Digital Literacy and Online Tools for Learning – the Scenario of Susie

Image source​ by ​Trevor Dennis

This is a mindmap and hypothetical scenario that tells the story of Susie and her use of Web 2.0
tools to conduct research for her assignments. The mindmap:​ ​Susie Web 2.0 Research​ is
designed to give an idea of the complex web of information, ideas, sharing, evaluation and analysis
that can go on (in an ideal world) when the potential of the Web 2.0 is exploited fully.

The Scenario
Susie is studying at Unitec NZ for a​ ​Bachelor of Architectural Studies​. She is in her second year
and has just received the rubric for her next assignment, which is a paper that focuses on
analysing architectural sites, discussing a hypothetical development, which demonstrates, for
example how to ensure the environmental sustainability of the project.

Susie and her classmates initially sit around with their laptops and discuss strategies, ideas, and
deadlines. They set up a​ ​Mindmeister​ mindmap and make sure that it has been shared with
everyone in the group, and then they brainstorm into it while also consulting​ ​Wikipedia​ for insight
into some of the key terminology and concepts, as well as for inspiration. Susie meanwhile Tweets
a couple of questions out to her​ ​Twitter​ community (several of whom are architects) around
environmental sustainability. Before the group sign off they also set up a​ ​PB Works​ wiki site to
collaboratively collate any of the useful resources they find online. A discussion around key​ ​tags
and categories, along with the necessity for annotation plus a brief evaluation, helps ensure that
the resources they discover are actually useful. Finally, the group members check that they have
Skype​ contacts and mobile phone numbers for each other.

Over the next couple of weeks Susie starts her research. She searches​ ​Google​ with some of the
key words and phrases that she brainstormed with her classmates, and brings up a host of tools
and resources. She explores an​ ​online community of architects​, and finding someone whose work
she likes, Susie emails her with some questions about design. She also watches some​ ​videos
around the subject, attends a couple of​ ​Webinars for architects​, accesses a metasite that collates
urban planning links​ specific to New Zealand, searches​ ​Flickr​ for designs, takes a​ ​tour of Paris​ on
a site that uses a​ ​mashup​, and logs in to​ ​Second Life​ to visit the​ ​Architects Community​ and the
virtual library​. During the time she is doing this, she publishes some of her initial thoughts in her
blog​ and receives some comments from around the globe that challenge some of the ideas, or give
suggestions how they might be expanded. She is also able to access some​ ​raw data​ made
available in open databases around soil and geology, which she collates and displays in
Gapminder​ – an online tool that transforms the data into a dynamic longitudinal representation of
soil erosion tendencies. Every time she discovers a resource she thinks is useful she adds it to the
group Twine, and she and her group have read, summarised and referenced three journal articles
each and added them to the group wiki.

Finally, she pulls all of her ideas together into a mindmap that forms the framework and structure
for her assignment (using the notes function on the mindmap tool to help her remember key points
and sources). She types up her assignment adding links, images, and references as she goes. Her
last steps are to add her reference list (which she has been keeping online in​ ​Noodle Tools​), and
then to run the assignment through a free online​ ​plagiarism checker tool​ to check for unintentional
errors.

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