A collaborative approach to student digital skills support: The UOW Digital Skills Hub

By Kristy Newton, Digital Literacies Coordinator (UOW Library)

Digital literacies, digital capabilities, digital dexterity… no matter what you call them, these are an essential and complex set of practical skills, attitudes and contextual understanding that help us navigate and interact with the digital world. They can span everything from learning how to use a new piece of software, to understanding how communication styles differ depending on the channel you are using to communicate, to developing a growth mindset that enables you to engage in a process of continual learning and development. This post outlines the process of developing the UOW Student Digital Skills Hub as a strategy for supporting student digital skill development.

A collaborative approach

At UOW, we recognised that a collaborative approach was essential for supporting student digital literacies and that this collaboration needed to be seamless for students to access. There had been collaborative work on developing an institutional approach to digital literacies for a few years, but the unexpected challenges of COVID19 and the rapid transition to remote learning meant that a lot of that work was paused to allow staff to address the immediate challenges presented by the pandemic. Libraries are often champions of digital literacy development, but the complex interplay of practical skills and digital behaviours means that digital literacy support at an institutional level spans several units with areas of expertise. The IT support units are an obvious match for the development of technical skills, but the development of digital capabilities at University also incorporates clever learning design that means students encounter these development opportunities in ways that are meaningful for their learning, and a future careers perspective that contextualises their skill development in relation to their professional post-University lives. 

Stakeholders from the Pro Vice Chancellor (Students) Unit, Information Management and Technology Services (IMTS) Unit, and Learning Teaching & Curriculum (LTC) Unit are all strategic partners in the creation of the Digital Skills Hub. While the Library has a strong history of supporting digital literacies, as well as supporting the more traditional information literacies, it was important to us, that the site was not recognised solely as a Library site. We felt that this might compromise the value of the site for students who might think it was just about using databases rather than the broader range of digital skills and behaviours that make up their everyday lives.

The Digital Skills Hub

In late 2021, the Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic and Student Life) revitalised the institutional conversation about digital literacies as part of a strategy for supporting student success, and identified the Library as a key stakeholder in this initiative.  In response, we created an online Digital Skills Hub – a one-stop shop for students to be able to access all the digital literacy support that they needed. The Hub provides a consistent location for students who don’t know where to find digital literacy support, recognising that they often need to seek support from a variety of different units and departments, but don’t know which unit to approach for help with their specific problem. Having all the content in one place makes this an easier proposition, particularly for students who are less digitally literate. Pragmatically, because we had the support of the DVC (A&SL), we were able to secure support in embedding a link to the Digital Skills Hub in all the subject Moodle sites. This means that it was easily accessible for most students, in a location that they were already accessing for academic purposes.

One of the factors that made the Digital Skills Hub possible, was the acquisition of the JISC Digital Capabilities service. This included the Discovery Tool, a tool which allows students to undertake a self-assessment and receive a personalised report on their digital skills. Alongside the Discovery Tool, the JISC site provided a suite of support resources, and capacity for us to create UOW specific support resources that are embedded in the JISC reports. The JISC interface also provides us with valuable information in the form of an institutional dashboard. This highlights student skills across the different capability areas and provides a heat map of where the strengths and areas for development lie across different student types and different faculties. The data is de-identified, so we can’t see what a particular students progress might look like, but it does give us a good idea of trends, enabling us to target support services where they are needed.

A one stop shop for digital skills information

The front page of the Student Digital Skills Hub

There are three main ways that the Digital Skills Hub supports students:
– It provides them with access to the JISC Discovery Tool, a self evaluation tool that illustrates each student’s personal strengths and weaknesses in relation to digital skills and provides them with a customised report and suggested actions/resources for developing those skills further.

– It explores Digital Capabilities through the lens of the JISC Digital Capabilities Framework, and highlights how those framework areas relate to everyday skills and digital behaviours

– It provides them with easy access to a knowledge base of FAQs on a variety of digital skills topics and gives them the opportunity to chat/ask a question. This knowledge base incorporates existing relevant FAQs as well as newly created FAQs that are specifically designed to support the needs of the Hub.

There is also a rating system for students to rate their satisfaction with the site, as well as a link for them to provide feedback. 

Key points to consider

For institutions interested in doing something similar, the following points are worthy of consideration.

  • It’s important to get the strategic support of the different units that make up the digital literacies support services for students. Creating a site where some support is offered, but students need to go elsewhere for different kinds of tasks, just creates barriers for students.
  • An accessible and well-designed platform is key to the success of the site. You want to make sure that students with lower levels of digital skills can access the site and find it easy to navigate. 
  • Centre the development of the site on the needs of the students who will be using it. We are using an iterative design process, which means that we take on board student feedback and insights from the literature to inform the way the site develops. We see the Digital Skills Hub as a constantly evolving resource that will continue to be shaped and developed by the needs of the people using it.

