As “The Digital” becomes a headline theme in many institutions I have been thinking about ways in which it can usefully be split into high-level areas so that various lines of activity and discussion don’t become confused. For my institution, the University of the Arts, I’m proposing the following three areas which I believe map quite well to existing groups/units/services within the university (although there are healthy overlaps). I was tempted to neaten this into a nice diagram but thought it was better to capture it before succumbing to the desire to squeeze out the blurry edges. The result is three key areas:
Digital – Culture
- “Resident” online behaviours – co-presence
- Teaching and learning
- ‘Open’ scholarship and research
- Identity and visibility
- Discursive – collaborative – communal
Digital – Medium
- Digital as a medium for expression and critique
- Digital ‘making’
- Design – graphic, fashion, architecture etc
- Video, photography – ‘native’ practices
- Digital in the context of the disciplines
- Both “Resident” and “Visitor” modes
Digital – Service
- “Visitor” modes online – leaves no social trace
- Access – connectivity
- Storage – curation
I’ve arrived at these three areas by bringing together the perspectives of colleagues who are invested in differing aspects of the digital. So it’s a group effort with a modicum of ‘clustering’ added by me.
Overarching these areas for me are two principles which I believe should be fundamental to all of our digital activities:
- How does the activity proposed foster belonging?
- How does the activity proposed reduce anxiety?
Both of those could be condensed into “increase confidence” and both of them apply to students *and* staff. Obviously there are many nuances hiding in these principles, such as the idea that good pedagogy will often require all involved to take risks. Having said that, I feel that anxiety is now a default state and we need to reduce ‘bad’ anxiety before we can be constructive with risk taking.
One thought on “Digital as… Culture, Medium, Service”
Susan August 12, 2016
I like Mason’s idea of safe uncertainty as a way to balance anxiety and risk. One person’s creative space is another student’s chaotic nightmare. We all have positive states of peak riskiness…where we can thrive (rather than simply survive). I think for academics this space is called August! A space to think and reflect.