#INF533 Blog task

CC0 Public Domain Free for commercial use No attribution required image from Pixabay https://pixabay.com/en/kindle-paper-white-touchscreen-750305/

CC0 image from Pixabay

I have been battling with the difference between reading and viewing – is something literature when you view it – say a video consisting of moving words on screen? Is literature in a digital environment anything that includes text (that you read or have read to you)? This is perhaps clarified by Lamb (2011) “Reading is the process of constructing meaning from symbols” and “A book is a published collection of related pages or screens” (my emphasis). But does this make all books literature? Walsh suggests not, cautioning that “it is important to distinguish between digital narratives, created as literature, and digital storytelling that anyone can produce…” (2013, p. 186). I can see that her explanation of the qualities of good literature and features of digital narratives are going to be useful references when I am completing assessment item 2, experiencing digital literature.

I consider myself comfortable with reading online although generally what I read, other than blogs and websites, was first published for print or to mimic it. My leisure reading of fiction and narrative non-fiction is done almost exclusively on my Kindle or Kindle app on iPhone or iPad. I now buy many books whereas before I would only borrow from a library. I’ve had mixed experiences with borrowing from my public library through Overdrive and BorrowBox so I don’t do it often.

My Kindle helps overcome my fear of finding myself without something to read (I was the camper with the library in her tent) but you can’t take many books when travelling from place to place. Now it doesn’t matter how many books I have, the impact on luggage limits is no more than a slim novel plus charger. 

I still read the print newspaper even though I have the full digital version of The Age available on my iPad. I also read a lot of news online but usually from links from social media.

My reading for pleasure is usually done lying down – on the couch, a banana lounge, or mostly in bed before falling asleep – at that point in the day I don’t want a brightly lit screen, e-ink is fine (and my Kindle will turn itself off if I haven’t turned a page for 5 minutes). I don’t want music, sound effects or video, I’m trying to get to sleep. But I have greatly enjoyed experiencing transmedia narratives like Inanimate Alice and Firestorm, and I would like to explore these further, just not at bedtime! Sadly, there is little time to read for pleasure in the rest of my day.

For work and study I read almost exclusively online. Much is simply reproduced print, and linear, but I love the affordances of the digital environment and it’s great when an article is ‘illustrated’ and enhanced with relevant media like recorded interviews or videos.

I need to think beyond the personal and engage more with the needs of the young people I work with and consider how their literacy development and reading needs can be enhanced through experiencing literature in digital environments. As Leu (2011) says Literacy is deictic – what it means to be literate is changing with the evolution of technology. Offering access to and experience of all types of texts, digital and analogue, is essential for students to develop their literacy skills but I struggle with how I can make this happen. One of the best parts of my job in a year 4-12 library is connecting a young person with a new book and finding out if they enjoyed it later. But there are a few children for whom it seems impossible to find a book they will enjoy. They can’t tell me what sort of books they like, some say they’ve never liked a book. But I’m sure some (most) of them love using iPads and computers and there are many children who would be engaged by the interactive multimedia nature of literature in digital environments, especially if there were any sort of gaming component. The challenge is how do we, as a school library, provide access to this sort of literature when the children don’t come to school with devices in hand, and access to school-owned devices is controlled by their teacher? When their teacher demands they have a [physical] book to read for daily reading sessions? Yes, I can tell them about digital titles and provide access through our library system but I can’t put it in their hand to start reading now.

References

Lamb, A. (2011). Reading redefined for a transmedia universe. Learning and leading with technology, 39(3), 12-17.

Leu, D.J. et al (2011). The new literacies of online reading comprehension: Expanding the literacy and learning curriculum. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy,55(1)5-14. Doi: 10.1598/JAAL.55.1.1

Walsh, M. (2013). Literature in a digital environment (Ch. 13). In L. McDonald (Ed.), A literature companion for teachers. Marrickville, NSW: Primary English Teaching Association Australia (PETAA).

#ETL523 final critical reflection

"The Web and the technologies that drive it are fundamentally changing the way we think about how we can learn and become educated in a globally networked and connected world. It has absolutely exploded our ability to learn on our own in ways that schools weren't built for." Will Richardson

Richardson (2016)

This statement absolutely resonates with me when I think about how and what I learn as part of this course. I sit at my desk at home or on the train on my daily commute or at the dining table with my iPad or even at the gym with my phone and I am connected to a network of learners. It’s exciting, it’s invigorating, it’s challenging, it’s fun. So why aren’t all educators connecting and learning in this way?

