Blog Post

An interview with Bo Ning – an ISANS Digital Navigator

By: Marco Campana
November 21, 2022

In this episode of the Technology in Human Services podcast I spoke with Bo Ning about his role as a Digital Navigator at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia, or ISANS.

Podcast episode logo

Bo and other Digital Navigators play an essential role to support both Newcomer language learners and his ESL instructor colleagues. One of the important nuances that is clear in our conversation is how effectively Digital Navigators bridge technology and subject matter expertise. He understands the systems and processes Newcomers as English language learners are going through, as well as how ESL is taught, and can be taught and facilitated online on in a hybrid format.

What is a Digital Navigator? Digital Navigators provide digital literacy skills orientation or training for Newcomers. They help Newcomers access digital/hybrid services. During the pandemic these new positions were filled by admin staff or settlement and language practitioners whose roles changed to incorporate digital support and orientation for both clients and colleagues. Digital Navigators are emerging as an important bridge in the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector as we continue to move to a hybrid service delivery model.

There is so much useful information in this conversation, I hope you enjoy Bo’s insights and important perspective on the role Digital Navigators play and can play in our sector.

Some questions we discussed:

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, and what brought you to the work you’re doing at ISANS as a Digital Navigator?
  • What is a Digital Navigator? Can you describe what you do at ISANS?
  • How did the role emerge and is it something that you think should be part of every settlement and language services organization?
  • What skills and attitudes do Digital Navigators need to be effective supporting both Newcomers and service providers?
  • Front-line Settlement Workers provide essential roles helping Newcomers navigate different systems as they settle in Canada. Do you see digital navigation also inevitably becoming part of the work that they do?
  • You share your excitement, knowledge, skills, and what you’ve created to your networks beyond ISANS (I’m thinking of things you share on LinkedIn, for example). How important is it for all of us to be “working in the open”, sharing what we do, our successes and challenges, and how we are responding to the emerging hybrid service delivery reality?
  • Where do you look for inspiration and community when it comes to your emerging role as a Digital Navigator? Where would you recommend others look to connect with others and learn more about how to be effective Digital Navigators?
  • Sector organizations and funders are looking at new and emerging roles such as Digital Navigators to become permanent and embedded roles and skills in the emerging hybrid service delivery system. What advice would you give them about creating, supporting, and developing this role across the sector?

Some useful resources:

ISANS’ Digital Navigators talk about their role

Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript of our conversation using The transcript has not been edited. It may contain errors and odd sentence breaks and is not a substitute for listening to the audio.

Marco Campana 0:00
Welcome to Episode 38 of the technology and human services podcast. In this episode I speak with bohning about his role as a digital navigator at immigrants Services Association of Nova Scotia or ISense. Bow and other digital navigators play an essential role to support both newcomer language learners and his ESL instructor colleagues. One of the important nuances that is clear in our conversation is how effectively digital navigators, bridge technology and subject matter expertise. He understands the systems and processes newcomers as English language learners are going through, as well as how ESL is taught and can be taught and facilitated online in a hybrid format. Digital navigators provide digital literacy skills orientation or training for newcomers. They help newcomers access digital or hybrid services. These new positions are filled by admin staff or settlement practitioners whose role is changed to incorporate digital support and orientation for both clients and colleagues. Digital Navigators are emerging as an important bridge in the immigrant and refugee serving sector as we continue to move to a hybrid service delivery model. There is much useful information in this conversation. I hope you enjoy Bo’s insights and important perspective on the role digital navigators play and can play in our sector. Welcome to the technology and human services podcast. I really appreciate you being here. Um, why don’t we start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, introduce yourself, your background, and what brought you along the path to your work, you’re doing it I sense now as a digital navigate?

