INF537: Critical Reflection

Golden Snitch
An extract from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

I feel the phrase “I open at the close” is incredibly pertinent to my two year journey through this Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) – I feel humbled by the scale of work still ahead of me but prepared for the challenge.

Three themes have defined my study during INF537 (my last unit of this degree):

The Three Digitals

  • Digital literacy
  • Digital scholarship
  • Digital citizenship

I have grown my understanding of each of these areas and how they interrelate. Dave Cormier’s blog on teaching digital literacy really opened up the path forward for me and solidified my thoughts on my own digital literacy teaching.

Digital scholarship and digital citizenship became intertwined in my thinking for assignment 2 (probably to the detriment of my focus on digital scholarship). I started to reflect on the social benefits and costs of being digitally connected. This degree has shown the wonderful benefits of being a connected learner but this easy interconnection has increased the workload on educators and other workers as there is an expectation of immediate response. As a digital citizen I will have to find the balance between time when I am online and when I am disconnected both for my own wellbeing and to set an example to others.

Open versus closed

People sitting in the park
Photo by Leah Kelley from Pexels

Thinking about open source versus closed source began with my reflection on Siemens’ argument that networks are confined by the systems in which they are situated. My initial thinking was that, if this confinement is the case, why would you choose an artificially confined system such as a proprietary system? I explored this idea in this post about open source versus closed sourcee commercial software. I determined that, like in the park pictured above, that setting clear bounds for a system is important to create clear expectations and responsibilities. This bounded system is what the digital commons relies upon, as without limits, a community can become so diffuse that it becomes impossible to manage.

Application of ideas

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

When I have been most frustrated in this unit and degree, it has been when I have read articles where scholars discuss technological change and adoption as if it were a foregone conclusion. I have to check myself when I get in to this mode as I have worked implementing ICT projects and therefore come at a problem from a practical perspective that is not always compatible with pushing the boundaries of possibility. Just as I have to learn to appreciate a scholarly approach, I believe it should be incumbent on scholars to expand their digital literacy to understand the challenges of organisational ICT, allowing them to envisage how to bridge the path between their vision and implementation, this will ensure research has the best chance of making a practical difference.

Conclusion

This degree has provided the framework for where I want to position myself in the world – as a connected learner who continues to expand their digital literacy to grow as a digital citizen and scholar. The INF537 research project on my community of practice has been a great way to conclude my studies as throughout this course, this community of practice has been my main outlet for experimenting with the concepts I have learned. The community has developed and grown along the way (you can view the change in the 7 related blog posts) but there is still a lot of opportunities for myself and my community to grow. As my degree draws to a close, I am open to the opportunities.

 

INF537: Assignment 2 – Examining Digital Scholarship

Provide an interpretive discussion that examines digital scholarship in education, in the context of interdisciplinary knowledge and research.

In 2013, Edward Ayers, one of the early adopters of digital humanities projects, argued that to foster digital scholarship we need to understand how cultural, institutional, economic and personal factors impact it (Ayers, 2013). Ayers believed that by understanding the context for the issues facing digital scholarship, we could begin to address them. The term “digital scholarship” has grown to mean many things since its inception but this essay defines it as scholars who employ a workflow that is open, digital and networked, to create outputs in a range of digital formats that are of benefit both to academia and society (Weller, 2017). This essay will discuss Ayers’ view on how cultural, institutional, economic and personal factors were impacting digital scholarship and discuss how the environment has changed from 2013 to 2019. This essay argues that although cultural and institutional challenges have remained very similar, the economic and personal challenges to the adoption of digital scholarship have radically shifted in the six years since Ayers’ article and there are now structures in place to ensure that it can thrive in the years ahead.

