Personal thoughts to start
I am writing for my progression assessment, which has been a real struggle. Writing is for me a difficult act. I have been identifying some aspects of it so I can improve. It might be because I need to stop, find silence within me, and try to find words and a way to structure them so they make justice to my ideas and all the bits and bops that float around but are an important part of the process of ideation. So yes!! It is an agony I am afraid. But here I am, holding the space of struggle and moving forward I hope! Courage is not missing, so I guess, there will be a productive outcome, in what form, that is still to come 🙂
I am receiving an incredible support from @gconole, my supervisor Grainne Conole. Thank you for that!
My research interest and reflection in relation with exploring the present and not so much predicting the future
Reflecting on my work through my writing and some reading (@DonnaLanclos and @Lawrie) I did this morning I came to realise how important the first phase of my research is. To give this reflection a context let me summarise my research and then explain what I am saying.
My research is about finding ways in which the university, through its members of staff and their institutional vision, can support students to enhance, improve and sometimes even learn about digital literacies. I think digital literacies will and indeed already are, in some occasions, taking the place of literacy as we know them, but I will develop this idea in another post, although I already started to reflect on it here.
When I was thinking about the idea of my research I had already a potential answer or hunch solution if you will. Then came all the process of thinking about how this question could be answered and planning the design research that goes with it. In this process something was not feeling right, I was very uncomfortable, still at an intuitive level, with the idea of how to implement this ‘hunch’ or idea about improving students’ digital literacies. It was definitely not standing in front of a group of students and presenting to them “my idea”! Who am I to present to them ‘The Solution’ without asking them. That felt very uncomfortable, so much so, that I decided to stop for a while and give it further thinking and time to mature.
I then had the chance to give a talk about my research in the National University Galway with @catherinecronin in CELT (Centre for the Excellence of Learning and Teaching), where I had very good feedback and a rich and fruitful 1:1 discussion with Catherine to share our research ideas and the literature we had been looking at. The result of both, the feedback and the discussion session was a CLICK, an AJA moment. It all suddenly fall into place and I saw the piece that was missing: Students voice, their current digital practice, where they are at in this particular moment in relation with their digital literacies. What was missing was the ‘present moment’ which Donna Lanclos describes very nicely in her article (referred and linked above). An interesting point she makes is not to base our research in an imagined future, instead we need to explore the messy and not so sexy but indeed interesting present.
Future thinking is unfortunate because in part it encourages a neglect of the complicated and messy (and interesting!) present. It’s easier to think and talk about a future where the current problems with which we wrestle are fixed (jet packs!). It is more challenging to confront the present.
This idea of the problems of the future being fixed is relevant and more so the challenge that lies in exploring the present -not an imagined present she says- in order to see what is really possible to do. The core of her article is how the ‘digital native’ cliche does exactly that, hands us an imagined present where young people, all in general, do technology, are experts, hence there is no need to improve nothing, there is no need to teach nothing but only let them do what they know best and in a way we are liberated of all responsibility not only with them, but more over with our own improvement of digital literacies.
This idea of exploring the present is also encouraged by critical thinkers of ed tech like Neil Selwyn and Martin Oliver. They are also informing my work. They argue that there is a need in ed tech to explore more the ‘state of the current’ how they call it in order to attempt to bridge the existing gap between the enthusiastic rhetoric and the not so happy reality happening in the classrooms. And this is exactly what I am doing in phase 1, mapping students current digital practice so I can understand what is what they can and cannot do with technology and where is support really needed. I am using the V+R approach (another explanation here) to map students’ digital practice and it has been eye opening for my research. It shows exactly the opposite of what Prensky has established. From 20 students I worked with only 3 have located digital tools for academic purposes in their V+R Map, and less than 1/4 of the participants feel safe and confident with the idea of exploring new tools in order to work in formal settings and improve their academic digital skills. I also had a big discussion with a group of 30 students (between 23 and 45 years old) and only 3 knew the meaning of digital literacies. In my case the evidence contradicts Prensky’s assumption totally, and it reveals how passive this cliche results.
Next step will be looking at the different factors that are hindering students to use more digital tools for learning and studying available in the Internet. As Lanclos argues, there is a need to look at the complex interactions of factors that are restricting students from being masters of the Web and its tools for academic purposes. The idea with phase 1 is to be able to extract relevant elements from the data in order to design a scaffolding structure that supports students to improve their existing and informal personal learning environments reflected in their V+R map.
It is only exploring and knowing how their present practice looks like that anything relevant can be designed in order to support them in the process of improving and teaching the so demanded digital literacies.
