Changing the student digital experience: needs and technologies

Using the JISC NUS Digital Capabilities Benchmarking Tool, we developed the Brookes DC MatrixWe have used this in deriving a participatory needs analysis for TEL development and support. Mark Childs writes about the process here.

Course design intensives (CDIs) have engaged with eight programmes potentially affecting directly more than 600 students and over 50 staff, mostly departmental academics. CDIs have been facilitated by about 10 Educational Developers, Learning Technologists, DMeLDs, Academic Liaison Librarians (ALLs), OBIS and PLSEs and PLQs.

This informs our questioning (diagnostic assessment: “What do you want to do?”) and constructively aligns Brookes Strategy for Enhancing the Student Experience (SESE2) with the activities – particularly those with TEL – that we perform to achieve outcomes. It also begins to identify and pull together on one page the sources of help and professional development around the University for the tool set that we use and will be using in the academic year 2016-17.

The same approach is guiding the team producing the storyboard for an Induction video introducing the learning technologies we use at Brookes, some of the people that support them and, briefly, why we use them.

Questions mapped to TEL Framework Domains

TEL Framework Domain JISC 6 elements DC Matrix

Do you want to use and create consistent, technology enabled learning assessment and feedback activities and resources?

2, 3, 5

Do you want to develop ICT proficiency for learning, to increase life-wide engagement (employability) through developing digital, information, data and media skills?

1 , 4, 12

Do you want to develop creative, innovative and scholarly digital citizens, improve inclusivity and wellbeing, reduce barriers to communication, collaboration and participation for all and create inclusive support networks for students and staff?

6, 9, 10, 11

Do you want to create social and mobile learning opportunities that blend together physical and digital environments creating novel opportunities for distributed, access to communication, collaboration and participation?

7, 13
Underpinning IT

Do you want to develop the University’s ICT proficiency and infrastructure to support learning more effectively?


Find the corresponding page numbers in the DC Matrix at the link .

We are in the process of simplifying the DC Matrix, aligning it with the TEL Framework and building a new portal (see current Brookes Virtual Gateway). The simplification has been informed by the JISC “Six Elements of Digital Capability” and the analysis of our anticipated tool set for 2016-17.


^ Elements
JISC 6 Elements


Toolset: core learning technologies 2016-17

Technology for Services and practice Source of help, learning and development
Platform basics account authentication, passwords, eCSIS (new SRS), security, resilience (individual and institutional)

identity and wellbeing

OBIS help desk and IT training
Teaching with consistent online look-and-feel in programmes in Moodle good practice, consistent user experience

Module handbook, Structured sequences of activity, In-programme consistency; Discussion Forums, Quizzes, Content (and embedded content), Assessment practices, Gradebook, Messaging, Mit Circs; [IP] digital creation, innovation and scholarship

course/programme/module teams



LR Digital Services


Online assessment

Moodle “native” assignment handling

Briefs, submission, feedback and mark reporting (gradebook, PIP) particularly for “non-essay” activities (virtual conferences, presentations, vivas, group projects, peer feedback discussion, etc), MitCircs?

digital learning and self development, data, information and media literacy

course/programme/module teams


LR Digital Services


Online assessment

VLE integrated assessment

Submission Regs, MitCircs, Plagiarism: TurnItIn/GradeMark

Essay assignments


Conferences and publishing for assessment

digital learning and self development

course/programme/module team



LR Digital Services


Reading lists Aspire and other Library services, [IP]

Reading lists for teaching; citation

data and media literacy, digital learning and self development

course/programme/module teams


Collaboration Google Apps for education calendar, collaborative authoring, integrated embedded content, linked calendars: PIP, Moodle, Google; University Committees use of Google Sites for business papers.

digital information, data and media literacy, digital learning and self development

course/programme/module teams



Academic multimedia Desktop and Lecture capture: Mymediasite, Camtasia, Audacity;Articulate, YouTube, Virtual classroom: Hangouts, Adobe Connect, Skype; Conferencing and Publishing  

digital information, data and media literacy,

course/programme/module teams




Research support Profile, Publication (CRIS, Radar, BEJLT), Conferencing, Citation management (EndNote, “Harvard” referencing), Library systems (Aspire, Databases), Project management, Supervision of Research (Word document forms) Wikipedia, Google Scholar and search, ResearchGate,  [IP] LR, ALLs


Graduate School

Programme teams MBA, MSc, PhD, EdD, etc


Peripheral technologies

Social Media Twitter streams, LinkedIn, Slideshare, Facebook Groups and events, Photo sharing (Flickr, Google Photos, Instagram), Conferencing and Publishing Corporate Affairs, Course teams, OCSLD
Blogging )para peripheral – moving to core?) WordPress, Blogger

Conferencing and publishing academic multimedia

OCSLD, OBIS, Course team examples (Publishing)
Teaching tools in class Response systems (clickers), Padlet, backchannels DMELDS,

Course teams

Open knowledge

Open access scholarly (journal) publications, Open courses

Open Web, Net Neutrality





Course teams



Evaluation criteria

Defining “effectiveness” can open a can of worms: “slippy”/”sticky” as appropriate: seamless, accessible, navigable, responsive “touch”, “easy”. It’s how the person who’s answering the question perceives “more effective” that matters, as it’s our shared drive to be more effective that’s brought us to the site.

The criteria set out in the TEL framework are, “Through their own use of technologies and environments, students and staff:

  • Take responsibility for, reflect on, and develop lifelong habits of learning
  • Respond to and shape a rapidly changing world
  • Jointly develop digital literacies for the enhancement of the learning experience and are rewarded for doing so
  • Have and use development opportunities informed by evidence and formal feedback.
  • Express themselves through academic multimedia and the creation and management of online digital identities.
  • Extend and complement the capacity and capabilities of the VLE by sharing understandings of what TEL may enable in any learning context: physical or virtual, independent or collaborative;
  • Are aware of and able to exercise and protect their and others’ digital rights to expression, access, privacy, openness and innovation
  • “Capture” digital content and produce academic multimedia for many purposes and audiences
  • Engage creatively and effectively in and with communities (professional, academic, civic and social) within and beyond the University
  • Engage actively with formative and summative assessment and feedback for learning
  • Maximise inclusivity ensuring no-one is excluded or disadvantaged on account of disability, cultural or socio-economic background or location; using, where possible: accessible, open (free), standards based technologies
  • Integrate physical and digital learning environments
  • Co-construct effective learning experiences using a baseline set of reliable, appropriate, universally accessible technologies
  • Act ethically within legal, institutional and consensual guidelines.”

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About the author

George Roberts

George has been at Oxford Brookes since 2000 and joined OCSLD in June 2006 as an Educational Developer (e-Learning). In his previous role he advised the Head of e-Learning and the Senior Management Team of the University on policy for off-campus e-learning and e-learning partnerships.

He leads the MA Education (Higher Education) and teaches on the Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (PCTHE) as well as conducting Course Design Intensives (CDIs) and other educational development activities: workshops and consultancies.

He leads the organisation of the annual Brookes Learning and Teaching Conference (BLTC) and is Managing Editor of the Higher Education Journal of Learning and Teaching.

George is a visiting Lecturer at Cranfield University and a Visiting Fellow of Edge Hill University.

He wrote his doctorate (July 2011) at the University of Southampton on biographical narratives of adult users of a community IT centre on a large social housing estate.

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