Six months on from the creation of the site, we are currently engaged in a process of seeking feedback to inform the way that the site develops in the future. This is driven by an iterative, human-centred approach to content development that commits to continuously evaluating whether the site meets user needs, and adapting and evolving the site to ensure it continues to do so.

Power BI: Data Wrangling and Fish

Danielle Degiorgio, Digital and Information Literacy Project Adviser, Edith Cowan University Library
Sue Khoo, Librarian (Digital and Information Literacy), Edith Cowan University Library

What is Power BI?

Power BI is a Microsoft data visualisation tool that displays data in an easy-to-read format and allows users to interact and show relationships between different data sets.

Why Power BI?

Our goal was simple, we wanted to connect the mapping of digital and information literacy skills across the course curriculum to the teaching and learning activities we were doing each semester. We just had one problem, we were recording our data and statistics in multiple spreadsheets.

As luck would have it, the 2021 VALA Tech Camp was hosted at Edith Cowan University Library that year and we were introduced to Power BI through a series of workshops. Soon after we decided to use Power BI to help us keep track of student statistics in a more visually appealing way and it let us connect multiple sources of data. This meant we could compare, filter, and visualise relationships between multiple spreadsheets which allowed us, and more importantly our manager, to see our progress across courses.

Power BI: Visualisation of mapped digital and information literacy skills in courses.

Things we got Power BI to do:

  • Connect information from multiple spreadsheets to show how much digital and information literacy skills coverage we have in each course. 
  • Filter and display subsets of data. 
  • Be hosted in Microsoft Teams for ease of access where the report can be shared and displayed as a tab in Teams. 
  • Automatically update data from SharePoint, so having all our sheets hosted on SharePoint / Microsoft Teams mean we can easily add data into the model. Our Power BI reads directly from SharePoint files and updates at 9am every day.

Skills: What magic do you need?

  • Spreadsheet and table management – Power BI relies on external data. You must have the data cleaned and stored in a data source such as Excel (or databases such as Salesforce or Access).
  • Logic and relationship management – Connections can be 1-1 and 1-many but only one model may exist at a time. If there are conflicts Power BI will complain.
  • Ability to play with formulas and data types – If you need a relationship that isn’t expressed in the Power BI map you will need to learn to write the formula for it.
  • How to put together a graph – Knowing what graph suits your needs be it a scatter plot, ribbon chart, pie chart, or fish.
  • Professional Google skills – If something goes wrong, be ready to Google it!

Pitfalls: What to watch out for

  • A lot of trial and error and Googling – No training will prepare you for what you want to do. There may be things you want to do but Power BI only gives you the basic tools. You will have to build what you want from there.
  • Broken or dirty data – Power BI relies on relationships between different tables and inputs to build the model. If a piece of information is missing and if that is the connection in the model, it will skip that line. This has resulted in expectations not meeting what was displayed.
  • Know your data story – Power BI does not do data interpretation. You need to know what you want to tell. This is one of the main issues on the final display of information.
  • Permissions – Our shared spreadsheets and the dashboard were stored in places where we didn’t have full access to use. Arrange the files so each input has the right permissions to do SharePoint integration.

How do you get started?

But what about the fish?

The most important thing to remember is to be creative and have fun with your data!  

Power BI: Number of students seen per School using the Enlighten Aquarium visual. Enlighten Aquarium won a people’s choice award for the ‘Power BI Best Visual’ contest in 2016.

Creating video templates for shorter lead times and greater consistency in library tutorials

by Nicholas Rowsell, Digital Library Programs Officer, University of Newcastle Library

A challenge in creating anything across a team, or to a greater extent an institution, is ensuring that when content is created there is a consistent design language, and when adhering to this requirement, efficiencies are not lost.

To communicate your ideas with this purpose in mind, content should be:

  • aligned to brand positioning,
  • consistent between digital objects,
  • as equitable and accessible as possible
  • solutions should match your team’s abilities
  • lean into established processes when adding something new.


In wanting to establish new processes for the creation of a video tutorial series for the University of Newcastle Library, these were the considerations we had to address.   

Our solution was to create a series of templates for video creation programs such as Powtoon and Microsoft PowerPoint. By providing content creators with a series of template slides they are quickly and easily able to copy a slide and insert the content they need to present, with all the animations, transitions, and formatting completed for them ahead of time. All that is then required is for the team member to render the slides to create a video. The positive implications of this are that videos are highly sustainable and scalable, as content can be edited or updated on the slides and re-rendered as needed to reflect an updated syllabus, changes in technology or services, and so on.

So how did this solution come about?

Alignment with brand positioning

Our priority in creating a new video series was to align the look and feel of content to the University’s Brand Guidelines. This meant ensuring that our team members used the correct typography, colours, shapes, and images.

We quickly identified this as a pain point as the time taken to set up a file, create a design, then undertake a quality assurance check distracted from the goal of the content being created and released.

This is where our solution to create video templates first came about.

