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Academic Skills – The Student Way (Due 22 July 13)

Part one: Project description

Project fundholder / Project leader

Amanda Pocklington

Funding awarded



University of Exeter

Project title

Academic Skills - The Student Way File:GEN754 logo exeter.png

Project description

Students creating Academic Skills resources – creating videos of students from different disciplines talking about the importance of academic skills both for successful completion of assignments, their degree programme and for future career activities. Resources to be included within virtual learning area and added to Facebook/YouTube site. This project will be set up to enhance the awareness of the importance of academic skills to not only aid those experiencing difficulties but also for those wishing to develop these skills further and achieve higher marks. This project will run alongside a new project to develop a social media presence to also enhance awareness of academic skills.

Project aims and objectives

Create student oriented online resources to help engage students with their learning development skills.

Intended outputs (resources e.g. documents, videos, learning objects etc.)

At least 3 videos made by students of students addressing the importance of academic skills in the successful completion of a university degree programme. Also a development guide giving tips and information about how the resources were created & put onto YouTube.

Intended Outcomes for staff

Resource development guide for staff across the university.

Additional online resources for staff to use within sessions addressing academic skills.

Intended Outcomes for Students

Student oriented resources to help students comprehend the importance of continuously developing their academic skills to assist in the successful completion of their degree programme. Also to offer a sound base from which to successfully engage with job tasks and future career oriented skills.

Funding outline (how money is to be spent; list items or costs)

Funding usage:

Employing students to undertake videoing, editing & transcribing (approx £200)

Employing student/GTA to develop guide/instruction booklet. (approx £200)

Supplies for project – tapes, batteries, design of posters & printing, staff webinar time, etc (approx £100)

Activities (brief outline of work)

Students to take videos of fellow students, transcribe these videos and upload to YouTube.

Students to assist in the development of a process guide to provide information about how to create such videos, edit them, transcribe and upload to a social media site.

Dissemination routes (e.g. events, posters, webinars…)

Internal VLE,

Webinar, ALDinHE conference poster/presentation, appropriate HEA event.

Part two: Final outputs

Project resources inventory (list of items created)

Multi-discipline videos uploaded to YouTube and Exeter VLE

Guide booklet detailing the processes used in video creation.

Video Clips Created:

Graduate Interviews - College of Humanities

Graduate Interviews – College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Stop Motion Video – Employer Skill Requirements

Interviews – Sam and James

Instruction Booklet:

What do students think about academic skills (video

Link to project resources and blog


Currently on temporary area on YouTube to be moved to more permanent location once this is given authorisation by institution. Current locations:

How did the project utilise and/or develop digital literacies in the participants?

Attach a mapping of key project activities onto

Two students were taken on to undertake the video creation and develop an instruction booklet for the project. Both students had familiarity with digital media but in differing areas hence there was an exchange of practice in these areas ensuring that both gained new skills. The project thus utilised current skills in digital literacies of one student and simultaneously developed the digital literacy of the other student. Additionally, both students developed new skills in the creation of stop-motion videos and adding audio to these items. Both students were already familiar with and confident social media users and provided guidance to staff on this area. Feedback from the students noted that “I have developed my ability to create stop motion film, something that I had not done before. I also used my existing skills in camera operating, audio operating and editing.”

Both students were introduced to TechDis to enable them to check possible accessibility aspects associated with video creation, etc. Feedback from the students included – TechDis “was a useful resource, which helped guide our construction of the videos. Video content was filmed in a clear to hear, easy to understand manner, using basic recording equipment to capture much clearer audio than would have been possible with on board camera microphones. The shots were simple and uncluttered, for ease of viewing.”

As can be seen, the project offered the participants the opportunity to gain a fuller understanding of how to engage with digital practices through creating and uploading various forms of video and audio. They sought out and evaluated information as necessary per copyright, creative commons, accessibility, digital tools, etc. The creative commons aspect was further checked with the HEA rep to confirm the requirements. The students also noted that “In this project I gained skills in organization (specifically organizing students with busy timetables), stop motion and looking into processing creative commons licences.”

Most of the information was communicated between the participants via email and face-to-face meetings although google drive was also used with the associated areas of YouTube and a blog.

The digital content has been uploaded to You Tube, the Institutions vle and added to the list of resources to be added to the departments new web pages.

We are also included on the list of presenters for the webinar being organised by the HEA.

The project maps to the DIL framework at Level 1’

  • Understand & engage in digital practices
  • Find information
  • Critically evaluate information, online interactions & online tools
  • Manage and communicate information
  • Collaborate and share digital content

General Issues raised by project

Hiring students to participate in projects needs careful planning with consideration given to activities at different times of the academic year. Ideally, projects should be in final planning stages over the summer with the project run time for an academic year to enable different students to be involved.

The digital literacy level of many students is of a high level which is often not matched by the staff overseeing such activities. Hence, a lead in time for communications and bringing all participants understanding up to a similar level would be ideal.

The students noted that “The hardest element of this project was finding students to film over the holidays/exam season. This was especially the case regarding the filming of public students for their opinions, as there was little through traffic on campus.”

There were some issues raised concerning finding suitable filming locations. The students noted that “Filming with background noise was not really an issue for this project as the basic audio equipment greatly improved the noise insulation, however finding a naturally well lit location which was not too busy was substantially more difficult.”

Barriers / Challenges e.g. accessibility

The main barriers were associated with:

  1. finding suitable subjects for the videos at the time of year that the project was begun.
  2. persuading potential students to be video subjects when there was no real incentive at a busy time of year for them.
  3. finding an appropriate filming area – per lighting, noise level, large enough, etc.

Solutions deployed to above issues and challenges

The project lead send out emails to staff contacts to enable communications with groups of students. The students also used their own networks within their disciplines and social activity groups.

The students searched around the institution to locate some appropriate areas for filming.

How the roles/activities of the participant’s learning landscape was effectively changed by the project

The students gained an understanding of the issues that need to be addressed when undertaking this type of project. The importance of liaison with contacts and networks to help ensure a successful project was a key factor. The students noted that they “learnt the difficulty of arranging people when they are not getting anything out of the project. I would go about this differently in future, trying to get a larger number of people involved in the filming of the project… persuading people en masse.”

The participants knowledge and understanding of different aspects of digital literacy was enhanced through their involvement with this project which they will take forward into future activities and roles.

Recommendations to future projects of this nature

This was a very interesting project to undertake which has helped to improve the digital literacy of not only the participants but also potentially a wider audience of viewers of the outputs. A higher budget level would have greatly improved the opportunity to make not only a greater number of outputs but also increase their quality. This would also be helped by being able to run the project over a whole year which would aid in subject recruitment and time to develop more resources.