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From pilot to progress: one colleague’s journey to improve her digital skills

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When Natalie Costello was looking to improve her own digital skills and help her team to use technology to work smarter, she called on the University’s Digital Capabilities project.

Natalie is a Senior Manager for Administration and Finance within University Library and Collections (ULC). 

Dialogue caught up with her to find out how she and her team benefited from increased digital skills and confidence.

She also shares her thoughts in our video, which you can view at the end of the page.

Can you tell us what your current role involves?

In ULC, my role involves lots of work using digital tools such as spreadsheets, emails and specific systems. I oversee the HR activity in the department which includes recruitment as well as being a member of various groups within ULC, such as staff development, environmental champions and digital champions. 

Some of these roles rely heavily on IT systems, so anything I can do to increase my digital skills, and those of the team, is really helpful.

How did you hear about the Digital Capabilities project?

I’ve been liaising with the HR-OD team about the digital skills gaps for a number of years before the Digital Capabilities project came to fruition, mainly to reflect digital skills correctly in recruitment job descriptions.

I’d already spoken to Garry Storer (Digital Capability Advisor) in his previous role. HR and I were keen to get his thoughts before pursuing issues further at the University. So I was involved with this before the Digital Capabilities project was even rolled out.

What was the course you took part in?

Library and Collections were part of the pilot for the JISC Digital Capabilities Framework in Autumn 2023. Despite already having seen the JISC framework in my previous work with HR, I retook the online course and completed it for my current skill set.

I found doing this to be helpful and informative. It gave me food for thought, helping me to look at my own skills gaps as well as being signposted to some great resources - from two-minute Stream videos to more in-depth information on digital content creation. 

Recently, I also took part in the 'SharePoint Best Practice Use It Safely Microsoft Groups' online session, which was extremely useful.

Why did you decide to take the courses?

I knew I’d have lots to take away from the sessions and a further follow-up conversation with the session leader helped me to re-focus group permissions on SharePoint sites within our department.

This is a piece of guidance I’ll be reviewing shortly to help other people in the department understand the importance of setting permissions in SharePoint.  

Was it easy finding the time to complete the courses?

Time is precious for everyone, but if something is important, you find the time to focus. 

For the JISC Capabilities Tool, it’s something you can do at any time, so I identified a slot in my diary to read the materials and then allocated time to complete the survey. 

The SharePoint Microsoft Group session was an online training course at a specific time, which was useful as I could switch off emails and other distractions and focus on the session in-hand.

How do you think these tools and courses will help with your future work?

Both the JISC framework and the courses being run as part of the Digital Capabilities programme are invaluable for me. Digital tools are evolving at such a fast pace that it’s important to keep my skills as up to date as possible, not only for my job but also outside of my role and personally. 

I’m signed up to further SharePoint sessions where I’m hoping to gain some more useful hints and tips! I'm also encouraging my direct reports and colleagues in ULC to attend these one-hour workshops to strengthen the skills we have in the team and department.

What advice would you give to anyone who might want to improve their digital skills?

Identify any skills gaps you think you have – the JISC Discovery Tool can help with that – and discuss the options with your manager as part of your regular check-ins with them. 

There are lots of resources on the new Digi Learn Hub as well as online courses and workshops at specific times, so just have a look and sign up!

You can hear directly from Natalie as she shares her thoughts about Digital Capabilities by clicking on the video below:

You can also find more details about the DigiLearn Hub and the available SharePoint learning resources.



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