Digifest 2018

Back in March I was lucky enough to travel to Birmingham to attend Digifest. Digifest is a large free, two day conference hosted by JISC which focuses on educational technology and is attended by a managers, academics, technologists and librarians.  I attended a range of keynotes, workshops, lightning talks which covered a range of topics such as learning analytics, digital literacy/fluency, artificial intelligence and enhancing the student digital experience. Digifest also offers you the chance to network, meet suppliers and a friendly robot or two…


Some of my highlights included:

  • An inspiring keynote from Shakira Martin, president of the National Union of Students who talked about the current downturn in adult learners and the need to harness the power of digital to help all students no matter what their level to achieve their goals and meet the growing skills gap. Watch it all here.
  • A panel discussion between Emma Thompson of The University of Liverpool Library and Ange Fitzpatrick of Head of Information and Library Services, Judge Business School. Emma and Ange discussed the best ways to create a ‘safe’ library space where students can access non-judgemental support for their studies and create communities with their fellow students. They touched on using UX strategies to observe how students used spaces and letting students move furniture to customise the space.
  • A talk from Nick Wolley Head of Library Services at Northumbria University who used Instagram desk selfies students took in the library to illustrate the modern hybrid library environment and mixture of digital and print resources students use for their studies and striking the balance between the two.
  • Hearing in two separate talks about the development of credit bearing digital skills courses at both the Lancaster University and University of Birmingham both of which involved in put and support from Library Services how this supported employability and the positive feedback this received.

Some ideas to take away and think about:

  • I really liked the idea from Liverpool University of branding lesser used University study areas such as computer labs as pop-up Library spaces during busy exam periods. They found that this actually increased the usage of these spaces – especially if they were advertised via social media.
  • Developing student led library inductions for UG courses where students in years two and three talk to first years about the Library, the best places to sit, which resources to use etc. Can lead students to feel increased ownership for the space and better engagement with the library.
  • And finally, a big but important question…what can we be doing as library staff to help support not only support our users develop digital literacy skills but also become digitally fluent? Do we need to look inwardly at our own digital skills and identify areas for development? Perhaps this can be done by regular workshops/training sessions, blog posts or knowledge sharing events.

As always with these things, due to packed schedule I missed many fascinating sounding sessions, luckily though many are available online for you to read at your leisure.




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