Leaning into existing practices

One of the first lessons learnt in our solution was to lean into what the team was already doing and what they were familiar with. This was done by learning from our mistakes and pivoting where needed. Our first approach was to implement the template solution in Microsoft PowerPoint; we did this as we knew the team had great digital capabilities with this program so that asking them to perform a new process in the application was straightforward.

What we overlooked was that the team was already very invested in using PowToon for video creation.  This did not create a major roadblock, however, as we were able simply to import the templates from PowerPoint into PowToon.  But time could have been saved had we been more perceptive to our team’s existing preferences from the get-go.

One solution leading to opportunities for continuous improvement

With greater efficiencies created, the team become time richer. This, in turn, presented an opportunity to introduce consistent practices. This opportunity was to make our videos more equitable and accessible, by adding in Closed Captions embedded within the videos, to aid students who don’t have English as a first language, or have a hearing impairment.  We can also introduce the use of Alternative Text sheets for download in the notes field below the videos, which can be used by screen readers.

A scalable, sustainable solution for higher quality resources

As our development of videos as digital learning objects continues, the team can rely on the sustainability and scalability of the slides to easily update content which is engaging and relevant, ensuring we can continue in our endeavour to provide high quality online information literacy resources.

Being digitally copyright dextrous: stock video content

by Anthony O’Brien, Copyright Advisor, University of Newcastle. Contact: copyright@newcastle.edu.au

Vector graphic image of man in a shirt and tie standing next to a Copyright icon

This is the third post in a series that will look at considerations for copyright as part of being digitally dexterous.  Copyright is an important consideration when reusing any content. 

Stock videos are becoming more important as creators look to change up the materials they provide for learners and clients.  There are a number of ‘free’ stock video sites that make content available for reuse.  This post will discuss copyright/licensing and other important considerations when choosing a site.

What to look for in a stock video site?

  • Quality/resolution – Your needs may vary, but aim for videos of the highest quality possible (min. 720p).  Some sites will offer 4K resolution, but you may find a trade-off with the selection of videos available.
  • Video format – most sites provide MP4 files, but some offer alternate formats.  Consider the creation or editing software you have available.  Converting files between formats can cause loss of quality.
  • Licensing – ‘Free’ licensing can vary wildly.  Certain licences may not allow you to post to YouTube, for example, but internal use/hosting could be OK.
  • Look/feel – a number of sites are either difficult to navigate, have limited searching/filtering options, or swamp site users with ads.
  • Selection – Video collections can vary so do some test searches to see what might be a good fit.  Having a few sites bookmarked will help as you may not find the ‘perfect’ site for all of your searching needs.

Looking for videos that are ‘ready-to-use’

While Creative Commons (CC) licensing is still common for some video content, the majority of stock video sites apply their own licensing that can have additional caveats for re-use.  Some require particular attribution or copyright statements, so always check what you’ll need to do for their video content.  At the end of this post are four recommended stock video sites to help get you started. 

How should I provide attribution for videos that I use?

This will vary based on the licensing – always check if there is a required statement to provide credit or a link.  Some sites do not require attribution, but appreciate it where possible to include.

Where you are adding credit, you could do this on a short-duration slide at the end of your video content.  If posting to YouTube, adding links in the Description field is good practice.  Some creation platforms, such as H5P, include a ‘rights’ option to collect and showcase this information.

What if I’m adding a Creative Commons licence to my final work?

Where external content forms part of your work, when attaching CC licensing you should also add a copyright (or ownership) statement for any re-used or reproduced content.  By adding these statements (in addition to your CC licensing information) users will have a clearer understanding of what content is outside any CC licensing applied to the work. Your institution’s copyright office may be able to assist with this.

Four recommended sites:

  • Mixkit – searching is easy and there is great filtering by category.  Videos tend to have useful framing (left- or right-aligned) that allows for easy addition of text or other materials over the video content.  Many videos have free licensing where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).  Note: there are some videos with ‘restricted’ non-commercial licensing that doesn’t allow for posting to YouTube due to the ability to monetise videos.
  • Pixabay – one of the best sites around for free media.  Lots of different videos and a great choice if you’re looking for abstract or ‘interesting’ video backdrops.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated). 
  • Coverr.co – this site often creates topical collections based on what’s happening in the world, e.g. working from home, cryptocurrency, etc.  Also offers vertical videos for social media.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated). 
  • Dareful – Video footage in 4K resolution.  Lots of landscapes and drone footage, but other collections are growing.  Videos are licensed under CC BY 4.0, so attribution is always required.

Stretching my digital dexterity through ECU Library Digital and Information Literacy

By Liz Grzyb (MEd student, Charles Sturt University)

As part of my study for the MEd (Teacher Librarianship) course online at Charles Sturt University, I was required to complete a Professional Work Placement at a library. I am already working in a high school library, so I approached the Edith Cowan University (ECU) Library as I was interested in seeing the differences between secondary and tertiary/academic libraries.

I was lucky enough to be teamed up with the delightful Danielle Degiorgio in Digital & Information Literacy (DIL), as I had identified digital services and information literacy as some of the areas I would like to find out more about. My prac has been literally book-ended with Digital Dexterity – I began by sitting in on an online DigiDex meeting and it will end with this blog post!

