All Aboard! Enabling & Empowering Staff & Students to Flourish in the Digital Age

Partner Institutions

Project Lead: National University of Ireland, Galway

Project Partners: University of Limerick, Mary Immaculate College, University College Dublin

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Abstract

All Aboard is a project funded by Ireland’s National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching & Learning, which aims to identify the wide range of skills and knowledge that students, and all those who work in higher education, will need to feel confident and creative when learning, working and exploring the digital world.

All Aboard is rising to the challenge identified in the national Digital Roadmap of building our ‘digital capacity,’ not just in terms of infrastructure, but also in terms of people, their skills, their levels of confidence and their ability to critique and challenge pre-conceptions.

All Aboard seeks to be a collaborative enquiry that will build on so many excellent examples of high quality research,  training and cooperative projects that have gone before us or which are currently underway.

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Primary Contact(s)

Dr Iain Mac LabhrainnDr Iain MacLaren

NUI Galway

Tel: +353 91 492822

Email: iain.maclaren@nuigalway.ie

Detailed Proposal

The Digital Roadmap clearly identifies the need to increase the digital capacity of Irish Higher Education at the level of individuals, institutions and the sector as a whole. Key to this capacity are the skills, attitudes and levels of confidence of all those who play a role within the sector, whether they be students, academic staff, librarians, administrators, technicians or others. Typically, the breadth of knowledge and skill-set of any individual will be tied closely to specific, immediate, functional needs (course requirements or job-related tasks). However, appropriate training and information is not always readily available when required and basing it solely on such narrow needs can limit flexibility. As institutions evolve, staff increasingly require to shift roles. Successful organisations are those which embrace the highest levels of informed contribution to the development of strategy. Confidence in digital skills and knowledge across the workforce will aid institutions in envisioning possible futures, identify new opportunities and, indeed, in taking a lead role in the digital space.

Existing approaches to training & education range from formal, credit-bearing modules, once-off workshops, online programmes or self-study materials. The extent to which there is a formal professional development framework varies considerably with role, but for many staff (and indeed students) much of the learning around digital skills happens informally on an ad hoc basis. It can be difficult to adequately capture such learning, where it occurs, for purposes of recognition.

There are three aspects to this proposed project:

  1. The identification of a range of key skills that are valuable to anyone operating in this increasingly digital world, including knowledge and attributes which empower individuals and groups to be creative and confident.
  2. The development of transparent, simple, but robust means of micro-credentialing the acquiral of skills and knowledge through the use of digital badges and the curation and production of appropriate training materials and resources.
  3. That this framework and the badges infrastructure can:
    • be used for the development of students skills (including information literacy and study skills at the early stages of undergraduate courses);
    • be mapped onto graduate attributes;
    • be used to facilitate skills development for all staff: academic & non-academic;
    • form the basis of training events, learning festivals and joint student-staff awareness raising and mentoring schemes.
This project will:

  1. Identify the range of key skills (articulated as a Digital Skills Framework) that are valuable to students and staff working and studying in this increasingly digital world, including knowledge and attributes which empower individuals and groups to be creative and confident.
  2. Explore, pilot and evaluate the use of ‘Digital Badges’ as a means of recording the attainment of levels of skill and knowledge and demonstrate how these can be used to track and enhance training and education.
  3. Use the resulting Digital Skills Framework and the digital badges infrastructure to develop students’ skills, mapped onto ‘graduate attributes’ and to facilitate skills development for all staff in HE: academic and non-academic
  4. Organise and facilitate a range of approaches to skills development and training in partnerships across the country and with student participation/engagement/collaboration – some innovative approaches, such as learning ‘festivals’ will be used, as will links with other events, conferences and local courses in institutions across the sector
Specific outputs of the project
  1. National Digital Skills Framework for Higher Education – expressed in an accessible, flexibie and meaningful format with associated resources and tools for individuals, groups and institutions to map their current levels of attainment and chart a path towards raising their knowledge, skills and confidence
  2. Frameworks, tools and guides for the use of Digital Badges and associated approaches to tracking and credentialing skills development.
  3. Good practice examples of embedding such approaches on a sustainable basis, allowing for updating and a sense of ‘co-ownership’ by all those in the sector.
  4. Training events and materials widely disseminated and made available through open, creative commons licences.  
Implementation plan for ensuring national impact of the project.
  1. From the outset, our perspective is that we have effectively been ‘commissioned’ by the Forum to deliver this project’s outputs to the Irish HE sector, rather than being largely based within the consortium. This will ensure that all of our activities are shared, all opportunities for cross-project collaboration and dissemination will be pursued and that the project team will work hard to develop a sense of mutual ownership within the sector.
  2. Amongst the materials will be guides and resources which can be deployed within any local context and adapted to suit the needs of each institution so that existing training programmes, events and resources are strengthened and supported.
  3. We will work closely with the emerging national standards/professional development framework and seek opportunities to weave digital skills into competency frameworks and graduate attribute statements.

We will also run a number of webinars and local seminars as well as ensure participation in relevant conferences and events and pro-actively seek involvement and engagement with student groups and other organisations.

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