After reflecting on the structures, as described by Dron (2014), I have a better understanding of the composition of my current digital learning network. My deepest learnings over the last year have come primarily from my networks, less so from sets or groups. As I have grown my digital network, my interaction with sets has actually contributed to content overload as filtering has become problematic and time consuming. I intend to rethink my approach to sets, potentially reducing my exposure and finding more meaningful ways to interact for the purpose of learning.
As touched upon in Chapter 5 of Teaching Crowds (Dron, 2014), my goal is to share enough information to effectively build relationships and exchange valuable content, while building in sufficient space for privacy. Ultimately, I aim to develop an identifiable online persona without becoming fully vulnerable and sacrificing my private life. I anticipate it will be a challenging balance to achieve.
Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.
For the purposes of this exercise, I downloaded my LinkedIn network connections data, formatted the Excel file, and imported it into Kumu. I encountered the challenge of mapping 2000+ connections as the data requires tagging to properly identify and map the relationships. I discovered that my LinkedIn network primarily consists of sets, with a handful of nets (Dron, 2014). As identified by Dron (2014), some of my sets (e.g. previous workplaces) have naturally grown into networks over time. With me situated in the centre, the visible clustering represents the volume of connections who are employed at the same organization. In retrospect, I would have tagged the network members to clearly identify them. The tagging would have revealed network such as: Organizational Development College System Network, local Learning & Development network, current work colleagues, etc.
Dron, J, & Anderson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.
The first version of my digital presence and identity plan has been crafted around three core questions: Who do I want to be online? Who do I want to attract? What do I need to do based on my responses to one and two?
My ultimate goal is to build a digital identity and presence that reflects my values, those of openness, curiosity, and meaningful conversation. In a digital world, writing represents both my voice and my footprint. For about a year now, I have been slowly building my confidence on LinkedIn and finding my voice. It has involved risk tasking and discomfort at times because of the vulnerability required to put my ideas out into the public forum knowing that I cannot control what happens afterwards.
I still find myself pausing before I click “post”, in the full awareness that there is a level of personal and professional risk associated with my digital activities. I have also realized that my digital identity is directly tied to what I consume and share online. Rheingold (2010), identified critical consumption as a social media literacy requirement and I really could not agree more with the importance of being skeptical and thoughtful about digital consumption.
It is my intention to manage my digital participation in a manner that consistently highlights my personal style, while reinforcing my values (Beetham, 2015). Each time that I share content or engage in a conversation (e.g. make a comment), I will question whether my activity reflects my values and aligns with how I want to show up. To some degree, success will be measured qualitatively by the audience that responds to my activity, and the quality of the interactions and conversations that occur both in and outside of my digital space.
For the purpose of my WordPress blog, I intend to create a welcome landing page that provides an introduction to me, describes what to expect from my blog, and encourages a deeper level of participation that extends beyond transactional comments. There will also be an element of boundary setting. My intention is not to present myself as a subject matter expert, but rather to encourage shared learning and knowledge building across both my visible and invisible audiences (Boyd, 2011).
I am aware that my technical knowledge is lacking. As I encounter skills and knowledge gaps through my course work, I will determine how best to address them on a case-by-case basis. A way to identify initial gaps on an ongoing basis is to review peer blogs to understand the format, functionality, and options that exist. Once gaps are identified, I will then reach out to peers, conduct my own research, or try to figure it out through other resources and supports. The best way to reveal what I do not know, is to read, research, and increase my exposure and interaction with others in the same space, with the same goals and problems.
Presence and participation can be very challenging to measure, as discussed by Dron & Anderson (2014); my initial approach will be to measure quality over quantity. Traffic, positive or negative, is not my primary concern. Measurement will become more sophisticated over time as I build my digital literacy.
Dave Cormier’s alternative pairing is a helpful way to broaden Dave White’s Resident – Visitor continuum. There are a number of pairs that could potentially introduce a different perspective; two options is a bit restrictive when faced with such a deep topic as this one. For instance, I think consumption and participation might be interesting to explore in detail.
