Research Using Own Context For Transforming Practices and Innovation in Schools

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Research < > Teachers < > Digital Technologies =

Transformation / Innovation

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/computer-school-work-business-216890/

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/computer-school-work-business-216890/

As I stumble through my case study, one thought is becoming very clear to me – research is needed in order to effect change.  The latest technologies being used in schools and promoted to schools is robotics for coding, robotics for STEM.  Schools are purchasing but what research has been done by the individual schools as to how these technologies are purposeful for learning? Where they fit in the learning for the students?  Is it any wonder that  teachers have the attitude, here we go, another thing to fit into our day?

Before putting these devices in schools it’s important to understand that teachers are the faces of implementing these tools into the classrooms and students’ learning .  By having the newest technologies in a school does not necessarily make that school innovative.  Innovation is the product of trying to improve something and the cycle of innovation never stops.  Innovation then is also the product of using some sort of design thinking process.  If we do not include teachers and students in the implementation through firstly, supporting teachers through professional development of these learning technologies and connecting them to others who have had success in using these technologies then transformative practices in education will not be achieved.

After reading The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter-Hall, I was particularly impressed on their take of transforming professional development. “{Their} model shifts the locus of control to you, the connected learner, rather than vesting it in outsiders, higher-ups, and professional development consultants who may have good content but lack your school context” (p.5).  The idea of transforming learning through the recognition of teachers as learners who need to be effective in their own context first before they will feel confident to move beyond the school gate really resonated with me.  However, it is important to also highlight their efforts to put the responsibility of this learning with teachers as well.

This brings me back to the idea for the need for research using the local context.  While research studies from other spaces, contexts and academics are useful for gathering evidence and support for changing practices, there also needs to be some element of research carried out at the local context to find authentic learning needs of all learners within an educational community.  If firstly teachers, then students, do not see or understand the learning purpose of digital technologies then taking learning beyond the school gate and effective transformation (innovation) will be nothing but ‘just another thing to fit’ into an already overcrowded timetable.

Education is not broken (Zoul, Whittaker & Casas, 2015).  Teachers are still teaching and trying to avail themselves of the tools that are needed for learning and for their students’ futures.  Students are still learning. Education is however, experiencing a moment of disconnect and as the teachers have their own learning needs, they need to understand and to know the purpose behind these digital technologies.  In order to transform, their needs to be research not into the device but rather into how can teacher pedagogy include the device as part of the delivery of learning?  How can participatory learning and citizenship move beyond the gates of the school towards a more global education?

Jackie Gerstein suggests a model for teacher professional development which also places the teacher as learner and suggests that effective PD is only effective when the teachers are active and responsible for their own professional development rather than having their learning imposed.  It makes so much sense that teachers’ own learning should be their responsibility just as we try to promote active, inquiry-based learning for our own students.  When the teacher becomes the learner they model the experience of learning.  They are challenged by the same experiences as a learner and they learn empathy for their students.  When the teacher becomes a connected educator they model the experiences of being a connected citizen committed to learning.  They are challenged by the same experiences as their students when the expectation is to connect and empathy is gained.

The transformation does not happen only with the teacher, or only with the research or only by having the technologies.  The transformation occurs when all three connect.  The transformation and eventually innovation happens when the three connect to create an innovative vision of pedagogy (practice). George Couros recently shared a diagram drawn by his brother, Alex, that shows the teacher at the centre which also inspired my thinking for my case study. It is definitely in the knowledge consumption but also the knowledge creation AND sharing that will transform education for our students’ futures.

The having the digital technologies is part of the steps of how we need to achieve the vision.  The having the teachers is part of the steps of achieving the vision. The having the research to support teachers in their own local context using the digital technologies is how connected education can truly transpire! THEN our local story becomes a global story as teachers become upskilled, research becomes more than observations and talk and digital technologies become the learning tools they are intended to be. We need to reflect inward, knowing what the research says ‘out there’, reflect on our own local context, develop our vision and then design the steps needed to achieve it.

