “Scoot” in his personal life.[6]

James is an expert on the game of whist,  according to the Westminster papers: a monthly journal of chess, whist, games of skill and the drama Clay had been “the acknowledged head of the Whist world” for the last thirty years, spending much of his time and attention on whist and piquet.He became chairman of a committee for settling the laws of whist.[7]

Having been elected MP for Hull[8], he held the seat for six years, when he was unseated after a bribery inquiry. He regained the seat four years later at the by-election and held the seat for another sixteen years.[9]

In the 1980s, Lindeboom became the very first beer James Clay imported after an unlikely introduction to the beer by a local Dutch builder. “It became a cult beer in the local area and we used to keep at least 10 cases in a walk in fridge at the pub for take outs on a Saturday night!”[10]

In 1988 James Clay gained a world record for the world’s largest greetings card. It was nineteen feet high and was sent to BBC’s Children in Need and was shown live on TV.[11]

Using the stage name, Jim Clay, he was a production designer on many famous films including Captain Correlli’s Mandolin, Love Actually and Children of Men.[12]

In 2004, James released an album of music.[13] Though as one of the reviews reads, “Sadly James gave up the music life to pursue playing rock music in local bars.”

James Clay is the 79th ranked of 480 active US West Amateur Middleweights.[14]

In 2011, James Clay has a small part in the film My Week with Marilyn and was later to appear in Financial Crisis in 2016.[15]

James Clay once managed to get funding to go to a conference in Dudley.


Engaging the invisibles

Invisible Man
Image Credit: Invisible Man by James Edward Williams CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Back at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event at the end of May we had a discussion on the need for IT training teams.

A casual question to a sector wide mailing list recently about what IT training teams are called resulted in a number of replies of Lynda.com! It seems that a number of universities have done away with their IT training teams altogether, or reduced them to one or two, presumably very busy, individuals. In this session the panel will discuss this shift in institutional provision, consider the risks, and consider how training teams may need to evolve.

Delegates to the event were invited to submit questions in advance and I want to take this opportunity to expand my views and thoughts on the discussion and the questions, including some questions we never had time for. See my previous post that discussed showing value and priorities.

One question that we didn’t get to answer was on how we identify and engage the digitally invisible? Those staff who avoid the digital, won’t engage with the training and are generally invisible.

Now we know that some would call this a generational issue, it’s to do with age, which we know not to be true.

The invisible are, and making some generalisations here, are not going to undertake surveys or diagnostic tools. They are unlikely to attend training sessions or visit training websites. Despite people assuming that everyone reads every e-mail, the invisible will ignore or delete e-mails about digital. These staff aren’t always ignoring digital, they may use some tools, but they aren’t looking to build their capabilities, they are happy where they are and their current level of skills. There will be a spectrum of skills across this group, some will have low capability in using digital, some will have what would be considered quite capable. The invisible are also silent, they are not the kind of people who will be heard complaining about digital.

It’s as though they don’t exist.

So how do we engage with the invisible? How do we ensure that these staff build on the skills they do have and continue to develop their digital skills and capabilities?

There are many ways to do this, apart from obviously not appointing them in the first place!

Kerry Pinny from Lincoln has written two very good blog post on these subjects. Her first post on the subject, Should we employ staff who don’t have digital skills? She says

Why are we employing people who don’t have the digital skills that are needed to cope in today’s ‘digital world’? It’s a question raised with increasing frequency and one that deserves some serious thought. I should start by saying that I fundamentally disagree with anyone who says that we shouldn’t employ people without the digital skills we ‘need’.

In her second post she reflects on the feedback in her post But what about staff that won’t or don’t want to engage in CPD? and provides some ideas on how to engage those staff, who are often invisible.

Employing people without digital skills is still an issue in that is often avoided by organisations for various reasons, usually historical and legacy reasons. Job descriptions rarely mention digital or technology, looking over lecturer job descriptions you rarely see any mention of digital. I have seen requirements for good office skills and a willingness to use the VLE. What does good office skills actually mean? At events we have asked staff if they are good with Word, most say yes, then ask them if they use styles consistently and effectively and for most staff groups the answer is no. As for willingness, if you are applying for a job you probably will no doubt be positive about being willing to use the VLE and other technologies, things may be different once you are employed. One potential solution for this is about been very clear about what is expected from staff and being explicit about what those expectations are. For new staff that willingness could then be transformed into mandatory training to meet those expectations.

