May 05, 2020

Digifest 2020 part one – Abigail Ball

This event (which feels like an eternity ago given lockdown and all of the changes since then) took place across two days in mid-March in Birmingham. Where they have been made available, the slides for the various sessions are on the link below:

https://www.jisc.ac.uk/events/digifest-10-mar-2020/programme

Make way for Gen Z - Jonah Stillman, co-founder, author and speaker

This was an interesting keynote on day one where the very engaging Jonah, explained the difference between his generation (Gen Z) and other generations, such as Millennials or Baby Boomers. He described how Gen Z students:

  1. are realistic
  2. are driven (competitive)
  3. suffer from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) - which is why they always have their devices with them
  4. are Phigital (yes apparently that is a real term and means they are comfortable with a blend of physical and digital experiences)
  5. like to engage in hyper-customisation (which means they expect to be able to choose what they want to read/listen to/watch/eat and when they want to do this - think boxset binging and ordering take-aways)
  6. Do It Themselves (are independent and happy to try give things a go)
  7. are Weconomists (another new term which means they engage in a shared economy)

Whilst most of this was fairly light and quite tongue in cheek in some cases, the important point Jonah was making was that our universities are now multi-generational, and we have to accommodate these generations in our teaching practice. What works or worked for Millennials does not necessarily work for Gen Z students and we need to be much more aware of this. He did not provide answers per se, but he did raise awareness which I guess is the purpose of a keynote.

An evidence-based journey of digital transformation - Gavin McLachlan, vice-principal, chief information officer and librarian, University of Edinburgh

Due to the cancellation of the session I had planned to attend, I missed the first part of this session, but Gavin talked about the importance of digital culture and vision and how an institutional digital strategy needed to be aligned with the culture and vision of that institution. He also talked about the importance of having a digital e-safety policy and how the University of Edinburgh has developed a digital transformation programme which is composed of seven pillars:

  1. Every educator is a digital educator (very apposite)
  2. Every student is a digital student (it was almost as if he were psychic)
  3. Every University service is a digital service
  4. Every decision considers the available evidence
  5. Everyone plans and updates their digital skills (particularly liked this one as Edinburgh mandates two digital skills courses per year; controversial I know but probably necessary especially given Covid-19)
  6. Stop wondering about the future and start predicting the future (easier said than done)
  7. Hyper-connected digital economy and digital community (again much easier said than done but a good aspitation to have)

If you would like to know more, Edinburgh have contributed a case study to the JISC website.

*These notes are my own personal reflections and have not been endorsed by JISC or the individuals who presented the sessions.


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