Digital Learning in a Modern World

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Digital Learning has impacted the teaching of 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools. 21st Century skills are evolving, and sources, including The Conference Board of Canada (The Conference Board of Canada, 2014) and Tony Wagner (Tedx Talks, 2012) have aligned on a number of essential elements including: communication, collaboration, critical and creative thinking, media literacy, and digital fluency. In our discussions, Alisha Hadley, Conor Topley and I found that digital learning has had both positive and negative impacts and we’ve curated a selection below:


Positive Impacts: 

  • Learners have direct access to unique communities that may not be available in traditional education delivery environments (Yotam et al, 2018).
  • Digital learning increases accessibility to learning activities that develop 21st century skills through open educational resources, subject matter experts, flexibility, personalized learning, diverse media, and Universal Design for Learning (IGI Global, 2018,  Chapter 5).
  • Participants are transitioning to modern facilitated teaching versus traditional transmission pedagogy (E.g., from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side”) (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1) including learning models such as Community of Inquiry and Fully Online Learning Community with social-constructivist or connectivist theoretical bases (Blayone et al., 2016).
  • Soft skill development in areas such as those identified in the BC Ministry of Education Core Competencies, including communication, thinking, and personal & social is essential to 21st century learners and can be enhanced by digital learning (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1), particularly critical thinking (Beetham, 2019).


Negative Impacts: 

  • Knowledge gap: “Rapid development in educational technologies means that instructors need new skills and frameworks for assessing the value of different technologies” (Bates, 2019, Chapter 1.7.5).
  • Inconsistent experience due to poor access or lack of resources: “55% of rural Canadians do not have high-speed internet access” (TRU, n.d.) 
  • Uncertain quality assurance standards with Open Source Content (Cormier, 2017).



Bates, T. (2019). Teaching in the Digital Age—Second Edition (2nd Edition). Tony Bates Associates Ltd. 

Beetham, H. (2019). Trouble with critical: reframing critical digital literacies as real-world interventions. [Video]. YouTube.

Blayone, T., van Oostveen, R., Barber, W., DiGiuseppe, M., & Childs, E. (2016). New conceptions for digital technology sandboxes: Developing a Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) model. Proceedings of EdMedia: World Conference on Educational Media and Technology, 665–673.

The Conference Board of Canada (2014).  Employability Skills 2000+ Ottawa ON. Conference Board of Canada. 

Core Competencies. Building Student Success – B.C. Curriculum. (n.d.).

Cormier, D. (2017). Values of open. [Video].

Hod, Y., Bielaczyc, K. & Ben-Zvi, D.(2018). Revisiting learning communities: innovations in theory and practice. Instructional Science, 46, 489–506.

IGI Global. (2018). Ubiquitous inclusive learning in a digital era. (E. Ossiannilsson, Ed.). IGI Global.

TEDx Talks. (2012, May 30). Play, passion, purpose: Tony Wagner at TEDxNYED [Video]. YouTube. 

TRU (n.d.) Digital Detox 5: The Harm was always there. Retrieved from

Unit 3 Reflection

I found the most thought provoking article to be the research done by Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, in which they discuss the 3 main factors for success in delivering educational programs: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence (2000). Garrison et al (2000) showed that social presence, or the ability of the learner to identify with others as real people, is critical to not only the development of critical thinking and therefore learning, but also the creation and maintenance of cognitive presence, one of the 3 main factors for success of the educational program itself. Garrison et al (2000) further stated that when using computer conference mediums, the lack of visual cues may contribute to challenges in developing a social presence.

I found this extremely interesting as we continue to increase physical barriers between people. Even in-person interactions have been altered with the development of Covid-19 precautions becoming the norm, we are further reducing our visual cues of each other through facemasks and plexiglass barriers. An online or screen based communication system might prove to be in fact a way we can increase visual cues between learners instead of decrease it.  Can you tell if I’m smiling? Would an emoji be easier to understand?

I find the importance we place on human interaction highly interesting in relation to learning. Emotion, attention, reaction, and physical closeness tend to be common themes when we look at motivation and learning, even critical thought.

