Thursday, 15 February 2018

Growth - from roots to shoots

I recently saw a post on LinkedIn of someone looking for people to video themselves talking about where they came from and what jobs they started in to where they are now.  The individual wanted to inspire young people they work with to increase their awareness of the kinds of careers that are out there, the backgrounds/circumstances they started in and that there is no limit to what they can achieve.  It immediately caught my attention as this is a significant part of who I am, so I was immediately engaged with this.

I feel my journey is worth sharing given my slow start to my learning and career, so I thought I would have a go at this.  The following video is my short 'off the cuff' video that I recorded and passed on to the person to share with their learners.  I hope it inspires them to become a future 'me'.


A quick rundown:


My entire blog captures the journey I took through my learning, the challenges I have experienced and the things I have done to get where I am today.  I talk a lot about motivating and positioning yourself to achieve what you set out to, especially with careers.  Many of which are in the career development and personal development categories, so do look around. Below are similar videos that I have recorded a while ago and a blog post that may be of interest:

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Learning about my digital capabilities

Evolved have the days from just qualifying with word processing, ECDL and CLAiT.  There is much discussion, debate and initiatives around digital skills and how they are more important than ever for everyday life and in the workplace - now referred to as digital capabilities.  Digital capabilities are about how confident and competent you are in using digital tools and systems, to enable you to live and work in a digital world. In this post I review my own digital capabilities after participating in the Jisc Digital Discovery Tool pilot.  This tool assesses your digital capabilities across 15 elements and determines you as developing, capable or proficient based on your responses.  You are then given next steps and resources to support your development.

Digital ignorance?

Obviously I am a learning technologist, therefore my role heavily relies on digital skills.  However, I've not really assessed my own digital skills for quite some time.  Terrible isn't it!  Because I work with a lot of digital tools, systems and educate others on them, I must subconsciously assume I am some sort of supreme digital leader. 😜  Joking aside, just because I am a learning technologist it does not mean that I have all the digital skills anyone can have.  We may feel confident and competent and are highly creative and critical of digital tools and systems.  But to what degree is this true?  What are my opinions and views of my own digital capabilities?  It's really important to me and in my role as Digital Practice Adviser at NTU that I visibly recognise my strengths and weaknesses in order to continually develop to current digital practices.  There are areas in which I need to examine a bit closer to ensure appropriate plans and support are put in place to develop my digital skills.  Below is a graphic that illustrates my skills on the digital capabilities spectrum and following is an overview of what I feel about the outcomes.

Overview of outcomes


No particular surprise, but it appears I am digitally enabled and empowered.  However, it does not mean that I am at the top and there is no further progression and development.  There is always more and it never really ends!  New digital technologies emerge frequently and new techniques and practices emerge from these new tools.  At some point these digital skills I possess will either evolve or become redundant - scary thought!

I received proficient in most of the capability elements; Digital Innovation, Digital Identity Management, Digital Participation, Media Literacy, Digital Wellbeing, Digital Proficiency, Digital Collaboration, Digital Communication, Problem Solving, Digital Teaching and Digital Learning.  This is most likely because I am open and willing to try new digital technologies, proactive/self-supporting, data and online safety conscious and I collaborate digitally both in work and outside of work.  Whether that be working synchronously online on a work project or organising an outing with friends or family.  However, professionally on Twitter I do need to join more live conversations.  I do dip in and out of Twitter but I could be more socially engaged with it in speaking to my network.  I am very meticulous in refining and maintaining my digital identity, which is my blog (Google Blogger) and the subsequent channels; Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Scholar Citations and YouTube.  Digital Teaching is my expertise area; Technology Enhanced Learning and eLearning, so I would be concerned if I was lower than that.  Moreover, I am a highly competent digital learner which began with my Open University studying in 2009, that then transferred to my first learning technologist role that included developing and supporting blended and online programmes.

