By Dr Karen Miller, Coordinator, Learning Success, Curtin University
There’s no doubt that 2020 was a rollercoaster year, as we zoomed up and down steep, pandemic-shaped learning curves, one after the other. For myself and my colleagues at Curtin University Library, implementing a new student program added to the wild ride.
’23 Things’ is Curtin Library’s online digital dexterity program that was essentially created by students, for students. It is an open, shareable resource that can be easily re-used and adapted. In this post, I’ll tell you a bit about it, and how it came about.
What is 23 Things?
I’m sure many of you are familiar with the 23 Things model for online learning. The first 23 Things was created in 2006 as a professional development activity for library staff. Regular blog posts introduced participants to a different digital technology each week, and invited them to try it out and to share their thoughts. Since then, hundreds of 23 Things programs have been developed and adapted to suit a variety of audiences and contexts.
Curtin’s version of 23 Things
After consultations and environmental scans to ascertain the best approach to help our students develop digital competency, Curtin Library decided to adopt the 23 Things model. We initially intended to simply re-use and adapt the excellent (and open) version from Edinburgh University.
However, when some HEPPP funding became available, the project became incorporated into the Library’s ‘students as partners’ program. We employed a diverse group of students to create new content including interactive activities, videos and infographics. Bringing student voices to the forefront and fostering a peer to peer learning approach brought unique perspectives to the program and helped make the content relatable and accessible as our student partners shared their knowledge and experience.
We then collaborated with the Library Makerspace to build engagement with participants. Our student partners developed and delivered face-to-face workshops with hands-on activities to complement the 23 Things topics, and during the pandemic lockdown worked hard to translate them into the virtual realm (not an easy task). We also encouraged participants to share in the Curtin Makers Facebook Group with our weekly Creative Challenges.
As if that wasn’t enough, we decided to experiment with “transmedia storytelling”, a communication method which involves developing a story using multiple digital platforms. We felt this would be a good way to bolster conceptual learning and illustrate how digital skills could be applied in a workplace context. Using the fictional characters and narrative developed in Curtin Library’s online referencing game Certitude, we used weekly blogs, comics and tweets to weave the ‘things’ into a story, replete with office dramas such as copyright violations, accounts being hacked and computer meltdowns.
Reflections and next steps
While we had a lot of fun creating the content and engaging with participants, the 23 Things program (2020 version) wasn’t perfect. With the many different elements involved, we didn’t achieve the ideal of a seamless, integrated learning experience. However, our approach was intentionally experimental, testing different ideas to see how they landed. We gathered a lot of data and feedback that we are now using to improve the program for its second iteration in 2021.
This year, 23 Things is part of Curtin Extra, the University’s extra-curricular credentials program, while also remaining open to anyone in the community who would like to participate. We’re interested in finding out how best to keep participants actively engaged and how best to assess and demonstrate learning and impact.
23 Things can be re-used and adapted
Our 23 Things program has been licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-SA). Each module or ‘thing’ has been created as a single H5P file, and thus is very easy to download, re-use and modify. The resource is available from the Digital Dexterity Educators Group on OER Commons, and I hope to add some supporting resources in the near future, including a document that maps each module to the CAUL Digital Dexterity framework. If anyone would like to find out more or have a chat about the program, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or on Twitter @infoliterati .