NPP Projects

Macquarie University LEAP-Links (Digital Literacy): Developing the ICT competencies of regional and remote low-SES students

Lead University: Macquarie University

Lead Researcher: Sonal Singh

Research Team: Sonal Singh

Year Funded: 2016

Funding Received: $225,221


The LEAP-Links (Digital Literacy) program was designed to assist regional and remote low SES students to build the digital competencies needed to succeed in school and the transition to higher education. A technology review; pilot program testing; interviews with students and education providers; and focus group consultation informed materials for teacher professional learning workshops; and for a student online unit of work.

Project outline

  • Macquarie University established the Literacy Enhancement Activity Program (LEAP) to support school students who are experiencing difficulties with literacy skills. The LEAP-Links project built on that support by providing a program to support digital literacy.
  • The LEAP-Links project had two objectives:
    • Enhance support to regional and remote low socioeconomic status (SES) students through identifying and addressing digital skills gaps for both teachers and students.
    • Assist regional and remote low SES students to build the digital competencies needed to succeed in school and through their transition to higher education.
  • The project had a number of components:
    • A review of technology used in regional and remote schools in New South Wales (NSW).
    • An invitation to schools to participate in a pilot testing and case study of the teacher professional learning workshops and the student online unit of work.
      • The pilot involved one regional school participating in a three-day staged program. A total of 18 teachers from six schools agreed to participate in the pilot workshop.
    • Digital needs assessments of high school students were undertaken through interviews.
      • 69 first year students completed an online survey in May 2017.
      • Five interviews were held with regional education providers in May 2017
    • Focus groups consultations were conducted in May 2017 and September 2017.
    • Materials were developed for teacher professional learning workshops; and for the student online unit of work.
    • Teacher professional learning workshops were widely promoted across regions of NSW in August 2017.
    • A student online unit of work was developed as part of the program.
      • 50 students completed the unit, with positive feedback on the training.

Key findings

  • The project was successful in engaging and connecting with teachers from regional and remote areas to identify their challenges and realising their professional commitment to create networks that support digital literacy competencies.
  • There was positive teacher feedback to the materials delivered. Teachers indicated the workshops were valuable and wished to continue their engagement with networks they had established.
  • There was positive feedback from Macquarie University’s Department of Educational Studies, which took over the continued delivery of the LEAP-Links digital literacy program.
  • More than half of sampled participating students (54 per cent) reported they felt under-prepared in their digital literacy requirements as they transitioned from high school to tertiary education.
    • Students indicated that the top three areas of digital skills that schools could work on to support student preparedness were working with spreadsheets; online researching; and referencing.
  • The digital divide is created by varying levels of accessibility and affordability of technology resources.
  • Accredited teacher training workshops were valued by the majority of teachers for providing: exposure to different tools and platforms; a wealth of information; engaging and supporting teacher networks; and hands-on experience.
  • The majority of teachers strongly agreed that the workshops provided: relevance; new content; career development; perceived value; and applicability.

Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.


Posted 1 October 2018