Digital Citizenship in Schools covered much expected ground but it also forced me to think about my digital learning environment (DLE), my school’s digital learning environment, information leadership, teacherpreneurship, and the globalisation of learning. I still find myself an outlier amongst my work colleagues. Although I have connected with three fellow staff members on Twitter their posts are so infrequent it seems they do not value this form of connecting (of course they could be gaining much from lurking, but not as much as they could be through active involvement. Their loss). That said, this post is about me critically reflecting on the experience of ETL523 over the past three months. Here goes.

My DLE:

I’m writing this using Workflowy, an outlining tool, as I find it a useful way to work through disparate thoughts and be able to jump from one idea to another. Eventually I will export this and paste it into a Google doc for refinement into a whole, cohesive post before moving to Thinkspace for hyperlinking and final tweaks.

I often start in Evernote and then move to Google docs as above. For forum posts I usually go direct from Evernote.

I’m using a desktop computer but I have my iPad in front of me as well so I can refer to other texts on one screen while writing on the other. As I write I periodically hop over to Tweetdeck to see if anything interesting has popped up, check the ETL523 discussion forums for any new information or questions, and jump in and out of Evernote where I have notes and resources stored.

While my blog posting has been a bit patchy, I have made a concerted effort to participate fully in the subject forums. It is surprising to note that for most topics fewer than half the class members participated. I wonder why people don’t. I do get that it can be scary putting yourself out there but I have to say that, in my experience in this closed environment, comments from peers are nothing but supportive. Am I being harsh in asking: if you won’t even give connecting online a go in a supportive environment, exactly what are you doing in a subject like this?

Assignment 1 for me was a great example of what online learning and collaboration is all about – I’ve already written a reflection but having recently read Doug Belshaw’s The essential elements of digital literacies (2014) I couldn’t resist the temptation to frame another reflection with his eight elements. Read it here. (I highly recommend reading his book too, it is available here).

In my first blog post for this subject I wrote about recent developments at my school with the introduction of a BYOD program and new building with improved technological access and tools. I wrote: “It will be interesting to see if our teachers are ready to allow the available technology to transform their pedagogy. Will our students be given the right scaffolding to develop into good digital citizens?” (Bailie, 2016). Assignment 2 allowed me to explore those thoughts in depth and I found that the teaching of digital citizenship was ad hoc at best with patchy understanding of the complexity of the area and no clarity around who is responsible. Although a little nervous about seeming critical I will pass the report onto leadership and I’m reasonably confident it will be well-received. I hope shortly to find myself immersed in enacting some of my recommendations – establishing a shared understanding of what digital citizenship is; developing a digital citizenship policy that privileges student learning over behaviour consequences; examining the curriculum for opportunities to embed digital citizenship learning, and supporting professional learning for teachers.

Another opportunity that has emerged recently is a proposal for a special year 7 project for the final weeks of the school year. The plan is for a selected group of teachers to work with the entire cohort, off-timetable, in inquiry/project based learning activities. I’m excited to be involved (flattered to be told that, had I not put my hand up, I was going to get a tap on the shoulder) and looking forward to the opportunity to foster cultural awareness and potentially engage students in global collaborative activities. At the very least I hope to be able to influence information habits and in particular promote ethical participation – explicitly modelling and sharing the use of creative commons licences, referencing and attribution, and paying heed to copyright.

Overall, this session has been fun. Thanks Julie for another terrific learning experience. For those of you still deciding what to do next session, I highly recommend INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators, also facilitated by the fabulous Julie Lindsay. My experience from last year greatly enhanced my efforts in creating a digital artefact, and understanding instructional design for assignment one. I’m confident reversing the experiences would be just as valuable.

References

Bailie, H. (2016, March 3) Digital Citizenship. #ETL523 starts here. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2016/03/03/digital-citizenship-etl523-starts-here/

Belshaw, D. (2014) The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. Retrieved from http://digitalliteraci.es

Richardson, W. (2016, May 14). 16 Modern Realities Schools (and Parents) Need to Accept. Now. Retrieved from https://medium.com/modern-learning/16-modern-realities-schools-and-parents-need-to-accept-now-64b98710e4e9#.bw6k10nv

INF532 Evaluative Report

a) An evaluative statement using the networked learning experiences documented on your Thinkspace blog as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of this subject

