Digital literacy is fast becoming a 21st-century survival skill, with increasing attention paid to IT capabilities in the workplace, and references to Facebook and Twitter ubiquitous in the mass media. However, getting to grips with new technology can be daunting, especially if you have been happily doing without it for years.
In the joinin project we tackled this issue head-on. Taking our inspiration from a similar initiative run by the Imperial War Museum in 2013, we held 14 informal lunchtime sessions in seven academic and administrative departments around the University during spring and summer 2015. Our aim was to make digital literacy light-touch, fun and low-cost so that participants are engaged and, importantly, can see how different technologies might be relevant in their work and/or personal life. Going out to these departments rather than expecting time-pressed staff to come to IT Services was a key ingredient of our approach. We also found that the sessions worked particularly well if they were held in a communal space such as a common room or kitchen where participants could gather round a single table rather than sit in serried rows.
Topics addressed included how to log your mobile device into the University’s wifi, get to grips with Twitter, and share photographs through Instagram. Feedback collected through the equally light-touch medium of the Post-It note suggests that some participants were simply content to be able to distinguish a #hashtag from a @TwitterName, while others were inspired to participate in their college’s or department’s existing social media activities.
The ultimate goal of the project was to demonstrate the viability of the joinin concept so that it can be added to our ITLP catalogue as an alternative to structured classroom-based and online training courses. The sessions run as part of the project enabled us progressively to develop and refine a delivery model, as well as acquire the basic equipment to take on the road with us. This included a portable digital projector, iPad, Android tablet and a Google Chromebook. Also indispensable, although its contents invariably disappeared during each session, was a bag of lollipops!
joinin project team: Emma Procter-Legg (session facilitator), Alun Edwards (project founder and project manager January-July 2015), Liz Masterman (project manager July-November 2015), Denise Cattell (bookings), Mark Lambourne (technical support), Dave Baker (ITLP oversight).