New initiative to improve students' digital self-confidence and competencies
How do we ensure that our programmes strengthen students’ digital competencies so they are well-prepared for the labour market of the future? As part of a bigger initiative, the degree programmes in molecular biology and molecular medicine are currently undergoing a digital competency analysis. The analysis aims to visualise the extent to which the programmes are strengthening the students' digital self-confidence and employability.
Charlotte Rohde Knudsen is the degree programme head of the Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes in molecular biology at the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at AU. Together with Molecular Medicine, the programmes are the first at AU to undergo a new digital competency analysis.
“Digital competencies are becoming increasingly important in society and in the degree programmes I represent. Most people probably think that there are many digital aspects at our department, but the question is whether it is used the right way. There are some parts where it is quite obvious, for example, bioinformatics and programming. However, there may be several other areas that we miss,” Charlotte Rohde Knudsen says about her motivation for getting the analysis carried out.
The first step in the analysis is a mapping that will highlight the levels of digital competence-supporting activities in the academic regulations and course descriptions. The mapping is used in a dialogue between the CED, the directors of studies, and course managers to clarify, optimise, and if necessary adjust the academic regulations and course descriptions.
A common language to strengthen students' employability
Charlotte Rohde Knudsen is not worried whether the students will obtain the necessary digital skills during their studies. She is more concerned with improving the students' employability by, among other things, giving them a language for what they learn:
“We have participated in various conferences and meetings with the employer panel for our programmes and the message is the same: 'We want digital competencies, but the students are not good at expressing their abilities.' And perhaps we as well are not either because we do not have the right language. So, we want to learn that,” she says.
Thus, a big reason why the programmes undergo a digital competence analysis is to have a language among the teaching staff and students for what digital competence actually is and which courses provide which competencies.
“A huge part of what they learn is digital competencies but without necessarily knowing it. We are living in a society that is very digitalised so some things are so natural to us that we do not specifically think of them as digital competencies – we simply take them for granted,” she concludes.
Bringing the students closer to one another
In molecular biology and molecular medicine, the digital competence analysis is part of a greater effort to make the students on the programmes more digitally competent. The programmes have been granted funding for the project by the senior management team's strategic funds.
This has resulted in the establishment of weekly study cafés with a digital focus in the two courses involving bioinformatics which deal with substantial amounts of data. Together with the competence analysis, they hope it can bring the students closer to one another in their approach to solving the digital challenges in their studies:
“The students are kind of divided into two groups. Some are super intuitive and fling themselves into the computer work and slog away. The other group is more cautious and follows a manual while they carefully consider: 'Now I need to install this program and press that button and then it should do this'. We want to bring those two groups closer together," Charlotte Rohde Knudsen says. She hopes that the initiatives will give the students more digital self-confidence.
The challenges and needs of the diverse programmes are met
After the mapping, which will highlight the levels of digital competence-supporting activities in the academic regulations and course descriptions, follows one or more workshops facilitated by the CED with a focus on subject-specific digital competencies. The aim is to give teaching staff a sense of what the most important subject-specific digital competencies are, and how to create a digital common thread throughout the programme. Finally, it is up to the programmes themselves to decide what – and if – they want to change anything. Here, the CED is ready to help too.
The digital competence analysis is to a high degree based on the challenges and needs of the individual programmes. Therefore, it is also up to the individual programme to decide how comprehensive and time-consuming the work with the analysis should be, how many workshops should be held, and who should participate:
“It is up to the individual programme how much work they want to put into it, but you get a solid foundation to work from. It is also up to the programmes to decide how much or how little they want to implement. But you get a tool to work with digital competencies in the future,” Charlotte Rohde Knudsen says.
At molecular biology and molecular medicine, they have decided to involve all those employees who want to be involved. However, it is also possible to include, for example, the Committee on Education.
Want to know more about the project?
Digital competency analyses are part of AU's strategic project Digitally Competent Graduates (Digitalt Kompetente Kandidater (DKK)), which will unfold in the next few years with expected completion in 2025. The initiative is locally anchored in the programmes and coordinated by the vice-deans.
You are also always welcome to contact the CED for consulting and collaboration. The CED can help you with your digitisation efforts through inspiration on how to use learning technologies (educational IT) in teaching. We also offer consulting and collaboration on how digital competencies can be used in the programmes, both in connection with the work on academic regulations and in the design of teaching activities.