This is an archive of the 2013 version of ocTEL.

Are our students ready?

ocTEL webinar, week 3: Digital literacies by Helen Beetham

I was sadly very proud that a quote from my blog post was included in Helen’s presentation! This social networking game is still new enough for me that I am allowed to be proud of such things so I hope you will excuse my vanity, dear reader.

The session was intended to be interactive and lived up to expectations with many of the Illuminate tools being employed. This was great although the session had a bit of a frenetic feel to it. I think we are all still learning about the time management of online engagement.

In considering the four examples of student readiness questionnaires from this week’s activities we were invited to think about and respond to a poll on the purpose of the using similar questionnaires on student readiness to learn in a technology based/ online environment. A related issue we might consider is whether such questionnaires are for the benefit of the learner or the teacher. A popular choice of purpose in the poll was that of setting or managing student expectations and participants feeling that this was often the current purpose but not necessarily a worthy one; such a purpose being more for the benefit of the teacher than the learner, perhaps. Another popular choice was that of using the questions to direct students to additional resources available to help them increase their readiness; the benefit here being mainly with the students themselves although obviously with the added benefit for teachers that their students will come better prepared to learn in relation to the course design. I see both of the above options as being of fundamental importance. Student’s need to know what to expect. All learners need to understand the context of a learning situation even though they may then need and be able to push against the limitations of that context. However, offering ways for students to adequately prepare for learning is paramount.

The issue discussed above formed a very small part of the week’s webinar but I hope will have a significant influence on my own practice as a learning technology advisor giving me a new perspective from which to consider supporting the use of learning technology and learning in general.

Some specific related points that I take away are to:

  • consider digital literacy rather than technical competence
  • ask questions to engage learners rather than test and judge them.

The session then presented a number of questions about learners’ preferences and after a couple of these it became clear to me and other’s that we don’t know the answers but could only guess based on personal experience or anecdote.  Helen said that we “Need to be careful about generalizing what learners feel”.

We need to be asking learners. At my institution this could happen through evaluations by asking questions about the students’ learning during the course replacing or in addition to the questions that ask students to judge the teaching!

There is a special interest group looking at this but I need to find out the details. I did pick up a useful link to a pdf in relation to doctoral students.

Much more happened in the webinar but I was too busy to write notes so will only take an impression away! However, below are images of the digital literacies that Helen has developed/ is using and I hope to find out more about this model and other similar models.


I am a learning technology advisor at the University of Strathclyde where i deal with day to day support issues for the use of our Moodle based VLE as well as advising more widely on online learning in general.

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