Bo Ning 1:23
Sure, so thank you for having me here today, Marco, and always wanted to be to be part of that whole project to share, to let my voice heard and also to share my resources with everyone. So my name is phoning and I go by Bob. I started with my EAL teaching when I was a graduate students at the University of Buffalo in 2013. And in the past years, I taught general ESL, TOEFL and tussled, those international preparation, class preparations. And also I did link in the past and now as a teacher, navigator, at Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia. I am an immigrant. So I moved to Nova Scotia in 2018. And from mainland China, and I started with Eisenerz as a client. So I have accessed a lot of resources that ISIS has provided in the past. And I feel that those sessions were super helpful to me to settle down in the new country in a new city. Yeah, so that’s basically in the past. And because of the COVID, everything, everything’s shifting online. And with my previous experience, teaching remotely teaching in hybrid mode, was my expertise on digital literacy, I’m able to transfer some of the skills that I had in the past, the experience that I have learned to support our instructors. So that’s why right now at this position, I’m supporting instructors and client navigating in general, navigating our online programming.

Marco Campana 3:02
That’s great in this whole idea of a digital navigator. I mean, I think it’s a recent name in terms of as as sort of an official position. But it’s one that’s definitely emerged in particular very strongly during the pandemic, I think, you know, as the sector pivoted, and was doing just online, there was a real need to kind of help both newcomers as well as staff really figure out this technology and how to use it practically and how to apply it. So can you tell me, I mean, and again, we were just talking earlier about like, there’s probably as many definitions as there are digital navigators out there. So when you think of yourself as a digital navigator, what does that mean to you? Can you describe a little bit I guess, what’s a day in the life like for you?

Bo Ning 3:40
So very general, is that I am, I’m always thinking of myself as an instructor, but I’m instructor with educator with more technology skills. So I am able to use those technology skills to make my class like virtual classes, more interactive, and more how to say I just had like, like a more interactive and also like, you know, clients be more engaged in a virtual environment. So in person classes, we have a lot of amazing activities that we can do with client but how we’re able to shift those activities and tweaked and tailor into the online version and see the thing fee those activities. From the instructors perspective. First, I think that is very important as this row ever if I always have people calling me I’m an IT person. And very frankly, I’d say I’m not a specialist it although I have some IT skills, but it’s just that everything we see, obviously I see is from a teacher’s perspective, how I may be able to modify the teaching method to an online mode and make those online classes more suitable, more suitable to our clients.

Marco Campana 4:55
Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things to touch on that I think are super important. And then in the way that the role is evolving is that you are, you are not just as you said to technologists, you’re perhaps a little more digitally literate than the people you’re working with, or perhaps sometimes a lot more, but you’re a subject matter expert, you understand the system and the processes that they’re going through, and how to apply to I guess, like how to be part of that system. And I think that’s I’m flubbing it. But basically, what I’m trying to describe is that you’re not just a technologist who comes in and says, here’s how you use WhatsApp, here’s how I use Moodle. But you’re someone who understands that they’re going through a learn an English language learning process through i sands. And I think that’s a really important nuance to this is that the digital Navigator is kind of it’s building on the other systems navigation that you might be doing as an instructor as a teacher. And, and I think that’s really something that’s, that’s quite interesting for us to think about in our sector.

Bo Ning 5:55
Right. And then another big advantage for me myself is that because I am a second language learner, English is my second language. So I understand how a second language learner needs to learn those skills to be able to achieve, you know, you know, sediment set down in another country, right. So, I know, I have been using those tools to support my English. So for sure, like I see since very differently from a native speakers perspective, especially with technology and stuff. So yeah, so I’m when I’m designing or developing something I usually see not only from a teacher’s perspective, but also I see how this tool is being can be used can support a client’s in the learning the whole learning journey. Yeah. So

