The Digital Ambassadors are now all up and running with their respective projects. The initial stages of these projects have been all about the planning and preparation – ranging from surveying users to scoping out the technology to be used. In terms of progress there is not much to be reported yet, so we will look at the challenges the Ambassadors have faced so far.
Technology & Software
The unifying feature from the majority of work so far is the extensive use of technology. Almost all Ambassadors have been able to streamline their process using technology to aid in the access to or interpretation of opinions. In particular this has enabled opinions to be gathered from students spread across the globe using Moodle, Skype and other platforms.
These initial stages have not been without challenges, some of which have proven easier to solve than others. Problems with software, either installation or use, have been swiftly addressed by finding alternatives, getting support or simply learning by trial and error.
The harder to solve problems have been those with a wider scope or reliant on external factors. Carolina Perez found her project delayed as she waited for support on the feasibility of her ideas, starting with little knowledge of the technologies capabilities meant she was not sure how realistic her ideas were. This has been similarly experienced by Danyaal Sabir & Katherine Froggatt who found that only after a session with ISS were they able to fully understand the capabilities of the Panopto software that they are working with.
Some solutions have come through a mixture of perseverance with trial and error and the seeking of expert advice. A few, like Marta Muntoni, have opted to develop a first draft based on their current knowledge with the intention of it evolving and developing as her own understanding grows.
The most frequent problem cited by the Ambassadors was one of communication, whether that be with students, staff, alumni or others. The solutions for this have been varied, but all follow a similar theme of getting a better understanding of the people they are trying to contact. Those targeting small groups have been able to develop targeted communications to great success; others targeting a wider spectrum have been able to spread their net wider to get more responses.
So what has been learned by the participants? For many it has been a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of modern software. Knowing how far they can push the software, and its users, will form a key part of a successful end product. For others it has been an understanding of the importance of communication and how to make the most of the communication tools at their disposal.
Probably the most notable piece of learning has been that described by James Perry, “…I have learnt, and gained a better appreciation for the speeds at which students can work”. Knowing how the students work, or how any of the stakeholders in the other projects interact, will give James a basis on which to better design his programme and interactions. Carolina, similarly, confessed a better understanding of the undergraduate thesis process that before, enabling her to better target their needs and issues.