REFERENCES:

Couros, G.  (Sept. 15, 2016) The Arrows Go Back and Forth [Blog post] Retrieved from:  http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/6684

Gerstein, J. A Model for Teacher Development: Precursors to Change Retrieved from: https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2016/08/06/a-model-for-teacher-development-precursors-to-change/

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. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

Zoul, J., Whittaker, T. & Casas, J. (2015). What Connected Educators Do Differently. : Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au

 


ASU’s Library Minute and Use of Social Media

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Whether every individual believes it or not it cannot be denied that the responsibility of the flow of information and connecting individuals to information has been a responsibility and chief purpose of libraries long before Web 2.0 technologies.  These technologies provide a way to continue the relevance of libraries as places and spaces for connecting users with the information and resources they require.

One way that Arizona State University Library has chosen to advocate their relevance is through the use of one minute video clips using the You Tube channel to create their own channel.  The benefits of these clips is that they are a terrific way to market their library as an information provider that is interested in their users and as such are keeping up-to-date with the current digital trends.  They promote their location, the services they offer and useful tips in mobile device use and security.  They are short enough to keep the user interested and have just information to pique a user’s curiosity.  It is interesting that the clips with the highest number of views are those where the user may need some information on how to use the library catalogue and how to contact a librarian which could infer that users still want to connect with information via library spaces.

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNe6yBSaORc

Other forms of social networking that the library uses is that of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  These social media platforms assist the library in getting library news out quickly to their patrons and allows for regular updates about short term news and use of the library.  While the You Tube channel needs preparation, organisation and staff who are skilled in collaboration and creation of videos, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram allow for quick posting of news and events.  The user then has the choice as to which platform they feel the most at ease in using in order to connect with the library.

The other social networking technology that ASU Library uses is the use of a blog.  The advantage of the blog is that it is attached to the website and provides more detail than Facebook or Twitter whilst still providing regular updates of events and collection management details that may affect the users.  It is interesting to note that there is no comment feature on this blog to allow the user to share their voice.  Is the feedback only provided via Facebook and Twitter?

This library is definitely making connections with their learning community and recognises that the learning community extends beyond the locale of the physical campus and that some students or interested members may only have access online.  It addresses the need to be accessible at the convenience of the user.

 