Accessing and using information has provided challenges for humans for as long as it has been recorded. Where once information was a scarce and precious commodity, since the 1990’s the issue has been filtering and selecting from the mass of information available (Bawden & Robinson, 2009). Today a simple web search comes up with so many hits it could take years to view them all, even if only fleetingly (O’Connell, 2015). Filtering, selecting and managing the overwhelming flow is difficult, leading to the identification of various information pathologies such as Information Anxiety, Infobesity and Satisficing (Bawden & Robinson, p.185). This and other challenges were explored in the post Challenges regarding the nature of information (Bailie, 2015 May 28). Strategic use of tools has become an essential habit of anyone working in a knowledge environment. These encompass tools for bookmarking and tagging (Diigo), storing, organising and note taking (Evernote), keeping up with blog posts (Feedly), saving to read later (Pocket) and curating and sharing (Pearltrees), and each have their place and (sometimes overlapping) purpose. Curation is an important strategy of teacher librarians who add context before sharing with students and other teachers (Bailie, 2015 May 7b). The complaint by some teachers that students should locate their own online resources, instead of the teacher librarian curated and catalogued Pearltree collections (McQueen, 2015 May 22) seems extraordinary as curating resources for learners has long been the role of the teacher librarian, except that previously it was done via the careful selection of physical items to include in the collection. Curation should be integrated into information literacy programs in teacher librarian supported student learning experiences (O’Connell, 2011).

“A connected educator is one who uses technology and social media to personalize learning for both personal and professional growth” (Whitby, 2013). They deliberately develop their positive online reputation, take advantage of just in time professional learning opportunities such as webinars and tweetchats, and blog to share and reflect (Gerstein, 2013). Connected educators understand network literacy (Bailie, 2015 March 30) and appreciate the importance of teaching students to cultivate networks for learning (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011) by teaching both about, and through networks (Pegrum, 2010). They know this is vital so as to not merely replace the digital divide (largely overcome through almost ubiquitous online access afforded by mobile devices (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, Meeker 2015)) with a new divide characterised by those who do, and those who do not, connect through learning networks. The power of networks cannot be underestimated and was directly experienced in the development and construction of a digital artefact (Bailie, 2015 May 7a).

“Learning to collaborate with others and connect through technology are essential skills in a knowledge-based economy” (O’Connell, Lindsay & Wall, 2015). Educators must themselves be self-directed, socially connected learners who cultivate a Personal Learning Network (PLN) as part of their Personal Learning Environment (PLE) (Wheeler, 2010). Patnoudes (2012) describes the PLN as itself a system for learning. Today teachers need to be multi-literate, embracing the new literacies of the 21st century (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012) and willing digital participants in the creation of knowledge (Rheingold, 2012,  p.115). They need to be open to new ideas, cultivate a growth mindset (Dweck, 2010), and collaborate with peers, colleagues and students regardless of whether they are in the same building or on the other side of the world (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, Bailie, 2015 March 12). Sharing is perhaps the most important thing as the act of sharing benefits the teacher, her direct connections and the education community as a whole. Sharing is a responsibility, not an optional extra (Gerstein, 2015). When looking for information, connected learners can consciously and deliberately turn to social networks instead of search engines – success depends on the breadth, depth and size of the network (Pegrum, 2010). “The key to becoming a successful ‘connected educator-learner’ involves spending the time needed to learn how to learn and share in an open, connected environment.” (Rheingold et al, 2015, p.14).

“Blended learning is about good teaching and making the most of our online and face to face environments” (Jonson, 2014). It requires deliberate and careful instructional planning. Classroom interactions shift from teacher-student to student-student and technology becomes a space for learning (Jonson, 2014). Maffei (2015) has concerns that online and flipped learning removes the teacher’s ability to make formative assessments through personal observation and fears that these recent trends are leading us down the path of replacing teachers (who enable learning) with instructors (who provide training). The teachers’ direct, face to face involvement with the students in the Skype and Twitter stories (Bailie 2015, May 14) was crucial to their success. Do middle and junior level children have the intrinsic motivation necessary for success in online learning without a teacher in a physical classroom? (Bailie, 2015 May 28).

Galan (2014) reminds us that face to face interactions are equally important for teachers. Often these face to face meetings are made possible by the prior online connection.

Instructional design supports the process of learning rather than the process of teaching (Morrison, 2013). Merrill (2002) has identified five first principles which underpin instructional design models. Both school-based and online classroom engagement and learning are strengthened through intentional instructional design. 21st-century skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, decision making, communication and collaboration are carefully scaffolded and the digital and physical work together for formal and informal learning activities (Bailie 2015 May 14). A flexible approach opens the way for personalised learning; digital tools facilitate its realisation.

