My Experience at the Digital Pedagogy Lab

I’d like to express gratitude to Douglas College people for supporting, encouraging, or otherwise showing interest in my participation in the July 30-August 3 Digital Pedagogies Lab at the UMW in Fredericksburg, Virginia. DPL is a unique international event that brings faculty, instructional designers, technical and pedagogical researchers, and other educators together to discuss and learn about navigating modern learning environments, with focus on social and human issues. I am determined to share what I learned at this summer institute for the benefit Douglas College faculty, staff, and students.

Here are a few takeaways gathered from the 5-day Digital Pedagogy Lab I participated in this year:

  • There are a lot of dedicated, passionate people involved in researching, developing frameworks and solutions, and practice of teaching and learning skills in the modern digital environment.
  • “Digital” includes questions concerning modern literacies, citizenship, social justice, agency, and creativity (and is not a synonym for technology or EdTech)
  • There are important distinctions between digital skills and digital literacies
  • There are open, sharable resources on creating and implementing a digital fluency framework for a PSE (more on this later…)
  • A deep dive by educators into how to inform and protect students in online learning environments is necessary
  • There are tools to help faculty self-identify how they use the LMS, and this can help get more value for instructors and students.
  • There are open, sharable resources to encourage and support digital citizenship, and critical and thoughtful inquiry into academic integrity ( Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers)

I was in the Digital Literacies track, and we engaged in collaborative work under the guidance of Jade E. Davis, PhD, a Columbia University scholar and Director of Digital Project Management for Columbia University Libraries

What is the Digital Pedagogy Lab?

Digital Pedagogy Lab is an annual learning and teaching event that provides an “in-depth dialogue and practical experience to educators working in under-theorized digital learning spaces.” Themes include:

  • The facility of online and digital learning
  • The ways that educational technology and instructional design make space for, or do not make space for, student agency
  • Accessibility, disability, equity, student rights, teacher agency, and the representation of unheard and silenced voices in education
  • Pedagogies, policies, and critical practices that support agency, creativity, and inquiry

For more detail, please visit Digital Pedagogy Lab

Day One


A “Storybooth” was available to record a 4-minute video, allowing participants to express themselves and reflect on conversations from courses, at lunch, and the in-between times. The idea is to support the theme of story and narrative, and their role in teaching, learning, and education. The videos will be made available online with permission from the creators. This is “a great place to reach out, to communicate with others what you are discovering, mulling, puzzling over, and inventing for yourself.”

More about Digital Storytelling

Digital Fluency – one-day course with Lee Skallerup Bessette, PhD

Digital fluency was defined in this course as “the ability to consume and produce digital knowledge critically, ethically, and responsibly, as well as creatively adapt to emerging technology.” There was a tremendous amount of content in this course, including a fully formed multi-year framework for developing digital fluency at post-secondary institutions that the facilitator shared.

Digital fluency must be incorporated into the student’s overall educational experience. Most efforts thus far on campuses to incorporate digital fluency have been either as add-ons (institutes, centers, small pilot initiatives) or localized in specific programs and departments.

We engaged in brainstorming activities and discussed ways to integrate digital fluency into our course/curriculum and explored ways to advocate for these kinds of learning outcomes to be more fully integrated into the institution.

Anya Kamenetz Keynote

NPR journalist Anya Kamenetz gave her keynote address entitled Human Wisdom vs. Artificial Intelligence at the end of day one. The keynote was followed by a reception, abuzz with discussion about Anya’s talk and the Q & A session that followed.

Day Two

DigiDeks card game

This augmented-reality game prompted attendees engage more fully with the event by providing suggestions for involvement, interaction, and application of ideas. Players chose a level of involvement that works best for them, from merely trading cards to gaining achievement levels by completing quests throughout the event. The cards come from six categories (Authors, Keywords, Speakers, Locations, Workshops, and Courses), and reflected the breadth, depth, and diversity of the components of Digital Pedagogy Lab.

More about DigiDeks

Digital Literacies – 1st day of four-day course with Jade E. Davis, PhD Director of Digital Project Management for Columbia University Libraries

This course focused on the need to develop students’ digital literacies with the prerequisite of developing those of educators, as models and mentors.

Digital skills focus on what and how, while digital literacies consider why, when, who, and for whom.

The course consisted of highly interactive dialogue. Themes included:

  • Collaboration, contribution, and critical sense-making within a culture of information abundance.
  • The impact of the digital in education and higher education
  • Data literacy, digital presence, critical engagement with platforms, and the kinds of literacies demanded in an increasingly precarious world.

