Expand EmTech’s Digital Literacy Influence: Call for Partnerships

Actively Seeking Partners and Sponsors

We are actively seeking individual, institutional, and corporate partners and sponsors to improve this valuable learning opportunity. Together we can assist learners worldwide to understand the value and implications of using emerging technologies and increase digital and media literacy.

About #EmTechMOOC

The State University of New York Exploring Emerging Technologies for Lifelong Learning and Success (#EmTechMOOC) is a self-paced, collaborative, and engaging course that helps learners everywhere gain comfort, familiarity, and mastery of freely available web-based technology tools. #EmTechMOOC uses discovery exercises to guide participants’ learning while building a personal learning toolkit for a lifetime of use.

A decade of #EmTechMOOC history has resulted in an online community that supports life-long learners at all levels: college students, faculty, current and career-seeking professionals, and retirees who desire increased digital literacy.

#EmTechMOOC is driven and sustained by the ephemeral nature of technological evolution. Our reliance on technologies to communicate and collaborate is an essential and critical part of our lives. In order to keep pace with current and emerging technologies that leverage and reach beyond commercial social media, it’s important to be able to evaluate and identify new tools to meet specific objectives. As a result of solid project design and crowdsourcing, this 24×7 resource is stable and available “on demand.”

  • The Project Goals Assist Learners to:

    • identify the implications of using current and emerging technologies for personal and professional growth.
    • develop lifelong learning strategies and habits to keep pace with technology change.

Call for Partners – Highlights 

EmTech leadership is open to all ideas for project sponsorship, institutional adaptation, sustainability, and improvement. We will work along with partners to support their initiatives to reuse or adapt EmTech to meet their specific needs.

The Unique Value Proposition of EmTech

  1. Participants gain lifelong learning strategies to find, evaluate, and use technology tools and resources.
    • The central emphasis is on acquiring 21st-century skills:
      communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
  2. Participants access a crowd-sourced collection of freely available current and emerging technology tools and critical resources.
    • A searchable and sortable platform that allows searching based on desired objectives. 
  3. Participants are encouraged to create an ePortfolio or learning journal to reflect on their learning journey. 
    • Digital artifacts are created through hands-on Discovery Exercises.
  4. Participant feedback is valued and contributes to shaping content offerings:
    • The participant rating system is designed to convey a resource’s value; low ratings can inform decisions regarding removing and/or replacing particular tools. 
  5. Our research shows that learning happens vicariously through observations of participants’ experiences. 

Potential Concerns and Our Response

  1. The use of unvetted technologies.
    • EmTech’s response: Tools shared via EmTech are ubiquitous tools that many people use every day. It is critical to provide education about how to best select an appropriate technology for the desired objective and to help individuals understand important criteria that should be met to safely select the best solution to meet their needs.
  2. Safety and privacy issues.
    • EmTech’s response: WIKI entries are crowdsourced and also moderated/evaluated by project administrators. A process has been put in place to evaluate the tools, tutorials, and resources to ensure that they are accessible and honor privacy/security implications.
  3. Support staff might feel burdened to learn a wide range of tools in order to field questions from users.
    • EmTech’s response: The EmTech online community is a viable avenue of support. Participants are also prompted to seek out their own solutions. Principles of using technology tools are promoted as compared to a reliance on specific tools. This allows easier transition when a tool or technology falls out of favor and alternate solutions need to be identified. Digital literacy skills are strongly promoted throughout EmTech. 

Benefits of Partnering 

  1. EmTech’s goals are ripe for grant funding opportunities. A partner institution can use this platform to secure funding opportunities to benefit a wide range of target groups and to address institutional goals:
    • Examples of target groups: Underserved communities, globally diverse audiences, teaching faculty, K-12 instructors, pre-service teachers, HS to college learners, adult learners.
    • Examples of related institutional goals: STEM, digital equity, inclusivity/diversity, globalization.
  2. EmTech provides multiple gateways for research and scholarship opportunities. 
  3. Access to surveys, discussion forum posts, social media, and ePortfolio reflections include quantitative and qualitative information collected over the past ten years.