During my time at the library, I have spent time talking with many experts on various different aspects of how the library is run. Many of these discussions were about information literacy (IL) and digital literacy (DL). IL in a university library has similarities to my experience in a school library, but it also has many more layers due to the variation in focus and intensive research needs of the users.

I had not realised until I arrived at ECU that the university is e-preferred, so I was surprised at the huge number of electronic resources the library facilitates, and how much digital literacy pre-loading was needed when introducing new students to the university. The Orientation Week workshops that are being planned cover introductions to many of the learning tools used by the university and the library will help to clear barriers to study. It is such an important service to ensure equity for students.

I have spent a lot of my working time this week looking into Open Educational Resources (OERs). Before this prac I did not know they were a ‘thing’, but I have found out that they are incredibly important for equity in education and life-long learning. I have unearthed a number of new-to-me databases and providers of open resources specifically for assisting learning or for information-gathering. I can see that this process will help me to support teaching staff at my school as well as expanding my own teaching strategies.

The image depicts a younger and an older humanised notebooks sitting on a bench. The older notebook has a cane. Both notebooks are looking at a laptop the younger notebook is holding. The laptop says OER on it. There is also an empty thought bubble above the notebooks.
Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay

If, like me, you have not used OERs much before, here are a few places you might start investigating resources for your area:

Many of the OER databases are weighted to overseas resources, so it is wonderful to see that the DigiDex educators have a group bringing home-grown resources to the table. (https://www.oercommons.org/groups/digital-dexterity-educators/5554/)

The DIL team have been wonderful to spend my placement with, and I thank them profusely for their generosity in helping me to gain experience in their area of knowledge. Everyone I spoke with at DIL had amazing dedication to information and digital literacy for students – they were focused on providing workshops, services, and resources accessible to all. I have lots of new ideas to spring on my unsuspecting colleagues and students this year!

That’s a wrap on 2021 – What our DigiDex Champions have been up to this year.

Maximising the use of Scosk and GIFs for (lots of) fun and (no) profit – Blog Bunch

What is Scosk? Why are GIFs so important? The Blog Bunch would like to explain … 

The Digital Dexterity Blog was launched on 1 February 2021 as part of our virtual festival, and we have published 30 posts from various contributors since. The number of page views is 7,480 so far and we have had viewers from the Netherlands, Austria, the USA, Asia, the South Pacific, and Canada, together with Australia and New Zealand. 

To align with CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Framework the blog uses the same categories as the framework. In addition to this Kate Davis, CAUL’s Director of Strategy & Analytics helped us increase our reach using the RSS from the DD blog and embedding it on the CAUL home page in a combined feed with the Modern Curriculum blog and setting up automated Twitter posts from the CAUL account.  

We have been using Deakin’s Teams site for most of our digital communications and collaborations, and of course this entails talking about the weather and our general wellbeing. We discovered that our most random (yet inspiring) conversations usually took place late on a Thursday or Friday afternoon (AEST) when we were pretty much ramping down for the weekend and needed to vent or have some fun. 

gif of a swinging sock with candy canes popping up from the top of the scok.

Scosk was actually a typo for ‘socks’ but we came up with an on-the-spot definition of ‘a secret Swedish toddy’ and that was it, Scosk took on a life of its own in our Teams chat! It has become a kind of code word for “I need help” or “I wish it was the weekend”, and we use it quite a lot!

 GIFs have been our go-to for cheering ourselves up and making each other laugh. The Blog Bunch has had so much fun this year, we’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions (although figuring out how to make headings consistent and images fit on the page has been challenging at times). This is a great working group because we learn new things every day, we learn from each other, troubleshoot together, and feel empowered to reach out beyond the Digital Dexterity Champions for contributions.   

gif by leart @leart_alert https://giphy.com/gifs/advent-lea-leart-1gTphMvpmYmQEPDO5F

So warm up the Scosk and find those GIFs for inspiration and support!  


Recipe for a living book of digital skills – GitBook team

First, start with an idea. (In this case, a tweet questioning if there was a book that teaches modern not-quite-technical computer skills.) Add the open source GitHub platform and blend with enthusiastic Digital Dexterity Champions and a diversity of skills. Stir regularly, mix in some training, a touch of fun, and plenty of trial and error. Simmer for a couple of months, then bake in a welcoming and supportive learning environment. Fill with content sourced from passionate professionals. Finally, serve your living book of digital skills to hungry readers. 

The GitBook Project group was formed in early 2021 and has been working through our recipe above. It’s been quite a journey. What started as a spark of an idea has flourished into a tangible open access book, ready for content to be added by keen professionals.  

When the project team came together in early 2021, most had little experience of GitHub, GitBook and markdown. Needless to say, a lot of upskilling has taken place since then. Chapter outlines, a code of conduct and instructions for contributors have all been created, and content is now being added to our GitBook. We’ve found that linking to the Digital Dexterity Framework and its six areas of capabilities gave the project a solid foundation and direction.  

