What’s your digital superpower?

Scott shares an activity to foster positive conversations around digital with staff, developed as part of Jisc’s recent initial teacher education project.

Conversations around digital, especially in relation to developing our own practice, are often challenging. Admitting where you have gaps takes courage. As educators, we often find ourselves in a position where others look to us for answers, especially in teacher education. Keeping up with our subject knowledge can be hard enough, but keeping up with digital often feels like something extra.

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(Image available on Unsplash).
Having challenging conversations around digital came up during the interviews for Jisc’s initial teacher education project. Staff new to teaching were often keen to develop their practice but didn’t always know where to begin.

Sound familiar?

Challenging conversations

Of course, those conversations are challenging because there are no simple solutions or fixes, but that doesn’t mean we should shy away from them.

We all have our own learning needs and priorities; we all work in different settings in a range of contexts, and technology is always evolving. This came up as an issue in relation to the recent rise (relatively speaking) of artificial intelligence, but actually, there are parallels with any emerging technology from the past.

Remember the impact on staff when there was a move to VLEs in the early 2000s? Or when virtual reality and immersive tech arrived on the scene? Empowering staff was equally important then, too.

Language is important

The language we use is a critical factor here. When we are dealing with issues like staff confidence (or often a lack of) and buy-in, we need to be mindful of how we support those staff.

The language of agency and empowerment is more motivating to encourage staff than focusing on what they can’t do. We want the next generation of teachers to be excited about the opportunities technology can offer, and our language has to reflect that.

We also need our conversations to be topical and relevant, allowing new staff to share their experiences and learn from each other. The idea that the teacher is the focal point of all knowledge, the “sage on the stage” (King, 1993), was debunked back when I used to teach teacher training more years ago than I care to remember. Let’s be honest, with a lot of emerging tech, especially artificial intelligence, many of us are learning on the go.

Digital superpowers

With this in mind, we wanted to create an activity that was practical and allowed those conversations to take place in a supportive way. The activity has to involve a degree of aspiration and inspiration, too.

During the prototyping phase of the initial teacher education project, we discussed a range of ideas that could support teachers. One of those ideas involved equipping teachers with a practical activity that they could use with their trainee teachers. The activity doesn’t require you to be a digital guru; it’s more about facilitating a discussion that allows trainee teachers to share and learn together.

This is where the idea of What is your digital superpower? came from—a collaborative activity that allows everyone to discuss and share their vision of digital’s role in learning. There’s an air of aspiration about becoming a’superhero’ and superheroes often have different superpowers, just as we all have different interests and strengths when it comes to using digital. See the connection?

Try out the activity with your learners. We’d love to know how you get along and what superpowers you come up with! 🦸



By Scott Hibberson

Subject Specialist (Online learning) at Jisc.

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