What do you do when the in-person digital literacy event you’re planning for faculty falls right in the middle of a COVID surge? If you’re Justin Hodgson and Adam Maksl, co-founders of IU’s Digital Gardener Initiative, you host the event on a cool virtual platform instead and practice the digital literacy you’re preaching.
On Friday, January 21, 2022, the inaugural cohort of Digital Gardener Faculty Fellows gathered on SpatialChat for the initiative’s kickoff retreat. The 35 Fellows include representatives from every IU campus and more than two dozen schools and departments.
“The Digital Gardener Initiative is a faculty-created, faculty-led effort to help our colleagues build creative confidence with a suite of tools and practices,” said Hodgson, associate professor of English at IU Bloomington.
We want to support faculty in designing digitally infused activities, assets, and assignments that create dynamic learning experiences for students.
“We want to support faculty in designing digitally infused activities, assets, and assignments that create dynamic learning experiences for students,” he said.
During the semester-long Fellows program, participants will learn to integrate digital literacy into their courses, their teaching, and their work with students. By bringing together faculty from across disciplines and campuses, the program hopes to increase collaboration and cultivate a university-wide culture of digital literacy, creativity, and learning.
“Just as a garden can house a diverse variety of plants, the Digital Gardener Initiative is meant to be inclusive of multiple disciplines and conceptualizations of what’s needed in a digital world,” said Maksl, associate professor of journalism and media at IU Southeast.
“That includes creative competency, media literacy, information literacy, basic digital and computer skills, and more—key goals for preparing students for digitally focused media- and information-rich environments,” he said.
As part of the retreat, Fellows were introduced to digital literacy tools available to IU faculty and encouraged to collaborate, create, and share their work based on what was learned, and to imagine how they would incorporate concepts into their curriculum.
This was the first of many learning experiences that have provided new tools to enhance the virtual learning experience for my undergraduate students.
Margaret Lion, senior lecturer in kinesiology in the School of Public Health at IU Bloomington, was invigorated by what she learned. “I’ve been searching for a simple video editor for years and Adobe Express Premiere Rush looks perfect,” she said. “I found myself creating a second level to my existing class as there is so much for students to produce for their own benefit.”
The virtual platform provided opportunities to break into smaller groups for teamwork or networking, as well as ideas for future class activities.
“The SpatialChat platform was a wonderful change of pace in online collaboration,” said Tommy Renfro, lecturer in education at IU East. “This was the first of many learning experiences that have provided new tools to enhance the virtual learning experience for my undergraduate students.”
If the goal is to help faculty feel comfortable with digital literacy concepts and tools, the Faculty Fellows are off to a great start.
“The first two sessions of the Digital Gardening Fellows program have provided new tools that have instant learning impacts on my students in physical and virtual learning environments,” said Renfro.
“I’m thoroughly enjoying this experience,” said Lion. “This is the work I have been doing in my class for over a decade—it’s nice to have a shared language and colleagues who understand and do the same.”
Learn more about the Digital Gardener Initiative and digital literacy at IU here, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Spring 2022 Digital Gardener Faculty Fellows
Sarah Blanco, visiting assistant librarian for student success, IU South Bend
Rebecca Carlton, teaching professor, Communication Studies, IU Southeast
Sau Hou Chang, professor, School of Education, IU Southeast
Pat Clark, lecturer, Department of Biology, School of Science, IUPUI
Janine Giodano Drake, clinical assistant professor, History, IU Bloomington
Christine Eckel, associate clinical professor, IU School of Medicine (IU Northwest)
Paul Edwards, professor, IU School of Dentistry, IUPUI
Nancy Evans, senior lecturer, Kelley School of Business, IU Bloomington
Shari Fowler, assistant professor, Accounting, IU East
Maryam Heidaripour, visiting assistant professor, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, IU Bloomington
Denise Henderson, clinical assistant professor, School of Rehabilitation Science, IU South Bend
Kathy Holcomb, associate professor, Psychology, IU Kokomo
Heaven Hollender, clinical assistant professor, School of Health and Human Sciences, IUPUI
Juliet Istrabadi, curator of Ancient Art, Eskenazi Museum of Art, IU Bloomington
Kevin Jones, associate professor of management, Division of Business, IUPUC
Kym Kramer, lecturer, Library and Information Science, IUPUI
Sandra Kuebler, professor, Computational Linguistics, IU Bloomington
Suha Lasassmeh, lecturer, Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, IU Bloomington
Hannah Lee, associate professor, Psychology, IU Northwest
Margaret Lion, senior lecturer, Kinesiology, IU Bloomington
KT Lowe, assistant librarian for education, IU East
Pamela Morris, assistant professor, Communication Studies, IUPUC
Walter Pettus, assistant professor, Physics, IU Bloomington
Susan Popham, associate professor, English, IU Southeast
Andrea Quenette, associate professor, Communication Studies, IU East
Tommy Renfro, lecturer, School of Education, IU East
Jaynne Rivas, assistant professor, School of Business and Economics, IU East
Miranda Rodak, clinical assistant professor, English, IU Bloomington