Marco Campana 6:47
you bring your own lived experience as exam or into the process. Again, that’s so valuable, because it’s, you understand where these folks are coming from you also talked about something that has come up a lot in conversations during the pandemic, but also recently, around, you know, we’ve all figured out how to use Zoom, and we’re running webinars, and we’re doing workshops, but where a lot of the questions keep coming up for me from people and I see in conversations is what you talked about that engagement, making it interesting, making it active, keeping the learners engaged, and keeping it interesting, even for the for the facilitators. And I wonder, and people are still struggling with that, I find that they haven’t been able to take the kind of group dynamics and kind of more informal or almost kind of social interactions and dynamics from the in person and apply it to the online, the online is much more sort of transactional. Here’s the information, ask your questions. Now we all go home kind of thing. And yet, there are also a lot of people who have been incredible facilitators online, they create engagement, they, you know, they use the breakout rooms really well, they perhaps extend instead of an hour, they think, well, let’s do an hour and 15 minutes. So we have some play time at the end some social time at the end, kind of, again, trying to replicate what might happen in a group in a room. And so I wonder if you can speak a little bit to how you’re helping folks at AI Sans and if the if you see that dynamic shifting in the work there where people are actually able to do more of that engaging kind of online facilitation rather than sort of just transactional English learning, for example. Sure. So

Bo Ning 8:21
I think one thing that has been kind of like invisible in our teaching is class management, whether you’re doing in person class management, doing a given clients instructions, I think less is more, I think that is what I want to say. So especially in the virtual world, if everybody is here and there maybe there are laws, they can see teacher to have the you know, this and that technology issue. Less is really more the clients will be feel more comfortable in your classroom, instead of struggling to use this and that tool, doing this H. SP activity or doing that on, on let’s say, Avenue dossier, right. So we are teaching, you need to make sure that the instruction you’re giving, whether it is in a man class session, or in the break room, is clearly delivered to your clients. So that is one thing about class management. So at ISense I have a list of a checklist of of because we’re now we’re using Microsoft Teams. So we have a checklist of what teacher needs to know to make sure that they’ll be able to manage the whole class to be very easy to be a start from the simple is that you know, how you’ll be able to to control the microphone, the web cameras, and also how we’ll be able to answer teachers answer students questions when they’re when there’s a knee so that is a lot of things that is not you have to be trained to be a teacher but is to something that you need to you need those class management skill to be able to be successful teaching remotely. I started Did online teaching back in 2013. And in the past, and remember, we don’t have audio sharing, like sound sharing, so we cannot do listening practice. So what I did was that I use the microphone to my speaker and broadcasting that listen to practice to them. And also in the past, we don’t have breakout rooms, we don’t have screen sharing. So as long as so I think the, I think another thing is that to lower the expectations for for virtual learning, as long as you are able to see the students student able to see you, you’re able to chat, and students are comfortable there. That is learning, you don’t need these in that many tools to you know, to make a class like you look like fancy. As long as you know, you’ll be able to meet each other in the virtual world, that is a success for step number one, right? And student will not be like Oh, teacher, I can’t see you, Teacher, I don’t know how to do this. But maybe tomorrow, you can see each other. And then you can start use chat, to reply to a chat to give people informal feedback, but give us a like, give us a thumbs up or something or send emojis and pictures in the chat and people are feeling uncomfortable using that tool. Right? So yeah, so class management is very important. And also lower expectations, because most of our instructors are very experienced with years or years of ESL teaching there, you know, but moving to the online shifting online is like, you know, it learning curve for everyone, not everyone learns the same step, right. Same, you know, the learning how to say that the way of you absorbing the knowledge is different. Some people are, you know, a visual learners, so they learn very fast, but some people are not. So, as long as the student can see the teacher teacher be able to talk to students, that is the initial step for success for the online learning.

