Digital Literacies insight at JISC Connect More

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Last week I was at the Jisc Connect more event at Edinburgh Napier, Craiglockhart Campus. A kilted Jason Miles-Campbell (Head of Jisc Scotland and Jisc northern Ireland) opened the day with an introduction informing attendees how Jisc can support us in getting the most out of their services and showcasing innovative practice and best use of technology amongst practitioners in the FE and HE sectors. This was a good opportunity to network with peers and try out the latest technology in Jisc’s ‘Fab Lab.’ Further information on the day can be found on Nicola Osborne’s Edina Blog. The four key areas that Jisc support are listed below with some examples:

Network & Technology : security, Cloud, Connectivity, Procurement

Digital Resources : Learning and teaching resources, Repositories, E-books, Film and images

Advice & Engagement : Single point of contact via our accounts manager, training, subject specialists, communities of practice and peer networking

Research & Development : Collaboration, data and analytics, digital literacy, open access

The event consisted of three strands which attendees could mix and match according to their interests: Capabilities, Connectivity and Student Experience. Two of the sessions I attended focused on the Student Experience, please see notes below:

Innovation and Digital Literacies Champions – Dr Russell Bentley

Deputy Head of Education in Social Sciences and Senior Lecturer in Political Theory

University of Southampton

IChamps was started in 2013 at the University of Southamption with 9-11 students in the first year progressing to now over 40 iChamps. With a successful application to the HEA strategic enhancement programme in 2014, a steering group was created to develop the iChamps further e.g. creating different kinds of iChamps for feedback, sustainability etc. iChamps are recruited from all undergraduate years mostly during the vacation period and work approx. 144hrs per year. Students existing digital literacies are benchmarked using a Kahoot test, based on JISC’s digital literacies framework.

Defining iChamps

  • Working with academic teams to support change development of digital literacy.
  • Not assistants, they build relationships between academics and students.
  • Partnership based on agreement, clear specification of activity, assurance that student develops requisite skills to achieve the desired outcomes.
  • Exemplifying good practice.

iChamps expectations

  • Must demonstrate knowledge and understand of relevant issues.
  • Must attend and run workshops on a range of digital skills.
  • Well managed online profile demonstrating digital literacy skills.
  • Lead by example.

What do the iChamps do?

  • Partner for promoting digital literacies in the curriculum.
  • Communications beyond the classroom.
  • Develop critical thinking.
  • Exemplify and promote online safety, security.
  • Create content using web tools.

Goals and achievements

  • Students are empowered to take active roles in their discipline. Students and academics develop a sense of partnership, part of closing the feedback loop through partner engagement.
  • Showcases and promotes -and makes clearly relevant – technology enhanced learning.
  • Enhance employability in three ways;skills, confidence,” visualisation,” gives the student an idea of where they have been and where they want to go.


  • Sources of funding required to pay students for the work they do as iChamps.
  • At Southampton there is high level interest.
  • Talking about change agents- changing attitude of academics to see students as partners.

Examples of iChamps work

  • Dr Bentley had an iChamp work with him to get his students engaging with social media. The iChamp designed a training course and delivered the training course to the students.
  • University of Southampton has had iChamps work on making the best use of the VL and web design.


Students as Active Content Creators using Xerte Online Toolkits – Dr Jane Guiller

Lecturer in Psychology, Director of the School of Health and Life Science Learning Development Centre (LDC)

Glasgow Caledonian University

I was particularly interested in this session to see how other institutions have been using Xerte Online Toolkit (XOT) as a form of assessment. With the withdrawal of the JISC Xerte sandpit last year a business case was put together to support the existing Abertay Xerte users and to grow a community of content creators amongst staff and student. To date only one module has used Xerte as a form of assessment (MT0720A-2013-14).


  • Dr Guiller used Xerte in her CyberPyschology module which started in 2009. This module has no exam.
  • Aim for students to enhance their digital literacies. Get students to create content for the module and for the public. This fitted in well as an authentic assessment for learning. They would be designing open educational resources.
  • Made up 25% of module.
  • 30 students initially up to 120 enrolled on CyberPsychology module.
  • Varied background of students, not necessarily into tech. Lots didn’t know what an avatar was. A lot of assumptions about what they knew.
  • Student kept blogs on VLE, good to see how they were getting on. Made them think about the skills that they were acquiring.
  • Met fortnightly on campus and used Second Life for virtual seminars.


  • GCU don’t have their Xerte server external facing. Students did report on this in their blog but they did meet up with their groups on campus.
  • Copyright.


  • Students liked the fact support was available for them
  • Used Facebook for their discussions.
  • Peer support in and between groups. Dr Guiller was surprised they weren’t more competitive.


  • Need OER policy.
  • Peer assessment using rubrics in Blackboard.
  • Editing videos.
  • Creating images.
  • Quality of student research.


Highlights of JISC’s Fab Lab stand:

  • Anatomy 4D – a free augmented reality app available on iOS and Android. Install the app, print out a sheet from the “Target Library” available from the main menu within the app. Lay the printed sheet on a flat surface and scan the image with your mobile device. This short video from YouTube demonstrates the Heart AR functionality. This app would be very beneficial for nursing and sports students at Abertay.

Vr googles

  • Googles Cardboard – Cost has been a huge factor in the take up of virtual reality goggles like Oculus Rift but Googles Cardboard brings VR to the masses with a simple, affordable design. Check out PCAdvisor’s list of 11 best Google Cardboard apps 2015 UK. Students could create a virtual reality tour of Abertay that could work with Google Cardboard.



Overall it was a very worthwhile event to meet like-minded practitioners who want to make the best use of technology in teaching and learning. I was impressed with the iChamps network at University of Southampton and felt something similar could work particularly well at Abertay as it ties in nicely with the Abertay Strategic Plan 2015-2020 .  It was also an opportunity to meet our accounts manager Mark Owen (I didn’t mention Take That, figured he’d heard that one before!) who is keen to visit Abertay to see how Jisc can support us to make the best use of technology.

If you are interested in creating interactive learning objects, Abertay’s Xerte server can be accessed using your Abertay username and password on and off campus. More information can be found on our NetTLE pages


Alison Christie



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