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

 


OLJ / Evaluative Report – INF506 – Social Networking for Information Professionals

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Part 1 – OLJ Summary

Throughout this session of learning, there have been many opportunities to reflect and expand my understanding and knowledge of social networking and how that can occur using Web 2.0 technologies.  These experiences and reflections have been demonstrated through the use of this OLJ – Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow!Web 2.0; ASU’s Library website; Social Networking and the Primary School Library; Competencies of Teacher Librarian 2.0;  Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online; Marketing the School LibraryTwitter – an Educator’s Playground.   The implementation of a practical project in our school library was also a major immersion experience and undertaking transforming our library website from Web 1.0 – users as information consumers to Web 2.0 – users are able to participate and contribute (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com).

Part 2 – Evaluative Report

Part A – Evaluation of the learning process

Libraries have traditionally been the spaces where individuals can connect to the information they need to be informed in their communications. Librarians and teacher librarians have been the professionals that specialise in assisting individuals to connect.  With the advent of Web 2.0 technologies, or the read-write web, individuals were able to begin to not only connect and consume information but create, curate, collaborate and communicate the information they discovered.  Social networking, whilst a concept that has existed since human interaction has expanded its definition beyond an immediate, face to face, local community of citizens to a global, online community of citizens.  Individuals are in essence only limited by their own abilities and skills as to how far they can reach other individuals.  They are called to participate and engage in a community where they may not know every person through a face to face connection but an online connection (Monfared, Ajabi-Naeini & Parker, 2013).  Social networking is making the connections and this can include a plethora of platforms such as blogs, wikis and forums to those that are defined as social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In.

While I considered myself to be using these platforms, I found that during this session I was able to push myself even further to improve not only my experience of these platforms personally but also as an information professional.  These experiences are highlighted in the previous posts, Ah-ha! Clarity! Social media assists workflow! and Twitter – an Educator’s Playground.

The use of social networking and social media by librarians and teacher librarians is no longer one of should we? Some would say it is one of we must! The reasons for this belief is, firstly, libraries need to embed social media so that they can establish that they are still relevant in a global society where information can be retrieved at the tap of the screen or a click of the mouse.  A library’s purpose is still in their responsibility to their users in assisting with information flow and providing relevance as a space to connect for informational needs.  Librarians as information professionals therefore need to be abreast of the latest trends, apps and how to connect users to information quickly and effectively but also to advocate their library as a space that can best serve their information needs using a multitude of formats (Vanwynsberghe, Vanderlinde, Georges & Verdegem, 2015).

In analysing ASU’s Library website it was interesting to see the different platforms that were being used to connect and communicate with their users.  They were modelling how various tools such as You Tube can be used to create and communicate information.  They were reaching out to connect not only themselves but also to show the library space as a space that connect the users to each other.  This also started to highlight and clarify my own learning in that I had another moment of clarity in the advantages of creating my own images and the need to use Creative Commons friendly images if I was to be effective in modelling participation, creation and contribution on the web.  I was able to remix and repurpose Creative Commons images through the use of creation tools such as Thinglink and Canva (click links to see evidence of use).  Although it took time to work out how to use these creation tools it has meant for a much more interactive, anywhere, anytime presence for our school library.

As a K-6 teacher librarian, I thought I had created enough of a presence by creating a website with information and links and it was when I read Frederick’s article (2014), ‘ The Inside Out Librarian: Being A Virtual Librarian’ that I realised presence does not equal connection. The words that stood out to me in this article were, ‘take stock of the library site as it exists now.  If it is static, look for ways to pump up the action’ (Fredrick, 2014, p.22).  This became the turning point in my learning for this session and I then proceeded to implement my project by simply adding a blog to the library website and by no means was it as simple as simply. The adding of a blog (www.gsfmtools4learning.weebly.com) became my total immersion experience.  It became apparent to me that not only was the library space undergoing a transformation by undertaking this project but so was I and so was the whole learning community.  I had assumed there were skills our students possessed because the assumption was that students would have been taught how to connect and participate using Web 2.0 technologies.  The whole ‘digital native’ (Prensky, 2001) scenario had shown itself to be present despite me trying to pass myself as an educator who wanted nothing to do with the interpretation of this argument that students just knew.  The implementation of this project then became a redesign of the learning that I had planned through our lessons to be one of explicit teaching of how to respond and interact with other people when online ( http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/anotherbyteofknowledge/2016/04/21/social-networking-and-the-primary-school-library/).  It also became evident that by producing this blog, I needed to check my own digital citizenship skills and competencies and be seen as a role model for participation.  I needed to transform and evolve myself to Teacher Librarian 2.0.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 5.14.48 pm

