Reflections on DigiFest 2018

Jennifer George

Category: Anglia Learning & Teaching

29 November 2018

DigiFest 2018 was an ambitious initiative that was very exciting to plan, challenging to execute and rewarding nonetheless.

In 2015, Anglia Learning & Teaching hosted DigiFest for one whole day in Cambridge and Chelmsford with two external speakers and approximately 35 sessions (including parallel).

The event in 2016 was of a similar format; four external speakers and 16 lightning strikes speakers (short presentations) with three- and five-minute presentations on each of the days.

For DigiFest 2018, we wanted to do more and reach more people. We ended up with a five-day long DigiFests on both campuses at the same time with five external speakers (12 sessions in total), nine lightning strikes speakers over two sessions, and approximately 60 parallel sessions across both campuses, including lab tours of three of our tech facilities. We also live streamed at least one session at all times for anyone who wished to join us remotely throughout the week. And we mapped and issued digital literacy badges.

Illustration of keynote speaker standing in front of a fractal

Was it successful?

We had approximately 450 participants attending our sessions throughout the week across both campuses. Most of our sessions were aligned to one or two digital literacy skills and we issued 461 badges in total. We also issued physical sticker badges and digital literacy passports which were collected by participants on the day. It is difficult to measure how much people learnt or if they will translate any of it to their practice. But I have been receiving the odd email with “Would you mind reminding me what that guy referred to…? Would you by any chance have a recording of…? Can you or someone show me how to do that?” as a result of DigiFest.
The funny thing was, for an event focused on digital learning and teaching, the most popular session on a non-conference day was Disconnecting: Switching off mentally and digitally by Sadie Hopson.

Illustration of male presenter standing behind a lectern

Was it challenging?

Fitting all presenters’ availability into parallel sessions was difficult, especially those who agreed to present late in the day. It was also not easy to get this complex programme onto a simply two-dimensional form for staff to understand and sign up.

Did I enjoy DigiFest 2018?

I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie and this was the perfect complex short-burst project with a clear beginning and an end and the right dose of pedagogy. There were disappointments and disagreements, but I enjoyed pulling the programme together, getting to know people across ARU and their work. I loved being part of a team that took a hands-on approach to getting things done on the day.

Will we do this again?

Absolutely! But I am not sure if it will be on the same scale.

Illustration of individuals presenting

© Illustrations by Natalie Eldred


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