I also found interesting the discussions on how we participate in the web and being conscious of how we are contributing. Dave Cormier spoke of moving towards a more pro-social web, increasing the quality of our participation on the web (Stewart, Phipps & Cormier, 2019).  In his discussion about open government in the UK, Lawrie Phipps talks about how open is not the same as inclusion, how the poorest people often have the least access to devices and internet and are being disenfranchised by the increased transparency of their government. He states “…at the same time as putting things online, also putting things in place, but structurally take things away from the most vulnerable in our society” (Stewart, Phipps, & Cormier, 2019, 15:11). I found this to be increasingly relevant today where it’s almost impossible to keep up with the world if you don’t have access to internet.


Garrison, R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in text based environment: Computer conferencing in higher educationThe Internet and Higher Education2(2–3), 87–105.

Stewart, B., Phipps, L., & Cormier, D. (2019, April 10). The Participatory open: Can we build a Pro-Social, Pro-Societal web? [Video]. You Tube.

My Network Map

I used Kumu to draw my network map and started with the four main networks that I am a part of: Professional, Personal, Recreational, and Educational.

Then I started the simple task of drawing connections between these networks and myself. In error I placed the arrow end ending at myself indicating that there was a connection between the element and myself in a one-way fashion. (I had originally thought to place the arrows extending outwards from myself). Once seeing this however, I think this is more accurate. All these networks or elements are shared between many people and would extend further out to other people if we were to place our maps overlapping. I wanted to show what connected these elements to ME, rather than why I was connected to THEM. In other words, how do each of these elements connect to my life or identity, to me specifically.

Within each of the four key elements of my map I extended the map to include key factors in each area. Some are people, some places, and some tools that I use to keep that network active. Some networks such as Facebook have a circular relationship both with personal and recreational as I use it to sustain relationships as well as build new ones. Facebook for example also has a recreational component to it that is self perpetuating.  As far as my professional network is concerned, most of these elements are also connected to my educational networks, as this is where a lot of my professional and educational contacts overlap. My professional networks are also closely linked to my friends. I’m not sure if this is the case for all industries but I have found some of the closest friendships in my networks have been born from working relationships.

I thought my network map would be a bit cleaner, but I’ve noticed there is a lot of overlap between networks themselves, and often I am the reason these networks overlap so much. This had made me see how important my relationships to these networks are and how they sustain one another.

Creating, Cultivating, Reflecting on my Digital Presence


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When I started my thoughts on what is a digital presence, I asked friends, collogues, and even several inherent strangers what they thought of their own digital presence. Most of the responses centered around social media, and the degree to which they participated in these platforms.

This got me thinking, is this the only way we can create a digital identity? Is a digital identity the same as knowing someone in real life, but simply replaced with pictures instead of memories? Written words and comments instead of spoken conversations? I think not. I challenged myself to think about the word identity first, and digital second. Let me present a concept to you: my nephew is 16 months old, and if you go to take a picture of him with your phone (, he immediately strikes a pose, then wants to see the image. Now I am by no means an expert on child developmental psychology, but is this him forming an identity of himself? When do we start being aware of our own identity? And if I post this picture online, does this start to create his digital identity? Are we even responsible for creating our own digital identity or can other people form part of it too?

Alas, I had to rein it in and focus on who I wanted to be in this digital existence, and the purpose of creating my own digital identity.

My approach to creating a digital presence focusses on growing my knowledge of the tools available to me. I hope to use these tools to expand my presence online in the areas I want to be a part of. My goals include contributing to the conversations, not just observing them. First, I need to know where these conversations are happening.  Second, I need to establish myself as someone who is worthy of being in the conversation. By creating an identity of an educator, a student, and a contributor I can form an identity as an active participant, not just an observer. Third, I hope to measure these successes through you all, all who read this, who also learn and contribute. My goal of creating a digital identity is to allow me to be a member of digital communities. Rheingold (2010, p.20) spoke of the use of technology, its influences, and moving from participation to collaborating “in general doing things together gives us more power than doing things alone.”


