Week 2: Digital Networks 2020

#DigPINS explores digital networks from the perspective that who you interact with, and how you interact, informs and shapes your digital identity. We form one network as a group doing #DigPINS together; there is a larger network of all those who have taken #DigPINS in the past at various institutions, and those of us within AUC this semester interacting with our colleagues at UM-D, SNC, CU and KC, we will branch that network out even further.

Some of our guiding questions this week include:

  • What does Twitter offer/afford?
  • Who do you interact with online? How many of them are people you would not normally meet in person or talk to at conferences?
  • How do you find and join networks? How diverse are the networks you join and individuals you follow? What guides your choices of whom to follow?
  • What are your current networks? Which communities and hashtags do you interact with daily? Periodically? Intermittently?
  • What are the affordances and limitations of particular networks?
  • What role do you play (or might you want to play) in these networks? In which spaces are you a consumer/listener versus producer versus spaces where you engage in sustainable ways?


As we begin to talk about digital networks, we start to talk about being more resident in more public places. One way to think about building connections is with a Personal Learning Network (or PLN) model.

For example, I am active in several online spaces. I connect on Twitter mainly with people who work in (notice hashtags) #HigherEd #Edtech #OpenEd (open education) #digped (digital pedagogy if you participated in Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo) and #facdev (faculty development). I follow people who mainly tweet about social justice and equity in education and I try to ensure I follow and amplify marginal voices as much as possible (women, global South, POC, LGBTQ+ voices). I know about DigPINS because I have known Autumm for years via connectivist MOOCs and we work together as co-directors of Virtually Connecting, a grassroots community.

Things to do this week:

Watch this week’s video from your facilitators.

Develop your network – Start looking for people and groups you know (professionally/academically) who might have public presences on Twitter. Then check out who they follow, the hashtags they use, etc. Connect with ones that you feel an affinity towards. (Or, going back to our Identity week, think about spaces where you’re already connecting with your professional communities, and how you might engage in those networks differently). Notice who they follow. Notice what they tweet about. Check out their pinned tweets, their profiles, the hashtags they use.
Our examples this week will focus on Twitter, but if you discover useful groups on other platforms (like Slack or Discord or Facebook or good old blogs and email and mailing lists!), think about how they fit into your developing digital identity.

I won’t make a long list of suggested people to follow. You can start by following each other and others who tweet to the #DigPINS hashtag. If interested in recent speakers who came to AUC for various events, here are some:

  • Jesse Stommel @jessifer
  • Bonnie Stewart @bonstewart
  • Amy Collier @amcollier
  • Sean Michael Morris @slamteacher
  • Ana Salter @anasalter
  • Sherri Spelic @edifiedlistener
  • Paul Prinsloo @14prinsp
  • Catherine Cronin @catherinecronin
  • Alec Couros @courosa
  • Sukaina Walji @sukainaw
  • Cheryl Hodgkinson-Williams @cherylhw
  • Robin DeRosa @actualham

There are several AUC faculty who are active on twitter, esp JRMC e.g. @KimFoxWOSU (from whom the Scavenger Hunt activity is inspired), some folks from the RHET department, and some administrators! Can you find them?
Tweet using #DigPINS – We do want to continue having conversations in Slack and on the blog, but this week you is an opportunity to start working in the public more. (Disclaimer: if you have concerns about working in the public due to security or privacy talk to me). Maybe consider not just promoting your blog post in Slack but posting it to Twitter – don’t forget to tag #DigPINS. Our main prompt for the week is to consider people and environments for building your PLN and share your process for finding and connecting with them. And of course, people who have participated in #DigPINS in the past might be good folks to connect to! You can identify past participants by searching for #DigPINS on Twitter and scrolling through the search results.

Join our Digital Scavenger Hunt! This was originally designed for Twitter, but if you prefer, you can do the activities on Slack instead.Every day this week, one of the facilitators will post a scavenger hunt goal for the day. Your mission will be to

Every day this week, one of the facilitators will post a scavenger hunt goal for the day. Your mission will be to

  1. Share what you find for each day’s prompt.
  2. Check the #DigPINS hashtag to see what other people are finding, and respond to someone each day.
  3. Over the course of the week, quote someone’s response, adding a comment or question.
  4. Over the course of the week, send a private message to one of the facilitators, and we will reply. Twitter doesn’t only have to be in the public timeline, the Direct Message (or DM) feature works more like texting an individual or small group.
  5. Check your Twitter “notifications” to see what conversations you have been mentioned or tagged in. Respond to any notifications that you feel compelled to, and consider retweeting tweets you think are pertinent. Add your ideas via tweet to the growing conversation.
  6. Always remember to add the #DigPINS hashtag.

Play” the Nicky Case narrative game The Wisdom and/or Madness of Crowds to dip your toe into the world of network science. We use this “explainer” to start conversations about information literacy in networks; it should prompt some thoughts about how you want to tune your networks to bring in the kinds of information you want and need, and be resilient against “fake news.” You may also think about what kind of role you play (or might want to play) in your networks (e.g. fostering bonding and/or bridging ties between your networks). (There are lots of neat extra resources linked in this game; feel free not to follow every footnote. Unless you want to!)

Optional: if you enjoy this, Case has recently released an explainer on future COVID-19 scenarios. This is not related to DigPINS at all, but it might be interesting to you for its topic, or as an example of good science writing.

Suggested Reading Choices:

Technical help:

If you need help organizing yourself on Twitter, try Tweetdeck.

Twitter can be overwhelming because of so much information coming at you at once. Tweetdeck allows you to organize by search terms, hashtags, user lists… etc.

Video of How to Use Tweetdeck

And of course, remember you can reach out to us if you need help by direct messages on Twitter, or through Slack or email.