The University of Westminster is located in London and is celebrating 175 years as an educational institution this year. A key part of the University's vision is in "building the next generation of highly employable global citizens to shape the future" (University of Westminster, 2013). This vision inspired us to look at the digital literacy skills our students need in order to be highly employable. In Spring 2012, the Information Services department at the University of Westminster secured Jisc funding to run a one year project exploring students' attitudes towards digital literacy and its relationship to employability for our students.
The work is being carried out by a project board and a delivery group, which include members of staff from across the University who have an active interest in this area. We named the Project "DigitISE" (Digital Information Skills for Employability) and colleagues involved with the project take turns in writing for its blog http://blog.westminster.ac.uk/jisc-employability/blog/
A questionnaire was circulated to find out about students' attitudes towards digital literacy and this was followed up by some focus groups. The headline findings from the survey are that 87.6% of students love digital technology and 81.5% believe themselves to be digitally literate. Attitudes vary significantly between subject areas. For example, with regard to the statement that the digital literacy skills needed in the courses get more complex as students progress through the course, students from the Business School agreed significantly more with this than did students from the School of Law, Social Sciences, Humanities and Languages or Architecture. The focus groups have supported the questionnaire findings and highlighted that students are largely unaware of the training that is already available to them. Ideas of how to market future training more effectively will therefore be an important outcome of this work. A further focus group is planned to ask students what they think a digitally literate graduate should be / will look like.
A one day conference, "Get the Digital Edge", is being held in March for students to discover more about the links between their digital literacy skills and their employment prospects. Workshops on offer include "Using Facebook & LinkedIn for job seeking", "Learning from the media", "Researching companies for a job interview" and "Managing your e-reputation", and will be run by experts in these areas. We also have invited a leading corporate communications company to speak at this event.
Although the project will come to an end in Spring 2013, the findings will inform other University initiatives, including a proposal looking at embedding information skills into the curriculum and Learning Futures @ Westminster, which is considering the future of teaching and learning at the University.
In summary, this presentation will include:
● an introduction to the project
● key findings of the questionnaire and focus groups
● a report on the "Get the Digital Edge" one day student conference
● plans for the future, including how the legacy of the project will be managed through
other University initiatives
University of Westminster, (2013). Vision, mission and values. Retrived from: http://www.westminster.ac.uk/about-us/our-university/vision-mission-and-values
Copyright (c) 2013 Emma Woods, Federica Oradini
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