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 

Digital Dexterity on #AusLibChat, 3/8/2021 9-10pm AEST

The Digital Dexterity Community of Practice was recently approached by the Australian Library and Information Association’s New Generation Advisory Committee (ALIA NGAC) to participate in their August Twitter chat #AusLibChat which will focus on digital dexterity. This opportunity to shine a light on all things digital dexterity and connect with library professionals in the Twitterverse was an opportunity we could not refuse! We hope you can join us on Tuesday 3 August 2021, 9-10pm AEST!

To find out more about this upcoming Twitter chat, the questions that will be posed and to learn about how it works, head over to the ALIA Students and New Graduates blog.

ALIA NGAC promotional banner for the #AusLibChat for 3 August 2021

Digitally Dexterous Approaches to Microlearning

Keith Heggart, Lecturer in Learning Design, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Technology Sydney. Keith.Heggart@uts.edu.au  @keithheggart  

The rise of microlearning

If you’ve had anything to do with university teaching and learning in the last two years, you’ve probably been caught up in discussions about remote and emergency online learning, blended learning and similar topics. Central to many of these discussions is the need to craft engaging learning experiences for students. That’s where microlearning (Hug, 2007) comes in. You’ve probably already seen materials created using tools like Genial.ly, Quizlet or H5P- these can all be examples of this growing phenomenon.

More and more of us have access to powerful mobile devices. One way we use them is to consume ‘bite-sized’ chunks of knowledge. Torgerson (2021) describes this as a grass roots approach to learning, which is gradually moving from our personal lives (for example, YouTube videos on how to unblock a sink might be an example of microlearning) into workplace learning programs, and now, into the school and tertiary education sectors.

This is partially in response to the lack of time many people face in their day to day lives – such as the ‘sandwich generation’ (Miller, 1981). This is already causing many universities to rethink how they might offer courses to people engaged in full time work as well as caring responsibilities. It is also in response to what Torgerson (2021) describes as our desire to remain in contact with each other: social connectedness, which is facilitated through mobile technologies and especially social media.

What is microlearning? One of the most common definitions of microlearning is Khan’s (2019, p. 276)

“Microlearning can be viewed as a single objective‑focused, outcome‑based, stand‑alone, meaningful, and interactive learning unit delivered in bite-sized snippets (i.e., a short modular format) either digitally (i.e., via computer, tablet, or mobile phone) or non-digitally (i.e., as via a flashcard or booklet).”

While the exact definition of microlearning is still debated, there are some principles common to much of the discussion. Firstly, microlearning is short. Thalheimer (2017) calls it a short engagement in a learning related activity, and this follows on from Kapp and Defelice’s (2019) definition that it is a short engagement instructional unit. Of course, this begs the question: how short is short? Some have suggested that it should be less than half an hour. For Torgerson (2021), it’s 5 minutes or less – but best measured by the question: ‘Would you give up time in your day to learn this?’ If the answer’s yes, then that’s an example of microlearning.

There are some significant benefits to this bottom-up approach to microlearning. Malamed (n.d.) suggests that it’s a form of informal learning, but the benefit of microlearning is that it is ‘like riding a bike: the rider chooses the destination, the speed and the route’. This is the personalisation aspect of microlearning. There are some other factors that contribute to the benefits of microlearning: because of its brevity, it needs to be focused on being both efficient and effective. This is also a potential drawback, of course. Not everything taught at university might be suitable for microlearning. Rather, it’s up to the educator to think carefully about what might be leveraged into a microlearning opportunity. In addition, microlearning has the benefit of repeatability and scalability – one object can be watched many times, and it can be shared with 10, 100 or even 1000 students with no more effort than sharing it with one.

Six best practices for designing microlearning

So how can educators make use of microlearning? Fortunately, much of what we know about good examples of microlearning already conforms to our understanding of best practice approaches to teaching and learning. Perhaps this is not that surprising; after all, micro teaching has been a staple of many courses for a long time. As you would imagine, microlearning relies heavily on the use of technology and multimedia assets, and thus Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning (2005) is pertinent. In particular, the following ideas are worth keeping in mind:

  • Be very clear about what the purpose of the microlearning is, and how learners will achieve this through the learning process.
  • Include images, rather than having only written representations in microlearning objects.
  • These images should add to or help explain the information presented, not distract from it.
  • Make use of automated feedback  – but make the feedback descriptive!
  • Make it clear how users can interact with the microlearning object through careful design of elements like buttons and links.
  • Show ways that students are progressing through the learning such as percentage completed (from Tufan, 2021).

