Delivering Digital Literacy

1. Kim: script

We are at the beginning of a new era, endorsed by government, in which the need to develop digital literacy – those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society – is recognised as vital.  In Further and Higher Education, some students and academic, support, research and administrative staff have embraced the collaborative opportunities inherent to digitally enhanced learning, but this sector is under increasing pressure to enable staff and students to meet the needs of the digital society in the 21 century.…

2. Intro music

3. Joe                                                    IN What you’ve got…

What you’ve got with the technology is you’ve got more opportunity there to express and engage (10:00) and you know, work collaboratively, which you wouldn’t have before.

OUT… have before

4. Helen                                               IN Their dealing with people…

They’re dealing with people that may be hugely digitally capable, they’re dealing with people particularly students coming from different cultures who may not be used to even reading off a screen, and yet they’re expecting those students to achieve in the same sorts of ways, and those ways are increasingly digitally-enabled.

OUT…enabled …

5. Kim:  script

For many teaching, research, support and administrative staff, changing working practices is daunting and potentially time consuming.

6. Richard                                            IN I’ve taught at 4 universities …

I’ve taught at four different universities and with the exception of the Open University, technology enhanced education is seen as an add-on, OK, and that culture is changing in Cardiff I think but slowly, so hopefully the Digidol project can address that.

OUT … address that

7. Kim:  script

Can new tutors and even students play a central role in building greater confidence and understanding of this technology among their peers and tutors?

8. Antony                                            IN If you’re quite a confident …

If you’re quite a confident and outgoing person as I am, I have absolutely no problem going into my tutor’s office and saying you’re doing that wrong and then showing them how to do it, but students do tend to have irrational fear, there’s a barrier between them and the person whose teaching them.

OUT…teaching them

9. Kim:  script

Hello and welcome to Jisc on Air. I’m Kim Catcheside and in part one of Delivering Digital Literacies I’ll be looking at how universities and colleges can help teaching staff , researchers, support and administrative staff to develop digital capabilities  which are transforming traditional academic practices.. In part two, I’ll be looking at how digital literacy underpins the academic success and employability of students.

End music

10. Kim:  script

In searching for a useful analogy for digital technology I asked Helen Beetham,  Synthesis Consultant on the JISC Developing Digital Literacies programme, if she thought there was a relevant cultural equivalent…

11. Helen

IN I think if I was to go way back in history…

If asked to go way back in history it would have to be to maybe a time when print or even writing were brand-new technologies and new ways of knowing about the world and new ways of studying the world, that they’re so new that really they’re very unevenly distributed in population of people who want to engage in education, but education itself imagines that it’s going forward in much the same way.

OUT… in much the same way.

12. Kim:  script

That reluctance to acknowledge and address technological change is the principal issue facing educational institutions. This is compounded by the fact that some universities and colleges are reluctant to support staff and students to develop their ability to use digital technology. I’m talking to Dr Richard Marsden, Pathway Coordinator for Exploring the Past at Cardiff University.

13. Richard                                          IN I think it’s the university’s …

I think it’s the University’s job for all of its students, adult learners, undergraduates, whatever to kind of deliver the training, the skills training that they need to access those resources whatever, to make use of those digital literacy skills.

Kim: Indeed, you’d never ever in a million years hear of people say that we need to construct things around people who can’t read because otherwise you’re excluding people who can’t read, teach them to read.

Richard: Absolutely. Exactly, exactly, so I think this is…that’s a great analogy. And increasingly I think digital literacy and information literacy, the other aspect of that for universities where you know digital literacy is getting people able to use, in its basic sense, to use a computer to access the resources they need. But once they can do that, they need to be able to do so in a kind of critical and effective manner, and that’s where information literacy particularly, with you know online resources, journals, that sort of thing, that’s where the information literacy side of it comes in, as we know, god bless the internet but 99% of it is crap! Am I allowed to say that?

Kim: Yep.

Richard: We need our students to be able to pick out the 1% that’s actually viable and useful for them.