Marco Campana 11:53
I love that. I mean, I think like keep it simple. Focus on small, tangible steps, make sure that you’ve mastered each step before you move on to the next one. So like, exactly, we couldn’t see each other today. Let’s see if we can see each other tomorrow. Okay, that works. So let’s move on to the chat, let’s move on to emojis. And I mean, you know, I imagine that also helps the instructor not feel overwhelmed with all that technology, as you describe, they may not be that you know, interested or excited by it, it may be more of a challenge for them, for example, and I love I love that you have that history going back to 2013. Because I think there’s, there’s a lot of technology use that’s happened in our sector over many, many years. And we kind of forget we, we lose that memory, right? Like all of a sudden, the, you know, the pandemic hit, and we were all like, Oh, my God, we have to use technology. And it was like, Well hold on a second. You know, especially in language teaching, you’ve probably been doing a blended version of teaching for some time anyway. And there’s a lot of people like you who have that kind of memory of even worse technology, right, where you couldn’t do a lot of the things you can do today, like you described, and look at the suite of tools and how easy they are to use now. So we’ve come such a long way. But I think it’s also really important to have folks like you who have that memory, that institutional memory of like it used to be very different. And taking that knowledge because it was so much more challenging that managing your expectations, understanding that there’s going to be challenges and problems and that that’s part of you know, that’s part of it. That’s okay. And kind of working through that. So I guess one thing I’m curious about in that whole kind of continuum of of managing expectations, you’re working with teachers, for the ones who perhaps were less inclined either from a skill set or an interest sort of perspective to move towards online or blended learning, how do you support them to kind of feel confident to feel comfortable and, and to even feel like this is a viable way to do their work?

Bo Ning 13:49
I think from the teachers perspective is scaffolding. So scaffold the teachers step by step, given them the idea of the virtual world, giving them the idea of how to manage a class, give them the idea of how to interactive with client, in the virtual settings, right. So what I what I have been doing is that I not only offer, you know, group, professional development seminars, but also I support instructors. One on one, I go to the actual classes, and I see how they use those tools to deliver an online class. And I use my eyes so I’m giving them the suggestion from a teacher’s perspective on how, for example, an activity how we can tweak those activities into an online piece. For example, this morning, I had support a teacher to use a quick polling on in the chat like so for example, in the past, we do paper needs assessment, but now we can use those quick polling to transfer those paper needs assessment to the Are you no virtual one. So that is another success for them. So I scaffold them step by step. So today, you can do this tomorrow, you can do that. And then the next day, you can do breakout rooms. And then the day after, you will be able to have your clients to be able to share the screen in the breakout room. That is like a scaffolding to build up those skills. And they’re getting more confident, and more confident, and more comfortable using those tools. If you dump everything at once PBL a mudo, virtual learning tools, scheduling, scheduling meeting, that’s a lot for them. For everyone, right? We all learn things little by little, we do it by day by day, and all on Saturday, and we’ll go back like wow, I have learned so much, right. So yeah, scaffolding, little by little it and getting to that certain level, and you need to know what the organization expectations are. And once the teacher meets expectations, then then they are there. Right. So they’re successful, you know, online teachers

Marco Campana 16:09
have a summit. So yeah, so that’s another part of it, I guess, is the organizational expectations, your organizational framework around this is also really important, because even if people are not necessarily 100%, comfortable, it’s kind of becoming the new normal of how we work. So it sounds like having that built in is also I mean, there’s the carrot and the stick, right? Like you’re, you’re the carrot, you’re the person who can help them along, you can provide the support. But sometimes they need a little stick, which is our framework as an organization, we’re going to teach in this way, we’re going to provide services in this way. And Beau and his colleagues are here to support that as you move forward, but you will move forward, you are expected to move this way. But the approach that you’re describing, it just sounds like it’s so human, it makes sense. You’re embedded in the classroom, you’re watching them teacher, you know, and then you’re you’re not critiquing, but you’re supporting, you’re saying, Okay, I saw this, let’s talk about how we can do it differently. You seem to be struggling here, I have an idea or solution for there. And then like you said that that one on one, because I think again, these are really like you described earlier, and I’ve had this experience with people as well, these are very accomplished professionals, right, they don’t want to feel like they can’t do something. And sometimes these these little boxes, these technology, things, make them feel dumb, they make them feel inadequate. And so being able to provide that time with them, that reflection, that one on one support, I imagine is really important. But equally important is that group where people can can build off of each other’s successes and learn from it. The peer support the peer to peer learning, I imagine is also something that’s really important. So it sounds like the model that you’ve created. Up, you know, this idea of a digital navigator in the language sector is it sounds like it’s an indispensable it’s becoming a core kind of job that is going to be necessary. Moving forward.

