Learning Beyond Limits – Embrace IT!!

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I remember hearing someone, somewhere, that when we are researching for our assessment tasks then we should only be choosing from educational databases or databases that have to do with our profession.  When I heard this I agreed to a certain extent but there was something that did not sit comfortably after all the reading we have been doing about connected learners, connectivism, the convergence of media, networked knowledge.  Also, being a teacher librarian, perhaps it was because while that is my professional identity, my personal learning  does not restrict me in going beyond the boundaries to open my eyes to new concepts and ideas that could keep me at the cutting edge of my professional learning, knowing and ability to share with others.

For example, in my GBL Chapter, I was able to draw links and make connections between digital literacy and how GBL allows the learner to practise those skills.  To get to this space, I needed to read a little bit from psychology, a little bit from cultural studies, a little bit from media and well, I think it can be seen that this is what learning looks like for everyone. It is “lifelong and lifewide” (O’Connell, 2014, p. 13; Erstad, 2013)  Mimi Ito outlines this fact of learning beyond the formal space of learning in the following YouTube clip.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuV7zcXigAI

While the changes needed to participate in a digitally, networked information ecology are challenging, I am now seeing them as positively challenging.  By this I mean, how lucky we are that we can move beyond our pigeon-holed identities and be recognised as learners.  I am so privileged to be able to ‘connect’ to my learning, even though my hardware breaks and some frustrations do happen as a result, ultimately, I always have an option to connect.  I don’t have to enrol in a Uni degree but I choose to so that I can be accountable for my learning and my knowledge sharing.  I want to add to the conversation from my experience and my learning and whether that be media, psychology, cultural studies, game-based learning, I want to know my learning has meant something.  Is this not giving education the value it deserves in our global context?  This is what formal education settings need to realise that learning happens beyond their formal settings but it is the social space of schools and Uni that refine our learning through the ability to dialogue with others who are pursuing the same commonality of learning.  Hmmm…Dialogic learning in fact!?! (Note to self, go back and read Anna Craft and Rupert Wegerif.)

When we allow students the same permission we allow ourselves to learn in informal spaces as well as formal settings we open up the possibilities.  We are learning beyond limits.  Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010) use the idea of ‘classroom-as-container’ as a metaphor that limits the potential of learning and research.  I like this metaphor as it is the packaging learning as happening only in the classroom that is one of the biggest challenges I face in my role as teacher librarian, which still remains a very misunderstood role.  In the following clip, John Seely Brown explains the boundaries of learning has moved and compares GBL mentality as the way of learning in all areas of life.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGdpbba1i9c

They are bringing it from the context of the game to the real world.  Wouldn’t it be great if this transference of learning happened across all areas of curriculum.  This is where I think 21st Century libraries and teacher librarians are even more important as we have always moved learning beyond the classroom – we need to connect this fact for our students though by providing relevance and purpose to their learning (without limits!)

Welcome to the 21st Century???We are 15 years into this phenomenon called the 21st Century.  Let’s embrace what it has to offer and instead of limiting our students learning…….let the learning move beyond.  Embrace ITand all the affordances it brings. (How you read this might be a reflection of where you are at, it was a typo but when I reread, there was something crucial in there for me! What about you?)

References:

Erstad, O. (2013). New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies, Volume 52 : Digital Learning Lives : Trajectories, Literacies, and Schooling. New York, NY, USA: Peter Lang AG. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Leander, K. M., Phillips, N. C., & Taylor, K. H. (2010). The changing social spaces of learning: Mapping new mobilities. Review of Research in Education, 34, 329-394. doi: 10.3102/0091732X09358129

O’Connell, J. (2014). Researcher’s Perspective: Is Teacher Librarianship in Crisis in Digital Environments? An Australian Perspective. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 1-19. doi: 10.14265.20.1.002


Critical Reflection – To Game or Not To Game

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As I started INF 541 – Game-Based Learning, I was fairly naive.  The only personal understanding I had of games was that they were something that people do on an iPhone, iPad or a game console.  I had never really played any games on my laptop apart from Solitaire or Chess and really the games I engaged in were time wasters or for entertainment.  I had observed my own children playing Minecraft with their friends whilst on Skype and strategising over how to become the best clan in Clash of Clans and I was curious about the role of games in education.  How do games provide learning?