Wheeler (2015) identifies Learner 2.0 – young people who have been immersed in technology their entire lives. Millenials increasingly prefer visual over text media (Meeker 2015). In designing learning experiences we must meet our students where they are. Merrill’s number one first principle is that learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems (2002). This can be extended to include using their real-world online tools and the socially connected medium where they live. Van Eck confirms this saying “Learning that occurs in meaningful and relevant contexts is more effective than learning that occurs outside of those contexts (2006, p.18).

b) A reflective statement on your development as a connected educator as a result of studying INF532, and the implications for your role as a ‘connected leader’ within your school community, and/or at district/state/national level

In March 2014 when I was embarking on INF530, the keystone subject of this course, I wrote:

What do I hope to get from this course? A way of formalising/legitimising the reading, connecting, curating, commenting, learning I already do. Skills in interrogating and articulating my thoughts about the mass of information I come in contact with each day. More and better connection with outstanding educators (Bailie, 2014 March 5).

INF530 was a whirlwind tour and a terrific beginning but INF532 has given me new insight and appreciation for the potential implications of my own habits in knowledge networking for the students and teachers I work with.

I didn’t think I knew much, if anything about instructional design before this subject. Under the guise of Education Informatics I had discovered that Gagne’s nine events correlated well with my previous school’s Instructional Model (Bailie, 2014 April 23). But instructional design? Like other things, curating springs to mind, sometimes it turns out that you are already doing it, even if you didn’t know it had a name. As always, it is fabulous when you get confirmation that not only what you are doing is right, it has a body of academic research behind it too. Unconsciously, workshops that I present for teachers follow the five first principles outlined by Merrill, I will make conscious effort to use good instructional design in the learning experiences I plan in the future.

As described in the post The future – digital learning tools and strategies (Bailie, 2015 May 25) I see Blended Learning as the approach to online learning with the most chance of making a real difference to the students and teachers I work with. Excellent, professional teachers will not be replaced by online instructors anytime soon. While adults, myself included, may thrive in an online environment (particularly if they are well-connected and supported by social networks), the nuanced assessments teachers make through first-hand observation is unimaginable to me in a purely online learning environment, particularly for early and middle-years children. I will endeavour to provide leadership for a blended approach by:

  • continuing to support teachers using Google Classroom as their online classroom presence
  • promote the use of curation tools as a learning strategy – for example a Diigo group can be used for students to collaboratively research using the commenting feature to critique and discuss each others finds
  • discouraging the use of technology as a reward. The games on our iPads should be intrinsically linked to the curriculum, not a bonus for children who complete their real work early
  • creating, and supporting others to create, online resources for learning that have lasting value

Creating the digital artefact forced me to quickly develop new skills with a range of tools. This has given me confidence in my abilities to create resources for teachers and students, perhaps to support teachers who wish to introduce flipped learning or use such resources in a blended approach. Creating the artefact was very time consuming but I now feel confident in using Audacity, Powtoon, Moviemaker, and to demonstrate their use to others. My video was made up of multiple short clips, several made in Powtoon. Each one came together more quickly than the previous one. Going back and re-editing after some initial feedback was relatively painless, certainly in terms of the technological process, although selecting which content stayed and which went was more challenging. As an exercise in knowledge networking I thought it very successful – I was overwhelm by the number and generosity of responses to the survey which I shared through my networks. I was particularly pleased with Deborah Welsh’s critique when she said “Heather has practised what she preaches, in seeking, sensing and sharing ideas from her PLN. The medium becomes the message – together we know so much more.” (Welsh, 2015).

I have continued to display the habits of connected educators through this subject – I’ve been active on Twitter using the INF532 hashtag, shared resources to the Diigo group and posted to the forum. Sharing has become automatic. However, I’ve let myself and others down in one area. Like most students or workers I ensure I do everything that is explicitly required. At work I choose to go the extra mile when I can although with study there is always more to read and do than I have time for. Previous subjects, INF530 and INF536, both included compulsory, non-assessed, blog tasks which I dutifully completed. While I have completed most such “recommended” tasks for INF532, except in a couple of instances I have not “gone the extra mile” to comment on others’ blogs (another compulsory, non-assessed task in INF536) and I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t. Commenting is time-consuming to do well, but balancing work, study and family means that unless required, it doesn’t get prioritised. This is something worth remembering when I despair of the lack of apparent interest of my colleagues in becoming connected. It is time-consuming, it can be scary to begin with, it isn’t easy and we are all busy.

