Why Three Perspectives? A human centred design approach to supporting digital dexterity: People, Design and Systems Thinking

By Kristy Newton (Digital Literacies Coordinator, UOW Library), Keith Brophy (Manager Digital Environment, UOW Library) and Donna Dee (Manager Workforce Planning & Development, UOW Library)


University of Wollongong (UOW) Library has a long-standing commitment to the professional development of our People through both informal and formal channels. The learning culture at UOW Library is fibrous and evolving, and our staff expect that ongoing professional development will be part of their journey. We have been building staff digital dexterity capacity for several years through an ongoing staff program, and in developing the most recent iteration of that program we have hit upon a valuable combination of staff skills and approaches that can be recognised as a composable team – a synergy of expertise that informs and describes the development of dexterity needs for our people.

Our composable team consists of three essential perspectives: Design Thinking + Digital Dexterity, People + Culture, and Systems Thinking + Integration. Forming working relationships that are based on the skills that each member brings to the group is far from a new concept. Nevertheless, over the past two years we have found the combination of these perspectives enables each of us to contribute our strengths and maximise the beneficial outcomes for the organisation. An attitude of open-mindedness and trust has been a key success factor, as much as the expertise that each of us contributes. It has been important for each of us to allow our ideas to be challenged, built on, and transformed by the input of the other group members. This can be understood via the lens of remix culture, in which the resulting outputs are born from existing elements and transformed via the remix process into something new. Researchers Yu and Nickerson (2011, in Flath et al. 2017) found that a human based genetic algorithm which functioned to combine existing human ideas, resulted in ideas which were “significantly higher in terms of originality and practicality” (Flath et. al, 2017, p. 309).

Putting People First: Design Thinking + the importance of Culture

Key to the practice of design thinking is the active practice of empathy with the needs of those you are designing for – in this case, the staff of UOW Library in addition to our strategic priority of the Future-Ready Library. Incorporating the design thinking perspective has meant that we have placed these two elements as twin anchors for our process. In empathising with the needs of the Library’s Future-Ready strategic direction, we understood that the reason for developing staff digital dexterity was greater than technical and immediately job-related skills and that the underlying need was to prepare staff for a rapidly evolving and digitally rich future work environment. This environment would change more rapidly than is practical for a structured skills development program, and so it was essential to empower staff to be quite autonomous in their own development and provide a supportive environment which removed potential pain points and encouraged them to contribute actively to this process. Practicing empathy with the needs of our people and understanding the areas of interest that drive them as well as their desire for a combination of group work and independent activity, has influenced the design of our current staff program which is underpinned by a series of communities of practice.

The Right Tool: Empathy + Collaboration + Functionality

Technology in and of itself is not going to change or improve how we work. As the adage says: If you apply digital to a thing that’s broken, you’ll have a broken digital thing. It’s been very important to recognise that an established culture of continuous learning, growth mindset and adaptive thinking is part of a holistic view of the potential system solutions. In evaluating potential tools and spaces, we have considered factors such as functionality, integration, and interoperability with existing and future systems within the environment, and combined the potential of the technical solutions with what we knew about our people and how they wanted to learn and grow together. Collaborative learning opportunities had been highlighted as valuable to our staff, as had the opportunity to drive a learning journey based on individual motivations. For these reasons, alongside the adoption of Microsoft Teams as a ‘virtual office’ during the rapidly evolving COVID19 pandemic, we chose to house our digital dexterity programs within the Microsoft Teams environment, creating channels for Professional Development and individual channels for each of the communities of practice.

Continuous Learning Journey: Growth Mindset + Ideation

We have also needed to be adaptable as the context in which we deliver our program evolves. This was particularly important as we moved into an extended period of remote or hybrid work in response to the pandemic. Our staff were variably in need of support, and then in need of space within the myriad of digital channels they now needed to monitor. Our mini composable team meets monthly to talk about how the program is progressing, and evaluate if we are making the best use of the tools and time that we have available to us. Part of this process has been to encourage and support each team in the evaluation of new functionality as the systems evolve – understanding that teams who actively identify the potential value in new system capabilities will enjoy a greater sense of ownership and autonomy in directing how they work. From promoting the use of online task trackers for project management to virtual whiteboards for brainstorming sessions to collaborative document editing, we further support and build an agile, growth mindset mentality – resulting in skills and outcomes that directly align with the Library strategic direction.

