Author: Sam Pywell – Digital Development Coach, Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, and Principal Lecturer: Social Prescribing Unit Coordinator at the University of Central Lancashire

Being a ‘digital disruptor’ within higher education (in the creative sense), is to see the entire landscape of HE as ‘boundless’. It is to not do things as they have always been done (because that’s the way we are told things have happened in the past). It is not to create content for sessions in the same format all the time, using the same tools. It is not to agree with everything for popularity. Being a disruptor is to collaborate (find out what other parts of the sector are doing e.g. through the DigiLearn Sector), question (in order to explore), create, and innovate (again and again, even if failures occur) – with the focus on increasing student satisfaction and their educational experience.

This is challenging within an environment where one may need to traditionally look out for Harry Potter’s death eaters (those who suck ideas out and regurgitate as their own, or suck energy and creativity from the space in your head and where it needs to be). Serious magic is required, particularly the ‘win-win’ spell, whereby sharing ideas and the story of development can contribute toward the overall picture of innovative educational practice within the sector. Questioning: “Could this be delivered in a different way?” is how I got from delivering the code of conduct on a PowerPoint, to an interactive virtual reality session with students -where they mark me on what I have breached within the code, based on how they see me performing on a home visit with a patient.

I can’t do this without collaboration, and many fabulous colleagues helped us build that simulated learning clip. I couldn’t have done this without sharing the initial concept I had for doing the session with colleagues experienced in simulated learning and all things digital. Collaboration to explore all things digital for education, is an investment in quality learning environments and student satisfaction. Digital disruptors also support and actively nudge colleagues into recognising the potential within their ideas, and help facilitate the journey to digital enlightenment. The path does not start with the finished product, it starts with the idea and intention to start.

So, go create. Go disrupt. Go rogue……..


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