OUT…useful for them.

14. Kim:  script

Digital literacy is so fundamental that, like writing once did, it permeates all forms of communication, presentation and reference. The fact is that academics, research, support and administrative staff already use digital technology in some form or other, but many feel uncertain about its greater potential. Janet Peters, director of university libraries is project sponsor of the Cardiff University’s new Digidol project to develop digital literacy in these key groups..

15. Janet

IN I think it’s not acknowledged  …

It’s not acknowledged. I think people naturally use digital tools but they probably don’t really realise what they’re doing…so I think if you asked them how many times do they use the word digital in their lesson plans or whatever, they probably don’t at all. But almost certainly they’ll be using what we call Learning Central which is our VLE to put their course material into, as I say they’ll be encouraging students to do presentations in PowerPoint or whatever it is, they’ll almost certainly be wanting them to write something electronically, and putting it through a plagiarism database, so there are all sorts of uses of digital technology in the educational setting, but it’s not called digital literacy and it might not even be called digital, but it’s kind of, they’ve become tools of the trade.

OUT… tools of the trade

16. Kim:  script

Dr Joe Nicholls, principal consultant on the Digidol project, urges staff at Cardiff to see digital technologies as providing an opportunity – like writing and printing, they are tools that will make research or teaching or administrative tasks easier…

17. Joe                                  IN You could argue the same thing…

You could argue the same thing about traditional technologies, so just writing an essay with pen and paper, so if you’re presenting … if it’s a challenging learning task you know.. It’s the fact that you were moved to a word processor or actually using multimedia, the fundamental challenge is about being critical, evaluative, problem solving and trying to get those and designing learning activities that bring those out, there’s a difference. What you got with the technology is you’ve got more opportunity there to express and engage (10:00) and you know, work collaboratively, which you wouldn’t have before. The challenge we have around educators and with students is exposing them to that opportunity in a way that is meaningful, so that they can, and it’s just that … a lot of the challenges on an institutional level are far more kind of practical issues around having the time and space to work with those technologies. And they certainly don’t have the motivation to actually want to do it.

OUT…lack for motivation to want to do it.

Kim: script

And that’s key to the approach of PADDLE – Personal Actualisation and Development through Digital Literacies in Education, an ambitious project aimed at empowering 70,000 learners and staff to take responsibility for developing their own digital literacy skills. Dr Andrew Eynon, Library & Learning Technology Manager Coleg Llandrillo, is the manager.

We were aiming for it to seem more seamless, so that rather than seeing it as discreet, for the virtual communities of practice, the focus is not on the skills, it’s on the content so whether it’s to do with a study group or tutors sharing good practice across institutions or support staff sharing information on latest technologies, so we were trying to… the key thing for us really has always been to embed digital literacy skills into what people are doing as part of their normal studies, rather than trying to teach something separate.

18. Kim script

Digidol and PADDLE, are 2 of the 12 institutional projects JISC is funding in this area. Digidol aims to embed processes and practices across Cardiff University which support the sustainable and innovative   use of digital technologies. This project will work on all levels – to change attitudes and beliefs as much as helping all concerned to realise practical knowledge and skills.  One of the issues for the Digidol team is how to make the use of technology more consistent across schools and divisions…

19 Kim/ Janet                                                     IN Everything … patchy

Kim: Very often the whole digital, everything to do with digital technology has been down to the enthusiasms of staff it can be very patchy, so students can get a very good experience, and learn a great deal and other students because their particular teachers have not been especially confident in the technology have not had such a good experience. I mean how far do you think is that acceptable and how far could this project perhaps enable you to bench-mark and enable students to have some minimum of digital experience? I’ll have to do that question again but you know what I mean.

