In 2014 the UCISA Digital Capabilities Group (then the User Skills Group) launched the inaugural Digital Capabilities survey of the UK higher education sector. The survey focussed on what has been variously referred to as digital capabilities, digital literacies or digital competencies. The need to improve the country’s digital capabilities has been highlighted in a House of Lords committee report published in February 2015. Make or break: the UK’s digital future notes that the higher education sector “has not responded to the urgent need for reskilling” and calls for institutions to develop courses to give the students the skills they need.
The survey sought to establish how institutions are developing staff and students to perform efficiently and effectively in the digital environment. It complements the Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) survey that the UCISA Academic Support Group carries out but looks at broader digital capabilities rather than TEL software and approaches.
The Group presented the initial findings from the survey in a webinar held on 3 December 2014. The full report was published on 1 June to coincide with the Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event held at MediaCityUK, Salford. The report will be supplemented by a number of case studies on institutional approaches to digital capabilities. These are expected to be published in autumn 2015.
In addition to the webinar, the results of the survey have been presented at a number of other conferences and seminars including the EUNIS BencheIT workshop held in December 2014, Jisc’s Digifest and the 2015 LILAC Conference. Presentations and other resources from these conferences are available in the resources section below. The results will also be discussed at the UCISA Spotlight on Digital Capabilities event, the UCISA Support Services Conference and the Technology in Higher Education event in London on 24 June.
The outcomes of the survey identify a number of challenges for the sector. Jisc are seeking to address these through a number of related activities.