Jisc Digital Capabilities Community of Practice Event – by Melanie Leggatt (HEFi)

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On the 22 May some of us attended Jisc’s Digital Capabilities Community of Practice event at Leicester. It was a day very well spent. The discussions touched on the many and varied interlinked means by which ‘digital’ finds its way into every aspect of further and higher education; how academic and Professional Services staff can proactively innovate, collaborate and facilitate to exploit its potential.

The day’s keynote was presented by Dr Ross Parry, Associate Professor and Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Digital) at Leicester who is listed in the Edtech50 for 2018. For us, the most significant aspect of his talk was how digital is increasingly at the core of how the University operates and the strategic and practical steps he and his team have taken to ensure this.

Key links: University of Leicester’s Discovery-Enabling Digital 2016-2020,  Digital Nations Group, The Edtech 50 2018

Following on from this came a series of community-led workshops thematically linked to engagement with students, senior leaders and human resources teams. In each case both the strategic and practical steps necessary to gain buy-in from all these groups were explored and we took part in some illuminating discussions on the challenges facing both further and higher education institutions.

In the session immediately before lunch we enjoyed four excellent Pecha Kucha sessions on sharing practice. Staff from the Universities of Teeside, Staffordshire, Leicester and York presented on their experiences of rolling out innovative digital programmes to students and staff.

In the potential ‘graveyard shift’ after lunch we were all enthused by Kerensa Jennings’ talk on the iDEA project. Kerensa is the Director of iDEA, an inspirational programme developed within the Office of HRH the Duke of York, that allows individuals and groups to develop digital and enterprise skills for free and at their own pace. Kerensa described how the project has literally turned lives around and it’s entirely possible to see how this happens.

The system provides high-quality, frameworked badges that can either be used to brush up on a single skill gap or to work towards industry-recognised awards to help people build and develop their careers. We could immediately see its potential both here at Birmingham and in our outside lives so we will certainly be getting back in touch with the project.

Key link: iDEA.org.uk

Following a brief overview from Jisc on the future of the Digital Capability project the day finished with a further four sharing practice Pecha Kucha sessions. Colleagues from Nottingham Trent, Warwick, Derby and Bishops Grosseteste, Lincoln reflected on their experiences of embedding technology in the staff induction process, supporting medical students and Professional Services staff and finishing with a rhyme about a Digital Escape Room event that brought everything to a positive and entertaining close.

Overall, the news about where Jisc see the Digital Capabilities project going and the ability to share in the experiences of colleagues working in a range of different institutions and from different perspectives proved really worthwhile. The event provided us with lots of opportunities to reflect on the value of Jisc’s work in this area and what we can take away from the day to continue to contribute to both the work of HEFi and the College’s Digital Education team.

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