Launching the Digitally Skilled video series!

The Student Digital Learning Experience team in the DEO are excited to announce the launch of our Digitally Skilled video series!

Digital skills are an important part of your learning, and are an area that have really taken a front and centre position on stage in the last few years.

It is estimated that, in 20 years’ time, 90% of all jobs will require people to work with digital technologies. Already, 72% of large firms struggle to recruit workers with digital skills. Quote from jisc.ac.uk

Digital skills are not only useful whilst at University, but they make up part of your development, learning and experiences you take with you into your future careers. Staff and students alike should be thinking about digital skills and taking them into consideration in their professional and personal lives.

Snap shot of digitally skilled video

The Digitally Skilled series will focus on a number of different digital skills. We want you to feel confident in understanding digital capabilities and capable to adapt and progress whilst using them in your student and further careers. We have aligned the series with the Jisc Digital Capability Framework which takes you through the six elements of digital capabilities.

Take a look, do you feel you already have some of these skills?

  • Digital identity and wellbeing
  • ICT Proficiency
  • Information, data and media literacies
  • Digital learning and development
  • Digital creation, problem solving and innovation
  • Digital communication, collaboration and participation

We first take a look at your Digital identity and wellbeing. You can find more information on what makes up this skill in the framework.

Our very first video, we hope you enjoy! Please let us know what you think.

Online Identity – Digitally Skilled video (6mins)

Image showing the starting screen of the video

Transcript:

Online identity is the social identity that you establish in online communities. Your posts, comments and reactions on online platforms you use give others an image of who you are, e.g. as a student or as a professional. You can craft your online identity to show your peers, tutors, lecturers, or even potential employers, who you are, and allow your personality and skills to shine through.

Crafting your identity:
1. Think about who you are and who you want to be.
2. Look at your current online identity on the various online platforms you use, and consider whether they reflect who you are.
3. Decide whether you need to change the privacy settings or delete any of your profiles, information, posts, images, comments or reactions.

To develop your online identity further, from now on:
1. Re-consider your content before posting to ensure your message is clear and your tone appropriate.
2. Occasionally look at combinations of items you have posted, to ensure your online identity is what you want.
3. Keep a digital record of your skills, achievements, projects or articles in a portfolio, professional network or in a document, so you can add them online later.
4. Add a profile photo to online platforms you use as a University student, to make your contributions to your peers and tutors more personal.

Think about the data you are sharing online:
1. Are you sharing too much?
2. Could the information you share be harmful to others or could anyone use that information to harm you?
3. Check what information apps and websites are collecting about you and how you can heighten your protection.

You don’t need to get your online identity right immediately. We all improve with time and practice. Start with small changes and that will get you on the right track.

Prioritise your wellbeing
It’s ok to unfollow or unfriend people if looking at their posts is negatively affecting your mental health.
Make sure you take some time away from being online and disconnect for a while.

Preparing yourself for taking exams.

Preparing yourself for taking your exams.

Exams are coming up for some students and although some of you may be on campus taking them, we know that the majority will be taking them online.  

Revising is one thing but making sure you are prepared for taking your exams is also important. The Digital Education Office (DEO) have noted down some useful information and links to help you get ready. Keep these details handy so if you run into any problems, or you need some advice, you know exactly where to go. 

'and breath' written in neon
Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash
'treat yourself' in neon
Photo by Etienne Girardet on Unsplash

Don’t forget to take time away from your devices and revision to take a break. Wishing you loads of luck! 

The DEO team. 

A round up for Christmas.

As we are finishing for Christmas, Georgie, one of our Student Digital Champions (SDCs) has written a round-up of what herself and the other Student Digi Champs have been focusing on since October. It’s been a really busy few months for the team and the SDCs have been brilliant in working with the DEO to help improve the digital experience for students. We are looking forward to having them back in January to continue their great work and will also be recruiting for new Student Digital Champions, so look out for updates!

If you are a UoB student and are interested in sharing your views on your digital experiences, please think about taking our Digital Experience Insights survey which takes about 10 minutes and helps us to look at what we need to focus on in the development of student’s digital experiences at the University.

Merry Christmas from us all at the DEO, and thanks for subscribing to DigiTalk!

See you in the new year, Naomi 😊

A round up for Christmas.

Georgie Pitts, Student Digital Champion

Georigie Pitts, Student Digital Champion

For the second half of TB 1, the Student Digital Champions have been working hard to research student’s experiences of digital learning at the University. 

