Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Mapping Digital Spaces: Where You Go Determines How You Grow

I love my PLN.  As an instructional technology coach and an adjunct professor I am continuously on the hunt for new ideas and ways to reach more students and teachers. Recently I participated in an #ISTETEN Twitter chat on Student Voices and Future Visions which included everyone from professors, coaches, teachers and pre-service teachers.  During the chat a question was presented about student voice and what we learn when we listen to students. This led to the idea of students mapping their use of the Internet.  Some professors have students map their professional learning networks, others ask students to map digital spaces that they frequent. This idea was fascinating to me.

In 2001 Marc Prensky coined the phrases "Digital Natives" and "Digital Immigrants" essentially stating that your age determined how comfortable you were with using the Internet. He explained that students born after a certain time frame were more comfortable with digital tools and that those born prior needed to learn this new language in order to engage students. This concept held for a long time but education evolved to include technology and social media and this notion seemed to lose some of it's stronghold.

More recently David White has explored the idea of "Visitors" vs. "Residents" in which habits continuously shift between personal and professional web usage that contain quick in-and-out type of tasks to more permanent actions where we communicate and leave digital traces of ourselves for others to find. It's this notion that has me thinking about how I spend my time online. I can't say that the analysis of my map are surprising, but I still enjoyed creating the visual:



I have to admit I was surprised that the vast majority of my time online is spent in a professional capacity. Although I'm consciously aware of this, seeing it on paper was quite different than simply thinking about it.  I spend very little "resident" time for personal endeavors, essentially in "visitor" mode for quick tasks while I spend equal amounts of time professionally in visitor and resident mode. Mapping such as this can fit into so many different categories. It is a great way to explain (and reinforce) digital tattoos.  It provides a positive example for students of how the Internet can expand your knowledge base and offer a sense of community. It also opens up a discussion when comparing maps between classmates about the how and why we frequent certain sites. 

Data maps come in a range of formats with no one way that is correct.  Some choose to draw these by hand (I started on paper and then completed my map in Google Draw) while others like to color-code them as well digitally.  My map will evolve as my career evolves and my PLN focus changes.  For now, I'm happy with the digital presence that I have and knowing that where I go *is* helping me grow. I look forward to adding this as an assignment for my graduate students' PLN project.   

Many thanks to @zeitz and @robert_schuetz for sharing what they did with mapping during the #ISTETEN Twitter chat. It is because of that conversation that I mapped my digital spaces.  Check out their work here: 




Post Script:
I've asked my graduate students to complete this assignment recently.  Following are their maps for reference:

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