521.2.3 – Digital Presence

Originally published May 25, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

I remember the first time I learned about online avatars and the concept of digital presence. In grade 9, I read Virtual Vandals, a Tom Clancy Net Force series novel designed for teen readers. The story followed two teenage protagonists on a virtual reality adventure. They logged into a digital world, created avatars to conceal their identity, and pursued a faceless antagonist driving an evil geopolitical plot (Duane, 1999). The pop-culture hit, The Matrix reinforced the characteristics of the digital avatar again during a grade 10 acting class film critique. In this film, characters could ‘load’ anything from clothing to tools, making their appearance in the matrix different from their real-world selves. The main supporting character, Morpheus, explained the appearance in the matrix as one’s “residual self-image … is the mental projection of your digital self” (Wachowski & Wachowski, 1999). Most recently, however, Speilberg’s (2018) film Ready Player One cautioned that digital identity does not infer unanimity. Indeed, the actions of the two protagonists in the digital world created real-world consequences. The concepts of digital identity are not new to the pop-culture, but they are entertaining examples of the pros and cons of our digital age.

During this second unit of our first course in the Royal Roads MALAT program, my cohort and I investigated the importance of digital identity and presence.  In the coming units, we will fully explore the various organizational structures involved in online learning; but at their foundations, learning in the digital environment requires awareness, participation, and collaboration (Rheingold, 2010). Critical thinking and consumption, famously coined as “Crap Detection” by Ernest Hemingway, or an understanding of who wrote it, their sources, dissenting views, and the correct information, will inform our work (Canvas Network, 2017). As part of the awareness phase, we are currently learning about our digital footprint, how others may use the digital space differently, and how rapid shifts from analog to digital environments create constraints.

Today’s blog post helped me articulate the purpose behind my digital identity and explore how I can make further improvements in the future.

As discussed in my last post, my professional work as a leader in the youth sports sector heavily influences my online presence.  Therefore, my goal as a ‘web-resident’ is to further the strategic plan of Cycling BC and represent the values of the Coaches Association of Canada, Cycling Canada, and Cycling BC to help make the activity and sport of cycling as accessible as possible to all Canadians (White, 2011).

I can meet these expectations by carefully choosing the words, messages, and images that I share with coaches, instructors, parents, athletes, and prospective cycling families. For example, I aim to role model the following through my actions in the digital space (and the real world, for that matter):

    • use precise language,
    • show an appreciation for the reader,
    • trust in the reader’s interest in growth and development, and
    • use awareness of calendar and social events to maximize the relevance and effectiveness of my posts.

I also need to recognize that readers and viewers look for different things in their role models. Morgenroth, Ryan, and Peters (2015) showed that role models could either 1) act as behavioural models, 2) represent the possible, and 3) be inspirational, and that ultimately, the viewer will decide the mode their role models fulfill.  In my role as Cycling BC’s Head of Coach Development, I am responsible for the messages that I share in the digital world and take great care in promoting values and actions that will help people create positive associations with their bikes.

At Cycling BC, we are initiating a new coach mentorship program, whereby NCCP ‘certified’ coaches can pursue professional development opportunities to maintain good standing. As the project lead, I plan to use various online technologies to foster an environment that promotes community, knowledge transfer, and opportunities to help coaches take on new and challenging roles. For example, one component of our mentorship program will be our monthly study group.  To help each participant expand their abilities, all participants will receive the opportunity to lead a meeting each year and fulfill the remaining roles.  To help make this initiative a success, I will need to utilize my technical skills in video editing, learning management systems, lecture and facilitation design, and social media to provide resources and set the tone for the participants.  Areas for improvement include my ability to develop an eLearning program from scratch (I worked with a consultant for our 2020 project) and optimizing my audio capture and editing skills to improve the sound quality of our video resources.