Janet: I think we’ve certainly found from the Baseline and from our knowledge beforehand that the experience students have is very patchy, it’s often different between modules on the same programme and it can also be even more markedly different if they’re doing a joint honours for example, which is, you know, becoming an increasingly popular way of studying, so it does need to be addressed. We’re in the process of setting up digital champions, one for each academic score, and we have 27 or 28 depending on how you count them … separate schools in Cardiff so they would have quite a close relationship with their curriculum within their particular academic areas, and their role is to work with their colleagues to try and promote a more consistent use at least of the VLE, we need to start with something everybody needs to use, and with something that’s familiar, and just get them all using it in the same kind of way, but also building on that and trying to get them to use it a bit more.

And then the other area of change, if you like, that we can use is we have a programme which is for our new academics who are starting as teachers for the first time, which they are required to follow when they first come here, we call it PCUTL, p-c-u-t-l, and I think it’s the Post-Graduate Certificate in Under-Graduate Teaching and Learning, and the people who go on that programme are shown the latest techniques that we know about by various people across the university, and so they become change agents for us and they can go out

back to their schools and their colleagues and (18:00) hopefully impress them with this way of using technology which is a little bit more modern perhaps than some of them have been used to.

OUT… some of them have been used to.

20 Kim: script

Helen Beetham’s research shows that the gap in digital knowhow relates to an academic’s initial achievement, after which the motivation to use new tools for teaching and learning often decreases.

21. Helen                                             IN There are certainly groups of academics …

There are certainly groups of academic staff, and we’ve called this an academic generation gap because it doesn’t actually go necessarily with age but it does go with when people became successful in their academic careers and what they needed to do to be successful, and if that happened at a time when their digital reputation, their capacity to teach with digital technology, digital scholarship, interacting with other researchers was entirely analogue and that those skills were irrelevant to their success if you like. Erm, then they are likely to be less interested in some of the things that we are saying that students need to be able to do. There’s not across-the-board, but you know people have been very successful in an analogue world are a different generation from people who are beginning their careers today, for whom the analogue world is not an option.

OUT…is not an option


21a Andrew Eynon

It’s certainly an issue, I mean we haven’t got much evidence yet but there was certainly a feeling in the project that we would mirror the sort of experiences in schools whereby tutors certainly of a certain age or staff of a certain age who didn’t you know grow up in a digital society would be wary of digital literacy skills in terms of showing up their ignorance to their learners, but as we know from the experience in schools, what happens then is if the pupils aren’t taught or shown how they should be using digital tools correctly then they’re quite confident with ICT but they tend not to be particularly competent, so we needed to address that balance. Obviously more recent finding has shown that people entering the teaching profession in FE or in schools tend to have those skills, the basic skills, but again it’s showing how they can be used to enhance teaching and learning.  

22. Kim: script

For academic, research, support and administrative staff, to develop their skills in digital technologies, there is the question of time…which tools and how to use them…

23. Janet/Kim                                    IN The reality …

Kim: The reality is that I suppose hard pressed teaching staff are right in a way that it does require up front effort, the point is that there should be some sort of return on that effort, what is the return that you’re hoping to get through the effort that they will inevitably have to put in to learn new skills?

Janet: Well we hope that they can learn how to perhaps manage their time a little bit more efficiently, so some of this digital literacy won’t actually be related to (10:00) their pedagogic work, although some of it will be, but some if might be for example, managing meetings more efficiently, maybe we can use online discussion groups and so on so we don’t have to have face-to-face meetings, so what might have taken an hour you might be able to do in 10 minutes or something, or, you know, something that’s done in sequence throughout the day or whatever, so it’s just in the background rather than taking up a focus sed amount of time. I mean just being able to store your own personal information quite efficiently so that you’re not constantly looking for it I think would actually save most of us quite a lot of time. I think we could all learn techniques, how to manage your email inbox better, that kind of thing, so that you’re not wasting time. I did hear a statistic once that most people who use email and electronic documents and so on actually waste 20% of their time looking for things. So if we could just reduce that to 10% then that’s a huge amount of time that we could save. And that’s probably by doing fairly minor changes.

OUT…minor changes

24. Kim: script

Cardiff university’s library has an outstanding reputation for work in information literacy – for Janet’s team, this is vital to the Digidol project as it forms a principal component of digital literacy. Cathy Jackson is senior consultant for information literacy on the Digidol project.