Image created using http://marvel.com/games/play/31/create_your_own_superhero

 The one challenge that I kept coming across was trying to find research regarding the use of social networking and social media in primary school (K-6) libraries.  This was documented in my previous post, Reasons Why School Libraries Should Be On Social Media (or at least Social Networking Online. There was very little to draw from in academic research (Grimes & Fields, 2012) and so there needed to be some exploration of experiences and advice online.  If anything, the experience of searching online for K-6 libraries that had a social networking presence was a challenge to say the least.  It made me ask the question, what is the point of having technology in schools if we aren’t using it to create and connect?  How have things changed with Web 2.0 for primary schools if they’re not sharing the work their students do?  What is the difference then to creating with pen and paper and creating with Web 2.0 technologies?  It should be audience but in the big scheme of the worldwide web, evidence was hard to come by.  It was refreshing to connect to information presented by Kristen Wideen and Mrs Yollis’ Class Blog as they provided me with the information and evidence I needed to keep persisting and committing to the task of establishing social networking within our library.

Another article which I found very useful throughout this session was a white paper by Grimes and Fields (2012), entitled, ‘Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums.’  It helped me understand why K-6 schools may find it difficult to offer opportunities for their students to participate and engage with an audience outside their immediate school community.  The point was made that ‘digital divide’ may now need to not be defined in terms of access to digital devices but rather we now speak of a ‘participation divide’ (Grimes & Fields, 2012, p. 15).  This strengthened my resolve that whilst we do need to be certain to protect and keep our children safe online, we also need to offer them the education that prepares them for their future.  Students do not learn to read by not opening a book, they do not learn to cross the road by not being guided through the process, therefore, I can see that indeed the teaching of social networking processes in context and with authenticity in mind, K-6 schools can guide students to the appropriate expectations and etiquette when participating and engaging with Web 2.0 technologies.  They also need to be armed with the strategies of what to do if they experience any discomfort or inappropriate content through their participation.  Digital citizenship (or just plain citizenship) then, is vital when connecting and accessing the web at any time.  It is also an area that needs to be constantly reinforced before, during and after the experience of connecting.  It will be necessary for me to survey our learning community in the near future for example to listen to their experience of using and contributing to our library blog and to listen to what else they need.

Part B – How have I grown as a social networker?

Vanwynsberghe et al. (2015) identifies 4 different social media literacy profiles -“social media workers, social media laggards, social media literates and social media spare-time users” (p. 289).  After reading this article, I feel that I have grown in my confidence and application of social networking and media within my pedagogy and practice as a teacher librarian.  Part of this is because while I have immersed myself in many learning experiences, one of the biggest lessons I have learnt is to be literate is to be able to filter when, where and how I participate and engage with social networking.  While I use social networking consistently at home and in work, I can filter my networking according to my audience but I can also switch off.

I am becoming more strategic in what I integrate into the library space and how I introduce it to the students.  It is not an extra thing to do it is a way of improving workflow when used effectively.  I am working towards growing a team of contributors as the vision for our school library social networking needs to be sustainable, relevant and flexible (Ramsey & Vecchione, 2012). Social networking and the use of social media builds community in schools and as the school library is often seen as ‘the heart of learning’ it has been necessary for me to lead from the middle by reaching out not just to students but to the whole learning community. Part of the strategy not yet implemented is to set up a library Twitter account so that options are available as to how parents and wider community can connect not only with what is happening in the library space but also with their children and even each other.

Another aspect I have become more confident in is recognizing the need to continue to develop knowledge about digital citizenship and the ‘new literacies’ not just with students but with parents too. Discussions have already begun with the leadership team about the possibility of running parent workshops about these areas so that we build rather than divide and parents can be supported knowing that we are working with them to prepare their children for their future.

While I feel quite empowered with the learning that I have made during this session of study, I also realise that as a learning community it takes time and commitment for the implementation of social networking in a school community.  At the heart of it, it is about developing relationships that promote learning in an online environment where fear of what we don’t know can challenge us.  We need to listen, make connections, encourage feedback, take advantage of anytime, anywhere learning and extend our reach so we can all our learning community to recognise themselves as part of a global village.

References:

Fredrick, K.  (2014). The inside-out library: Being a virtual librarian. School Library Monthly, 30(6), 22-23.

Grimes, S. & Fields, D. (2012). Kids online: A new research agenda for understanding social networking forums. New York. The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Retrieved from: http://www.joanganzcooneycenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/jgcc_kidsonline.pdf

Huvila, I., Homberg, K., Kronqvist-Berg, M., Nivakoski, O., & Widén, G. (2013). What is Librarian 2.0 – New competencies or interactive relations? a library professional viewpoint. Journal of Librariansip and Information Science, 45(3), 198-205. doi: 10.1177/0961000613477122

King, D. L. (2015). Why Use Social Media?. Library Technology Reports51(1), 6-9

Monfared, S. S., Ajabi-Naeini, P., & Parker, D. (2013). Bringing Web 2.0 into the Learning Environment. In E. McKay (Ed.), ePedagogy in Online Learning: New Developments in Web Mediated Human Computer Interaction (pp. 109-118). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-3649-1.ch007

Ramsey, E., & Vecchione, A. (2014). Channeling Passions: Developing a Successful Social Media Strategy. Journal of Library Innovation, 5(2), 71-82. Retrieved from http://www.libraryinnovation.org/article/view/359/594

Vanwynsberghe, H., Vanderlinde, R., Georges, A. & Verdegem, P. (2015). The librarian 2.0: identifying a typology of librarian’s social media literacy. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 47(4), 283-293

 


#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


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.

