About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 2934-2943
Publication year: 2014
ISBN: 978-84-616-8412-0
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 10-12 March, 2014
Location: Valencia, Spain

PIONEERING PARTNERSHIPS FOR DIGITAL LITERACY DEVELOPMENT: BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD

G. Benfield, M. Pavlakou

Oxford Brookes University (UNITED KINGDOM)
The paper introduces a practical, developmental working model of student engagement, and presents results from 24 months’ implementation of an experimental project called Institutional Student ePioneer Partnerships project (InStePP) at Oxford Brookes University. This was a JISC funded project aimed to build on the university’s strategic approach to enhance the digital literacies of students and staff, and ultimately support the large-scale, institution-wide initiative for enhancing learning and the undergraduate experience.

The project involved student volunteers working in partnerships with staff to develop digital literacies across the university by sharing their digital skills, practices and ideas. Known as ePioneers, these students were commissioned by staff to help them develop a variety of digital learning resources and activities, while they were encouraged in working towards professional recognition and/or academic credit for their work.

The findings presented here are based on analysis of 16 semi-structured interviews with student ePioneers and staff partners, active over semesters one and two of academic year 2012-13.

The analysis showed that InStePP provided ePioneers with valuable work experience and employability skills; contributed to the development of their critical self-awareness; enabled a kind of student engagement that combined active and collaborative learning; resulted in students feeling valued by other university members, by having their ‘voice’ heard, gaining a sense of being part of the wider academic community and contributing to the whole university; and provided a mutually beneficial partnership for staff to improve their digital literacies.
Respondents’ insights highlighted the catalytic role of the student-staff partnership in creating bridges between the different worlds of the university, enabling students and staff alike to feel that they are partners with complementary roles and responsibilities in the learning process. Working in partnership proved to be not only an empowering strategy for students but also a driving force for staff members motivating them to adopt new digital learning and teaching practices. InStePP partnerships showed creativity, fresh perspectives and new approaches being brought to bear on educational problems, and the potential for substantial institutional benefits for developing digital literacies.

The paper also discusses the challenges in implementing these student-staff partnerships, which include supporting students to move out of a subservient role to become equal partners with staff; negotiating the opportunities and perils of organizing unpaid amateurs to do the work of paid experts in the institution; and developing a coherent system of rewards and incentives for extra- and co-curricular activity, and offers suggestions of how these might be mitigated.

Universities and further education institutions have much to gain from students being actively engaged in helping transform the digital learning landscape. InStePP showed how students can be key change agents for enhancing digital literacies, provided a model for embedding change through a partnership approach and offered the foundation to run a scheme of staff-student partnerships that can make a significant impact on educational practice.
@InProceedings{BENFIELD2014PIO,
author = {Benfield, G. and Pavlakou, M.},
title = {PIONEERING PARTNERSHIPS FOR DIGITAL LITERACY DEVELOPMENT: BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD},
series = {8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2014 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-616-8412-0},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {10-12 March, 2014},
year = {2014},
pages = {2934-2943}}
TY - CONF
AU - G. Benfield AU - M. Pavlakou
TI - PIONEERING PARTNERSHIPS FOR DIGITAL LITERACY DEVELOPMENT: BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD
SN - 978-84-616-8412-0/2340-1079
PY - 2014
Y1 - 10-12 March, 2014
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 8th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2014 Proceedings
SP - 2934
EP - 2943
ER -
G. Benfield, M. Pavlakou (2014) PIONEERING PARTNERSHIPS FOR DIGITAL LITERACY DEVELOPMENT: BENEFITS, CHALLENGES AND THE WAY FORWARD, INTED2014 Proceedings, pp. 2934-2943.
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