Staff and student engagement in digital literacies, with UAL academic leaders, academics and students

(Post last updated 18/07/12) I was recently invited to present at the academic leaders forum 29 June 2012 in Chesnut (by invitation of the deputy Rector via a staff development forum meeting), this was an extremely timely opportunity to catch all the UAL academic leaders in one shot, UALs Rector, deputy Rector and students union President were also present. Before my presentation, I had the great pleasure of hearing the keynote presentation of Ronald Barnett on student engagement and the issues and challenges we all face now and in the future, Ron did a great Job of provoking thought and reflection and his ‘thinking aloud’ style presentation provided an interesting overview of a student’s perspective although not addressing the digital perspective as such.  As Ron talked I noted down key words/themes relating to student engagement which I thought could be flipped and easily identified as also being related to ‘staff & student engagement’ in terms of the DL challenges DIAL has identified to date:

In the break before my presentation I went to grab a quick cup of tea. I joined the queue for the tea/coffee machine and was eventually presented with a machine with several options, tea, coffee buttons to choose from. I had people waiting behind me and was feeling the pressure, after a few too many seconds of flapping my arms around and with a little help from the people in the queue I eventually came out with a green tea, which is a rarity given I normally end up with a ‘green tea cappuccino combo’.  This was my second digital challenge of that morning the first was using my iPhone map to find the venue and deciding if the distance shown was a walk or a taxi journey from the station or not, it looked like a walk to me on the map so I started, luckily I asked a local and he told me not to walk as it’s a longer walk than it looks and there’s lots of dangerous dual carriageways to cross on route, so I jumped a taxi.

I started my presentation with an early acknowledgement that we are all learning in this new digital space and are facing daily challenges. The presentation (an introduction to DIAL) slides and details can be seen here

Feedback at the end of this presentation included:

You make me feel physically sick when I hear you talk … about using ‘digital’

One academic spoke out and said ‘he really is fearful of all things digital and declared himself as ‘digitally illiterate’ he went as far to say he felt physically sick when he has to engage with digital technology’.

This was exactly the group/individuals DIAL wanted to try and engage with, although it’s difficult to identify in individuals, as many people (especially academics) find it difficult to admit that digital is a problem for them. I had been hoping more of the forum participants would self identify, unfortunately no one else did. I asked anyone who would like support from DIAL to contact me, the academic who spoke out contacted DIAL and we have since met with his academic team. From this meeting, one of the course team has agreed to lead a project to explore with the course staff and students how they can make best use of UALs portfolio of new and developing VLE and online learning tools. At the request of course students the course leader would like to explore how best the course director and staff could better use online video course updates, to replace the conventional text updates.  DIAL will continue to support and engage with this course team throughout the project.

Other follow up meetings include:

Met up with Tim Williams to discuss new VLE and support tools also looked at all Tim’s learning videos and discussed ways we could share best practice in creating video support. Tim would like to support DIAL and is considering proposing a DIAL project. We looked at UAL use of video capture software and Camtasia –

Other comments (DIAL would like to follow up on):

Staff would like to know more about the new VLE development and have the option to contribute.

DIAL have contacted CLTAD and the Moodle team and suggested a link to the new vle blog (info) is added to the front page of the current VLE blackboard.


Tutor would like to explore what web platforms he could use to build a student community network and show work etc.

(Could do with exploring this and seeing what tools UAL has already)

Dial are currently starting some on the ground research and pilot exercises of how the tools UAL have and are developing can be used in all aspects of practice. We could run a similar DIAL exploration of these tools with the CCW tec teams?  The tools can be found on the staff myarts page via quick links:  These include –  And the new Moodle VLE  We could try and evaluate all these tools and then decide how best they can be used and if there are tools missing from this portfolio UAL need to consider.

Tutor would like to use a wiki for his course, he used to be able to use one before but UAL has stopped supporting wiki platforms.

– may be able to support this and a wiki function is being developed for posts –

Tutor would like to use streaming video in his course, how can UAL support this?

We could look at the work being done at LCC and LCF in this area –


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6 Responses to Staff and student engagement in digital literacies, with UAL academic leaders, academics and students

  1. ollie furlong says:

    I’m glad you were there chris,
    sounds like the crowd were quite hard work!

  2. Michael Spencer says:

    I was the tutor who felt physically sick having to engage with the digital. I can see that potentially it could enhance the student experience and, dare I say it, the tutor experience! However, the language of the digital may as well be in Swahili (sp.?) for all I can understand. I’m grateful that the DIAL team clearly understand this, and want to help us use a VLE (I now know what that stands for) as part of our Learning & Teaching tools. Clearly we must embrace, challege, utilise and subvert the digital.

  3. Hey-up

    Regarding the question about wikis… Moodle (our new/forthcoming VLE) has a pretty good wiki tool; I used to use it at Bath years ago and it’s much improved these days. It’s nice to have a good wiki within the VLE as this brings it right into the heart of where the rest of the course resources are. I generally find Googledocs serves all my wiki-wants at the moment but I’ll experiment with our new Moodle installation too 😉

  4. I was at the Academic Leaders forum too, but as a representive of the technical staff group. I have done teaching as an AL though, and I have taken part in course development and validation. My experience shows that to embrace digital resources, academics and technicians need more time to educate themselves and explore the potential changes to their L&T practices. To engage students properly, at least some digital resources should be linked explicitly to curriculum activities. This is not a common practice as yet, even if some internally generated resources are already available. The preliminary findings of our fellowship project point in that direction too. Students are more likely to follow friend’s advice or browse the net, than to look up resources on Blackboard.
    On a more positive note, I like James Montgomery’s on-line reflective case study – it shows that it can be done…

  5. John Jackson says:

    Regarding the Wiki question, CLTAD has for some time been working with tutors to help them to find and set up alternative ‘homes’ for existing Wikis and this has resulted in a number of new blogs on the platform! 🙂

  6. Pingback: UALs DIAL project engagement and project capacity | DIAL

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