Thursday, 10 June 2021

Certified DigiLearn Sector Community Membership

I have been a member of the DigiLearn Sector Community since early 2019 and soon after identified as a Key Contributor.  During April-May 2021 I took part in a pilot certification scheme and am proud to have been approved as a Certified Member!  The scheme has been really helpful in enabling me to reflect on and further develop my digital and learning technology knowledge and practice.  Here I will share the process I went through and the PebblePad ePortfolio that I produced.

I discuss what the DigiLearn Sector Community is, reasons I joined and the value and benefits I gain etc within my ePortfolio further down.  You can get more information and join the community here which is based in Microsoft Teams.  It is a highly active and collaborative community with a wealth of opportunities to connect and build cross-sector relationships in HE, FE and school sectors to share and develop practice.  You can also earn Member, Key Contributor and the new Certified Member badges.

As part of this process we were asked to produce a small ePortfolio to evidence the criteria below:

  1. Post a community introduction video
  2. Identify recent examples of your active sharing and/or support offered within the DigiLearn Sector communities
  3. Facilitate a presentation, demonstration or workshop at a DigiLearn Sector event
  4. Write and submit a guest blog post
  5. Reflective statement

I had a number of pieces of evidence already having previously introduced myself via Flipgrid, made significant contributions, supported people and made recommendations to develop the community, delivered a webinar and published a UCLan TELT blog post.  So I was keen to get straight into building an ePortfolio and organising my evidence.  I initially started off using Microsoft Sway as it was easy to rapidly create a structure that I can work to.  But as a long-term medium I have since re-built it in PebblePad which I show further down.  By constructing something quickly for this pilot process I was able to exemplify how other ePortfolios could be presented.  Realising the schemes tangible potential and spurring on further inspiration and ideas.  Brings back my memories of my application of one of my Technology Enhanced Learning MSc tasks; ePortoflio demonstrating online interaction.  Chris Melia, the DigiLearn Sector Community lead and developer went onto say:

"Dan - Your portfolio is absolutely brilliant!...It is a really thorough submission, and an excellent example - that represents exactly what we envisaged a DLS Certified submission to be like! 👍...Personally, I think it sets the bar high too 😀.  Particularly in terms of defining 'active' and 'sustained' contribution...I think Sway nicely lends itself to developing a portfolio of this nature."

I added; "...encourage others to be more creative/analytical if they wish.  I've just been a bit more evidenced-based...There is much more potential to reflect on your own community behaviour and what types of conversations interest you."

To follow up our submitted ePortfolios, we were invited to a couple of online meetings to confirm and walkthrough a peer reviewing process to assess and approve submissions.  I was paired up with a UCLan colleague where we were expected to provide a short commentary on each others ePortfolios on the following areas: confirm main criteria have been addressed; highlight useful and interesting examples of practice; provide any suggestions to add or improve.  I think I pleased Chris again...

"Setting the bar high again 😀...I like the way that you have ended with something to 'ponder' - Nice bit of feedforward! 👍

I thought rather than saying try this and that, I wanted to provide something wholly for them to reflect on their overall narrative.

My ePortfolio

As a PebblePad enthusiast, naturally I wanted to eventually re-build my ePortfolio within there.  For one it is an ideal tool for this situation, more visually appealing and doesn't have to be attached to my initial institution if I decide to move on - supporting lifelong learning:

N.B. the ePortfolio is more up to date than the still image implies.

Tips and reflections

Some initial suggestions to help people get off to a good start:

  • Choose a digital technology that you're comfortable with that can represent an ePortfolio
  • Use significant examples to wrap a bit of context around - think about quality of your examples over quantity and brevity
  • Be aware that when making new posts to the community, some will need  planning in terms of getting sufficient responses and tagging in specific people that you know can help - importance of introducing yourself in the community and getting acquainted with others
  • Embed the mind set of it being a living portfolio!  Once your ePortfolio is created and published, I kept on thinking of other examples of activity and external collaborations with members 

Some immediate reflections:

  • I treat my ePortfolio like a living thing, hence the last updated date indicator at top.  It is a constant evolving body of contributions and evidence.  I also have a strong journaling mind set that apply to my own blog as well as my ePortfolio.  Meaning that when I contribute, work or learn something etc.  I will decide on it's value and if I need to record it, for a variety of purposes i.e. reflection, achievement or to be repurposed/reworked at a later date - essentially, save everything!  So when making a contribution to the community that you feel is strong, make it then decide there and then if you need to copy or link to it.  Saves time going back searching at a later date
  • It's not just evidencing for the certification, but great for making your significant contributions visible and to reflect on why you replied and engage in the community in the first place; identifying and analysing professional relationships and topics you engage in.  What is the driving force in responding and sharing?  For me, its mainly to support and guide others through my experiences but also allows me to evaluate and develop my own knowledge and practice.  Just as I do when undertaking Continuing Professional Development (CPD), contributing and reviewing courses/publications, participating in others research etc
  • It's a kind of return on investment - seeing the contributions you put into the community and reaping the rewards of seeing the potential impact it has made on others practice - can be used as evidence for SFHEA and Senior CMALT accreditations
  • Encourages effective digital practices and assessment design in creating and modelling an ePortfolio

EDIT:  Some lovely comments from members.