A big part of the success of the group has been the safe environment we’ve created, which not only forgives mistakes but actively encourages them. Failing is part of the learning journey and is seen as an active way of growing skills. Some things we’ve learned along the way include: 

  • Everyone learns at their own pace. 
  • Speak up when you are struggling, as someone else is most likely feeling exactly the same way. 
  • Use the experience around you and ask for help from the wider digital community. 
  • All contributions are important, no matter how small they may seem at the time. 
  • And don’t delete branches in Github! 

We are really proud of our achievements this year, which include attending ARDC GitHub training, creating a test book filled with recipes, launching A Living Book of Digital Skills and running a training session for other champions on using the GitHub platform. Dr Sara King and Katie Mills presented at the EResearch Australasia 2021 conference and the group has been accepted to present on our experiences at VALA and ALIA National Conference in 2022.  

So there’s more to come as we refine our recipe and invite more cooks to add content to the book. If you would like to contribute, please visit the Contributing to the Digital Skills GitBook page or email digidexlibrarians+gitbook@gmail.com 


DigiDex Governance in the time of COVID – Governance Working Group

This year went so fast, and we achieved so much! The Digital Dexterity Champions Governance Working Group would like to share our experiences with you: 

  1. Emily Pyers (now working in the world of public libraries) created some great new branding for the Digital Dexterity Champions to use in all of our communications and promotions. The Champions can see it in the General channel files on our Teams site, in the Brand Library.  
  1. Marisa King (now in the world of creative writing) made a Communications Plan template for all of the Champions to use, making it much easier for us to figure out our audience, messages, and means of delivery. Again, Champions can find the Word version of the template in the General channel files on our Teams site, in Communications Documents. 

These first two achievements have given the DigiDex Champions the means to communicate in a professional, consistent manner which will encourage staff and organisations to engage with the group. 

  1. We ran the inaugural Champions’ survey to discover how our community is feeling after our first two years of operation. Emily P and Gina Sjepcevich crafted a series of 16 questions and we had a response rate of almost 40%. We hope that we can build on this effort in years to come. 

The survey gave us valuable insights into how the group would like to proceed, which will also inform CAUL’s review of its Communities of Practice in early 2022.   

We hope that we can continue to provide support to the Digital Dexterity Champions, and we wish you all a very safe, merry, and joyful Christmas. 


A year of sharing resources, experiences and knowledge  – Resource Sharing working group

2021 has been a wonderful, productive year of collaboration and creativity in the Resource Sharing Working Group. The year kick started with a lightning talk at the “Championing the CAUL Digital Dexterity Framework” virtual event, and has been building on the work done in previous years advocating for Library OERs and establishing a Digital Dexterity Educator’s group in the OER Commons repository. 

This year we have seen the membership of the OER Commons group increase to 76, with 22 library-related OERs made available in the repository. The group has been active in raising awareness among the wider CoP of OER Commons, including facilitating an Advocacy workshop, and publishing blog posts in both the Digidex blog and the Enabling a Modern Curriculum blog. In addition, the group has had a paper accepted for VALA in February entitled “OER Commons: A game of snakes and ladders for the library profession”, and will also be facilitating a day-long pre-conference workshop at the ALIA National Conference in March 2022, entitled “Experiential and exponential learning to build digital dexterity”. To top off an amazing year, the group also spawned the Gitbook group, an innovative project to create a digital dexterity OER which has quickly evolved to take on a life of its own.

All of these achievements have been collaborative and creative in nature, and attest to the strength of the relationships that we have built in the group. These activities and relationships have seen us continuing to build our own knowledge and understanding of OERs and fertilise cross-institutional discourse and activity as well as within our own institutions.   


The blog bunch will be back in 2022. Thank you to all who contributed to the blog in 2021. In the meantime, we wish you all a safe and restful break over the New Year.

gif by Stefanie Shank @stefanieshank https://giphy.com/gifs/dog-dogs-doggies-DzYe9IWr5gvLg6nfIW

Why Three Perspectives? A human centred design approach to supporting digital dexterity: People, Design and Systems Thinking

By Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, UOW Library), Keith Brophy (Manager Digital Environment, UOW Library) and Donna Dee (Manager Workforce Planning & Development, UOW Library)


University of Wollongong (UOW) Library has a long-standing commitment to the professional development of our People through both informal and formal channels. The learning culture at UOW Library is fibrous and evolving, and our staff expect that ongoing professional development will be part of their journey. We have been building staff digital dexterity capacity for several years through an ongoing staff program, and in developing the most recent iteration of that program we have hit upon a valuable combination of staff skills and approaches that can be recognised as a composable team – a synergy of expertise that informs and describes the development of dexterity needs for our people.