We explored hands-on and conceptual tools for navigating our contemporary information ecosystem

Lightning talks – a series of focused idea, innovation, field of inquiry talks. Four minutes for presentation, and three minutes for follow-up questions. Here are a few that I am interested in exploring further:

  • Kate Molloy, Learning technologist at NUI Galway. Kate presented “All Aboard! Project – Digital Skills in Irish Higher Education”. This is a simple and engaging way of thinking about digital skills in the form of a Metro Map. The Lessons and learning materials are freely accessed and shared online. The project incudes a badging system.
  • Reid Riggle, Associate Professor of Education and Co-Chair of Teacher Education at St. Norbert Colleges presented a “Full Spectrum Pedagogy” framework designed to help faculty identify their current practice and conceptualize the range of possibilities with a shift to using technology to enhance student engagement and learning.
  • Autumm Caines, Instructional Designer at St Norbert College presented “#DigPINS” – an online, cohort-based, faculty development experience that focuses on Digital Pedagogy, Identity, Networks, and Scholarship. The curriculum has been created for a completely online format and uses open resources to give faculty a place to explore and articulate digital identity and participatory online learning experiences.

Day Three

Digital Literacies2nd day of four-day course Access, Privacy, and Practice Bill Fitzgerald Project Director at InnovateEDU and Chris Gilliard Professor of English, Macomb Community College

Our digital literacies course merged with the Privacy course for the day, to learn about how students are often subject to differential treatment based on identity profiling.

In the age of persistent surveillance, profiling, and predictive analytics, Ethical classrooms commit themselves to student agency and privacy by addressing these issues, and by providing routes for students to interrogate how these same issues will affect them outside the classroom as well.

We discussed how to create a more technologically ethical space in our classrooms and our institutions.

Jade E. Davis, PhD Director, Digital Project Management, Columbia University Libraries Keynote Frugal Innovation and Translatable Skills

Jade’s talk entitled Frugal Innovation and Translatable Skills was thoughtful, playful, full of human understanding, and included a live “talk-show” style demonstration of coaching  a faculty volunteer through “frugal innovation”. Jade defines frugal innovations as “…the practice of doing less with more and optimizing the use of technology […] to amplify human intent and capacity while understanding that ‘new technology is never the start of positive social change.’” The talk focused on “…ways to ensure that the digital work brought into the classroom works for the goals of both the student and instructor to minimize friction and focus on meaningful outcomes based on 21st century skills that will be helpful in coursework and beyond.”

Day Four

Digital Literacies –with Jade E. Davis

A stand-out activity on this day was working in small groups to create and discuss a set of digital literacy questions:

  • What are you trying to promote and for whom (audiences)? What unintended audiences might be able to access this and what might they do with this?
  • What is this thing ten (x) years from now? What will it mean? (It’s ok to make something not meaningful for class.)
  • What are the frameworks the student is creating in? (Terms of Service, platform structures, audiences, etc.)
  • Did I choose the best tool for this assignment?
  • What resources are needed including time and equipment etc.?
  • How does this assignment help students learn to interrogate the tools they are using?
  • What alternates might be provided – what is an out?

Valuing Online Teaching and Teachers – 1-1/2 hour workshop with Adrienne Phelps-Coco, PhD Associate Director of Online Pedagogy at the Harvard Division of Continuing Education and an instructor in the Learning Design Certificate at Harvard Extension School

This workshop included a presentation of an online course model at Harvard Extension School. HELIX Classroom combines simultaneous in-person, synchronous and asynchronous learning and allows instructors to connect with and adapt to each new group of students without feeling boxed in by pre-designed and pre-built online courses.

We also explored “models of online learning that value the online teaching experience and that view teachers as creative professionals whose passion, ability to improvise and adapt to the needs of each group of students, and ongoing personal investment in the development of a course are crucial components of the learning process.”

Day Five

Digital Literacies –last day of the course with Jade E. Davis

We spent the day discussing our ideas and how to implement them. Much of the work done in the course was recorded on an online, collaborative document. The content as of the end of the course is included here are a footnote. It will be converted to a Google Document after August 10.[i] Here’s a little blurb I wrote during the course:

Digital literacy includes the ability to creatively work within constraints. For example, students and instructors need to understand the “rules” and consequences of creating, posting, accessing, and otherwise working in online environments. They also need to proceed, with courage and confidence, to contribute to the human project using contemporary means of expression. Seeking balance between caution and experimentation is necessary in order to reach deeper understandings.