To help facilitate a greater connection between our coaches and increase their understanding of how athletes perceive them, we could use various activities to help them explore their digital identity. For example, numerous coaches in our community are now filming and sharing highlights of the skills and activities they complete with the athletes on social media. By sharing this information, coaches help ensure parents understand how their child is improving and help new coaches access helpful examples. In the past, apps like Coaches Eye (now known as Hudl or OnForm as of Sept 1st, 2021) allowed coaches to share information within a private group of coaches. Reed’s Law discusses how the value associated with sharing information with others changes as the number of people increases. Reed’s Law hypothesizes a linear value associated with story-telling between individuals, a ‘squared’ value associated with facilitating transactions, and an exponential value associated with facilitating affiliations and hosting conversations (Rheingold, 2010). Reed’s law also hypothesizes that as the scale of a network increases, the dominant value of the network tends to shift from one category (stories) to another (square or exponential, respectively) (Hogg, 2013). Our coaches are already doing a great job sharing their experiences within their local community and I am curious how I can facilitate more significant connections with coaches in the public network and increase information on the web.

Sports coaching is a mix of art and science, and it is hard to know when athletes will achieve improvement. Likewise, it will be hard to measure the success of our coach mentorship program.  If we set up our program in the context of a community (or a group according to Dron, 2014), we can track the progress through participant attendance, engagement, and satisfaction.  However, I am optimistic the impact of the program will extend out into the online coaching network.  Measuring success in the more public realm is more challenging. One idea may be an annual survey that asks coaches about the content they have been sharing online, supported by analytics data that illustrates changes in the number of follow requests, likes, or views, representing changes in consumer interest. Another marker for success based on Reed’s Law may show how the engaging stories shared by our coaches translate to increased revenues for small coaching businesses or donations to our larger non-for-profit cycling organizations.  As with most of our programs here at Cycling BC, we design our pilot programs on a 3-year time horizon, meaning that our coach mentorship program will need to demonstrate its effectiveness and achieve financial sustainability by 2024.

Over the past decade, the sport of cycling has also quickly matured into a more mainstream activity.  With the core disciplines of the sport now established, coaching and instructor certifications are professionally recognized, trail designs that promote safety and accessibility are more widely adopted, and there is increasing interest from the public to ‘go by bike.’  As a result, our sports leaders carry an even greater responsibility to lead by example and enact their leadership values through best principles (Gilbert, 2016). This can be challenging for some members of the cycling community who experienced the ‘younger version’ of the sport and feel like they have been working with limited guidance and support but have achieved success, nonetheless.  For the coach mentorship program to achieve success, we will need to create an environment that values the experiences of all our members and helps the group aim together towards a common goal.

Regarding leveraging online tools to achieve this, our coach mentorship program could help introduce the concepts of online identity and grow a coach’s business and ultimately increase the quality of information available on the web. Boyd (2006) states that “profile generation is an explicit act of writing oneself into being in a digital environment and participants must determine how they want to present themselves to those who may view their self-representation or those who they wish might” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). We can initiate this process within the closed community of the mentorship program, whereby the members serve as the imagined audience, or according to Boyd (2011), the intended public. The value of such an exercise would be to imagine “the audience or public [and] to adjust one’s behaviour and self-presentation to fit the intended norms of that collective” (Boyd, 2011, p. 4). In summary, I plan to recommend that coaches first share their content in a private setting, like Coaches Eye. When they feel they have consolidated a digital persona that they are comfortable with, they can then shift to using the open web to demonstrate their skills on the public market.  As a result of engaging in this open sharing, we would also aim to help coaches outside our current community refine their teaching techniques and improve the overall quality of cycling coaching information available on the open web.

References

Boyd, D. (2006, December 4). Friends, Friendster, and Fop 8: Writing community into being on social network sites. First Monday, 11(12). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/download/1418/1336

Boyd, D. (2011). Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications. In Z. Papacharissi (Ed.), Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 39–58). New York, NY: Rutledge.

Canvas Network. (2017). Crap Detection. Retrieved 05 10, 2021, from https://learn.canvas.net/courses/1659/pages/crap-detection

Dron, J., & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca, AB: Athabasca University Press. Retrieved from https://www.aupress.ca/books/120235-teaching-crowds/

Duane, Diane (1999). Tom Clancy’s Net Force Explorers: Virtual Vandals. Berkley Publishing Group.

Gilbert, W. (2016). Coaching better every season: A year-round system for athlete development and program success. Champaign, Illinois, USA: Human Kinetics.

