Reflections upon ‘the digital me’ for #ONL

This is an activity I am undertaking for Open Networked Learning. A blog to reflect upon who I am as an individual in the digital age and my journey so far. I could probably begin this journey in my youth but it is hard to remember when  my first encounter with digital technology started, perhaps it was a Casio electronic wristwatch in my teens or the casio calculator we had at school for mathematics. Professionally, I was a children’s nurse for over twenty years, working in a number of high dependency areas, for example, paediatric intensive care, neonatal intensive care in London and then when I moved to Manchester, UK I became a Sister in a renal unit. During this time I also started to develop my academic life and enrolled on a Diploma in Nursing course at a local college. I had 2 small children at this time, one was coming up to 2 years of age when I started the course and by the time I had entered the second year of the programme I had my second daughter, sometimes taking her to class with me as she slept in the car seat. As you can imagine, most of my learning outside of the classroom had to take place in the evening and so we bought an Amstrad PCW. image

I can still see it now perched on the desk at the end of the lounge complete with floppy disks that sometimes had to be formatted. There was no such thing as the internet in our house (see Stoll, C 1995, Why the web won’t be Nirvana’), I knew it had been around for a long time  of course but was never really sure it would come to households, but when dial up internet connections came along I embraced this medium, as frustrating as it was sometimes, because it opened up a whole new world for me. Taking the Diploma also opened up a whole new word for me intellectually and I wanted to carry on studying,  at times this was hard with small children and working in a very intensive renal/urological ward as a senior member of staff, but I loved how it opened up new vistas of learning. The sociology of health and illness, of education, psychological approaches to working with children and young people, research methods, criticisms. ethics and philosophy. I could go on. In fact, I did go on to successfully complete the Diploma, then a BSc quickly followed by a post-graduate Diploma in Education and then an MSC (Education) where I explored the role of the facilitator in a problem-based learning curriculum. By 1996 I  had gained my first full time lecturer position at the University.  I had my own desk, computer and email, sometimes a blessing sometimes a curse but none of this ever fazed me. I had crossed the digital divide, I was one of the lucky ones of course as not everyone has such great opportunities or acess to the tools for learning in this way, or as Pierre Bourdieu would say I had gained some cultural capital and I would always consider that I have been fully supported in the workplace to develop and grow. Now here I am in the 21st Century and this year I (and a small team of 2 others) were awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Distinguished Teachers award for our work using social media (SoMe) in higher education, I use twitter in the modules I lead, embedding hashtags into the virtual learning environment of Blackboard so that the classroom becomes a ‘classroom without walls’. This year a colleague https://twitter.com/wlasinclair and I have been invited to be part of a twinning project with Plymouth University undergraduate students, in December we will use social media to connect the students across the 280+ miles that divides them to discuss learning and development on their nursing programmes. The aims are to highlight the potential of the internet in both professional development and patient care/health promotion and to strengthen the growing links between the students. Our hashtag will be #NWSWtwins