Professionally, I had an experience a few years ago in implementing Gamestar Mechanic into the library to introduce the students to the idea of game design as another form of text and using their learning in a creative way.  Little did I know that there has been a whole lot of research being done in this area of game-based learning.

That is definitely one of the big learning moments I have had this session in that I realised that research is vital before effective implementation of game-based learning can take place.  It was very frustrating as a primary school teacher librarian though as I soon discovered that there was very little research into game-based learning in the primary school. I noted this from the outset in our Module 1 discussions. My observation is that games are being used in primary schools but I could hardly find the information relevant to my learning context.  This was supported by research I found and used in my first assessment where “Caponetto, Earp & Ott (2013) where they searched for papers that dealt with the actual integration of games into classrooms, of the 753 papers their search discovered and after application of the criteria for their purpose, only 78 papers were returned.”

It also became apparent in my participation on Twitter ( a new experience for me this session) that the use of games in education is a ‘hot topic’ right now.  There is so much being shared through this platform and one learning I have also made is that while I retweeted some of these articles, I really wanted to discuss some of the ideas within them.  Games as advancing education, ways to use Minecraft, how to choose the best games for learning? it was all there on Twitter.  Those that lacked research and those that matched the research we had been accessing within this subject.  This is an area for self-improvement for me to focus on next session as I need to take the initiative to perhaps reflect on these using the affordances of the reflective blog that I have set up.

Another major point of learning for me during this session is that there is more involved in using games than what can be seen on the screen (Gee, 2012).  I was starting to form a definition of what game-based learning is and thankfully the title of my reflective post mentioned that this definition was evolving. I would suggest now that I still agree with this initial definition but I would now include that just as there are different types and genres of books, the same can be said about games.  It is the teachers role to design learning practices after they have actively assessed and evaluated the potential and limitations of the game so that they can know: 1) how the game can assist in the learning; 2) rules/goals, characters, settings, how the game can be differentiated for different levels of play – or the mechanics of the game; 3) what other learning activities need to be incorporated alongside the game? (Routledge, 2009).  So, the game is not a replacement for the teacher and just as any other resource would be utilised in the classroom, so should the game intended for learning be scrutinised and selected according to the learners needs.

My knowledge base has definitely been expanded by undertaking this unit of study and I can definitely see that the adoption of game-based learning needs to be strategic.  The affordances of game-based learning are so much more than being fun, engaging and motivating.  These can be seen in my Compendium chapter.  For me, there is still much more reading to be done and time to synthesise what has been read and shared away from the pressure of deadlines is needed.

References:

Caponetto, I., Earp, J., & Ott, M. (2013). Aspects of the Integration of Games into Educational Processes. International Journal of Knowledge Society Research (IJKSR), 3(4), 11-21. doi:10.4018/ijksr.2013070102

Routledge, H. (2009). Games-based learning in the classroom and how it can work!. In T. Connolly, M. Stansfield, & L. Boyle (Eds.) Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces: Techniques and Effective Practices (pp. 274-286). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-360-9.ch016

 


What IS important for learning now? Blog Task #4 – INF530

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I have been pondering this question for a couple of weeks now and at first was shocked I didn’t have an immediate opinion or thought about this.  As I have pushed on in the learning, I have realised that despite digital literacy skills in their multifaceted ways being important for learning for NOW and in the future.  Yes, an understanding of the multimodal landscape where information is conveyed in what we know as the Internet is definitely important now but the one thought I have had is the nature of citizenship.  Not citizenship in the sense of belonging to a community but the sense of citizenship and interconnectedness with our fellow human beings.

 

Having read about the many affordances of technology throughout this session, Mike Wesch and his description of how things change when technologies are introduced, including cultures was really quite confronting.  When you reflect o this though, you just have to look around when you sit at a coffee shop and see the changing nature of relationships and connection as people constantly check their phones when meeting up with friends or take their laptops to lunch to keep working.

Retrieved from:  http://youtu.be/DwyCAtyNYHw

When I consider citizenship as important for learning now, I consider it in a sense of connecting with other people offline so that our values are developed through the meeting and connecting face to face.  It is too easy to hide behind technology.

