So, I attended the last event from the series of Learn IT (a staff-student exchange event), organised by Developing Digital Literacies working group. Before writing this post, I looked at the written form of the passed talks produced by other participants, including the guild’s president and lecturers from different departments. Seemingly, this Tuesday it was a concluding part of the continuous discourse around issues on online identity management, academic content creation, interaction between staff and students, possibilities of new media technology, and more.
Some of the Tuesday topics on the agenda were:
- VLE (virtual learning environment) perspectives
- Teaching & Learning techniques through technology
- Academic content production in various media
- Digital literacies of various stakeholders at university
- Action points to promote media literacy (some of them seen in the picture below)
Overall, it was a very lively discussion where everybody expressed/contributed an interesting bit of their own experiences in relation to media technology use for their teaching or/and learning methods. Particularly, I’ve found it compelling when one speaker mentioned the difficulty for academic staff to ‘break the ice’ with their students on mainstream social media. From Georgina’s words (a lecturer from Media & Communication dep.), students seemed to be reluctant towards extra interaction with their lecturers/tutors on popular social media. I would consider this unwillingness as the result of lack of highly-valuable asset as time and apparent unawareness of potential benefits from such networking-interaction for their future career development.
Surely, there is a matter of privacy that students may be concerned with, when a member of staff ‘invades’ the personal space despite the fact that proximity is minimised. I imagine it is inconsistent for a student to combine his academic and social life in one place. Moreover, I think even if such network (for instance a university bespoke blog) existed, it would put more pressure on already loaded academics who probably struggle to even respond on time to unread emails from students. Further, in our group talk it was immediately pointed out by Alistair (a final year engineering student), that this extracurricular practices do not drive the grades up so there is no point in participating for scholars.
To take the matter even further, it was interestingly pointed out in one of the commsmedialiverpool posts, that the idea of 24/7 university may pose health-related dangers to students. Although the concept was substantially discussed in relation to physical university rather than virtual technologically-enhanced learning opportunities. Nevertheless, one could still relate the similar trend of potential dangers and disadvantages to the increased proliferation of social media. So perhaps, the fuss about finding the new ways to engage students more with the academic staff by means of new media is more incidental.
On the other hand, for me the proposition of more staff training seemed most viable. Particularly, in relation to developing certain skills and literacies in order to ‘gain’ students’ attention, thereby potentially cultivating relationships between one another. From my perspective, the lecturer’s/tutor’s skill (or talent?) to make students think matters most when attempting to boost interaction amongst the two, in either real or virtual environments.