Using Digital Leaders to Develop Staff Confidence

In a previous post, I wrote about a case for developing a team of student Digital Leaders. I outlined their role in my institution and described the steps they have taken so far to support both staff and students during the early days of our EdTech journey. So far, this has provided a solid foundation, however it has mainly been conducted on a reactive basis: answering queries as and when they arise. I now feel that we’re at the stage to start developing this further and become more proactive. Our aim for the forthcoming academic year is to support staff and students more effectively so that technology can become embedded with greater consistency across the curriculum.

Previously, I highlighted the importance of training and touched on the idea of whole staff training sessions potentially being too broad, potentially having less of an impact on those who need the most help. In order to develop and offer a training programme that meets the needs of our staff body, my team of Digital Leaders designed and undertook a whole staff survey. This aimed to assess the confidence levels of staff in using digital technology within lessons, to identify the success and barriers they have experienced so far and perhaps most crucially, to discover any aspects they would most like to receive training on. Following this, students constructed a summary document for staff, presenting their findings from the survey and the steps that were being taken to address some of the barriers identified.

Perhaps most crucially, Digital Leaders used this data to begin to formulate a bespoke, developmental programme. In order to make this most appealing to staff and to ease the burden on students, it was decided that sessions would adopt the format of a 15 Minute Forum, an informal CPD strategy advocated by educators such as Shaun Allison. During the last half of the summer term, Digital Leaders paired up and selected one of the apps staff wanted to learn more about and became experts. Their objective was to develop a simple, but effective workshop focused on specific apps or tasks: consider it a shot of Continuing Professional Development. To
ensure we cater for all, workshops have been developed with staff confidence in mind, offering various levels (e.g. beginner, intermediate and advanced). We are planning to roll this out in the forthcoming academic year and look forward to the feedback we receive.

Although my team of Digital Leaders will remain on hand to offer support to staff and students on the fly at our Genius Bar, we are optimistic that our decision to adopt a more tailored approach to training will ultimately lead to greater levels of engagement amongst staff. My team are also in the process of developing a similar survey aimed at students, so that a similar programme can be developed with the aim of upskilling our student body.

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