The cultural pressures facing digital scholarship are perhaps the most immovable of the four factors outlined by Ayers (2013). The “monographic culture” of higher education is rooted in centuries of history and one that has stood the test of time (Ayers, 2013). The invention of digital books and online articles have predominantly mirrored this monographic culture, perpetuating expectations of how scholarly writing is presented. Ayers argued that cultural factors would only start to be overcome when there were powerful examples of the benefits of the digital medium. The number of these examples has grown exponentially over the past six years.  Projects such as A global guide to the First World War by The Guardian have shown mainstream newspapers that they can display digital information in ways that blend multimedia with narrative (Kiln.it et al., 2014). However, outside of these pockets of innovation, the argument outlined by Ayers still resonates. Twenty seven years afters Ayers’ first digital project, The Valley of the Shadow, the monographic culture continues to be by far the most popular method for scholarly communication (Schreibman, Siemens, & Unsworth, 2016). There are scholars who predict the end of the current monographic culture and foresee the merging of artificial intelligence writing with interactive apps, video games and virtual worlds but currently that vision seems more akin to science fiction (Lanier, 2014). Without a sudden and unforeseen change, existing cultural approaches will dictate the expected style of scholarly output for decades.

Higher learning institutions have seen very little evolution from the world described by Ayers (2013), with limited numbers of universities embracing the potential of digital scholarship and even fewer viewing it as something to be considered when making decisions about tenure and career advancement. As universities are such large institutions, for them to create and support a holistic framework that enables digital scholarship will take years and this creates more generations of university scholars who view the status quo as appropriate scholarly practice (Risam, 2018). Institutions could benefit from digital scholarship through increased awareness of their work and applying new methodology to problems that have been tackled the same way for generations but to realise this opportunity, universities must support its scholars in their efforts. This support includes providing the networking tools, training and support to ensure that there is a shared understanding of digital scholarship and the rights and responsibilities of those involved (Raffaghelli, 2017). Institutions should also have clear guidelines for how they reward and value digital scholarship and digital media has the capacity to measure these targeted goals with analytics providing the user metrics and engagement statistics (Cabrera, Roy, & Chisolm, 2018). Any changes to the institutional framework would have to consider an update to the peer review model. With digital scholarship and open access making it possible to conduct research without the need for ethics proposals, the time taken to publish some work has been dramatically reduced, allowing a post publication review to complement the existing peer-review model by allowing for open feedback, continuous improvement and a strengthening of content quality (Cabrera et al., 2018; Silva & Dobránszki, 2015). The way that colleges and universities have mobilised relatively quickly to deliver massive online open courses (MOOCs) show that digital progress is possible in the right circumstances (Ayers, 2013). There is evidence of progress in the digital scholarship sphere with key institutions trying to tackle the issues that prevent the adoption. Stanford have embraced the possibilities of digital products that use interactive non-traditional mediums, creating a section within the Stanford University Press that partners with academics to aid in the design, creation, presentation and archiving of digital products. This partnership tries to break down the walls that prevent digital products from being viewed as scholarly work by allowing for formal peer-review and tackling issues such as long-term accessibility, a hallmark of traditional products but an elusive problem for digital scholarship (Harvey, 2017).  Progress is slow but with key institutions tackling long-held impediments to change, it may only take a few more universities to join before there is a sudden rush to digital scholarship adoption, mirroring what happened with MOOCs a decade ago.

