Category Archives: LRNT 521

Reflection on my Digital Presence

This week I have been thinking about how far I have come in my digital presence.  When I started this course, I had a very minimal digital footprint and now I have a blog that I contribute to regularly and I am working at expanding my digital network.  While I still have a long way to go, I think I am doing well.  Here is a video with more detail about my digital journey.

Click here

As always, I am looking forward to your comments!

Weekly Casual Post

As part of growing my digital presence (see post from April 30, 2019), I will post a casual post like this every week.  The plan behind these posts is to take what I am learning and apply it to my life as I experience events that relate to the MALAT program.

This week’s post comes from a conversation I had at Heritage Park yesterday as I was working my volunteer shift.  A co-worker and I were talking about how communications have changed between when newspapers were new to now when most of our communications are digital.  My co-worker is young and easily fits into the digital native group, but he chooses to keep his digital presence very low.  He has three social media accounts: a blog, an Instagram account, and Facebook Messenger).  He uses Facebook Messenger without having a Facebook account, he keeps his blog so hidden that someone has yet to find it, and he has fewer than five followers on Instagram.  He explained that he does this because he wants to choose how people see what he does.  This got me thinking about the amount of information available online and who can see that information.  Information’s misuse can happen if it lands in the possession of the wrong person regardless of the medium used to distribute the information.  Being careful online is common-knowledge now, and I suspect that is where his desire to choose who sees the content he posts.  This conversation got me wondering if he was missing something by not interacting online.  He has taken great effort to structure the tools to his needs, but I wonder if that restricts his learning in a way that he had not considered.

The readings throughout this course have had one constant theme; online publics change and grow with each person and each posting.  Online communities, groups, networks, etc., come from individuals’ experiences both on- and off-line and the only way to encourage that is to dive in the open and see what happens.

Online Visitors and Residents vs Face-to-Face Connections

Before I began the MALAT program, I knew that some people where more comfortable using the computer and venturing online than others.  I am only a few weeks into the program and I have learned that there are visitors and residents, digital natives and immigrants (White & Le Cornu, 2011), and environments that work for each group and that each group does not have hard borders, meaning that one can move between the groups with ease.  Hargittai and Walejko note, “some people may only turn to digital media on occasion and for only a few activities, others may make it an integral part of their lives” (Hargittai & Walejko, 2008, p. 240), recently I experienced a blending of the groups in a surprising way.  I was telling a colleague that I was encouraging my dad to adopt an elderly cat by sending him photos and text messages in the voice of the cat.  As I was sending more messages, my dad was starting to give-in to the idea of bringing home the cat.  After I told the entire story, my colleague responded with comments like “yes, I saw that!  Your poor dad did not have a chance!”, which, if I had sent the messages in an open platform (i.e. social media), her response would have been accurate; however, each message was a text and only my dad and I saw them.  After reading articles about digital presences, I believe that my colleague is an online resident which caused her to default to the thought that, since we are connected on social media, she had witnessed the exchange regarding adopting the cat, when she was, actually, hearing about it for the first time in that moment.

This experience made me realize that while we are able to turn to a digital environment to interact with others, it is important to realize that not all exchanges are visible to our entire network and when we react to something, it is important to know where we fit in the original exchange.  The conversation allowed me to recognize when someone is more of a resident online than I am; which, is something that I was unaware of prior to being in this program.

 

References

Hargittai, E. & Walejko, G. (2008) The Participation Divide: Content creation and sharing in the digital age, Information, Communication & Society, 11:2, 239-256, DOI: 10.1080/13691180801946150

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). doi:https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171

The Impact of Structures Have on my Digital Presence and Identity

Without community, we would not have somewhere to exchange ideas about what we are working on or what we are learning.  Learning happens every day, and while it is, primarily, an individualized activity, the connections between learning and life happens in communities as stated by Dron and Anderson, “knowledge is information that has been contextualized, made relevant, and owned” Dron & Anderson, 2014, p. 16).  Until we can take the information we have received and work with it in a community, it cannot truly become knowledge (Dron & Anderson, 2016).  This idea resonated with me in regards to my plan to grow my digital presence.  I have always been a hands-on learner and building a digital presence will not be different.

