Two pathways to the WORLD

There was a time when humans were only born into the physical world and we marked this date with a birthday. The physical world is limited by geography and therefore our connections are limited. But in the modern world, humans choose to have a second birth into a digital world. The exact digital birth may or may not happen and also varies for each individual. Nonetheless, a birth into the digital world is limitless and often has no boundaries. “It is not unreasonable to [think that soon] every human on the planet may be able to connect with nearly every other [human] in order to share information, knowledge, and ideas in a myriad of ways, virtually instantaneously” (Anderson & Dron, p. 2). I am slow in developing my digital connections. It is overwhelming for my brain to connect with so many people online and maintain my offline connections. Perhaps if I creep slowly, I will eventually adapt to the new digital environment and find ways to survive in both worlds.

The visual of my own network that identifies where and how I am situated has two parts: the digital world (left side) and the physical world (right side); the pathways within the two parts eventually lead to the WORLD. Even though my digital footprint is small relative to other graduate students’ pathways, the number of digital pathways to the WORLD is greater than the number of pathways that exist in my physical world. Perhaps the quest for a successful and fulfilling life involves increasing the number of digital pathways rather than existing solely in the limited physical world. I will keep this in mind as I attempt to increase my digital footprint in the next few years.

References

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2014). Teaching Crowds: Learning and Social Media. https://doi.org/10.15215/aupress/9781927356807.01

Who am I and where have I been?

The Plan to Support the Cultivation of my Digital Presence and Digital Identity within the MALAT Program

After mapping my individual engagement with the Web using the Visitors and Residents continuum (White & LeCornu, 2011), I thought about how my online activity has changed over the last ten years. Initially, my online activity was strictly as a visitor, seeking information and guidance, saving my talking for off-line. However, I recognize a movement towards the resident’s side, where I am sharing information about myself, including my activities and thoughts. I find this fascinating because traditionally, I have always been a very private person. I am surprised at my current level of presence on social media, mainly Facebook.

My overall goal and purpose for cultivating my digital presence and identity is to find ways to gravitate to the resident side of the continuum. I am not saying that existing on the visitor side is a bad thing. White and LeCornu pointed out that a visitor’s technical and intellectual skills may even be greater than those of residents (2011). I am saying I’d like to experiment with digital online presence through a different lens.

While attempting to move closer to the resident side of the continuum, I will begin with increasing the number of blog posts in WordPress to two per month. The skills I will need to develop for this goal are critical thinking and academic writing, two of my personal weak areas.

The strategies for addressing my critical thinking and academic writing learning gaps will be to continue reading and writing within the MALAT program and to review activity and assignment feedback from instructors. As well, I plan to seek guidance and mentorship from the RRU writing center and especially my cohort; I am lucky to be with several amazing thinkers and speakers. At the end of every month, I plan to review the goal (posting at least two additional entries in WordPress per month) and in three months, I will revisit my plan and redo the mapping.

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

Conceptual map: My technology use as it pertains to the resident-visitor typology

 

The conceptual map includes icons representing only those areas I have visited in the last month. It is a continuum both horizontally and vertically. The left side (visitors) represents where I use the web as a tool and simply visit to get information; whereas the right side (residents) is where I live out a portion of my life and leave a trace of myself behind. The larger the icon, the more time spent in that area. There have been a few new places that I frequent quite regularly (What’s App and Slack) and some I have not (Twitter). Facebook’s location is the only surprise as I now use it for connecting with colleagues as well as friends and family. I initially signed up for Facebook years ago because I could follow my children’s extracurricular activity information; however, it has grown into my largest social network.

I often think about reducing my personal and work online use. For years, I sampled various web applications, both in my home at work. Some places I have visited once or twice; others I have completely forgotten about after the original sign-in. Do I need all those digital footprints left behind? Should I attempt to close those areas of my life? Perhaps I may downsize to a few favourite places. I look forward to revising this map as I continue in the MALAT program.

A new type of mentorship

Virtual Symposium Critical Academic Reflective Blog Post: A Requirement for the Master of Arts in Leadership and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University

In the past few weeks, I viewed several live recordings of MALAT virtual symposiums (2017-2019), consisting of experts in the field of digital networked learning. I was most intrigued with the theme of openness (Cronin, 2017) and was forced to examine not only my personal beliefs about openness, but how openness is related to teaching within secondary schools. Extending past my own limits of openness may be a way for me to expand my current definition of digital literacy and consequently, strengthen my teaching of digital literacy.