25. Cathy

IN The whole area of critical evaluation …

The whole area of critical evaluation for example, it’s really the same issues whether you want to label it digital if it’s in the digital environment, or information literacy, it’s that same thing, and it’s key element of academic development, so a key element, both of academic life, and therefore, the whole.. the remit of you know, the most esoteric kind of education, but also, a key element of employability because one does hope as a graduate in employment that you are actually able to evaluate and consider the information that’s coming in for your organisation and deciding the appropriate way forwards, so not just saying oh so and so say’s that that must be right but actually thinking is that right? Does it sound right? Where’s it come from? (16:00) and so on …

OUT…Where’s it come from and so on


26. Alison                                             IN But that is part of the creative research process

But then that is part of the creative research process, there’s nothing in er… the digital landscape that could not be accommodated or seen as being part of research.

OUT.. . seen as being part of research

27. Kim: script

Alison Mitchell is Deputy Director of Vitae, the UK organisation championing the personal, professional and career development of doctoral researchers and research staff in higher education institutions and research institutes.

28. Alison

IN The researcher development framework

The researcher development framework was developed through research, with the research community in the UK, and it has four domains. Domain A is knowledge and intellectual abilities, Domain B is personal effectiveness, Domain C is research governance and organisation, and Domain D is engagement in fluency and impact. Now that breaks down into several subcategories, and then into actually sixty three descriptors so it becomes very detailed indeed. For each of the descriptors there is in a sense a series of phrases which show the developmental journey that people can take within those skills. May even find that they are accomplished in several areas but there are ones that they particularly want to develop. Around that framework we’ve taken different perspectives to draw out the key skills that are relevant in different circumstances, so for example we’ve produced what we call lenses with a viewpoint on the researcher development framework looking at leadership, enterprise, public engagement, we’ve got new ones coming, there’s one on teaching, impact, which is very important for researchers nowadays. In think one of the steps we will be looking at is how we can draw out from this the skills that are required by researchers to be effective in the digital landscape. Not about being able to use the technologies it’s about being effective in the use of them, for research purposes.

OUT for research purposes

29. Kim: script

What Alison and Cathy are underlining here is that research does not fundamentally change through the use of digital technologies, but the methodology and approaches inevitably will. Alison’s team at Vitae are working with JISC to establish just how technology is currently being utilised by researchers and within a researcher development environment. The study will highlight current issues and challenges regarding digital literacy and feed into the researcher development community in the months to come. A principal question is whether it’s possible to continue effective research without using digital tools. Helen Beetham.

30. Helen                                                             IN The baseline…

The baseline report I wrote for the project that I’m leading at Exeter drew a kind of mixed conclusion that I think there is a gap now where people can get degrees, they can succeed, they can even go on to post-graduate study without really engaging fully in the potential of digital tools, but it’s a real struggle. Students who don’t use referencing software really struggle. Students who don’t share what they find with other researchers really struggle. Students who don’t build a digital reputation really struggle. So I think we’re in a window where it’s still possible, and in some disciplines obviously it’s more possible than in others, but I think we’re kind of getting to the end of that time.

And we’re certainly in the outside world getting to an end of the time when any kind of recognisable graduate job is going to require some degree of digital capability.

OUT… digital capability

31. Kim: script

Vitae’s baseline investigation also reveals how digital literacy might enable some researchers to work where they otherwise couldn’t have, but this comes with other concerns …

32. Alison                                                             IN From our research.…

From our research what we find is a kind of blending and a merging of the social and the personal and the professional lives around digital literacy. And whether that might be a barrier or opportunity for different groups to be successful in research. One of the difficulties that’s been clearly researched in terms of being successful in a research career is work/life balance and the demands of research. And with a 24/7 availability of these technologies, I suppose the question I would ask is, is this going to enhance equality of opportunity or is it actually going to prevent equality of opportunity

OUT…equality of opportunity?