Hogg, S. (2013, October 5). Understand and Obey the Laws of Networking: Ignorance of the laws of networking is no excuse. Network World. Retrieved November 2, 2017, from https://www.networkworld.com/article/2225509/understand-and-obey-the-laws-of-networking.html

Morgenroth, T., Ryan, M. K., & Peters, K. (2015, November 23). The Motivational Theory of RoleModeling: How Role Models Influence Role Aspirants’ Goals. Advance online publication. Review of General Psychology, 19(4), 465-483. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/gpr0000059

Reed, D. P. (n.d.). That Sneaky Exponential: Beyond Metcalfe’s Law to the Power of Community Building. Retrieved from https://www.deepplum.com/dpr

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14-24. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/-/media/files/article-downloads/erm1050.pdf

Spielberg, S. (2018). Ready Player One. Warner Bros.

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011, August 9). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049

Wachowski, L., & Wachowski, L. (1999). The Matrix. Warner Bros.

521.2.2 – Visitor Resident Typology

Originally published May 12, 2021. Backdated for public readers.

As a student of one of the first post-secondary institutions on the western seaboard to get invited to ‘the Facebook,’ as we called it back in 2006, I have watched social media grow and change.

Of course, the use of the internet has also changed significantly over the past 15 years, and the process of completing this Visitor-Resident typology assignment reminds me of a family saying, “if you write it, it’s forever.”

For my guest readers, White (2013) describes the way users interact with the internet as either visitors, those who search for information, or residents, those who build and share their personality online. White (2013) is also quick to point out that neither position, visitor nor resident, represents a particular person. Rather it helps users understand what tools they use in the internet age and how they may impact their persona.

This typology activity reminds me of how I have tried to carefully use the internet to reflect my values, attract helpful people into my life, and aspire towards my personal and professional goals. The below map illustrates this heavy focus on work and changes to my use of social media discussed further below.

Alternatively, Cormier (2018) proposes a different typology map that instead asks students to categorize their preference for professional practices in either a group or individual setting and using either digital or analog tools. Reflecting upon this alternative method, I prefer to build my persona and explore new professional tasks in an analog environment, first individually and then with the group. Only once I feel confident that new information will provide social value do I wish to share my ideas with the stakeholders in my area of influence.

Over the past 15 years, I recall 3 moments that shaped the way I use social media and reminded me of our family saying, “If you write it, it’s forever!” As a result of these moments, I shifted my focus away from the digital space and focused on in-person interactions with my social network.

    • 2009 – Facebook expanded outside the confines of the post-secondary space, changing who could view your content.
    • 2013 – A social media post between friends was taken out of context by a public user.
    • 2018 – Facebook was no longer an effective way for me to stay in touch with my post-secondary friends, and I deleted my account, now using What’s App or visits in-person to stay connected.

As a person of influence in sports coaching, I have also discussed the impact of digital footprints with my athletes and am looking forward to using this typology map during future conversations.

References

White, D. (2013, June 13). Visitors and Residents mapping activity [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9IMObcyKbo

White, D. (2013, September 13). Just the Mapping [Video file]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSK1Iw1XtwQ

Cormier, D. (2018, March 31). Digital Practices Mapping – Intro activity for digital literacies course. Dave’s Educational Blog. https://bit.ly/3yhqmTE

521.1.3 – VS 2021 Recap

Welcome to my academic blog. This blog is designed to consolidate my learning experience at the Master of Learning and Technology (MALAT) program at Royal Roads University (RRU).  I hope you enjoy reading, and I am excited to explore the world of teaching and learning, emphasizing technology over the coming 2 years.

The RRU Virtual Symposium took place from April 12th – 16th, 2021. It provided our cohort with the opportunity to listen to leaders in education and meet the 2021 graduating class, albeit virtually.  Our first assignment asked us to summarize our experience at the event, highlight ideas or concepts interesting, and explain why.