References

Hug, T. (2007). Didactics of microlearning. Waxmann Verlag.

Kapp, K. M., & Defelice, R. A. (2019). Microlearning: Short and sweet. American Society for Training and Development.

Khan, B. H. (2019). Microlearning: Quick and meaningful snippets for training solutions. International Journal of Research in Educational Sciences.(IJRES), 2(2), 275-284.

Malamed, C. (n.d). Informal Learning: An interview with Jay Cross. http://theeleanringcoach.com/elearning2-0/informal-learning-an-intervew-with-jay-cross

Mayer, R. E. (2005). Cognitive theory of multimedia learning. The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning, 41, 31-48.

Miller, D. (1981). The ‘Sandwich’ Generation: Adult Children of the Aging. Social Work 26, 419–423.

Thalheimer, W. (2017). Definition of microLearning.

www.worklearning.com/2017/01/13/definition-of-microlearning/

Tufan, D. (2021). Multimedia Design Principles for Microlearning. In Microlearning in the Digital Age (pp. 58-79). Routledge.


The Digital Skills GitBook project: creating an open-source online guide for researchers and the broader academic community

By Dr Sara King, Training and Engagement Lead, AARNet (Australia’s Academic & Research Network); and members of the GitBook project group

It is of critical importance that publicly funded institutions create open knowledge that is available to everyone. So we’re embarking on an adventure to create the Digital Skills GitBook. It will be a living, open-source online guide to ‘modern not-quite-technical computer skills’ for researchers, library staff, and academics, ideally written in a way that will be accessible for everyone. In the spirit of Open Science, the contents of the book are being created so that they will be accessible to all levels of an inquiring society; amateur or professional.  

A figurine of an oktokat in the center, in the background a laptop with the main page of the GitHub open.
Photo by Roman Synkevych on Unsplash

CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Champions and their communities have set out to create an online book using static web technology on the GitBook platform. Utilising the connected GitHub notification system, creators and users can submit content, flag issues, and ask questions related to the format and the content via GitHub. The continuing maintenance of the book, to adapt to the ever-changing requirements for updates, is designed to encourage participation as an essential part of the process of creating a truly community-created resource.   

Our progress so far:

  • We submitted a proposal to CAUL with the help of their new Director of Strategy & Analytics, Kate Davis. They approved our project brief and we were launched.  
  • We attended ARDC GitHub training – on Zoom! This was a 3.5-hour workshop where our patient instructors, Matthias and Liz, showed us how to create a repository, how to edit our GitBook ‘from the back end’ in GitHub, and how to make sure that we shared all of our adventures with each other in one space.  
  • We created a test private GitHub repository and GitBook – sharing recipes, recording our steps as we went. This is a place where we could experiment and fail, and help each other.  We learned some important lessons here without damaging our main project! For example – don’t delete branches …  

How we are collaborating:

  • Members from WA all the way to NZ attend fortnightly meetings over Zoom to discuss our progress, barriers, workarounds, and how we can spread the word to our wider communities. 
  • We are making the most of a wide variety of systems and channels to keep track of our progress – Slack, Teams, CloudStor, GitHub issues log, and email.  This is extending our capabilities in digital communication, collaboration and participation – together with stretching our brains! 

Still to come:

  • We have SO MANY new concepts to learn – slugs, merges, pull requests, static web technology… it’s exciting!  
  • We are creating our strategy and content plan, and developing a chapter outline (one idea is to use CAUL’s Digital Dexterity Framework categories as chapter headings to make it relevant for our library communities). 
  • We’re even planning to present at VALA 2022! 
  • We want to extend the project beyond the Digital Dexterity Champions network, to others in our library and university communities. 

This project is part of our own push towards Digital Dexterity and using some of the attributes outlined in the framework, such as agility, collaboration and creativity, in order to produce a useful resource for our broader communities and their own Digital Dexterity. If we get it right, it’ll be a win-win! 

