Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Visibility matters for digital capabilities

Inspired by my recent debut attendance at the UCISA 'Spotlight' event, which included a workshop by Donna Lanclos and Lawrie Phipps on making our digital practices visible.  I thought I would explore this a little as I found it a really interesting thing to do.

As digital technology has become extremely embedded within our lifestyles, it can appear somewhat invisible.  To me this can pose a barrier for those that are developing their digital capabilities.  When you seek to start developing your digital capabilities, we look to what we know already.  However, if we don't know what we already know how can we progress further?  This can be true for staff when pursuing their own digital capabilities or have some reluctance to engage with digital technology.

Mapping my digital self

In a workshop I was invited to participate in an activity, I was presented a triangle with the words creation (publishing/broadcast), conversation (voices and perspectives online) and consumption (interacting with information) written on the sides of it.  I was asked to re-draw the triangle and map all the digital tools, apps and services I used to those categories.  My digital practices were self-assessed on internal/organisational (inside the triangle) and external/personal (outside the triangle).  I was then asked to use emoji stickers to place on each digital practice to express my emotions towards them.  This would have been an ideal activity to do before undertaking my Jisc Digital Discovery Tool self-assessment.

Below is my digital practice triangle.  I sketched out a much messier version during the workshop, but have tidied it up a bit here.  I'm sure there are many more digital technologies I use and more emotions to add, but this is what I came up with at the time.  When I was placing the emojis on my digital practices I found that I was applying emotional intelligence towards the things I use.  For example, I love using creative tools that allow me to express and develop things.  Or the expressive sigh towards using Microsoft Teams.  The tool is fine and works, however I found my feelings low in the way we use it for managing team projects.  Hence me feeling a bit less enthusiastic about it.  So the beauty in this activity is the cognitive and emotional mapping of what digital we use and most importantly how (the behaviour aspects).

It's help to ask yourself the following questions as you work on your triangle.

  • Think of the digital tools, apps and services you use.  Open up your mobile phone to see what your most used apps are - that's a good starting point
  • Which of these digital tools, apps and services do you use personally and professionally?
  • How do you use them and what for?
  • Why do you carry out these particular tasks with these digital technologies?  If you can find out why you don't do certain things with that particular digital technology that helps you to determine the right tool for the task, as well as identifying learning gaps and barriers
  • What would you like to do more of with that digital technology?

Further uses

As simple as this activity appears, this is an ideal opening activity for engaging people in developing their digital capabilities.  It starts a conversation that you can have with staff or teams.  Having it visible in front of you allows you to reflect more easily on what you use and how - determining the impact and effectiveness of all things digital to you.

I feel it may be useful to share your own triangle of digital practices and get others to share theirs as that can increase buy-in.  If you show personal interest in a particular tool, app or service (rather than solely an employee/organisational perspective) and you are really enthusiastic about it, others will tap into that and want to share their love for it.  Enthusiasm is infectious, so talk more about the positive things.  Equally on the flip side you could say that about the things we don't like to use or do (which can be useful), but I would always encourage to find positive comments about them rather than get into a downward spiral of negativity.

You could take this activity online and use tools like Thinglink for example.  Upload a blank triangle with the words around the edge and then annotate with emojis and hyperlinks to the tools, apps and services.

Writing love letters was a similar activity that I did during a workshop at the UCISA event.  You could apply 'romance' to a piece of digital technology you use and exaggerate your passion, wishes and frustrations of using it.  Sounds hilarious, which it is!  Again it opens up your emotions towards your digital practices of the ways you can and can't use the digital technology.