Further reading and resources

The Lab uses #digped as its go-to hashtag. This is the same hashtag used at every DPL event around the world, and there’s a large community following along. So, send out the word, invite people in, and enjoy the backchannel.

Digital Fluency resources

Digital Literacies resources

Access, Privacy and Practice resources

[i] Welcome to the Digital Pedagogy Lab Digital Literacies etherpad, hosted by!

We will use this pad to collaboratively take notes, anonymously engage (if you’d prefer to be anonymous), and plan our time together.

WARNING: This “pad” is a collaborative document that can be edited by anyone who has the URL.

Riseup is a collective providing secure online communication tools for people and groups working for liberatory social change. Riseup depends on donations from users like to keep going. Please visit to contribute.

Abusive behavior is not allowed on this service. Please visit to report any problems.

ABOUT THIS COURSE***************************************************************

This course centers on the development of participatory, networked literacies that enable collaboration and critical sense-making in a culture of information abundance.

Potential Outcomes Include: A syllabus addendum, a new assignment, or a statement of ethics of engagement. Or any combination of the three. Something else?

Digital Literacy Self Assessment:


Day 1 Intro & Literacy & Risk

Where you are coming from and what is your role there

What you hope to get out of this intensive 4 days

Where you teach or hope this will be applicable to your professional life

Why this track and what do you hope to get out of it?

  • Innovative practices
  • New ideas for students to grapple with their (privileged) positions
  • Plain language to talk about digital literacy
  • How to determine the validity of the source (navigating information abundance?)
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Making sure engagement is meaningful for the right reasons
  • More discussion of the WHY of digital projects
  • Interrogation of the words we use (fluency/literacy)
  • Ethics of Digital tools
  • How to guide digital citizenship
  • Better digital practices in online teaching
  • How to embrace more digital approaches
  • How to teach digital literacy
  • The how and why of digital technology


Bali, Maha. Knowing the Difference Between Digital Skills & Digital Literacies, & Teaching Both

McLuhan, Marshall Classroom Without Walls

“If these “mass media” should serve only to weaken or corrupt previously achieved levels of verbal and pictorial culture, it won’t be because there’s anything inherently wrong with them. It will be because we’ve failed to master them as new languages in time to assimilate them to our total cultural heritage.” (CWW, 2)

“The educational task is not only to provide basic tools of perception but also to develop judgment and discrimination with ordinary social experience.” (CWW, 2) Drawing on Pierre Bourdeiu, “How can we make the ordinary extraordinary and evoke ordinariness in such a way that people will see just how extraordinary it is?” (On Television)

McLuhan, Marshall. Media Log

“Russian politicians have the same mentality as our professoriate: they wish technology would go away.” (ML, 183) And now, only the professoriat remains?

White, David S. and Alison Le Cornu. Visitors & Residents: A New Typology for Online Engagement

Book: Real world of Technology

Digital Dispositions


Knowing how to use which tool when

Task: separating fluency and the work from literacy – how do we talk about these things together?

Recent digital experience

What do we mean by literacy?

What is the digital?

01 binary, prosumer, digits, all things with code that has to go through some electric thing and then be displayed for us to understand it where us is a person on the street?


  • Scroll Direction
  • Writing in Stone
  • Time of electricity (only 1 hour a day is produced)
  • Constant walking
  • children – a four year old
  • All services are paid and coin operated (quarters)
  • Back in time – explaining to people in the past (Inspired by “The Machine Stops” by E.M. Forster
  • Mouse as only input device
  • Only public free wifi
  • Windows ME
  • Only have landline phones




Eubanks, Virginia. The Digital Poorhouse

Shaffer, Kris. Truthy Lies & Surreal Truths: A Plea For Critical Digital Literacies <3Sorry previous link was the wrong one <3

Boyd, danah et. al. Data Discrimination (PDF)

Madden, Mary et. al. Privacy, Poverty, and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans (pdf, skim)


Notes from Wednesday:

Etherpad link for Privacy track and resources: ·


Day 3 Professional Frugality


Davis, Jade. Frugal Innovation in Digital Learning

McMillan Cottom, Tressie. Academic Outrage: When The Culture Wars Go Digital

Domain of One’s Own

Reclaim Hosting

Digital Literacy: Understanding the different layers of information that make up the digital work done in the classroom/learning space.