The agile asynchronous approach has also dictated the possibility for spontaneous groups to form elsewhere in the organisation. Staff were proactive in suggesting changes to the communities of practice that aligned more clearly with their learning goals, and we had enough adaptability built into the program to cater for that. By extension, we have also seen other composable teams form around shorter-term learning goals and components of strategic Library projects – groups of staff who have come together to tackle project priorities or explore a specific skill or interest area without formalising this as a community of practice.


If you are interested in adopting the principles of the approach we have outlined here, the following points are a good place to start in thinking about how this might work in your own context.

Ask yourself:

  • Who is it for?
  • What elements do we have in our institutional culture that enable learning and growth?
  • How can we link this to broader strategy?
  • How might we think of a holistic solution, placing our users and their journey at the centre?
  • How do we maintain engagement and a culture of continuous learning?
  • Rather than being tied to what has worked in the past, what inputs and the data do we currently have that help us imagine what could work for the future?
References

Brophy, K, Dee, D, & Newton, K 2020 ‘UOW Library: Embedding learning and development as part of our organisational DNA’, International Information & Library Review, 52(3), pp.250-252.

Flath, C, Friesike, S, Wirth, M, & Thiesse, F 2017, ‘Copy, transform, combine: exploring the remix as a form of innovation’, Journal of Information Technology, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 306-325.

RMIT Pride Week 2021 – How the Library supports LGBTIQA+ inclusion

By Frank Ponte AALIA (CP) Academic/Research, Manager, Library Services (Teaching), RMIT University Library, frank.ponte@rmit.edu.au 

Gender Spectrum collection image of 5 people representing the LGBQTI community

Photo in the Gender Spectrum Collection was taken by Zackary Drucker under CC-BY-NC-ND

In August this year, RMIT Library participated in University Pride week. A group of passionate individuals across the Library, and subsequently badged as the Library Pride Working Group, came together and tailored Library services exclusively for LGBTIQA+ students.
 
Due to lockdown, the group met online and used Teams to communicate and host weekly meetings, used planner boards in the O365 environment to track progress, and SharePoint to archive digital resources, documents and PowerPoint slides. This event was created and delivered within a four-week timeframe.

The service offering aligned with the Library’s sustainable and digital-first approach and included:
1. Introductory recording – outlining the week’s events 4:51 min
2. Live webinar – How the Library Supports LGBTIQA+ Inclusive Teaching. (Recording available internally only).
3. LGBTIQA+ Library Guide
4. Finding LGBTIQA+ resources in the Library’s digital collection and OER’s: 1:55min
5. Shared #RMITPride Spotify List
6. Online RMIT Pride Film Club – A selection of 5 online films in consultation with University Pride Committee with supporting online post-film group chats.  

The service offering was informed by the Ward-Gale model for LGBTQ-inclusivity in higher education. This model provided a clear best practice framework and cumulative approach to LGBTIQA+ inclusivity.  The model is defined by three pillars, moving from basic awareness to transformative practice:

  1. Pillar 1 – Language: This is how students will risk assess the safety of a situation. They will review the language people use and how they use it. It is also a simple way to make curriculum more inclusive. The inclusion of a statement in an online course shell about what constitutes abusive or discriminatory language is a great starting point.
  2. Pillar 2 – Role Models:  Heterosexual and LGBTIQA+ students value all staff being open about their sexuality. It gives them confidence that the institution respects LGBTIQA+ equality. For LGBTIQA+ students specifically, it establishes ‘safe’ people to talk to should they encounter problems.
  3. Pillar 3 – Curriculum Content: Ward and Gale found that failure to work with teaching materials that engage with diversity provides an environment where only some experience is valued. This is where open educational materials can assist. Because of the adaptable nature of these resources, it provides educators opportunities to be more inclusive in their curriculum design.
Ward-Gale Model for LGBTQ-inclusivity in Higher Education. Compares Language, role models and curriculum content against increasing awareness, additive approaches and transformative approaches.

Table 1: The Ward Gale Model for LGBTQ-Inclusivity in Higher Education by Dr. Nicola Gale: Source: Ward, N., Gale, N. (2016) LGBTQ-inclusivity in the Higher Education Curriculum: a best practice guide. Birmingham: University of Birmingham. Table reproduced with permission from the authors.

