How do I fly this thing? Information Behaviour.

What is information behaviour? The many ways in which human beings interact with information, in particular the ways in which people seek and utilise information. (Bawden, 2012)

Seeking information

The Universe is yours. Explore, Build, Dominate.

Just this morning, with some trepidation, I loaded Eve Online. Upon installation, I was immediately pulled in by the powerful narrative and graphics. A view of Earth appears: “The origin of our ancestors.” The Eve Gate has collapsed. Four different faces of humanity exist. A new kind of human in possible – immortality is real. This is a genuine participatory experience; very quickly I was faced with the need to build and name an avatar – a visual representation of the character that I am to play (Adams, 2009). His race and bloodline have also been chosen by me. I also had to pose him for some portrait shots. Talk about ownership and agency.
Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 11.17.06 am
This is Wilson, my Avatar. He now exists in Eve Online, on board his ship that he is currently learning to fly, while being fired upon! So, online Wilson is required to quickly learn skills of survival so as to participate in and contribute to the Eve Online universe that two years ago had something like 500,000 registered players.

That’s the thing about games like Eve Online, a Massively-Multiplayer-Online-Role-Playing Game (MMORPG). To participate as a gamer you are required to learn quickly. And the learning that is needed is actually quite daunting. I had to log off after a 45min immersion as I began to experience information overload (aka sweat). What will keep me going back though is that experience has taught me that the game will actually support me in my efforts to learn, as will the community of players who participate in this game. That is how these games are designed. They use components of game mechanics such as narrative, competition, missions and quests to keep you engaged and learning. They are also collaborative. The Eve Online narrative tells me that I am immortal (phew) so presumably I can survive my ship being blown to pieces. So, the learning is hard but I suspect I will persist.

Immersion into virtual spaces such as Eve Online, Second Life and Ingress has helped me immensely with developing a strong sense of how learning occurs in these virtual environments.

Screen Shot 2015-05-17 at 11.29.58 am Have a look at the highly complex graphical user interface (GUI) show in the image to the right (click to enlarge), including a user HUD at the bottom of the page. As a gamer in this space, I certainly ask myself if I can navigate this game and develop the appropriate knowledge and skill to survive. And yet, don’t we expect our students to do this on a daily basis? Picture textbooks or laptops as user interfaces to knowledge and learning. How do they cope with what we as teachers present to them?

Looking to literature for explorations on this issue Adams (2009) describes what are called information behaviours. Citing other work (McKenzie, 2002) Adam’s introduces the following terms (amongst other viewpoints):
*Active seeking: the most active mode
*Active scanning: including semi-directed browsing or scans of the environment
*Non-directed monitoring: which includes serendipitous kinds of discovery
*By proxy: A situation is which an individual gains the information through the agency or intermediation of others.

So that we (educators) and our students can cope in a world of ubiquitous knowledge need to view ourselves as knowledge workers who have highly developed informations behaviours.

I have for years encouraged secondary ages students to ‘take ownership’ of their learning. I say this to them, write it on assessments and repeat this philosophy to parents. My students generally know what I am on about. However, the lessons I have learnt via game immersion, alongside academic insights have made me think that I should ask my students how they actually go about about finding information. Perhaps they can tell me how they learn in game environments and thus develop an understanding of their own information seeking behaviours i.e how they as gamers and learners retrieve information in order to solve problems or make sense of situations. Where and when do they fit into the above categories?

As mentioned by Adams (2009), often educators and academics can hold onto beliefs that video games are trivial and therefore are resistant to their use in educational settings. As I am realising, to overcome such beliefs does take immersion so as to acknowledge the in-world learning that occurs.

Look for me in Eve Online, I will probably need your help!

Oops. Now what?

Oops. Now what?

References:

Adams, S. S. (2009). What games have to offer: Information behavior and meaning-making in virtual play spaces. Library Trends, 57(4), 676-693.

Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.

