Welcome to our Digital Leaders project.
This blog documents the development of student digital leaders at the University of Northampton and within the Digital Learning Across Boundaries project. The Digital Leaders have modelled and promoted the use of technologies for learning with and from their peers through existing contacts in Iceland, Finland, Spain and Denmark, Belgium and Norway. They have experienced digital literacy across Europe, enhancing their employability. These students engaged in a range of activities, including events such as TeachMeets, eTwinning projects producing project kits, and paired projects with pupil Digital Leaders in local schools. They also introduced the concept of ‘Digital Playdates’ into the UK.
An aim was to develop and deploy Digital Leaders as resources to provide significant impetus to using innovative technology initiatives across universities and local schools, drawing on innovative approaches to learning.
- To create a cadre of Digital Leaders supporting key technology initiatives across DLAB participating universities and in local schools.
- To explore European ideas in a range of settings, cutting across boundaries.
- To enhance the Digital Leader students’ experience and employability.
- To enhance the digital literacy of academic staff through Digital Leader project support and Digital Playdate events.
Digital Leaders are those who are competent and comfortable in the use of technology and who can help others, such as peers, pupils, teachers and lecturers, to make effective use of technology (Twining, 2014; Passey 2013). A national Digital Leader Network has been supporting technology use in UK schools for several years (http://www.digitalleadernetwork.co.uk). The School of Education piloted one of the first Digital Leader programmes in Higher Education over the last two academic years, with volunteers drawn from across the student population.
The University and local schools benefited from their input, and the students themselves learnt transferable skills valued by schools such as intercultural awareness and digital literacy, which enhanced their employability.
Finally, the Digital Leaders piloted the concept of Digital Playdates within the University for staff, students and invited local teachers. Digital Playdates are hands-on professional learning events gathering pace in the US based on the acronym People Learning and Asking ‘Y’, in which presentations are replaced by the opportunity to explore, collaborate and play (https://sites.google.com/site/playdatechicago13/home). Participants explore digital tools in themed rooms alongside those with similar interests and with the aim of ‘trying something new’. A Playdate involves playful and self-directed learning. Ideas are shared at the end of the day. Digital Leader facilitators are there to learn alongside others and to initiate the learning.