Bo Ning 17:55
I think he says that our instructors are, trust us the faith, the they rely on us, and we are filling as myself fill in the responsibility of sharing, and to support them when I need them when they need me, sir. So another thing is that, when talking about teachers ask us questions, they’re professional, for sure. Another environment at ISIS that we most have a teacher there have been very humble. They don’t feel like you know, asking us questionnaires are silly questions. They asking us questions, because they care about our vulnerable clients, they care about their classes, they, they want to work better, to better support our clients in the virtual world. So that is something I see instead of see, oh, you don’t know about this, you don’t know about that? No, but I since working, where I’m at that everybody’s still so humble, and to share. And they’re all everybody’s supporting each other. So for example, me and Serena and Riley, when each one of us if for example is taking days off, we always have a backup person to be there to support ourselves. So that is the working environment. And also like our teachers, when they were talking about supporting peers, they share resources, they share some amazing classroom activities. So that’s why we also have a shearing course, on on Ave does ca that student teachers put their, you know, teaching content there and people can tailor that from there. So yeah, I think is the working environment. And also, it is the management team that put us in a position that teachers trust us. They think we are the person can be the bridge person to communicate with the clients kimkins with them, and also communicates with our IT team because we’re kind of in the middle of clients, instructors and other co workers in the organization.

Marco Campana 19:57
You’re like a multi interpreter right? I mean, that’s like For that, you know, you’re interpreting for it and it to, to the teachers and, and helping the the instructors understand the perspective of their, their their students and their clients as well. I mean, that’s that’s another really interesting role by

Bo Ning 20:12
using plain language.

Unknown Speaker 20:14
Yeah, very important, right?

Bo Ning 20:17
Yeah, very important talk sort of going, if we go too deep on certain things, that it sees things differently. They see like, okay, so this should be something from the backend, but our teachers don’t think so. So we need to, instead of escalating this, we’re explaining everything to different parties about why we’re using this breakup, why we’re setting this as not everyone be able to present, we are explaining everything to different parties. And for sure, we need to digest everything. First, we need to learn ourselves, we need to learn the new technology, we need to learn the new tools that we have.

Marco Campana 20:56
So these are those soft skills in digital navigated roles of people management, not just classroom management is that managing all of those different players and those actors in an organization who are who are inevitably going to be part of that conversation that sounds really

Bo Ning 21:08
I mean, every anyone who work in these virtual world you need to have, you need to be able to always be ready to change. Technology changes every minute, right? Like this tool is good. And then the other day, there will be another tool replacing this tool. So like, in the past 10 years, can you imagine that we just don’t have these in depth features like what we’re having. Now. We can use channeling use your breakout room, we can assign people to present, like in the and also we have so many, like gadgets or extensions that we can use to make the class you know, more fun. So yeah, it’s just that you know, you to be ready to change.

Marco Campana 21:48
Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you had a recent change. You mentioned you’ve moved to teams. And that’s for the I guess the the live web, the like the group chats over the video calling What were you using before? Were you using zoom or something else?

Bo Ning 22:01
So yes, we started with Big Blue Button on Moodle. And then we switched to zoom. And then now we are using Microsoft Teams?

Marco Campana 22:12
And can you tell me a little bit about the progression? Because I think that’s something that’s interesting for people, they’re never sure sometimes what the right tool is, and they just use the tool that, you know, oh, just use Zoom. It’s really easy. How did I sans or the language team decided to move from one one from big blue button to zoom two teams, what was that like?