Risk assessment for an individual assignment:

Questions from Privacy session yesterday:

Open with Risk Assessment (big and Small)

  • What are you trying to keep private?
  • From whom are you trying to keep it private?`
  • What are the consequences if the protections fail?
  • Do the consequences change or shift over time (short-, medium-, long-term)?

TASK 1: Alternate questions:

  • What are you trying to promote and for whom (audiences)? What unintended audiences might be able to access this and what might they do with this?
  • What is this thing ten (x) years from now? What will it mean? (It’s ok to make something not meaningful for class.)
  • What are the frameworks the student is creating in? (Terms of Service, platform structures, audiences, etc.)
  • Did I choose the best tool for this assignment?
  • What resources are needed including time and equipment etc?
  • How does this assignment help students learn to interrogate the tools they are using?
  • What alternates might be provided – what is an out?

TASK 2: Release

TASK 3: Language for the Syllabus

A tool to look at who owns new tools and their general financial health:

Notes from afternoon discussion:

Religious Studies Hypothesis Assignment:

  • What are you trying to promote and for whom (audiences)? What unintended audiences might be able to access this and what might they do with this?
  • Weekly, formative, assignment is for students to read an article before class and annotate online using Hypothesis. Must be logged into LMS in order to do this. Hypothesis comments can only be seen by those who are enrolled in the course in the LMS. Pick out something that needs defining. Not required to respond to another’s comment. Meant to be initial layer of identifying concepts and theories and how to apply them.
  • Trying to have students read assignment before class. For instructor, helps him know what the student is interested in before they come to class. They are not anonymous when they post on Hypothesis. Downloads file with comments, have all student names and can grade.
  • Suggestions/questions: In addition to identifying a word they don’t understand, ask that they find all instances of that word in the context and produce analogy or parallel example of what the word means. Perhaps ask them to tie what they are reading back to their own experience…past/present/potential future, or to politics, etc.
  • Can you ask them to “re-imagine” something in the context?
  • What is this thing ten (x) years from now? What will it mean? (It’s ok to make something not meaningful for class.)
  • Hypothesis is used for this class only, and if they want, they can erase comments at the end. Since it is integrated with Blackboard, and Blackboard is rolled over every 3 years, so after 3 years it will be inaccessible. If students know at the end of the course that they could remove their comments, it might take down a barrier for them.
  • What are the frameworks the student is creating in? (Terms of Service, platform structures, audiences, etc.)
  • Did I choose the best tool for this assignment?
  • If a large percentage of the class opts out, then may have wrong tool.
  • What resources are needed including time and equipment, etc?
  • How does this assignment help students learn to interrogate the tools they are using?
  • What alternates might be provided – what is an out?
  • REST
  • Risk
  • Equipment
  • Stigma – could possibly change their name in the Hypothesis profile. Alternatively, could email Professor prior to class with what they would have highlighted or commented,
  • Time

Syllabus Language Ex:

“Part of this course includes creating and sharing digital projects. Students will have the choice to publish their work on the class WordPress blog, their own blogs, or to submit them in Moodle. There are alternative, non-public options for each of the digital assignments, so please ask the instructor for more information, if needed.)”



Possible terms to play around with for “digital literacy”: (literacy: reading and writing)

Digital dispositions

Digital emergence

Digital oracy (speaking & listening)



Digicy?? 🙂

Emergent bilinguals (Ofelia Garcia, 2015)

Emergent biliterate cross-cultural students (Maria Santos, 2015)


Day 4 Endings and Futures


Doxdator, Benjamin. A Field Guide to Jobs That Don’t Exist Yet

Tufekci, Zeynep. The Looming Digital Meltdown

If I had to talk about digital literacy, what would I say?

When I think about digital literacies, I’m reminded of this list of ‘shibboleth names’ .  I am a first-generation college graduate, and I’ll admit that I’ve felt really self-conscious about my mispronouncing a few folks on this list.  Digital literacy feels a bit the same to me.  There are all sorts of shibboleths that help enforce boundaries around who can and cannot equitably participate.  For instance, consider the word ‘pwned’ (as in, the ‘Have I Been Pwned’ service:  A person can work really hard to learn or teach themselves many, many things that permit some degree of digital access or engagement, but there are still ways to signal fine degrees of familiarity.  So maybe what I’m interested in helping create is an equitable digital literacy.  Or to consider all the ways we can be partially or semi-literate in digital ways.