Learning and Future Focus:

  • The use of a best practice framework like Ward and Gale (2016) provided clear parameters to work within. The flexibilities that OER affords academic staff will be highlighted as ways to engage in LGBTIQA+ inclusion when developing curriculum content. Such as the inclusion of LGBTIQA+ images or selecting open textbooks.  
  • Due to the short timeframe in delivering the Library service offering, the working group relied on the goodwill of colleagues as volunteers. To be truly representative and reflect the diverse genders, sexes and sexualities’ of the institution, there needs to be a concerted effort to recruit a diversity of skills, perspectives, and voices.
  • RMIT University is proud to support the staff and students within our community who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning or asexual/agender (LGBTIQA+). An important aspect of why we deliver library services is to reflect belonging, inclusion and diversity. In this regard, the LGBTIQA+ student voice is a critical inclusion that will reflect the future library service offering.
  • In 2022, the Library’s physical spaces will be utilised to host events to foster student belonging and inclusion. A key part of engagement with the Library is to ensure that students are aware of the Library’s physical resources as well as its digital. To ensure there is a connection, the Library will use QR codes to seamlessly transition library users from their physical location to the digital.
  • An important aspect of belonging and acknowledging the past is by collecting, preserving and celebrating the institution’s history. RMIT Archives will be an important partner in the future to chronicle an accurate picture of the University’s LGBTIQA+ story.

In conclusion, the Library Pride working group showed passion, commitment, and managed to deliver a varied and successful program. This will be the underpinning of a successful Pride event in 2022.  


‘I didn’t know the library did that’. Making Library work in curriculum more visible.

By Kat Cain (Manager, Digital Literacy Programs) and Craig Patterson (Manager, Faculty of Arts and Education Library Services, Learning and Teaching) – Deakin University.

It’s a shared experience in public, specialist and academic libraries – regularly hearing our community members amazed reflection, “I didn’t know the library did that”, when we provide learning services beyond that of collections. The fuzzy notion of the library as mostly just books and borrowing can even be a common idea that many librarians have before they start their degree and get into the field, and the breadth and depth of Library work then becomes evident. But how to get this message of Libraries as a teaching and learning service out to our communities?

Public libraries have experimented with different comms and different ways to share their offerings with their communities. The “Unusual Library Things” infographic, that visualised resources or services available in libraries across the world, was a great way of articulating libraries’ role in community building and lifelong learning. To launch their Inspiration Lab with its fabulous digital equipment and opportunities to build technical skills, Vancouver Public Library (Canada) strategised their communications as stories and creation. Their experimentation with live-tweeting and live streaming, bus shelter advertisements, digital signage, and beautifully designed physical advertising material was effective and award winning. Closer to home, New Zealand’s Invercargill City Libraries joyously engages with their communities through creative social media approaches that shine a very big light on their lifelong learning model. Do you remember their Kardashians riff of “Keeping up with the Librarians”? While Yarra Plenty Regional Libraries, took a personalised and incredibly effective path to reaching out to their senior community and connecting them to services and resources they needed. They got on the phone and called them. The communication impact of this approach was pretty clear – being interviewed by Leigh Sales, a these “legends are Librarians at Yarra Plenty Library” shout out by the Victorian Premier, and a jump in public awareness about how diverse and responsive to community our public libraries are. These are just a few examples of fabulous ways libraries can build awareness of their learning services.  

Academic librarian roles increasingly include teaching responsibilities

Academic libraries are often considered the heart of the university, central to the learning, teaching and research endeavours. Although we have strong service delivery and facilities management, modern academic libraries also prioritise pedagogical offerings and outcomes. In fact, academic libraries have moved beyond tentative concepts of contributing to student learning or as supporting learning. As Corrall and Jolly (2020) make clear, libraries and librarians have a major role to play in learning and teaching. Pedagogical principles underpin academic library services and engagement. Our information and digital literacy focused learning materials are amazing; and our librarians are wonderful teachers. What we haven’t done as successfully is make clear that librarians have an active, informed role in teaching and learning. We have a tendency to focus on the services, our collections, the spaces and equipment we provide. We are less adventurous in marketing librarians as teachers and libraries as learning hubs. Perhaps this emerges as an unconscious reflection of the contested and questioned role of librarians as teachers (Wheeler & McKinney, 2015)? 

People can debate whether librarians are teachers or not, but what we do know is that that people want to learn when they come to the library. And if people want to learn, everyone wins if that learning is well-designed.

As a learning and teaching focused team for Deakin Library, we have grappled with how to articulate and contextualise what we do. We found that teaching staff were often surprised that we run sessions on digital identity or offer digital literacy curricula mapping. Some of our library’s best teaching approaches and outcomes were also our best-kept secrets and we wanted to get the word out.

But how to do this? We spent time as a team discussing what we do and how we frame it.