Assessment

We have begun to research Authentic Assessment, a form of assessment that assesses students using realistic / job-type situations that they are likely to encounter post-study in their careers.  

We have also started compiling an exam FAQs document, which will provide students with guidance preparing them for exams. We hope this document can be a useful summary for students who need a quick answer to an exam-related question.  

Notepad with a checklist on
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Accessibility

Members of the DEO have also been redesigning the Accessibility web pages on the University website. The site includes any information for staff or students on anything accessibility related, including where to look for support, and information on how staff can make their learning materials more accessible. It’s full of recourses, and well worth a look. See the link here: https://www.bristol.ac.uk/digital-education/inclusion/ 

You may be aware the DEO have hired Caption Editors to edit and improve captioning on video learning resources. The SDCs have also conducted our own research on our specific courses to begin to analyse where improvements need to be made.  

We have also published a Digital Accessibility in Learning student survey, aimed at gathering responses from students about their personal experiences with online learning, and looking at whether they have struggled with accessibility challenges. If you are also interested in providing your experience and suggestions, you can complete the survey using the following link: https://forms.office.com/r/rbhjCQcyLc. The survey takes 5 minutes and will be a great help!  

Video work

The DEO are working towards a new video series focusing on digital skills. Olivia, one of the SDCs has been helping with this by contributing the audio for the first video, which will hopefully be out in the new year, and will be focussed on Online Identity.

Olivia also created an MS Teams for Learning video (5mins) which you can find on the DEO’s Learning Online – Student Support page.

Working with our Course Reps

The Champions have also been engaging with their course reps to see if they have received any  digital experience or accessibility-related feedback. If you are a course rep, and want to get in touch, please email digital-education@bristol.ac.uk, citing you’d like to talk to the Student Digital Champions.

Team standing together
Photo by Chang Duong on Unsplash

We have had a great TB1 as Digital Champions, and have enjoyed working towards improving the digital experience and awareness of accessibility at the University!  

Tell us what you think of the digital learning environment!

Written by Suzanne Collins, Digital Education Office

Take 10 minutes to help us improve the digital learning experience at Bristol!

Follow this link to go straight to the Digital Experience Insights Form

Group of students chatting. Jisc, Digital experience student insights survey. Complete the survey.

As the year draws to a close, it’s a good opportunity to take some time and reflect on how things have gone so far this academic year. For the past few years – even before the pandemic changed the way we teach and learn – we’ve asked students to tell us what they think about our digital learning environment. The questions range from asking about you and your technology, to asking about how much support you feel you’ve had, where you go for help, and what we could be doing better. The survey is coordinated by JISC, which is a national organisation, so we are also able to see where we are in the sector, and work out what we’re doing well and what we can improve on.

The 10 minutes it takes for you to complete the survey are so valuable, as without hearing your experiences, we can’t work to change things for the better!

What we’ve done based on previous results

In previous years, we’ve used the results from this survey to make direct changes to the experience of students.

We have:

 

Microsoft Teams – assisting collaboration

Written by Hamzah Teladia, Student Digital Champion

 

Microsoft Teams, part of the University’s chosen Office 365 platform integrates several interactive pathways allowing for streamlined collaboration. Although it can be tricky to find your way around the first time, getting used to it does not take long at all once you have found where things are.

If you have used it, you know how useful it can be in group tasks: if not, you might want to consider it. The main usefulness of Teams from a personal opinion, and being a fan of centralised platforms where you don’t have to have several apps open, is that everything you need is in one application. You can access; the Instant Messaging function to speak to individuals or groups rather than creating lengthy email trails, your calendar to create or join meetings in a click, recently accessed files, a link to all other Microsoft apps and an FAQs section if you’ve lost your way. Downloading the Teams app on your phone allows you to access these features too, and enabling push notifications allows you to instantaneously receive any updates, or if you have been tagged in anything which requires your attention.

The primary function of Teams however, is the Team function itself. Here, you can create spaces limited to groups selected by the admin, who would have management functions over the Team. This means you have a private space to interact, where channels can also be created for specific purposes to organise activities. You can see your recurring or ad hoc meetings, if scheduled with the Team attached and importantly, have a repository of shared files in the files tab and being able to see this history in one place allowing you to track progress. See the Teams guide to learn more about these individual functions.

