Marketa Zezulkova, Debbie Holley & David Biggins
The tensions of UK Higher Education environment metrics (cf Research Excellence Framework (REF), Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)) can be seen in drivers of digital change at institutional in UK Universities. The increasing measurement and importance of student outcomes and learning gain (TEF) requires institutions to show the impact of their work, both internally and across sector benchmarks.
It is within this context that we conducted a mixed method study exploring technology enhanced learning strategies and their applied frameworks and toolkits. The first two phases of research comprised a quantitative survey with 36 participants, subsequent content analysis and resulted in a draft framework (Biggins et al 2017). This framework has now been explored in the third and last phase through semi-structured interviews with the TEL leaders from seven UK HE institutions.
Our preliminary findings indicate that to meet the requirements and demonstrate the externally set indicators of educational quality, technology enhanced learning (or digital learning) strategies and toolkits are often developed without academic staff and students’ input. The three emerging themes relevant to the Participation through Learning Technology theme suggest that:
(1) Educators are seen as providers rather than end users. The perceived TEL benefits for students have no or less comparable benefits in terms of the educators’ work and life, a change in this policy could impact institutions in terms of the UK Teaching Excellence Framework criteria Teaching Quality (TQ2) valuing teaching.
(2) Students are treated as receivers and users, rather than active participants in institutional TEL strategies and developments, a change in this policy in institutions has the possibility to address the Teaching Excellence Framework Employability and Transferable Skills Student Outcomes and Learning Gain (SO2), in terms of ' students acquire knowledge...that enhances their personal/professional life'
(3) Immediate students’ learning is prioritised over both educators’ and students’ life-long learning and digital capability/competence/literacies development. Here we argue that students of course need to develop skills that prepare them the world of work, but there is wider societal benefit in overcoming the digital divide. Our research suggests the Teaching Excellence Framework policy driver of Employment and Further Study (SO1) encourages a short term perspective of 'students achieve their educational and professional goals, in particular....to highly skilled employment.'
1) EU DigCome 2006. Launched 2011. Findings 2013. Revised 2016. Not EU specific 2) Digital capability. Beetham and McGill 2015
Theme 1: Technology enhanced learning was inseparable from the overall learning and teaching strategies that educators were expected to effectively put into practice. “It doesn’t make sense (…) to have a digital strategy you should have a strategy that might involve some digital technologies. (…) [In our university] it’s (…) learning, teaching and student achievement supporting strategy, which is a lovely name (…) and there’s section specifically on technology enhanced learning.” (P4)
“The main policy driver and strategic driver come from our strategy for learning and over the last year there has been another strategic development called “the student experience action plan” and (…) that’s where all the TEL digital learning work I kind of reported through.” (P2)
As our research discovered, TEL is currently focused on immediate, contextualised and responsive teaching and learning. However, since online and digital technologies are nowadays embodied more extensively and deeply in academic staff and students’ work as well as personal lives, HEIs should alongside TEL in the context of student experience also consider a more holistic approach to educators and students’ life-long learning and wellbeing impacted by technology. We therefore propose to bring together TEL and digital competence and/or capability together through the development and use of digital toolkit.
The overall purpose of digital toolkit would be to help HEIs in systematic, continuous and complex addressing of realities, issues and opportunities connected to technology enhanced learning as well as to academic staff and students’ digital competence (in the EU, or digital capability in the UK).
I would also recommend to change the name from BU TEL Toolkit to BU Digital Toolkit, to be the leader in the change. It would also give us a nice case study for another paper.
Upside down:Staff and student led digital learning strategies in UK HEIs
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Staff and student led digital learning
strategies in UK HEIs
Marketa Zezulkova, Debbie Holley and David Biggins September 2018
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Introduction: Digital Toolkits
Reporting on our third set of data
Head of CEL and
Professor of Learning
Lecturer and Post-Doc
Bournemouth UniversityCharles University in Prague
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• Drawing upon these findings, this paper will argue that HE institutions should acknowledge digital
capability or competence as a life skill equally important for educators as well students (Beetham
2011; Vuorikari et al 2016; Holley 2017) and consequently provide a space for their meaningful
participation (Yanchar 2018) in the development of digital learning strategies.
• In our case studies, the UK HE institutions do value academic staff and students’ active
involvement and feedback, however, this is not a formal long-term participatory approach, which
would enable meaningful dialogue during the decision-making processes. Of interest to the ALT
audience, our research discovered a number of emerging initiatives at some of the institutions
involved in the research.
