Helping Educators Become Digitally Literate

Helping Educators Become Digitally Literate

At the start of this new year, I joined the One Side Project movement. The thinking behind it is that we can all identify a million things we’d like to do each year. The challenge is that most of these dreams, goals, and aspirations die off without support. They die off as we juggle other things in life. They die off as we lose motivation.

The benefit of publicly joining a movement is that I publicly indicate to a group that I’m taking on this challenge. What I’ll also look for in the group is a bit of motivation as the collective is also achieving and completing projects. I’m also looking forward to a bit of information spillover as I rub digital elbows with other digital citizens as we collectively create. Finally, I’m also looking for a group of individuals that I can use as a sounding board to ask the tough questions and give me critical feedback.

The format and organization of the One Side Project group is that we’re provided with a private Slack channel to meet, greet, connect, collaborate. We’ve also got a public Medium publication that we can use to share our projects, successes, and hopefully failures. 🙂 I hope that my colleagues in the project all share what works as well as what doesn’t as they scale up.

As my side project that I will focus on building up a set of premium content for educators in Pre-K up through higher education to make them experts in the use of digital texts and tools. For the purposes of the remainder of this first post about my one side project, I’m following the lead set up Paul Steckler as he detailed his project.

Digitally literate courses

The problem

Educators from Pre-K up through higher have the challenge of teaching in the field and guiding learners as society quickly is moving from print to pixel. Teacher development and professional development opportunities often do not help address this situation…or are not ubiquitous enough to support all learners.

In higher education settings the situation may be more problematic. Instructors in higher education are often not given the resources, time, or support to embed these digital literacies into their practice. Evaluations for educators in higher education are based on expertise in teaching, research, and service. If any one of these aspects falters, they are penalized with poor reviews, subpar evaluations, and problems in the tenure process.

In both of these situations, the educator is often tasked with finding or hacking together their own learning through various sources. This could include trial and error, textbooks, video materials, MOOCs, or graduate programs. There are resources that are shared openly online, but learners often have questions about the validity and reliability of these options. What educators may need is a mentored learning experience in which they are able to receive the attention and support as they build these digital literacies in their teaching practice and personal life.

The project

I will research best practices and tools needed to build a sequence of premium online classes focusing on digital literacies. I will then use this information to build and offer the classes online. The course content will be specifically tailored for educators from Pre-K up through higher ed to use instructionally as they build up their digital identity.

I previously developed, coordinated, and taught in a program that was specifically suited to bring this skill set to educators. This experience will be used to build evergreen courses, or courses and content that is continually fresh for learners. As a researcher and educator in the field, I would work to ensure that the content is always current, rigorous, and meaningful. I will openly write about my learning throughout the life and development of the project.

What does success look like for my one side project?

For the purposes of the one side project initiative, I will research and launch the website and infrastructure to handle payments and privacy of user data by the end of March 2016. On this website I may include some free content to get learners started in the process. I will have at least one course running and available for learners by the end of June 2016. I will promote, test, and iterate on the model during the remainder of the first year.

Next steps

I do have other questions and elements I’d like to fine-tune with the courses over this upcoming year. I have ideas/plans for the future lessons and plans for possibly integrating other instructors into the structure. I also have ideas for possibilities as I monetize this experience and best support learners. I’ll save those questions and that thinking for future posts.


Also published on Medium.

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