Sunday, July 18, 2010

My take on the Dunedin Digital Strategy

I sent my submission to the Dunedin Digital Strategy on Friday.

I am very supportive of the Strategy and very excited about the prospects for Dunedin.

Digital skills
The main points I tried to make in my submission are that we need to think beyond machinery and free Internet access. We have to understand how people learn digital skills. A new report about digital literacy is just about to be published by Bronwyn Hegarty and Merrolee Penman - I was one of the research participants - which confirms what I have come to understand...that one size does not fit all, and that people will learn digital skills when and where it suits them ie they have to have a reason for learning a particular has to have a relevance to them. The Strategy has to reflect this by moving beyond the provision of drop-in centres.

Community focused and community led
My second point is that the various projects need to be community focused. By this I mean, it must meet community needs which are defined by the community. But more important, we need to move away from thinking about delivering content to the community. I take the view that the community should be developing it's own content. Dunedin is already doing only have to look at what's happening in Flickr to see this. I firmly believe that if the community feels it is owning what happening, the projects will be sustained beyond the their official end date.

Open content
One of the keys to this will be to make content open and published under a Creative Commons licence. Dunedin is well situated to follow the example of the Australian government and develop the Dunedin portal under Creative Commons, as well as as publish all DCC documents as CC.

Making the most of what we already have
I have gone on and on a bit in my submission but my third main point is that we need to make the most of what we have in terms of people who are already doing great work in the digital world here in Dunedin, as well as the online networks and communities of practice. You only have to look at people such as Wayne Mackintosh (Wikieducator) and the Otago Polytechnic Educational Development Centre who is leading open education with the free, open courses such as 'Facilitating Online'. There's also myself and the chaps at the University of Otago who are developing expertise in virtual worlds.

Network Weaver
Having said that I think the projects should be community-led, I appreciate you need project managers that support the projects. I feel very strongly that whoever leads the various projects should be embedded in the online world so they fully understand what the issues are and how to address them. One role I have suggested in my submission is that of network weaver - I LOVE this term. A network weaver is someone who brings networks together to strengthen networks and strategically bring people together.

There you have it. My submission is a bit wordy, but here's the original if you're interested in reading the full document. I have indicated that I will speak to my submission on Monday 26th July. I have never done anything like this before, so it will be a nerve-wracking learning experience. I'll let you know how I get on.

PS: Here is the submission by Dr Samual Mann who has made similar points (although in a far more articulate way than me) - he stresses the potential for the DCC to use web 2.0 for increased dialogue with the public and transparency of processes.

Hegarty, B., Penman, M., Coburn, D. , Jeffrey, L. , Kelly, O., & McDonald, J. (2010). Digital Information Literacy: Supported Development of Capability in Tertiary Environments. Final report for Ministry of Education Tertiary eLearning Research Fund (TeLRF), New Zealand.


Floyd Wilde said...

Thanks for writing about this Sarah. "Digital Literacy" is the big thing on my mind these days.

This "one size does not fit all" is interesting, I think it's very true that people need to have a reason to learn certain technology skills.

Still it seems like there are some fundamentals people are missing, not that I can exactly articulate what they are. Is this something you might be covering in Facilitating Online 2010?

Sarah Stewart said...

What do you think is missing, Floyd? Can I recommend you have a chat with Bronwyn Hegarty (Bronwyn.Hegarty(at) - digital literacy is her baby.

Digital literacy comes into our conversation...after all, you can't facilitate anything online if the people you work with are completely digitally illiterate.

Paul Matthews said...

Hi Sarah.

NZCS's submission is here:

Many of the same points.

Paul Matthews said...

(Or as a shortened URL...

Sarah Stewart said...

Thanks Paul...will you be talking to the submission next Monday?

Paul Matthews said...

Hi Sarah,

Yup, we'll be there!

Sarah Stewart said...

Look forward to seeing you then and continuing the conversation :)

Floyd said...

What is missing when approaching teaching digital literacy?

The thing that comes to mind is teaching people the critical skills they need to evaluate information they find online. We all do this, but no one seems to talk about. At least not to me they don't. I guess it's analysis skills.

Thats just one thing that comes to mind, I will be looking at yours and Paul's submissions with interest.