Planning my Digital Brand

Over the past two years, I have dedicated much of my time exploring the vast educational technology (EdTech) field through the Master of Arts in Learning and Technology program (MALAT) at Royal Roads University. In addition to working through the core curriculum, a significant part of the program required us to blog about various topics on EdTech and teaching and learning using WordPress. The basis of student blogging, well, at least one aspect of it, is to foster learner agency and control by providing a space where learners are free to explore their unique perspectives on a given topic and present it to the world in a way they best desire (Watters, 2015). In essence, blogging in the MALAT program allowed me to develop a personal “cyberinfrastructure” (Waters, 2015) based on my initiative. Throughout this process, and in addition to reading countless articles, books, and gray literature on various learning and technology topics, I discovered my passion for instructional design and multimedia learning. 

Now that I am near the end of the MALAT program, I need to decide what I would like to do with the digital portfolio I have created during my time in MALAT, which brings us to the purpose of this blog post. I would like to convert my MALAT digital portfolio (a.k.a. This blog) into a digital brand dedicated to multimedia learning and instructional design (ID). Consequently, I hope for my digital identity to become an established authority on multimedia learning, applied EdTech, and ID. 

Towards a Mission Statement

Before I get into my pseudo-mission statement, I should first clarify a couple of things. First, when I refer to multimedia learning, I refer to any educational delivery system that uses multiple forms of media (e.g., images, video, text, narration, etc.) to educate students. You might think this is a broad field, and you’re right; it is! Multimedia learning technologies can be used in all learning contexts, from the physical classroom to virtual reality simulations for online learning. For those unfamiliar with multimedia learning, I recommend reading “Multimedia Learning” by Richard Meyer (2021) to understand multimedia learning and how it should be approached from an ID perspective.

With that said, the purpose of my digital brand is relatively simple: 

  1. Provide evidence-based information, tools, and strategies on instructional design for multimedia learning to support education professionals looking to enhance their ability to create professional multimedia learning presentations; 
  2. Discuss past, current, and future trends in EdTech as it pertains to ID and multimedia learning. 
  3. Review associated EdTech products; 
  4. Provide me with a digital space to further my research on audio and its impact on learning using various levels of immersion; and,
  5. Supplement my career as an instructional designer and educator with an artistic outlet. My wife and I will be incorporating our own instructional design and education business soon. The proposed digital brand will help us build credibility with future clients and prospective employers (e.g., term contracts). 

Planning

Ultimately, I would like to create an informal community of inquiry (COI) and establish a “digital culture” (Rheingold, 2010) to explore multimedia learning and ID. For those of you who are new to the term, COI is a facilitation approach used to build an open, collaborative, and constructivist learning community that fosters three learning presences to deliver ideal learning outcomes: Cognitive, teaching, and social (Garrison et al., 2000). For background on COI, I recommend watching this Youtube Video by Williams (2016). Although the COI model is primarily focused on course facilitation, part of my digital brand, in a sense, will educate the public on various topics on ID and EdTech, garnering it a practical model to follow, especially since my brand will foster social constructivism and personal inquiry, in addition to entertainment.

Before establishing a COI, I need to develop the framework of my cyberinfrastructure, which will include the following components:

  1. My blog site – I will need to port my student digital portfolio to my dedicated hosting service and edit my existing content for relevance to my content theme.
  2. A dedicated Youtube Channel
  3. Social media backlinks – I will use LinkedIn and Twitter to share content and establish my digital presence. 

Next, I need to consider my future readership’s needs and wants in their information consumption. It’s not enough for me to write about topics that interest me, for I need to ensure my content serves a specific purpose. One of my favourite ways to develop creative solutions is to follow the Design Thinking Process by d.School (2018), a solution-based approach in which we seek to understand the users and design assumptions to generate alternative design solutions that may not be initially apparent (Dam & Siang, 2020). In my case, I have modified the Design Thinking Process to feature aspects of the ADDIE process (e.g., Bates, 2015) to better suit my development needs. 

Here’s an overview of how this process will work: 

Step 1: Empathize

Here, I define my target audience by empathizing with and researching their needs and wants and their problems of practice to map out a topic scheme that will serve a function (Rheingold, 2010). 

Step 2: Define

Based on my findings from step 1, and in conjunction with my personal and professional values, this step involves formulating an organized mission statement, vision, and set of values for the brand. 

Step 3: Ideate

This stage involves exploring a wide array of solutions that will satisfy the mission and vision statements. Here, I will ideate content ideas from a broad focus, broader than the needs revealed in step 2, to explore all possible solutions before focusing on my content approach and generating a specific theme. 

Step 4: Develop

As I build my initial content, I will consider three of Rheingold’s (2010) five social media literacies to accommodate effective social media content design and engagement strategies: (1) Content must capture followers’ attention by fulfilling their inquiry and interest needs while accommodating diversity by being open to all perspectives on a given topic, (2) All content will encourage engagement and participation by promoting and supporting open discussion, and (3) all platforms promote active participation by encouraging followers to share personal thoughts and stories, collaborating on new ideas which may trigger insight and new content ideas. 

Step 5: Evaluate

I haven’t entirely determined my search engine optimization (SEO) and analytics plan yet (e.g., measures views, clicks, engagement, etc.); however, if I consider an established COI as a success metric, I suppose active participation of my followers is fundamental to my success. Once I get to this planning stage, things will become clearer regarding actual metrics to use. For now, I will say that this step, evaluation, will be cyclical, perhaps quarterly, and is fundamental to revising my content or implementation plan successfully. 

Conclusion

That’s it for now. To be fully transparent, this is just the tip of the iceberg regarding my digital branding plan and how I intend to establish my digital presence. I haven’t considered how much of my true self I will inject into my digital presence, which I suppose I’ll leave for another post. Please view this post as a work-in-progress, as this development plan is merely in the earliest stages. Plans change as the planning process takes place. I invite everyone to please weigh in on this plan. Am I missing something important that might help me build a community around my content theme? How might you convert your RRU digital portfolio into a professional digital brand that fosters active participation? 

References

Bates, T. (2015). Chapter 4.3 The ADDIE Model. In Teaching in the digital age. BCcampus. http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage

Dam, R.F., & Siang, T.Y. (2020). What is design thinking, and why is it so popular? Interaction Design Foundation. https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/what-is-design-thinking-and-why-is-it-so-popular

d.School. (2018). Design Thinking Bootleg. Standford d.School.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical Inquiry in a Text-Based Environment: Computer Conferencing in Higher Education. https://cde.athabascau.ca/coi_site/documents/Garrison_Anderson_Archer_Critical_Inquiry_model.pdf

Mayer, R. (2021). Multimedia Learning: Vol. 3rd Edition. Cambridge University Press. UK.

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14.

Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web we need to give students. Bright Magazine.

Williams, L. (2016). Community of inquiry model: A conceptual framework for online learning research [Youtube Video]. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unJNXVddX9E

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