Digital Futures – Participatory, Communities of Practice and Peeragogy

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Created by MCook using Canva. Image used retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/teachers-meeting-books-reading-23820/

Created by MCook using Canva. Image used retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/teachers-meeting-books-reading-23820/

To write about digital futures may seem tiresome to some as digital technologies have been researched, discussed, innovated and will continue to change.  The fact is the digital is here but it is the futures that seems to continue the discussion and put the action of utilising these technologies to their fullest potential on hold.  The future is unknown in the field of digital technologies and this is one of the biggest challenges faced by educators as we attempt to prepare students for their future, their work, their chance to be successful, active citizens.

All we can do is look at what we know for now and transform education by embracing the fact that digital technologies are here to stay and that it’s no longer about the device and how it works (Selwyn, 2010).  Now, we need to prepare ourselves and our students for how to become participatory through our interactions, collaborations, creation and connection and forget about online as other worldly but as a means to realising that learning is lifelong because of the phenomenal changes that occur with each new technology that comes to light. We are all learners.  One thing that students have always looked for throughout history is the modelling that their teachers provide – walking the talk so to say.  So, if educators are not modelling concepts of participatory learning and lifelong learning, how can they sell these ideas to their students. If educators are not connecting and becoming models of what connectedness, what being effective in collaborating looks like and participatory citizenship, then in actual fact they may be causing a disconnect from learning in the school environment.  Educators need to be connected (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter, 2011).

Participatory learning then is not just about connecting to the Internet but rather being able to collaborate with a number of people via virtual communities (so yes, there are sometimes strangers) to share knowledge and talents to support each other in the activity of learning(Davidson & Goldberg, 2009). It is a give and take learning where there is an exchange of ideas that is no longer limited by geographical location and information can be accessed from experts in their particular field.  Participatory learning is about the exchange or the process of learning from others to build knowledge to deepen understanding.  It is not just about the interaction, it is developing a connection with a network of people who are also willing to comment, plan, co-create, remix, share.

It is only through participatory learning and networking through establishing PLN’s that individuals of all ages can continue to build and grow knowledge.  Howard Rheingold suggests that educators need to build a peeragogy  whereby they connect and network with their peers and then as they become more connected and realise the possibilities of developing their own Professional Learning Network (PLN) then they can guide their students to do the same.  The teacher is no longer seen as the authority on everything as has been the education system of the 19th and 20th Centuries but rather the power for learning and of learning is put back where it needs to be – in the minds and the fingertips of the students.

The concept that seems to be the glue of all of these ideals though is collaboration.  Nussbaum and Ritter (2011) suggest that there is some confusion between the terms cooperation and collaboration for educators. Cooperation is where the individuals of the group each carry out an individual task to complete a group task.  There is no reliance on any one person to complete the task and if somebody has not contributed to the group’s effort, it makes no difference. Collaboration is where each person shares their particular talents, skills to make a significant difference to the final outcome and there is a reliance on every member to contribute.

This distinction has raised these question for me:  Am I setting purposeful, authentic tasks that encourage students to acquaint themselves with the skills and talents of their peers? Am I providing students with the skills and abilities to connect with experts that have the skills and talents that they may be missing in their group efforts?

Am I as connected as I need to be?  No, but it is something I am definitely striving towards.  Using the different phases outlined by Corneli, Danoff, Pierce et al. (2016), I feel that I am at Phase 4 – Building and shaping my PLN and the one thing I am learning is that it takes patience and time.  I also need to remind myself that so too does transforming my little piece of the education pie.

 

REFERENCES:

Corneli, J., Danoff, C. J., Pierce, C., Ricuarte, P., and Snow MacDonald, L., eds. (2016). The Peeragogy Handbook. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press. Retrieved from http://peeragogy.org

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. The MIT Press

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

 

 


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.

 


Initial Thoughts of Social Networking

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Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/icon-set-social-media-world-digital-1232558/

Retrieved from: https://pixabay.com/en/icon-set-social-media-world-digital-1232558/

Social networking initially is understood to be a network of people who join together and interact with each other to share personally or professionally.  It is therefore as successful as those who join the community or network of people who have chosen to participate.  Social networking has always existed throughout history but since the inception of Web 2.0 the opportunities and possibility to connect with a much wider global community has meant the ability to expand ideas and thoughts.  Many more voices provides much more depth to the dialogue.

Social networking allows individuals or groups to develop connection and increase learning based on their interests and passions.  There are so many social networking sites that individual preference, passion and purpose determines which social networking sites are used by the individual (Ishizuka, 2010).  Social networking allows people to continue along their quest for knowledge and the importance of concepts such as lifelong learning are another of the benefits of this participatory, collaborative connection between people.  It highlights the need for individuals to develop knowledge and skills about recognising fact from fiction, developing their boundaries through critical thinking before contributing or sharing too much.  Social networking requires people to be able to bring the digital and the face to face into a one world view rather than a belief that is what happens online is different to what happens offline.  The question is, how private? how public? how much is too much? in this ever accessible network of people.  Is it really healthy to be connected to the technologies being offered by Web 2.0?

I have used various social network sites but my purpose and experience is quite different for each one.  Facebook, Instagram are by far my personal playground.  They are where I share anecdotes with family and friends as we live quite some distance from each other.  Twitter is where I find useful professional information with links to educational specialists and gurus from around the world and I tried to use Linked In for a while but found it not as effective as Twitter.  I have a Pinterest account to curate resources that could be useful for that rainy day, or meals to make for my family.  I have a You Tube account, a Google + account and these are new areas for me.  Anything that involves me sharing actual footage of myself I tend to not contribute but appreciate and comment on the efforts of others.

Throughout this unit though I hope to learn how to utilise the benefits of social networking in a primary (K – 6) educational setting.  What is it that needs to be considered?  How can the vision of a primary school library use social networking platforms to serve the needs of the learning community?

References:

Ishizuka, K. (2010). People who need peopleSchool Library Journal56(2), 32.


#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

 


Digital Dark Age or Seeing the Light

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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.

Photograph:  Fletcher's Fotographics, 1993

Photograph: Fletcher’s Fotographics, 1993

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.

Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kk7sPjbFAU