Thinking about new digital tools
DigiThings is as much about reflecting on how digital technologies might impact upon your professional practice, as about learning the basics of how to use the various tools. You’re invited to explore new tools and reach an informed opinion on them, based on your own explorations and discussion with others. To help you frame your response to the tools we introduce each week, we have adapted a reflective framework to offer you a structured way to think through your approach to each new tool. Digital technology being such a fast-moving area, whatever tools we cover now, there will be new tools developed and others being dropped from use. In exploring this set of tools, we’ll also be developing a critical approach to help us evaluate whatever new developments appear in future.
This reflective framework has been adapted from ‘LD5D: Digital Skills for Learning Developers‘ to help you think about your responses to each week’s digital tool in your weekly blog posts. The reflective framework is based on the New Curriculum for Information Literacy or “ANCIL” (Coonan and Secker, 2011). The four elements include:
- Key skill. This is essentially learning to use the digital tool. We will post instructions each week for each of the Things. You might consider some of the technical issues you’ve encountered or solutions and neat tricks you’ve discovered, and share those with other participants. You could think about how well the tool’s functionality supports what you want to do with it. You may already have tried out, or be using a particular tool. In this case, you might be able to advise other participants.
- Profession-specific issues. We will suggest a small task each week for you to achieve using the tool in the context of your work as an Academic. This heading encourages you to think about how the tool might support the kinds of work you are engaging in (supporting students’ digital literacy, revisiting curriculum design, creating teaching resources, your own professional development, or your research), and also how such digital tools might impact on teaching and learning in Higher Education more broadly.
- Evaluation. You are invited to evaluate the tool for use in your own practice and to consider particular issues which it might raise, and which you may have to negotiate. These might include things like confidentiality, copyright, sustainability, accessibility, data ownership or ethics.
- Reflection and integration into practice. You will probably need to think about creating a strategy for engaging with the tool or tools like this in your future working practice. This might include the changes in your habits or routines to integrate it into your workflow, or change the way you work in the new way enabled by the tool. Alternatively, if you decide not to use the tool, you might need to consider other ways of enhancing that aspect of your work. Even if you decide to opt out, others will be adopting these tools, and you’ll need strategies to deal with the fact that this will impact indirectly on your work and the wider culture and practice of scholarship in your field. This might be the space to set some concrete goals for yourself.