Bo Ning 22:32
So no matter? No matter how we trend, you know, we transfer from A to B to C. The the idea behind is that how clients learn is the most important to us. From big blue platen to zoom the decision was made because click Blue Button, there are some features that clients would not be able to use. So we switched to zoom to practice to better support clients with listening and speaking skills in the late language perspective. And then we switch from zoom to teams is also because for teams, there are so many possibilities, there are so many tools to explore, we can we can not only practice listening, speaking skills, but also we can practice reading and writing. So that is why we decided to make a huge shift from zoom to teams. So no matter how the change is, the idea behind is always always house clients be a bit better to be supported in a language class. So that is the reason why we’re changing from A to B to C.

Marco Campana 23:38
I mean, that’s, that’s a great reason that should always be the core reason around technology decisions, right? It has to be easy for them and support whatever the learning or service outcomes are that we want for them. That makes a lot of sense. One of the things you talked about was was about sharing and with other teachers within the organization as well as elsewhere. And I noticed that for example, you know, beyond I sense you’ve you’ve created a sharing culture for yourself, you know, we’re connected on LinkedIn and I see you share there you’re excited to share something you’ve learned you’re excited to share something you’ve changed or something you’re working on for example and and I personally love that I think we should all be working in the open and and building on each other’s work and inspiring each other and things like that. I wonder how important you think that that has always been perhaps is becoming now that you know so much changes constantly, that we share our successes, but also our challenges we share what we’ve been building we share what’s inspiring us in the work that we’re doing with each other.

Bo Ning 24:40
So about sharing is, especially on LinkedIn, it’s more of a way to to remind myself I am still I’m a learner learning new technology and also to showcase can show what resources the digital navigator team has created Eisenerz so people, other people will See this? Suppose they can just use the resources? Or maybe we can connect and be able to collaborate to work on some of the future project?

Marco Campana 25:07
That’s great. Do you use other like there’s a number of community of communities of practice, like to tele and subtle net? Do you also design sands? Or do you in particular? Do you participate in those conversations and those networks as well?

Bo Ning 25:20
In the past, we had several collaboration sessions with NorQuest. Yeah, so but because we’re, like, we’re always always always been busy with clients supports teachers support, we have very limited time to collaborate with each other. So like, everything I share on my personal LinkedIn, it’s more of I’m sharing what I have with others. But I’m sure that in the future, we’ll have more opportunities to share with other colonizations.

Marco Campana 25:52
That’s a really good point. I mean, you’re so you’re sharing on your private network, you’re on the side of your desk, if you will, or after hours on your private time, would you like to, I mean, this is a conversation we’ve had a lot in the sector, when it comes to open working and knowledge mobilization and sharing what’s working and learning from each other. Does it make sense to you that in the future, at some point, a portion of your day or your week, however, you want to sort of, you know, break it out is dedicated to that kind of reflection and that sharing, but it’s actually part of your job, and you’re paid to and expected to spend some time doing that?

Bo Ning 26:25
Definitely, I think it’s great to share resources. So we can make best use of the expertise in different organizations, let’s say, at ISIS, we have a strongest, I think I have the strat, we have the one of the strongest literacy team, we have a lot of amazing resources that our instructors has made, and how we’ll be able to modify those content into those digital pieces. That is one thing I have always been thinking of, and but one person only have this much of power, and this much of time and this much of capacity. So I’ve so I’m I have tried my best to, to kind of understanding those materials first. And then using my existing knowledge, adapt those contents into a digital version. So the whole network can use those pieces, right? Because we’re all we’re we’re all, you know, funded so we can share resources with each other without any restrictions.

Marco Campana 27:27
Yeah, definitely, there’ll be some value in that within there. So when you are speaking about community, when you’re looking for inspiration or community, when it comes to your role as a digital navigator, where do you look? Because again, this is a very new and emerging role in our sector. And it’s actually quite even new and emerging in general, right? It’s a kind of a new term, a new job, a new role. Where do you find inspiration or connection to sort of to other peers, where you can sort of learn from their approaches and share how you’re doing digital navigation.