Deakin Librarians work to develop the digital fluency and knowledges of our community, both staff and students. We do this through good learning design, which is not in most people’s conception of what it means to be a librarian, or what libraries offer. But it does make sense: if libraries exist to build communities and facilitate lifelong learning, there are knowledges and skills people in communities can develop to meet their goals. That’s where we come in.

We then needed to consider how we could shape a teaching identity for Deakin Library. That’s why we developed a ‘Working with teaching staff’ webpage rounding up our most impactful ways to partner with academics at Deakin. We knew that academics were unlikely to serendipitously find and explore this pitch page. Instead, we aimed for Liaisons to use this resource in their conversations and communications with academics, with explicit language around learning design and teaching capacities. To further support this self-framing, our team concurrently redesigned a whole suite of web resources focused on teaching needs. Again, rather than relying on our community stumbling across the messaging and learning materials, we proactively promoted it through both our Deakin Library blog (Article) and the broader university blog (Network).

Screenshot of Deakin Library teaching resources page, with resources grouped under headings.

Like all communications, there is room for improvement and changes. Continued conversations and putting new ideas on the board is needed. However, the value of consciously promoting our Librarians as teachers and continuing to self-frame as active in learning experiences is immeasurable.

We leave you with two questions – how do you frame yourself as a teacher and how do you communicate that identity? And we challenge you to put your teacher statement into the discussion space below.

References:

Corrall, S., & Jolly, L. (2019). Innovations in learning and teaching in academic libraries: Alignment, collaboration, and the social turn.

Wheeler, E., & McKinney, P. (2015). Are librarians teachers? Investigating academic librarians’ perceptions of their own teaching skills. Journal of Information Literacy, 9(2), 111–128.


Digital dexterity and a Libguides review

by Ruth Cameron, Coordinator Digital Library Programs, University of Newcastle

In 2020 the University of Newcastle Library ran a pilot student internship program. A part of the scope of work for the intern project was to review our Libguides, with a view to making them more user-friendly, student-centric and discoverable. 

Our student intern first reviewed the guides herself and then created a survey for distribution through the Library’s social media channels. She incorporated all responses into a report with recommendations on how to proceed with our review.

In 2021, based on the student recommendations, we launched a Libguide Refresh Project, starting with our Subject Resource Guides. We aimed not only to incorporate the student feedback, but also to reduce the number of guides by 75% and their size by 25%. Fortunately, we were able to bring our student intern back as the student representative on this refresh project. We ran an environmental scan of 15 academic libraries’ Libguides and examined the literature to discover what is considered best practice. We considered these results in combination with our intern’s recommendations. We also created a flowchart for the decision-making process (for example, how do we decide to make a Libguide instead of a web page?).

What does this have to do with the Digital Dexterity Framework? Buckle in my friends…!


The intern project

Inviting a student to review our Libguides, and provide recommendations from herself and other students, aligns with the capability of Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation by designing and creating new digital media (the student survey on the library’s social channels), then strategically collecting and analysing data using digital tools and techniques.  

The refresh project

The refresh project aligns with Digital Communication, Collaboration and Participation in that it involved:

  • Communicating effectively in digital media and spaces
  • Actively participating in digital teams, working groups and communities of practice
  • Using shared productivity tools to collaborate, produce shared materials and work across boundaries

We used MS Teams for our shared documents and working comments, and Zoom for our meetings. Our student representative joined both of these digital spaces and participated actively in both by providing comments, recommendations and suggestions based on her earlier research.

This work also aligns with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation as we used digital evidence (collected in the intern project) to solve problems and find new solutions, and we developed a new project utilising appropriate digital technologies. We then showcased best practice, and encouraged innovation in other library staff.

Creating and sharing the flowchart

This activity aligned with ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using ICT-based tools for professional tasks such as writing, recording, presenting, task management, analysing data, managing files and working with images, and evaluating and choosing software relevant to different tasks.

We used MS Visio to create the chart and outline the decision-making process. We chose Visio because it’s part of the Office 365 suite, which is in turn supported by our institution’s IT Services. We shared the chart with the rest of the team by uploading it to our MS Teams site, aligning not only with ICT Proficiency and Productivity, but also with Collaboration, Communication and Participation, and with Digital Creation, Problem Solving and Innovation.

Creating templates for the Subject Resource Guides

The co-manager of the Academic Engagement team created a template for the Subject Resource Guides, and the Teaching Liaison Librarians then populated the templates according to discipline. This work aligns with the capabilities of ICT Proficiency and Productivity by using library and information systems, learning and research environments to a high degree of proficiency, and supporting others to use those systems and environments effectively and productively.

