Missing the trees for the forest: getting the basics right

Published by Caroline Carlin on

Author: Nick Treuherz, Lecturer in French, School of Humanities, Language & Global Studies

As teaching practitioners getting into technology-enabled approaches and tools, we are always looking to new tools and advanced methods to enable our students to learn and make progress. I think many of us have all at one stage or another been guilty of assuming that our digital natives – 2022 intake students will have been born in 2004 – are all capable of using the technologies we rely on every day. Walking round with mobile phones and using a variety of apps and platforms, these students sadly aren’t always capable of exploiting the full capacity of many of the tools we have. So, our efforts have to be focused on embedding digital literacy into the curriculum. 

In Modern Languages, we prepare students to work or study abroad in their third year, so in the second year, we work on this by getting them to write a CV in their target languages and offer simulations of job interviews. 

Getting students to think about their skills and employability is thus taken on, but the digital and visual quality of the CVs can be poor. So, in our rush to automate processes and offer innovative interactive digital resources, we sometimes forget our students’ need to have the basics explained. 

This is why I get students to work with the Microsoft Word Templates for CVs, which offer an array of aesthetically pleasing layouts which students can adapt to their personalised content. This has been successful as an entry into the world of the basics of such a fundamental tool as Word. Students enjoy being able to instantly improve their product. And we are definitely thinking about employability. But we are also making sure that they understand how the word-processed document works.  It offers a way in to get students to think about how the document in created, what a template is, where it’s saved, what the ‘Fields’ are, why some cannot be moved or formatted in the template, whether the document machine readable (when and where screenshotting is appropriate), where we need to add Alt texts…, how to make sure that hyperlinks are added properly, how to add in foreign language accents and punctuation… Basically, the nitty gritty basics of word processing.


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