Some notes to reflect on while seeing Doug’s presentation via online life streaming
- digital literacies (the ies ending is an idea of Doug Belshaw while doing his dissertation, which can be found here) are contextualised, there is not such ‘A THING’ that defines it. It will depend on the context.
I am relating this to the presentation I just saw from All Aboard were they aim -via wide consultation- to create a digital road map to help and guide institutions and organisations in the development of local and national digital strategies and to ensure alignment, coherence and a sense of common endeavour at a sectoral level.
In relation to the contextualisation of digital skills that Doug mentioned, I think if it would be worth thinking about mapping the digital skills needed in my institution and see how can we provide students with opportunities to acquire those skills during their course at the uni.
- Badge seen as a scaffolding aid for learning paths? Still not sure but I think this what Doug was explaining when he showed the inner structure of a badge
The idea with this anatomy is to understand what information is important in order to issue a badge and the process involved in issuing and getting it.
Taken from the Serve Ravet slideshare on Open Badge and e-Portfolio
This image is about this process. There is the person or institution, let us call it X, who is issuing the badge and the person, Z, who is interested in obtaining it (people need to get some external recognition for what they have learned outside formal academia, is part of the things you need to account for to get a job); Z needs to know what is wanted from her/him, what is the criteria that she/he needs to know in order to plan what is needed to accomplish the task. Z then needs to collect evidence that respond to the criteria. Once the evidence gathered is assessed the badge is issued. So in order for a badge to be a scaffolding aid for a learning path the idea would be to point out to some of the milestones that a particular learning path should accomplish and those milestones could be the evidence upon which the badge will be issued. Or maybe to design your own learning path and start to gather evidence for it with badges. I think it depends on the experience of the learner among other things.
- Digital literacy is a contested term –> Literacy as a word has meaning and relevance, it is difficult not to fall in the trap of putting literacy behind any word to make it sound relevant 🙂
- Digital literacy should not be a dead metaphor (Rorty). THIS is it and THIS is not it doesn’t work (I need to check Rorty’s idea of dead metaphors and Doug Belshaw ambiguity chapter in his thesis)
- Digital literacy is a way of approaching the world, an attitude towards the digital environment
- Work with other people, don’t take just authors. Work what is means in your context
- co-created definitions–> every body has the power. Don’t sit there isolated, work with the people involved in the digital literacy project
- link the badge with the web literacy map
- Badges are Trojan horse in education (need to think more deeply about this)
- Open Badges–> is different from digital badges
- Make a Mozilla account to create badges. They are like endorsement
- Finland has a badge initiative and Pearson as well. (check them)
- Integration of badges into your web page or wiki or any web artefact you are creating to show your skills
- System of currency with open badges
- agile currency–>badges.
- Check the Department of education in relation to badges
- Learning pathways, how to design them? With students?
- Check the startup design template. download from (link is in the slideshare)
- Scaffolding–> how do we scaffold people’s skills?
- check the open badges’ google group
- Prescriptive or descriptive badge: we don’t have to be prescriptive don’t need to go ahead of time. Follow what students are already doing because they are doing!
- why would you (student) bother with the formal ways of learning if there is other ways to learn things in a more open and integrative way
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Danah has a powerful combination, her interest for teenagers and her work in the social media industry. It seems to me she knows, as she says in the audio, the industry from the inside and I can imagine in her interviews she must be very sharp in what questions she asks and what she can identify in the answers. I have read parts of the book, it is very informative and illustrative of teenagers reality and dissonance with adults and sometimes parents that in some cases as not understanding teenagers life tend to punish it making them quite anxious.
You can buy the book or download it here
I found this blog so helpful when trying to understand multimodality for my own research, I want to share it if someone can make use of it.
Why this glossary
Multimodality studies how and to what social and cultural effects people use and transform resources for communication including speech, image, gesture, gaze, and others. In the last decade or so multimodal studies have introduced many new terms (such as ‘mode’); and they have begun to redefine many ‘old’ones (such a ‘genre’). The aim of this glossary is to provide inroads into this cross-discliplinary enterprise.
Who it is for?
Keep on reading
Topics that are addressed in this document:
- The world -expertise beyond the institution: What can/should citizen demand of the HE sector on the Web era?
- Teaching & learning -taking advantage of the Web: Which areas of our teaching and learning do we need to change to respond to the opportunities of the Web?
- Research – what do we know we don’t know? Which areas where the Web and HE meet need to be better understood and why?
Take a look at the blog where more details can be found.