And of course

Our Subject Resource Guides are specifically designed to support Information Literacy!

What does this mean?

Take a look at your current and upcoming library projects in light of the Digital Dexterity Framework, and you’ll be surprised at how many capabilities you can align with. The Framework can also give you ideas on how to include more capabilities to enhance professional development.  Try it and see how easy it is!



Empathy, the Library, and Open Education

By Adrian Stagg, Manager (Open Educational Practice), University of Southern Queensland

During an interview, the anthropologist Dr Margaret Mead was asked what evidence she considered noteworthy as a society first progressed toward ‘civilisation’. If we consider the question, physical artefacts such as farming or hunting implements, or perhaps pottery seem likely answers.

Dr Mead used a broken (and healed) femur as her reply.  The healed bone inferred that another human being had demonstrated empathy.  Rather than abandoning this person, another had cared enough to nurse them back to health. Empathy, she asserted, was the start of civilisation (Byock, 2012), and a consideration for the welfare of others differentiated humans from the animal kingdom.

It can be reasonably argued that librarians – whether public or academic – require empathy as a professional skill.  Libraries continue to be places for democratic empowerment, places that value equity, and promote safety. Libraries also become food pantries on many campuses, a function well outside information and digital literacy. 

During a reference interview with a first-year student, most librarians concentrate on normalising confusion and creating a welcoming space as they do answering the questions.  As academic spaces, libraries invest in student-centred design for services and function; when supporting academic colleagues we attempt to understand context to which solutions can be linked.

Unsurprisingly, open education finds a home in many university libraries.  Their remit includes the organisation, access, and maintenance of knowledge resources, and is usually accompanied by supporting infrastructure and staffing (despite consistently conservative or diminishing budget allocations). 

Open education meets pragmatic library needs such as mitigating library expenditure by transitioning to open texts, reducing workload by using existing OER, or accessing low-cost, openly licenced professional learning.

Open licencing affords unique opportunities that connect academic staff with learning and teaching approaches (such as open assessment), and position the library as a key stakeholder in learning design. Furthermore, these partnerships often yield scholarship and research outcomes, raising the profile of librarians-as-researchers.

However, openness is – like libraries – foundationally aligned with social equity. Openness reduces barriers to access and increases participation in education, equalises readership and access to information, and addresses systemic issues of financial inequality and educational attainment. For librarians – exposed to the ‘macro-view’ of the university through interactions with students from all disciplines – it is difficult not to respond with empathy to trends that reinforce inequality.

Our failing in open advocacy is often untempered empathy. Many library-run OER workshops can be summarised as ‘a solution looking for a problem’, presenting openness as a self-evident good without necessarily considering the audience. The results are workshops populated by ‘the usual suspects’ and an inability to sustain open practices beyond small pockets of already-dedicated practitioners.

Starting with OA Week, I’d like to propose that ‘It matters how we open knowledge’ refers to our engagement as much as processes, policy, and infrastructure.

Professor Geoff Scott, when speaking at an ACODE Institute introduced the mantra ‘Listen, Link, Lead’. When advocating for sustainable change, he encouraged the audience to actively ‘listen’ to, and understand the context of others. Then ‘link’ the challenges to new approaches that directly influence a positive outcome for the individual.  Lastly, is the opportunity to ‘lead’ the change and build momentum based on success.

Transforming open education from ‘open as library business’ to ‘open as everyone’s business’ requires empathy and connection. 

Take time this week to review your strategies.  Do you ‘listen, link, lead’? Have you unintentionally excluded teams from your initiatives, and are there opportunities for collaboration (such as Learning Designers, Student Services, the Student Guild)? 

The unique affordances of openness lie in reuse, remix, and repurposing content to suit local contexts and learner needs. Perhaps, using the lens of empathy, we explicitly consider our skills as librarians with similar affordances.

Take the opportunity to share and learn this week by reflecting on your practices in the Comments.

Reference:

Byock, I. (2012). The best care possible: a physician’s quest to transform care through the end of life. New York. Avery. 


Delighting in diversity in the digital domain

By AJ Penrose, Multimedia Developer, Digital Learning, RMIT University Library. Contact: amanda.penrose@rmit.edu.au

The world might not actually be any more diverse than it’s always been, but goodness, doesn’t it seem that way?! Thanks to increased visibility, advocacy and celebration of our differences, diversity has become an important part of our digital lives.

retro housewife waves at husband and child from kitchen doorway

Fortunately, we’re becoming more aware that what we see around us shapes our expectations of society. We’re getting better at representing diversity (it’s been a while since I’ve seen a white, tie-wearing male kiss a housewife goodbye as he heads to the office… WandaVision excepted!) but we can do a lot more.

