Digifest (#Digifest20) runs across 2 days and provides a wide range of thought provoking sessions to engage and challenge the audience.
Day 2 started with a keynote from Hayley Mulenda (@hayleymulenda on Twitter) that was one of the most heartfelt and eye opening talks I have ever watched called “The Hidden Filter”. Hayley talked about her experiences at university, her journey through depression and anxiety. How she felt while having to deal with family and friends all the time maintaining the focus on her learning. This is something that I can not do justice to with my attempt to write about it now. Just to say that if you ever get a chance to hear her speak, I would take it. It will demonstrate how many students are facing challenges that (depending on your age and year of study) you may never have even considered. It equally demonstrated to me that there were times in my life where I was depressed and emotionally raw but not realising it because I was in the middle of the situation, it is only when I think back and reflect that I can see the damage I was doing to myself.
She concluded her talk with the notion that we should not rely on technology in this ‘technology driven world’ (which has become an even bigger issue at the time of writing during the COVID lockdown). We now face an even greater challenge to support each other those who may be isolated, not only literally but figuratively. (I will provide some wellbeing support and guidance at the bottom of this blog for extra reading). It is with the “Hidden Filter” that Hayley addressed that our reliance on presenting a show of permanent strength and happiness in a digital world can ultimately lead to a rise in negative and harmful experiences in the “real” world. My favourite quote of her session was “You don’t need to listen to respond, you need to listen to understand”.
The second day was just as inspiring as the first, with sessions covering a range of ideas, however the last one, I want to mention for this series of blogs is the one hosted by Michelle Capes and Sean Randall of the Wiltshire College and University Centre. This session was on digital escape rooms and demonstrated how you could use Microsoft OneNote to create pages of questions, restricted by passwords that require you to challenge your students and get them to investigate the material. Creating riddles and puzzles that can be discovered through online research as well as having to work around physical locations to find the information.
During this session, I was inspired to look at how Moodle may be a potential option in creating ‘Digital Escape Rooms’. I found that it was possible to recreate using a Moodle book to house H5P activities that are all set with restrictions that require a set score from a previous question. It was a quick test I did during the presentation but with more work, the idea could be developed using a range of activities and conditions within Moodle that create more a more in depth experience. What it demonstrated to me was the idea that we are often limited by our own creativity and not the technical limitations. The OneNote option being demostrated was simple but very effective!
What I realised is that often we are all working on creative solutions to problems or have ideas that we don’t elaborate on and this can lead us to the point where we are not always great at sharing those ideas that we have. With that in mind, if you have worked on something in Moodle that is slightly more interesting, or have an idea that you are not sure what to do with, please do get in touch with myself, your Online Course Developer (many of whom have kindly written for the blog) or the TEL team, and we can discuss these ideas and potential solutions.
To close this post and my experiences of DigiFest 2020, I would recommend to everyone that can attend this event in the future, they do! It is a fantastic example of creative minds and inspiring innovations that demonstrate learning and teaching within the FE and HE sector. It has made me think about things we should be looking at for our institution and what I can personally do to inspire others with the technology we have available. It demonstrated to me that there are more aspects to the life we lead within a university that we might miss from the students perspective (thanks @hayleymulenda). We traditionally work in silos a lot of the time, and it is an easy trap to fall into, but we should be looking at how best we can connect our work with others throughout the university. There is more we can offer, but we might not see the direct value elsewhere or how others might also be able to apply it to their subject. It is a very easy mindset to create, isolating ourselves and not sharing our work or innovations. Often this is not deliberate but just one factor in how we approach what we do in our daily working life. Digifest has shown me we should be singing each other’s praises and looking at ways to connect and integrate our best practice around the university and also what we can offer the wider community (be it learning and teaching practice or what we can offer others who might use our teaching ideas in the outside world).
Guidance and Support for Wellbeing: