Sunday, 12 October 2014

Digital by design

The first two weeks of term have flown by already and the digital story telling project is underway. Using Photopeach to create a simple video with music and captions, the students are busy creating a digital essay on "professional values".

Last year I spent a lot of time explaining the importance of digital skills to my students and pointedly taking them step by step through a number of tools and processes. This year I am adopting a more immersive approach.

In the process of creating this digital essay, students are indirectly learning a number of other skills  - from searching for, downloading, saving and uploading images, to understanding Creative Commons licenses and avoiding copyright restrictions. They also learn how to: access and edit Google Docs to enrol themselves in project groups, share ideas on Discussion Boards, familiarise themselves with the Mac keyboard layout and touch pad gestures, create and save office documents and send them as attachments to emails, take a photo of their whiteboards and upload these to the Facebook group page etc.

We sometimes blithely assume that most students can easily tackle all of these processes, but I have spent a lot of time in the workshops sitting alongside some as they struggle with these tasks, often for the first time.

And let's not forget the really fundamental skill of learning to work together in groups - something that is fraught with anxiety for most students. Even if, as in the case of this project, groups are self selecting and based on early friendship alliances, there are still some students who find it hard to easily fit in a group and, once there, understand how they could or should contribute.

The positive thing for me about the Scale Up workshop is the space it gives me to move around the groups, checking on progress as needed - especially now that I have a two hour workshop with fewer students (well, there are still scheduled to be 60-70 in each workshop, so "smaller" is relative!)

For the first three weeks I also have the luxury of a co-tutor which really helps when students are asking for support on technical issues. 

Well.... so far, so good. I can't wait to see the outputs from this first assignment and to follow up with students on how they see their progress in developing their digital skills.

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