As Cathie Howe from macICT explained the focus of the work of this unit I was once again amazed at the diversity of programs and research undertaken, much of which would greatly challenge a vast number of teachers. It is not enough that new ICTs are integrated into classrooms to support students in gaining skills for the future; the greatest challenge is how to do this whilst ensuring a strong pedagogical approach that focuses primarily on what learning needs to look like and then exploring how ICT can support and enhance this. As Cathie spoke about Maker Spaces I couldn’t help but feel concern. In my recent experience there has been, in my opinion, a disproportionate amount of focus on setting up such spaces with little regard to how they relate to specific learning outcomes. I see enormous potential for MakerSpaces to support the design process that is a significant aspect of the NSW K-6 Science and Technology syllabus but see little evidence of strong connections in actual practice. This is definitely an area for investigation and one which I will certainly incorporate into my work with teachers. Another fascinating area discussed by Cathie was Transmedia Storytelling. This has great potential for the teaching of English in an explicit, contemporary and motivating way. My digital essay on Transliteracy explored the importance of this type of learning; the label given to this work is secondary to the important characteristics of the learning that is the focus of it. This is an area that I am excited to explore further in one area of my current work which aims to to increase student literacy achievement through a research informed, highly effective school-wide approach to literacy acquisition K-6.
I am writing this some time after the colloquium with Time Klapdor – Online Learning Technology Leader, Charles Sturt University.
He spoke about several aspects of the online world but what I found of particular interest was the concept of control. I wonder how many of us think about control when we post online? I must admit that I rarely do unless a teacher or parent starts questioning who owns the information that is being stored in Google’s cloud when using Google Apps for Education. The standard answer is that we own it – but do we really? Regardless of the answer to this question, of more concern may be “who is in control?” Tim began our session by suggesting that we are NOT in control. It is hard to find a person in my circles who does not have a presence on Facebook. What I post there is not important apart from photos that may be put there for safekeeping whilst travelling. The question begs – WHY does Facebook let us use the service and upload so much data for free? Do we ever really consider what the product actually is? It is, in fact, US. Facebook uses what they find out about us to sell to us. We need to go to quite a bit of trouble to stay in control of that (and many people probably don’t bother). And this happens everywhere we are online.
It is the algorithms working behind the scenes that decide what we see, for example, when we conduct a Google search. Once upon a time we could ask students to search using a particular keyword and then ask them to go to the third result – now that would be different for individual students because of the algorithms working to ensure the results produced ‘match’ the person. Another example of this is when I was searching for accommodation for a recent European holiday. I had selected and finally booked a few upmarket hotels and searched TripAdvisor for more reviews. Then, I found it almost impossible to search for cheaper accommodation because the algorithms had decided that I only wanted to see expensive hotels. I needed to go ‘incognito’ to find what I was after. I was NOT in control.
One of the points Tim was making was the fact that these online business who control our data present us in a certain way because we are not in control. If we were to have our own domain, this would not be the case. We would be in control of our data.
A major aspect of our online world is the preservation of what exists there – we cannot be guaranteed of our data preservation. Typically, our LMS in educational institutions are “emptied” when we are no longer enrolled. Of what value, then, is our online data if it can be so disposable? As Tim mentioned, what would happen if Facebook worked like our uni LMS, Blackboard?
Every 15 weeks Facebook would delete all your photos and status updates and unfriend all your friends!
This reminded me of an earlier subject – INF530: Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age – where we discussed this issue and I learned of the International Internet Preservation Consortium that works to archive some of what’s on the web for the benefit of future generations. What to archive is simply an educated guess in many instances but it is heartening to know that knowledge and information online is being preserved and made accessible for us now and into the future. Without this we would have a significant gap in our knowledge and social history.
This is a real issue for teachers working with GAFE – they must share all of their work with a personal account prior to leaving employment because their account is closed when they leave. Imagine all of the data collected over just a small period of time in a teacher’s life. This has implications not just for the teacher but for the employer as well. This is why it is important for institutions like schools to have structures and processes in place to ensure content is not lost. It is difficult for many teachers to understand that the content they create in the course of their work does actually belong to the employer and should be stored and available after a teacher has ceased employment.
Tim discussed a way of dealing with the various issues of ownership, control and preservation – create alternatives to the use of other people’s containers for storing our content. Individuals can use a variety of tools available to move away from dependence on others’ networks. Node ware combines software and hardware that allows you to host and manage your own network.
