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Enhancing digital engagement in teaching and learning through digital literature

Part one: Project description

Project fundholder / Project leader

Nicola Presley (Leader)

Joanne Parsons

Funding awarded



Bath Spa University

Project title

Enhancing digital engagement in teaching and learning through digital literature

Project description

This project will examine the use of digital technology in learning and in assessment. At the forefront of this project is the appointment of two paid student fellows to help create and develop digital resources for a Year 3 Publishing and English Literature module. These resources would include a variety of social media platforms, a dedicated blog (which forms part of the formative assessment) and an exploration into the viability of an app dedicated to support a module. The app would feature all the key learning information and would be updated via a web-based mechanism

Project aims and objectives

To embed learning technologies in teaching and assessment

To empower students in their digital learning

To develop a model app platform

To increase student employability

To disseminate good digital teaching and learning practice

Enhance collaborative learning

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

App (either in completed or in draft form)


Case study documents


Intended Outcomes for staff

Evaluate the effectiveness of digital resources

Understand the value of working with students to manage resources

Improve staff and student communication

Encouraging use of digital technology in teaching and learning

Improving staff knowledge surrounding digital technologies and the implementation of them as a teaching and learning tool.

Intended Outcomes for Students

Develop project management and analytical skills in a digital context

Be the key stakeholders in their learning

Be able to direct their own learning

Increase engagement with staff

Increase wider participation

Enhance employabilty

Improve digital skills

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

Student fellows (£200 stipend per student) : £400

Train tickets for 2 tutors, Bath to Salisbury  :£45.00

App costs (Apple developer program)  : £65

Total: £510.00

Activities (brief outline of work)

The student fellows will be appointed at the start of the academic year and will be responsible (with tutor support) for monitoring and developing the blog for the module, which will include contributions from all students on the module. The Project tutors will register the University as an Apple Developer and will explore the viability of an app. With the student fellows, they will begin to create an app for the module, using a platform that can be replicated for other teaching occurrences. The tutors will visit Salisbury to draft an app based on William Golding’s The Spire (one of the set texts)

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

Publically available webinar

Presentation involving staff and students at Bath Spa University E-Learning Day

Possible presentation of project at HEA seminar for which a separate funding bid is being made to the HEA

Blog featuring contributions from all students on module and run by student fellows (to be added to blog roll)

Part two: Final outputs

Project resources inventory (list of items created)

Module blog

Videos of student fellows

Draft app (screen shots on module blog) Presley app about page.jpg

Reflection from one of student fellows

Reflection from project leader

Exploration of viability of teaching app with students (see tutor reflection)

Forthcoming conference paper from project leader

Link to project resources and blog


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

Attach a mapping of key project activities onto

Student Fellows

Student fellows took responsibility for managing the blog and for creating resources specifically based around app creation. This was really useful in empowering the students in the development of digital resources and the other students on the module enjoyed learning from their peers. One of our fellows used social media to interact with other students; encouraging them to post on the blog. The fellows took a leadership role in developing collaborative learning activities and worked closely with the lead participant. The creation, development and dissemination of these resources developed digital literacy in both the fellows and the whole class.

Whole Class

Students worked on a collaborative GPS-based app of William Golding’s novel The Spire. The two project holders and one of the two student fellows visited Salisbury in advance of the session and began constructing a basic framework for the app, capturing GPS locations. Students on the module visited Salisbury cathedral and the wider area, taking a series of photographs and creating short pieces of literary criticism. We created workshops based on XCode and Mag+ for the creation of literary apps, so that if they chose to, students could build their own apps for their independent projects. This allowed the students to produce a subject-related artifact using digital tools. All students were expected to contribute to the class blog, with many being tasked with starting a particular thread, thus utilising and developing their online communication skills.


Project holders learned XCode! Skills were developed in managing students online and advocating digital literacy.

General Issues raised by project

For the staff members, managing online work by students can be time-consuming – monitoring and checking posts and participation.

From our research, a teaching app would be well received by students. The difficulty here is the range of devices – coding is different for Apple and Android – so this could create problems of accessibility.

Wide range of existing digital skills: some students had some coding experience; some had built websites; and some have never really used any digital tool. This made the starting point quite difficult in whole class activities as there was a risk of students being completely out of their depth, or being bored by repeating what they already knew.

We were conscious of not burdening the student fellows with too much work, on top of their already full third year responsibilities.

Barriers / Challenges e.g. accessibility

Student contributions to the blog weren’t assessed and although they received formative feedback on their writing, there was no compulsion to contribute. Two students from the class didn’t engage with the blog at all, although this was also linked with lack of attendance.

Accessibility to appropriate hardware and programmes.

Unable to run webinar because fellows graduating and returning home.

Solutions deployed to above issues and challenges

Students asked to peer review blog posts.

We lent equipment (such as iPads) to students.

Online forums were set up, providing basic and advanced help to students on various digital projects. This meant that students could access extra support depending on their level of need.

Video interviews with student fellows (on YouTube)

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

For the student fellows, they were empowered by their roles and had a real stake in their own learning. This changed how modules are usually delivered to students, with students effectively working as partners with their tutors.

Students on the module applied their subject-specific skills in a completely new way and explored how their skills are transferable in a digital world. They worked collaboratively – both with their peers, and teaching staff.

Recommendations to future projects of this nature

I would highly recommend the use of student fellows for specific modules! Providing a small stipend adds value to their role.

The whole class activity on creating an app was a fascinating experiment and one that we’ll certainly be repeating next year. Apps can be tricky to make but provide skills that will enhance student employability.