The economic factors influencing digital scholarship are framed by the commercial pressures that face the modern day academic. Ayers (2013), in his article chose not to interrogate economic factors of digital scholarship beyond the challenges of acquiring funding for a digital project from an organisation; however, the maturation of the education technology industry has meant that in 2019, the market forces are likely to play a role in scholastic work (Huggett, 2019). Although digital scholars may endeavour for their work to be open, many of the tools used to share their work and network are owned by commercial entities who have their own agenda and can co-opt the content shared on their system (Weller, 2017). One such example is the anti-plagiarism tool Turnitin that monetises the content uploaded by students (Morris, 2017). The commercialisation and walling off of content generated by scholars reduces ambitions for openness (Weller, 2017). For companies that do not manage to turn their vision in to a sustainable product then the network can either be closed or sold, losing years of academic content, discussion and debate. As education technology companies look to realise a profit from their investment in the sector, the neoliberal society that we live in is exerting a powerful influence on digital scholarship. Open educational resources (OER) are currently seen by many as a way to both promote digital scholarship and fight against the capitalist approach to education that has evolved (Jones, 2019). Ayers (2013) viewed MOOCs as a concept that could help disrupt the stranglehold that universities and companies had on education; however, a few years after their peak, the same enthusiasm does not seem to exist for MOOCs. The same may well be true for OER as their voluntary nature means that they are often not able to reach the size or complexity that can consistently allow civic action to compete with commercial interests (Jones, 2019). To enable openness to prosper requires government to introduce policy and legislative reform and some Governments have started this process by mandating that publicly funded research is made publicly available, helping to further the open access movement and support digital scholarship (Jones, 2019). Economic factors are complex and ever changing, there are endeavours underway to curtail commercial influence in education but they require ongoing political support which is never a certainty.

Digital scholarship can take a personal toll both psychologically and physically. Ayers (2013) argues that digital projects require academics to invest extra time in learning new technologies; however, there is a wider range of digital engagement required by scholars that needs to be considered. A UK study by the University and College Union calculated that the requirement to stay digitally engaged was contributing to academics working the equivalent of two unpaid days per week (UCU, 2016). One of the main causes of this lack of down time has been the mobile phone which has removed of boundaries between the work and home life and increased the pressures to be stay connected and engaged. With the increased accessibility that new technology has brought to content, the perceived value of the scholarly product has been diminished with consumers taking little account of the work required to create the content; therefore, scholars need to spend more time promoting and sharing their content to ensure that it is seen as valuable (Huggett, 2019; Schwarz & Knowles, 2018).  As this working environment becomes the norm, not all scholars are able to meet these expectations, people whose disability precludes them from checking their digital device regularly, those with young children and those with health issues are at risk of being disadvantaged (Huggett, 2019). Any non-flexible work expectations will result in poor outcomes for individuals with special requirements and just because technology makes it possible for work to occur outside of traditional working hours, it does not make it accessible (McNally, 2015).

The psychological risks of digital networks for academics are similar to those face by anyone who has to regularly engage with large online networks, especially open forums such as Twitter. Given the often text-driven medium of social networks, it is difficult to ensure that comments posted are not interpreted differently to how they were intended (Stewart, 2016). An additional risk is that in the hyper-partisan environment of social media your comments may be wilfully misinterpreted leading to an influx of hateful messages. If your comments are not misinterpreted at the time of their posting, then the long memory of the internet can result in them being revisited in the future when your profile may be higher and comments you have made in the past may have more impact. This was the experience of two university lecturers who were targeted with death threats following their promotions, when previous political tweets were uncovered by internet trolls (‘Threatened scholars’, 2019). The nature of digital networks means that any actual or interpreted missteps could have an audience of millions compared to an audience in the hundreds in pre-internet days (Pausé & Russell, 2016). Although any scholar is at risk of a potential backlash from their digital engagement, scholars who have tenure are able to post with less fear of repercussions; therefore, digital networking is riskier for those with less job security and this can curtail scholarly debate (Sugimoto, 2016). The digital world is starting to understand the need for safer spaces for scholars to communicate and be supported by their networks (Cook, 2019). Watrall has proposed a framework for “thoughtful praxis” where communities can be a space to help nurture scholars with time being taken to discuss topics without the fear of failure, allowing scholars to be positive about networks rather than fearful of them. (Watrall, 2019). Digital citizenship has started to increase momentum as the overarching phrase for this responsible and appropriate use of technology that considers “digital etiquette, digital health and wellness, and digital rights and responsibilities” (Alexander, Adams, & Cummins, 2016). Within digital scholarship, digital citizenship needs to be the core of personal and institutional approaches.

