Provide a critical synthesis of your reflection on how your views, knowledge and understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments has changed and/or developed.
I can barely believe my time as a CSU online student is over. Contrary to what I was warned, online study has not been isolating. I have discovered that I am a social learner – the participatory, networked, open, digital environments where MEd. (KNDI) exists are where I thrive. Like Weller’s digital scholar, I am defined by the network and online identity I have established, not by my institution (Weller, 2011). INF537 – Digital Futures Colloquia has been a fitting end to this stage of my journey.
The first two colloquia with Bruce Dixon (Modern Learners) and Mike Hourahine (Think Global School) really set the scene for INF537, challenging our ideas about school, education and learning. It’s so rewarding to be part of a cohort who engage with the speaker and each other during online meetings, breaking down another perceived disadvantage to online learning. Those first few weeks were energising, but also overwhelming.
The case study turned out to be more challenging than expected (and I always expect to be challenged). On reflection, I should have approached it quite differently, used different methods of data collection and asked different questions. 20-20 hindsight is a wonderful thing. The time constraints made this task very difficult, my data gathering had to be done while I was at work – when I’m at work I have work to do.
Back to Bruce Dixon. Modern Learners’ promotion of the need for self-directed, self-determined learners resonates with me and I continue to be frustrated by an education system that places so much value on high-stakes testing. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised by the number of teachers who don’t share my enthusiasm for digital, networked and open practices, particularly in the later years of schooling, it’s understandable that they take the path of teaching to the test.
Lower down the school though, I may be making some progress. Stymied by a “we’re too busy/don’t have time” response to an opportunity I shared at the start of term three, I’m excited now that the same year four teacher is keen to explore the idea of a virtual book club collaboration with a teacher I met through the CSURU global collaboration. Even better, I can drive this by incorporating it into my once a week ICT sessions with her class – if it’s successful I should get more buy-in for other projects in the future.
The CSURU collaboration was my first experience of Flipgrid, I’m excited by its potential and it is definitely one of the tools to consider for the book club. The collaborative process for the case study reminded me of the value of Voicethread, another potential book club tool. I know we keep banging on about “it’s not about the tools” but finding good ones that “just work”, that offer flexibility for a variety of circumstances, are easy to use, free, and don’t require students to be over 13 can do a lot for persuading reluctant teachers of the potential of being open and networked.
For some years I’ve said I’d like to work more with teachers. Moving forward I would like to make teacher professional learning the main part of my role, wherever that is. I am the “go-to” person regarding digital technology for a number of teachers at my school and I happily share and support them but it is ad hoc. Through my role in the library I support teachers with resources, I look forward to reading Karen Malbon’s case study on Open Educational Resources and making OER a bigger focus in future.
I keep thinking that this is the end but it is also another beginning. Embarking on this masters wasn’t the beginning of my journey to being a digital, networked and open scholar but was hugely important in propelling me along. The formal study might be over but the learning never will be. Bring it on!
Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. Retrieved from http://www.SLQ.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=773623