Overall, the readings helped me realize there are different groups, communities, and collectives available to help grow my digital presence.  When I wrote my original plan, I was thinking I had to build my presence on social media, and now I want to explore other areas where I can join topic related communities.  By creating my blog, I have starting to create a community and now in order to follow through with my plan; it is now time to share it with my network.  Johnson (as cited in vanOostveen, DiGiuseppe, Barber, Blayone, & Childs) states “…reality, including virtual reality, is something that is created, rather than discovered” (Johnson as cited in vanOostveen, DiGiuseppe, Barber, Blayone, & Childs, 2016, para. 6), I think my digital presence will be a combination of what I create and what I discover; I cannot create an entire reality of my own – there is not enough learning in that.  Sharing knowledge is how it gets stronger (Dron & Anderson, 2014), these readings have made me what to go out and share the knowledge!

References

Blayone, Todd & van Oostveen, Roland & Barber, Wendy & DiGiuseppe, Maurice & Childs, Elizabeth. (2016). Developing Learning Communities in Fully Online Spaces: Positioning the Fully Online Learning Community Model. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312087765_Developing_Learning_Communities_in_Fully_Online_Spaces_Positioning_the_Fully_Online_Learning_Community_Model

Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. doi:10.15215/aupress/9781927356807.01

Map of my Network

 

As my digital footprint is small, so is my network; “there are more networked devices than people in the world” (Anderson, Dron, 2014, p. 3), I fit into this category.  I have several devices that connect to digital networks, but I am not a member of many of them.  Although my network is small, it does what I need it to do.

Breaking Down my Network

Naturally, I am at the center of my network, which connects to six hubs: school, work, friends, family, Facebook, and Linked-In, with school and work having sub-categories.  I split work and school further since they each have a large role in my network.  I included more than my digital network since I believe that a network comes from many connections.  In each of these hubs, there are people with whom I share a connection.  In many cases, these relationships are ones where we help each other.  The lines that attach the network do not have directions (i.e. arrows) because it is a flexible and the connections go both ways, which helps to build a stronger network.  Danah Boyd said, “physical structures are a collection of atoms while digital structures are built out of bits” (Boyd, 2011, para. 11), my network resides using both physical structures and bits.

 

References

Boyd, D. (2011). Social network sites as networked publics: Affordances, dynamics, and implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), A Networked Self (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120235

 

Cultivating my Digital Presence

Until now, I have worked at having a small footprint online.  I do not have many social media sites, only Facebook and even there I keep my posts light and positive.  I do not see online communities as somewhere to go to express my frustrations, ask hard questions, or get into emotional or philosophical discussions.  When I applied to the MALAT program, I realized that my digital imprint would not only change but also increase.

My overall goal in cultivating my digital presence is to not change from who I am offline.  According to Schryver, “texting and email and posting let us present the self we want to be” (Schryver, 2013, para. 7), when cultivating my online identity I want to stay true to myself.  As I write my posts and other online contributions, I will review them to ensure my true personality comes through.  I also would like to include examples from my life to support my posts.

My purpose for cultivating a stronger online presence is to build credibility.  Part of my philosophy, both at work and at home, is that we need to move to more of a digital lifestyle.  As I move through the program and on to my next career, I need to move to a more digital presence as I would like to teach or create courses that feature software or are in an online environment.

These are my three main gaps in building my online presence:

  • Lack of knowledge of online spaces
  • Minimal network
  • Moving out of my comfort zone

In order to fill these gaps, I will look at online spaces and create new accounts or take accounts out of hibernation and start to use them, accept people into my network, try to be open to joining new networks, and know that leaving my comfort zone is not a bad thing, as it will help me grown and learn.  Jenkins said, “children need a safe space within which they can master the skills they need as citizens and consumers” (Jenkins, 2009, p. 24), I think it is safe to say we are all children when it comes to learning, not in the way of age, but in the way of innocence.

I will know I am successful in my goal by seeing my network grow as well as change, and I will see the number of spaces I participant in increase, becoming more of a resident online versus  the visitor I am now.  I will be able to measure my success in being out of my comfort zone by becoming calmer when looking at new online spaces.

