Are you digitally included or a useless digit?

Are you digitally included or a useless digit?

In this post, I will explore network technology and communities through the following questions.

What type of “networking technology” do you have access to now and into the future?

Currently, I use similar networking technology as Keturah, including learning management systems, social media, blogs, 3D printers and mobile devices. Recently, I’ve managed to connect my hearing aids to my iPhone, which means I can answer calls directly from my hearing aids without having my phone anywhere near me. I feel like a secret agent when I do this! I can also listen to music directing via my hearing aids. I’m still getting use to this sort of technology, similar to the way I’m getting use to the exposure of new tools throughout this course. As a student and a learner, the use of Diigo, Reddit and Quora are still unfamiliar to me. However, as discovered by Socol’s (2008) TEST framework, these tools will be used for the appropriate tasks and environments.

Network technology will have a significant impact on the future. I recently went to the Queensland State Library’s Digital Futures exhibition, which displayed future technologies including better assistive technology, the rise of the Internet of Things and blockchain technology. The Digital Future exhibition was a real eye-opener. I am still trying to get my head around it all and am keen on reading more about blockchain technology on Mitch’s blog. In addition, many of my colleagues went to the accompanying Digital Futures conference, which raised questions on whether you are “digitally included” or a “useless digit?” There was a particular focus on whether robots will take over our jobs in the future, because according to research from the Oxford Martin School, around 50% of U.S jobs are at risk of being automated and replaced by robots. You can check out future of your profession here:

What were the different types of community that Riel and Polin talked about? How might these apply in your context “as student” and “as teacher?” How might this conceptualisation of communities change your practice “as teacher?”

Riel and Polin (2004) discuss three types of communities: task based learning communities, practice based learning communities and knowledge based learning communities.

In the context of a student, task-based learning communities are most familiar to me, often in the form of a tertiary or VET course. According to Riel and Polin (2004) task based learning communities have short timeframes and a common goal. This has been a common experience throughout my tertiary education, where as a student, set learning outcomes need to be achieved within a semester.

According to Riel and Polin (2004), a practice-based learning community is a way of organising associations of people in a field of endeavour, a profession, an avocation or other activity system. In my role as a teacher, this resonated me (however, like Keturah mentioned in her post, I am also not a teacher, but a librarian, just like Samanthi is). Nevertheless, practice-based learning communities are pivotal to my role as a copyright librarian. I am a part of a number of university copyright networks and groups, where members virtually meet to share challenges, goals and ways of dealing with legislative changes.

Lastly, knowledge-based learning communities are part of the construction of knowledge. The clearest example of a knowledge-based community, as highlighted by Riel and Polin (2004) is a group of researchers who work towards understanding a phenomenon, concept, or relationship. This is highly relevant as a teacher (librarian), because the library and information science profession (LIS) constantly evolves with technology and librarians are required to be up-to-date on new trends, technologies and concepts. At work, I am a part of the “library quality and planning” team which explores LIS research and evidence-based practice initiatives in order to improve professionally, both as a teacher and learner.

How might your “school” (i.e. the setting where you are helping others learn) look very different due to technologies and community?

I work at the university that is a leader in distance education. Therefore technologies and online communities, both task-based and practice-based through industries, is pivotal to my university’s continuity and success. Technology and e-learning allows for greater flexibility of study, across a wider geographic terrain. At my work, technology has played a great part in creating educational opportunities for incarcerated students, via personal devices that contain an “offline” version of the LMS, which does not require internet. We are hoping to send these personal devices out to indigenous communities and students in the Asia-Pacific who also have limited connectivity. This shows the transformative power of technology.

As a teacher, I will need to adapt to new educational technologies. As a librarian, this will involve preparing students to be digitally literate for a digital future, so they can be digital included, rather than a useless digit.


Beiner, F. (2015). Jobs replaced by robots. Retrieved 19 August, 2017, from

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Socol, I.D. (2008). The Toolbelt and Universal Design – Education for everyone. Retrieved 19 August, 2017, from,




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