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Increasing your digital capabilities

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You might be able to send emails, surf the web and create a Word document. But are there other digital skills you could be missing?

A new project has just launched to help colleagues from across the University consider their own digital capabilities and look at ways to improve them.

To find out more, Dialogue spoke to our new Digital Capability Advisor Garry Storer, and Project Manager Debbie Robson who are working to increase colleague digital capabilities.

Debbie Robson and Garry Storer
Debbie Robson and Garry Storer

We asked Debbie...

What’s digital capabilities all about?

Well, it’s about making sure that people have the capability and confidence to understand ever-changing technology, and to make best use of the software and equipment that’s available to us all.

The University is investing in a pilot opportunity to improve the digital capability and confidence of all staff. We want to help people enhance their work and life experiences, and improve productivity in our teams and departments.

Why is it important that people improve their digital skills?

Many people’s jobs completely rely on IT, so knowing how to keep up to date with the latest technologies can really help to boost productivity and make everyday tasks easier.

For anyone who doesn’t use IT in their day-to-day jobs, they can still benefit by learning the basics as this can help to develop their careers. One important aspect of the project is to support people who have very limited access to IT kit and subsequently restricted access to systems and online resources within the University. This could include people working in the Colleges, Estates and Facilities (including catering, retail staff, housekeeping, cleaning and general services) who need to be able to manage payslips, feel confident in completing required learning, access internal vacancies and, of course see the communications that we all receive digitally.

And it’s not just our work lives where you can benefit from increasing digital capabilities. If you want to keep safe while shopping online, avoid scammers and access information such as holiday applications, all of these things need a certain level of digital capability.

How can people improve their digital capabilities?

We’ve just launched the Digital Capabilities Hub which includes a Digital Capabilities Framework and introduces the Jisc Discovery Tool and a Durham University-created tool.

The new Hub gives you a central resource to help you understand what is meant by digital capabilities. You can undertake a self-assessment of your skills and receive a confidential personalised report that signposts you to resources to help you fulfil your learning needs. 

We’re also signposting to current digital resources in the University to help people find digital resources easily, such as Oracle learning, DCAD digital skills courses, and information and cyber security help.

We asked Garry...

How are you involved in the project?

As part of the wider Digital Capabilities project, we have a pilot scheme where I’m working with a number of departments to support members of staff to understand how best to use the Digital Capabilities Hub to support them in their roles.

Departments in the pilot project include Estates and Facilities; Libraries and Collections; Careers and Enterprise; Van Mildert College; and St Mary’s College. 

I’ll be helping managers and staff to understand and reflect on using the Hub and particularly the Jisc Discovery Tool. Also, we’re piloting an internal self-assessment checklist tool we’ve created. I’ll be looking to run webinars and other support sessions and we’ll be encouraging Digital Champions within departments to support the initiative too.

Who can get involved?

Anyone in the University can use the Digital Capabilities Hub, Framework and the Jisc Discovery Tool.

It doesn’t matter how experienced or inexperienced you are with IT – all staff and students can benefit from using the resources. Colleagues who work in any role can get involved as the Hub acts as your guide to develop yourself, whatever your job.

I’m also working more intensively with members of staff within the pilot project areas, so anyone in the departments who has any questions can drop me a line to find out more.

Whatever your current level of knowledge, skills and confidence, I’d urge everyone to set aside a little time and have a look at the Hub to see what it can offer.

You just need to click onto the Digital Capabilities Hub to get started.

When is the project starting?

The Hub and Discovery Tool are both live and available to use now.

I started as a Digital Capabilities Advisor with CIS in April. Since then, we’ve been getting the Hub set up and working with the departments in the pilot project. We’re now ready to help their staff members to make the best use of the available support, so we hope to see real progress within the departments over the coming months.

What are the next steps that people need to take to get involved?

I’d recommend putting 15 minutes in the diary to click onto the Hub and read the introductory information.

You can access the Jisc Discovery Tool and fill in a self-assessment questionnaire which will generate your own personalised report: this gives you specific information and advice to improve your digital capabilities. From there, you can put plans in place to really turbo-charge your skills and knowledge.

The Hub is free to use and it’s a really easy process. It could really help you to develop your IT skills and confidence.

Whether you want to develop your career, use IT to benefit your current role or help with your homelife, the Hub is the first step towards getting the advice and support you need.  

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