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Learning Enhancement and Development

Experience of academic staff in relation to educational technologies and its impact and implications on digital literacies and open practices

Principal Investigator: Dr Jane Secker

Teaching is increasingly undertaken using a range of educational technologies to support students in the classroom and to provide a greater flexibility in the way that students study. At City University we explore aspects of using technology in the core module EDM120 Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) module run by City’s department for Learning Enhancement and Development (LEaD). Additionally, until 2020/21 we offered a 30 credit level 7 module EDM116 Technology Enhanced Academic Practice (TEAP) which forms part of the MA in Academic Practice programme. In 2021/22 this module was replaced with a 15 credit level 7 module EDM124: Developing Digital Education (DDE).

Feedback and follow-up discussions with staff suggested the EDM116 module was satisfactory but it can be a steep learning curve and as a 30 credit module had a heavier teaching and assessment load. There was also little opportunity to discuss and reflect on two increasingly important and related aspects of using technology in teaching, namely their own and their students’ digital literacies and their attitudes towards open practices. With this in mind, we launched a new module: EDM122 Digital Literacies and Open Practice in October 2018 and replaced EDM116 with the new 15 credit DDE module.

This project seeks to evaluate the impact of these technology modules (EDM116, EDM122 and EDM124) on staff identity and their attitudes towards digital literacies and open practice. The research builds on the growing body of research into these two key interlinked areas of practice which also impact on the use of technology in teaching. Evidence suggests that student digital literacies are not homogenous and they are not ‘digital natives’ (Jones et al, 2010; White & Le Cornu, 2011), however less is known about staff abilities. Some staff however, have been relatively slow to adopt ‘open educational practices’ which includes the creation, use, and reuse of open educational resources, the use of open pedagogies and sharing of teaching practices (Cronin,2017) and this may be linked to their own digital abilities.

The overall aim of this project is to answer the following questions:

  • What is the experience of staff who use educational technologies and how do their attitudes towards digital literacies and open practices impact on their teaching?
  • How are staff currently supported to develop a good understanding of these literacies and practices as part of these two modules which form part of the MA in Academic Practice at City, University of London and what additional support might they need?

To achieve the above aim, the project will specifically examine the following sub-questions:

  • How do staff define terms such as digital literacies and open practice?
  • What support do they need to develop their own (and their students) digital literacies and what is the role of EDM124, EDM122, EDM116 module in supporting them?
  • What attitudes do they have towards the concept of ‘openness’ in their teaching?
  • Do they share their teaching or research materials openly and how do they make decisions about re-using others and licensing their own work?
  • What changes might they have made to their teaching or research practices since completing the two modules and how is this impacting on their students or beyond?


Cronin, C (2017) Openness and Praxis: Exploring the Use of Open Educational Practices in Higher Education. The International Review of Research into Open and Distributed Learning. 18 (5). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v18i5.3096

Jones, C., Ramanau, R., Cross, S., & Healing, G. (2010). Net generation or Digital Natives: Is there a distinct new generation entering university?. Computers & education54(3), 722-732.

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9). DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171

Secker, J.   (2020). Understanding the role of technology in academic practice through a lens of openness. In: INTED2020 Proceedings. (pp. 5363-5368). Valencia, Spain: IATED. ISBN 978-84-09-17939-8. Available at: https://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/24952/