Our composable team consists of three essential perspectives: Design Thinking + Digital Dexterity, People + Culture, and Systems Thinking + Integration. Forming working relationships that are based on the skills that each member brings to the group is far from a new concept. Nevertheless, over the past two years we have found the combination of these perspectives enables each of us to contribute our strengths and maximise the beneficial outcomes for the organisation. An attitude of open-mindedness and trust has been a key success factor, as much as the expertise that each of us contributes. It has been important for each of us to allow our ideas to be challenged, built on, and transformed by the input of the other group members. This can be understood via the lens of remix culture, in which the resulting outputs are born from existing elements and transformed via the remix process into something new. Researchers Yu and Nickerson (2011, in Flath et al. 2017) found that a human based genetic algorithm which functioned to combine existing human ideas, resulted in ideas which were “significantly higher in terms of originality and practicality” (Flath et. al, 2017, p. 309).

Putting People First: Design Thinking + the importance of Culture

Key to the practice of design thinking is the active practice of empathy with the needs of those you are designing for – in this case, the staff of UOW Library in addition to our strategic priority of the Future-Ready Library. Incorporating the design thinking perspective has meant that we have placed these two elements as twin anchors for our process. In empathising with the needs of the Library’s Future-Ready strategic direction, we understood that the reason for developing staff digital dexterity was greater than technical and immediately job-related skills and that the underlying need was to prepare staff for a rapidly evolving and digitally rich future work environment. This environment would change more rapidly than is practical for a structured skills development program, and so it was essential to empower staff to be quite autonomous in their own development and provide a supportive environment which removed potential pain points and encouraged them to contribute actively to this process. Practicing empathy with the needs of our people and understanding the areas of interest that drive them as well as their desire for a combination of group work and independent activity, has influenced the design of our current staff program which is underpinned by a series of communities of practice.

The Right Tool: Empathy + Collaboration + Functionality

Technology in and of itself is not going to change or improve how we work. As the adage says: If you apply digital to a thing that’s broken, you’ll have a broken digital thing. It’s been very important to recognise that an established culture of continuous learning, growth mindset and adaptive thinking is part of a holistic view of the potential system solutions. In evaluating potential tools and spaces, we have considered factors such as functionality, integration, and interoperability with existing and future systems within the environment, and combined the potential of the technical solutions with what we knew about our people and how they wanted to learn and grow together. Collaborative learning opportunities had been highlighted as valuable to our staff, as had the opportunity to drive a learning journey based on individual motivations. For these reasons, alongside the adoption of Microsoft Teams as a ‘virtual office’ during the rapidly evolving COVID19 pandemic, we chose to house our digital dexterity programs within the Microsoft Teams environment, creating channels for Professional Development and individual channels for each of the communities of practice.

Continuous Learning Journey: Growth Mindset + Ideation

We have also needed to be adaptable as the context in which we deliver our program evolves. This was particularly important as we moved into an extended period of remote or hybrid work in response to the pandemic. Our staff were variably in need of support, and then in need of space within the myriad of digital channels they now needed to monitor. Our mini composable team meets monthly to talk about how the program is progressing, and evaluate if we are making the best use of the tools and time that we have available to us. Part of this process has been to encourage and support each team in the evaluation of new functionality as the systems evolve – understanding that teams who actively identify the potential value in new system capabilities will enjoy a greater sense of ownership and autonomy in directing how they work. From promoting the use of online task trackers for project management to virtual whiteboards for brainstorming sessions to collaborative document editing, we further support and build an agile, growth mindset mentality – resulting in skills and outcomes that directly align with the Library strategic direction.

The agile asynchronous approach has also dictated the possibility for spontaneous groups to form elsewhere in the organisation. Staff were proactive in suggesting changes to the communities of practice that aligned more clearly with their learning goals, and we had enough adaptability built into the program to cater for that. By extension, we have also seen other composable teams form around shorter-term learning goals and components of strategic Library projects – groups of staff who have come together to tackle project priorities or explore a specific skill or interest area without formalising this as a community of practice.


If you are interested in adopting the principles of the approach we have outlined here, the following points are a good place to start in thinking about how this might work in your own context.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is it for?
  • What elements do we have in our institutional culture that enable learning and growth?
  • How can we link this to broader strategy?
  • How might we think of a holistic solution, placing our users and their journey at the centre?
  • How do we maintain engagement and a culture of continuous learning?
  • Rather than being tied to what has worked in the past, what inputs and the data do we currently have that help us imagine what could work for the future?
References

Brophy, K, Dee, D, & Newton, K 2020 ‘UOW Library: Embedding learning and development as part of our organisational DNA’, International Information & Library Review, 52(3), pp.250-252.

Flath, C, Friesike, S, Wirth, M, & Thiesse, F 2017, ‘Copy, transform, combine: exploring the remix as a form of innovation’, Journal of Information Technology, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 306-325.

‘I didn’t know the library did that’. Making Library work in curriculum more visible.

By Kat Cain (Manager, Digital Literacy Programs) and Craig Patterson (Manager, Faculty of Arts and Education Library Services, Learning and Teaching) – Deakin University.

