INF537 Digital Futures Colloquium has been some of the most challenging learning I have undertaken in recent times. It has really helped me synthesise my understanding of what our digital futures could look like. I have realised that before we can make a difference in using digital technologies in education we really need to work towards gaining some clarity as to the how and why digital technologies can be used in the reality of schools. One of the readings that really made an impact on me was Selwyn (2010) when he stated that there needs to be time to reflect on the how and the why of digital technologies? It can be seen in many schools, investments are made to try and get the most innovative devices, robotics would be a good example here, but how many schools take the time to think: why do our students need these technologies? How are they going to help prepare for their futures? How can we integrate these devices to provide authentic learning opportunities? If schools keep investing in devices in the name of innovation and no understanding of practice, then the devices just become toys and make no impact on learning at all.
The first colloquium by Simon Welsh who spoke about learning analytics was confrontational and caused me to leave the presentation (via Adobe Connect), with mixed emotions as can be seen in my blog post. The two issues that I was confronted with were: how can the number of clicks be used to judge a student’s abilities? Are we starting to depend too much on the machine and leave the human behind? It all seemed very black and white and it is an area that I definitely need to do more learning in.
The second colloquium by Pip Cleaves was inspirational. She really walked her talk and it could be seen through her presentation that the school she is working at is truly working towards transforming the culture of learning to be one of connectedness and active participation. She really walked the talk and it could be seen that she was really making a difference. Collaboration was a big part of her presentation as she was working to lift those teachers who needed support and use those teachers that were the first adopters. The two thoughts I took from this colloquium was connectedness and collaboration.
The third colloquium was presented by Rebecca Vivian and was about Computer Science and Education. This talk really affirmed the need for educators to be aware of the girls and how we can promote STEM so that we can have a lot more females entering computer science courses later in their education. This is especially true if our digital futures are unknown and connectedness and digital citizenship is about relationships (Lindsay & Davis, 2013) then we truly need a balance of male and female perspective.
The final assignment was a full circle moment for me though as I seized the opportunity to take time to reflect on my local context and considered digital citizenship, connected learning, collaboration and how these three things intersect and could form the basis for building a Community of Practice for using digital technologies. The idea for my assignment was inspired by the reflection I undertook while reading, Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum- Beach and Lani Ritter Hall. Within this book they had provided a rubric to gauge how connected you were as an educator. The premise of their book is that until teachers are role models for collaboration and connectedness through active participation online then how can we expect our students to become connected?
Another learning I have made in this subject is the need to engage with research both inside my own local context and outside the school setting. I no longer see myself as a teacher of a particular school, I see myself as an educator. An educator who is able to read the research, reflect on the reality and apply the practice to help improve the reality. The need for schools to transform their settings through research became clear while I was working my way through my assignment and that part of my learning journey can be found here.
By far the most rewarding experience for me throughout this subject has been developing my own PLN through the collegiality and support of the cohort of fellow students along the way. To read some of their blog posts was both affirming as we shared a likemindedness and challenging when our perspectives may have differed slightly. I am really grateful for their insight and their generosity in sharing their ideas. I am excited by all our digital futures and I know that I make a commitment to myself to continue to engage with the research, reflect and share my thoughts through blogging. When I first started this Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations) through Charles Sturt University, I had no idea where my learning would lead but one thing I do know for sure is that I finish this subject knowing I still have so much to learn in order to become the connected educator I wish to be.
I finish this course knowing that I can make a difference only when WE make a difference!
Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013). Citizenship. In Flattening classrooms, engaging minds : move to global collaboration one step at a time (pp. 97-125). Boston : Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publis
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Ritter, H. L. (2011). Classroom Strategies : The Connected Educator : Learning and Leading in a Digital Age (1). Bloomington, US: Solution Tree Press.
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x