I was assessed as capable for Digital Productivity.  I obviously have strong digital skills but perhaps I am not exploiting the tools fullest potential when working on different tasks.  I received capable for Data Literacy and my understanding of this is that I am confident in analysing and interpreting data and representing it appropriately with graphics.  However, when finding and organising data I find this a more tricky task.  I usually work in Microsoft Excel and learn new formulas and functions to make it an easier process to organise data.  This is not a frequent task I carry out, but when I do I find that I have to remind myself of what to use and how - which requires internet searching and speaking to colleagues.  On the other hand I came out proficient for Information Literacy.  This is concerned with data management techniques and deciding how information is stored and where it is retrieved from.

Whilst labelled as proficient in Media Literacy, surprisingly I am capable for Digital Creation.  I am a very visual person and would like to represent explanations and descriptions with an image or graphic of some kind.  However, if I was assessed on the skills in creating graphics, perhaps this is a reason why it is visibly low.  I can create basic graphics and videos, however, it’s clear I need to invest some professional development in upskilling using creative software and perhaps stretch this to animations.  Whilst I am a learning technologist, I am less technical and more emphasised on the learning and creative aspects.  I could also perhaps explore mind mapping and sketching my notes.  Furthermore, these skills are highly desirable for any digitally creative role.

Where do I go from here?

As well as making my digital capabilities more visible to me, which I am going to take some time out to fully analyse.  Following my digital capability report, I have been provided with a bulk of resources and advice for each element which are helpful signposts to support.  However, to me all of this contributes to the broader and wider development of a modern professional learner/worker, as introduced by Jane Hart (C4LPT) - which is something I am highly interested in.  A modern professional learner/worker could be summarised by the following with digital tools and systems weaved alongside.  Perhaps I could apply/align my digital capabilities development to this and to further develop and expand on these areas.

  • Communicate and work efficiently, collaboratively and productively by using a range of digital apps and tools, to increase interaction and sharing amongst peers (Office 365, Google Docs, Skype, Whatsapp, Slack, Asana)
  • Use adaptable, compatible and reliable devices (laptop, tablet, mobile) to access digital content through apps and the internet
  • Exploit the potential of web browser features to enable the best experience of the internet (Google Chrome, Firefox)
  • Access internet resources to help solve a problem or find inspiration (YouTube, Wikipedia, TED, blogs)
  • Build a professional network through social media to discuss, share and collaborate (Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, Instagram)
  • Stay informed of news and trends and curation tools to store and share (Pinterest, Pearltrees, Padlet, Paper.li, Diigo, Delicious)
  • Capture notes, ideas and personal learning experiences and to possibly share openly (Google Keep, Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, PebblePad, blogs)
  • Maintain your digital content and organise in appropriate and meaningful ways using data management techniques (tagging, metadata)
  • Join and participate online courses to obtain new knowledge and skills on the job (FutureLearn, Lynda.com, Coursera, Khan Academy, Udemy, edX, Alison)

Since starting my Digital Practice Adviser role, I don't just support and develop academics, but research, leadership and management and administration roles.  I am now starting to critically think about the broader digital skills and attitudes of these type of roles.  As online collaboration amongst teams is becoming more of an essential expectation of workplace performance, this appears to have altered the way people access, store and retrieve their files.  As digital content and storage grows larger and larger and space smaller and smaller.  There is now emphasis on appropriately and meaningfully tagging files and objects to increase searchability and discoverability.  Therefore, this falls under the Information Literacy element.  I am heavily involved in a project the moment that is centered around this.  The project is about ensuring that the Virtual Learning Environment is being used for learning opportunities only.  Any other files and resources can be stored on other platforms, i.e SharePoint - all with the aim of informing decision making and improving efficiency and effectiveness of storing and accessing digital content.  Through this project I am able to explore further how I can develop new techniques and even transform my previous practices.