It’s a shared experience in public, specialist and academic libraries – regularly hearing our community members amazed reflection, “I didn’t know the library did that”, when we provide learning services beyond that of collections. The fuzzy notion of the library as mostly just books and borrowing can even be a common idea that many librarians have before they start their degree and get into the field, and the breadth and depth of Library work then becomes evident. But how to get this message of Libraries as a teaching and learning service out to our communities?

Public libraries have experimented with different comms and different ways to share their offerings with their communities. The “Unusual Library Things” infographic, that visualised resources or services available in libraries across the world, was a great way of articulating libraries’ role in community building and lifelong learning. To launch their Inspiration Lab with its fabulous digital equipment and opportunities to build technical skills, Vancouver Public Library (Canada) strategised their communications as stories and creation. Their experimentation with live-tweeting and live streaming, bus shelter advertisements, digital signage, and beautifully designed physical advertising material was effective and award winning. Closer to home, New Zealand’s Invercargill City Libraries joyously engages with their communities through creative social media approaches that shine a very big light on their lifelong learning model. Do you remember their Kardashians riff of “Keeping up with the Librarians”? While Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries, took a personalised and incredibly effective path to reaching out to their senior community and connecting them to services and resources they needed. They got on the phone and called them. The communication impact of this approach was pretty clear – being interviewed by Leigh Sales, a these “legends are Librarians at Yarra Plenty Library” shout out by the Victorian Premier, and a jump in public awareness about how diverse and responsive to community our public libraries are. These are just a few examples of fabulous ways libraries can build awareness of their learning services.  

Academic librarian roles increasingly include teaching responsibilities

Academic libraries are often considered the heart of the university, central to the learning, teaching and research endeavours. Although we have strong service delivery and facilities management, modern academic libraries also prioritise pedagogical offerings and outcomes. In fact, academic libraries have moved beyond tentative concepts of contributing to student learning or as supporting learning. As Corrall and Jolly (2020) make clear, libraries and librarians have a major role to play in learning and teaching. Pedagogical principles underpin academic library services and engagement. Our information and digital literacy focused learning materials are amazing; and our librarians are wonderful teachers. What we haven’t done as successfully is make clear that librarians have an active, informed role in teaching and learning. We have a tendency to focus on the services, our collections, the spaces and equipment we provide. We are less adventurous in marketing librarians as teachers and libraries as learning hubs. Perhaps this emerges as an unconscious reflection of the contested and questioned role of librarians as teachers (Wheeler & McKinney, 2015)? 

People can debate whether librarians are teachers or not, but what we do know is that that people want to learn when they come to the library. And if people want to learn, everyone wins if that learning is well-designed.

As a learning and teaching focused team for Deakin Library, we have grappled with how to articulate and contextualise what we do. We found that teaching staff were often surprised that we run sessions on digital identity or offer digital literacy curricula mapping. Some of our library’s best teaching approaches and outcomes were also our best-kept secrets and we wanted to get the word out.

But how to do this? We spent time as a team discussing what we do and how we frame it.

Deakin Librarians work to develop the digital fluency and knowledges of our community, both staff and students. We do this through good learning design, which is not in most people’s conception of what it means to be a librarian, or what libraries offer. But it does make sense: if libraries exist to build communities and facilitate lifelong learning, there are knowledges and skills people in communities can develop to meet their goals. That’s where we come in.

We then needed to consider how we could shape a teaching identity for Deakin Library. That’s why we developed a ‘Working with teaching staff’ webpage rounding up our most impactful ways to partner with academics at Deakin. We knew that academics were unlikely to serendipitously find and explore this pitch page. Instead, we aimed for Liaisons to use this resource in their conversations and communications with academics, with explicit language around learning design and teaching capacities. To further support this self-framing, our team concurrently redesigned a whole suite of web resources focused on teaching needs. Again, rather than relying on our community stumbling across the messaging and learning materials, we proactively promoted it through both our Deakin Library blog (Article) and the broader university blog (Network).

Screenshot of Deakin Library teaching resources page, with resources grouped under headings.

Like all communications, there is room for improvement and changes. Continued conversations and putting new ideas on the board is needed. However, the value of consciously promoting our Librarians as teachers and continuing to self-frame as active in learning experiences is immeasurable.

We leave you with two questions – how do you frame yourself as a teacher and how do you communicate that identity? And we challenge you to put your teacher statement into the discussion space below.

References:

Corrall, S., & Jolly, L. (2019). Innovations in learning and teaching in academic libraries: Alignment, collaboration, and the social turn.

Wheeler, E., & McKinney, P. (2015). Are librarians teachers? Investigating academic librarians’ perceptions of their own teaching skills. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 111–128.


Digital dexterity and a Libguides review

by Ruth Cameron, Coordinator Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle

In 2020 the University of Newcastle Library ran a pilot student internship program. A part of the scope of work for the intern project was to review our Libguides, with a view to making them more user-friendly, student-centric and discoverable. 