Image by ArtsyBee https://pixabay.com/illustrations/retro-housewife-family-greeting-1321068/

Here are some examples of inclusive practices that you can incorporate into your digital projects right now.

Inclusive language

Use non-gendered and non-Western names for the characters in your examples and activities. Online baby-name lists are a fabulous and readily available resource.

Include they/them pronouns along with she/her and he/his. You can do this when the gender of the person you’re referring to isn’t relevant, when you want the sentence to be inclusive of all genders, or if you want to represent a character as non-binary.

Representation

Describe or illustrate your characters using diverse:

  • physiological or mental functional capacities
  • genders, sexes and sexualities
  • cultures and traditions
  • ages  
  • socio-economic backgrounds
  • body shapes, skin colours, hair and clothing choices

The great news is, with a little effort and a bit of practice, we can create inclusive, safe and welcoming digital environments, which benefit everyone.

Here are just a couple of screenshots from animations I’ve created recently. See if you can identify the ways I’ve included representation from the list above.

Note that diversity itself isn’t the focus of any of these projects, it’s just there.

Why not review the project materials you’re working on right now and have a think about how you’re representing diversity? If you can do more, go ahead and make a change today!


Design thinking as a tool for innovative libraries

By Kristy Newton, Digital Literacies Coordinator at UOW Library / Design Thinking Facilitator.
Contact: knewton@uow.edu.au or @librariano on Twitter.

What is design thinking and why is it useful for libraries?

Design thinking is an iterative, human centred methodology for creative problem solving. It is a method that prioritises user needs throughout the development process and emphasises a mindset shift from “How do we?” to “How might we?”. Rather than starting from a pre-determined solution, the process generates a range of ideas and solutions to choose from.

Design thinking is a really valuable tool for libraries to use in developing innovative resources or services and gaining a stronger understanding of their client base. The understanding of client needs is particularly critical – after all, there’s no point in basing your service model around the best and tastiest oranges you can find, if what your client really wants and needs is apples. In terms of increasing the capacity for innovative practice, design thinking allows staff to take the focus off common roadblocks such as being stuck in discussing what has worked well (or not so well) in the past. Instead, staff are empowered to engage in a proactive exploration of what has the potential to work well now and into the future, using the current contexts, client and staff needs, and potential resources as valuable sources of data to aid in developing new solutions.

As an example from my own institution, design thinking has been used at UOW Library to illustrate the potential for new library services, to assess and redevelop team practices, to explore themes emerging from staff or student feedback, and develop a wide range of support resources.

5 primary phases of design thinking

There are five primary phases of the design thinking process, and it is common to cycle between the phases throughout the development and implementation of a solution to a design problem. Design thinking is an ongoing process of refinement and adjustment, but does not mean that you never reach a solution. Rather, you shift your attitude to embrace the perspective that your users, ideas, and solutions are continually evolving.
Note: there are multiple models of design thinking and the language may vary between the models, but the essential core of the practice remains consistent through the various models.

Empathise

This phase focuses on understanding the needs of the people in a given situation. This might be Library clients like students, staff, or community members.

Define

Once you understand the various needs and perspectives of the people you are designing for, you can define a design question. This will be the anchor point for all the work you do from this point forwards. It should be derived from your understanding of the people you look at in the Empathise phase.  

E.g If during the empathise phase you found that many people were confused about who to ask for help with their assessments, your design question might be “How might we increase understanding of the assessment support available at [your institution]?”.  

Note that this is different from “How might we help people with their assessments?” (too broad) or “How might we advertise our Library research workshops?” (too specific).

Ideate

This phase focuses on generating multiple ideas for ways to address the design question. A creative, blue-sky approach is best here, and participants should avoid trying to move to solution mode too quickly. No idea is too crazy during the Ideate phase.

Prototype

This phase focuses on choosing the most appropriate idea from the Ideate phase and starting to “build” it. This can take a physical form, or it might be more of a documentation of the details of an idea.  

E.g. If your idea was to develop an app that linked together all the support services that can help students with their assessments, you could develop a working prototype, or a series of visual mock-ups. This phase involves fleshing out the details of the idea, considering how it will work for the user, and how they will interact with it. 

