A hall of mirrors, or, another reflection on #ETL523 assignment 1

As part of my researching and preparing for ETL523 assignment two I read Doug Belshaw’s The essential elements of digital literacies (2014). I was inspired to construct another reflection on assignment one using the eight essential elements as a framework. Here goes:

The cultural element refers to our ability to move from one digital environment to another, understanding the issues, norms and habits of mind each requires. The collaborative wiki saw the team use Google hangouts, Google docs, Wikispaces, Pearltrees, Canva, ProProfs, Tackk, Powtoon, Twitter, email, Skype (when Hangouts wouldn’t play nicely one evening we switched, barely drawing breath in the process), and we even had a very fruitful meeting IRL. I’d say we’ve got that one covered!

The cognitive element refers the value of being able to use multiple tools “If you only have a (conceptual) hammer then all you see are (metaphorical) nails.”(p.46-7). The one who dies with the most toys wins perhaps! My list in the cultural element is applicable here too – we did good!

The constructive element is all about how constructing something in a digital environment is substantially different to that in an analogue one. Understanding how you can ethically reuse another’s work to construct something new is a vital part of this element. Given our learning module was about Ethical participation in the digital environment with sections on Creative Commons and Remix I’d say we nailed this one. Additionally, it allowed four disparate individuals to work together to create a valuable resource that I hope to share with staff at my school and further afield. We could never have achieved what we did in an analogue environment.

Communicative – understanding the norms and protocols of communication using multiple different digital technologies. Again, that list of tools and social networks we used shows we nailed this.

Confident – being able to solve problems and manage your own learning in digital environments. Sometimes solving problems is all about knowing who to ask; sometimes simply articulating the question leads you to find your own answer. The discussion feature on Wikispaces was almost overwhelming at times as each of us asked questions, expressed concerns, sought advice, answered, consoled and supported each other. We all showed ourselves to be confident learners.

Creative. Perhaps surprisingly, this element does not require originality. Instead, it can be about expressing something that already exists in a way that adds value, and feeling empowered to take risks. My digital artefact for the wiki used the affordances of digital technology to present an introduction in a visually appealing manner. Every frame included something created by someone else but I added value to it and made it part of my narrative.

Critical. We had to consider our audience (teachers) and we had to carefully evaluate the material we wished to share with them. Including Pearltrees collections for each section evidenced our curations skills.

Civic. Amongst other things, the civic element is about using digital environments to self-organise. A collaborative wiki project? – got it in spades!

Belshaw’s Ted talk will give you more background to his thinking and work. I highly recommend reading the book as well.


Belshaw, D. (2014) The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. Retrieved from http://digitalliteraci.es

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