Digital Literacy & The World of Engineering

In today’s technologically driven world, digital skills are at the heart of what being an engineer means. The invention of the computer has revolutionized how we acquire, apply and communicate engineering knowledge. As an iChamp working with the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, my job is to explore and enhance how digital tools can aid learning. I have been working with Dr. Matthew Wright, Director of Acoustical Taught Programmes, since January 17’. Acoustics has traditionally been a degree with a low number of students compared to others. With only ~20 class-mates; I have a unique opportunity as an iChamp to work with and receive feedback directly from each of my peers.

My first project as an iChamps was planned around the Intensive Design Activity (IDA) carried out by first year Acoustical Engineering students. The IDA involves designing, manufacturing and testing a speaker horn; a process requiring intensive use of digital tools. Throughout the IDA, I was tasked with making a video to illustrate the true student experience. During the making, I had numerous conversations with my classmates; seeking feedback with a focus on the digital tools we were using. Having finished the video, I decided to write a more in-depth  report from student feedback and insights. The aim of the latter was to shed some light as to how digital literacy skills were developed throughout the project, and why certain students were more successful than others in doing so.

I am now embarking on a new project, this time focusing on how we as students can help future generations learn. This project will be based around the tool Explain Everything, which serves as an interactive whiteboard and allows multiple users to contribute to a piece of work. My task involves devising and executing a plan, alongside my classmates, whereby we create introductory videos for the Acoustics Laboratory sessions. If successful, these will be used as prep-material for future students undertaking the lab sessions. The goals of the project are thus to:

  1. Create engaging and in-depth material for future students to use
  2. Enhance our (the current student’s) understanding of the topics covered in the labs
  3. Devise a methodology for classes to collaborate on the making of tutorial videos
  4. Learn about Explain Everything and put it to use

Overall, my goal as an iChamp is to really help other students realize how digital literacy skills can aid personal and academic success. From calendar and to-do apps (often undermined) to powerful Engineering software such as Comsol, digital tools give us super-human abilities. I hope my work as an iChamp will help students at the University of Southampton reach their full super-human, digitally enhanced, potential.

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