Rounding out the first block of 23 Things….next up: accessibility.
This is a topic that’s on my mind most days, as I’m working on content for courses in higher education. With that in mind, I wanted to go in a different direction and explore the features of a smartphone. They were fairly easy to locate on my phone, and divided into three main groups: vision, hearing, and dexterity & interaction. I was surprised at how many options are built into the phone. For those who are not familiar with various features and options, there is extra text that explains what they are and how to activate them. I thought that TTS option for reading articles might come in handy, so I activated it.
One last thought…since the topics align, I’m giving a shoutout to the new accessibility.umn.edu site, designed by some of my colleagues. It’s chock full of resources for instructors, course designers, and web developers. One of the helpful articles talks about planning for accessibility from the start (of a course, in this case) but could be applied to a project that you might be working on now.
Diversity in online spaces is one component of the long-running debate about technology and neutrality. The resources for Thing 5 illustrated this idea in different ways.
Paige Tutt described the use of multicultural emojis as a new means for individuals to spread racist messages online:
The emoji are being used to make racist comments on social media and insert questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have arisen before. Instead of correcting its mistake — excluding people of color from emoji — Apple has, in some ways, made the situation worse.
Technology can never be predictive, only descriptive. It reflects our human nature – all of our inherently marvelous and unfavorable qualities. As our societies around the world creep towards higher use of data to make decisions, it’s important that we take a step back and ask critical questions about how the data is gathered, analyzed, and displayed. Dr. Alvaro Bedoya illustrates how unexamined biases exist in data:
Digital security is the topic of Thing 4 in the 23 Things course. Our activities included running through a scan of the permissions that the apps on our phones and/or devices use to see if any surprising info turned up. I went through a few of my phone’s apps and none of the settings stood out as unusual: I typically look at them prior to making the decision as to whether or not to use a particular service. Although it made me wonder what and why exactly each app needed access to particular components of the phone. I went through my Facebook settings and revoked privileges to a small handful of other platforms.
There was also a bonus activity that called for creating an about me page. Good timing as this is part of the digital presence revamp I’ve been meaning to get to for a while now. My own About page is very short, and doesn’t give much of a picture of what I do, etc. I bookmarked 99U’s post that discussed how to write an ‘About Me’ page. It has some exercises and examples for inspiration. Before I move on to the next Thing, I plan to update the page.
At first, I was a bit puzzled as to how the two activities linked together. It was not until I was ready to schedule this post and looked again at the fence image in the header that it started to sink in for me. Digital security and crafting the story about your online identity/es are about controlling access. Is it always appropriate to openly share all aspects of your life all the time? Probably not. Thinking back to the previous Thing, part of your digital footprint entails making intentional choices about how and why you are using particular services, including the types of information that you post.
Thing 3 in our course relates to the topic of digital footprints: the trails that we leave in place during our online excursions. These could take the form of photos, profiles, and comments on social media sites. The course resources listed a few videos, an e-Professionalism guide for students, and a case study (super interesting read) for us to consider. I wanted to see what other resources were out in the wild, and came across this great TEDx talk by Michelle Clark, an instructor at the UCLA Freud Playhouse. Her spoken word poetry about digital footprints is excellent.
What happens when I put my name into a Google search? Thanks to the SEO results of my institution, my work profile page is the first item that appears. I really can’t take any credit for this…those pages will likely always rank higher than my personal content. Other URL results…of the eight listed on the first page, six tie back to content that is associated with me.
Google Maps shows that I share a name with a local MD, and Google Images brings up many non-related content…some of which is a bit sketchy. A few of the images from my blog posts appear as well as the avatar I currently use across most web platforms.
What do I want to take away from this Thing? I re-read the action plan section of the case study and found that either consciously or unconsciously, at some point/s in the past I made decisions on how/when to use various social media platforms. For now, I don’t plan to make any changes to my current usage patterns. I don’t have a schedule outlined as to when to run another name search, so that is something that I could plan to do on a regular basis.
The ’23 things’ course title makes me think of Thing One and Thing Two from Dr. Suess’ stories. While searching for images to accompany this post, I remembered that my child had a lot of fun making buttons at camp this summer. (Thing 1 button was made and given to a friend.) Thanks, Alex, for your creativity and willingness to share your artwork!
Our Thing 2 called for us to create a blog to house our work throughout the course. If I was just getting started with blogging, I think this would have been a serious stumbling block. It’s scary to put yourself on the web, even if you might be your only audience. Fortunately, our course instructors outlined a few great pointers to keep in mind, such as blogging as a way to keep track of events, helping to impact professional development, sharing ideas and knowledge among a community of like-minded souls. For me, reading others’ blogs was my foray into edtech. I was familiar with Mike Wesch, and slowly my PLN grew and expanded. Long before I started my grad program, folks like Audrey Watters, Alan Levine, Jim Groom, and many, many others taught me about the history of the internet, the web, and educational technology – all through their blog posts.
As I move into year two of my grad program, I would like to find ways via my blog posts and digital presence that I can join ongoing conversations, meet other scholars with similar interests, and find students and/or researchers who may be interested in working on joint research projects. This is one of the main reasons why I am taking part in the 23 Things course. I see that there is a syndication of community blogs on the 23 Things site, so hopefully I will be able to connect with others throughout the course. Off to leave some comments…
For some reason, a ladder metaphor popped into my mind as a good way to kick off the 23 Things exploration.
Thing #1 featured a short video intro (view it below), the course FAQs, and a call to familiarize ourselves with our respective institutions’ social media policies. I wandered over to the University of Minnesota’s home page to find out if we have policies specifically related to social media. A general “social media” search yielded many results, mostly specific to departmental news items. The item that looked to be most relevant was from University Relations, and discussed how to manage the UMN brand. So not really applicable for this case, seeing as I am looking for resources that would give me some direction for personal social media use as it relates to my ‘student and staff’ personas. After looking through a few more search terms, I was not able to easily find anything. I am only partially surprised about this, but am curious what (if any) conversations might be taking place around campus on this topic.
One of the big items I have had on my to-do list for too long has been to take a serious look at my digital spaces and outposts around the web. While I had great intentions of using the #indieweb POSSE method and related tools, in reality they are a bit tricky to use on a consistent basis for those of us who don’t have a deep and broad knowledge of the admin side of various systems.
Over the course of the next few months, from now until early December, I’ll be taking part in a UK-based course entitled 23 Things. The course is divided into small chunks that will introduce us participants to a range of digital tools for personal and professional development in various areas of our lives whether that’s as academics, researchers, students, etc.
I’m planning to use each of the Things to take a deeper look at my digital presence with the goal of gradually re-evaluating and redesigning it. I’m particularly inspired by Laura Gogia’s thoughtful work in this area: if you are not familiar with her, pop over to her blog and website and prepare to be amazed. I spent several enjoyable hours last Sunday reading about Connected Courses, Collaborative Curiosity, and the dissertation that resulted from those (and other) courses.