Category Archives: Digital education

The five social media literacies

Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
Open University

 

 

 

DigPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Day Two

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Following on from a busy Day One of DigPedLab Vancouver, by Day 2 my jetlag had subsided, and I’d got my bearings in Richmond, so I was ready for some serious learning!

Morning session: media literacies

Our main focus for the Day Two morning Digital Literacies session was reviewing and responding to some of the suggested readings that had been provided.  Bonnie Stewart, Co-ordinator of Adult Teaching University of Prince Edward Island, who was leading the Digital Literacies track, asked us to think about how our chosen article(s) shaped our perspective on what it is to ‘be’ in digital culture. We broke into small groups to do this, and my group spent most of the session analysing the Rheingold (2010) article.

Rheingold focuses on what he calls five social media literacies:

  • attention
  • participation
  • collaboration
  • network awareness
  • critical consumption.

We took one of those each, and I noted the following…

Attention

Rheingold’s starting point is that people in class should be paying him attention! This led us to briefly discuss differences between acceptable behaviour in face-to-face (F2F) educational environments and ‘remote’ behaviours; the latter was of particular interest to me, as Open University students have relatively little F2F contact with their educators, and it’s quite normal for them to have multiple demands on their attention while they are studying.

Participation

The digital literacy aspects of this section were about:

  • how to participate with value
  • being active citizens rather than passive consumers
  • creating vs consuming
  • assumptions about education of citizens, and ‘proper behaviour’
  • moving from the literacy of participation to a literacy of collaboration.

Collaboration

This was the section I looked at, so I didn’t take many notes! The one thing I did write down was ‘negotiating goals – positive or negative’: make of that what you will!

Network awareness

This section tied in quite nicely with Bonnie’s literacy timeline from Day 1. Rheingold’s key points were that:

  • networks essentially amplify and extend our abilities and capacities – for better or worse, and that
  • basically technology itself is an amplifier – going all the way back to the printing press.

We briefly discussed differences between networks and communities (with reference to a recent online debate between Kate Bowles and Stephen Downes), speculating that perhaps communities change, as well as amplify? One member of the group suggested that shared values and beliefs are required for true collaboration – that it’s easy to be communal but harder to be collaborative. Do you agree?

Critical consumption

This section seemed to buy into the cliché that print (offline) resources are innately trustworthy, and online resources innately dubious: as a group we vehemently disagreed with this.

We had a bit of time left, so we also looked briefly at the Tressie McMillan Cottom (2017) article, focusing on one of her six takeaways, ‘master platforms’, and the concept of micro-celebrity.

Master platforms

The article states that ‘social media platforms are designed to facilitate certain kinds of behaviors. Twitter amplifies. Facebook brands. Tumblr remixes. Instagram illustrates’. We agreed that what was important for digital literacy was to think about strategies for dealing with the negative aspects of each platform.

Academic microcelebrity

We identified a tension between the desire to take academia into the public, and achieving effective communication, when ‘lots of academia is deliberately pointless and esoteric’.

We also talked about:

  • gaining currency through identity
  • achieving impact vs social change, and
  • claimed values vs demonstrated behaviours.

After the session, participants shared related resources via our teaching in digital Slack channel – you might like to take a look at the following:

 

Interview: Deakin University’s support of hearing impaired users in teaching and learning spaces

Ben Sleeman
Service Development Assistant
University of Greenwich

 

 

AETM Conference 2017 and university visits, Melbourne, Australia

Ben Sleeman was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

I attended the Audiovisual and Education Technology Management (AETM) Conference in Australia in November as part of the UCISA bursary scheme. During my trip I also visited a number of Melbourne universities including Deakin University.

At Deakin University, I met with Jeremy West, Senior Audio Visual Engineer and Tech Lead in the eSolution Team, and we discussed the university’s AV solutions for hearing impaired users.

Deakin are considering a range of new technologies and in collaboration with the digital futures team, they are looking at audio over IP solutions to give users access to audio streams via their mobile devices.

I have blogged about my conversations with Jeremy on a range of AV developments at Deakin University.

