There is a continuous debate in both the education and commercial sectors on how we can support users in developing digital capability. As we continue to grow in an ever evolving digital world, being able to identify our own digital capabilities and continually develop them is becoming increasingly important.
Having spent over 19 years working within digital education in the higher education sector, I have seen first hand the importance of developing staff and students’ confidence and building a digitally capable institution with confident digital consumers.
I joined Jisc at the beginning of January 2022 as a Higher Education Senior Consultant supporting the building digital capability service and discovery tool. In this short space of time, I’ve been fortunate to see the different ways in which institutions and organisations implement the discovery tool and the impact of those initiatives.
Jisc’s discovery tool has been used in many institutions since its initial launch in 2018 and has continued to help users reflect on their own digital capability and identify strengths, weaknesses and pathways for development.
On the 1st of August, a new and enhanced version of the discovery tool will be launched to the community and our customers, which gives us an excellent opportunity to reflect on the work that has led up to this point.
The enhancements to the platform combine both our valued sector feedback with new platform functionality to support a user’s journey with digital capability development.
Some of the enhancements include:
- New dynamic dashboard – the dashboard allows a more personalised interaction with the discovery tool, allowing users the ability to bookmark resources and remember recent activity
- Improved resource interaction – the resource area upgrade will allow greater flexibility for institutions and users. Users can ‘like’ or ‘bookmark’ any resource which will appear on their personal dashboard. The new functionality means users can also see completion of resources where there is an activity along with tailored playlists to underpin areas of digital capability
- Report overlay functionality – users will be able to compare any two individual completions of our extensive question sets and produce an overlay showing where the user may have improved their confidence in that area
- Tailored data headings – institutions and organisations will now be able to request bespoke department and subject headings whilst retaining sector benchmarking functionality
Part of the process during this project upgrade has been actively engaging with our members and customers using the service, internal Jisc stakeholders and feedback on the developments so far. We have also reached out to our customers on a personal level, and I’ve had the privilege of having many consultancy calls with existing users around the new developments coming to the service. We have also run a series of bookable interactive webinars with our community showcasing the development and running specialised admin sessions for teams that implement the discovery tool within their organisations.
The response from our community has been incredibly positive, with many commenting on how the enhancements are going to support institutional initiatives such as curriculum development, student award pathways and digital strategies.
The changes in the resources including the ‘bookmarking’ and ‘favourite’ functionality is seen as a welcome addition for many of our smaller customers where resource and internal capacity to develop training materials is limited. Individual users will be able to work through their reports and identify their strengths and weaknesses in areas of digital capability and bookmark the resources they may wish to work through at a later date. This provides a wonderful opportunity to reinforce the importance of lifelong learning with digital capability to users where their time is limited and precious.
For many institutions, the addition of the tailored data summaries brings an excellent opportunity to delve deeper into their institutional data and make more personalised localised interventions in supporting digital capability. In a recent call, one institution was really encouraged by this enhancement as it enables them to feed the results from the discovery tool into their school/faculty level teaching and learning plans which will embed digital capability as a development opportunity. Bringing digital capability to the forefront of internal processes and initiatives is a vital method in creating a digitally confident institution.
The most popular enhancement with our community has been the report function overlay. Historically, the discovery tool could only allow one question set completion to remain on the system per user. The new version will allow the user to attempt any of the question sets as many times as required and compare results against any two previous completions. The ability for the user to be able to see where they may have improved their confidence in a certain area of digital capability reinforces the importance of self-development and reflection for many institutions. Several institutions have already commented that this will be feeding into a cycle of student development to support digital fluency and contribute towards institutional student award initiatives.
On a personal level, and as a previous user of the discovery tool at my last institution, I am really looking forward to seeing how institutions and organisations use these new enhancements and embed them as part of their internal processes and initiatives.
As a delivery team, we are really excited in anticipation of the upcoming version launch and look forward to working with our customers to implement and embed these excellent enhancements. We hope to share some user stories of the new discovery tool at our next service community event.
Further information on the discovery tool and wider service is available on our building digital capability page. If you have any feedback or further questions on the platform enhancements after our launch on the 1st of August, please email email@example.com.
Author – Becki Vickerstaff, Higher education senior consultant, Jisc