Bo Ning 27:58
So we are always we’re all new to this role. So it’s more like, watch and learn. I am 100% of visual learners. So I usually watch free YouTube videos, webinars. And also, I found those Avenue is hosted by learning to teach. And they have a lot of amazing videos, webinars posted free on YouTube. So because like because right now I’m in Nova Scotia, we usually have a time difference. And then I cannot attend their live sessions. But always, always watch some of the most amazing webinars that are hosted there, for example, how to use this to to do writing how to use just due to reading. So I use those free resources to retrain myself and also for me, because I’m always exploring new ways to support clients. For example, for WordPress, last year, this time last year, I found that our literacy clients were struggling with us and this and that in the digital world. So I found that instead of having clients to log into this system to do this, and this, why not having something that is a direct link to send to them, they click and they can open it and do it themselves. So I started to learn WordPress, and I created a website. And then so it’s just that every because like, I’m a person that when I feel that the clients having difficulty using this and that tool, because of the limited digital literacy skill, it’s very challenging for them. And it’s, I don’t say it’s a waste of time, but it’s the love of time they’re spent on us to to get trained on us certain certain tools. So I will use some other ways to seek to see if I can find certain ways to ease the whole process and to support them. So I think it’s my personality, but to be honest, like you know, always digging into different things to make the thing works better for other people and save other people’s time. Right. So you especially for a you know, literacy client, if they have four hours at home learning and they’re learning they’re not if they’re not learning, maybe they have a part time job to do They have a shift work to do, they can make the most money. Right. So yeah, I think it’s the personality. And I have work OCD. So you can help yourself. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, especially when, when I see something that is not right. I, you know, I always do that myself.

Marco Campana 30:17
Yeah. But I mean, I think that that for me, that sounds like a core trait of a digital navigators that you’re trying to make things easier, like you talked about earlier, plain language, right? Managing expectations, you know, scaffolding and one step at a time. It sounds like that’s just a really important kind of personality and work tried to sort of be focused always on trying to find a solution trying to make it easier. So even, for example, the shift from Blue Button, to zoom to teams, it’s all about, you know, clients being able to use it in the way that they need to, to build their learning, to make sure that they’re there, the system you’re choosing, and the approaches and the tools you’re choosing work for them. And don’t frustrate them, for example. So I mean, it’s it’s a great natural trait that you have, but it also sounds like something that every digital navigator should, should be should have as part of their if not personality, at least their skill set that they’re, they’re committed to that. Exactly, exactly. Excellence. No, I mean, again, I think that I think that the sector is looking at roles like yours as becoming a permanent role, right? There are a lot of other kinds of roles, like cybersecurity specialist and data analysts and data scientists, and there’s a lot of emerging kinds of roles, but from a client service perspective, as we’re moving towards a blended or hybrid sort of service delivery model in a more permanent way. You know, people like you are going to are going to be popping up more often, that role that that that perspective, and it could be a whole new role could be part of a another person to halftime? Well, it depends on how people kind of do it. But, but the skills are also something that’s that, you know, need to sort of, or even the attitudes, I guess, like what you’re describing, you know, that focus that that commitment to service that, that commitment of to simplification. So, I’m curious, you know, it’s a big question. But as organizations are looking at this, and maybe they’re listening to this conversation, thinking, Yeah, this makes sense. I’ve heard of this role. I don’t know what we should do to create one, but what advice would you give to someone in the sector about creating, supporting and developing this role in their organization?