In my dissertation I stated that digital capabilities should not be approached as a checklist of specific things you can do, but to be treated as critical thinking and reflection on how digital tools and systems can be used in various contexts and situations.  So from this narrative I should practice what I am preaching and start to consciously be mindful of my own digital capabilities.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

What you can learn from P!nk

Let's talk about P!nk (Alecia Moore)...  There needs to be more recognition for the underdog woman that is P!nk and what she has achieved and stands for.  As a consistent and supportive fan since Get The Party Started, I want to share with you what you can learn from P!nk.  I wouldn't be in the position I am today without her being a guide on the side.  You can learn from yourself and others as you'll know, but it's also good to have a role model/idol to look upon from time to time.  To me P!nk provides this and more.  In this post I summarise why she is a great influence for building confidence.

Who Knew

She may be known for her 'diamond in the rough' persona, but actually she's very acute with her points of view.  P!nk represents a true underdog by being a multi-platinum artist, with little glorified recognition through her music, life and philanthropy.  P!nk enables you to listen to your emotions for you to reflect on your life and the choices you make.  Moreover, how you can reinvent yourself, create dreams and goals.  I'll not go into how much I love her, because it is apparent from my appreciation of her.

I understand her journey and her determination to become something better, which is similar to mine.  I'm really inspired by her own personal growth where she went basically from zero to hero.  Although she had ambitions of becoming a superstar she faced many personal challenges and obstacles.  She somehow overcame these and positively used them to scaffold her life and career.  She basically saw the light in the darkest of moments and found positivity and humour within them.  She honestly shares these experiences that eventually become songs that resonate with so many people.  That's another thing I love about her, she is straight to the point in speaking her truth.

Gary drew me this portrait of P!nk for my 30th birthday in 2016.  It's beautifully framed and is a possession that I hold very close to me.

A post shared by Gary Purdy (@gary_purdy) on

To me, ultimately the main reason she is successful is because she ensures that everything that she does is real and true to herself.  She doesn't appear to be anyone or anything else but herself.  This is the main reason for her success, because I feel that people can only truly relate to others' if they are being themselves.  Yes it's good to have props and add a bit of drama when performing, but essentially the person delivering needs to honour themselves to be accepted by the wider audience.

The following video shows P!nk accepting the BMI President’s Award for her outstanding achievement in songwriting and global impact on pop culture and the entertainment industry.


Most Girls


...are not the image that may be projected onto you.  You don't have to be all pretty in pink, long hair, adore make-up, be in a dress and play with dolls.  Most girls are quite the opposite, but that doesn't make them a boy or a freak.   Embrace how P!nk expresses herself the way she wants to be and feel.  You don't have to have the latest hair style or clothes, but whatever you feel comfortable with and reflects your personality.

Trouble

P!nk indefinitely tells us not to be afraid of going against the grain, even if it means disturbing others or your environment for the greater good.  She puts the fire in your belly that gives you the courage to tackle any problems you are facing.  May that be confronting bullies or dealing with the breakdown of a relationship.  She allows yo to open up your mouth and speak what is on your mind, even if it is brutally honest.  She helps you to harness the inner anger you are experiencing and use it towards a good fight.  Her emotional lyrics can help you anchor the emotions to plot a positive revenge that relieves in a fist pump in the air.  Be a fighter and fight for what you believe in!

Try

When you are down P!nk encourages you to get back up again.  No matter what the circumstance, whether it be a relationship or tackling a bit of study.  You can rely on P!nk to give you that push to confidence or seek the truth that resides in you.  Like watching one of her daring aerial performances, she inspires you to step outside of your comfort zone and try something new, despite it leading to success or failure you are left feeling you have made the effort and rest assured, feeling that you have tried rather than choosing not to.  Try to accept the knowledge and skills you have, even if you feel you're not good at using them.  Experience the rights and wrongs, make mistakes and take risks as these will help you to grow as a person.  It can be messy and frustrating at times, but with good intentions it can be rewarding.  Do what P!nk does and dare to challenge yourself!  Like when she recently took her acrobatics to a new height when she scaled a skyscraper to perform Beautiful Trauma at the American Music Awards of 2017.  But one of her most eloquent performances has to be Glitter In The Air at the Grammy Awards 2010 - as always, singing live while doing challenging choreography.

