Digital Gardening: Instruction Librarian KT Lowe shares her first-person perspective

Digital Gardening: Instruction Librarian KT Lowe shares her first-person perspective

In December 2021, I was fortunate to be a member of the inaugural class of Digital Gardening Faculty Fellows at Indiana University. Thirty-five faculty members from throughout the IU system were selected to participate in the Digital Gardening Initiative, which aims to pull together faculty from diverse IU institutions and backgrounds to help them develop digital literacy pedagogy.

The Fellowship consisted of a series of required workshops and meetings every two weeks, plus additional workshops and speakers that were voluntary.  The required workshops covered topics such as Adobe Express and the Information Literacy Online Toolkit, while voluntary sessions brought in both student and professional presenters on topics such as Minecraft for Education. All IU East faculty, staff and students  have access to these and many other resources for free as long as they retain an affiliation with the IU system.  The Digital Gardening Fellowship pulls together and leads the class of fellows through all of these digital tools, allowing us to become more familiar with what is available on campus.  The ultimate goal is to incorporate these tools into our own coursework and work-related activities in order to increase digital literacy overall on campus. 

A meme promoting fake news, using tools learned as part of the Digital Gardening Initiative. Image by KT Lowe.

I found the initiative extremely useful for developing my information literacy coursework further.  When students understand how information is created, they can better identify false information as well.  In 2019, I created an information literacy assignment for first year students, which is typically assigned in their UCOL-101 classes.  However, one of the assignment components had become harder to complete.  I revised the assignment to incorporate Adobe Express’ social media tool, and I have asked students to draw on their knowledge of fake news to make a promotional image in favor of misinformation.  My example is available above; however, students have the ability to use Adobe Stock images, a wide variety of fonts and layouts and their own observations of fake news conventions to build and post their own images. 

I also learned how to use Adobe Rush, a video editing software tool that is also free to all IU East students, staff and faculty.  Adobe Rush is a four-track recorder that allows for a limited number of channels and quick editing.  For student projects, it is an ideal basic video editing tool, with plenty of extras like title cards, special effects and sound and video palettes to fine-tune videos.  Because I am interested in both protest music and information literacy, I wrote and recorded a talking blues song which highlighted information literacy techniques.  In addition, I filmed, edited and posted the music video above.  As a digital learning tool, I hope that a simple music video can effectively promote good information literacy habits in a fun and entertaining manner.

Last, I am also a student in the Master of Arts in English program at IU East, and I wanted to see for myself how practical it would be to create a final project using only tools learned through Digital Gardening.  I was pleased to note that Adobe Spark (part of Adobe Express) allowed me to create a clean, simple webpage that doubled as a presentation tool.  I developed my final project for my ENG W682 Digital Pedagogy class entirely online, using Rush to create two short videos and Spark to compile images, links, text and video together in a polished, easy to follow manner.  If I could do it for my own coursework, I could easily teach it to others.  I also had the opportunity to present my work to not only my fellow Digital Gardeners, but the entire campus at the Showcase event, which was held on April 29.

The Digital Gardening Initiative is currently seeking faculty members for its Fall 2022 cohort.  Besides the clear benefits I experienced from the program, Fellows receive a $500 stipend and become part of a learning community focused on improving and expanding digital literacy across all campuses.  The deadline to apply is Tuesday, May 10th

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