Ongoing Growth Areas for EmTech

  1. Communicating about this resource and the outcomes achieved.
  2. Marketing to target groups.
  3. Visual design and WIKI programmatic functionality can still be improved further. 
  4. #EmTechMOOC – Recent steps taken to improve under the MOOC model:
    • Under the recently released version, the entire MOOC can be completed without intervention. Some of the modifications in the newest version include:
      • Digital completion badges awarded after completing objective-based quiz questions that require learners to identify appropriate tools by searching EmTechWIKI to locate the purpose of various tools in addition to other question themes.
      • ePortfolios are now an optional activity.
      • Completers can become EmTech Fellows to help nurture a supportive community. 
      • Reduced heavy reliance on mentor interaction.

EmTech’s Impact

  • Infographic with data regarding participation and post-survey responses
  • Enrollment Data (Jan. 2018 – Aug. 2021)
  • 30,000 enrollments from 151+ countries
  • 9th most popular MOOC out of 48 active SUNY MOOC courses
  • 795 SUNY enrollments (including 472 from UB) 
  • Website Analytics – 543 unique visitors from WNY & Rochester (10 months: Jan. 4 – Oct. 31, 2020)

Scholarly Publications and Presentations

  • To date, 47 publication credits have been earned by faculty, staff & students who have published 12 scholarly peer-reviewed publications through TOEP & EmTech.
  • The EmTech team and affiliated faculty have provided a number of conference presentations, webinars, and other events to share info about the project and our research findings. 
  • Additional info is found on EmTech website.

Participant Testimonials

  • What are people saying about participating in EmTech? Comments and feedback from #EmTechMOOC participants are continually added to the EmTech site.

Project History

EmTech’s inspiration emerged through a series of professional development initiatives aimed at improving digital and media literacy. 

1996 Inspired by 23 Things – a Charlotte Mecklenburg Library (NC) library staff professional development initiative
2010 Graduate student course assignment – “Introduction to Information Technologies,” Department of Library & Information Studies, UB
2012 Tools of Engagement Project (TOEP) – SUNY-wide faculty professional development (5 years)
2016 EmTech University at Buffalo Professional Pathways Grant funding awarded
2017  EmTech SUNY Innovative Instruction Technology Grant (IITG) funding awarded
2018 EmTech Pilot – launched Jan. 2018
2018 EmTech Official Project Launch – March 2018
2021 EmTech Version #2 – launched Jan. 2021

Here are ways you can help sustain this valuable learning opportunity and grow the EmTech learning community:

  1. Share info about EmTech with college students, faculty, and anyone from across the globe who has an interest to keep pace with technology change.
  2. Contributors are needed to grow the EmTechWIKI collection. We have a collection of tools and resources that need to be added to the wiki. The current resources can also be improved by adding useful tutorials and additional insights.
  3. Become an EmTech Fellow! It takes a lot of effort to support and nurture a community. A Fellow’s role is to provide mentoring and support in the EmTech Coursera discussion community and through social media. The goal is to help learners understand what is expected in EmTech, connect learners to relevant tools, and help encourage deeper learning within the EmTech community.
  4. Scholarly Research is needed to help us make sense of the vast amounts of data that we have collected through EmTech and from other initiatives that EmTech is modeled after. This data will help tell the story about EmTech’s impact and help us continually improve this learning opportunity.
  5. Assistance to write grants and develop crowdfunding campaigns to sustain and improve the project for future learners and share project outcomes.
  6. Programmers, developers, and designers are needed to continue to improve EmTech. This includes, but is not limited to, continued accessibility testing and reporting of the EmTechWIKI collection of resources.
  7. We are actively seeking individual, institutional, and corporate partners and sponsors to improve this valuable learning opportunity!

Partners, collaborators, and anyone interested to get involved are encouraged to reach out:

Roberta (Robin) Sullivan, Director, rrs@buffalo.edu
SUNY Exploring Emerging Technologies for Lifelong Learning and Success (#EmTechMOOC)
Teaching & Learning Strategist, Education Services Team
University Libraries, University at Buffalo, State University of New York
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/robertarobinsullivan