Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Using stacking to build digital capabilities

This is very embryonic but I'll be sure to flesh this out in more detail as time goes...

Teachers and assessors are immensely busy and often time poor, which can lead to little time to source, experiment and evaluate digital technologies.  Time is precious in what and who we give this to.  One thing we do give time to is our priorities – which could be our own personal and professional goals/objectives, whether that is linked to appraisals or not.

After reading this article 'Choose One Professional Goal This Year' earlier this year, it inspired some thinking...  One day whilst doing my exercises (crunches and weights) I was thinking about how the way I train my mind to add on new routines onto existing ones.  A light bulb moment 💡 -  how could this approach be used to build up digital capabilities?  I.e. adding onto existing digital practices to develop competence, confidence and overall fitness for purpose in the use of digital technologies.  Imagine being your own personal trainer to keep stretching and challenging yourself.

This also relates to my 'cooking practices', by that I mean I assist.  😉  Gary and I will take a recipe, adapt it to our liking/ingredients we have available and cook.  If we like it we use that as a foundation, a template for future cooking.  Adding new things or replacing ingredients for a change in variety.  It's another way of seeing the problematic area of embedding and developing digital capabilities.  Great for those just starting out and those wanting to extend their existing digital practices.

Through constructivism we make connections and build on our existing learning.  The main benefit here is building on your previous techniques whilst adding new ones and stretching beyond your boundaries.   This even has links to growth mindset, change management, coaching and mentoring and reflective and behaviourist theories.  Like exercising, it takes a while to get it right and see results!  Over a period of time we should see people's digital capabilities scale up due to their belief in their own digital practices.  However, it's important not to 'snowball' out of control - as in how it starts of small becomes bigger as snow sticks to it.  Know your strengths and limits and increase your load as you feel comfortable to.

Stacking: a mindset for building confidence and technique

I've not fleshed this out in full, but to start in brief:

  • Identify new digital practice that you want to achieve 
  • Link this to an existing related digital practice/habit you do regularly - starting the stacking bit
  • Stack the new digital practice on top of the existing one, which should pair well together
  • Repeat and refine your new practice as much as you feel necessary to build up your confidence and technique
  • Evaluate your progress and revisit aspects that need to change or improve - add/remove
  • Continue to stack to improve your digital practices and fitness for purpose 💪

Stacking is like muscle memory, once you are comfortable with a routine/process you add something onto the end of it.  As a result of this mindset, I don't think it can be seen as an extra bolt-on because its become a habit.  The challenge is setting and realising what and why is it that you want to achieve.  Bit by bit you can stack up your digital capabilities to make the jump from efficiency to effectiveness - hopefully.

What would it look like in practice?

Ok, thinking of myself in this example to apply it and put it into context - regardless of the level of my digital capabilities, age, backgrounds etc.

Riding off the back of my recent blog post 'Using PebblePad to support and evidence productivity'.  I'm quite forgetful/lazy of not tagging my Assets in PebblePad, even when I know the benefits and uses of them - the shame!  As current storage systems now rely on this method, I need to get up to speed.  I already create Assets and upload existing files to PebblePad so I need to get in the habit of tagging.  It sounds simple in doing this every time I create or upload something, but I need to exercise this regularly and embed it as a habit.  So coming back down to the purpose of the activity - I need to organise my Assets into a themed group, so I can use Collection Asset type to do this.  Looking at the affordances of the system, I can use a feature in Collection called 'Add Assets by tags'.  This will automatically pull in any current or future Assets into a Collection with the tags I have selected.  Overtime, in doing this it is embedding this as a habit which will become a transferable skill, a digital practice that can be used in other systems when I use them, i.e. Microsoft OneDrive.