Evidence based practice to support digital skills development

Published on May 17, 2017

UCISA 2017 at Southampton Solent University May 2017



Digital Capabilities 

a little background

University of Southampton 
Photo by BenGrantham

digital literacies

what we have been doing since 2012 
Initially in 2012 we set about raising awareness of the importance of developing digital literacies skills. This involved an internally funded project £64K to but out time and to run a series of workshops, bring in students, develop a module, link research and to hold a conference at the end of the project.


and formal learning activties 
Informal learning activities came about after the popularity of the ipad device grew. There was no official policy of buying in ipads but many people had them and were using them within their teaching and research practice. We introduced the iPad Coffee Clubs to fill the gap to encourage staff to explore the use of the apps. Students and staff were invited to attend


series digital literacies from skills to badges 
2012 first Digital Literacies Conference
until 2014
2015 TEL Conference
2016 Open badges Conference (over 150 people from around the world)
students and staff attended


internal funds  
originally called the Student Centredness Fund the funding came from Education Enhancement Fund for a project using the badges and portfolio model that we had been using with our iChamps (students as champions for the development of digital literacies skills)

Challenge = known unknowns

(Rumsfeld Principle) 
After doing this we knew that students used smartphones and their laptops but they needed to be supported to use them appropriately
Photo by Gage Skidmore

Using Pathbrite

to support skills development 
Our project used Pathbrite to curate evidence the students. This was due to be used with the Mission Employable students within Humanities with some additional spaces for the iChamps.

Already seen departments using it as a website, holding information about their research groups and it was championed for this by Humanities.

Why Pathbrite?
We had a list of criteria that we wanted for our students and the use of a portfolio: drag and drop, adaptive to device etc

skills development

aim was to develop skills through managed online profiles.

We know that these skills are context specific - you can't teach these skills generically, they need to belong within the discipline.

Untitled Slide

example of what Pathbrite looks like behind the scenes

Mission Employable; iChamps; Student Champions


and within the curriculum 
for Mission Employable and the iChamps this model worked well and was applied within the curriculum for Geography and Social sciences

Students set activities which they needed to curate their own examples for their portfolios.
Photo by ajleon


Being digital
Not all students knew that they had a digital footprint (and not all cared)

Consistent online presence
Students unfamiliar with the approach we took within the curriculum content
looking for their strategies for "higher grades" rather than seeing this as life long learning and portfolios they take with them

Case study

Photo by Moyan_Brenn

First Years

189 cohort 1 (15/16)
187 cohort 2 (16/17)
Photo by tim caynes


need to work in a team to get this working
Education developers and academics
Students need constant reminding to include items and helpful hints and ideas for creating new content
Institutionalised viewpoints conditioned to expect exams and coursework
Photo by Ralph Hockens

further observations

  • Limited expertise for using online tools
  • Feedback on submission
  • Examples very useful
  • Templates and rubrics great

students keen

uploaded their content into the system 




specific skills 

claimed badges

81 applied only 33 accepted them 


#selfie culture 
My own research into the online presence of the students who completed and applied for their badges
Instagram = top social media with Facebook (selfie culture)

LinkedIn very few connections so no relevance

skills deficit

students & staff support 


developing digital literacies skills  

Digital University

EDTECH foundation + MS+UUK etc  
Photo by luc legay

"Lifelong learning is the lifeblood of higher education."
(NMC Report 2017)

Need to foster a community of life long learning through the development of digital literacies skills to meet the needs of employers

Fiona Harvey
Digital Scholarship & Content Innovation

Photo by Jason Michael

Any questions?

Photo by Derek Bridges