It was great to meet the new student ambassadors for digital literacy in last week’s first workshop. We ran the session three times to give all the 37 undergraduate students who have signed up from Statistics, Social Policy, International Relations and Law a chance to attend. I was lucky enough to run two of the workshops with colleagues, Andra and Clive from the Library and Arun from LTI. It was also be great to be joined by four of last year’s students: Eugene, Djelila, Seow Wei and Simran, who are now appointed as Senior Ambassadors. They’ve been giving us excellent feedback on the content of the workshops and are helping to deliver the sessions. Their presence in the workshops really helped break down the teacher / student divide and they shared lots of useful insights.
Workshop 1 is our chance to sell SADL to the new recruits, to set out the expectations of the programme, but also to inform them what’s in it for them. We also wanted to set the right tone for the whole programme – SADL is not a training course, its an opportunity for students to develop their digital literacy skills, but it’s also a chance to meet peers from their department, to meet students from different departments and reflect on their own research practices. For the project team, SADL is also a great opportunity to get to know a group of LSE undergraduates and to find out what help and support they need, what they are already good at and to share ideas about how technology impacts on study at LSE and our lives.
We are all aware that technology can be a really powerful tool, but it can also be a huge distraction when you have a task to complete (or a degree to get!). We started the workshop getting to know each other and finding out what annoys each of us about social media. It’s sometimes hard to remember that social media is such a recent phenomenon, as it can be so pervasive. I really related to the student who said they got annoyed with friends taking photos and posting them to Facebook at a party, rather than just enjoying being at the party! I love social media but it can feel like we need to sometimes spend more time focusing on the moment, rather than taking photos of it to share! A new activity this year was introduced during the introductions. We asked the students in pairs to Google each other to see if they could find something out about the person they were working with that they hadn’t told them. It was something we did at the end of SADL last year, but we hoped it might get students thinking about their digital footprint at the outset of the programme.
The workshop explored what digital literacy means, and we asked students to consider what skills they think are useful to be successful in their studies. We had lots of really interesting thoughts captured on post-it notes, ranging from the need to be persistent (is that a skill?), time management skills, knowing how search engines work and being organized. We then asked students to think about how they approach finding information for an essay topic and what steps they go through, and then to contrast that with finding a good film recommendation. Knowing what are trusted sources cropped up at the two workshops I ran – whether that’s using Library Search or Google Scholar, or asking your trusted friend for advice on the latest film releases. We gave the students a few pointers when using search engines and finished up discussing blogging and how we plan to use this during the project. The students have been set a task to write a blog post before the next workshop reflecting on what they learnt, what annoys them about social media or their expectations of being a digital ambassador. I look forward to reading their thoughts soon! I also hope I’ve got the ball rolling in writing this post about what I learnt from the first workshop!