When I first saw the topic of Digital Literacy, I had thought that the course would be about an overview of the various digital tools for teaching and learning, sharing best practices of using digital tools or hands on experience about using digital tools. As it turns out, the topic is more than just about the tools.

Within the Digital Literacy Framework (Beetham & Sharpe, 2010), we first discussed about our identity (“Who I am”) when it comes to using digital tools. Using the Visitor-Residents-Personal-Institutional axis (White & Le Cornu, 2011), I have found my engagement in the digital space as shown in Figure 1. With the exception of using WhatsApp and Google Docs (to some extent), my personal and institutional space turn out to be largely separated. I reflected on how I have used WhatsApp and Google Docs. I have intentionally set an expectation to my students that WhatsApp is used for urgent matters, like finding where people are when they do not turn up for meeting that is happening. Google Docs is used when other collaborative means, such as MS Teams, are not available as an option. While I have set this expectation intentionally and explicitly for some time, this framework helps me visualising it much more clearly; and has helped me to foster that practice and be more intentional and purposeful as far as taking care of personal and institutional space is concerned.

Figure 1. My space of digital identity

Throughout my group discussion, three key themes have emerged about the use of digital tools for education, i.e. “Online Course”. I attempt to visualize these themes (refer to Figure 2) and have identified them as Clarity, Sequence and Collaboration.

Figure 2. Key themes about online course

Clarity is a key theme that is applicable even when a course is not online but is more pronounced now that almost all courses have some online components. Clarity refers to defining and communicating to all participants about what platforms to use and when one can be expected to respond. Other items may be included in the space of clarity, too.

Sequence refers to what one should do, step-by-step, to achieve smooth online course. The steps go beyond merely ensuring there is no technical glitch, but also to achieve good engagement of learners.

Collaboration refers to the gradation of how learners work with each other. One end of the spectrum is “no collaboration”, where a learner can participate all by himself/herself. One can think of serious games where a learner answers questions to test own understanding. The other end of the spectrum is team-based collaboration where learners have to work together to learn. One can think of team projects done online. The middle of the spectrum consists of various modes where learners can share information without necessarily working together to achieve common goals.

It is refreshing and humbling to learn about the vast ocean of digital tools. One may easily feel overwhelmed by the many digital tools that sprout every now and then. The framework can help to situate those tools and navigate ourselves in the digital space.

Post script: Shout out to my group mates and facilitators in ONL 202 PBL 10!

Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide. Available here.
White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Available here.

Digital Literacy