by Pauline Mak
by Pauline Mak
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?)
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
Tim Berners-Lee invented the Internet which became publicly available on the 6th August, 1991. He did so so that he could access and retrieve information in a more efficient, effortless and seamless way and still today he is calling on raw data so that it can be accessed and used to create and to learn. His idea is to create as much linked data as possible because it is only when data is connected that it becomes valuable AND it can only become connected when every person who engages with digital information ‘does their bit.’
Next year it will be 25 years since the Internet began to be seen as a possibility and a reality and in that time the information has grown to such vast proportions in digital format that commentators, scientists, librarians and archivists are questioning our ability to keep this period of history alive for future generations. The phrase that is being communicated through and across various arenas is that of the ‘digital dark age.’ Quite simply put how will future generations know, remember, access and retrieve information about this episode of history if we do not firstly, put some thought and action into preserving this information. This then leads to the second consideration how will future generations be able to retrieve and understand the data and information that is preserved when technologies keep changing.
I can see this through the fact that our wedding video is sitting in a drawer unable to be shared with our children as we do not have a video player. We have a wedding album of hard copies of photos which are lovely to browse and giggle at every anniversary but as my parents have discovered with their wedding photos, they have deteriorated over time.
Digital technologies offered us a way to bring these photos ‘back to life’ and now the awareness is that we need to keep thinking and being proactive in continuing to consider what we store data and information on and whether it will be able to be read, seen, viewed, retrieved in the future.
This clip below gives an ‘in a nutshell’ explanation of what we are reflecting on when we think about ‘avoiding a digtal dark age.’ Perhaps though we could look at it and suggest that we are now seeing the light? It is going to require expertise, advocacy and developing a participatory digital culture.