I personally found it challenging at times to force fit certain tools on the continuum, particularly for a complex contextual topic like digital culture and identity; however, Cormier’s analogue and digital map allows us to see what still exists in analogue format and examine how we define our relationship both independently and in relation to the other. Questions arose for me, such as: Are the boundaries loose or well-defined? Do I consider the digital activities to be more valuable or effective than the analogue, and why? What role does values and beliefs play?
For example, when reflecting on my online banking I realized that even if my digital experience is not fantastic, it would take a lot for me to switch back to analogue. My expectations are not high with respect to my user experience, so as long as I continue to be able to complete my banking fairly efficiently online, I would never consider walking into a branch. I discovered that I have a strong preference for convenience and this preference directly affects my digital choices and expectations.
Cormier, D. (2018, March). Digital practices mapping: Intro activity for digital literacies course [blog post], Accessed on April 25, 2021 from: http://davecormier.com/edblog/2018/03/
This exercise proved to be more challenging than anticipated. It really forced me to reflect, for the first time, on how, when, and why I use these tools. I was quite surprised by the Visitor side of my continuum as I would have expected more of a balanced map. In saying that, I am quite private and decided a while ago to leave Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll notice that I used triangular shapes to identify tools that are actively moving towards Resident as my usage changes in this program.
While I marked Spotify as Visitor/Personal, it was an anomaly for me. When considering my usage, I identified two areas in which my behaviour diverged: music and podcasts. While my interaction with podcasts is task-oriented, in the past I have shared, followed, and engaged with music on a different level. This flagged outlier made me question whether I labelled it correctly and whether someone could be both a visitor and a resident within the same platform? Could this be part of the “context collapse” described by White and LeCronu? (2011)
White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).
What appears abundantly clear to me, after attending the MALAT Virtual Symposium 2021, is the need for careful consideration and deliberate assessment of both the selection of technology for digital learning environments and the use of technology. By making tech a focal point, educators risk neglecting both the pedagogy and intentional construction of the social learning environment. MALAT student Mark Regan’s work experience validates how the mere existence of technology does not ensure learners will use it effectively or actually learn. Technology choices, therefore, must be made thoughtfully and frequently revisited to ensure continued efficacy.
Therefore, design should account for complexities extending far beyond the technology, such as social interaction, the flow of information, safety, participation, digital identity, quality, and human connection in the digital space. As evidenced by Susan Crichton’s 8 design principles, your design choices would best be filtered through the lens of your principles, allowing “you to go back and say, did I actually do what I set out to do?” (Crichton, 2021).
The recommendation to first develop a social contract and then determine the technology best suited to enable and sustain it makes a lot of sense. As explored in Fiorella De Cindio’s Guidelines for Designing Deliberative Digital Habitats, “a given technology – namely, a discussion forum – may produce different effects upon dialogue depending on the policies (the rules shaping online conversations) adopted to manage it.” The architecture of the digital space is a foundational element that underpins the social interactions, communications and usage; it should act to reinforce the social structure as designed.
All leading to the question: how do you maintain the integrity and values that guided your original design once the space goes live and the community has claimed it as their own? Educators carry a degree of responsibility for what happens in these constructed digital spaces. Is it inevitable that in an open digital learning setting “the community will eventually become the curriculum” (Cormier, 2017) and with whom does the accountability reside for what happens in this space?
De Cindio, F., (2012). Guidelines for Designing Deliberative Digital Habitats: Learning from e Participation for Open Data Initiatives. Journal of Community Informatics. 8. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15353/joci.v8i2.3040.
Hodson, J., (2018). “Mindful” social media engagement in an age of Cambridge Analytica [Video]. Blackboard Collaborate. http://ow.ly/AFNz30jxwRb
Regan, M., (2021). Air Traffic Control Training Addressing Student Task Saturation through the Use of Simulator Technologies by the Royal Canadian Air Force [Video]. Blackboard Collaborate. http://bit.ly/EarlMarkVS2021