Brief Report of the Project to date

The 14 week digital literacy course for general staff and trainee teachers is complete and due to feedback and requests additional sessions took place, taking the course to a total of 16 weeks. As the weeks progressed, the VLE developed and for each session there is a lesson plan, all activity instructions and resources, quick links to digital tools, further information and some showcase of achievement in that particular session. Each week a “take-away” homework menu was produced so participants could chose further digital literacy skill developments to practice and showcase ahead of the following session.

Many 1:1 sessions have taken place with staff and trainees from November 2012 to current and mini digital literacy projects have been delivered to specialist Dicipline teams, in particular equine and sport as a continuation of the project and to try and disseminate the use of Xerte beyond the original project group.

The hard part, but certainly not the toughest was to encourage and develop staff and trainee teachers to practice their own digital literacy skills within their discipline. At the same time, they needed to learn independence and look at innovative strategies, beyond the course content. Evidence has been collected through trainee lesson plans, lesson observations, audio recorded observations and some general discussions with qualified staff alone.

The toughest part has been the facilitation of staff developers creating their own projects with learners. It has been a battle between “project ethics” and “teaching ethics” in that participants from the course have only moved forward if they felt they had enough time, enough resources in addition to support. Not just from me but from collegues and management within the department.

I still have a bit of time to try and gather some more evidence and provide some more support, as I know a small selection of staff developers have been successful. They have facilitated learners in producing content with Xerte and other digital means, it is just a very tough time for most academic staff being near the end of a term, so I honestly have to say that it is not their priority right now to provide me with this information or evidence. I am sure that once assessments are completed, marked and the term has ended (11th April) I will gain a better snap shot of what we have achieved.

Tonight, I have managed to hold a focus group meeting (3 out of 12) that included some project participants and this gave a small insight to the project as we begin to reach the end. Our discussions are summarised as follows:

Skitch (iPad app) has been used by learners to create their own images and videos for content and expand on their own created images with notes and sketches to express understanding. Prezi has been popular for collaborative work between learners for formative presentation assessment. A particular focus with Prezi now is to ensure learners consider their target audience, that is a social responsibility in addition to considering the digital identity they can create with Prezi as a social media tool. Google+ accounts and in particular the google document app have been used by some FE learners in class for editing and amending items live as a collaborative tool and more explicitly during peer assessment activities. Other digital tools have been used for peer assessment such quizlet and triptico where some learners have created quizzes for revision etc and the content shared. The “my homework” app (which has been found by a member of staff using skills learnt through the digital literacy course) allows learners to keep diaries, files and create content within their lessons. This particular app which develops learners skills in digital software and social responsibility, has been popular in one Dicipline and has been roled out for all learners within that Dicipline to improve collaboration between tutor and student with regards to assessment and progress.

The SAMR model has had quite a big impact to allow teachers and learners to improve standards with technology, “pushing our selves with regards to moving up the stages”.

“When planning sessions I consider the SAMR model and try and think of alternative use of IT a step up the model than what I had originally considered to incorporate peer assessments and collaboration.”

Improved knowledge on data protection and copy right laws has been seen through out the college, according to the head of teaching and learning.

“I have integrated the google search knowledge that I have gained from the course through assignment workshops and producing a mat to support the learners when carrying out research.”

Some tutors used recording techniques for assignment briefs and workshops to disseminate to learners.

“I have presented to my team new methods and my experiences I have developed from the course such as the recording of smart board use when going through assignments with students and posting it on bloom for them to recap in their own time to ensure they include all of the relevant information in their assignments.”

Googles own apps page have been used in sessions and with learners to create a “bank of apps” on the desktop so sessions can be sped up and develop more efficient work skills. But it has not always been so productive..there has been some issues, especially when it comes to more learner led creation of content.

“I will be honest and say that I have limited my use with learners until sufficient resources are available to use as well as effective timing.”

Something that came to light during tonight's forum was that much of social media is blocked by the college systems. Although Xerte has its own server and access to Xerte is wide spread at both levels, trying to use some collaborative media is problematic. Staff and trainees really wanted to complete sessions regarding the learners awareness and management of digital identity and showcasing achievement through sites such as twitter, linkedin, scoop-it, Pinterest and wordpress but access was slow progress or even banned. At this point some staff and students became disengaged with some of the digital literacy project.

Digital identities of learners has not been something that we have developed particularly well. However some staff have trialed this idea with subject specific boards within Pinterest, but not a subject related account. Some staff use twitter to follow specific people but their own account is not subject specific.

Sharing and disseminating of projects and ideas for content creation or technology know-how is limited to only within the department, some ATPs and trainees will share practice between each other and are left to disseminate between teams. There are ideas for more collaboration between teams and their ATP s. So community boundaries are not being breached that often and this is partly due to the current college culture.

To conclude this brief report, I would say that digital Literacies of staff, trainees and learners are developing and their is a small amount of evidence so far. I know that there are many examples of Xerte projects from within the disciplines of Animal studies and Equestrian studies in addition to other content via other digital tools that are free and open source. I just need to collate them as the 2nd term concludes. I just wish I had put a little more thought into this final stage of the project to help me collate this evidence more effectively.