If you are interested in learning more about the Digital Skills GitBook project, please contact sara.king@aarnet.edu.au

Digital Dexterity Educators: a platform to share digital dexterity resources

By Kelly George, Academic and Research Librarian, Charles Darwin University Library

Ever needed some inspiration, a quick activity, or a handy infographic?

Where do you go to look for activities, lesson plans, handouts, and anything else related to the teaching and learning of digital dexterity?

As library professionals, many of us in the Digital Dexterity (DigiDex) Champions network use OER repositories like Merlot and OER Commons to get ideas and supplement our teaching materials. However, with the development of the Champions network we wanted to encourage the sharing of our own resources, relevant to our context, and to raise the profile of the work that we do as educators in the Australian and New Zealand tertiary sector.

Which platform?

There was no one place already established where we could easily find and share resources. We asked ourselves: what features do we need in a resource sharing platform? What is most important to the Champions network?

One of the most important things that emerged was openness – you wouldn’t need a log in to browse or download the resources, and it would be accessible to anyone, not just the Champions network.

In fact, we developed a long list of desired features and set forth to identify the platform that best matched our needs. OER Commons came out on top, with its ethos of Explore. Create. Collaborate, and it enabled easy upload, licensing, tagging, and version history. ISKME (the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education) designed OER Commons to be much more than a simple online repository of OER; it is also a collaboration and teaching platform and aims to involve educators in a sustainable culture of sharing and continuous improvement.

The Digital Dexterity Educators group

You may already be aware of OER Commons, but what you may not know is that we have created a group on the platform which gathers together relevant resources for the Australian and New Zealand tertiary sector. We can also add to the group any resources already published on OER Commons that we think useful. To become a member of the group and to upload or add a resource, you do need to create an account, but this is a simple process. On the OER Commons website, click on the Sign in/Register button as indicated by the first arrow in the below image.

Screenshot from www.oercommons.org of the top menu banner to indicate with two arrows and corresponding text boxes where to 1. click to register for an account and where to 2. click to search for groups on the website

Find the Digital Dexterity Educators group, and others, by clicking on groups (as indicated by the second arrow in the image above) and then see all groups (in the ellipse in the below image). For a quick search, try popping our tag, MyDigiDex, into the search box to find resources added by the DigiDex Champions. You can also search for Digital Dexterity Educators to find us (second image below).

Screenshot from www.oercommons.org of the top menu banner to indicate with an ellipse where to click to search for groups on the website
Screenshot from www.oercommons.org to indicate with an arrow where to search for 'Digital Dexterity Educators' in Groups on the website

After clicking on the Digital Dexterity Educators group, anyone involved or interested in promoting digital dexterity can join the group so please go ahead, explore the site, and add yourself as a member (see image below).

Screenshot from https://www.oercommons.org/groups/digital-dexterity-educators/5554/ to indicate with an ellipse where to join the 'Digital Dexterity Educators' group on the website

Here’s a taste of what you’ll find posted in the group: from Curtin University Library, we have the comprehensive 23 Things for Digital Knowledge; from Queensland University of Technology Library, the in-depth modules of AIRS – Advanced Information Research Skills, and from Griffith University Library, the handy digital dexterity tool designed for self-assessment.

Share and share alike

A vital feature of the platform is the ability to assign a Creative Commons (CC) licence. Adding a CC licence to a resource enables us to reuse, adapt, and share resources without having to ask permission. If you are creating resources, or adapting existing resources, consider sharing them with your community of fellow educators. The process for adding or uploading a resource is easy—contact your DigiDex Champion, or leave a comment in this blog post, if you have any questions at all.

Image depicting the CC BY SA licence logo

We recommend assigning a CC BY SA license to your resource whenever possible—find the Guidelines for Licensing Learning Objects for Re-use with Creative Commons on the Digital Dexterity Educators group.

Maybe you could set this as your ‘digital dexterity’-goal for 2021. Let’s see how many resources we can share by December!

So get creative, review your copyright literacy, and start adding resources to the Digital Dexterity Educators group on OER Commons.

Note: All screenshots are from OER Commons where the content is licensed under CC BY NC SA 4.0