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War Room Mentality

War room

War room

How to cope in the knowledge economy? During my Masters of Eduction program I have had to develop strategies to cope with a deluge of information that flows into my digital learning environment via my knowledge networks.  All of my digital data is curated into evernote.  This information is filed according to topic but also heavily tagged. However, I am also finding it extremely useful to  curate some of this collected information out into the world and onto my walls.  The image to the left shows my lounge room wall, post-it-notes on post-it wall pads. The inspiration for such an approach comes from Google Ventures who provide strategies to set up a project war room. Notosh give suggestions on building a project nest.

My study colleague Matt Ives shows his war door which is decidedly more organised than my wall.  This is a rich learning task and surely a valuable strategy for any learner trying to cope in their digital learning environment.

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I am a 21st century learner

A few solid months back I began this M.Ed learning journey by writing:

A professional goal is to solidify and expand my knowledge of digital teaching and learning

I dove into this subject head on and wrote early on:

I thought I would scan through Starkey, L. (2011) but a while later I was still reading. A huge Qs is how to get educators and indeed the education system to make the shift in pedagogy that is suggested.

In  a small collection of my notes, housed in Evernote, my reaction to this reading was documented as follows: 

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.20.45 pm

Such an enthralling concept…Innovative!

Within the context of INF530 the digital age students have been myself and colleagues such as Graham, Bec, Heather and The Other Simon. We have learnt from each other via our digital connections and created new knowledge and developed new understandings. We have participated fully and thus internalised the above ideal. Perhaps we have experienced Peeragogy?

While accessing knowledge networks, I have experienced the participatory culture that is at the foundation of 21st century learning.

I have also begun to develop a deeper understanding of connectivism, in a way that cannot be learnt by the reading of a blog post or listening to a video.  Consequently, I discovered the answer to a question that I posed a few months back:

What does this statement mean? “the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing” taken from Starkey (2011) and your subject page.

It is vital that we expose our students to this concept to our students and explore with them the connectivist idea that learning can be distributed outside of the learner.

Recently,  I read a post by Steve Wheeler, where he discusses using technology as a mind tool to extend cognitive abilities.

Via experiencing online, participatory learning, I have also learnt that technology, if used appropriately, can extend cognitive abilities (thank you Evernote). I have also become more adept at dipping into the flow of knowledge using tools such as Twitter. These insights have changed my views of 21st century tools that allow digitised knowledge to flow, from node to node, through the social networks that we are a part of.

I have developed strong network awareness, a vital 21st century literacy, by focussing on readings authored b Charles Kadushin, once of the founders of the social network field.

My views and understandings of an educational professional in digital environments have been matured by these studies and the social interactions that have taken place around this learning journey.

Learning anywhere, anytime is a reality for me:

And thus education is at a cross-roads, being disrupted by a ubiquitous spread of digital technologies.  The challenge is to now develop 21st century pedagogies that accept the reality of knowledge networks. The goal of 21st century educators should be to empower students by placing them at the epicentre of their learning: researching, curating, creating and publishing their learning, therebye contributing to the global narrative and in the process constructing their own knowledge.

Take the technology for granted, let it fade into the background and focus on and develop new pedagogies that match the realities of a 21st century classroom.

I wrote in a previous post the following words:

the paradox of innovation without change

The paradox would be to have digital innovations flow into our lives without any real change to the design of classrooms and also the pedagogies that make them places of learning.  Our students demand more than digital textbooks. They want to participate and they do want to learn.

This is the responsibility of an educator in the 21st century.

I must end by acknowledging the professional support of Judy O’Connell, a true 21st century educator and learner.

Thanks to you too Mr. Moodle for your support.

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School Superheroes

How do we all become 21st Century educators?future (3)

In the digital world, such as on twitter and in  academic publications and curriculum documentation there is a lot of chatter about  21st century learning.  However,  how do we as educators, who in the end need to have a well informed classroom practice, get to a place where we can  confidently foster a culture of creation in our classrooms whilst empowering our students to  contribute creatively, responsibly and ethically to their learning community?