References

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. MIT Press. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/co9mdasoh8r1ew7/8435.pdf?dl=0

Schryver, K. (2013, February 5). Who are you online? Considering issues of web identity. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/guest-post-who-are-you-online-considering-issues-of-web-identity/?_r=0

Visitor or Resident?

I feel that I spend a lot of time on the computer working on one thing or another.  Reading the article Visitors and Residents:  A new typology for online engagement by David S. White and Alison Le Cornu, I became curious to whether I was a resident or a visitor online, I suspected my map would indicate that I am a visitor.  My map contains the online locations that I use regularly, assigning each one a different colour.  I placed each box on the map by considering how I use that site, whether I go there to talk to others or go there to find something.  I also considered how much I leave behind when I am inactive on the site.  While creating my map, I had to remind myself of White’s definition of tool and place “‘Tool’ is functional …. ‘Place’, on the other hand, is social” (White & Le Cornu, 2011, para. 16), by thinking of each site as a tool or a place, I was able to put them in the appropriate location on the map.  As I expected, my map indicates that I am more of a visitor online than a resident.

 

References

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). doi:https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v16i9.3171

Virtual Symposium 2019

Going back to school is primarily about the learning, but it is also about realigning your stars; at least it is for me.  Since realigning my stars is a large part of my goals of being in the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology (MALAT) program, then this week started me on the right path.  Before the program started, my only goal was to start teaching full time.  While that does remain a goal, the presentations from this week have opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities in working in academia and the domain of open learning.

The session by Carolyn Levy highlighted the variety of projects and locations that Open Learning can take a career.  She presented her current projects that take her to other countries and each project has unique elements yet hold true to the scope of open learning.  The term Instructional Designer was new to me and this week certainly introduced me to the field.  Carolyn asked, “how do you guide as oppose to impose?” (Levy, 2019, 19:57) when working with clients who know the content very well, but maybe do not have the ability to structure content that is relevant and current.  It is the instructional designer’s role to understand where the client is in terms of the project and guide him or her towards the final goal without forcing the plan upon him or her.

Something that I deal with consistently is the existence of, figurative, silos between groups within one company.  I found that this issue came up throughout the symposium sessions.  Elizabeth Childs talked about this in one of her sessions; the fact that open has the potential of reducing walls between groups who have either similar or identical goals (Childs, 2019, 9:07).  This idea gave me both feelings of hope and despair.  I believe strongly that an organization should work as a whole and not create a “them and us” structure within, if open can help create a united environment and move us closer to working as a team then let’s do it!  The feeling of despair comes from the fact that many of these silos have been in place for decades and it seems that experience employees teach the new employees to keep them in place.  I fear that changes will take a long time to implement allowing the reinforcement of existing silos.

Dave Cormier linked the idea of rhizomes and open learning (Cormier, 2017, 14:31) and the effect on learners.  At first glance it seems that a rhizome learner would be an ideal leaner, someone who is bound only by their environments (physical or emotional), but in an open learning environment learners can wander off and it may be difficult to get them back on track (Cormier, 2017, 14:58).  As wonderful as open learning looks, it is important to remember that there are challenges as well.  Dave tied this together very well.

Overall, I found the week every enlightening.  I managed to attend all the sessions live, except for one.  While the recordings offered a great way to listen to the session I missed and the sessions from previous years, I did find that I got more from the live sessions.  I am an interactive learner and I find that if I can get my hands dirty and really dig into the topic, I retain more and have more fun in the process.  As Dave Cormier says “open gets messy, you get the learning all over you” (Cormier, 2017, 26:54), I cannot think of a better way to learn!

References

Childs, E. (2019, April 15). Openness and Networked learning in a MA degree. Retrieve from http://ow.ly/fFHu50qnns9

Cormier, D. (2017, April 18). Intentional messiness of online communities. Retrieved from https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2017-04-18.0934.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&sid=2009211

Levy, C. (2019, April 15). Designing Learning Environments for a Global Context. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/PSyN50qn5QV.