Word docs, PowerPoints or anything else can be created within your Teams which allows changes to be made in time and be seen and accessed by people in your Team – be careful to run things past your Team in shared documents to keep them aware of changes. This function still exists through OneDrive, by creating a document, but requiring invites to be sent to people to view or edit. In the case of group work this would work the best with a Team, as all the documents would be in one place. The IM function especially is useful in day-to-day updates or just staying connected, whereas meetings would be useful for more in-depth discussions or periodic planning or progress updates.

As difficult as group work can be at University, Teams makes it easier by allowing you to work and communicate in one place. This also contributes to your digital upskilling, allowing you to collaborate digitally, more important now than ever.

Useful links for further information:

 

My time spent so far as a Student Digital Champion

Written by Olivia Muggleton: Student Digital Champion

Olivia writes about why she started working as a Student Digital Champion, and her creation of our new MS Teams walkthrough video.

The predominant reason behind me seeking a role as Student Digital Champion was my interest in facilitating student involvement and collaboration. I felt that this was particularly important within an institution which can often be seen as rather detached from its students in terms of day to day practice, which is partly due to the far more independent nature of learning in comparison to secondary education.

With coronavirus spurring a rapid change in all universities’ traditional modes of teaching to include online learning methods, I thought it would be helpful to reduce some of this aforementioned detachment in the provisions made by the university by introducing a student’s voice in the form of a walkthrough guide. This walkthrough illustrates, from a student’s perspective, the uses and functions of Microsoft Teams, a platform which has seen significant uptake of late due to the demands of online learning, as well as its convenience in terms of student collaboration within and outside of the curriculum.

Image of three students working together
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

I have really come to value my time with the Digital Education Office, who have enabled me to engage with the student learning experience and make valuable contributions in the form of questionnaires and various feedback on a broad range of areas. I am looking forward to continuing my part in enhancing the student experience through my role as SDC, by continuing to provide a student’s voice through feedback and engage with course representatives to better understand, and delve deeper into the needs of students, and assist the university to adapt to those developing needs.

You can find Olivia’s video on our Student Support page on our website, or by going to the MS Teams for Learning video.

Issue opening attached documents in Blackboard

The Digital Education Office (DEO) is aware of a new, infrequent issue where some people are receiving 404 errors when attempting to open certain documents in Blackboard when using Edge. This error is currently being investigated by Blackboard and will be fixed in a future update.

To access the documents, please use an alternative browser, or right-click on the document link and select ‘Save As’ to download a copy of the document.

Our apologies for the inconvenience.

DEO

Why blended learning can do more for students.

An honest account of a student experience, written by a student at Bristol University.

At the start of the year, although a mature student, I had the same worries as any student going to University at a “normal” age. I was worried about belonging, making friends, and deciding what groups should I join. Do I stick out too much? Can people see I’m nervous?

Underneath that mature student layer of fear that everyone can see, there’s another one made by my learning difficulties that is invisible, but much more of a challenge than being a couple of years older. It doesn’t just ask; Do you belong here? But also; Can you finish this? Am I as capable as everyone else? How can you do this when you’ve never been able to before? There’s a reason why I was asking myself all those questions, and why I felt that I didn’t belong at University.

As a child, my grades were up and down. I could do very well one term and then terrible the next. I had to retake final exams; more often than not, I forgot things or rushed things or didn’t understand them as quickly as other pupils. When I look back at school, I remember it as traumatising.

I remember being asked why work was taking me so long, why I had forgotten my pens, and then, I started to ask myself similar questions. Why can’t I participate in sports without breaking something or falling down? Why am I the last one to get picked up for the team? Why is the teacher shouting at me? What is wrong with me?

I vividly remember a particular teacher laughing at me for not doing what other pupils could do easily. I also remember the class joining him and how soul-destroying that was.

When you’re a child, you know something is wrong, but you’re not sure of what or why, or even if it has a name. You expect the adults around you to notice it, and when they don’t, you become part of “the ones left behind” so failure accumulates, and you learn to live with it. The “failing as normal”, as Jessica McCabe describes it in her TedTalk, is the background noise of my life. Failure continued to be a theme long after I left school; I dropped out of University; I went through more than 12 different jobs in less than six years, and to this day, I’m still trying to learn to drive.

Starting at Bristol.

So when I transferred to Bristol to complete my degree after studying part-time, I was surprised that I had made it this far, knowing my previous experiences at school, I don’t think you can blame me. But by then, I knew why school had been difficult.