The internet internet relies on connections so personally owned, negotiated connections will lead to more distributed, cooperative, autonomous networks outside of existing systems that leave us in a position of little , if any, control.
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.
flickr photo shared by CarbonNYC [in SF!] under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license
It is estimated that modern humans evolved approximately 200, 000 years ago. Since that time, communication between people has continued to evolve and the rapid advancement in technology in the 21st century has had a profound impact on how humans communicate, learn and live. It is imperative, therefore, that education reflects the changing nature of an increasingly digital culture and places a priority on supporting students to develop the skills and literacies required for full and active participation in society now and in the future (Hague & Payton, 2010).
Whilst there is no universal definition of literacy, the CIA World Factbook defines it as the ability to read and write at a specified age (most commonly 15 years of age) and proceeds to state that “low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.”
To be successful in living and learning in the 21st century, many skills are required that go beyond the traditional literacies of language development. The plethora of literacies referred to in education has given birth to another term – transliteracy (Jaeger, 2011).
Transliteracy is an overarching concept that seeks to bring together the many literacies that one must develop to confidently consume and contribute to an ever expanding world in which multiple literacies, multiple media and multiple demands on one’s attention is evident (Thomas et al., 2007). Transliteracy is required to navigate across various media and encompasses a range of literacies including, but not limited to:
flickr photo shared by James Nash (aka Cirrus) under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license
The current evolving creative environment demands a new set of literacies: transliteracy (Thomas, 2013). Research began at the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) in 2005 and was presented in 2007 by Thomas et al. in their foundation article, Transliteracy: Crossing Divides. Transliteracy seeks to be a unifying term to describe what it means to be literate in the 21st century. It is defined as being “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, and ethnography.”
Cooper, Lockyer & Brown (2013) highlight the need to develop multiliteracies in a technology-mediated environment. The term multiliteracies could be seen by some to have the same meaning as transliteracy as both refer to various literacies, tools, and social and cultural contexts. However, transliteracy speaks of a unifying ecology as opposed to the communication milieu within which there exists multiliteracies. Thomas et al. (2007) use the prefix ‘multi-’ many times in their discussion of transliteracy therefore much of the discussion on multiliteracy is relevant when discussing transliteracy.
Morgan (2014) questions whether or not literacy is a stable phenomenon that means the same thing at all times and in all places. Further, what does it mean to know how to read and write in different times and in different places? Brandt (1995) has argued that literacy practices “accumulate” over time. At any given moment, new forms of literacy emerge while older ones become part of the developmental past. What, he asks, is different about the literacies expected of the average 12-year old then and now?
Transliteracy in Education
flickr photo shared by Ken Whytock under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license
For a person to develop into a transliterate member of society, the teaching of these skills and literacies must begin in primary school and continue throughout secondary schooling and beyond. Educators must create learning experiences that promote construction of knowledge using a variety of digital tools in order to enhance student development of transliteracy. It is not enough to be exposed to a variety of media. Students, across a wide variety of platforms, must learn by making and creating rather than merely consuming content; they must have the opportunity to work with and create visual texts in a variety of media (Bamford, 2003; Brown, 2004).
Australia responded to the digital education revolution by providing laptops to secondary students, high speed broadband to all schools and support to develop information and communication technology (ICT) proficiency for teachers and students. However, transliteracy is more than digital literacy and one could argue that schools are yet to embrace the essence of transliteracy. Students need opportunities to be engaged in transliterate practices and critical thinking across disciplines where they move between media to demonstrate their understanding of content as well as competence with multiple literacies (Gogan & Marcus 2013). Whilst literacy practices are changing, and it is difficult to specify the skills that will be required into the future (Beetham & Oliver, 2010), transliteracy proposes a broader approach to literacy development where a unifying ecology of all literacies meet and mix and encompass the available tools at one’s disposal in a particular place and time; it does not privilege one above another (Thomas et al., 2007).
The digital revolution has redefined experiences of students and teachers and sees them consume, produce and communicate information in previously unimaginable ways. To meet the needs of 21st century learners, educators must engage them in diverse and creative ways that ensure they are creative problem solvers, better communicators and lifelong learners who move from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able (Wesch, 2014).
flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
The students in classrooms today are often referred to as digital natives or the Google generation. Whilst not wanting to discuss the merits or otherwise of these terms, it is apparent that easy access to technology has not improved the information literacy of young people (JISC, 2008). It has, in fact, masked educational problems. It is therefore necessary that educators develop the professional capacity to support students through the new research and changing digital landscapes (Brabazon, Dear, Greene & Purdy, 2009).