I would first say that it is more than what tool to use when.  There are many more layers of use to be aware of that include your identity being hijacked and spread across the internet.  This can be a good thing if it allows you to take advantage of the bounty the internet possesses.  However, you must educate yourself and your students to all the personal rights you may unwittingly give away or all the unintended consequences and personal dangers that you may encounter due to corporate creed or the nefariuosness of some fellow human beings. It reminds of when I first moved to New YorK City. I was enthralled, but many natives advised me of the its dangerous underbelly and how to protect myself (like how to ride the subway) and I lived there many years happily but always aware of my surroundings.

There are many layers to this idea of “digital literacy”. Here I take “digital” to be the same as “online” or “on the web”. Digital literacy can be as simple as knowing how to get “online” and create an e-mail account and send a message. At a different level it can be assessing the quality of information you find online, by understanding more about the creators and the organization behind the websites. But at a different level it also means understanding what happens to the information you provided to make that account, how that information and the messages contents and/or metainformation is used to create a digital profile of you, and which entities get access to that. I signed up for this track thinking I’d learn more about how to help students assess information they find online, but I am glad we worked on that other layer. I can now talk with my students about digital literacy as “informed consent” for engaging in online projects, after a discussion of the risks, the reasons and the benefits of going digital with some projects.

Digital literacy means learning about and understanding the structures that underlie the digital platforms we use in our everyday lives, in our classrooms, and across campus. I, like my students, tend to look at the internet and my computer at a surface level, and I haven’t previously thought much about the underlying data structures, systems, and economics of my behavior and actions. I want people to understand that all of these things we think we get from online sources for free are not actually free; the sites are definitely getting something from us, too. This doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom and mean that we don’t use the internet or Twitter or Facebook anymore, but we do need to understand their underlying data policies, licensing policies, information sharing and ad policies, so that we understand what we are giving when we participate. Being digitally literate, for me, means understanding what it means to participate in a networked digital culture and to better understand what we give up and gain from such participation.

Digital literacy includes the ability to creatively work within constraints. For example, students and instructors need to understand the “rules” and consequences of creating, posting, accessing, and otherwise working in online environments. They also need to proceed, with courage and confidence, to contribute to the human project using contemporary means of expression. Seeking balance between caution and experimentation is necessary in order to reach deeper understandings.

Digital literacy is the ability to navigate digital environments, including but not limited to the Internet, the WWW, Intranets, and the Internet of Things by using digital devices such as desktop computers, laptops, smartphones, and other digital appliances. In doing so, one is able to explore the digital environments with at least a general understanding of the potential risks in doing so and is aware of how to balance the benefits of accessing those digital environments while mitigating the risks of doing so. It considers the reasons for why we use these environments and when it is appropriate to do so.

The first thing I would think about is whom I’m talking about digital literacy with. Myself? Staff colleagues? Another faculty member? Students? My partner? A family member? I might first ask them what types of things they think about when engaging in digital spaces. Do they want to connect with others? Agree with others? Be persuaded? Be entertained? Learn something? I then begin to think about issues of humility and expertise. Who am I to guide students in promoting digital dispositions? Who are they as experts in digital spaces? The balance of expert/novice takes on new meanings in these cases. Is the fostering of a digital disposition something that can emerge over time? I appreciated the “layers” that were discussed this week, and would highlight these depending on the context. Ethics. Criticality. Engagement. Knowledge. Learning. Tools. Inquiry. Purpose. Goals. Multimodality. But something I am left considering is what is/are the starting place(s) among these layers, and how do we decide?

digital literacy is

the awareness of what the digital space is, the skills of using it and the need and drive to constantly ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing in the digital world as well as the need to look for answers to the questions that arise. Asking yourself who you are, online as much as offline; thinking before sharing what is in your mind because you are aware of the potential risks you are getting into or harm that you could cause to others. It is questioning and being critical.

Digital literacies are…

…practices that are scholarly, scientific and therapeutic. As a “practice,” digital literacy never finished. Each case – there will always be new cases- presents an opportunity to develop the practice. The other terms describe the content, aims and outcomes. If these practices (and there may be others…?) lose equilibrium with each other, then I think the practices will start to skew away from each other.

– Thanks, Jade, for a wonderful workshop! I will returning to these notes throughout the week and into the future!


We would like to acknowledge that we live, learn, work, and play on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish Peoples of the QayQayt and Kwikwetlem First Nations.