Bibliography

Bailie, H. (2014, March 5). Why am I here? [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2014/03/05/why-am-i-here/

Bailie, H. (2014, April 23). Module 2.7 Education Informatics [Blog post]. Retrieved from  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2014/04/23/module-2-7-education-informatics/

Bailie, H. (2014, May 8). Digital essay proposal [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2014/05/08/digital-essay-proposal/

Bailie, H. (2015, March 12). Defining the connected educator [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/03/12/defining-the-connected-educator/

Bailie, H. (2015, March 30). Network literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/03/30/network-literacy/

Bailie, H. (2015 May 7a).  Get connected with Google+ – a digital artefact [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/05/07/get-connected/

Bailie, H. (2015 May 7b). Information curation (and new tool no. 2) [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/05/07/information-curation-and-new-tool-no-2/

Bailie, H. (2015 May 14). Supporting connected learners [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/05/14/supporting-connected-learners/

Bailie, H. (2015 May 25). The future – digital learning tools and strategies [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/05/25/the-future-digital-learning-tools-and-strategies/

Bailie, H. (2015 May 28). Challenges regarding the nature of information [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2015/05/28/challenges-regarding-the-nature-of-information/

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies.Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191.

Dweck, C. (2010). What is Mindset. Retrieved May 29, 2015, from http://mindsetonline.com/whatisit/about/index.html

Galan, C. (2014, October 2). Being a Connected Educator: Face to Face. Retrieved from http://blog.remind.com/being-a-connected-educator-face-to-face/

Gerstein, J. (2013). Educator as a social networked learner. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKY3scPIMd8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Gerstein, J. (2015, March 29). Sharing: A Responsibility of the Modern Educator. Retrieved from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/sharing-a-responsibility-of-the-modern-educator/

Jonson, Jen. (2014). Blended learning and technology integration. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD8AUfGsCKg

McQueen, M. (2015, May 22).  ‘Beware of Online Filter Bubbles’: an important video to view [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/monique/2015/05/22/beware-of-online-filter-bubbles-an-important-video-to-view/

Maffai, T. (2015, May 21). Mapping the 21st Century Classroom — Bright. Retrieved from https://medium.com/bright/mapping-the-21st-century-classroom-d07b2166d44e

Meeker, M. (2015). 2015 Internet Trends Report. Retrieved from http://www.kpcb.com/internet-trends

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles Of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50 (3), 43-59.

Morrison, D. (2013). Why online courses [really] need an instructional design strategy. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2013/05/07/why-online-courses-really-need-an-instructional-design-strategy/

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

O’Connell, J. (2011). Teacher librarians are important [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://judyoconnell.com/2011/10/27/teacher-librarians-are-important/

O’Connell, J. (2015) Our connections and the flow of knowledge [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://judyoconnell.com/2015/03/14/our-connections-and-the-flow-of-knowledge/

O’Connell, J., Lindsay, J. and Wall, J. (2015) A new paradigm [INF532 Module 1.3] Retrieved May 30, 2015 from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-289791-dt-content-rid-651266_1/courses/S-INF532_201530_W_D/module1/1_3_new_paradigm.html

Patnoudes, E. (2012). Why (and how) you should create a personal learning network. Edudemic: Connecting education & technology. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/build-personal-learning-network/

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net smart: how to thrive online. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rheingold, H., Brett, G., Corneli, J., Danoff, C.J., Larson, K., Pierce, C., Ricaurte, P., and Terzi, F. (2015). The Peeragogy Handbook. 3rd Ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press. Retrieved 19 March, 2015 from http://peeragogy.org.

Richardson, W. and Mancabelli, R. (2011). Introduction: The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE review, 41(2), 16-30.

Welsh, D. (2015, May 20). KN artefact critique [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/galloised/2015/05/20/kn-artefact-critique/

Wheeler, S. (2010). Anatomy of a PLE [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.com.au/2010/07/anatomy-of-ple.html?

Wheeler, S. (2015). Meet Learner 2.0 [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://steve-wheeler.blogspot.cz/2015/05/meet-learner-20.html?

Whitby, T. (2013, August 2). Okay, I’m connected. Now what? [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://tomwhitby.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/okay-im-connected-now-what/

 

 

Flexible learning

Todhunter’s article uses the context of the university sector. How does his summary of the definitions and criteria relate to your sector of education? What will be your definition of flexible learning?

Todhunter (2013) quotes the Australian National Training Authority’s definition of flexible learning: “anticipating and responding to [students’] ever-changing needs and expectations, thus expanding their choice in what, when, where, and how they learn” (Backroad Connections Pty Ltd, 2005, p. 3).

It is described as a philosophy, not a technology, although online/e-learning technologies are important in flexible learning.

He finds that in reality it mostly refers to how students interact with staff, resources, and other students and found little flexibility in terms of when and how they study; their choice of courses; length of study, or modes of assessment.