Childs (2019) stated that the definition of openness is “a continually negotiated space who’s definition is always a ‘work in progress’” (20:00). As well, openness refers to “collaborative practices which include the creation, use and reuse of OER, as well as pedagogical practices employing participatory technologies and social networks for interaction, peer-learning, knowledge creation and empowerment of learners” (Cronin, 2017 as cited by Childs, 2019, 20:00). Since the 1980’s, online privacy has been an issue that has grown in urgency and importance (Dixon, 2011). Open digital practices expose people to potential dangers. Watters (2015) pointed out that in attempts to safeguard student data from advertisers, unscrupulous people and companies, 170 bills have been proposed in the year 2015 that would regulate student privacy. Most secondary students have their own technological devices such as phones, tablets and computers and choose to connect with others in the digital open. They are doing what humans do; they are seeking mentorship and making connections to ensure survival of their environment. This is normal behaviour since social networks “are an essential part of being human” (Rhiengold, 2010, p. 20). Unfortunately, at my school, administration and teachers have reached a roadblock; and students are left experiencing most open learning on their own. Students are not provided authentic, open digital lessons because teachers are limited due to having to follow privacy laws. After listening to many of the virtual symposium participants, I was reminded of the benefits of openness and my constant battle with extending the limits of my own digital openness. As I thought more about openness, my thinking was directed towards digital literacy. How do we teach life-long skills in digital literacy if we do not allow students to fully experience a complete, authentic version of openness?

Digital literacy “includes a wide variety of ethical, social and reflective practices that are embedded in work, learning, leisure and daily life” (Media Smart, 2012). Using, understanding, and creating are believed to be three main principles in digital literacy and of the three, understanding requires the greatest degree of openness. “Understand is that critical piece – it’s the set of skills that help us comprehend, contextualize, and critically evaluate digital media so that we can make informed decisions about what we do and encounter online” (Media Smarts, 2012). If we are graduating students into a virtual world, why are we not providing students with authentic experiences in digital navigation and developing life-long, critical thinking skills within that world?

Childs (2019) pointed out that openness is complex. Marin Weller once said, “It has never been more risky to operate in the open; it has never been more vital to operate in the open” (as cited by Cronin, 2017, 5:00). Nonetheless, extending past my own limits of openness may be a way for me to expand my current definition digital literacy and strengthen my practice for teaching and learning digital literacy. “Openness is a vehicle for educational change” (Childs, 2019, 9:15) and should not be feared. At the very least, I plan to experiment with extending my personal limits of openness and be ready for the opportunity to form a new type of digital literacy mentorship to my students. In the meantime, I may just sit down, relax and colour Catherine Cronin’s page from the Uncommon Women colouring book (http://uncommonwomen.org/colouring-book-pdfs-now-available).

References

Childs, E. (2019, April 15). Openness and networked learning in a MA degree. [Video recording]. Retrieved from http://ow.ly/fFHu50qnns9

Cronin, C. (2017, April 20). Open culture, open education, open questions. [Video recording]. Retrieved from https://ca-sas.bbcollab.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2017-04-20.0917.M.260AD3030AD273255B9B9C087E6864.vcr&sid=2009211

Dixon, P., & Gellman, R. (2011). Online privacy: A reference handbook. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/royalroads-ebooks/detail.action?docID=766988

Mediasmarts. (2012). Digital Literacy Fundamentals. Retrieved from http://mediasmarts.ca/digital-media-literacy/general-information/digital-media-literacy-fundamentals/digital-literacy-fundamentals

Rhiengold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Educuase Review, 44(5), 14-24. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/10/attention-and-other-21stcentury-social-media-literacies

Royal Roads University. (2013, September 23). Program Description Key Features [Text]. Retrieved from http://www.royalroads.ca/prospective-students/master-arts-learning-and-technology/program-description

Watters, A. (2019). The web we need to give students. Bright Magazine. Retrieved from https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713

What makes a good research question?

A good research question:

  • initiates an investigation and guides the researcher in developing a thesis
  • is engaging to both the researcher and audience
  • differs depending on whether the research is quantitative or qualitative
  • most importantly, follows the criteria for writing the question: is clear, focused, concise, complex and arguable (George Mason University, n.d., para. 1)

Reference

Gearge Mason University. (n.d.). How to write a research question. Retrieved from https://writingcenter.gmu.edu/guides/how-to-write-a-research-question

Links to useful resources

https://sites.duke.edu/urgws/files/2014/02/Research-Questions_WS-handout.pdf

https://libraries.indiana.edu/sites/default/files/Develop_a_Research_Question.pdf

https://cirt.gcu.edu/research/developmentresources/tutorials/question

https://www.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/22782_Chapter_7.pdf