Network Learning & Communities

DigiLit Leicester: 2013 Survey Results

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The DigiLit Leicester project is a two year collaboration between Leicester City Council, De Montfort University and 23 secondary schools. Digital literacy is increasingly recognised as critical for learners to thrive within digital society. The project focuses on supporting secondary school teaching and teaching support staff in developing their digital literacy knowledge, skills and practice, and their effective use of digital tools, environments and approaches in their work with learners.

In order to understand what current practice looks like, a digital literacy framework was developed in consultation with schools and staff, mapped to classroom practice. This framework defines 6 key strands of digital literacy for secondary school staff: Finding, Evaluating and Organising; Creating and Sharing; Assessment and Feedback; Communication, Collaboration and Participation; E-Safety and Online Identity; Technology supported Professional Development. Practices within these six strands were assigned to four level descriptors: Entry, Core, Developer or Pioneer.

The Results are in!  

The DigiLit Leicester framework was used to create an online survey, which was open from April to July 2013. The survey is designed to help individual staff members reflect on where they are in their use of technology, and provide schools and the Council with information to inform our planning and next steps. All staff who support learning in the BSF schools – teachers, classroom assistants, specialist provision and library staff – were invited to complete the survey. 24% of the the 1,912 eligible members of staff completed the 2013 survey – or 450 staff members.

The new project report provides a high-level summary of the city-wide findings of the DigiLit Leicester survey, contributing to a clearer understanding of the current digital literacy confidence levels of secondary school staff, and includes recommendations that the project team will be taking forward within Leicester schools.

Headline findings:

  • 52% of staff across the city who participated in the survey classified their skills and confidence at the highest level – Pioneer – in one or more of the six key digital literacy areas.

Staff who score at Pioneer level are typically confident with a wide range of different technologies and approaches to using these to support learners. They may be helping colleagues develop skills, and producing resources for others to use.

  • 26% of all those who participated in the survey placed themselves at Entry level in one or more of the six key areas.

Entry-level competencies are typified by personal, rather than professional application of technologies. Practitioners with a strand score at this level will currently not be taking advantage of the ways in which technology can enhance school based practice.

  • Staff rate their skills and confidence highest in the area of E-Safety and Online Identity, with 43% of respondents scoring at Pioneer level.
  • Staff feel least confident in the area of Communication, Collaboration and Participation, with 12% of staff rating themselves as Entry level and 47 % falling within the lower levels of the framework (at either Entry or Core level).

While the city as a whole scored strongly on the E-Safety and Online Identity strand,  corresponding scores for Communication, Collaboration and Participation were not in alignment – as would be expected given the close relationship between competencies and practices within these areas. This suggests that e-safety education is being managed within a context of restriction and limits on access to certain technologies and digital environments. Whilst effective, this approach has been identified as potentially limiting to online opportunities and the development of digital literacy.

  • Forty-three per cent of staff rated their skills and confidence in the lower levels of the framework (Entry and Core levels) in Creating and Sharing.

While creating and customising resources for classroom use is a common practice amongst school staff, Creating and Sharing was the second lowest scoring strand.

At Developer and Pioneer levels, the strand covers collaborative creation of resources, supporting learners in creating resources, and the creation and development of Open Education Resources. These findings are in line with European Commission concerns that education and training providers are currently not taking advantage of the use and creation of Open Educational Resources, running the risk of “losing the opportunity to innovate the teaching and learning practices, to increase the efficiency and equity of the education and training provision and to raise the digital skills of learners necessary for a more competitive and knowledge-based economy” (European Commission 2013).

Find out more by downloading a copy of the report on the survey results here:

DigiLit Leicester Survey Report 2013 (word)

DigiLit Leicester Survey Report 2013 (PDF)

Next Steps

During the next phase of the project, the team will be working with and supporting staff in developing school based approaches across the framework strands. In line with the survey findings, the team will focus on surfacing and sharing the work of Pioneer level staff and increasing the confidence levels of staff working at Entry level.

Key activity areas will be:

  • Facilitating school based and school led activities and projects that support staff digital literacy and professional development
  • The development and curation of information and guidance in the use of social technologies to support collaborative practice and participation
  • The development and curation of resources for staff relating to open licencing models and the production, use and remixing of Open Educational Resources.
  • Promoting the approaches included in the Technology Supported Professional Development strand, as a way of supporting staff in developing and participating in effective professional networks.

We are looking forward to sharing the work that the city takes forward!