• This talk will therefore draw upon the overall research findings, as well as these practical
examples, while exploring the possibilities afforded by the shift from a top down, measured and
managed set of internal drivers to what we term the ‘upside down’ approach. We will explore the
potential value of this participatory approach to the UK HE institutions while gaining traction in an
environment driven by external metrics and benchmarks, as well as to the academic staff and
students from the point of view of their confidence, capacity and wellbeing.
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Following our work exploring digital competence
frameworks for the EU and UK, we were interested in
a) How this may be operationalised in UK HEIs
b) How academics were being supported/ developed/ in external
‘push’ to deliver ‘tech savvy’ graduates
c) To develop a framework for institutions to benchmark their work
against (an ambitiously named ‘ontology of digital toolkits!) as part
of possible institutional TEF cases to support excellence
(Biggins, Holley, Zezulkova 2016, 2017)
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• Tensions in HE
• Sector-wide factors
• REF, TEF and KEF
• Importance of metrics
• Student outcomes and
learning gain ..
• Driving digital
transformation in HEIs
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(Bryman 2004; Creswell et al. 2003; Tashakkori & Teddlie 1998; Brannen 1992)
TEL leaders from 7 UK HEIs
31 TEL leaders from UK HEIs
Jisc Digital Capability
EU Digital Competence 2.0
Data synthesis and interpretation
(open coding and thematic analysis)
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were seen as
•There was an
and academic staff
and students’ digital
the point of view of
their wellbeing and
with limited funding
and time as well as
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Key themes emerging
• “[Continues talking about the student achievement strategy] In
practice [it] means, really training the staff (…) and try to encourage
them to think about different approaches, (…) use of some of the
different tools, and resources available.” (P4)
Theme 1 Staff focus
• Our [TEL] centre’s very much geared towards staff but the institution
itself would have had strategic goal that the student experience
should y’know be the best thing or whatever”. (P1)
Theme 2 Educators as providers
• “Some teaching staff kind of cover that [digital identity and wellbeing]
in their sessions because they deal with things like safe guarding.
(…) Also raising awareness of some of the problems (…) the
students are left on their own to deal with.” (P3)
Theme 3 Digital wellbeing
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Students as receivers
Continually Frequently Rarely Never
“We’ve also been working (…) particularly (…) in using the student union and support
from student reps and advocates. (…) We did a bit consultation exercise with students
and staff (…) [and then] we actually used students to go round to staff to explain (…)
what they wanted. We had student ambassadors who would go and support staff in fixing
their courses and explain why they thought it was important, rather than us going. So that
worked quite well.” (P5)
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A framework for development
• Educators were seen as providers rather than
d users, while students were mostly seen
Draft of our proposed HEIs’ digital toolkit framework
under the people-centred and learning-orientated approach, the digital toolkit cannot offer the tech
tools alone. Instead it must include human interaction and easily approachable supporting content.
By this we for example mean videos and blogs about innovative ideas, best practice, problem-
shooting, etc. produced not only by the staff and educators, but also by the students. In addition,
following the open access, sharing economy and curatorship phenomena, the digital toolkit
should ideally include also a ready to use, re-use and remix content.
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Next steps: we need more volunteers to
interview! We want to test out our framework and would like to
collaborate on producing rich case studies
“We don’t have dedicated
time to teach the students
how to use technology.
(…) There’s an
assumption that students
are all IT proficient, which
isn’t true.” (P3)
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Beetham, H., 2011. Digital Literacy Anatomised: Access, skills, and practices. [online] Joint Information System
Committee (JISC) Design Studio. Available at: <http://jiscdesignstudio.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/40474828/Digital
Biggins, D., Holley, D., Evangelinos, G. and Zezulkova, M., (2017). Digital Competence and Capability Frameworks in
the Context of Learning, Self-Development and HE Pedagogy. In: E-Learning, E-Education, and Online-Training
(ELEOT) Third International Conference. Dublin, Ireland, pp.46–53. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-49625-2_6
Holley, D (2017) Bournemouth University: a new vision for learning case study in JISC Developing organisational
approaches to digital capability JISC 4 May 2017
Vuorikari, R., Punie, Y., Carretero Gomez, S., and Van den Brande, G., 2016. DigComp 2.0: The Digital Competence
Framework for Citizens. Update Phase 1: the Conceptual Reference Model. European Commission, 2017 [online]
Available at: <https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/digcomp-20-digital-
Yanchar, S.C., 2018. Agency, World, and the Ontological Ground of Possibility. Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical
Psychology, 38(1), 1–14.