Process.arts interviews DIAL’s new Coordinators – Kaye Pryce (KP) and Rossella Emanuele (RE)…

What does DIAL stand for?

DIAL (Digital Integration into Arts Learning) is in the change business. It’s a cultural change programme comprising of a network of self-identifying communities within UAL. DIAL helps these communities (made up of students and staff) to express and assess their digital literacies and cultivate processes, resources and toolkits, which in turn support the communities’ development and growth.

What is a typical day for a DIAL Coordinator?

KP: Most days, we support Chris and 18 (and counting) self-identifying communities cultivated by the programme. My involvement can range from: answering telephone and email queries, editing and contributing to resources, helping to plan events, writing and responding to posts, research to just serving as a sounding board. I like the nature of my job – the work is challenging and at times demanding, but knowing that I can contact Chris or Rossella when necessary is very reassuring.  I am encouraged to be creative and allowed a fair amount of freedom to perform my duties without being micro-managed on a daily basis. It’s one of the most rewarding job I’ve had – everyday is different!

RE: As we have just started a couple of weeks ago, so far a typical day has been attending meetings with Chris where Kaye and myself have been introduced as new appointed DIAL Coordinators to a number of projects that DIAL is supporting. We met many members of staff across UAL that have proposed and want to organize a project on Digital Literacy and would need DIAL support for realizing it and got a sense of what requirements they need. The overall numbers of projects that DIAL is currently involved with so far are 18th – for details see http://process.arts.ac.uk/content/all-project-groups – we have been introduced to 8.
Here as some:

  • POI – Professional Identities
  • No name project
  • Fred Millar – Lego serious player
  • Things Unlimited
  • Digital Video Presentation skills
  • David Simms questionnaire at LCC
  • Drupal will happen soon
  • Digital Literacy will also coming up soon

How is the team structured?

We’re a small team headed up by Chris Follows – Project Manager, with an Advisory Board and two DIAL Coordinators, Kaye Pryce (KP) and Rossella Emanuele (RE) in tow.

What were your first impressions of DIAL?

KP: I had no idea what DIAL was about, what my involvement would or could be or what impact it would have on my understanding of digital literacy. After much background reading, talking to Chris and colleagues, I thought, bring it on.

RE: I started the job with some understanding of what DIAL does, as I had already been involved in supporting Chris since September 2012, and had also previous knowledge of the DIAL program because in 2010, when Chris Follows started his research into Digital Literacy I worked with him at Wimbledon. So my first impression was filtered by this knowledge, nevertheless I wasn’t aware of the amount of work that Chris developed since then and the number of projects that were now involved. The expansion of the project has been incredible and I could see also the potential for further expansion though I felt I had quite a bit of catching up to do to get up to speed…

What’s your understanding of digital literacy?

KP: I had a vague idea what it was but found it hard to describe. I am inclined to agree with Josie Fraser, social and educational technologist, Leicester City Council, who said,  “…digital literacy = digital tool knowledge + critical thinking + social engagement…its main characteristics [is that]:

it supports and helps develop traditional literacies
it’s a life-long practice
it’s about skills, competencies and critical reflection on how these skills and competencies are applied
it’s about social engagement”.

Ultimately the term can’t be defined easily – it’s significance and meaning is personal, it’s individual. It will represent different things from person to person, from generation to generation, from culture to culture, from country to country and so on.

RE: I think much has already been said about Digital Literacy and we can find various definitions for it and what the concept entails. I tend to think of Digital Literacy as an elastic concept: it doesn’t matter how much one knows about it will always stretch out further and there will always be new areas that challenge ones knowledge. I believe having an attitude to want to learn more about Digital Literacy is essential, as a concept, DL seems to continuously redefining itself. It is a fact that is now embedded in any form of cultural/creative undertaking and/or exchange and more… So we can’t get away from it!

Does the DIAL Coordinator post live up to your expectations?

KP: The job description gave me some indication what I was signing up for but as ever, the reality is different. Much has happened in the programme’s 18-month lifetime. Having to recall projects, names, meetings, deadlines, posts, opinions, incidences and technologies to name but a few – can be daunting. It feels like a Pandora’s Box of information which is as wide as it is deep.

It is really helpful that much of DIAL’s journey is captured online, with new items and contributors being added constantly. I rely on Chris’ knowledge, guidance and delegation – because he has a good handle on what’s what.

Overall, my experience has been a tidal wave of excitement, great interest and intrigue. Whilst I fully know and understand the premise of DIAL, my ability to apply that knowledge and understanding in a timely manner can be easier said than done.

RE: It is early stage to give an informed answer to this question; a proper feedback on the experience would be more accurate by the end of the 6 months. For now is all quite exciting and I am enjoying the work and found most of the projects we have been introduced very interesting. On a practical note it definitely requires taking in a lot of information quite quickly, good time management, ability to clearly identify priorities, as there is lots to do! The communication between myself Chris and Kaye is really quite an important aspect of the job I think, as we all need to be aware of the bigger picture and represent DIAL but at the same time individually taking the lead of some projects mainly to take some workload off Chris shoulders!

What happens post July 2013?

In its current form, the DIAL Project will come to an end. By which time, a final report will be drawn up by Chris, designed to measure the impact and outcomes of the self-identifying communities. Ultimately, DIAL aims to ensure that all self-identifying communities can be autonomous and sustainable in their individual development programmes and use the report findings to secure permanent funding.

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