Education in the 21st century exists within a multimodal, multichannel and multiplatform global community (Williamson, 2013). The challenge for educators is to respond to this reality. Transliteracy is a way to think about how this may be done. Some schools have begun to take up the challenge. Transliteracy needs to be everywhere – in all subjects and classrooms, with all teachers.
A significant element of the Australian Curriculum is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability in which ‘students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school, and in their lives beyond school.’ It is important to note simply having access to the tools does not assume that the goals will be achieved; many students have personal access to multiple devices but their knowledge practices do not necessarily transfer to the formal classroom context (Beetham & Oliver, 2010). It is crucial that educators support learners in gaining the skills and literacies required to successfully achieve learning goals. The focus must move away from technical skills towards concepts of literacy, criticality and judgement (European Commission, 2009 ). These concepts, together with the skills referred to above, are inherent components of transliteracy.
An example of a transliterate production is referred to by Thomas et al. (2007) that highlights possibilities for new narrative forms that showcase collective authorship across multiple forms. Flight Paths is a networked work of fiction project created by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph that was created on and through the internet with contributors providing both multimedia and traditional text.
Dean Grigar’s Fallow Field: a story in two parts is a further example of online multimodality. This web fiction sees the overlapping of physical and digital as the reader encounters sounds, images, words and links.
A somewhat similar project was undertaken by students at Sydney’s St Vincent’s College under the guidance of Suzana Sukovic (2014). iTell: Transliteracy and Digital Storytelling aimed to investigate transliteracy and student engagement through the creation of digital stories based on a creative reading task.
It was concluded that the iTell project and the resulting digital stories demonstrated student engagement and transliteracy skills within a collaborative environment.
It is not just in academic circles that one hears discourse around the need to ensure that education is relevant to contemporary students whilst preparing them for their future lives in society. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, recently delivered a speech in which he stated that we must ensure that we are equipping students with the skills for employment in an increasingly competitive globalised economy. The particular focus in this speech was on ICT with broader implications that our current education system needs to work towards equipping students for the jobs of tomorrow which exist in a world transformed by the internet.
In a nutshell, he stated, “we need knowledge and imagination. The former on its own is a dull resource, the latter on its own is a hallucination. Combined they will ensure an Australian future which is more exciting, more prosperous than ever before” (Turnbull, 2014).
What’s in a Name?
Whilst the idea of transliteracy is supported by many, particularly in the field of librarianship, there are some who would argue that it is an unnecessary or confusing term. Brad Czerniak (2010) finds the definition inconsistent and does not make clear which elements are tools, platforms or media nor how one is supposed to go across them (given that the prefix trans means across or between). David Rothman (2010) begins his claim that transliteracy is Commensurable Nonsense by comparing information literacy and digital literacy, the latter just being the former with computers. He continues, replacing the word ‘information’ with ‘health’, ‘media’ and ‘financial’ to illustrate the fact that they are merely subsets of information literacy. In particular, he criticises the Libraries and Transliteracy presentation by Bobbi Newman and makes many compelling arguments against the content, particularly with regard to transliteracy being a necessity for participation in society. His point is clearly made and causes one pause for thought. Perhaps the term is controversial if seen in this way. However, it could be argued that the term transliteracy is one that may be useful for assisting educators to value and respond to the various discrete literacies and not leave particular skill development to specific disciplines. This mindset is necessary if one is to understand transliteracy not as the development of particular literacies about various media but, rather, mapping meaning across different media (Ipri, 2010).
Interestingly, in her argument, Should Transliteracy Replace Language Arts? Jody Lambert (Russac & Lambert, 2013) agrees that transliteracy belongs to all educators and is vital to the development of 21st century skills. She does, however, preface this with the statement that “students must first master the ability to read and write effectively, coherently and with clarity before they can interact transliterally… we must first be literate before we can be transliterate.” This displays a lack of understanding of the term transliteracy which Thomas et al.(2007) state clearly is about all communication types across time and culture; Lambert implies that communication is only possible through the relatively recent human activity of reading and writing.
flickr photo shared by Terry Freedman under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license
The Australian curriculum requires students from K-10 to “develop and apply ICT knowledge, skills and appropriate social and ethical protocols and practices to investigate, create and communicate, as well as developing their ability to manage and operate ICT to meet their learning needs” (ACARA, 2015). Students, therefore, are required to be transliterate in order to accomplish this. Transliteracy, as a concept, is an attempt to label what educators are already doing – linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today.