Open Badges Hands On Session


Following the success of the DigiLit Leicester Open Badges Briefing in May, Lucy Atkins, our the projects Digital Literacy Research Associate, delivered a hands-on workshop at De Montfort University. The focus of the session was on the practicalities of designing and creating Open Badges. As with the previous meeting, attendees came from a mixture of schools, further and higher education institutions, along with staff from VESA and Leicestershire cares.

The session began with walkthroughs of free online tools that can be used to create Open Badges. Attendees were issued with a pack of resources as they arrived, which included step-by-step tutorials for each of the tools, and were given the opportunity to work through these at their own pace – with support and guidance where necessary.



The first step was to create a Backpack, where badges are stored once they are earned. This involved signing up for a Mozilla Persona account; which was also used for another tool later in the workshop. The walkthrough handout can be found here.



Next, attendees were introduced to the Open Badge Designer, a badge image creation tool created by MyKnowledgeMap. This user friendly design tool provides you with lots of choices (and the opportunity to upload your own images) in order to create the image of your Open Badge. A step-by-step guide to the designer tool can be found here.

badg (this site is no longer being maintained)


Finally, with their backpack and badge image at the ready, attendees created their own Open Badges. The tool uses the Mozilla Persona account to save the badges you create. This means that you don’t have to create a separate account from which to issue badges. Find out more about creating an Open Badge here.


Before beginning the main part of the workshop, people who had attended the previous briefing gave a short description of how badges might be deployed in their context. For example, South Leicestershire College are currently working on an employability passport – where learners gather employability skills throughout the year through different activities and experiences – and are interested to see how Open Badges may support this. Also, VESA currently work with schools to supply vocational taster sessions and would like to investigate how badges could be used to provide recognition for the completion of these courses.

Open Badges Canvas

The main activity of the workshop introduced the Open Badge Canvas from DigitalMe. This simple framework is a highly effective tool for sparking discussions around Open Badges and helping to structure the design process. Attendees worked in groups to discuss potential ways that Open Badges could be used across the city.

The canvas is broken up into four main sections:

  • Audience – who the badge is for
  • Components – what makes up the badge
  • Pathways – stand-alone or part of a larger eco system?
  • Resources – what will be needed to create the badge


The canvas also encourages thinking about the design and outward facing information of the badge (e.g. its name and description).


Each group had individual blank copies of the Canvas, alongside an annotated version, designed to provide prompts for each section – this version can be found here.

Next Steps

To close the session, the groups were asked to consider some final questions about Open Badges:

  • What did they wish to achieve?
  • When by?
  • What extra support would be needed?
  • Did they have any further questions or concerns?

Further Reading

Open Badges Briefing – This blog post summarises the introductory session, led by Doug Belshaw of Mozilla, which was held in Leicester in early May.

Open Badges Implementation FAQ – A good starting point for any further questions around issuing Open Badges, with links to more technical explanations where required.

Design Principles for Assessing Learning with Digital Badges – this is the second of four posts looking at trends in the issuing of Open Badges. This article has evaluated some of the leading Open Badge schemes and categorised the assessment practices demonstrated into a list of ten ‘appropriate practices’.

DigiLit Leicester – Secondary School Digital Literacy Framework and Survey

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The DigiLit Leicester project has been up and running for nine months now. We’ve been incredibly busy, working with 23 schools across Leicester to design and implement a digital literacy framework situated in secondary (11-18 year olds) school practice. We’ve linked this to a survey open to all schools in the city’s Building Schools for the Future Programme – in order to capture where school staff are across the city in terms of their current practice. This will help us promote and share the innovative and effective work currently happening, and support staff of all levels of confidence to move forward.  

We’ll be using the survey results to work with schools to plan their next steps and to target activity where it will have the greatest impact.

There are three key project stages:

  • Investigate and define digital literacy, in the context of secondary school based practice
  • Identify current school staff confidence levels, and what the strengths and gaps across city schools are, in relation to this definition
  • Support staff in developing their digital literacy skills and knowledge – raising baseline skills and confidence levels across the city, and promoting existing effective and innovative practice

The project is designed to benefit schools both prior to and after the opening of their new school, and to be of relevance to staff working in secondary schools both old and new. It will help all school staff supporting learning and learners to develop their skills and confidence in using technology – from absolute beginner to advanced practitioner. It recognises that staff work in different environments and have different strengths and interests.

The project team are pleased to share our first project outputs – the development of a digital literacy framework situated in secondary school practice, and the creation of a survey tool designed to identify staff confidence levels in relation to the framework. We are releasing this report under an Open Licence, which means that others are free to share, adapt and use our work non-commercially – for the benefit of other secondary schools or other sectors. Please do get in touch if you make use of our work – I’d be delighted to hear from you!

