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Flexible Delivery and Support of Baseline Information and IT Skills

Jane Core and Kathy Wiles, University of Abertay Dundee - Information Services.


The aim of this project was to see if a strategic shift could be made away from the teaching of IT skills as a specialised teaching function (based in the School of Computing) and towards a generic baseline of IT skills which could be taught and managed by a central team: in this case an IT Training Team based in the Information Services (Academic Support Division) of the University of Abertay Dundee. This shift arose from an increasing desire to enhance the IT skills ‘baseline’ for students and staff by creating an enabling, student centred, approach. Given that Information Services is responsible for centralised provision of both Library services and IT technical support, the shift to accommodate IT Training can be seen as a natural progression towards integration of IT skills into learning and teaching throughout the University.

Information Services took on a new role as part of the University’s baseline IT skills review group, which undertook to innovate an area which had presented problems in the past in terms of both delivery and student motivation. Some changes have been made (the use of Computer Assisted Learning, contextualised assessment, for example), and now that the training team is in place a closer examination will be made of the options offered to the distance learner and possible professional certification for students. Some consideration has already been given to encouraging ‘fast track’ students to progress to the European Computer Driving Licence. Other examples of professional certification of this type would be welcome.


Effective management and evaluation of the pilots ensured senior management support, support which is essential to any such transformational project.

If students are to feel motivated to engage with generic skills training which does not appear to be critically related to their subject area, a strong link between the practice of those skills and their assessment in the cognitive area is essential.

Desktop strategy standardisation has stopped the duplication of materials and has reduced unnecessary complexity in the delivery of practice skills.

The initiative provides two opportunities: offering a model which may be useful in the support of other generic skills training, and piloting flexible and innovative uses of learning technologies.


This project, which began some time ago as a pilot project which was modestly funded by the University's Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, has considerable added value. Not only has this has come from securing the resources necessary to run the project, but the formation of a dedicated IT Training team (an IT Training Manager and 2 Trainers) will allow for a full programme of staff development in generic IT skills to be initiated. It can also be seen that the work in this small area of skills has sparked innovation in other areas, and in this way the project will continue to grow.

This LTDI Implementation Project took an institutional focus and naturally had to address a range of organisational and resource problems. One year on we feel we have dealt satisfactorily with these and have been able to draw some general lessons for others embarking upon similar cultural shifts. Having the full support of the senior management of the University, and maintaining a close relationship with the School of Computing, which had previously delivered the IT module, were key events in bringing the new team from vision to reality.

We are grateful for the support and guidance of LTDI throughout the life of the project and are delighted that LTDI may be willing to continue their association with us for another year. A review meeting is to be arranged shortly where a fuller discussion of the project’s ups and downs will take place.


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Last modified: 14 April 1999.