Literacy in the 21st century means more than the ability to read and write – it is the activity of minds “capable of recognising and engaging substantive issues along with the ways that minds, sensibilities and emotions are constructed by and within communities whose members communicate through specific technologies” (Welch, 1999).
The turn of the 21st century has signalled a shift in the types of skillsets that have real, applicable value in a rapidly advancing world (NMC, 2015). To develop transliteracy is to develop the skills necessary not just to function, but to behave creatively and critically within a complex information society (Cronin, 2010)
Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2015). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. Australian Curriculum. Retrieved http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/ict-capability-across-the-curriculum
Bamford, A. (2003). The visual literacy white paper. [A report commissioned by Adobe Systems, Australia]. http://www.adobe.com/uk/education/pdf/adobe_visual_literacy_paper.pdf
Beetham, H. and Oliver, M. (2010). The changing practices of knowledge and learning. In Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., de Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age : How Learners are Shaping their Own Experiences. ch.11 (pp.155-170). eBook.
Brabazon, T., Dear, Z., Greene, G., & Purdy, A. (2009). Why the Google generation will not speak: The invention of digital natives. Nebula, 6. Retrieved from http://www.iiav.nl/ezines/IAV_607294/IAV_607294_2010_3/BDGP.pdf
Brown, I. (2004). Global trends in art education: New technologies and the paradigm shift to visual literacy. The International Journal of Art Education, 2, 50–61.
Cooper, N., Lockyer, L., & Brown., I. (2013). Developing multiliteracies in a technology-mediated environment. Educational Media International, 50:2, 93-107, DOI: 10.1080/09523987.2013.795350
Cronin, J. R. (2010). Too much information: Why facilitate information and media literacy? International Journal Of Humanities & Arts Computing, 4(1/2), 151-165.
Czerniak, B. (2010). Redefining transliteracy. Retrieved http://bradczerniak.com/2010/11/12/redefining-transliteracy/
European Commission (2009). Digital literacy: high level expert group recommendations. Retrieved https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/free_download/9780262518826_The_Future_Of_The_Curriculum.pdf
Gogan, B., & Marcus, A. (2013). Lost in transliteracy. Knowledge Quest, 41(5), 40-45.
Hague, C. & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum: a Futurelab handbook. Retrieved http://www.futurelab.org.uk/sites/default/files/Digital_Literacy_handbook_0.pdf
Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries? College and Research Libraries, 71, 532-567.
Jaeger, P. (2011). Transliteracy – New Librarylingo and what it means for instruction. Library Media Connection, 30(2), 44-47.
Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). doi:10.5210/fm.v12i12.2060
JISC (2008). Information behaviour of the researcher of the future: A Ciber briefing paper. Retrieved http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140614113419/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/programmes/reppres/gg_final_keynote_11012008.pdf
New Media Consortium (2015). NMC Horizon report preview: 2015 K-12 Edition. Horizon Project. Retrieved http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2015-nmc-horizon-report-k12-preview.pdf
Patrick K. Morgan , (2014),Information literacy learning as epistemological process., Reference Services Review, 42(3) p. 403 – 413. DOI: 10.1108/RSR-04-2014-0005
Rothman, D. (2010). Commensurable Nonsense (Transliteracy). Retrieved http://davidrothman.net/2010/12/19/commensurable-nonsense-transliteracy/
Russac, P. & Lambert, J. (2013). Should transliteracy replace language arts?(point counterpoint) Learning & Leading with Technology, 41(2).
Sukovic, S. (2015). iTell: Transliteracy and digital storytelling. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 45(3), 205-229. doi:10.1080/00048623.2015.951114
Thomas, S. (2013). Making a space: transliteracy and creativity. Digital Creativity, 24(3), p.182-190. DOI:10.1080/14626268.2013.806332
Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). Retrieved http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2060/1908
Turnbull, M. (2014). The Importance of Tech Education in Our Schools. Retrieved http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/speech-the-importance-of-tech-education-in-our-schools
Wesch, M. (2014). From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments. The Academic Commons for the Liberal Education Community. Retrieved
Williamson, B. (2013). The future of the curriculum: School knowledge in the digital age. Retrieved https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/free_download/9780262518826_The_Future_Of_The_Curriculum.pdf
I attended the Sydney GAFE Summit last week – two days of edtech.