Don't Let Me Get Me

I don't think there's one human that has not judged others or themselves, it's a characteristic built within us.  We are humans and we will want to categorise things and in order to do that we must judge.  It's how we operate to make sense of things.  Sometimes I don't want to be a human because I know what negative things we're capable of doing.  P!nk teaches us to be as you are, even if you are afraid to be judged by others.  Conversely, she allows you to be playful with others, but be prepared to accept the same in return.  If you can give it you must be able to receive it or don't attempt to!

You'll irritate yourself sometimes, but don't let this get to you.  P!nk enables you to feel ok about your internal and external issues; looking and feeling different to others.  It's ok to not be perfect and just being you.  In her speech (video below) at the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards she told us exactly to "see different kinds of beauty".  She educated the world to open up their minds and not discount others if they look different, but to accept and appreciate that they are unique, like we all are.  P!nk reminds us that we are not perfect and we can mess up, even if we lie, i.e.  I once shared; "P!nk says love is all lie.  It is true.  We do tend to lie about our feelings for people, or lie to make people happy or lie to ourselves."


What About Us

When the world gets too much, especially in terms of politics and human rights.  P!nk is there to stand up for you.  It's like she taps into your feelings and is there to support you and help you voice your opinions.  She fearlessly challenges the ethics of local and global issues and encourages you to join her in supporting various initiatives.  Below she infamously called out George Bush in an open letter in the form of one of her favourite recordings, Dear Mr. President.


So What

She manages to keep relevant in her music without changing who she is and much of her musical genre.  She doesn't need to do what most artists do these days and change her genre to cater to a particular market.  She does however include this subtly in her music, but it still remains P!nk.  She has a clever way of subtly incorporating current sounds but not where it affects the dignity of her own unique sound.  People soon get bored of fads and alter egos as they want something real and relatable.  You don't see her going full on dance which appears to be the current music trend dominating the charts.  She keeps to her pop/rock ideal but incorporates different styles within it.  Yes some fans may get bored of her 'samey' style, but clearly it works and appeals to the wider world.  Look at her sales, she consistently sells unlike her peers, who may sell less and less with each album.  Her ego does not seem to go any beyond than her character.  Unlike some artists where they spiral downwards due to it.  Thinking that they are too big to perform at various venues.  Nearly 20 years into her music career and she's still topping charts.  Her lyrical content is always relatable, inspiring, encouraging and supporting, no matter what pathway you have chosen in life there is a P!nk song that will enhance this or support you through it.

P!nk is dark horse, as well as an underdog - which always turn out to be winners in the end.  Whilst many other artists try to keep relevant by recording songs to current music trends or conforming to latest fashion, P!nk remains authentic to her artistry and keeping to her style.  P!nk allows her to be her rather than something that she is not.  Many artists only record forgettable throwaway songs, whilst the majority of P!nk's music has longevity on radio and TV for years.

Raise Your Glass

Yes, raise a glass to yourself!  P!nk encourages us all to celebrate our achievements (small or large), enjoy ourselves and see the beauty we have inside and outside of us.  She encourages us to not to be too serious and express humour, even in the darkest of situations.  She tells us to accept and embrace our imperfections, mistakes and misfortunes and even laugh at them.  Don't take yourself too seriously, aim to have fun with yourself.

There are times when you have to be serious in your life, even to the point of planning and rehearsing.  That said, P!nk has a way of preparing but not where it's too rigid and structured.  Life is to be enjoyed not just to be worked into the ground and P!nk definitely demonstrates this ideal!
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CC-BY Daniel Scott. Unless otherwise stated this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.