digital dilemmas

image of different faces

The word digital is busy. Not only does it casually prefix a host of other words (e.g. graduate attributes, citizens, skills, education) contemporary digital developments are leaving most of us behind. If students aged 18 are not arriving at university already equipped to make critical use of internet resources and devices, who within HE is going to support the development of appropriate digital graduate attributes, such as those identified in the Jisc report on Technology for Employability? The recent surge of activities around Visitors and Residents has been doing excellent work in challenging the idea of young people as digital natives. However, it is doing little to recognise and surface the NAYS, those who have Not Arrived Yet. The theory of VLE as tools to extend and enhance student learning falls flat when it comes to practice, never mind how they might also support the development of professional communication, collaboration and safety in online places.

The problem is digital development has been segregated rather than integrated. Its always the responsibility of someone else – student services, learning development, the library, ICT departments – it’s never situated within core curriculums. Most of the support for digital ways of working is optional meaning students can graduate with the same digital habits they bought into university 3-4 years previously. Why is this?

The thinking about digital aspects of higher education is not joined up. Digital competence is translated into being ‘techie’ while responsibility for becoming digitally capable is too often perceived as sitting with someone else.  All the work being done to include digital ambitions within strategic directions and investment in operational  TEL teams risks falling into big black holes which suck in excuses and  extenuating circumstances for non-engagement and exclusion.

When it comes to the effective use of digital tools for learning and teaching, the digital divides are widening. It’s not just in HE. Schools are focusing on programming rather than generic ICT while ‘There are still 12.6 million people who lack the basic digital skills to succeed in our increasingly digital society and this week’s budget focus …seems to be on digital infrastructure at the expense of skills’ 

This lies at the core of digital diversity. Until the focus shifts from systems implementation to the people using them on a day to day basis to support and enhance learning and teaching practice, then nothing much is going to change.

 

image from http://blog.jobma.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Value-of-Soft-Skills.jpg 
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Lurking as valid learning

Lurking can be a valid form of learning. During @openeducationweek the #creativeHE team have been busy. As well as facilitate the #creativeHE google community I wanted to do all the activities. I took the ideas away to ponder on but that was as far as it went. I’m not sure if I’m a creative failure but I learned a lot from just being there.

Creativity uses all the senses. It can be cognitive like poetry and music or kinaesthetic like making and modelling. The C Word is often associated with producing something tangible. #creativeHE used jam jars and shared activities like ‘paperclips and rubber bands’. A simple idea with great results and non-messy so minimal clearing up was required afterwards!

A conversation developed around the role of messiness as an integral part of the creative process. Many crafts are messy occupations. Painting, potting, sculpting, cookery all involve splashes and spills. I don’t like mess and hate tidying up. One of the lessons I learned this week was how goal orientated I am. The concept of play with a specific output is fine. I’d be the first to advocate a different approach, to experiment and try something different – but am less likely to take on a free style activity myself.

Digital creativity is ok though!  For example Pic-collage  (App) and Photo-collage (Desktop) make it easy to be creative with photographs. Bitstrips is a cartoon strip maker  with enough options to make a recognisable avatar for yourself. Toondoo and Pixton also offer free cartoon constructions. It’s worth adding Powtoon to the list as well. I could play for hours with these (theory v practice!) and have recently been exploring the concept of Lego Serious Play, in particular the transfer of problem solving from head to hands. Thinking with your fingers is a lateral approach which appeals to me. I need to learn more.

I’ve taken a lot from the #creativeHE week. As a facilitator I read and commented but as a creative activity maker I lurked. The definition of lurk is two-fold; to wait, hidden, in order to ambush or as a ‘profitable stratagem’. With regard to online discussion forums, the word has developed negative connotations yet lurking can be a valuable on many levels.

The invisibility of online participation is something to accept as a valid learning mechanism, like the quiet student at the back of the class who produces 1st class assignments. Not everyone is comfortable with being centre stage. It’s no different online, where the permanence of digital contributions can be a deterrent stronger than the advantages of taking time to craft a thoughtful and meaningful response. Like face to face seminars, participation needs to be encouraged but reluctance can be justified.

Like the late laggard in Rogers’ Diffusion of Innovations Model, the lurker has been unfairly maligned. Learning should not be defined by presence and there may be many good reasons motivating lurking and laggarding behaviours.

It may be  better to be there quietly or arrive late than not be involved at all.

inviting digital digits to dance #creativeHE #openeducationwk

Postr for Open Education Week

This week was #Digifest16. It looked good but my view was remote. Following online just isn’t the same as being there. We learn more from absence than presence. Like my OU experience. Two years and four virtual modules for the MA in Open and Distance Learning, then a final year with modules from Psychology and Social Science. Taught through traditional OU methods. A courier arrived with a box of books, papers and a CD. That was it! You had to book a telephone call with a tutor  while peer contact was non-existent. It was a pivotal year. I learned more about the affordances of online learning by not having digital collaboration than I did with it!

Next week (7-11 March) is #openeducationweek. #creativeHE are taking part and this is an invitation to a digital digits dance.   #creativeHE facilitators

The course is open to anyone involved in teaching or supporting learning in higher education. Using games, models and stories, #creativeHE represents a unique CPD journey, one which fosters curiosity and discovery modes of learning, alongside critical reflection on the value of imaginative approaches to teaching practice.

If open education or the concept of play feels strange, this in itself is a useful reason for taking part. Putting ourselves into the unknown is a reminder of how students feel when asked to face unfamiliar teaching methods or concepts. Comfortable in our spaces, it’s easy to forget what it’s like to be confronted with something different. Strange situations offer useful learning curves. If you’ve always wanted to try an open educational course but haven’t been sure where to begin, take a look at #creativeHE. The friendly atmosphere offers a great starting point and engaging in a range of different online environments can intrinsically enhance your digital ways of working.

Creativeity takes courage blue badge

Check out this Slideshare presentation http://www.slideshare.net/chrissi/creativehe-is-back-for-5-days-during-open-education-week-join-us

The Course site (including recommended reading). Sections used during Open Education Week starti with OEW. https://courses.p2pu.org/en/courses/2615/creativity-for-learning-in-higher-education/

The Course Community (where all the online communications take place) https://plus.google.com/communities/110898703741307769041

Plan for the Week

  • 7th March: Creativity in HE
  • 8th March: Play and games
  • 9th March: Using story
  • 10th March: Learning through making
  • 11th March: Celebrating open creativity

Drop by, dip in and out, try something new, tweet using #creativeHE and let us know your thoughts on creativity in learning and teaching.

The course is supported by CREATIVE ACADEMIC @academiccreator a social enterprise aimed at encouraging creativity in higher education teaching and learning. Additional resources can be found on this website http://www.creativeacademic.uk/