This was the fourth conference I have attended over the past five years, all of them relating to the use of technology in education. I have always come away from these events motivated to try the new ideas I have heard about. The keynote speakers evangelising about the need to change the way we teach in order to ensure 21st century learning is happening in our schools have made so much sense – at the time.
This year it was a different experience for me. Having just completed my scholarly book review, I found myself attending sessions and asking the question – says who? – after almost every session. Whilst the presenters were obviously enthusiastic and passionate about the use of digital technology in their classrooms and shared some great ideas, I seemed to have a cynical feeling emerging. Maybe this feeling of cynicism could be interpreted as critical thinking.
I understand that schools do need to change in order to be relevant, but this change must be based on sound, authoritative research. We have a great responsibility to our students (and their parents) to provide the best education possible. I am left wondering if the organisers of these events promote or require reference to academic research when making broad statements about “21st Century” learning. If the workshop is simply designed to teach a new tool or give ideas on their use in the classroom then it should remain just that. When presenters promote the use of a particular technology or pedagogy to improve learning outcomes for students I now need to know what they are basing this on.
I look forward to attending the ACER Research Conference in August and comparing that experience with my recent one. I imagine that when I ask the question, “says who?” I may be able to answer it.
When I think of taxonomy of learning, I think of Bloom. Bloom’s taxonomy is older than I am, having been published in 1956. I remember first hearing of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a young teacher but had no idea what it was, nor that it was the work of many authors whose aim was to classify three domains of educational goals and objectives. The cognitive domain is, I expect, the one that educators are most familiar with. Krathwohl’s Taxonomy and Harrow’s Taxonomy classify the affective and psychomotor domains respectively and are quite new to me.
Bloom’s taxonomy is still a valid way for educators to classify learning objectives and ensure that students are engaged in activities that move beyond lower order thinking tasks to the more complex higher order thinking tasks of synthesising and evaluating.
In our current digital age there is more scope to design learning that covers the spectrum of learning but how to evaluate this learning can be problematic. There is much talk about 21st century learning skills which usually centre around the skills of problem solving, creative and critical thinking, collaboration and so on. I do not believe that these skills have only been devised for 21st c learning; they are, however, perhaps more desirable in contemporary society where much of the workforce is required to demonstrate and use these skills in ways that were not so prevalent in previous generations. Our knowledge networked society enables us to connect and collaborate with others beyond the physical classroom and beyond our local communities. With the arrival of Web 2.0, educators can harness these tools to develop these skills in students, particularly with regard to collaboration and sharing of knowledge.
I have had many conversations with parents recently who continue to request data that proves that technology is improving their child’s learning; the data requested is that of the NAPLAN type. Many don’t seem satisfied with a response that speaks of creativity, collaboration, problem solving or any other skill that is deemed by many to be the holy grail of contemporary learning.
Therefore, as educators, we must search for ways that will enable us to assess these skills, particularly when the use of ICT is required. Heppell (2001) cautions against assessing learning done with ICT using measures that were constructed prior to the digital age as we would be assessing in ways that are reminiscent of pedagogy that predates current educational pedagogies.
Bloom’s original taxonomy has been revised and adapted by many as seen by the selection of images included here:
Starkey (2011) states that whilst these later versions have creativity as the goal, the ultimate goal should be the sharing of what has been created. Prior to the digital age, this was only possible in a limited way. Now, with a vast array of web 2.0 tools available, sharing is possible on a global level and can be done instantly. Starkey lists six aspects of learning that use digital technologies and provides a matrix that can be used to connect Bloom’s and SOLO taxonomies and, further, be used as and assessment tool:
- Thinking about connections
- Thinking about concepts
- Critiquing and evaluating
- Creating knowledge
- Sharing knowledge
Five digital technology uses associated with these levels of learning:
- Accessing information
- Processing information
Teachers using this tool are able to discern the value of activities with regard to ensuring the connection between activity and concept. If teachers are to do more than give lip service to higher order thinking skills and their application in a digital learning world, they must ensure that their learning spaces, both physical and virtual, are conducive to learning in a digital age and that their theory of learning is also supportive of contemporary learning design.