Bo Ning 32:29
I think, for the organization’s perspective, I think, start from little start from, you know, the fundamental pieces. And then moving forward, we have so much resources that we can use, like, for example, to learn to teach link teacher, pre stage one, stage one, pre stage two, stage three training, these are enough resources for teachers to get started with online teaching. And for teacher navigators for this rope, specifically, I think, to be able to been been putting herself into client’s shoes, understand what student’s needs are, and starting from there, to build those activities that better support the clients, at the same time, to support instructors to how to better facilitate a class online. No matter what we do, you’re the knowledge behind you always be client centered, how the activity, better support a client doing a classic activity online, how the tool that you use can better make them feel that they’re part of the class make your class more interactive and engaging. And also, the tool that you use, that can make class teachers, class management time, more efficient, instead of so less clicking, more efficient. And also in a virtual class, the teacher if the teacher is stressed, if this client stressed, this is not a good learning environment, they’re not learning. They’re they’re distracted by these and that, am I, if I’m clicking this button, will I be in another classroom? If I’m doing this, well, well, I lose the class page. So start from beginning and start from little and always see things from the students perspective to better support their knees, developing resources that for example, we are seeing based where we’re using PBL A, so developing the themes that is an urgent need to support a client’s and then starting from there when you’re, you know, there are 1000s of tools that you can use, but which tool is better, you, it’s better for you to use and to support them immediately. And think that is the tool that you go to and in the process of learning these and that tool. You’re learning some other skills that you have never, you have not think of.

Marco Campana 34:57
Oh, that’s great. So the first step is being clients centric and person centric, and then it just feels like from there the natural evolution flows that Oh, does that lead a digital navigator to help them but also the staff, manage their classroom, figure all the systems out, so that they’re not feeling overwhelmed. But also you provide kind of a centralizing role too, because if one instructor figures something out, if they don’t share it with others, then it’s just that one person. Whereas if you’re figuring it out with that instructor, everybody gets the benefit of that knowledge, because that’s centralized sort of support role that you offer also focuses on Hey, everyone we’ve got, we learned something, let me tell you about a kind of thing. Exactly. It feels like it just as a natural evolution in some ways. Exactly. Awesome. I love it. Well, listen, this has been a really fun and interesting conversation. Again, I think that you’re on the cusp of like new emerging roles. I love the way you’re working. And I and I’ve been I’ve been meaning to kind of reach out. So I appreciate you finding the time. Is there anything that I haven’t asked you about that you want to share with folks about being a digital navigator about the importance or the significance of digital navigators in our sector, before we wrap up?

Bo Ning 36:05
I think we also need to take digital navigator as nice to have. So we I have been in some situations that were kind of in the customer service position like that. But I’d be very friendly to, to the instructor saying and telling people that you know, when things happened, we can be the person to be there to support but did your navigator should not be something of should not be in the middle that if a client doesn’t have a digit navigator, they cannot. They cannot, you know, access to online program, you know, so we’re there to support when there is a need, but it shouldn’t be we shouldn’t be the guardian person in front of the door saying that the door is locked, you cannot get in, we should not be that person. So to position ourselves in the right way. So I think that is one thing that I have learned,

Marco Campana 37:03
Oh, that makes a lot of sense. And it also speaks to the fact that everybody has to have some digital navigators part of their job as well. So even the instructor is going to be doing a little bit of supporting this, the students when it comes to technology, the settlement worker will be doing the same thing. So that really is interesting to sort of solidify that. What is your actual role in this process? And what should the expectations be of everybody else in in, in that continuum? Great, great perspective. Bo, listen, thank you so much, once again, for spending time, I appreciate you taking the time. And I know that this will be interesting to lots of other folks as well as they as they think through some of these things in their own organizations.

Bo Ning 37:40
Thank you for having me, this is a great opportunity to have the conversation with you.

Marco Campana 37:45
Thanks so much for listening. I hope you found this episode interesting and useful for you and your work. You can find more podcast episodes, wherever you listen to your podcasts are also on my site I appreciate you listening and if you have any tips, suggestions, ideas or want to be interviewed or know someone who wants to be interviewed, please drop me a line through my website, or Thanks again

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