Test

This phase focuses on getting real time feedback for your idea – putting it out into the world and seeing how it works in action. The feedback gathered during this phase often starts the cycle over again. You need to consider how the solution works for the intended user, and address any issues through mini-cycles of the Ideate and Prototype phases. This is similar to beta testing.  

Where to get started with design thinking

There are a variety of training opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about design thinking. Sites like LinkedIn Learning offer several self paced online options and a quick Google will often reveal local opportunities for facilitated training with an experienced practitioner. Good places to start also include organisations like IDEO, and the Stanford d-School that have a great range of online resources available.

Regardless of how you choose to begin learning about the methods, it’s important to remember is that design thinking is a practice that requires engagement to truly experience the benefits. Within the structure of the five phases, there are many sub-skills like effective questioning techniques and creative ideation methods that enhance the practice of design thinking. If you or your colleagues are interested in exploring design thinking, forming a group with whom you can practice the methodology as you learn will be really valuable.

So get in there, start learning, and let us know how you go by sharing your experiences with the hashtag #MyDigiDex !


Ko wai au? Who am I? Digital Identity for a career librarian

By Kim Tairi, University Librarian, Auckland University of Technology. Contact: kim.tairi@aut.ac.nz or on Twitter and Instagram

Know your Why

Image of Kim Tairi

As a career librarian I have always been an advocate for using social media to build robust and diverse professional and personal learning networks. I like to think of the networks that I belong to as circles of kindness and reciprocity.

This is my why. I use social media to learn, share and be part of communities of practice that are active in education, libraries, indigenisation and decolonisation and other issues I consider important.

Many of the people I have met virtually have gone on to become friends in real life. I am fortunate.

Private versus Open 

I use my own name and have an open account. I rarely get trolled and if I do, my number 1 rule is don’t engage. You owe trolls nothing and you have every right to block with wild abandon. 

My digital identity, that is, all the digital content that I have created and I am connected with, has grown organically. As an experiential learner, I like to play, make mistakes, try things and see what happens. This has led to some wonderful opportunities – conference papers, book chapters, speaking gigs and meeting incredible people.  

Twice, I have been asked to consider deleting a post by a workplace. However, I have never received an ultimatum to take-down content, it has always been a conversation. In both cases I chose to delete the contested content.  

I am always mindful that even with disclaimers about content and posts not being those of my employers, I am by reputation, associated with my place of work. If you are active on social media platforms, it is good practice to know your workplace social media policy and, recognise that your employer may look at the content you create with a different lens than you. 

Social media is performative  

As a senior leader in our profession, I acknowledge that I am always expected to display professionalism in public forums. I don’t always get it right but I try to be genuine, engaging, kind, creative, stylish and visible as an indigenous, intersectional feminist. I curate my content but try to be me at the same time.  

Social media is a performative space: for example my online persona is an extrovert and tall. I am not. That is why I call myself 1.58m of Awesomeness on Twitter! 

Actively manage your content  

Set up Google alerts and Google yourself regularly. This will enable you to check your digital footprint. Finally, be intentional, mindful and respectful and social media will serve you well professionally.  

You can find me online on Twitter and Instagram. Say kia ora!  

Copyright and Digital Dexterity: Re-usable content 1 – Images

by Anthony O’Brien, Copyright Advisor, University of Newcastle Library

This is the second post in a planned series that will look at considerations for copyright as part of being digitally dexterous.  

Images are one of the more common content types that creators like to include in their materials and OER but can be problematic for re-use. 

Why shouldn’t I just do a Google image search? 

Images found via Google search can have varied copyright permissions. Exceptions in your country’s copyright legislation may not cover re-use in an ‘open’ environment, meaning that you may need to either rely on licensing or permissions for your re-use.  

Looking for images that are ‘ready-to-use’ 

To simplify things, aim to use open content made available under Creative Commons (CC) or similar free licensing.  Some content may require attribution or a copyright statement for re-use, so always check what you need to do to be able to re-use images.  At the end of the post are four recommended image sites to help get you started. 

Why are these licensed images so useful? 

The majority of images you find online will be copyrighted.  Depending on your intended use, you may inadvertently infringe if you just take something and re-use it.  Where image content already has licensing attached, it is clearer what you can (and can’t) do with it. 

What if I need to seek permission for an image? 

Where you find an image that you absolutely ‘must’ re-use (and assuming it is not already appropriately licensed), you may be able to gain permission from the copyright owner for your planned re-use.  Look for a contact email (or form), and spell out what your plans for the content are (MOOC or other educational use? Blog or another web use? Commercial use?).  Your institution’s copyright office may be able to assist with this process.   