Heppell, S. (2001) Assessment and new technology: new straightjackets or new opportunities? Retrieved from http://workshop.heppell.mobi/search?q=Assessment+and+new+technology%3A+new+straightjackets+or+new+opportunities%3F
Starkey, L. (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39
As I begin to explore concepts and practices in a digital age, I find myself jumping all over the place – it is such a broad area to study. What concepts do I associate with the digital age? The first to come to mind include connectedness, collaboration, cooperation, globalisation, stability, change, belonging, sustainability, space, environment, ethics, ownership. No doubt, there are many more. My thoughts about practices in a digital age are somewhat cloudy as I consider what practices are specific to a digital age. How are they different from those of a time before the impact of digital environments and tools? Are they improved or just different? What implications arise that are directly related to this ever expanding digital environment?In exploring this subject, I hope to answer these questions, particularly in the context of primary school education.
My work in education is directly related to the pursuit of these answers. My role sees me working with primary school teachers with vastly different experiences, opinions and abilities with regard to digital practices in the classroom. I hope that by exploring and clarifying my understandings in this field, I will be better equipped to collaboratively navigate the ever-changing landscape that educators face.
With such a wide distribution of knowledge and skills demonstrated by teachers and students alike, the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’, as coined by Marc Prensky in 2001, are often used to help explain the digital divide. These terms, however, do not sit comfortably with me when the former is often used to refer to the younger generation and the latter connected with the teachers born before this digital revolution. Prensky states that our students today are native speakers of digital language, yet I would also consider myself a native speaker because I have used the language as it has developed. I have lived in the time when the language was invented so I could also be considered a native speaker. The fact that some people choose not, or have no need, to use the language does not necessarily mean that they are immigrants any more than a person who does not use language related to disciplines that use a specific language are eg music, medicine, law. There may be a digital divide, but I don’t believe it has a great deal to do with when one was born. I agree with Gerald Haigh who writes in Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native‘ that there’s no evidence of a clear-cut digital divide. Use of technology varies with age, but it does so predictably, over the whole age span. And secondly, although younger people are more likely to be positive about technology, there is evidence that a good attitude to technology, at any age, correlates with good study habits.
An area of interest I aim to explore further is that of digital literacy. My understanding of digital literacy is the ability to efficiently and effectively select and use a variety of digital technologies to locate, understand, synthesise, evaluate, create and communicate information whilst applying social and ethical protocols in order to protect and respect self, others and property. For teachers who are not digitally literate, supporting the development of these skills in their students will be a significant challenge.
An aspect of the information environment that has been brought to my attention by embarking on this subject is that of digital preservation. On a personal level, I have always understood the need to back up data, especially after losing data that could not be retrieved. I had not, however, considered the impact that this concept has on larger scale. I am comforted to know that the International Internet Preservation Consortium is working on our behalf to ensure that our web is preserved for future generations. On a local level, it makes me wonder about what I should be preserving and encouraging others to preserve. Can we rely on the cloud to keep our data safe? Hopefully access to the cloud will not be dependent on specific hardware (yet I suspect at some time in the future it will) like previous storage solutions were such as floppy discs and, more recently, CDs and USBs.
My first instinct is to think that all will be safe in the cloud. That was, at least, until last week when a radio discussion I was listening to drew my attention to the disastrous effect a solar storm would have on our society if one such as the Carrington event of 1859 were to happen today. Dr Karl explained how an event such as this would impact on our everyday lives, from banking and GPS navigation systems to the watch we may be wearing on our wrist.
I look at the work samples from my days in primary school and wonder what future generations will have to show of their past or, indeed, what they will consider valuable.
Haigh, G. (2011). Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native’. Merlin John Online.http://www.agent4change.net/resources/research/1088
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon 9(5). Retrieved http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Another semester of study begins: Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age.
Browsing the modules, I can already see I will be challenged to think about things that have not necessarily been on my radar.
Listening to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, speak so passionately about The next Web of open, linked data highlighted our responsibility to be contributors to, not just consumers of, the web. The International Internet Preservation Consortium has me thinking about the massive amount of data that is being stored in the cloud now that my educational jurisdiction has moved to Google Apps for Education. What does this mean for us if so much of our work and that of our students’ becomes inaccessible? What keepsakes will our kids have if their best work lives in the cloud? I still have my kindergarten workbook and year 6 final exam. Amazing to look back at it and see my writing and drawing and the teachers’ handwritten comments. I absolutely love technology and my work life is very much centred around encouraging teachers to embrace technology in their classrooms. This, however, has given me pause for thought and prompted me to think about what we are doing as educators to preserve our work and the work of our students.
Some thought provoking study ahead.