Download the project report:

DigiLit Leicester – initial report June 2013 (Word)

DigiLit Leicester – initial report June 2013(PDF)


School Educational Technologist Post – Job Description and Matrix

I’ve been working with Leicester City Council’s HR Department, in consultation with secondary schools, to create a new school post – Educational Technologist. The career grade post – with three grades defined – will be of particular interest to schools who make use of ICT Managed Service provision, although schools who provide their ICT Service in-house may be interested in how the new post sits within existing or planned provision.

The overall purpose of the post is described as:

To provide support to the school/college in identifying and implementing the use of technologies which enhance learner outcomes and experience, and that improve administrative functions.

The major objectives of the post are:

  • To ensure the effective use of technology for educational, community and business purposes and to share good practice, ensuring continuous improvement in the use, management and support of technology for staff and learners.
  • To ensure the efficient and effective administration and management of accounts, systems and processes as appropriate.
  • To ensure staff queries and requests for help are responded to and resolved quickly and that issues are correctly addressed.
  • To ensure the development and technical maintenance of the schools online presence, resources and activity.
  • To ensure the effective management and support of ICT equipment and facilities, including routine maintenance of computers and peripheral equipment takes place as appropriate.
  • To keep up to date with new developments in technology, especially those relating to education and the school’s/college curriculum.
  • To promote the use of new and existing technology, the devices, software, services and platforms that support the schools work and curriculum.
  • To ensure that adequate arrangements exist for the security of data, systems and hardware.
  • To implement and promote Leicester City Council’s and the school/college’s policies and procedures relating to all areas of employment and service delivery.

You can download the JD and Level Matrix here:

Educational Technologist JD & Level Matrix – Leicester City Council 2013 (PDF)

Open Badges and Leicester City


On Friday 3rd May, Rushey Mead School played host to an introduction to Open Badges for Leicester educators. Doug Belshaw, Badges and Skills Lead for the Mozilla Foundation presented to a packed room. The session was attended by around 30 people from mainstream secondary, specialist education, FE/Sixth Form and HE institutions. The event focused on how Open Badges could be deployed across the City, in a range of settings and contexts.

The session was co-organised by the DigiLit Leicester team with Tim Farthing from VESA (who support vocational, applied and work-related learning opportunities for 13-19 year olds) and co-presented by Paul Conneally, Leicester City Council Learning Services.

Doug’s presentation gave a  comprehensive introduction to the Open Badges movement, key issues to consider, and how Open Badges work in practice.

Why Open Badges?

Learning often takes place outside of what we formally assess, and it can be hard to gain recognition for the wide range of skills and achievements that young people may develop. Accreditation for learning often exists in Silos (GCSEs, Certificated Training, etc.) and badges may be a way to bridge the gaps.

What are Open Badges?

An Open Badge is an image with metadata (data about data – in this case, information about how and why the badge has been awarded) attached to it. The diagram below spells this out:

Image shared under a creative commons license by Kyle Bowen

Image shared under a creative commons license by Kyle Bowen

Open Badges can be used to represent:

  • achievements
  • skills
  • competences
  • interests
  • formal and informal learning pathways
  • hard and soft skills
  • peer assessment
  • lifelong learning

How do Open Badges work?

Mozilla have created the Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI) – a freely accessible system which supports all elements of issuing and earning badges.

“The OBI is designed to be an open standards framework that allows badge systems to break out of their siloed environments and work together to benefit learners.”

What makes the OBI stand out from other accreditation systems is that it isn’t proprietary, it is designed as an open technical standard – meaning that any organisation or institution can use it to create and issue badges – and any individual can use it to earn and display badges. This also means that once a learner has left a particular institution they can continue have access to and display their badges (and can earn badges from a number of sources).

Answering your questions about Open Badges – A recent post from Doug Belshaw, Badges and Skills Lead for Mozilla.

Who can use Open Badges?

Many organisations are already using the OBI, including:


Further Reading

Get Recognised! – This blog post, introducing Open Badges, was written by learners from Leicester City schools during Takeover 2012.

Open Badges for Lifelong Learning – The original White Paper from the Mozilla Foundation, Peer 2 Peer University and the MacArthur Foundation.

Open Badges: Portable Rewards for Learner Achievements – A White Paper from MyKnowledgeMap introducing Open Badges.

What is the Open Badges Infrastructure? – More information about OBI