You should include a copyright statement for this re-used content, to be clear that it is outside of any licensing you might apply to your materials or OER. 

Four recommended sites: 

  • Pixabay – one of the best sites around for free media.  Includes great vector graphics.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).   
  • Unsplash – great site for images not included in Pixabay.  Images are tagged well, so searching is easy.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).   
  • Freerange Stock – up-and-coming site with some very artistic-looking images.  Free licensing, where attribution is not required (but is appreciated).  Some Public Domain content.   
  • WikiMedia Commons – contributions include options not covered in the others here, including artworks, etc.  Licensing varies, including CC and Public Domain – check any requirements for re-use. 

Developing a digitally dexterous and future-ready workforce through Community of Practice

Renée Grant, Liaison Librarian for Faculty of The Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Wollongong. rengrant@uow.edu.au  

How do you develop a future-ready workforce?  

In 2016, the University of Wollongong Library committed to becoming a future-ready, digitally dexterous organisation and put in place the Digital Literacy Workplace Program to foster upskilling opportunities for Library staff. After an initial structured program, the direction shifted towards a new approach which focused on four key areas: self-directed learning, personalisation, flexibility, and learner agency. The flexible and unguided nature of this program gave staff the freedom to choose their own learning path. One of the outcomes of this program was the creation of a Digital Humanities Community of Practice (CoP) in 2018. 

Why a Community of Practice? 

Discussion with colleagues revealed that I wasn’t alone in my passion for Digital Humanities. The CoP grew organically from this shared passion and the opportunity for self-directed learning provided by the Digital Literacy Workplace Program. I formed the CoP so that we could share knowledge, explore, experiment and learn from each other. The collective nature of the learning process was key to the success of our group increasing our digital dexterity. Learning new technologies is challenging and one of the key benefits arising from the CoP was the ability to work through problems together. Without the support of the group, it would have been too easy to give up. Every challenge was viewed as a learning opportunity and through collective problem solving the group developed a growth mindset – when we couldn’t get the software to work properly, we weren’t failing, we were learning! 

Developing digital dexterity 

The CoP developed staff digital dexterity through the completion of mini projects which were showcased in a public facing blog. These mini-projects incorporated both hard and soft skills to develop agile, future-focused, T-shaped professionals (professionals with both discipline expertise and broader collaborative, creative and interpersonal skills). Hard skills included coding literacy, data visualisation, writing for the web, and digital curation. Soft skills included growth mindset, team work, networking, and creative thinking. The CoP membership consisted of staff with a range of digital capabilities from beginner to advanced. So that everyone would get something out of it, the CoP was designed so that all members had opportunities to extend and develop their skills by exploring and learning aspects of the software, which they then taught to the wider group. This also provided everyone with the opportunity to develop teaching and presentation skills. If members were beginners, they would pair up with an advanced member to explore and prepare a lesson for the group. In this way, they not only had an opportunity to extend their digital literacy skills, but to learn and problem solve with a more tech-savvy colleague. The CoP is a very supportive environment in which to learn and it’s great to see my colleagues get excited to learn new digital tools and explore innovative ways to incorporate them into their work practices. 

Where are we now? 

Future-readiness is not something you can tick a box marked complete, it’s an ongoing goal. Over the years, the Digital Humanities CoP has evolved to align to the shifting individual member and organisational needs. Through the CoP it was recognised that there was a need to support clients more broadly across the University of Wollongong with Digital Scholarship. This resulted in a Digital Scholarship Strategy project in 2020 to scope the feasibility of a Library-led initiative. In 2021 the CoP has shifted its focus to developing a future-ready workforce that can provide broader Digital Scholarship support in preparation for the potential rollout of a strategic program.  

The creation of the Digital Humanities CoP was transformative. Not just for the development of digital dexterity for the individual members, but as an organisation, as its success sparked the creation of a range of CoPs within the Library to develop other future-ready skills, such as UX. 

Why not start your own transformative Community of Practice! 

For more information: 

Grant, R., & Organ, M. 2020, ‘Digital Journeys @ UOW Australia: From Digital Dexterities to Digital Humanities and Beyond‘. International Information and Library Review, pp.1-6. 

Grant, RC & Shalavin, CA 2019, ‘Journey to the new frontier: staff experience in a professional development program for digital dexterity’, THETA 2019 – The Tipping Point: The Higher Education Technology Agenda Conference, Wollongong, 19-22 May. 

Follow our blog at Digital Humanities @ UOW Library and Twitter @DHWollongong