As is mentioned in the above publication, we as educators need to develop new capacities, deepen our networking abilities, strengthen our ability to use interactive media and embrace technologies of co-operation.

  • We must also challenge institutional hierarchies  and policies and provide exemplars of, and provocations for, innovation.

How to get there?  By participating in this digital space, writing, creating, sharing, discussing, reading…

Play in this place and bring a friend.

I have introduced by Year 8 class to twitter @MLC8S. These students already play in an online collaborative and multi-modal world  but I am sure I have a lot to teach them about digital citizenship. No, doubt I will learn a lot from them too.

Happy learning.

References:

Iftf (2008).  2020 Forecast: Creating the future of learning (nd). Retrieved 29th May 2014, from http://www.iftf.org/uploads/media/IFTF_SR-1165A_RemakingLearningForecast.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Information Fluency

‘Information can only be power if you have the skills to use it to develop your journey and turn facts into knowledge. Knowledge is only powerful if it is important to you and your context.’ Richard Gerver.

The world of the 21st century learner is illustrated clearly in the following Youtube clip.

Where do you and I fit into this world?

I am an educator but firstly I am a learner.

I am living through an education revolution. My learning is now mostly in a digital format.

The pace of change I am faced with is staggering.

The world in which I live is so full of knowledge it’s hard to grasp.

I am a connected learner. I communicate with a plethora of people via social networking tools such as Facebook. Some of these Facebook connections are international and although I have met them all, some of our relationships are now purely digital.  I also share knowledge with hundreds of people via Twitter and Google+. My Professional Learning Network continues to grow and grow.

I sense the hyper-connected world in which I live.

I am just a node amongst nodes.

I am developing strong network awareness, which is viewed as an important element of web literacy (Rheingold 2010).

I am also consuming, producing and communicating information like never before.  Therefore, you will find me on Flickr, Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress and more.

I truly am a participant in the globalized world.

And where am I heading? According to the above video, into a world with more people and fewer resources. A busy and competitive world. Perhaps engaging with the Internet of things. On that note. I would love to get my hands on Google glass! I suspect my students would enjoy this technology as well.  😉

In this increasingly digital world I am trying to decide what is more important: the acquisition of knowledge or the development of skills? Reading the blog post Knowing and Doing is helping me to clarify my ideas on his issue. I do know that my students like to learn how to do things in preference to simply learning about things.

I am realising that so far in this M.Ed journey, apart from the knowledge that I have engaged with, it is the skills I have begun to developed that will carry me forward as a 21st century learner. I sense I am developing strong information fluency which is the the capacity to search for, use, and respond to information.

My administrative tool of choice has been Evernote and I am so pleased that I have diligently and patiently collected, curated, tagged and filed digital information in a way to render it easily accessible and searchable.

Quite a few years ago I did my BSc (Hon) thesis. The opening pages of my published thesis contain the following words:

“Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding.  Proverbs 4:7

Even ancient writers and thinkers were pondering over what constitutes good learning.

References:

Rheingold (2012) Knowing and doing. Accessed via http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/knowing-and-doing.html

Rheingold, Howard. (2010). Attention and other 21st century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review 45(5).

 

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Bloom, Fink and going SOLO in a BYOD world

Taxonomy of learning in knowledge networks

inmap (1)

A map of my LinkedIn Professional Learning Network

Taxonomies

I am science trained and know that in the study of the sciences, taxonomies are not set in stone. The way we classify organisms  has changed since I was a Biology student. Back then we also had nine planets in our Solar System, whereas now we have eight because the way we categorise planets has changed. These changes are a great lesson in how knowledge changes over time. Our world views change.

I am keeping this in mind as I explore the learning taxonomies that have played a major role in education, including those shown below in Figure 1.

Are these taxonomies relevant in 21st Century classrooms?