Fostering digital scholarship continues to require us to understand how cultural, institutional, economic and personal factors impact digital scholarship. Institutions and culture have continued to maintain similar impediments to the progress of digital scholarship in the six years since Ayers (2013) wrote Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? There have been major changes in the cultural and economic realms where a much more complex environment has emerged. However, with that complexity has come the tools to allow increased adoption of digital scholarship. Digital citizenship has started to consider the need for a balanced digital life and the open access movement has gained support from governments allowing it to compete with commercial interests within education. The future for Digital Scholarship will be bright but major impediments mean that the sun is still yet to fully rise.

 

References

Alexander, B., Adams, S., & Cummins, M. (2016). Digital Literacy: An NMC Horizon Project Strategic Brief (pp. 1–16). Retrieved from The New Media Consortium website: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/182085/

Ayers, E. (2013, August 5). Does Digital Scholarship Have a Future? Retrieved 18 August 2019, from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2013/8/does-digital-scholarship-have-a-future

Cabrera, D., Roy, D., & Chisolm, M. S. (2018). Social Media Scholarship and Alternative Metrics for Academic Promotion and Tenure. Journal of the American College of Radiology, 15(1, Part B), 135–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jacr.2017.09.012

Cook, K. (2019). EmboDIYing Disruption: Queer, Feminist and Inclusive Digital Archaeologies. European Journal of Archaeology, 22(3), 398–414. https://doi.org/10.1017/eaa.2019.23

Harvey, A. (2017, August 8). Experiments in Digital. Retrieved 18 August 2019, from Stanford University Press Blog website: https://stanfordpress.typepad.com/blog/2017/08/experiments-in-digital.html

Huggett, J. (2019). Resilient scholarship in the digital age. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology, 2(1), 105–119.

Jones, C. (2019). Capital, Neoliberalism and Educational Technology. Postdigital Science and Education. https://doi.org/10.1007/s42438-019-00042-1

Kiln.it, Panetta, F., Poulton, L., Purcell, A., Moss, S., Shabbir, N., … Brazier,  and L. (2014, July 23). A global guide to the first world war—Interactive documentary. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2014/jul/23/a-global-guide-to-the-first-world-war-interactive-documentary

Lanier, J. (2014). Who owns the future? Simon and Schuster.

McNally, R. J. (2015). People Can Be Resilient, But Can Communities? Psychological Inquiry, 26(2), 197–199. https://doi.org/10.1080/1047840X.2015.1010421

Morris, S. M. (2017, June 15). A Guide for Resisting Edtech: The Case against Turnitin. Retrieved 22 August 2019, from Hybrid Pedagogy website: https://hybridpedagogy.org/resisting-edtech/

Pausé, C., & Russell, D. (2016). Sociable scholarship: The use of social media in the 21st century academy. Journal of Applied Social Theory, 1(1). Retrieved from https://socialtheoryapplied.com/journal/jast/article/view/29

Raffaghelli, J. E. (2017). Exploring the (missed) connections between digital scholarship and faculty development: A conceptual analysis. International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 14(1), 20. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-017-0058-x

Risam, R. (2018). Diversity work and digital carework in higher education. First Monday, 23(3). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v23i3.8241

Schreibman, S., Siemens, R., & Unsworth, J. (2016). A New Companion to Digital Humanities. John Wiley & Sons.

Schwarz, B., & Knowles, C. (2018). The scandal of contemporary universities. Soundings: A Journal of Politics and Culture, 69(69), 4–14.

Silva, J. A. T. da, & Dobránszki, J. (2015). Problems with Traditional Science Publishing and Finding a Wider Niche for Post-Publication Peer Review. Accountability in Research, 22(1), 22–40. https://doi.org/10.1080/08989621.2014.899909

Stewart, B. (2016). Collapsed publics: Orality, literacy, and vulnerability in academic Twitter. Journal of Applied Social Theory, 1(1). Retrieved from https://socialtheoryapplied.com/journal/jast/article/view/33

