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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

Why We Need Digital Vikings #edcmooc

This is a Viking.


So is this.


So am I, or at least I try to be.

A Digital Viking. A fearless explorer. Not afraid to go miles and miles…to reach unfamiliar territory that will (hopefully) yield rewards. Risky. Going with the Intuition. Resourceful. And if perchance something doesn’t work out  – the Labradors of the cyberterritory – not ashamed to pack it up and move on.

This week the ongoing debate over the concepts “digital native” and “digital immigrant” came up in #edcmooc. I, like most edtech enthusiasts, am apprehensive about that dichotomy. I’ve been teaching in a 1:1 environment since Apple laptops looked like rainbow toilet seat covers (remember Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods sported this?)


I’ve seen students change to some degree, but I would hesitate to make a generalization. The one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb (pardon the pun) IS the thumbs…and by that I mean that touchscreen gestures and the texting culture have resulted in a most obvious, seemingly biological shift. My 8 year old challenges the fact they are trying to teach keyboarding skills when (and I quote): “It’s all about the screen and we’re never going back”.

I propose we identify, embrace, and encourage a new type of inhabitant in the digisphere – the Digital Viking. Throw away the misconceptions about raping and pillaging…one of the original defintions of fara í víking is: “to go on an expedition”. I see teachers and students who are content in the village, yet others who take to the ether with an adventurous spirit.

(added note: due to the unforeseen popularity of the #digitalviking notion, I’ve created a collection which you can add to- please fell free to post text, audio, vids, or images here: )

But how does one spot (or become) a Digital Viking? Here are some characteristics of Digital Viking Navigation:

Go in the Know or just Go with the Flow.

1. Have a mission…or just have fun: Sometimes we know why we are exploring. Focus is a good thing, but serendipity can foster creativity. (tip: have social bookmarking and curation tools at hand to archive those pleasant surprises- my favs are Diigo,, and Storify)


Hoist the Sail- Embrace the Fail.

2. Be Fearless: Vikings are famous for their gusto and courage. The best thing to do is let go and experiment. Don’t be afraid of messing up. Sure, catastrophes can happen. You might lose data when you forget to save. You might have an account hacked if you are not wary (never click on a link posted by a Twitter “egg”!). But unless you are the leader of the free world, you probably won’t be capable of blowing anything up, so go for it.

Don’t Pout- Work it Out

3. Be Flexible: When it didn’t work out in the Vinland  settlement, the Vikings headed back to Iceland. When Erik the Red was banished from Iceland, he created his own world in Greenland. In other situations, it was beneficial to stay and carry on (think Dublin and Kiev). The students and teachers I’ve encountered who could be considered Digital Vikings successfully adapt to whatever technology is throwing at them. They are not shy about testing out new things. They’ll rework something and troubleshoot with patience. This kind of critical, divergent thinking is what we should strive for.


Berserker or Worker?

4. Cultivate an Identity: Knowing who you want to be online and in what spaces is imperative. Do you want to create a consistent personal brand? Develop a PLN? Meet like-minded people? Follow a tribe? Instigate change? Our motives are varied, and I think the wise Digital Viking evaluates the audience and medium to decide what is appropriate and most effective. Do you see your digital presence as a process or a product – perhaps a combination of both? What tools are in your arsenal? What allies have you made?

Pathetic or Aesthetic?

5. Make Beautiful Things: Viking art and craftsmanship is celebrated for its intricacy – even in the most mundane artifacts.


One of my #edcmooc peers, Celine Keller @krustelkram was inspired by this post to create an animated GIF.


Another amazingly artistic #edcmooc student, Linda Saukko-Rauta (@saurau ) of Finland was inspired to make a #sketchnotes version of this entire post!


Just for fun: Here is our parody to Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”: The Vikings. That’s me in the boat.

Two years later…and I just transformed this blog post into a hand-drawn stop motion animation video:

#digitalnative #etmooc #edcmooc #personalbrand #Appleclamshell #typography #week1 #digitalimmigrant #digitalviking

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