I’m looking forward to starting my project. So pleased I could pick something that really interests me! It makes such a difference. Can’t wait to start exploring this! I wonder if anyone I know has explored this topic. How could I find out? Could I tap in to the knowledge of my own connections and those people they are connected to? Can I actually do this? And what if I have any questions. Who could help me?”
Reflection and Link to my Practice
I would love to be teaching this student! Although my students are very competent users of social media, they do not consider using it for their learning or professional development. To try and address this and explore it further I have carried out the Visitors and Residents (V&R) mapping process with my students. The V&R paradigm provides a simple framework for considering how digital resources are used both socially and in education and/or professional life (White and Le Cornu, 2011). The V&R mapping process prompts students (and staff) to examine all of the digital resources they use and reflect on how they use them. I make extensive use of our Blackboard Learn VLE with both on-campus and distance learning students; however the traditional VLE has its limitations, in particular it is very compartmentalised, in that it is somewhere students ‘go’ to study. I ran V&R mapping workshops with two cohorts of 8 students of postgraduate students to get a deeper understanding of whether students like this separation of education and social activities or whether they would prefer a seamless connection between all their digital activities.
Maps produced by some of these students are available under the Developing Digital Literacies tab on this blog. Some of the main outcomes from the discussion were:
• VLE: Students only used the discussion board or other chat tools when they were prescribed for assessed activities.
• The majority of both cohorts had Linked In accounts, but in general these were not used or up to date.
• Neither cohort used Twitter for their studies, two students from cohort 2 used Twitter socially
• The majority of both cohorts had Facebook accounts which they used extensively in a social context
• Some students had set up their own Facebook groups within study groups to share ideas/ resources / information with peers. These groups were initiated by the students with no involvement of academic staff.
• Most students recognised that they were distracted by social media whilst they were carrying out study activities online
• Most students felt that they did not make the best use of technology in either learning or promoting their professional identity
The V&R model was an effective mechanism to engage with a new cohort, encouraging discussion on how and why particular tools and technologies are used, and prompting reflection on digital profiles and the steps that could be taken to promote a more positive digital identity.