 

Time for IT at the top table

The exponential rise of technology-driven change means digital strategies are no longer merely support acts to primary university and college strategic plans. Here, UCISA Chair David Telford argues that, with digital transformation key to the future student experience and learning journey, it’s time for CIOs and Vice Chancellors to push digital strategies into pole position in business planning:

 

Here’s a bold statement. Digital strategy is not just about the numbers or how much it costs to run your IT. Unless and until your university fully gets to grips with technology’s contribution to the student experience and the learner journey, both will be severely impaired.
IT is now fundamental to the student experience and learning. Technology use is about far more than IT-driven processes and an aid to organisational efficiency and effectiveness. It’s integral to the whole student lifecycle.
Today, the knowledge of how best to leverage technologies to enhance teaching and the academic and research agendas is not coming from the academics, it’s coming from the IT department. In integrating our academic agenda at my own institution, we’re spending more and more time in the classroom and supporting students, even early in their studies and as postgrads, in leveraging technology to access information and research materials.
The digital literacy and digital skills gap in universities that’s growing year-on-year is well documented – but this is not knocking the lecturers. Things are moving so quickly that the skills of academics are just not keeping pace. Like many other sectors, we are in transition. Digitisation is growing and technology brings change. It is disruptive to past ways of working. Taking best advantage requires not only skills but a cultural shift to a change-ready and agile mindset.
So what’s the future of your university? How can a digital strategy ensure that value is best provided to students, lecturers and researchers?
There are a few lessons from the wider world. In less than a decade, Netflix has transformed from a DVD sales and rental business, to media streaming and latterly film and television production and online distribution. They have successfully leveraged advances in technology and been shrewd in understanding changing customer expectations and unmet needs.
How does this link to our university communities and their expectations? Well it’s clear that they live in a connected Netflix world. Our smartphone students inhabit multiple online communities and communicate via Snapchat, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. They collaborate and share instantly and naturally. Established systems like email and intranets are clunky in comparison. Our business systems often lack the immediacy of app-based solutions and the ability to collaborate on joint decision making or visualising the data.
And what about staff? A recent Facebook-sponsored Deloitte survey of business managers showed only 14 per cent of those responding were fully satisfied with their organisation’s ability to connect, communicate and collaborate with 65 per cent citing digital technologies as the way forward. Would the statistics for higher education alone really be that much different? Certainly, both TEF and the NSS highlight the need for IT to be actively involved in the staff and student experience at all levels.
Working in a multi-campus university, one of the issues I’ve faced is that we’ve yet to get our communities fully joined up. We don’t have a fully-fledged research community and we also don’t have a strong sense of community around the subject areas we are known for. Going forward, it is technology that is going to make the difference in these areas. But even in this, we have to collaborate. This is not a nut IT can crack alone.
Trying to predict the future is a fool’s errand – but we can prepare for it and an effective digital strategy that looks beyond the three or five-year horizon of a typical university business strategy is crucial. While it’s important to bring on the skills of individual academics, we also need to promote recognition of the fact that IT is now very much a part of learning delivery systems. Pedagogy is no longer the sole domain of the lecturer.
The future is very much about collaborative delivery alongside other institutional agencies. Depending how you are structured, that can be as much with library colleagues and learning technologists as with academics and students. For all of us, it’s about thinking across multiple disciplines and multiple service boundaries. It’s about getting out of our comfort zones and addressing questions of collaboration and service delivery that engenders skills development and makes a tangible contribution to the digital learner journey.
The role and dimension for IT in student success is huge and this is a theme that I know some fellow UCISA members have already included in TEF submissions using evidence of digital literacy and engagement with IT systems to show how they have contributed to improved learning outcomes. This is digital strategy linked to powerful strategic programmes with real teeth.
My digital strategy for my own university runs to 2025, five years beyond the university’s current strategy, because the question I asked myself was not only how we could support what’s happening now but how can we inform the next planning cycle and be prepared to meet the challenge of change – both in the sector and the marketplace. It’s about raising the flag now and saying IT will have to be a key strategic theme in all future university strategies.
It’s a new role – and one all of us in IT leadership roles should take on with relish. It’s never been more important for universities to support their IT people, recognise their strategic importance and focus on the contribution of IT to the learner journey.
Taking best advantage of disruptive technology is an issue that goes beyond UCISA’s membership and is on the table for many people. But we’re here to play our part. UCISA’s own Strategic Plan provides for much greater engagement with IT staff at all levels in future. Student success is a business we are all in now and whether you work in IT or not, we’re here to signpost you not only to resources and best practice but a network of contacts that have been there, done that.

Key take-outs for CIOs:

• When crafting your institution’s digital strategy, consider the impact of digital in the broadest sense. An effective IT strategy should fully embrace its effective contribution to student success and student outcome.

• Think beyond the current university business plan horizon. What trends and scenarios can new and emerging use of technology capitalise on in support of the student lifecycle.

• Integrate the digital strategy with the institutional strategy – not least in the value added to the student journey and later student entry and contribution to the workplace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Telford
UCISA Executive Chair and Director of Information Services 
Edinburgh Napier University

UCISA welcomes blog contributions from members. If you would like to contribute a new perspective on a current topic of interest, please contact the website team via manjit.ghattaura@it.ox.ac.uk

 

The views expressed on UCISA blogs are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect those of UCISA.