#INF530 In A Nutshell

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Walnuts by Pauline Mak, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Pauline Mak 
In  the first post I wrote in this blog I referred to Douglas Thomas’ “A New Culture of Learning” and how he could identify four components of learning:
1. passion;
2. imagination;
3. constraint
4.  play.
These words really provide an ‘in a nutshell’ way of thinking.  I have found the learning in INF530 challenging and at times I was quite anxious about my own ability to keep up and contribute as I have connected with an exceptional cohort of partners in learning.  As I reflect what I have learnt over this first session I find that again I can fit my learning into these four components.
1.  Passion
I have rediscovered my passion for my role as teacher librarian and am now able to advocate for our school library environments when they say things like, “But aren’t you worried that you’ve taught yourself out of the classroom?  Libraries might not be needed when we have the Internet” and of course, “You’re so lucky!  I’d love to just read books and show kids how to find information.”  This is why I chose to finish with my digital essay, “Why Do We Need School Libraries?  We have technology” I have found my passion for my role as teacher librarian to be more relevant than ever.  I see my students at all different stages of abilities in their digital literacy and digital citizenship development. The idea of the just-in-time learner really challenged me as I thought it was just a phrase being thrown around as almost an  Navigating Web 2.0 is something that our students need us to guide them before we let them go on alone.  Then eventually the lightbulb lit up and I realised I am a ‘just-in-time’ learner as much as I am a  lifelong learner.  My passion is not learning content but learning how to learn not just teaching it but refining my own skills so that I can ‘walk the talk.’
2.  Imagination
My imagination is the what are the possibilities I can dream from here?  I have had my eyes opened wide to the possibilities of integrating even more technologies within the environment.  Knowing there is video conferencing capabilities in the school that I have never seen utilised.  Knowing that there is a 3-D printer that could be used by students to create some amazing products of their learning.
I am passionate about reimagining and designing our library to be both a formal setting for learning and an informal space for collaboration and networking.  Conole (2012) discusses the affordances of Web 2.0  as “fostering collaboration and for co-construction and sharing of knowledge but raise a number of issues of copyright and privacy” (p.56).  I am passionate about this idea of collaboration as I realise that learning is dialogue, it is building upon each other’s understandings, it is a collective activity and therefore it requires collaboration and participation to keep the dialogue going (Ravenscroft, Wegerif & Hartley, 2007).  On the other hand though it is important that we assist our students in understanding that there are ethical ways of using information and  develop a healthy skepticism about expertise (Walters, 2015).
Bring on the revolution indeed.  I imagine an education system that embraces differences, in opinion and ways of learning, that will create a global culture of understanding with many voices.  Perhaps it isn’t just the problem-solving, critical thinking skills but also empathy and tolerance that can grow by immersing ourselves and our students in the globalised network of learning.
3.  Constraint  
Oh, how this idea can have so many meanings.  Firstly, it can relate to the idea of not having time, budgets, devices, professional development.  Some consider these barriers but I continue to question, can we keep allowing ourselves the time not to adopt? not to spend? not to train?  Why are we continuing to put constraints on our students learning?
Digital technologies allow learning to happen anywhere, anytime and perhaps it is time we embrace IT  rather than trying to constrain what is expected by us – connectivity and the ability to participate (Conole, 2012).
4.  Play
This idea of play was complemented by my learning in INF541 Game-based Learning.  I had never thought deeply of games or participating with Web 2.0 as an extension of our own creativity.  Routledge (2009), stated “Games are not a replacement for teachers but they should enhance the teaching experience” (p.280).  What if we replaced the word games in this quote for Web 2.0 ?  Web 3.0?    One way I have ‘played’ this session is by starting to participate in Twitter and it has now become my preferred social media as it is access to experts of many fields, anytime, anywhere.  It has become my Professional & Personal) Learning Network.  I then thought and know that after this experience of learning and being the student, I have appreciated the opportunity to play.  I no longer see myself as a “lesser” because I am the student, I now recognise that even my teachers (lecturers) are learners too.
So, in a nutshell – it can’t be the end of this first session, I feel like I have just gotten started!
References:
Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media. In G. Conole (Ed.), Designing for learning in an open world. New York: Springer.
Ravenscroft, A., Wegerif, R., & Hartley, R. (2007). Reclaiming thinking: Dialectic, dialogic and learning in the digital age. Learning Through Digital Technologies, 11(5), 39-57.
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
Walters, M. (2015, April 25). Says who? [Blog Post] Retrieved from:  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/fromheretothere/2015/04/25/says-who/

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


What is Game-Based Learning?

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My (Evolving) Statement About Game-Based Learning 

Game-based learning is more than can be seen on the screen.(Gee, 2012.)  The combination of design and instruction are equally important in a game-based learning environment (Becker, 2011, p.81). It is the active engagement and collaboration of students and teachers (players),  in an online and offline learning environment to play/work towards a goal so that learning is achieved(Becker, 2011, p.82). The learning is encouraged through a serious game with the provision of transparent data, whether by the achievement of experience points or levelling up (Andersen, 2012). Teachers need to understand the complexities of the game to be able to assist and give feedback to those students who need extra scaffolding. Students need to provide feedback to the teacher about their game-based learning experiences (Andersen, 2012).  Most importantly though, it allows students the opportunity to fail in a fun and rewarding way as they persist to achieve their end goal of learning.

It would seem then, game-based learning is one way to work towards building an educational community of practice. The most appropriate tools for game- based learning are chosen according to the context and learning needs of the students. While there are some rules, either implicit or explicit(Becker, 2011, p.81), there is still an element of choice, the ability to create, problem-solve within the game.

REFERENCES:

Andersen, P. (2012). Classroom Game Design TEDxBozeman  Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec

Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. InGaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch105

Gee, J. (2012).  Learning With Video Games.  Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JnEN2Sm4IIQ