DEVELOPING A STUDENT DIGITAL SKILLS RESOURCE
“If you are creating something new, you have to know what the issues are”
What problems were being addressed?
- The need to develop students’ digital skills
- The lack of student digital training and resources
Who was involved?
The MU EDTL Team consisted of the Project Leads, Morag Munro, Student Digital Skills Officer, Andreas Boldt, and the student interns, Chris Abraham, Aishling Gillen, Katharina Kurz, Robin Meyler, and Michaela Waters. They worked with Maynooth University’s academic departments and supports services, as well as the Maynooth Students’ Union (MSU).
Why did you choose to address the challenges this way?
- An online digital skills course would enhance students’ digital literacy
- A student digital skills survey would inform the digital resource
- The Bloomsbury Learning Exchanges’ (BLE) Digital Skills Awareness Course provided a preliminary structure
How were the goals achieved?
Across the country, the move to online learning was highlighting the need to enhance students’ digital skills. At Maynooth University (MU), a number of student support services provided digital resources, but students were struggling to navigate each of the websites, while staff were struggling to specify the exact skills that students needed.
With this in mind, the MU EDTL Project Team, set out to understand the digital needs of students and how each of the academic departments were aiding the issue. Here are the questions that needed to be answered:
- What do future employers need?
- Can the university provide help with it?
- What is each academic department’s vision?
- What software do they use/not use?
- What software do they require?
- Is more staff digital training needed?
Once each of the faculties were contacted – such as the Careers Office, the Access Office, the Library and the Centre for Teaching and Learning – the MU EDTL Project Lead spent the next few weeks compiling and comparing the findings, as well as organising them into infographics that provided a comprehensive overview of the specific knowledge students needed. The MU EDTL Student Interns and Students’ Union represented the student voice and offered valuable insight into the issues facing students’ digital literacy.
Some of the most prominent problems were:
- Using Microsoft applications, such Word & Excel
- Formatting files
- Email etiquette
- Signposting for digital resources
- Digital wellbeing & safety
- Upskilling for future employment
When the research process was complete, the MU EDTL Team decided that the VLE was the best place to host an online student digital skills course. The students were familiar with the system, which would ensure they could easily access the new resource, something that was considered a priority for the course to succeed.
The MU EDTL Team requested and received permission to use the Bloomsbury Learning Exchanges’ (BLE) Digital Skills Awareness Course as a foundation for their student resource, EDTL Digital Skills Course. The goal was to offer a general introduction to the 21 digital competencies listed in the EU DigiComp Framework for Citizens, which is divided into 5 categories:
- Information & data literacy
- Communication & collaboration
- Digital content creation
- Problem solving
Each category consisted of various types of content – prose, videos, infographics and audio – promising students an accessible and interactive experience. The essential links to other MU digital services were clearly signposted and explained, while a series of questions were added to the end of each section, to test the knowledge students had gained.
The EDTL Digital Skills Course was not obligatory, so the MU EDTL Team wanted to make sure that it was useful and user friendly. They also wanted to address every student – from 1st years to mature students – and debunk some of the most challenging topics by letting students know that it is possible to learn such skills.
Another issue the MU EDTL Team faced was finding a permanent place for the EDTL Digital Skills Course. After receiving such positive feedback from students, it is integral for the team to find a MU support service that can support the course. Then, they will be able to focus on promoting its benefits throughout campus and with the help of the SU.
When the online course is completed, ask a variety of students to test it before going live. This will allow time for any feedback to be considered, while guaranteeing the resource reaches its fullest potential and any mistakes are corrected.
“The MU EDTL Project Team, set out to understand the digital needs of students and how each of the academic departments were aiding the issue.”