The College of West Anglia

Students impress ‘Reading Agency’

A group of forward-thinking CWA Students have impressed in a national competition by the Reading Agency.

‘Reading Hack’ is a programme led by young people aged 13 to 24 who are involved with reading activities and volunteering, called hacks, to gain skills and experience. Young people hack reading by doing any activity with reading at its heart. This could be anything from a poetry-themed DJ set or novel-inspired Minecraft, to book-related filmmaking or helping younger children read.

Members of CWA’s Dx learner volunteer programme, based in the Learning Resource Centre, were successful with their idea to promote a new book in an innovative way. They came up with the idea to apply NFC tags to books which learners can scan with their mobile phone to see reviews from others and add their own. The technology works in a similar way to a QR code, by scanning the code on a book with a smart phone, a learner can bring up a review on a phone or tablet screen in seconds.
The idea enables learners to share their views and ideas about the resources in new ways and has led to the technology being applied more widely in the LRCs across the college.

As a prize, Dx have won ten pre-release copies of the book, ‘A Berlin Love Song’ as well as the opportunity to interview its author, Sarah Matthias. The group were also selected to be one of two colleges in the country to provide reviews for as yet unpublished books and their views were used to decide the Reading Agency’s top Summer Reads for 2017. Their reviews are now displayed on the Reading Agency website.

This is just a small part of the work being undertaken by the group. They provide digital and information skills support for all users of the Learning Resource Centres and have also been developing the Help section on LEARN. The Dx programme is also becoming a key Source for learner voice, by talking to learners and gathering feedback on how to improve LRC services to meet learners’ needs even more effectively.

The Dx programme hasn’t just been an asset to CWA, it’s also a great opportunity for the students themselves, encouraging high achieving students to challenge themselves and engage and support their college. Dx Vlads Komarockis, one of the students involved in winning the latest competition said: “I would recommend the Dx programme to other students if they want to achieve their targets and it will provide them with incredible work experience.”

As well as supporting other students, the Dx Programme helps volunteers improve their own digital literacy, customer service and employability skills.

Dx Keiran Nimmo has seen a huge transformation in his confidence, to the point where in March 2017 he raised money for Comic Relief by carrying out his Dx role dressed in drag – something which took a huge amount of confidence!
Keiran said: “I have become more talkative; I’ve talked to different groups of students more now through working on surveys and helping people in the centres, something that I would never have thought I’d be confident enough to do back when I first joined the programme.”