Another solution is to focus on taking an institutional strategy and placing the responsibility on delivering on that strategy to departments. Those departments, as in the departmental managers, ensuring that all their staff are buying into the strategy and know what those staff need to do as individuals, to help deliver on the strategy, and what skills and development they will need.

There is also potentially a communication issue, ensuring that these staff get any key messages about the use of digital. If sending e-mail isn’t working, then think about doing things differently. I use to attend meetings in order to discuss issues face to face, another method was a physical paper newsletter on digital and learning technologies. I actually use to take the time to hand deliver this to offices and workrooms.

Finally, understanding the motivations and fears of these staff can be critical to helping them become not only visible, but also start to engaging with their own personal development and building their digital skills and capabilities. Most of these invisibles are actually happy where they are professionally, they like their jobs, they like the culture and don’t really want to be part of a changing culture. Showing them new shiny stuff generally won’t engage them, showing them solutions (that involve digital) that will solve real issues for them, probably have more chance of success.

So what strategies do you use to engage with the invisible?

Do we still need IT training teams?

The Stage at #udigcap

Back at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event at the end of May we had a discussion on the need for IT training teams.

A casual question to a sector wide mailing list recently about what IT training teams are called resulted in a number of replies of Lynda.com! It seems that a number of universities have done away with their IT training teams altogether, or reduced them to one or two, presumably very busy, individuals. In this session the panel will discuss this shift in institutional provision, consider the risks, and consider how training teams may need to evolve.

Delegates to the event were invited to submit questions in advance and I want to take this opportunity to expand my views and thoughts on the discussion and the questions, including some questions we never had time for.

One of the questions was how IT training teams show their value beyond the “happy sheet”. Showing your value by showing positive feedback from participants is all well and good if the strategic need for an IT training team is to ensure delegates provide positive feedback. I found the easiest way to do this was to forget the training and provide lunch or cake!

A real challenge for measuring value is understanding both the impact and the value of that impact. This can be difficult to record, measure and assess, hence the often fallback on the happy sheets!

One way in which you can demonstrate value is clearly link the training sessions to the strategic objectives of the organisation or department and explain how the training will support or contribute to the success of that objective.

A further question we were asked was how do we create protected spaces in our workload to support innovation? The issue of time arose well the issue of lack of time; and as you know if you ask me why I don’t have a dog, the reason is I don’t have the time. When people say they don’t have the time, or they need time; what they are actually saying and meaning is: this is not a priority for me, I have other priorities that take up my time.

If people are concerned about the issue of time when it comes to creating protected spaces in their workloads to support innovation, then they are probably more likely concerned about how this will fit into their other priorities. So ask the question, who is responsible for setting the priorities of the staff in your institution? Priorities in theory are set by the line manager, who is operationalising the strategic direction and vision of the institution. If digital is not a strategic priority can we be surprised that staff within that institution don’t consider it a personal priority. How do you make innovation a strategic priority? That’s another question that would take more than one blog post to answer.

On the tech side…

Birmingham

As some will now as well as talking about e-learning stuff, I also like to talk about the tech side of things too. Over the last few months I have been talking about things I have written about on this blog before.

In my blog post Mobile WordPress Theme I have covered the update to WP-Touch, which adds a dedicated mobile theme to WordPress blogs really easily and looks great. If you have your own WordPress installation, then this plug-in is really easy to install.

Mobile WordPress

In another article I talk about how we melted the wifi at the recent UCISA event on digital capabilities. The conference centre struggled to cope with 120 delegates as the wifi, that in theory could cope with 250 wireless clients, failed to deliver a stable consistent wifi connection.

On this blog I wrote about the fickle nature of the web based on the original article which appeared on the Tech Stuff blog. This was in response to the original decision by the BBC to remove the recipes from their BBC Food site.

Weston Village

In addition to the individual post mentioned above, I have also written about my continued issues with getting FTTC at home. As well as my new Three 4G connection, where I am getting nearly 50Mb download speeds.

So if you fancy a more technical read, then head over to the blog.