Dr Hanya Pielichaty (Principal Lecturer / Programme Leader)
Chris Wardle-Cousins (E-Learning Developer) and the Digital Student Ambassador Group (DSAG)
The following extract taken from my article ‘Student As Digital Producer: Learning New(Old) Skills Through An Agency-Led Project’ provides the context for this case study:
Many assumptions are made about university students’ digital capabilities and skills upon entering higher education. These students have been referred to as the Net Generation, Digital Natives and Millennials (Jones et al., 2010) but being born after 1980 does not mean all students should be categorised in this manner. As Jones and others warn ‘the generation is not homogenous nor is it articulating a single clear set of demands’ (Jones et al., 2010, 732) and therefore careful management of student learning needs to be considered. Despite teaching innovations using digital technologies, reports have shown that not all students are equally engaged and lack experience with using selected technologies (Isacsson and Gretzel, 2011). As well as student limitations with engagement, staff digital confidence is also a challenge (Greener and Wakefield, 2015) (Pielichaty, 2018).
In 2015/16 I launched the Digital Student Ambassador Group (DSAG) as a LIBS wide initiative with the aim to provide students with digital confidence but to also impart their own knowledge with other students and staff members. Students across the academic year (15/16 and 17/18) created and delivered (under my guidance) a Digital Talk Series. This series involved industry guest speakers and DSAG-led workshops and proved extremely successful (as described in the next section). Topics included: digital identities, global technologies, esports, and social media for business and Instagram for Beginners. All workshops were created, planned for and delivered by DSAG members via the means of action-learning. By 2017/18 the Digital Talk Show was offered to business members locally and also members of the public as a way to bridge university and local teaching and learning practices. DSAG members came together from a wide range of undergraduate programmes and were offered development opportunities in the form of digital workshops and attendance at the Digital Transformations Conference in London.
Impact and Success
The students who were involved with DSAG acquired and gained both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills through the project and felt valued and recognised. All students received an achievement certificate at the end of the year and felt a sense of belonging through the project (Pielichaty, 2018). Students were in charge of the DSAG blog and social media outlets and gained practical skills in monitoring and delivering this content. In terms of the Digital Talk Series, the following tables demonstrate the estimated numbers of engagement with the project over the two series which totals 285 in attendance figures:
|Digital Talk Series||Student Attendance||University Staff Attendance||Business Member Attendance||Members of the Public Attendance||TOTAL|
Table 1: The number of people who attended the Digital Talk Series across a two-year period