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Technology: the new mainstream


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Instead of debating how learning technology can be brought into the 'mainstream' of academic practice, we should be debating how academic practice can be better aligned with a 'mainstream' culture that is now thoroughly digital. 'Digital literacy' is defined by the European Commission[1] as both a social entitlement - essential to living, working, social participation, acquiring goods and services, expressing oneself and learning throughout life - and a prerequisite for economic recovery. From this perspective, it may be traditional academic practices that are in danger of being sidelined or appearing irrelevant to young people's aspirations. How digitally literate are our academic institutions? How can teachers and scholars situate themselves at the forefront of the knowledge revolution? How relevant are current forms of academic work to potential students?
Ideas to be explored
This debate offers perspectives from four UK Universities that are engaged in digital literacy development. The questions that all panel members will address are: what characterises effective digital academic practice; and how can we best develop it?
The panellists share a belief that digital literacy needs to be understood at the level of knowledge practices, situated in academic roles and organisational cultures, and in subject communities. The perspectives from which they will address the two questions are:
(Institute of Education): how and why students use technologies, including the places they study and the ways they manage the integration (and separation) of their personal, professional and academic lives;
(University of the Arts, London): student employability needs and industry/sector requirements in the context of arts education;
(University of Exeter): digital literacy in research-intensive contexts and the role of postgraduate research students as digital pioneers;
(University of Bath): working with academic staff to explore how digital experiences can develop students' subject knowledge and professional practices in academic programmes.

Chair offers a short overview of the digital literacies landscape and proposes the two questions (6 minutes)
Four panel members speak for 6 minutes each (max 8 slides)
Participants offer their own interpretations of digital academic practice and their experiences of effective development work (20 minutes)
Panelists sum up what they have learned from participants (2 minutes each) with a final round-up from the Chair
Intended outcomes
Participants will have:
• discussed how academic and digital practices are influencing one another
• reviewed what new capabilities are required to thrive in a digital academic landscape
• considered a range of approaches to developing digital literacy in academic institutions
• assessed which approaches are most congruent with their own roles and academic settings
• contributed their own definitions and developmental practices

Published in: Education
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Technology: the new mainstream

  1. 1. Chris FollowsUniversity of the arts London ALT-C 2012 11 September 2012
  2. 2. The DIAL project Digital Integration into Arts Learning• Partially funded by JISC• Exploring digital literacy in a practice based art and design context• Two year project, year two.• DIAL project aims to improve graduate employability and develop confidence and capability in the adoption and integration of digitally enhanced learning for staff and students.
  3. 3. What does a digital academic practice look like...• In a practice based art and design context?• Vocational and non-vocational courses with differing course specific approaches to industry engagement and real world practice?• Specialist colleges and subject areas?• Competitive environment?
  4. 4. What does a digital academic practice look like...With students who are:• Studio-based independent learners• Dependent on physical spaces, studio, workshop and specialist equipment, spaces and technical support (hard skills)• Combine technical skills, contextual study and researchWith teaching staff who are:• Industry professionals• In high demand for studio based teaching and face-to-face contact time• Practice based industry standard skills delivered by technical and academic staff
  5. 5. Challenges for digital academic practice based teaching• Understand academic and professional practice as forms of identity work.• Support students emerging efforts to develop and manage online identities. Anxieties relating to presenting oneself online and developing professional open/online identities (lack of hard and soft skills and guidance). Teachers’ fear of learning/teaching in public (online practice) impacts on student development. Better Improve, experiment and understand flexible approaches to CPD & PPD staff development methods. Redefine the academic digital environment, clarification of VLE relevance in terms of flexibility to deliver an ‘Edu-Social’ experience, no middle ground to develop and experiment.
  6. 6. How can we best develop digital academic practice?• Reframe academic practice at the public/private boundary.• Experimentation in open and closed practice; develop outward facing course & personal profiles in new Edu-social spaces.• Participation: Digital citizenship, professional learning network e.g. Online mentors, supervision & digital stewardship. • Web making skills for staff and student (hard, • Web community building skills for staff and student skills (soft, process.arts)
  7. 7. Thank youChris FollowsDIAL project ManagerUniversity of the Arts London272 High HolbornLondonWC1V 7EYEmail: