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!


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!  

Day 2 of Championing the Digital Dexterity Framework Virtual Festival – Champion’s Report back from Wellbeing in educational contexts

By Kassie Dmitrieff, Academic Engagement Librarian UNSW Library and Digital Dexterity Champion, k.dmitrieff@unsw.edu.au 

Session 1Wellbeing, Disrupted

The first session for the day was an engaging workshop held by Adrian Stagg, Susan Carter, and Cecily Andersen of University of Southern Queensland (USQ). 

To start here are my key takeaways from this session:

  • The interactivity of this session was amazing, it’s really worth getting to know your options for engaging your audience with the shift to online presentations.  
  • There is value in committing time to wellbeing in the workplace as a manager rather than expecting your employees to take it upon themselves.
  • Behaviours need to be modelled by managers who encourage and foster healthy habits in their employees and trust them to know what works best.

Open Educational Resources in Australia

Now a little bit more about how I got to these takeaways. The presenters for this session are the team behind the textbook ‘Wellbeing in Educational Contexts’ which I consider a hallmark in what an Open Educational Resource (OER) can look like. I have found the Australian tertiary education arena to be reticent to engage with OERs. This is not to say that libraries aren’t all over OERs for example I have even had the experience of making a LibGuide to already existing resources to guide our academics some years ago. I just look around and don’t see uptake in these resources in Australian universities. The Digital Dexterity Champions aim to create and share resources in an open way so I am so sure you will hear more and more from us on this topic in the months to come. 

Wellbeing During COVID-19 and Beyond

 a screenshot of one of the Mentimeter questions from session one that features a picture of a field of wildflowers and underneath that the question ‘What is well-being?’ followed by a free-form text box for participants to enter their responses. These were then discussed by presenters and used to frame the next part of the presentation

The session itself covered not only reflections on OERs and the creation of the textbook, but the research that the group has carried out about how wellbeing has been constructed up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were multiple opportunities for attendees to participate along with the presenters, including Mentimeter questions and breakout room discussions. 

The discussion I wanted to share was from the first breakout room where we were asked:  What does wellbeing in the workplace actually look and feel like – and how do we measure it? One of the people in my breakout room shared that: “after the experiences of COVID19 – what was evident was that WFH [work from home] contributed hugely to staff wellbeing”. The measurement being that staff took less sick days, and there was a huge increase in work output. This mirrors my experience, and I would like to challenge library managers to aim for true flexibility in their ongoing arrangements with staff in ‘COVID-normal’.

Session 2 – Reframing OER practice

Session 2 was a focused session from Adrian Stagg on what has worked and hasn’t worked about the grants structure for OER content creation and utilisation at USQ. The session included more interactive elements that allowed us as the audience to provide feedback to Adrian about what we thought about the process – including what doesn’t work about grants, followed by a deep dive into case studies of OER creation and the community backbone required for successful, ongoing, meaningful adoption and engagement of OERs. 

My key takeaway from this session was more simple: How to use your position in the library to encourage OER adoption in tertiary education? Start small and get some wins, know who to share the wins with to make them want more!

Asking the Right Questions 

I’m going to be selfish in this part of the post to talk about the question that I asked Adrian during the Q&A. I asked:

“Would you have any advice on how to present OERs to the rest of your institution? The library can only control so much with regards to learning resources – it would make my job so much easier if the chancellery mandated OER use! or encouraged it at all really”.

And Adrian responded that the budget crunch we are all under due to the pandemic is a perfect opportunity to highlight the limitations of subscribed online resources, especially examples where your institution had to buy multiple user access to textbooks at short notice. It helps to have these extraordinary examples to draw from to underscore the problems we have faced in the traditional publishing system. It’s not that OERs are all about the money – but this is often the bridge to understanding that administrators need. 

Looking Ahead 

The day made a huge impact on me, I will certainly be revisiting both OERs and workplace wellbeing as the year unfolds and we see if the positive changes we were able to make during 2020 are able to be carried into 2021. 


DigiDex – Championing the CAUL Digital Dexterity Framework – Day 2, Tuesday 2 February 2021

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