What is a learning taxonomy anyway? According to O’Neill (2010): “Learning
 taxonomies
 or
 classifications
 are commonly
 utilised
 as
 a
 way
 of
 describing
 observable
 learning
 behaviours
 and
 activities
 that
 we
 wish
 our
 students
 to
 develop.” The following image (Figure 1) shows some Taxonomies along with their dates of publication.

taxonomy

Figure 1 : Educational Taxonomies : Sourced from O’Neill & Murphy (2010)

These taxonomies have assisted many educators in describing student learning. So whilst engaging with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Anderson 2001) we learn to describe student learning in terms of listing, memorising, reciting, classifying, reading, rewriting, finding…to perhaps show they have stored prescribed knowledge in their heads. For your interest read Biggs and Collis (1982) to help develop an understanding of SOLO.

However, educators such as Steve Wheeler (2012) are now making sense of new world views where knowledge is more widely distributed and sits outside of the learner. As Weinberger (2011) says: “Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network….”

Should we, in light of the connected world we now live in and the knowledge networks that our students can draw on change the  ways we view and describe student behaviour and learning outcomes.  After all, we are now just a node amongst many. Things have changed. The information ecology that we now exist in has changed.

Just for interest, the social graph at the top of this post illustrates my LinkedIn network. This can be seen as a good example of a knowledge network.

Another observation is that these taxonomies describe the individual and do not reflect a connected digital world where learning is becoming “increasingly a networked phenomenon”. (O’Connell 2014)

Connectivism

Educators are now discussing connectivism (Siemens, 2004) which is proving to be a good lens through which to explore 21st Century Learning. Louise Starkey (2010) does this with clarity.  She argues that 21st century educators will be “limited in their ability to teach the upcoming generation to be active participants in a digitally enhanced society without understanding how to apply theories of learning that are relevant to a digital age into their practice.”

As a simple activity, try Googling “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy’ using Google images. The colourful search result that appears on my screen suggests that we are struggling to  fit an old tool to a new purpose. Maybe also, we are trying to fit new digital tools into old taxonomies. Steve Wheeler (2012 June 26) talks of “Bloom reheated”. What are your thoughts on this?

As explored by Bawden (2012) “technology does not change the ways of dealing with information” but information ecologies have changed particularly with the advent of social media technologies. In this new information ecology, should we continue to refer to Bloom’s (revised) taxonomy whilst reflecting on lesson plans and pedagogy. Or should we, you perhaps, refer to a new tool through which you would reflect on your teaching?

Computational thinking might provide new guiding language/taxonomies.

Starkey (2011) argues that the connections that a student makes are an  important part of learning in the digital age and “it is through these connections that knowledge is created and critiqued”. This is an extremely important concept that is well worth exploring, particularly if we want to taxonomise such learning while acknowledging collaboration, connections, creation of knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge.

Summary

Alongside a group of CSU students scattered through Australia and overseas, I am currently learning to:

  • think critically
  • learn through connections
  • create and share knowledge

Some of the knowledge we are aggregating, curating, tagging, creating and critiquing is shared knowledge as it is stored in and accessible via our knowledge networks. How would Bloom, Fink and Biggs have structured their learning taxonomies to describe the learning that I am participating in?

References:

Bawden, D. & Robinson, l. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187 – 210). London: facet.

Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press

O’Neill, G. and Murphy, F. (2010) Guide to Taxonomies of Learning. Retrieved from UCD website http://www.ucd.ie/t4cms/ucdtla0034.pdf

O’Connell, S. (2014) Knowledge Networks – Connected communities, open access, and connected learning [INF530 Module 3]. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from Charles Sturt University website: http://digital.csu.edu.au/inf530/module-3-knowledge-networks-connected-communities-open-access-and-connected-learning/

Weinberger, D. (2011) Too Big To Know. New York. Basic Books

Wheeler, S. (2012 June 26) Bloom reheated. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/bloom-reheated.html

Wheeler, S. (2012 Oct 26th) Theories for the digital age: Connectivism. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2012/10/theories-for-digital-age-connectivism.html

 

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