What is DigiThings?
DigiThings is for all staff who are interested in exploring digital and social media tools to enhance their work, but who may have varying degrees of familiarity with them. You might have heard of some of the tools, but aren’t sure how to use them, in which case the programme will talk you through how they work in easy steps, to get you up and running. You might be using some of the tools already, in which case the programme will encourage you to think more deeply about how and why you’re using them, and how to get the most out of them. Whatever your current level of confidence, the programme aims to help you develop a strategic approach to integrating digital skills into your work.
How does it work?
The DigiThings programme based at this blog will introduce you to a new tool each week, with support in how to begin using it. We will also set you a small task to complete, through which to explore the week’s tool, and some questions based on the reflective framework, to help you consider the possibilities and issues raised by the tool. You then write up a weekly blog post on your own blog, possibly using these questions as a structure, reflecting on your experience and sharing it with others. You’ll learn just as much, if not more, though, by reading other blog posts and joining in the network of other DigiThings participants, to learn from each other using the very tools you will be learning about.
How much does it cost?
It’s free! We aim to ensure that the digital tools which the programme explores are all either free to use or download, or they have a reasonably lengthy trial period to explore it before you decide whether you want to invest (certainly enough to complete the programme). The programme is built using free online tools, modelling the kinds of technology it aims to get you exploring, so there’s no charge for participating either!
Do I have to write a blog to participate?
Reflective, open blogging is a core part of the programme. It is the medium for reflection and for creating the community of participants which enhances the information provided on the central programme blog. It’s a way of sharing your experiences with others, and learning from each other. It is also used for accreditation purposes to demonstrate that you have completed the course!
You might be worried about privacy of your personal data, or of your online professional persona. You can use a pseudonym for your blog and many other tools you register for if you wish to remain publicly anonymous. The pros and cons of using your real name and data online are addressed in Thing One.
You might already have a blog; you can use this for participating in DigiThings, tagging your entries with this name. You could also set up a separate blog specially for the programme.
What happens to my blog after the programme?
You might choose to keep up blogging using your new blog, to keep it as a source of useful material for yourself or others, or to deactivate it.
I’ve already used some of these tools before – do I have to blog about them?
DigiThings is partly about learning how to use new tools, but its real value lies in reflecting on how they impact on your teaching and research, your CPD and professional practice, and teaching and learning in Higher Education more broadly. You might think more deeply about your use of a tool and review your practice, share your knowledge with others, compare with an alternative tool to the one you are using, or you might try using the tool in a new context, or in a new or more advanced way.
I’m pretty sure I won’t get on with some of these tools or find a use for them – should I still explore them?
The purpose of the programme is not to encourage you to take up all the tools, but to develop a reflective, critical framework for exploring them and any new tools you encounter in future. It is worth exploring tools you don’t initially think will be useful to you – you may find that you like them, you may find that your initial views are confirmed but for good reasons, or you may simply increase your awareness of technologies which will impact indirectly on your work, if others around you use them.
What if I fall behind?
We’ll be posting a Thing a week for eight weeks, so you can complete your blog post whenever suits your schedule in the week. Sometimes, though, we all just have a very busy week….! No problem – you can still catch up! We’ll allow a little time at the end of the programme for everyone to make sure they complete all the Things. You can of course still read the others’ blog posts and see how they got on. The blog will be left here after the module and programme is over as a resource you can return to whenever you like (although some of the tools will inevitably date).
I like this format – can I run a version for my colleagues or students?
Please do! All the materials are available under a Creative Commons license (CC BY NC SA) so it’s free to take, use and adapt for non-commercial purposes, if you acknowledge the source and share your version under the same licence. Dr Helen Webster has also created a guide to running a 23things style programme so you can see how it works.