Working together to ensure colleagues have digital access

The ‘Learning to Log on’ initiative has helped colleagues improve their digital literacy, whilst making progress towards all staff having access to a University email address.

Colleagues taking part in one of the initiative’s practical sessions

Two cleaning services colleagues and one colleague from IT Services sat at a computer taking part in one of the digital literacy sessions

Harriet Boatwright from Organisational Development and Professional Learning (OD&PL), John Dodds from IT Services and Dawn Abel from Cleaning Services came together at the end of 2022 with the common goal of giving colleagues greater access to digital learning opportunities.

A successful pilot programme which aimed to address this barrier to greater inclusivity within the University won multiple awards and this year the team are planning to spread the initiative wider.

Their initial research found that 26% of colleagues on grades 2-5 working in the Facilities Directorate did not have access to a University email address. As well as being useful for receiving University updates, an email address is also essential for accessing services including the eduroam campus wi-fi, payslips through the SAP portal and workplace benefits.

The team designed a pilot programme that would allow these colleagues to access in-person training which worked around their shift patterns and where they worked.

Dawn, Cleaning Services Training Coordinator, said: “Our question was: who are our community and what do they need? Through conversations with colleagues, the story of this initiative started to take shape. 

“It needed many hands and sharing the story with the right people was vital, supporting line managers and Heads of Service to understand the benefits of the initiative and its practical implications.”

John Dodds from IT Services helping a colleague as part of the 1 to 1 digital literacy sessions

John working with a colleague as part of the initiative’s practical sessions

Jill Roberts, Head of Cleaning Services, added: “The initiative has informed and broadened knowledge for those who have undertaken the training to have access to university IT and indeed for their own personal needs; but more than that, they feel more embedded and equal to everyone in the university community.

“They have benefitted from the value of the training as well as feeling more valued; underpinning the university values of collaboration and inclusivity. We are looking forward to continuing this initiative in 2024.”

The team adapted the online IT training module to make it applicable for the practical sessions, and with a group of volunteers helped their colleagues to set up email accounts, Duo authentication and eduroam access.

Award winning success

The initiative was a success, with more than 120 Cleaning Services colleagues coming forward to take part in the pilot programme and more than 20 volunteers giving their time to support colleagues in 1:1 sessions.

Dawn Abel, John Dodds and Harriet Boatwright with their certificate for the cross-institution partnership award

Dawn, John and Harriet with their Cross-Institution Partnership Award for the ‘Learning to Log on’ initiative

This success has been recognised both internally and externally, with the initiative winning the Leeds University Union Cross Institutional Partnership award in the Equality and Inclusion category, along with ‘Initiative of the Year’ at the Developing Excellent Practice Awards 2023, which are run by the Staff Development Forum in partnership with AdvanceHE.

John, IT Business Relationship Manager, said: “We’ve now got 84% of colleagues in the pilot group online – who can now access payslips online and increasing their personalised access to internal and important communications. 

“I could see the value of the investment in the faces of those who attended the sessions and are now online and feeling more connected with a greater sense of belonging.”

Next steps

This year, the team are planning to build on and broaden the initiative further at Leeds, as well as sharing their work and its impact across the Higher Education sector more widely.

Harriet, Organisational Learning Partner in OD&PL, said: “This has been an amazing and impactful initiative to see flourish. 

“Having said that, we entered into this with a very clear goal of it ultimately not being required moving forward. Working collaboratively across the University, this initiative has led to policy and procedural changes that take into consideration the needs of more of our staff community.”

Harriet, John and Dawn would like to thank the volunteers from OD&PL and IT Services, inclduing the following, who helped with the initiative:

Kate Noll, Anna Foster, Rachael Clark, Danny Hannah, Russell Allen, Filipe Baldin, Ranjeet Bassra, Michael Beck, Philip Benn, Martyn Bullick, Cassandra Burn, Mohammed Butt, Panayiotis Christofides, Mark Conmy, Susan Cunningham, Ruth Denton, Neil Dutton, Garry Frame, Shona Gibson, Sian Giddy, Matthew Graham, Munaf Hafesji, Richard Harrison, Philip Hobley, Lucy Hobson, Antonia Jones, Nicholas Kay, Martin Lomas, Samuel Lonsdale, Dave Marren, Christopher McLean, Melissa Miltz, Yunas Mohammed, Leigh Morland, Catherine Morrison, Natasha Rahanu, Shirene Rahmani, Jitesh Rathod, Andrea Rylands, Katrina Scott, David Smith and Dawn Walton.

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