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Digging Towards Discovery

Digging Towards Discovery

Written by Katherine Frank
February 01, 2012

What does it mean to “dig into” Digital Is?  When given the luxury of space and time to “dig into” this site, what do we discover about it and about ourselves?   And how might these discoveries help us to think about the future of the site?

Approximately thirty people explored these questions and discovered and rediscovered Digital Is during a half-day workshop at the 2011 NWP Annual Meeting.  These individuals brought with them a range of experience with and knowledge of Digital Is, and by the end of our time together, we had formed new relationships with each other as well as with the Digital Is site.

We wrote ourselves into the session by responding to the prompt:  “My relationship to Digital Is is…”  The responses to this prompt varied along with people’s level of engagement with the site.  Everyone was enthusiastic, interested, and curious, but not everyone understood how the site could be used most efficiently and productively.  While accessible in terms of the types of resources housed by the site, the amount of material seemed overwhelming to some.  This was off-putting to those lacking the perceived necessity of time and space in order to take full advantage of the site.

From this point of entry, we began to “dig into” the site in order to make discoveries about resources, structure, and use.  A quick game of Bingo allowed everyone to skip playfully throughout the site, familiarize ourselves with the structure and content, and catch glimpses of potential areas of interest.

We then practiced digging deeper as we chose a resource and charted a path through Digital Is based on personal interest.  As with the game of Bingo, we travelled throughout the site, but this time we were more deliberate in our consideration of the choices made in order to navigate our path.  We dug into moments so as to inform our choices, influence our movement, and deepen our knowledge.  Rather than breadth of exposure as with the game of Bingo, we developed depth of understanding as we moved from resource to resource based on choice.  The experience allowed us to better understand the richness offered through individual site resources as well as the inquiry path that leads to the pulling together of collections.

Such modeling allowed us to begin to articulate what was already present in Digital Is, what was missing from the site, and what questions were raised through this process of digging in.  These three areas then became the focus of people’s individual “digs.”

The digs uncovered much about the richness of Digital Is.  People were excited by the number of resources, breadth of topics, amount of contributors’ ideas and expertise, and potential for teaching and learning.  We discussed ways to make the site more user friendly and less overwhelming for visitors.  And we asked ourselves how we could use the experience of the dig to think about ways to invite even more participation in the Digital Is experience.  We felt more connected with Digital Is following our time together and more invested in the site’s growth and longevity.  We did not claim “ownership” of the site during this workshop, but rather deepened our relationship with Digital Is in such a way as to better understand the power of reciprocity:  that which the Digital Is experience gives to site contributors and users, and also what we give back to the site in terms of our involvement in the experience and our commitment to its future.

We ended our time together by responding to the prompt:  “My future relationship with Digital Is will be…”  

The wordles above capture our responses and our commitment to “digging” in to the “digital” richness of the “site” in order to feature our “work” as “TCS,” “teachers,” and “supporters” and in doing so ensure the future of Digital Is.  In short, it was an extremely successful “dig”!

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