Flexible learning most closely resembles individualised or personalised learning in primary and secondary education although this is more about the teacher tailoring the curriculum to her specific students than choice. This sector continues to group students by age, and the curriculum, although offering some flexibility in delivery, is increasingly standardised across the country. At the culminating point, VCE here in Victoria, it is highly regulated by VCAA, particularly in regard to assessment. An interesting exception to the general rule is Templestowe College in Melbourne which has introduced radical changes to create flexibility for students. There are no year levels and no compulsory subjects instead personalised programs are tailored to each student. Enrolments have doubled in five years and student satisfaction and engagement are very high.

Approaches such as project-based learning, challenged-based learning and inquiry-based learning all offer students flexibility in what and how they learn and are most successful when well supported and scaffolded by teachers. I believe all curriculum requirements could be met in a well-supported inquiry/challenge/project program but most schools, my own included, continue to separate English and mathematics in the primary levels and teach all subjects as separate entities in the secondary sector.

Reference

Todhunter, B (2013) LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), p.232-252

 

New tool no. 3 – eduCanon

The latest tool I have evaluated links closely with module 5.3, Flipped Classrooms, as it is a tool that could be used to create lessons in a flipped classroom environment.

eduCanon is an online tool for creating and sharing interactive video lessons. Start with a clip from a video platform (YouTube, TeacherTube, Vimeo, Khan Academy, TedEd and more), crop to just the selection you wish to show, add questions at the time you wish them answered, save and share. You can register your students so that you know who has viewed and whether their answers were correct or share anonymously. The completed video lessons (known as bulbs) can also be embedded in any website or LMS.

Like similar websites and tools, this is a commercial enterprise so the free version has limitations. With it you can:

  • have up to 8 classes
  • monitor an unlimited number of students
  • create unlimited lessons
  • share with colleagues

but your question types are limited to multiple choice, check all that apply and reflective pause.

Upgrading to premium (US$89 per year) gives you

  • fill in the blank and free response question types
  • ability to skip to a time point in the video
  • autograding
  • copying and editing public lessons
  • ability for your students to create lessons
  • worksheet printing
  • downloadable grades

There is also a “Blended school” version with even more functions starting at US$990 per year.

Free accounts offer three ways to share:

  1. With students – ie those you have registered. This will record their responses
  2. Share unique list code – students don’t have to be registered. Responses will be recorded but not linked to an individual
  3. Share with colleagues – for teachers to copy. No login needed to view but no tracking.

Each version includes a different link and embed code.

I have used the embed code from Unique list code to share a bulb I created for a lesson I created about one of my pet hates. You might not show this one to students but it’s a bit of fun:

This the Unique List code link – if you use it you are asked to enter your name and email address before being taken to the video.

I haven’t yet used this with students so it’s difficult to comment on how well eduCanon is works from their perspective but even the simple facility to easily crop a video to just the section you wish to show and share the link or embed is appealing. I can see applications for this not just in the Flipped Learning environment but also in situations where you want students to be able to view and answer questions at their own pace.

Word of warning: when this was demonstrated to me by our media studies teacher he was using a clip from a movie that his students were studying. There were some inappropriate ads showing at the bottom of the screen. Today I turned off my Adblock Plus and Adblock for YouTube extensions but didn’t see any ads appear at all. I’m not sure when or why advertising will appear, whether it is related to the video being shown or something from eduCanon itself (I certainly hope not!) but it’s something to be aware of.

Knowledge networking artefact critique

Part of assignment 2 for INF532 is to critique an artefact created by a fellow student for assignment 1, using the assessment rubric criteria as a guide:

  • Demonstrates effective use of digital tool/s for creative knowledge construction
  • Demonstrates an understanding of instructional design and the application of KN theory to the creation of a knowledge networking artefact

My critique is of Simon Kaddissi’s Connected Learning:

Simon has used an iMovie trailer template, where sections of content are punctuated with animated links, to construct his artefact. This tool has been used competently although sometimes the background music either disappeared or competed with the narration. The video grabbed attention at the beginning with exciting music and a range of interesting still images. Further in there was potential for engagement to wane with long sections of narration over single text-based slides. The topic – what is connected learning, and target audience – year 10-12 students, were clearly articulated however I feel the language may be too academic for this level. There was some recall of prior knowledge elicited.

Compelling reasons for engaging in connected learning were articulated, but specific and relatable examples to give students clear steps for moving forward were lacking. The “tips for getting started” consisted of reading the text on the screen with no further elaboration – what does “be a beacon of light” mean in this context? In the “Frequently Asked Questions” section, the narration seemed to shift focus from addressing students to addressing teachers.

