Yesterday my colleague Kristen Mapes and I presented some of our work around Digital Presence and Public Scholarship at #Del18. Our presentation, titled “Digital Presence and Public Scholarship: Empowering Graduate Students as Professionals” gave an overview of our work in general, but more specifically focused on our work to integrate digital presence work with graduate students as they move into careers as professional scholars.
As a follow-up to a question that was asked during our session about how do we work with people in our workshops who come to the workshop simply seeking to be hand-held through the technology rather than doing the active skill development and learning that we expect.
I think a partial answer to that is that we are working to build a culture of people doing this digital presence work where they can rely on each other as the expert and not have to feel that they need to rely on us as “technical experts.” Our goals are to have participants engage with us as colleagues who are, while perhaps further along, on the journey of crafting and curating digital presence ourselves. This culture change is really at the heart of making this a long-term and sustainable initiative, it’s how we recruit other collaborators and co-facilitators for the initiative, and how the work spreads through departments, units or other organizations on campus. It is a shared culture of creating, maintaining and sharing.
Methodologically, the roots of this for me are really in my background as a writing consultant where the goal of a writing consultant is not to write the paper for the client, but rather to coach them through some of the issues that are found in the paper. Or, perhaps it’s rooted in some of the background of peer coaching that often accompanies leadership training. When peer coaching, your job is not to solve the problem for your colleague but rather to provide a sounding board and opportunity for them to come to a conclusion or solution themselves. By practicing in this way we move toward the culture change we desire, allowing us to continuously innovate and move toward higher levels or more complex instances of digital presence.