Digital Innovation Boot-Camp

The overall aim of the project was to develop week-long Boot-Camp, for the Enrichment week of the New Academic Teaching Year (NATY), to train students in cutting-edge digital technologies used both as part of UoB/School/Department research activities and in industry.  This Boot Camp acted as a vehicle for significant education enhancement within the current academic system, by drawing on existing strengths but allowing students direct and comprehensive exposure to research led educational activities and experience of key digital system used in different industrial sectors.

Snapshot

November 2018 – July 2019
Beneficiaries: Undergraduate and Postgraduate Students
Theme/focus: Digitised Futures
Discipline: EPS - School of Engineering/ CoSS - Business School
Cohort size: 32

Abstract

In light of estimations suggesting that over a million digitally skilled people are to be in demand by 2022, driving up digital skills is a key plank of University’s Strategic Framework and the UK’s Industrial Strategy (Office for Students, 2018; HM Government, 2017; UoB, 2015). With digital skills being vital to the country’s economy, this educational enhancement project addressed the University’s need for preparing its students for a digitised future - a key area of future graduate skills. To this end, a proposed pathway primed by research-informed teaching in collaboration with the industry to enhance directly the student’s personal development, was successfully achieved.

What we did

The Digital Innovation Boot-Camp, ran in collaboration between academia and industry professionally trained students with key skills associated with digital innovation and through this were introduced to applications of such innovative technologies within current research and industrial practices, e.g. Virtual Reality (VR), Automation and Robotics (AR). Research groups from the University or other high ranked universities were engaged to demonstrate to students where research uses and have developed key digital platforms. Industrial stakeholders provided case-studies exposing students to new/existing applications of digital innovation in relevant fields. The project served as a piolet to study the feasibility of introducing a similar ‘Digital Innovation Boot-Camp’ during the Enrichment Week of the NATY across the University.

What we achieved

  • A model of an industrial/research digital skills student activity for the enrichment week in NATY, that can be translated across the College/University
  • Enhanced professional development opportunities for all students
  • Improved graduate employability of the participants by training the students in digital skills and entrepreneurship
  • Brought a key enhancement to our current curricula that embraces the digital technologies (both industrially lead and research driven) and through this the profile of our graduates.
  • Positioned University of Birmingham as a futuristic institution that equips the future generation with up-to-date skills. 

What we learnt

Student’s involvements and enthusiasm along with positive support from industry helped us throughout the project.

The positive collaboration between various stakeholders and universities department and professional bodies were the key for the success of the project. Some positive experiences are as follows:

The Postgraduate Boot-Camp had the Institute of Engineering Technology as Academic partner which attracted more participants.

UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) had active involvement during the Undergraduate Boot-Camp, where they provided a challenge for the students and a staff member throughout the week to mentor the students. It is for the first time that DSTL has engaged with any university to such an extend, and something they wish to take forward in future years.

An alumni kindly supported the project though sponsoring the prizes (around £11,000 in total).

Looking ahead…

Building upon the success of the boot-camps and the positive feedback from students, industry and academics we are actively exploring opportunities to expand it across the university and/or with other universities and institutes. 

Further links, resources, and communities of practice

https://blog.bham.ac.uk/digital-bootcamp/

twitter.com/UoB_DIBC

www.instagram.com/uob_digitalbootcamp 

MicroCPD: 
Watch Professor Ian Jefferson talking about the Digital Innovation Boot-Camp project

References

HM Government, (2017), Industrial Strategy: Building a Britain fit for the future. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/664563/industrial-strategy-white-paper-web-ready-version.pdf

Knoth, A. and A. Kiy (2018). Reflecting the Challenges in Internationalised Teaching and Learning of the Systematic Approach COIL. UP. 2018 COIL CONFERENCE.

Munro, M. (2018). "The complicity of digital technologies in the marketisation of UK higher education: exploring the implications of a critical discourse analysis of thirteen national digital teaching and learning strategies." International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education 15(1): 11.

Office for Students, (2018), https://www.officeforstudents.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/skills-and-employment/digital-skills/

 

For more information, contact the projects office on hefi.projects@contacts.bham.ac.uk, quoting reference CSLP242.