33. Kim: script

In my research into how digital literacy is developing, I put the issue of work life balance to

Glyn Mottershead, a young lecturer in digital journalism at Cardiff’s School of Media and cultural studies…

34. Kim/Glyn                                                      IN You’re talking about the barriers

You’re talking about breaking down the barriers between what you might see as your own private time, aren’t you?

Glynn: Well haven’t we all always done that? I mean, if you look, I mean if you talk to anybody with any job, if we have a 9-5 job do we ever finish it by 5? Do we ever start our day just at 9? So I think that element of it is, is kind of like we have this kind of false idea of what is work time and what isn’t. If you’re sort of thinking about your latest research project at 7 o’ clock at night you think about it, because it’s on your brain, your job is an aspect of what you do.

OUT…what you do

34. Kim: script

For Glyn the use of digital technology in his research has widened his network of colleagues in very positive way.

35. Glyn                                                IN As a researcher in some of the work

As a researcher, in some of the work I do, I have more peers outside of this university than I do within it, in my particular field I’m looking at. It’s not, that you know, that I don’t respect my colleagues, they’re very useful people to me in that aspect of my role, they are. But people who are researching in the same area are outside of my organisation. So I communicate with these people regularly, almost on a daily basis with some of them, and using these social networks it’s become more of a peer network, it’s actually become more of a friends network as well, so these are people that I’m very comfortable talking to, obviously we’re all careful not to share Mission Critical – it’s of the information that might impact on a bid we do or whatever, but if you need a bit of advice or guidance on something that you’re working on, for me this is absolutely fantastic, and it’s like having friends… I mean particularly twitter it’s like having turn round to you and say look ‘I just read this in the paper yesterday, you really need to read it’, or ‘here’s a journal article that’s really related to what you’re doing’.. people are sharing this all the time, and for me, in the research aspect, that’s one of the crucial things about digital literacy, it’s understanding where these key nodes are, if you want to use the jargon, where these important people, these important sources of information that can help you do your job, with communities and practice in a way – like minded people doing similar jobs, allowed to talk to each other via these networks. And that’s crucial, absolutely crucial.

OUT… absolutely crucial

36. Kim: script

In order to embed processes and practices required for the competent use of digital technologies among staff, Joe and the rest of the Digidol team think that the more disciplined practice of research could be a useful entry point…

37. Joe                                  IN You can change hats from being …

You can change hats from being an educator, a lecturer to being a researcher and of course there’s all the other demands, especially in this current moment, in terms of submitting the research assessment exercise and their competing demands they have to manage, so they would come back and say they’re often not reward for innovation in learning and teaching. One, they’re not given the time, two, it’s not recognised. They also need to spend and develop their literacies around doing their research, so all these digital literacies are just as valuable there. So one possible way about it is you could piggy back on that, so people have these dual roles, if they get to use those technologies using the research maybe they could actually apply them to their learning and teaching. But they’re also actually, where there’s another hat off is just being in an administrator and a management.. a manager of their research, and how can they use the technologies effectively for that, so this is what we’re saying about a holistic and pervasive approach.

OUT…pervasive approach

38. Kim

What Joe is underlining is the importance of an institution wide approach – Digidol is aimed at Cardiff University as a whole.

39. Joe                                  IN We’re pushing an agenda  …

We’re pushing an agenda around what we’re calling digital literacy, and whether that language is appropriate in this context I don’t know, we’re still finding that out, there’s certainly a recognition that people need to be able to use technologies more effectively for… we’re talking to researchers and administrators as well as learners and teachers and it’s a whole institutional approach that we’re taking, and we believe that looking to the future in a sustainable way, you need that holistic approach, you need to be able to look at.. within the organisation, what processes can we tap into that will work right across the board, that surfaces the use of technology in context with all of those and that’s what the purpose of the project is – to identify that.

OUT… to identify that

40. Kim: script

If you would like more information or support in delivering digital literacies to staff at your institution, please visit

In part two, I’ll be investigating the vital part digital literacy plays to a student’s academic success and employability.