 


Connecting the dots – digital literacy and connected learning.

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What an exciting time to be involved in education!  What a challenging time to be in education!  What a busy time to be involved in education!  Anybody who is involved in education is feeling all of these things – fight and flight is present in most staff meetings when it comes to working out the best way to address all of the implications of living in this digital age.  The digital divide isn’t just a concept of socioeconomics or geography or generational it is present within each and every school and teachers are feeling the pressure.

The concept of connected learning is more than just having the hardware and the apps.  The tension for education is how do we integrate these tools of learning to enhance learning for all students in our care.  We cannot assume that our students know how to use these tools effectively for their learning just because they have been born into an era where digital technologies are as much a part of everyday life as eating and sleeping.  They have been immersed in a world of connection through digital technologies but just as we have to teach our students to be citizens in the face to face world, we also need to help them understand that values and ethics are just as important in the online world.  We cannot assume they know the best information sources or the best way of communicating their resources.  They demand more of us as teachers in that they expect to be connected, they expect to be collaborative.  How do we meet their expectations by placing our own learning expectations for them upon them?

The answer would seem to rest with the concept of digital literacy.  So what is it to be digitally literate?  Trilling & Fadel (2009) define digital literacy as a combination of information, media and ICT literacy skills (Chapter 4).  Rheingold in his book, “NetSmart: How to Thrive Online” describes it as a combination of 5 literacies – “attention”, “crap detector”, “participation”, “collaboration”, and “network smarts.”  Chase and Laufenberg (2011) view it as “a genre, a format and tool to be found within the domain of standard literacy, rather than a concept standing at odds” (p.535).  So many definitions!  No wonder teachers feel like they are like the hamster running on that wheel, they need clarity.

The definition I have found most useful is that of Gilster (1997) cited by Bawden (2008), digital  literacy is “an ability to understand and use information from a variety of digital sources and regard it as literacy in the digital age” (p.18).  Chase and Laufenberg (2011) then would seem to agree with this more broad definition.  I would agree with all of the definitions I have read and suggest that digital literacy is an umbrella term used to describe a combination of literacies that represent a variety of skills needed to be successful not just in the context of a classroom but in all areas of life both now in the present time and in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.27.40 pm

 

We use our digital literacy when we are participating in the online environment but as it is part of standard literacy practices and not separate, our students need to know that sometimes the information available digitally may not compare with the information available in printed formats.  Our students still live in privileged times where both forms of information are accessible.  This is where information seeking skills are required rather than information searching as they need to learn the difference between and to filter quality over quantity of information.

Connectivism is also an important component of digital literacy as it doesn’t just refer to the physical connecting to the network known as the Internet.  It is the ability our students have to connect with like-minded people, to access information quickly to build upon their already established knowledge base.  This idea of connectivism has so many strengths for education and it is fraught with so many ‘dangers’ as well.  by ‘dangers’ I mean students need to have the critical thinking skills of digital literacy that will enable them to evaluate credibility and validity of information.  This is a vital role of teacher librarians within schools as well because some teachers allow students to research without any guidance or feedback to the students’ processes used in gaining information.  Connectivism is not just about student learning it is also about teachers’ depth of understanding of the information environment using digital technologies.  The challenge is helping our students know their purpose and placing it in context and ensuring that the context is credible and relevant to their learning.

Knowledge is information-in-context -- c by planeta, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  planeta 

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

Siemens (2004) describes the theory of connectivism as the way “people, organisations and/or technology can collaboratively construct knowledge” through “the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories”(Starkey, 2011, p.21).  Connectivism is the building of knowledge in a social and collaborative way.  This highlights the importance of teachers needing to immerse themselves within the chaos of the knowledge network to increase their own digital literacy skills and to form their own connections with other ‘experts’.  Teachers are no longer the only experts in their students lives and the students know this.  Formulating Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) online as well as offline is a necessary part of every teacher’s professional development and we also need to assist our students in creating their own learning networks.  Our students current learning networks are social media and gaming sites.  We need to guide our students to using their critical thinking skills to filter and seek people that truly represent valid and credible learning within their PLN’s.  We need to try to find the way to harness these platforms to engage our students in learning.

REFERENCES:

Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital literacies: Embracing the squishiness of digital literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535–537.

Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6–15.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart : How to Thrive Online. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Trilling, B.  Fadel, C. (2009). 21st Century Skills : Learning for Life in Our Times. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com