Sugimoto, C. (2016, April 11). “Tenure can withstand Twitter”: We need policies that promote science communication and protect those who engage. Retrieved 22 August 2019, from Impact of Social Sciences website: https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/impactofsocialsciences/2016/04/11/tenure-can-withstand-twitter-thoughts-on-social-media-and-academic-freedom/

Threatened scholars: Online harassment risks academic freedom. (2019, February 14). Times Higher Education. Retrieved from https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/threatened-scholars-online-harassment-risks-academic-freedom

UCU. (2016). Workload is an education issue. [UCU Workload Survey Report 2016]. Retrieved from https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/8195/Workload-is-an-education-issue-UCU-workload-survey-report-2016/pdf/ucu_workloadsurvey_fullreport_jun16.pdf

Watrall, E. (2019). Building Scholars and Communities of Practice in Digital Heritage and Archaeology. Advances in Archaeological Practice, 7(2), 140–151. https://doi.org/10.1017/aap.2019.1

Weller, M. (2017, December 20). The Digital Scholar revisited. Retrieved 17 August 2019, from The Ed Techie website: http://blog.edtechie.net/digital-scholarship/the-digital-scholar-revisited/

INF537: Hey, that model perfectly describes my problems!

Dave Comier’s blog on teaching with the internet has managed to shine a light on the way I have been trying to prepare my students to embrace the internet and digital literacy.

Dave’s has created a model to explain his process:

Model for preparing an education system for the internet

He uses the 20/60/20 model to address an issue I will face in teaching digital literacy, that students do not all enter class with the same mind frame.

  • The top 20% are the early adopters who are keen to try anything
  • The bottom 20% will struggle due to a variety of reasons and may spend their time either subtly slowly things down or in open rebellion.
  • The middle 60% are the people who have the potential to be won or lost depending on how good your plan is.

I have been running digital literacy courses and hoping that I would produce a number of students that would embrace teaching the course. However, according to Dave’s model, as I have only been running an introductory level course, I have only reached “Level 1” with my students.

Level 1 – Awareness

Keeping learners safe is as much about explaining the simple dangers as anything else.

I have been developing an intermediate level course in recent months and it is specifically to address the gap that Dave identifies as “Level 2”

Level 2 – Learning

This is less about a few tricks that can make your life easier, and more about a shift to understanding how knowledge actually works now.

Interestingly, “Level 3” is the subject of my research project for this course, how we can help students to connect with communities and develop their skills and knowledge mutually. I am keen to learn more about whether this can be facilitated through teaching/support or if it is something that has to come from a student’s internal motivation.

Level 3 Interacting and making

At this point we’re also hoping that people are able to connect with social groups and being able to discern whether or not the space they are looking to work is a healthy one or not.

Now the hardest part of the model, transitioning people to be interested enough to teach digital literacy. One of the hardest parts is finding people to teach students who may not be keen to learn.

Level 4 – Teaching

people are not going to be working with self-selecting folks in your fun community looking to learn together… While it would be awesome if we were all able to teach in environments where our learners were ecstatic to learn what we have to teach them, the truth of the matter is a different thing entirely.

As Dave explains, the number of students who will make it to level 4 is very small but now I have an explicit model to help support my experiences, I think I will be better prepared to help more students progress along the path to their own digital literacy and hopefully motivate them to teach others about digital literacy.

INF537: Is evangelising the digital future helpful?

When attempting to apply what I have learned throughout my degree in my work as a public servant, I have often hit roadblocks including available tools, willingness of colleagues to engage and time to implement best practice.

When I read journal articles such as Ross’s 2012 article on the future of reflective practices, I wonder whether we are providing a vision and narrative for people to follow that is achievable.*

I have had experience in higher education and know that, with a few exceptions, the reality of what is being implemented is so far from what is promoted by many education evangelists that I wonder how the gap between the two will be narrowed?

Often for institutions the reality is that we are limited by the tools that are provided to us such as our learning management system, our conferencing tool, content authoring systems. We are similarly limited by the users’ knowledge of how to use the systems effectively. Tags, categorising and even basic html formatting seem to be beyond the skill-level of a large number of people.

