Action For Digital Literacy : Part One

The Observation

‘How Do We Become Digital?’ ~ Question to the panel at Learning Live 2017

‘I feel like I’ve been sent back in time 20 years, because this is the same question that’s been asked in every conference for years; how are we going to move from traditional classroom to digital learning?” ~ Julian Wragg : Pluralsight

Does this sound familiar to you? Whether you were at the event or not, we (that is myself and Martin Couzins) think Julian’s right. His comment, and versions of it, have been circulating for years. Yet we have the right strategies, we have the right people (don’t we?), and increasingly, we have the right tools. Why is change not happening?

We think that one of the reasons is deceptively simple. There’s too much focus on the big picture, the grand plan, and insufficient investment in the small daily steps which progress you to your goal. Secondary to that we also get a sense that people are reluctant to experiment. We hear a lot of talk around creativity and innovation – much less obvious is the practice required to turn talk into action.

The Conversation

Martin and I sought agreement from The LPI to surface this challenge at their recent Chief Learning Officer / Learning Provider Connect network event. We chose to do this by briefly presenting the above challenge, before inviting a conversation to identify perceived barriers. We separated these blockers into three sets; Business, Technology, Human and Behavioural. People talked and scribbled. Then Martin and I gave some instant curated feedback to the group (you can see the full set of slides and conversation notes here Action for Digital Literacy Nov 2017). Then, because we want to turn talking into doing, we invited everyone to an experiment. A two week digital sprint.

The Experiment

We are currently running a two week digital sprint on Slack. We are experimenting with two main threads. The first focuses on accountability and responsibility. People are encouraged to list daily actions, which may or may not feed into goals running across the sprint. At the end of each day, a check back on those actions is carried out to note progress and sticking points. This process carries on through the sprint, with an overarching weekly review and preview. The second thread is about tools and techniques. People are encouraged to explore tools and techniques of their choosing – with the aim of getting something done. It could be a specific digital challenge, and it doesn’t have to be. That’s up to you, the participant. Our intention is simply to create the space to play, and some very light guidance. Above all, the process is invitational and experimental. No one is holding you to account, except yourself…if you want to!

The Start

At the event approximately 30 people indicated they would take part by way of a show of hands. 9 people who were at the event subsequently accepted the invitation, and we had a further 3 enquiries via Twitter and another random enquiry as the news began to leak out. Currently, including Martin and me there are 11 people in the experiment, most of whom have progressed beyond signing up, though simply watching is fine too.

In a way – this initial narrowing of numbers supports our notion that there’s plenty of talk, much less desire to take action.

What Next?

We will run the experiment for two weeks as planned, then we’ll pause for review. I expect we’ll keep the channel open during the review but we’re not sure yet. We’ll report back and offer up suggestions around what we might do next. Other blog posts may follow along the way, and in the meantime, if you’ve any questions – please drop us a line in the comments. Thank you!

Artist’s Footnote

The accompanying artwork to this post was painted live at a recent Workplace Trends conference. It was made using acrylic paint, a palette knife and brushes, onto a 75cm x 50cm linen canvas. The image was painted spontaneously in response to a speaker talking about the tension between the fast pace of technological change, and the glacial rate at which people seem able to adapt and change, a very similar theme to the LPI discussion.