Breaking the ice and digital literacies at DigiPedLab 2017


Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
The Open University

 

 

 

DigiPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Day 1

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

Breaking the ice

(One minor quibble though: not enough coffee on Day 1!)

At any really cool educational event these days, there has to be Lego, right? Well DigPedLab was no exception. As an icebreaker, each table was given a box of bricks and bits, we were instructed to introduce ourselves to our neighbour and, based on what we said and the available Lego, they had to create an avatar for us. The lovely Greg Chan gave me abundant shiny hair and a dog: what more could I ask for? NB My less-than-beaming smile below is due to horrific jetlag and a dislike of being photographed, not dissatisfaction with my avatar!

 

I can’t resist sharing this one with you too…

A speech and a song

To formally kick off the institute we were treated to an amazing, inspiring speech and a traditional song from a Kwantlen First Nation elder (the institute was sponsored by and held at Kwantlen Polytechnic University’s Richmond campus, just outside Vancouver).

DigPedLab co-founder Sean Michael Morris then made us laugh by commenting that this event wouldn’t have happened without Trump – the Virginia Institute,  which took place a week or so after Vancouver’s, was meant to ‘bring everyone together in one place’, after three separate DigPedLabs in 2016, but the President’s travel ban made it impossible for some key participants to get to the USA in 2017.

Morning session – Literacies track

Bonnie Stewart kicked off the digital literacies track with a bit of activity: getting us to vote with our feet (Runaround style!) on a digital literacies ‘survey’ and emphasising (with reference to Lisa Simpson) that there were no ‘right’ answers.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

These were my favourite questions/answers…

I need to find resources to teach/write with. I do the following:
0=nothing. Last year’s notes are fine.
1=check the library
2=Google stuff
3=crowdsource my digital network

I know what the following mean/do:
command f
404
PLN
swipe right
LMGTFY

When I Google myself I find:
0=Google myself?
1=An ax-murderer with my name
2=Vaguely embarrassing pictures my buddy tagged on FB  3=Traces of my work on the first search return page
4=A fair & cultivated representation of who I am and what I do.

As you can probably imagine, this activity caused lots of laughter and a few revelations.

We then sat down and went round the room briefly introducing ourselves and explaining our experience/interest in digital literacies. The Literacies track had proved extremely popular, so rather than being a small group, there were actually nearly 30 participants for Bonnie to wrangle. Two Brits apart from me – David White from The University of the Arts London, and Penny Andrews, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield (and a brilliant follow on Twitter) – a professor from Puerto Rico, an educator based in the Austrian Alps, and the rest from North America, a mix of librarians, academics, educational project managers, IT folk, and even a practising attorney. This diversity was one of the many things that made DigPedLab so attractive to me: I wanted my western European, middle-class, middle-aged, cis white female perspective to be thoroughly challenged. Over the course of the weekend, it certainly was.

Digital literacies defined?

Having let off some steam and started to get to know one another, the teaching began in earnest. As I write this, I’m looking at Bonnie’s PowerPoint, and wondering what I can possibly say that’s more useful/informative than just sharing her slides verbatim, but I’ll try to limit myself to just a handful, and share my observations/responses to them.

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

The cluster at the top left represents the institutional model, whereas the bottom rightish cluster is the present. The idea of education as market is not necessarily progression, and these shifts are only loosely tied. Dealing with data/ information/ knowledge abundance is arguably the biggest challenge for digital literacies to overcome.

 

 

 

Key points to remember in the context of digital literacies:

  • (access to) content does not equal literacy
  • web does not equal digital
  • tech does not equal digital literacy.

The concept of ‘literacy’ is changing, because there’s so much more than literature now, and the goal of education is handling data, rather than just accumulating it.

Bonnie then summarised what she planned for us to explore over the next three days.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

She gave us a timeline of literacy: from considering it as a threat to the knowledge of classical scholars in 400 BCE, to the control of knowledge via the spread of printing presses throughout Europe in 1500 CE, to the management and synthesis of knowledge we’re dealing with in the present day. A quote from educational researcher Doug Belshaw neatly encapsulated this:

 

 

“Digital literacies are not solely about technical proficiency but about the issues, norms, and habits of mind surrounding technologies used for a particular purpose.”

Or, as I noted it down at the time, thinking about technologies vs being a techie!

Bonnie highlighted more benefits of developing your digital literacy:

  • improving your capacity to analyse a medium’s affordances
  • identifying ‘thinking tools’ to help you manage knowledge abundance – I think this is a particular challenge for those of us working at the interface of education and technology, where abundance can all too easily become overload.