I had ADHD and dyspraxia, which explained my difficulties and why I had been fired from a restaurant job after dropping a bottle of wine (red) on a customer (the second time that happened) a couple of years ago. This was one of many clumsy accidents I had.

When I learned that the University had moved towards blended learning, I breathed a sigh of relief because I could for once make education fit me instead of the opposite – no more trying to “fit” a square into a triangle!

It meant I could watch lectures again and re-watch them as many times as I needed. Having subtitles in lectures made me wish I had them in real life! It made it easier to participate in workshops and keep up with materials, so I didn’t feel left out. I could ask questions anonymously in the online forums without fear of asking a “stupid question”. This new way of learning was flexible and felt more accessible than any other kind had before.

It didn’t just “feel” more accommodating; blended learning can undoubtedly be more accessible to disabled students and other learners, and was one of the reasons I wanted to be involved in how it is delivered.

Education on the internet alone can be isolating, with fewer opportunities to make friends with other students, lack of Practical’s, poor internet connection disrupting learning, and in some cases, no adequate allowances for disabled students.

On the other hand, live learning can be harder on disabled students too. For example, notetaking during lectures can be difficult and sensory issues such as noise can cause problems. Furthermore, mature students can sometimes struggle to plan childcare or not be able to attend at all.

Blended learning however, can and should be the best of both worlds. It keeps the upsides, like being able to watch lectures in my yoga pants (one of my favourites), whilst still maintaining a face-to-face approach when it counts the most.

For these reasons I feel strongly that a blended learning approach is the way forward and why the work of the Student Digital champions is important.

The Digital Education Office (DEO) is determined not to let anyone fall behind which has happened to me in the past. It has eased off that strong regret that I often feel when I think how differently things could have been for me if only someone had supported me earlier because now teams like the DEO make efforts to be inclusive.

I want to believe that the contribution that I made as a Student Digital Champion,  helping with study tips and research, as well as providing insights to the DEO team, was helpful in some way to other students.

I also hope that even when things are more “back to normal” and we can go to lectures, we can still keep all of the advantages of blended learning that makes it flexible without losing out on crucial face-to-face teaching.

If the difficulties I have shared in this blog resonate with you and you are a student who is passionate about education, please consider getting involved in how teaching is delivered, whether you have a specific learning difficulty like dyslexia or not.

I hope you get involved, share what helped you and suggest what the University could do to make things easier for the next student that comes after you. So make your voice heard so they don’t also get left behind.

If you’re interested in Jessica McCabes’ Ted Talk you can find it here: Failing at Normal: An ADHD Success Story | Jessica McCabe | TEDxBratislava – YouTube.

 

Using OneNote in your studies

Written by Sophia Leaper, previous Student Digital Champion.

Since I started my degree I have gone through a selection of note taking methods, from loose papers filed in binders (that rarely actually ended up in binders) to paper notebooks and presentation printouts, I always ended up with a clutter of sheets that rarely got used for exam prep. Then I found OneNote, it didn’t immediately revolutionise my productivity, in fact at the start I ended up with an annoying combination of paper and digital notes that I didn’t know what to do with. However, as exams approached, I realised how convenient it was that I already had half of my essay points written down digitally. OneNote allows a format where I could just copy and paste specific points to form an argument, I could make tables with agree and disagree columns and I could add text wherever I chose to. Slowly I came to rely on it not only for all my note taking but also as an organisation tool, I can create monthly, weekly and daily calendars that can be updated instantly and tasks lists that are easy to tick off and prioritise.

Image of a checklist

Its features are endlessly customisable and you can divide your document pages into notebooks, section and pages for a clean and organised look. For those with tablets or touchscreens it is also easily allows you to download and annotate presentation slides and add your own handwritten notes. There are many useful features that OneNote contains, here I will mention my top six favourites.

My top OneNote features:

 

Create a shared set of notes.

You can share your notebooks with friends and peers, each of you can have a different section or topic or you can choose to all collaborate on the same thing. This also works well if you link your OneNote to your Outlook account as it is all part of Microsoft 365 which comes with your University account.

Timetabling

You can use the table feature to create your own customisable calendar or download a template online. You can choose the amount or rows and columns to adjust to your working hours and can change fonts and colours in order to make your timetable more aesthetic and colour-coded.

Image showing a timetable in OneNote

 

Export your notes as a PDF

You can convert annotated slides, notes with diagrams, or essay plans into PDFs and print them out to study from.

