The third and latest iteration of the summer blended module Step up to Postgraduate Study in Arts is drawing to a close (today is the second deadline or as we like to say, 'assessment opportunity', for students to submit the assessments, so there will still be marking to do). This year we signed up over 70 students, so the module continues to grow year on year, though of course as it is a free and non-credit bearing module, some people sign up but don't really get engaged with it. And on one level that's fine, because nothing about this is compulsory, but on another, it's a shame, because the feedback we are getting from the students who do work their way through the module, whether they complete everything, or just have a go at certain topics, is that they are gaining insights into academic skills and gaining confidence to begin their new chapter as postgrad students.
It would have been great to have had a module like this available when I was starting my MA (back in the mid 90s!). But then, reflecting on that makes me think how much higher education has changed in the intervening decades - for example, as part of Step Up we encourage students to evaluate and develop their information and digital literacies, and to interrogate the concept of plagiarism by deliberately plagiarizing, as well as writing an unplagiarized version, and submitting both versions to Turnitin. And of course, the module is studied almost completely online (though supported by two engaging face-to-face events). For these reasons the module has been recognized by Jisc as an exemplar in preparing and supporting students to study successfully with digital technologies (see: http://digitalstudent.jiscinvolve.org/wp/exemplars).