Our student intern first reviewed the guides herself and then created a survey for distribution through the Library’s social media channels. She incorporated all responses into a report with recommendations on how to proceed with our review.

In 2021, based on the student recommendations, we launched a Libguide Refresh Project, starting with our Subject Resource Guides. We aimed not only to incorporate the student feedback, but also to reduce the number of guides by 75% and their size by 25%. Fortunately, we were able to bring our student intern back as the student representative on this refresh project. We ran an environmental scan of 15 academic libraries’ Libguides and examined the literature to discover what is considered best practice. We considered these results in combination with our intern’s recommendations. We also created a flowchart for the decision-making process (for example, how do we decide to make a Libguide instead of a web page?).

What does this have to do with the Digital Dexterity Framework? Buckle in my friends…!


The intern project

Inviting a student to review our Libguides, and provide recommendations from herself and other students, aligns with the capability of Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation by designing and creating new digital media (the student survey on the library’s social channels), then strategically collecting and analysing data using digital tools and techniques.  

The refresh project

The refresh project aligns with Digital Communication, Collaboration and Participation in that it involved:

  • Communicating effectively in digital media and spaces
  • Actively participating in digital teams, working groups and communities of practice
  • Using shared productivity tools to collaborate, produce shared materials and work across boundaries

We used MS Teams for our shared documents and working comments, and Zoom for our meetings. Our student representative joined both of these digital spaces and participated actively in both by providing comments, recommendations and suggestions based on her earlier research.

This work also aligns with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation as we used digital evidence (collected in the intern project) to solve problems and find new solutions, and we developed a new project utilising appropriate digital technologies. We then showcased best practice, and encouraged innovation in other library staff.

Creating and sharing the flowchart

This activity aligned with ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using ICT-based tools for professional tasks such as writing, recording, presenting, task management, analysing data, managing files and working with images, and evaluating and choosing software relevant to different tasks.

We used MS Visio to create the chart and outline the decision-making process. We chose Visio because it’s part of the Office 365 suite, which is in turn supported by our institution’s IT Services. We shared the chart with the rest of the team by uploading it to our MS Teams site, aligning not only with ICT Proficiency and Productivity, but also with Collaboration, Communication and Participation, and with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation.

Creating templates for the Subject Resource Guides

The co-manager of the Academic Engagement team created a template for the Subject Resource Guides, and the Teaching Liaison Librarians then populated the templates according to discipline. This work aligns with the capabilities of ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using library and information systems, learning and research environments to a high degree of proficiency, and supporting others to use those systems and environments effectively and productively.

And of course

Our Subject Resource Guides are specifically designed to support Information Literacy!

What does this mean?

Take a look at your current and upcoming library projects in light of the Digital Dexterity Framework, and you’ll be surprised at how many capabilities you can align with. The Framework can also give you ideas on how to include more capabilities to enhance professional development.  Try it and see how easy it is!



Ko wai au? Who am I? Digital Identity for a career librarian

By Kim Tairi, University Librarian, Auckland University of Technology. Contact: kim.tairi@aut.ac.nz or on Twitter and Instagram

Know your Why

Image of Kim Tairi

As a career librarian I have always been an advocate for using social media to build robust and diverse professional and personal learning networks. I like to think of the networks that I belong to as circles of kindness and reciprocity.

This is my why. I use social media to learn, share and be part of communities of practice that are active in education, libraries, indigenisation and decolonisation and other issues I consider important.

Many of the people I have met virtually have gone on to become friends in real life. I am fortunate.

Private versus Open 

I use my own name and have an open account. I rarely get trolled and if I do, my number 1 rule is don’t engage. You owe trolls nothing and you have every right to block with wild abandon. 

My digital identity, that is, all the digital content that I have created and I am connected with, has grown organically. As an experiential learner, I like to play, make mistakes, try things and see what happens. This has led to some wonderful opportunities – conference papers, book chapters, speaking gigs and meeting incredible people.  

Twice, I have been asked to consider deleting a post by a workplace. However, I have never received an ultimatum to take-down content, it has always been a conversation. In both cases I chose to delete the contested content.  

I am always mindful that even with disclaimers about content and posts not being those of my employers, I am by reputation, associated with my place of work. If you are active on social media platforms, it is good practice to know your workplace social media policy and, recognise that your employer may look at the content you create with a different lens than you. 

Social media is performative  

As a senior leader in our profession, I acknowledge that I am always expected to display professionalism in public forums. I don’t always get it right but I try to be genuine, engaging, kind, creative, stylish and visible as an indigenous, intersectional feminist. I curate my content but try to be me at the same time.  

Social media is a performative space: for example my online persona is an extrovert and tall. I am not. That is why I call myself 1.58m of Awesomeness on Twitter! 

Actively manage your content  

Set up Google alerts and Google yourself regularly. This will enable you to check your digital footprint. Finally, be intentional, mindful and respectful and social media will serve you well professionally.  

You can find me online on Twitter and Instagram. Say kia ora!