Draw

If you have a tablet or a smart pen you can draw your own diagrams and then place text boxes around the image for labels. OneNote can also convert handwritten text into typed format, so if you don’t feel that comfortable typing you can still get organised typed text through OneNotes’ ‘ink to text’ tool

Multiple windows

You can open multiple windows and use split screen to look at them both. That way you can have your notes on one side and your essay plan on the other!

Insert Excel spreadsheets

Using the insert button at the top of OneNote you can insert and view excel spreadsheet sections as well as file printouts, attachments and screen clippings.

Further information

For more information on using the O354 suite on your computer please see the IT Services webpages. You can also view their Introduction to OneNote page there too.

The future of online learning

Written by Kesta Kemp.

Kesta was one of our first Student Digital Champions and is now a graduate of Bristol University. This post was written in July 2020.

Covid-19 has proven to be an extraordinary challenge for both university staff, lecturers and students alike. The demands have been unparalleled, having to shift to a new and unfamiliar way of teaching and learning, in the midst of unrelenting uncertainty. However, both students and staff have met this challenge with creativity and determination, and shown the opportunity that such a shift can have in the future.  

In a recent World Economic Forum article, it stressed that Covid-19 has caused universities to challenge deep-rooted notions of when, where, and how they deliver education, the distinction drawn between traditional and non-traditional learners and the importance of life-long learning. It is clear that the lessons learned from this transition can, if purposed effectively, lead to the evolution of a new, more effective, educational model.  

The perks of Online Learning:

Before the pandemic, online learning environments existed as a backup, It was a store of course materials; it wasn’t where the learning took place. However, Covid-19 has highlighted the opportunity of the digital learning environment: it can be engaging, enriching, and accessible. While this transition has definitely not been plain sailing, there are some definite perks of online learning that students have pointed out.  

Flexibility:

Online learning offers a more flexible education system. This relates not only to the place of study, but also the timing.  

Students have been able to study from across the globe, no longer having to be in the University’s radius. This has led to some students making the decision to not return to Bristol, and live at home or in other cities of their choosing.  

Online learning has also meant that students have been able to fit their other commitments, such as work or their personal life, around their studies rather than what has previously had to be the other way around. They also have had more time in their days – with the commute to campus gone. In this way, university has become more inclusive and accessible to a greater number of people.  

Multimedia Learning:

University of Bristol in the past year has been working hard to ensure that online learning is more than just a recorded lecture. New and more inventive forms of learning have been introduced and tested, with student feedback being pivotal in these transformations.  

Videos, quizzes and other interactive media are now part of how students learn, and discussion boards allow for conversations to continue and ideas to be recorded outside of lectures. Shorter lectures have also been encouraged, splitting the traditional 2-hour lecture into smaller, separate parts. Indeed, The University of Leeds’ vice-chancellor, Simone Buitendijk, has said 45-minute lectures are “outdated” and “pedagogically not sound”. She is in favour of shorter online chunks, which can be debated in class, and completed in the student’s own time.

Digital Skills:  

The move to online has also mirrored the increasing focus on, and opportunities for students to become more digitally comfortable and confident. Experience in online meetings and online platforms such as Mural and Teams, are crucial skills that make students more attractive to employers. Students’ ability to adapt to this shift in learning hones them with the skills they will need in the future workforce.  

The future needs to be human-centred:

While it is important to focus on the positive, it is important to note that online learning can equally be disengaging, isolating and lack the spontaneity of in-person experiences if it consists of merely uploading a recorded lecture online. Like in other aspects of society, the future is likely to be a hybrid model of online and in person-teaching, but to be successful it needs to be human-centred, creative and dynamic. Indeed, giving students the options to pick predominantly online or in-person modules allows both flexibility and the personalisation of the degree experience, which is long overdue. It has to be said that while many are excited to be back on campus, many modules have been more successful online.  

The focus, therefore, needs to be on enabling interactions between students and staff.

This means re-using recording asynchronous material to free up staff to be able to engage with students in more 1:1 time. 

The focus on experimentation needs to continue.

Including students in the conversation even as this transition starts to feel more normal. This period if anything, has shown the value and importance of co-creation in the learning experience.  

Assessment needs to be more creative.

While the pandemic has shown that timed, silent exams are outdated, the week-long exams are equally not productive for student wellbeing. Assessments need to be chosen based on their ability to represent real world settings, creativity and learning, rather than memory. The inclusion of podcasts, blogs and research-dissertations is a good example of this.