This led us on to thinking about networks…

The power of networks

 (Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

 

…and another fun stand-up activity about one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many interactions, and how we become network nodes, forming webs of visible (and invisible) connections.

 

(Slide courtesy of Bonnie Stewart. Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

Finally, we discussed the ‘price of admission’ to these networks: public identity. Bonnie’s references here ranged from Jon Ronson’s So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to Walter Ong’s work on oral traditions vs literate traditions:

  • oral traditions – participatory, situational, social, formulaic, agonistic (conflict based), rhetorical (vs the ‘artificial memory aid’ of writing)
  • literate traditions – interiorised, abstracted, innovative, precise, analytical, indexed.

If I understood correctly, how this relates to social media is that we experience the instant message, the tweet, in an oral way – although they are textual verbal exchanges, they register psychologically as having the temporal immediacy of oral exchange (Ong, 1996). But the flipside of this is that because these ‘speech-based activities’ on social media can be captured as if they were print literature, we end up with a call-out culture that treats flippant remarks like gospel.

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

The takeaway from this session for me? Digital literacy is about knowing how to manage audience, visibility and publics.

 

Setting the scene for reflections on DigPedLab Vancouver 2017

Beccy Dresden
Senior TEL Designer
The Open University

DigPedLab Vancouver 2017 – Background

Beccy Dresden was funded to attend this event as a 2017 UCISA bursary winner

A bit about me….

I’m Beccy Dresden, a Senior TEL Designer (TEL = technology enhanced learning) at The Open University, where I’ve worked for nearly 18 years. I joined the OU from a professional publishing background, and have supported the development of modules on subjects as diverse as law, languages, social work, and English grammar.

My department – the TEL Design team – works in partnership with academic experts, Learning and Teaching Innovation portfolio colleagues, and students and tutors, to design, produce, support and evaluate OU modules. The team’s work draws on and contributes to the learning, teaching and innovation evidence base of the University, and embodies emerging technologies and research to reinforce the OU’s position as the UK leader in supported online and distance learning. The modules we produce are now digital by default, but we are keen to ensure that the online experience we offer our students is driven by pedagogy, not technology. Within the TEL Design team, my particular areas of interest and scholarship are:

  • the use of social media in HE (both in terms of student-facing content, and as a tool/platform in the continuing professional development (CPD) of academic and professional support staff), and
  • developing digital capabilities (again, in terms of both students and staff at the OU).

Those areas of interest are what led me – via Twitter, Martin Weller, and Lawrie Phipps, among others – to discover Hybrid Pedagogy and their Digital Pedagogy Lab Institutes, or DigPedLab for short.

About DigPedLab Institutes

Ever since I applied for the UCISA bursary back in April, I’ve struggled to explain clearly and concisely to people quite what a DigPedLab Institute is – even those working in the ed tech sector have given me slightly puzzled looks – and each institute is slightly different, so it’s not even a single thing. To focus on the one I attended, in the organisers’ words:

DPL Vancouver is a three-day institute that explores the role and application of digital technology in teaching. Three tracks offer intensive peer-driven learning with and discussion of open education, new media, and critical digital pedagogy.

Participants choose between one of three tracks and work collaboratively in small workshop-style classes. Each track is open to all backgrounds and skill levels. Each day of the institute begins with discussion that will play into the day’s work. A continental breakfast will be provided before sessions begin mid-morning, followed by lunch. Afternoons will be split into multiple sessions and will include keynote presentations, workshops, and other activities. Each day will end before dinner. The learning community we create together will be welcoming to a wide range of skill levels and interests.”

The tracks on offer in Vancouver were:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I chose Digital Literacies led by Bonnie Stewart.  This track was described as:

“focused on the development of participatory, networked literacies that enable collaboration, contribution, and critical sense-making within information abundance. It fosters a critical orientation toward tools, portfolios, and digital presence within networks. Participants will discuss and experiment with various technological tools from the chalkboard to moveable chairs, computers, mobile devices, social media platforms, and learning management systems. Individual sessions and workshops will focus on teaching philosophies, discernment practices for using digital tools in courses, emergent learning, digital composition, and discussions of the impact of the digital on traditional and critical pedagogies.”

Apart from wanting to be taught by Bonnie, whom I have long admired for her clear-sighted and thoughtful-yet-practical approach to complex digital pedagogy issues, I thought that learning about new critical perspectives for evaluating digital tools and approaches would be invaluable for me and my department.

My further blogs are really just an overview of an intense, inspiring, and challenging weekend that – nearly five months later – is still affecting how I approach my work and my social (media) interactions every day.