I am now three weeks into ONL202 and the first Topic, Online participation & digital literacies, has kicked off.

So what is then digital literacies? This appeared to be far more complex that I first thought. Digital literacies has been defined as an individual’s capabilities for living, learning and working in a digital society (JISC, 2014). In other words it refers to digital behaviors, practices and identities, which are dynamic and changes over time along with societal and technological changes, but also varies between different contexts e.g. personal and professional environments. It can, further be divided into seven elements, which you can find more info about here.

During today´s webinar with David White the Head of Digital Learning at the University of the Arts London, he urged us to think about the footprints each one of us make in our daily lives and to make a map over our own digital literacies. Below you find my digital literacy map. To the left you see the visitor, which if I understood it correct can be translated to when you use digital tools/environments as an observer e.g. searching for info and reading. Anything where you don´t leave any footprint or disclose your persona. To the right you find the opposite, here you are a resident, familiar with the environment/tools. Here you interact and leave footprints. I am sure I missed out some digital channels or activities, but at least the main activities are here.

What really strikes me is that most of my activities are on the professional side. Not so many years ago I am sure you would find the majority on the private arena. Many things can of course be the reason for this. First of all, I think the number of tools and platforms available for the professional life today has increased a lot, but also when spending a lot of time in marketing your research/work and your professional side online, the need to be offline and keep your privacy increase while off work. A little bit contradictive, since I still think I can use online platforms much better to communicate my research, but I have improved this part during last two years. One platform I have detected (yes, I know, I am a bit late on that one), that I before ignored as a forum for gossiping and attention seekers, is Twitter. One infamous man, not to be mentioned by name, has definitely not helped here. However, Twitter definitely has it´s pros, especially, for spreading information regarding research, projects, and conferences and increasing your professional network. It is also a good platform for obtaining valuable information within the subject area, and to retrieve input from your network on a specific problem/question. I am currently struggling to go more from just being a visitor to becoming a resident of Twitter.

In the PBL group meeting today we discussed the scenario of Topic 1:

Scenario: “I have just signed up to do an online course and I am excited to be there. But I have little experience of online courses and it feels really challenging to get started to connect and find my way with all these new sites and tools. I guess that other participants will be more experienced than me and I feel stupid asking about things. We are asked to create a Learning blog on the web; it feels a bit scary to do this. I do share things on Facebook with friends, but here, in the open? I want to keep my private life separate from my professional life. But on the other hand, my students seem to share and discuss all sorts of things in social media and use all kinds of tools and resources.”

I for sure can recognize myself in wanting to keep my private and professional life separate, but by participating online in both arenas, it is sometimes difficult to keep the private life just that private. It does not require many google searches to get a pretty good idea of who a person is both personal and private. Another scary thought is that once online, it most likely stays online. And many of these platforms are often owned by huge multi-national companies, that keeps a very good track on the activities you do online.

This requires careful reflections on what kind of online activities/tools to participate in, what to upload and for you to keep track on risks and regulations. How often do we carefully read the fine prints when signing up to things online? I can admit that I rarely read it, and very seldom in detail. I really think this discussion about online security and privacy is important, and that knowledge about the risks are necessary if using online learning in teaching. How can we ask students to use online tools and platforms without informing about the potential risks when it comes to violating their privacy? And what to do when a student for this reason don´t want to participate online? Sure our students are adults and responsible for their own actions, but still as a teacher you are in a position of power and trust, and not always questioned. I am thinking that teachers or/and students should perform online risk assessments, which will be gone through together before starting up online learning activities. I really hope we will continue with these discussions during the course, and I am especially curious to find out how other course participants deal with these questions in their professional environments.

More to come, stay tuned…


From visitor to resident…