Then I am reminded of the reading by Philip & Garcia (2013) who considered the very human element that the teacher brings to the classroom.  The fact that our students while being immersed in these knowledge networks still need to be guided and to an extent protected.  We need to teach our students that we are ‘feeding the machine/s’ that are digital technologies.  We are the machine.  Everything we write represents and forms our identity.  Every search we make can be traced back to us, stored as data for big name companies and then the machine/s feed it back to us through images, advertising, anything that creates a rapport between us and the machine.

The following clip, also by Michael Wesch, interestingly enough, demonstrates this idea.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyvjMBXoGXg

So to be a participatory learner in this digital age, we need to not only include digital literacy skills, in their plethora of guises, we need to develop critical thinking that allows empathy, respect and responsibility towards not only ourselves but to others.

As this is a reflective piece I would offer the opinion that teachers more than ever need to stand up and consider their duty of care in helping our students to not only learn for their future but to learn what it means to still be human for and in their future. Yes, there are many affordances and reasons why pedagogy needs to change in the educational arena but it is time as teachers, as leaders of education to offer the best education possible with and about the possibilities, good and bad, that these technologies offer.
It is through the nine elements of digital citizenship that will allow our students to become fully participatory in a very human way. As would be expected in our face to face interactions and community life, we need to consider each of these nine elements to keep technology as the tool/s which have evolved to supposedly make our everyday life easier.  Or has technology made our life more complicated?  Definitely more learning to be done.
REFERENCES:
Philip, T. M., & Garcia, A. D. (2013). The importance of still teaching the iGeneration:  New technologies and the centrality of pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 300-319, 400-401.

 


All Around The Mulberry Bush

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All around the mulberry bush,

The monkey chased the weasel,

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun,

“Pop! Goes the weasel

As I began writing this post, this popular nursery rhyme / game popped in my head and I thought what a great analogy for the learning I have been undertaking during this session of learning.  I have been really fortunate to interact with some exceptionally talented people and it has challenged me in so many ways.  As I sit and reflect the mulberry bush is the many, many readings, You Tube clips and readings we have endured throughout the session thus far.  (It’s not over yet!)  The content of the readings has pushed me beyond my zone of proximal development I am sure at times but I have learned to persist.  So yes, the monkey is me running round and round trying to get that weasel, or the learning I need to continue my lifelong learning journey.

Another concept I have wrestled with is the idea of a ‘just in time learner’ and yes, I am one. The ‘just in time’ is the filling of the gaps in learning and we all have them.  I have been in awe (and sometimes a little envious) of some of my partners in learning as they are able to keep adding to their blogs and that is their learning style.  For me, I need time away after reading to digest what it is that I read and then I can come back and write my thoughts or reflections down.  When I get stuck on a concept, it can take me much more reading to really synthesise my thoughts.

I have been running round and round that mulberry bush, trying to catch that weasel and pop! It’s happening.  Clarity.  This has been valuable learning for me on a personal and professional level, as personally, it doesn’t make my learning wrong or right, it’s just learning.  Learning in this digital age of infowhelm has shown me firsthand what it is that Helen Haste (2009) suggested about the ‘chaos’, the messy middle part.  Professionally, I have come to understand the importance of that ‘point of need’ and the affective domain which Kuhlthau included in the Information Search Process.

So taking on some of the learning, ‘walking the talk’, what will that look like in the next couple of weeks:

*  Problem-solving – trying to make sense of the task and what it is that I want and need to do.  It’s not about regurgitation, it’s about creating my own learning pathway and somewhere throughout this course I have been interested in and followed my own areas of inquiry as i circled round and round.

*  Managing and organising the information, in response to work by Helen Haste (2009) – preparing my focus, going back and weeding out the information not needed and making sure the mulberry bush or content of my various assessment tasks is relevant and pertinent.

*  Creating the visual (graphic) – that is so important in the way we learn now.  In game-based learning it is one of the key features.  So my talking wall , which is what I say about those displays, I spend time putting together, for my own students is up and functioning as I pinpoint the various sources that I need.

*  Immersing myself – this is all the background knowledge we have been guided to and then some of my own.  Interestingly enough, immersion is a big concept in game-based learning as well.

* Synthesising and Evaluating the wealth of information that has been presented.

Yes, this is information behaviour in practice.  I still wonder if I’m doing it the right way or is there ever a right way?