Bonnie Tung, OCAD U Digital Painting and Expanded Animation Student, OCAD U GradEx 101. bonnietung.ca
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I'm the Director, Academic Computing & Innovation at OCAD University, responsible for the creative computing environment at OCAD U. I try to facilitate student creativity with technology, which means everything from desktops to laptops, web services, research support and copy/print. I work with colleagues in studio management, the faculty and Chairs to facilitate curriculum. OCAD is the oldest and largest art & design university in Canada, and was founded independently in 1876.
How do IT Services organizations engage in Digital Literacy?
1. By providing access to tools and services
2. By providing training and support
3. By providing strategic leadership to the academic and administrative leadership of our institutions
Providing tools is the meat and potatoes of IT Services work. We consult, recommend, and purchase computers, software, subscribe to online services, and then we deploy and support them. We play well in this space and this is what we often benchmark. However, we sometimes struggle to provide good training and support.
Join the conversation!
Tell us how you're employing strategies to improve the Digital Literacy of Students, Faculty and Staff
We support students on campus through a IT Services Help Desk, including troubleshooting, software imaging support and on-campus Apple repair support
While we always hire IT people with creative backgrounds, we're seldom able to provide in-depth assistance to students looking for specific application support help.
Here we’re providing tools and technology: something that IT departments are used to doing. So assisting our students become more digitally literate, but we're focused on access to tools at this level. However, it's effective: see the graphs below.
The good news is that students are working hard to learn Adobe Illustrator and Rhino, areas that they think they are weak in.
We're adding Solidworks for the Industrial Design students this year in response to demand for it from the students.
Approach #3: On-Boarding Courses
When paired with face-to-face events, on-boarding courses for students work well. It's another story for faculty.
After being introduced to the idea of "on-boarding courses" we thought we would build one for students in our Laptop Program for two reasons. First, we needed a way to introduce students to the Laptop Program and build awareness of services, and teach them how to backup their data and stay secure. Second, we needed a place to put information about our Apple on Campus discounts for students that was behind some authentication. So we built a course in Instructure Canvas, and provided a self-enrol link. You can see a public version of this course below.
We put a lot of work into the course with videos about the program, and even the staff.
79% of students would recommend the course to First Year incoming students at OCAD U
Students found the course useful to learn about the Laptop Program, how to get help and were less interested in backup and security.
Students were not interested in the faculty "Sage Advice" videos.
We don't necessarily know why. How about faculty?
Faculty don't necessarily watch videos about their peers.
I made a series of videos with faculty talking about their teaching practice. These have not caught on like was hoping: only 278 views on YouTube.
Faculty are significantly less motivated to learn in this format. Why? We're not sure, but it probably has something to do with generational preferences and what they're accustomed to.
Approach #4: 1-on-1 and Small Group Student Events
Students are much less interested in small group or 1-on-1 events.
We've tried two experiments over the past year to attempt to engage with students: IT SALON, and we participate in the Long Night Against Procrastination.
We pursued IT SALON at the encouragement of faculty, Chairs and Deans. It didn't work.
The group sessions tended to be a bust: they were too general. Students seem motivated by the assignment at hand right now, and if this tutorial doesn't relate at just the right time, it doesn't work.
I learned a lot about our curriculum by working 1-on-1 with students. Many of the 1-on-1 sessions were with First Year students, and I was able to effectively assist them. However, many of the problems they encountered were with the curriculum design in a particular course. Thus I learned, I was working at the wrong end of the problem.
The Long Night Against Procrastination works well for students. It's just not a great platform for application support or assisting with digital literacy.
What we learned from the Long Night Against Procrastination is that students who participate are usually in their advanced years of study, and it is very difficult to lend them direct support.
Something that I would like to try in the new year, is meeting students where they already are: in student driven organizations who want to learn IT Skills. Or coordinating with academic events.
Approach #5: Cybersecurity Design Competition
Awards competitions require and engage digital literacy skills at all levels.
In 2015, OCAD U ran a Cybersecurity Awareness raising poster design competition for students. Really, it was an unbelievable success, with more students providing great ideas to fuel interesting ways of approaching the problem of keeping students secure.
The Canvas Course was the perfect way to engage the students: their competition submissions were uploaded as an Assignment in Canvas (LMS) with a hard deadline, and it was a perfect platform to communicate details about the competition.
We worked directly with the Associate Dean of Design who was familiar with running design competitions and understood well how to structure them, and how to motivate students.
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