Share this story   

Helping colleagues use technology with confidence

Durham inspires      
to read

One year on from its launch, our Digital Capabilities project is continuing to help colleagues make the most of rapidly changing digital technology.

There is a constant introduction of new or updated IT which means that we need to understand how digitally capable we are. It’s important that we have the resources to continuously develop our skills and the Digital Capabilities project is helping colleagues to do just that.

Debbie Robson, manager of the project, said: “Digital Capabilities has really picked up pace over the past few months and we’ve been working hard to develop new resources for members of staff to use.

“Our main aim is to equip staff with the skills and confidence they need to get the most out of IT equipment and software in their jobs.

“As well as developing existing skills, we want to help people who might not use IT on a daily basis to make the best possible use of modern technology. This will hopefully help them in both their work and home lives, so I’d urge everyone to find out about the learning resources we have available.”

Starting as a pilot project in February 2023, Digital Capabilities originally focused on three main strands to help improve colleagues’ digital confidence and skills.

First of all, members of staff were given the chance to gain Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) qualifications. This saw colleagues take 370 exams, and gain 273 passes, with a 75% pass rate.

In another strand of the project, over 300 members of staff were identified as having minimal access to a digital device. As a consequence, some people had low confidence in using digital services such as email, online payslips, internal vacancies, our staff benefits hub, annual leave bookings and more.

The project purchased 75 laptops to share between staff, and hosted 43 support sessions to show people how to log on and use the resources.

Debbie said: “This was one of my favourite achievements within the project. If we consider all the digital tools that every member of staff needs to use, some colleagues had incredibly limited access to these which we worked to address.

It was such a good feeling when we received positive feedback: one manager said:

It has quite literally, positively changed the lives of many members of my team.

In the project’s third strand, the DigiLearn pilot ran in three departments and two colleges to explore our newly created Digital Capabilities Hub. The hub introduced the Jisc Discovery Tool that gives staff and students the ability to self-assess their digital skills and receive a personalised report that suggests courses and other training to help them develop.  

Garry Storer, Digital Capability Advisor for the project, said: “The feedback report helps you to reflect on your digital capabilities, discover your strengths and identify areas for growth. You can get practical ideas for how to progress your learning and find links to learning resources.

“I’ve seen staff who have not only thought of ideas to enhance their own digital capabilities, but also ideas to improve collaboration and productivity at work. 

“Over 300 self-assessment questionnaires have been completed, we’ve published a manager’s toolkit and helped people access hundreds of free resources. I’m passionate about continuing to engage and support departments, and help people get the best out of DigiLearn.”

You can find more details about the available DigiLearn resources and the Jisc Discovery Tool.

New year of digital learning

As the Digital Capabilities project continues into 2024, the focus remains on DigiLearn and two new offerings.

Our SharePoint Learning Package has already been an outstanding success. We have a Microsoft Gold Partner - Changing Social – who delivers training sessions on SharePoint topics such as storage, sites, lists, groups and permissions.

Simon Stevenson is the project’s SharePoint Advisor and leads on this part of the project. He said: “The demand for these sessions has been incredible. We’ve received almost 1,800 registrations on the courses and 25 sessions were completely full in a really short time. We’ll continue to run these sessions monthly up until July 2024.

“We’re helping people find out about the risks, as well as the benefits of using a system like this. We’ve had some amazing feedback and it’s clear that colleagues really appreciate this training.”

You can find out about the available SharePoint resources on the intranet.

Digital Champion Programme

As part of the Digital Capabilities project, a new Digital Champion programme is being launched to help us build our digital capabilities even further and develop better ways of working.

Digital Champions from departments across the University will have the chance to learn how Microsoft 365 apps and tools can be used to enhance, simplify, and find efficiencies in their own - and their teams’ - work.

Debbie continued: “Microsoft 365 is constantly evolving so the Digital Champions will be part of a community of practice, getting support from each other and Changing Social to help them and their teams keep up-to-date with the latest developments.

“They’ll share information and successes with their teams and other departments and help to ensure that as many colleagues as possible can keep their digital skills current and improve our use of technology across Durham.” 

You can find more details about becoming a Digital Champion and the range of projects on the Microsoft Learning Hub.



   Share this story   

Start the discussion



Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you! Get in touch via