I often feel that too much time is spent advocating for the brave new world of technology enabled education when more value could be derived from a narrative that:

  • acknowledges that often you will be limited in your ability to implement best practice by corporate systems
  • discusses the pros and cons of using unsupported systems to achieve your goals
  • considers how to up-skill the users to allow them to complete the approach that is being advocated

In may articles there is an assumption that everyone is interested in implementing tools to improve education outcomes. My experience is that unless you provide considerable investment in training, monitoring and communicating; new approaches are normally doomed to failure. Therefore, by including reference to the practical realities being faced by educators we can sart to bridge the gap between vision and implementation.

* The big caveat on this post is that I do not work in an academic institution and therefore am not the primary audience for Ross’s work.

References

Ross, J. (2012). The spectacle and the placeholder: Digital futures for reflective practices in higher education. In Proceedings of the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning (pp. 227–244). Retrieved from http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2012/abstracts/pdf/ross.pdf

INF530: Critical Reflection

In my journey through INF530 I have learned a great deal. The course has particularly helped me to develop my understanding of:

Digital literacy

Early in the course I was challenged by the concept of digital literacy. I came to an initial view of what digital literacy meant to me but that was just a starting point. As the course evolved, so did my understanding of the term. My new understanding added in concepts of digital security and Steve Wheeler’s description of “digital residency” that I found thanks to June’s tweet:

Digital residency, meaning someone who uses an app in their daily life, is a better and fairer description for what I had labelled “active digital literacy”. I have realised how important it is for the education professional to have an understanding of digital literacy so that it can inform their interaction with students.

Connected learning

The discussion on my blog post around connected learning helped me to think about how connected learning could be promoted at different stages of education. Connected learning was a new concept to me but in my work context, the need for us to be able to promote and acknowledge connected learning resonated with me. Claire challenged me to think about how this promotion of connected learning would differ for various age groups:

https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/redgoldgreen/2018/03/25/inf530-blog-task-2-connected-learning-and-digital-literacy/#comments

EdTech Revisited

The course has helped me to appreciate that educational technology (EdTech) is a diverse field. I have usually had poor experiences with EdTech and previously felt it was too heavily focused on behaviouristic principles but others within the course helped to highlight examples where it was making a positive difference:

http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/clairehazenberg/2018/03/26/task-2-trends-in-educational-technology/

I came to the understanding that digital learning is not just a extension of behaviourism but can provide a much more nuanced approach to education. The Communities of Enquiry championed by Garrison (2016) show what an important role digital environments can play in helping to promote digital learning. The work by Kara and Sevim forced me to reconsider my beliefs that adaptive learning was a simplistic tool that had limited benefit to education professionals in helping to develop the skills needed by the jobs of the future (Kara & Sevim, 2013). However, Audrey Watter’s presentation holds the sobering view that the EdTech industry champions the benefits of digital learning based on the benefits to an “imagined ideal student… unconstrained by materiality, by the body, by place – by race, gender, geography”. The benefits of EdTech is still a complicated topic for me, but I now understand the potential benefits and have a wider understanding of the potential disadvantages.

Ethics of EdTech

Reviewing the ethical considerations of the storage and use of data within education gave me a new appreciation for the expanded role that education professionals have in digital environments. The difficulty that students and their parents have in fully understanding the systems being implemented means that the education professional now have a role in ensuring the privacy of their students is protected (Boyd & Crawford, 2012). The role of privacy advocate is a challenging one as technology rapidly evolves and education professionals do not always get a say in what systems are being implemented. Having read about Cambridge Analytica and recent reports about ClassDojo sharing data, I wrote a blog where I questioned what would change the attitude to data retention within education coming to the conclusion that:

It may not be until schools or the workplace experience their own Cambridge Analytica moment that things will change.