Simon has produced a competent knowledge networking video demonstrating some use of instructional design theory. It could be improved with more visual variety and a less formal, more conversational script.

 

New tool no. 1 – Alltop

Alltop

This is the first of a series of posts to complete the activity from Module 2.3.

When I first read that I had to “identify six (6) digital tools that are: (a) new to you, i.e., they were not already part of your PLN before you began this subject; and (b) of particular interest to you in developing your PLN, or introducing knowledge networking into the curriculum” in order to “record the process of selecting, testing/trialling and evaluating of each tool as entries on your blog throughout the session” I was a little worried. I’m a serial signer-upper – pretty much everything that had been mentioned I’d already signed up for, tried out and either continued with or rejected and moved on. This was going to require a bit more digging. I’ve come up with three that I already knew a bit about (and had accounts for) but really had done nothing with – Quora, Pearltrees and Tumblr – posts on these will appear soon. Then, on my daily Medium email, I saw an article about Meerkat, a new live-streaming app for Twitter – yay! a new tool to try. I’m still looking for number 6 – all suggestions gratefully received – but luckily I chanced upon Alltop from Guy Kawasaki’s LinkedIn Behind the Scenes post on how he posts on social media. So here we go, new tool no. 1:

Alltop

Alltop is not new, apparently it’s been around since 2008 but one way and another I hadn’t come across it until recently.

Alltop describes itself as providing “aggregation without aggravation”. The creators of Alltop have set about providing an answer to “What’s happening” in a topic by providing links to the five most recent articles from selected websites, blogs and other RSS feeds (such as searches). You can search for topics, browse from categories on the header or browse alphabetically. On a topicIf you see a headline that interests you, hovering over it displays the first paragraph. If you want to read more simply click the link to be taken to the site.

Alltop Digital Media News

Aggregated sites are selected by people, not algorithms, and they are open to suggestions.

You can create your own page of links from selected sites and interests. For this you need to create an account and log in. Now, next to each feeds header you will see a plus sign which is clicked to add that feed to your own page.

Once you’ve curated your own collection you can share it with others – it will have a URL similar to http://my.alltop.com/hbailie. Alltop has gathered together My Alltop pages of “famous/cool friends“. I didn’t recognise many but was interested to see Rohit Bhargava who I referenced in my digital essay on curation last year.

Alltop has a free iPad app as well as the website. The app includes images for the five Hot Topics from any topic page and an annoying banner advertisement at the bottom (Adblock Plus Chrome extension takes care of the ads for me on my computer). Entering your username allows you to see your My Alltop on the app but you can’t add new content to it there.

Signing up

There is no option to sign in with Google, Facebook or other open ID. Simply select a username (lucky for me my favourite, hbailie, was available), enter a password and your email for verification purposes.

Evaluation

Alltop is a very clean looking way to view recent content on a broad range of topics. The capacity to select what you want to see on you own page is useful. I particularly like the way that hovering on a link gives the first paragraph, it makes it very easy to decide whether to view the full story or not and allows me to look over a lot of content in a short time.

Alltop would be very useful for people who have never used an RSS reader before as it makes the process of finding and adding content very simple.

Not being able to edit your content on the iPad app makes it less useful to me as I’m most likely to use it on my iPad on my daily commute.

Not all topics I’m interested in have their own page and some of the search results seem a bit random. A search for “teachers” found “Christian Church” (!); Education; English Language Teaching”; Gambling” (!?!); “Homeschooling”; “India” (?), and “Inspiration”. Hmmm.

Will I keep using it?

Probably, a bit. I have My Alltop paged linked on my Chrome bookmark bar and the app on my iPad. When I have an idle moment I might well open them up. But it won’t be every day.

Network literacy

Module 3.1 How do McClure and Rheingold’s views on network literacy differ? What do you see as having changed between these authors’ definitions of being ‘network literate’?

It is no surprise that McClure’s (1994) and Rheingold’s (Network literacy part one, part two, 2011) views of network literacy are different given that McClure’s words were penned nearly 20 years before Rheingold’s videos were recorded.

McClure acknowledges the importance of networks to conducting everyday transactions but does not recognise the value that the addition of nodes adds. In contrast, Rheingold notes that in social networks the addition of extra nodes adds extra value, not proportionally but exponentially.

I think that when McClure wrote it was impossible to imagine what today’s social networks would look like but that doesn’t make his advice inaccurate. It is indeed a vital twenty-first century skill to be able to “identify, access, and use electronic information from the network” and equally important in both the professional and personal lives of most people.

Rheingold places more importance on understanding how networks work whereas McClure emphasises knowledge and skills needed to use them.