Rheingold, H. (2010, p.20). Attention, and other 21st century social media literacies. Retrieved from

My use of digital technology

RRU digital map

Creating a map of my own use of digital technology was, dare I say, eye opening. I found I was forced to examine the apps, tools, and sites I use both frequently and infrequently.

This proved to be a very reflective experience as the only person I was accountable to was myself. I asked the question “why do I use these, and are they helping me?” I think of my map as a layered outline of how I approach these tools. The largest influence being Google. Google tends to be at the center of my technological use, for everything from “who is that guy in that movie?” to “how to site a blog using APA format.” I placed Google at the center of my map to show its foundation use throughout my personal and professional typology.

My other tools are layered on top of the foundation of google, Gmail for personal use, Outlook for professional email, and the more interesting one being YouTube. I have found an increasing use for YouTube relating to the “How To” videos. I feel that for myself, this has been a very effective and increasingly used tool for my own learning. YouTube has proved to be my most reliable source of open education, something I had not realized until it was right there staring at me.

I enjoyed Dave Cormier’s take on the analogue/digital and collaborative/individual map from his March 2018 blog post ( This seems to capture the use of resources much better than the individual use map we did in our mapping exercise.

Both would have their place, as I learned a lot about my own reasons for using digital tools in the mapping exercise. I can see a huge benefit for teams to do this exercise together. For example, imaging a group of instructors sitting down and analyzing how they share resources or interact with each other. Where can they improve? And what tools or information are they sharing well? Starting with an individual exercise to improve an understanding about oneself, and then using that to engage in a team exercise would be an interesting look at each team members role within that group. Maybe an exercise for the future MALAT?

LRNT 521- Virtual Symposium Critical Reflective Post

After attending many Virtual Symposium sessions, I am excited. The discussion around open education, particularly Dave Cormier’s 2017 talk on the messiness of online communication was intriguing to me. Cormier (2017) spoke of many types of openness, open institution, open content, and open learning. It was the open learning concept that spoke to me the most. Open education to me has always meant that anyone can use it, but his in depth discussion on the use of common social resources for education was intriguing. Increasing the participation of students in platforms they are already using such as Facebook or YouTube can be difficult to control, however, the stage is set to use these for student learning.

In 2020 when Covid-19 shut down our current education delivery system, our country along with the world, was forced to respond. In his 2020 symposium lecture, Randy Labonte quoted Dr. Tony Bates’ comment about the response during Covid-19, stating “triage is not the same as best practice.” I agree whole heartedly with this statement. Responding to a need for elearning is not the same as building one for the future. Many classroom style learning shifted to mainly online with little plan for how long it would last, and limited or no support for educators. I found myself one of these educators, quickly developing online resources, lesson plans, and trying to imagine how a largely hands on program could be effective without the hands on.

Specifically within the healthcare sector itself, Sharon Ambata-Villanvera spoke of the importance health care professionals place on face to face learning (2021). She identified face to face learning as one of the important factors for healthcare professionals to adopt and sustain an online learning community. I found this to align with my own experience, as many health care professionals such as myself are used to face to face learning, and developing relationships in a more personal way. This might present a social challenge to transitioning to an elearning environment within certain areas such as healthcare.

Amanda Coolidge (2021) spoke of the increasing global attention on an open system within the K-12 education system, and the increased need for sharing knowledge. This inspires me to be a part of the growing community supporting the need for educational change. Although there are many pros and cons when we open the delivery of education and students to constant connectivity, the move towards openness can improve access to education for more people than ever before.



Ambata-Villanvera, S. (2021). The development of an online learning community to support the continuous learning and development of healthcare professionals; digital skills and practices. Retrieved from

Coolidge, A. (2021). Open education: What it is, what it does and its amazing impact. Retrieved from

Cormier, D. (2017). Intentional messiness of online communication. Retrieved from

Labonte, R. (2020). Remote teaching or online learning? K-12 Schooling in a pandemic world. Retrieved from