This blog post is written for the Open Networked Learning Course I’m taking as part of my PhD program (yes, we do blogging in academia). The task was to write a reflection post about our digital literacy and identity in our personal and professional life, and how they are linked. Here are the reflections:
We may often think that if we don’t follow all the trends in digital education, we fail to learn/teach in the online space. When I was trying to develop a space for online teaching English for my language school in Ukraine, I felt desperate. Which virtual classroom should I choose, Blackboard, WizIQ, Edmodo, Moodle etc? I wanted my English courses to be placed into a super advanced, multifunctional, beautifully designed software, to only eventually find out that … I can actually get along with Skype. My digital professional self could exist and even thrive without using 15 e-learning platforms, 25 other types of learning software and 65 language learning apps.
How to stay comfortable with all the overwhelming tools available today? From my experience, the best way is to really, actually try those tools and see which one is particularly useful for your purpose. My students at the university often use Prezi for their presnetations, and I have always been ok with not-so-interactive Power Point. This does not mean Prezi isn’t worth exploring. I’m personally more interested in visual design tools and enjoy using Picmonkey, Canva, Flickr and Unsplash for my teaching presentations. But I’m totally illiterate when it comes to for example referencing software. EndNote, Zotero, RefWorks are scary monsters for my academic articles.
In his famous TEDx talk “The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies”, Doug Belshaw suggests an approach to develop digital literacies by focusing on people’s interest in the first place. He suggests that the key is to develop people’s motivation to become more digitally literate. It’s hard to disagree with Belshaw’s ultimate message that digital literacies is a lifelong projects in which we all participate. His deliberate use of plural literacies suggests that there is no such thing as being digitally literate or illiterate. I think it is important to understand what digital space you may find complementing your real space rather than one replacing the other. “Digital literacies are those capabilities which fit an individual for living, learning and working in a digital society” (cited from jisc.ac.uk). I think ‘fit an individual’ is the essential message in this definition. Being digitally literate does not mean to be always online whatever you do, but to be able to enter the online space when you need it and feel comfortable navigating it.
Belshaw uses an illustrative example with his experience downloading a painting which, at first, is blurred while being downloaded and then is slowly becoming a clear image. I agree with his point that we need to develop our digital literacies progressively rather than sequentially and be ready to see the ‘blurred picture’ of our digital selves. My ‘picture’ is still burred, by the way.
Developing digital literacies (2014) JISC guide. Available here
David White: Visitors and residents (part 1)
David White: Visitors and residents – Credibility (part 2)
Doug Belshaw: The essential elements of digital literacies