Last Wednesday I attended the first meeting of the 9 projects that make up the Digital Literacies in the Disciplines strand of Higher Education Academy funding. All of the project leaders were unable to attend but there was some fruitful discussion as we outlined our various projects and the challenges and opportunities that we envisaged. The consensus was that the framework we are all adopting (students as partners, using Xerte tool) is potentially very useful for developing students’ digital but that there are considerable challenges around the availability of support from institutions, the usability and reliability of Xerte, and supporting and assessing the student in this kind of independent work.

Terry McAndrew, who is coordinating the project for the HEA, and Helen Beetham, a higher education consultant who has done a lot of work around Digital Literacies for JISC talked briefly about the context of the funding strand and directed us to some useful resources for supporting our work. The JISC Design Studio is is perhaps the most interesting for those working on digital literacies in specific disciplines – it contains links to a number of earlier JISC projects and other resources.

I gave a short presentation on Making Digital History (you can see the slides here).

The other project holders who presented at the event were:

  • Alan Cann (Leicester), who is running a project called ‘Digital Literacies for Employability‘ in Biosciences.
  • David Lewis (Leeds), who presented remotely on his science communication project in the Faculty of Biological Sciences. Follow this link for an earlier HEA-funded project led by David, ‘Embedding OER into Student Education Institutionally’.
  • Jane Guiller (Glasgow Caledonian) talked about her final year undergraduate module on cyber Psychology and human computer interaction (HCI), in which students will create Xerte learning objects.
  • Kay Borthwick (Southampton) discussed plans to use Xerte to enable students learning Spanish from scratch to transform existing assessed tasks (an analysis of some aspect of Spanish cultural history and a grammatical commentary) into Xerte resources. Kay also introduced us to Southampton’s Student Digital Literacy Champions, which seems to me like a great initiative.
  • Kay Hack (Ulster) is running a project entitled ‘Employability in Life and Health Sciences’ which seeks to develop students abilities in peer and self assessment, their CV skills and a whole host of other employability criteria.
  • Finally, Abie Thomasson (Myerscough College) presented on what I think is the most ambitious and far reaching of all of the projects – to embed the use of Xerte in teacher training education at the College. If this proves successful, then the use of Xerte could potentially cascade beyond the College to the schools with which the trainee (and future) teachers work.

As their projects get up and running I hope to provide further links to their websites and resources.

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