Web Science MOOC

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I am going to become an online learner again this week through participation in a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) from FutureLearn called Web Science: How the Web is Changing the World (more information on the course can be found in a Blog post I have just published on informationliteracy.org.uk here). The course content sounds extremely interesting, as it explores how we make sense of the Web’s 25 year history and its effect on the World. I hope to use the experience to gain deeper understanding of the digital age society we live in and build upon ideas I am developing in my book on digital literacy. I will blog about the experience of learning through a MOOC in the coming weeks. The course starts on October 6th.


Webinar: Digital Literacy Skills for FE Teachers

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I am hosting a webinar with Martin Lewarne of its learning on the 24th September, at 15:00 (GMT). You can find more details on this free webinar and register here.

The session is primarily aimed at leaders and managers within the FE and Skills sector, but teachers will also find it useful.

In the session we intend to cover the following:

  • Increasing digital user engagement among staff and meet the recommendations of the FELTAG Report
  • Meeting students’ expectations of online learning and digital technology
  • Supporting enhanced online communication and collaboration across the College and FE sector

The first 20 attendees will also win a copy of my new book.

This Webinar is a great opportunity to join in the conversation about digital literacy and online learning that is going on across the FE and Skills sector.

Informationliteracy.org.uk – the Information Literacy Website

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I volunteer as an editor on the Information Literacy Website. This Website is a great resource for anyone wanting to understand what information literacy is and how they can apply it to their learning and teaching. I have been working with Jade Kelsall to completely revise the definitions & models section and we published the new version of it today. This section is worth a look, as it gives you information about, and links to, the most recognised and up-to-date frameworks and skills sets on information literacy, as well as links to other literacies that interlink with information literacy, such as digital literacy. I have written a blog post on the Information Literacy Website detailing the new changes.


‘Digital.ME: Managing your Digital Self’ MOOC

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Digital.Me: Managing your Digital Self is a new MOOC being run by the University of Derby Online Learning. It runs from the 6 July for six weeks and is completely free to study.

The course poses the question; “Ever wondered what your digital persona says about your relationship with the Web?”. A very pertinent question for any one interested interested in their own presence online and the wider subject of digital identity management.

You can sign up for the course here.

What is your ‘digital capital’?

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Put simply, this term refers to what you are ‘worth’ digitally, or, what your digital identities say about your ‘worth’ in an age when so much value is placed upon them. Let me explain…

I frequently work with students to help them form and manage their digital identities, through:

  • Selecting and using appropriate social networks and media to use professionally.
  • Using a blog or personal Website to act as a ‘hub’ for social media profiles and to link/embed digital content.
  • Boosting the visibility and usefulness of digital profiles, and developing them to better represent personal skills and a professional identity. This involves encouraging students to:
    • Share their knowledge and experiences online.
    • Share and showcase their digital content in order to creativity.
    • Critically engage in online conversations.
    • Curate and share carefully chosen content.
    • Follow, like and engage (where appropriate) with other professionals.
  • Understanding their digital footprints and manage what is shared publicly.

Critically thinking about digital identities allows students to not only engage more deeply with digital technologies, but also allows them to develop a digital presence which could be useful when hunting for job opportunities, managing their careers, and undertaking professional development/lifelong learning.

These career elements of digital identity formation got me thinking about what the sum of our digital identities (and the content they contain) say about us as individuals to people searching for our names, or our names plus other keywords, in search engines/tools. In a world where connections made through online networking very often lead to real job opportunities, perhaps our ‘worth’ as a candidate is decided by the quality of our digital content and profiles, the number of influencers following and interacting with us, and the posts (positive and negative) about and by us. Perhaps then, what is widely described as our ‘digital footprint’ is better thought of as our digital capital.

I have used this terminology with a group of third year undergraduate students, where I explained the ideas behind the term ‘digital capital’ and engaged them in an activity to critically look at their own digital identities. We then thought about what criteria we could use to define ‘digital capital’, and to rate and attach a points score to it. This was very revealing to say the least! With some participants focussing primarily on ‘positive’/’favourable’ content and disregarding everthing else. Others meanwhile applied penalties of varying degrees for ‘negative’/’unfavourable’ content. Feedback suggested that the exercise encouraged deeper thinking about what they posted online, and some reported that it was interesting to ‘think like an employer’.

Obviously, the idea of us each having a ‘digital capital score’ was used in this context as a platform to encourage critical thinking. I am sure though that the idea could be explored further, maybe to find out if ‘digital capital’ is a useful and meaningful term with resonance to employers, professionals and students. I would be very interested to receive feedback on this and ideas for further research.

#LILAC14 – my archive of session notes

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At the LILAC conference I used my iPad to take notes in the Evernote app. After the conference I went through all of my notes, reflected on what I had learned, created a(nother) ‘to do’ list, corrected spelling and grammatical errors (hopefully!) and generally tidied the notes up. When taking notes in this way I put a star against any hints and tips I pick up, ideas for things to try out later and further reading I should undertake. I then go through the notes and cut out these items, pasting them into a new note and reflecting on them later.

There is a feature of Evernote that I have been intrigued by for a while, but never used: the option to publicly share a note or a folder of notes. Other note taking apps I have used offer similar functionality too. Obviously I am blogging about the conference sessions, I tweeted during some of the sessions and I have disseminated information back to colleagues. But what next for the actual notes themselves? Are they digital trash? Could they be recycled/upcycled in anyway? Is there a life for them beyond my own use? Could anyone find value in me sharing my notes from the conference sessions I attended? I’m really not sure that they could, but hopefully someone will prove me wrong!

In the archive I have included a first note, ‘Welcome and how to use this folder’, giving information on the background to the notes and giving some terms and conditions on their use and reuse.

The archive can be accessed here.

Changing the Learning Landscape (Higher Education Academy series of events)

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The Higher Education Academy (HEA) are holding a series of events at Universities around the UK entitled ‘Changing the Learning Landscape‘. These sessions aim to “explore practical, innovative uses of digital technologies in learning and teaching” and are perfect for practitioners wanting to develop their knowledge, skills and practice around digital literacies and related topics.

The full list of upcoming sessions: