As I embarked on another semester of study, I was keen to explore “concepts and practices for a digital age” whilst, at the same time, expecting a challenging few months ahead. I have been enthusiastic about the use of technology in education since I undertook a M Ed (Teacher Librarianship) in the early 90s. I have been directly involved in supporting teachers and students in the educational use of technology since that time. The difference now is that I have a very clear understanding of the importance of research to inform educational change.
My first challenge came when reflecting on my education jurisdiction’s recent move to Google Apps for Education. There was so much discussion about cloud storage and how convenient it would be to have access to digital content anywhere, anytime. Of course this has proven to be a wonderful initiative for many in our system and there is now a massive amount of data stored in the cloud, but the International Internet Preservation Consortium helped me to understand how important it is to preserve digital content so that future generations may have an insight into our current society and the ways in which we interact.
When prompted to reflect on what concepts I associated with the digital age, the first to come to mind included connectedness, collaboration, cooperation, globalisation, stability, change, belonging, sustainability, space, environment, ethics and ownership. I can confirm that I was not far off the mark in my initial thoughts. Interestingly, having mentioned globalisation, I was somewhat contradictory in my forum post at the beginning of module 4 when I stated that I don’t believe that we should necessarily focus on what students will need to function in a globalised future. Having explored the concept further, I realise that it is probably unwise to separate future needs from current needs as the latter informs the former.
It was during this post that I articulated a desire to further explore the area of digital literacy which I pursued in different ways through my book review and digital essay. The flexibility to choose an area of interest to explore further was both liberating and nerve wracking as I was torn between choosing digital literacy (the area I felt would further support my professional life in the immediate future) or an area that I was very unfamiliar with but felt I should explore further (such as geospacial learning, big data and analytics, gamification of learning and makerspaces). I am happy with my ultimate decision in both instances, particularly in light of the emerging culture of BYOD environments in the primary schools I serve.
The book review afforded me the opportunity to cast a critical eye across a book that I was familiar with but had not explored deeply. Combined with my reflection on taxonomies of learning, I am more confident in my ability to not only judge the merits of the reading that I engage in, but also to question the validity of what various people within the educational community espouse, particularly those encountered in public forums such as conferences. My post, Says Who?, highlights my thoughts during a recent conference experience.
Writing my digital essay on Transliteracy began as an opportunity to develop my understanding of a term I had come across many years ago but had not followed up further. Enthusiastic during the initial research associated with preparing this essay, I soon became somewhat confused by the differing views associated with this and similar topics. Whilst I continue to uphold my support for the concept of transliteracy, I am more interested in the educational implications of this and other similar terms used in association with educating for the 21st century. As educators, we have a responsibility to engineer experiences for our students who are required to develop a vast array of skills that will support their participation in society now and into the future. A major implication for educators is also the responsibility to develop ways in which to assess these skills within authentic contexts.
I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this subject at a time in my professional life when it has proven to be very valuable. Whilst unable to participate to the fullest extent that I would have desired, I nevertheless have already begun to experience the benefits that this level of study can provide. The knowledge I have gained so far as penetrated various meetings and forums with which I am involved both as facilitator and participant. I will continue to delve more deeply into other areas highlighted by this course and the offerings of the cohort, as time progresses. The bank of resources now available to me has developed my professional reading library and knowledge of resources available to support students and teachers in their use of digital tools for educational, professional and personal use now and into the future.This is particularly important as more schools move to a BYOD environment and all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, community) expect more rigorous, personalised learning pathways for students in our classrooms now– fifteen years into the 21st century.