In reflection, four topics come to mind. Not only did I find them intriguing, but they also match well with the type of work I currently do as an NCCP Coach Developer in the sport of cycling:

    • Surface learning vs. conceptual learning
    • Adult Learning Environment terminology and definitions (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021)
    • Competency-based coach training and certification programs (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021)
    • “Messy” impact of OPEN learning models (Cormier, 2017)
    • Importance of mentorship at all levels of a learning system (Cronin, 2017)

As an aspiring athlete and later as a professional cyclist, I really enjoyed riding as many roads and trails as possible when I moved to a new area.  This activity helped me understand the shape and feel of the place.  In my professional work, I tend to explore the key tenets of or major obstacles that challenge the organizations I work with.  Dino Hatziegeorgiou’s presentation provided a valuable introduction to competency-based adult learning programs and the supporting literature, concepts that are fundamental to the National Coaches Certification Program (NCCP) since 2014.  Using the presentation as a launchpad, I explored a basic understanding of the Adult Learning Theoretical Framework (ALTF) (Knowles, 1968, 1980) and the importance of Adaptive Learning Environments (ALE) (Hatzigeorgiou, 2021).  As an NCCP Master Coach developer, we are asked to fulfill 3 roles, guide, moderate, and finally, if needed, instruct and are tasked with creating an environment that promotes decision-making, problem-solving, and the coach’s needs.  I found similarities between the NCCP training methods and the concepts introduced in Hatzigeorgiou’s presentation, including the importance of self-directed learning (Candy, 1991; Goodyear, 2000), the need to provide a personalized learning environment that promotes learner choice and control (Knapper & Crople, 2000; Klamma et al. l., 2007; Janssen et al., 2007), and the ability to use these methods on an individual basis (Wooldridge & Jennings, 1995).

It was not until later in the week that I watched Cormier’s 2017 talk discussing the “messiness” of teaching online or in open environments.  However, it proved helpful as Cormier’s Learning Ecosystem illustration summarized the conceptual methods I first learned about during Hatziegeorgiou’s presentation.   The learning matrix not only provided simple action-based suggestions (Cormier, 2017), but it also helped me understand the methods supporting the various NCCP programs that currently exist and those we are currently building.  Most notably, our new coach mentorship program, including a monthly study group, could indeed use a rhizome-inspired design.  I am excited to work on such a program as I begin this new adventure at Royal Roads University.

Open Action
Working Alone Consumes a Learning Object (answers a question) eLearning Rhizomatic Learning(explore a field) Outdoor modules &study group calls Working with others
Participates in a Structure Course Theory Modules Mentor new learners (supports others in questions/concepts) Mentorship, Annual staff training, Coach Developer team
Directed Action

BLUE denotes current or proposed NCCP programs.

 

References

Cormier, D. (2017). Intentional messiness of online communities. [Video]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Roads University. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/dave-cormier-virtual-symposium-presentation/

Cronin, Catherine. (2017) Open culture, open education, open question. [Video]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2017, Royal Roads University. https://malat-coursesite.royalroads.ca/lrnt521/catherine-cronin-choosing-open/

Hatziegeorgiou, Dino. (2021). Adaptive Learning for Knowledge Currency in Pilot Training. [2021 ARP Padlet]. MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021; Royal Roads University. http://bit.ly/HatziegeorgiouVS2021

Knowles, M.S. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350-352, 386

Knowles, M.S. (1980). The modern practice of adult education: From pedagogy to andragogy (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Goodyear, P. 2000. Environments for lifelong learning: Ergonomics, architecture, and educational design. Integrated and Holistic Perspectives on Learning, Instruction & Technology: Understanding Complexity, 1-18. Janssen

Knapper, C.K., & Cropley, A. (2000). Lifelong learning in higher education. Kogan Page.

Klamma, R., Chatti, M.A., Duval, E., Hummel, H.,Hvannberg, E.T., Kravcik, M., Law, E., Naeve, A., & Scott, P. (2007). Social software for life-long learning. Educational Technology & Society, 10 (3), 72-83.

Janssen, J., Tattersall, C., Waterink, W., Van den Berg, B., Van Es, R., Bolman, C., & Koper, R. (2007). Self-organizing navigational support in lifelong learning: how predecessors can lead the way. Computers & Education, 49 (3), 781-793.

Wooldridge, M., & Jennings, N. (1995(. Intelligent agents: Theory and practice. The Knowledge Engineering Review, 10(2), 115-152. Doi:10.1017/ S0269888900008122