Conclusion

INF530 has been particularly useful in exposing me to a range of perspectives from education professionals in a range of fields. I have been challenged to rethink my belief that there was only one dimension to education technology. The result has been a discovery of a complex and nuanced environment that provides opportunities and challenges that I will need to grapple with for many years to come.

References

Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662–679. https://doi.org/10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878

Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking collaboratively: learning in a community of inquiry. New York ; London: Routledge.

Kara, N., & Sevim, N. (2013). Adaptive Learning Systems: Beyond Teaching Machines. Contemporary Educational Technology, 4(2), 108–120.

Cyber literacy

I have just attended the 2018 Australian Cyber Security Conference. I heard a lot of impressive people speak and even understood what one or two of them were talking about!

In a number of the key note presentations there were references to needing to help Australians become “cyber literate”

Having spent most of the last few weeks trying to get my head around what digital literacy was, this new term was interesting to me. Having done a quick Google, the results seem to suggest that digital literacy and cyber literacy are interchangeable.

I would mostly agree with this but would suggest that based on the way it was being using by people such as Gai Brodtmann MP would imply that cyber literacy also implies a certain amount of awareness of the need for privacy and security in your digital life, the threats you might face and the ways you might mitigate them.

This idea of safety in your digital life was furthered by a talk by Jess Wilson from the Goodthings Foundation. Jess’ work is focused on cyber inclusion and helping older Australians get online. She said that the main reason these people are not online is that they are afraid of the online environment (e.g. getting scammed).

So although the terms digital and cyber literacy may currently be interchangeable, the use of the term cyber literacy may allow us to start a conversation about how we transition from using technology to using it securely.

INF530: Blog Task 2 – Connected learning and digital literacy

Source: taringa.net

Looking back at my initial notes on “connected learning” I have scrawled “What is this? There are no decent succinct definitions!”. This is not a criticism of the course content, it is my usual reaction when confronted by theoretical constructs. However, my reaction is a good bellwether. I do not work in an education institution and if I don’t understand a concept, then it usually follows that others within my organisation will struggle as well. This means that it is worth me documenting not only an understandable explanation (when I find it) but also the process of how I got to that understanding so that I can (hopefully) bring others on the journey.

It was watching the following video a couple of times that helped me to come to grips with what “connected learning” meant.

After watching the above video, I revisited other resources on connected learning, such as this infographic and things made a lot more sense. For my I benefit I came up with the following definition of connected learning:

Learning opportunities are everywhere and people can learn anywhere. Digital enables this as it connects people with resources and communities.

I believe the challenge for students will be the same struggle I myself had with the concept of connected learning. Can they identify what connected learning is and how they can benefit from it? Do they have the skills to think critically about their learning experiences and apply what they learned in one arena to different contexts? I believe an important role that I can take is in helping to curate other possible learning experiences for students/colleagues but also to highlight that people are already having “connected learning” experiences, just in many cases, people don’t realise.

I have been thinking how I can curate resources but also help validate learning that is already occurring. Source: British National Gallery

At the same time as helping colleagues with the concept of “connected learning” there is the need to challenge supervisors and managers within the organisation to accept learning experiences acquired outside of formal learning channels.

For me, connected learning requires digital literacy. Bawden (2008), helped me to come to an understanding of “digital literacy”. My own definition would be:

Where a person actively knows the norms and conventions of a platform (i.e. Could tell you what they are), can use the advanced features of a platform to interrogate the data available, and can think critically about the information they find.

I often feel I have a lack of digital literacy when it comes to some digital platforms.
Source: sitepoint.com

This differentiates from what I see a lot in my own organisation that I think of as “passive digital literacy”, where a person understands how to use a particular platform to get information but could not explain to you how they would use the platform.

I can see the requirement for metacognition about a digital platform as being vital to students getting the most from connected learning and so I have started to consider how I can help students/colleagues develop this deeper form of digital literacy (and whether I have this type of digital literacy on the platforms I use).

 

References:

Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live
DMLResearchHub. (2015). Connected Learning: The power of making learning relevant. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TH6gH6lMDD8