Developing new forms of online practice

One of the things I really excited about in my new institutional based role is being able to be part of projects, instead of just watching and commenting on what other people do.  When I spied the HEA’s  Developing New forms of online practice in the disciplines: the challenges of web residency call I thought it might be the perfect opportunity for me to start working with colleagues here at GCU on a small externally funded project.

From a personal point of view I was attracted to the call firstly because it was an area that I am interested in, secondly it was a 500 word proposal and didn’t involve a huge time commitment and thirdly and more importantly I saw this as a way for me to start some engagement with our students about digital identity and start to get a better understand of their perceptions of this aspect of digital literacy.

I knew Evelyn McElhinney and her work in virtual worlds, and developing professional practice online via twitter before I started working here and so felt that there could be potential us to do “a wee project” .  I’ve followed Dave White’s development of the digital visitors and residents metaphor with interest and felt that the visitors and residents mapping methodology would (and this is probably the key part of our proposal) provide a relatively simple way for our students to:

“to begin to articulate and understand their online engagement in the context of their continuing personal and professional development. Effective online engagement is particularly relevant to health care professionals, who are bound by professional codes of ethics. The increasing use of social media for professional and public engagement requires them to develop understanding of the interactions between professional and personal spaces.Insight gained from the mapping exercise will also feed into the development of our curriculum designs, technology provision and support.”

I’m also hoping that once we finished this pilot project, we can then run similar workshops within the other two schools here, and develop the process to help us support our students and also get greater insight to where, why, how and when they interact online.

I’ll keep you posted here as the project develops. Just now we are looking forward to meeting the other successful projects on 12th February and finding out more about the mapping activity.  This video from David explains it in more detail.


  1. Thanks for posting this, Sheila. It’s great to hear about the work you and Evelyn are planning. I’ll follow your project progress — particularly keen to hear how the students use and interpret the V&R mapping. I have shared the V&R metaphor with students, and we’ve discussed it, particularly in relation to the Digital Natives/Immigrants metaphor, but have not done the mapping exercise. As you say, this could be very useful in increasing awareness of, and developing, digital literacies.

    I’m in the early stages of a research project on digital identity practices in open online (learning) spaces. I’ll be exploring how educators and students construct and negotiate identities — social, pedagogical, professional, civic — in the open online spaces in which they interact. This touches on many areas of theory (which is where I am dwelling at the moment!) but I’ll soon be defining the research methodology. We can possibly share ideas then — would like to keep in touch, anyway. Best of luck!

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