On Sunday, June 4th, 2017 at 8 PM Central Time (9 PM ET) I guest hosted the #TXEDUCHAT. During the hour, we dove into some of my thinking about becoming a digitally agile educator.
This post will share the genesis of my thinking about becoming a digitally agile educator. I’ll then share the prompts from the discussion and some of my reflections.
Becoming a digitally agile educator
My thinking about this started almost two years ago as I was preparing to present a keynote at the Friday Institute. A lot of things were all happening at once during that summer. I was wrapping up work on the work on version 1.5 web literacy map with the Mozilla community. I was also wrapping up some research trying to better understand the habits and beliefs of pre-service educators as they begin to develop their digital identities.
In all of this work, I began to think about what are habits and practices I use as I create and curate my digital identity. I then tried to identify the quickest possible way to create your digital identity. The best initial draft of this became one of the top posts on this blog.
This blog post also became the focus of a keynote at the TILE-SIG Pre-conference at the ILA 2016 Conference. Following the talk at ILA 2016, I was asked to write a version of this work focusing on what this would look like for students.
I’ve recently extended this thinking to write about becoming a digitally agile researcher.
I planned on eight prompts for the discussion. I revised these prompts with the assistance of Peggy Semingson. I created all of the images for the discussion in Canva. Under the guidance of Peggy, I preloaded the images and prompts to post at pre-scheduled times in the Twitter chat. This was a lifesaver.
For those of you that have never attended a Twitter chat, the prompts are typically given a designation of their order and number (Q0, Q1, Q2, Q3). Responses to these prompts usually are given a designation by the attendee to indicate what prompt they are answering (A0, A1, A2, A3). This makes it easier to carry on some sort of dialogue as the event progresses.
Q0: This prompt was launched just before the chat began. My interest was in building community and setting the tone that we would consider their digital identity, and the spaces we use/create to build this identity.
Q1: As we started the chat, I wanted participants to define what “digitally agile educator” meant to them. I did send out the earlier blog posts for reference, but I still wanted to begin by considering their versions of what we were focusing on.
Most of the responses focused on tool use, and remaining flexible for a variety of tools and purposes. Most of this discussion about tool use was focused on the multitude of tools that our students use in and out of the classroom. I would have liked participants to focus a bit more on the process in working in digital spaces, as opposed to just the tool use.
Q2: Now that we were getting into the discussion, I wanted to focus a bit on not just the definition, but also the values and rationale for this work…and the discussion.
Most of the responses focused again on the need to be flexible in tool use to assist and prepare for students that may know more in the classroom about specific tools. For this item, I would have liked participants to think more about how they might possibly build up their own digital identity and “brand” for use in and out of the classroom.
Q3: This third prompt continued to focus on the role of the educator and decisions they have made about their digital identity.
Some of the participants discussed sophisticated techniques they used to maintain various identities online. Others discussed setting up Google Alerts, or other mechanisms to detect when things have been written about them online. Still others discussed a pattern of not really sharing much online for fear of it being taken out of context, or used against them. I was excited to see this thoughtfulness as participants create & curate their digital identity. As I do this work, I’m most intrigued by the individuals that have multiple, distinct identities that they maintain online. The digital schizophrenic in social spaces is very intriguing, and most reflects some of my own practices.
Q4: With this prompt, I wanted participants to talk a bit about their own tools and processes they used to maximize their workflow.
Most of the responses focused on a variety of tools used for instruction and workflow. Google Apps for Educators were prominent in the tools shared. Google Keep strangely seemed to be a hot tool that a lot of people mentioned. There was very little mention of open, and open educational resources (OER) in the discussion. I think this may be due to a lack of familiarity with OER, my wording of the prompt, or the quick pace of the discussion. In the future, I would revise this item to tie in better to the next prompt and think about the materials they share.
Q5: This prompt got me to the root of the discussion for me. I believe that all educators and students need a hub, or digital portfolio they use to archive and share their work and/or thinking. This ties in to my recent work in a domain of one’s own. It didn’t hurt that the Domains 2017 conference was starting up the next day.
The response from most participants was very similar for this prompt. Most people indicated that it was something they were planning on doing. This was identified as a “summer project” or something they were “just about to do.”
Q6: This prompt was designed to think about what participants were already doing well, before the next prompt focused on some of the challenges.
Most participants shared a variety of strategies they utilized, while others indicated that they didn’t feel like they were that far along in acting as a digitally agile educator. They indicated that they wanted to build up this ability.
Q7: In my discussions, I like to bring up the challenges in what I’m asking participants to consider. I’ve had some colleagues in the past that suggested that we shouldn’t discuss the negatives or challenges since this might deter some individuals. I believe that I need to validate the strengths and challenges in everyone, and give voice to these feelings.
Most of the participants discussed time as a major factor. Only a couple participants brought up the challenges that exist as this work sometimes is counter to the culture of our professions. We have have subscribed to this narrative that educators need to act, and think, and work in a particular manner. This comes from our experiences with our own instructors, and is often reinforced in our teacher development programs. I do not subscribe to this narrative and think there are ways to reinvent the profession.
I also did not see anyone discussion some of the challenges that are present in socializing in digital spaces due to trolling or harassment. I wrote about some of this in a recent piece in Hybrid Pedagogy. Maha Bali and Kate Bowles also recently wrote about the challenges of harassment on Twitter. Perhaps a future chat could just focus on this issue.
The end result was a fast paced and exciting time to talk with real educators.
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Also published on Medium.