Digital practice – what’s in a name?

Digital Practice team photo
The Digital Practice team – Newcastle, Aug 2018. L-R Zac, John, Scott, Esther, Lis, Chris

No need to file this one under “earth-shattering” but our team has changed its name!

Since we started back in 2015 we’ve been called Student Experience but we’ve now changed to Digital Practice. I thought it was worth giving a bit of an explanation partly because it’s an interesting reflection on how we’ve changed over the years.

It’s a better reflection on what we actually do

The student experience is a hugely important theme for us. We’ve done huge amounts of work on supporting teaching and learning, employability and safeguarding for example. But it’s not the full extent of what we do.

Our team is now responsible for deliering the Digital Leaders Programme which involves supporting people from right across the sector, not just those supporting learners.

We also support aspects of research work such as public engagement and social media use and it’s always felt quite awkward introducing ourselves at events and having to explain that our job titles don’t actually reflect the reason why we’re there! It can be confusing for the people we work with and it sometimes undermines our credibility.

On a more positive note though, we hope it’ll give us a bit more freedom to explore the role of digital within the education sector, allowing us to be a bit more responsive to developing needs.

It’ll help us work better as a team

In this team our job titles have always been a mouthful. For example, Scott and I are both Subject Specialists in online learning and the digital student experience. Difficult to remember and tricky to fit on a business card!

Also, the way we work has always been very collaborative. To wit,  Lis’s specialism in libraries and learning resources has a big influence on teaching, learning and assessment. Esther has developed her skills in employability and apprenticeships, going beyond her initial Teaching Learning and Assessment remit. And so on…

So from now on we’ll all just be Subject specialists – digital practice. Each of us will have a word or two in brackets afterwards to indicate a particular specialist area but it’s more important that we share a title, giving us explicit permission to be promiscuous with the topics we can support people with.

It’s less confusing within Jisc

When we began there was already a Student Experience team at Jisc. They’re part of the Digital Futures R&D team and although we work closely with them we are part of different directorates and have different functions. Sarah Knight‘s team are mostly about developing new services for the sector while we are there to provide direct practical support, consultancy and training to our member institutions on a day to day basis. Calling our teams different things helps make that distinction within and outside Jisc. In practice it won’t change how we work with the Futures teams.

Come and talk to us…

So, if you have any questions about digital practice in your organisation, you know where to come. 🙂

By Chris Thomson

I'm a Subject Specialist at Jisc focusing on online learning and digital student experience.

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