References

McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125

Network Literacy Part One. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UKWozzVRM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Network Literacy Part Two. (2011). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4YXtn7hJPA&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Defining the connected educator

Have you moved beyond cooperation? What role is collaboration playing in your professional learning and practice? What’s new and different about collaboration for 21st century learning? (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012, p. 13)

I have always been a strong supporter of collaboration at work. In my various library teams over the years I have supported and promoted each individual in using their strengths and passions so that together what we provide is greater than the sum of its parts. While no one is irreplaceable the tone and character of what we provide has shifted as individuals come and go, and along the way I have learned and grown through these experiences. I have never thought that pigeon-holing individuals into specific, discrete duties, based on job-title, to be in the best interest of the organisation.

As a learner, and particularly in this course, collaboration plays an enormous part in my construction of knowledge. The subject forums are the prime place where this occurs but our blogs, twitter, formal and informal online meetings, and even the occasional real-life catch-up all contribute. In INF536 the obligation to not only write a series of blog posts but to also comment on the posts of three others each time challenged us to be collaborative and was a great learning experience. In contrast, INF506 did not even require us to make our blogs public which I felt was a crazy contradiction in a subject called “Social Networking for Information Professionals”. As Nussbaum-Beach says “sharing and reciprocity are expected” (p. 13), they should not be optional.

Are you multi-literate? Of these literacies, which is most surprising to you? Which do you find least and most challenging? (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012, p. 17)

This section is a self-evaluation rubric for new literacies of the 21st century:

  1. Facilitate and inspire learning and creativity
  2. Design and develop digital-age learning experiences and assessments
  3. Model digital-age work and learning
  4. Promote and model digital citizenship and responsibility
  5. Engage in professional growth and leadership

I believe I am multi-literate and scored myself 3 or 4 for most items. None of these is surprising, I nodded along in agreement as I read each section. All of these are challenging to do well but I probably find modelling digital-age work and learning the easiest because it simply is how I work and learn. Successfully inspiring others to join the digital-age is a big challenge –  it is one thing to work in this way yourself, quite another to lead, promote and inspire.

We’ve described how we think about the connected educator. Take a moment to reflect on your understanding. How are our perspectives alike? How are they different? (p. 21)

One thing I think is fundamental to being a connected educator is having a growth mindset. If we could shift those fixed mindsets that prevent some (many?) teachers from trying new ideas we’d go a long way toward making connected educators the norm.

Map yourself

I found a few people I know (both online and in real life) on the map. Zoom into Melbourne and you’ll see me there, there’s only three others at this stage.

Tag it

Diigo is an old friend but searching the tag clc-voc revealed no results. Am I doing something wrong?

References

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

A new culture of learning

Thomas and Brown’s (2011) new culture of learning resonates strongly with me as an educator, but even more so as a learner. Since 2008 when I first embarked on a “23 things” learning experience I have been exploring, engaging, following interests, connecting and learning using the fabulously vast resources of the online world. I came into this Masters course not so much for the specific qualification but to find structure and direction to focus my explorations. In the end I hope to find some new career options; whether or not I take them up is moot as I will be equally happy to find new direction within my existing career.

In all subjects so far (INF530, INF536, INF506) I have learned just as much with and from my fellow students as from exploring the course materials. Distance education has been an eye-opener and a fabulous surprise in how rich and rewarding the engagement has been. Many years ago I started on-campus Masters studies and never once felt anything like this level of engagement with other students. We sat in the same room for 2-3 hours a week and nothing more (or since). In this past year of study I’ve had many interactions with my fellow students which continue despite the subject/s being complete. My PLN continues to grow.

Just as it is for Allen (Thomas & Brown, p. 26), Google is the first port of call for many people faced with an error or problem these days and I’m certainly one of them. Whether it’s battling Apple’s Configurator for our class set of iPads, finding the best app for a purpose or trouble-shooting computer errors I can almost always find and answer or a forum where similar experiences are being discussed and learn from them.

Beyond a depressingly unsuccessful go at learning about Minecraft (at a full day workshop) and an uninspiring exploration of Second Life for INF506 I’ve not ventured into the world of massively multiplayer online games. Perhaps the closest I come to it is managing the family footy-tipping contest at Footytips. When we first started (about 7 years ago) my brother and his family were heading overseas for an exchange year and I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch. It was and is, but really it’s a very insignificant part of how we connect as a family.

It is clear to me that allowing students the freedom to explore their own interests and passions will facilitate the learning of concepts and skills beyond the topic – like Sam who learned valuable citizenship habits through the Scratch community (Thomas & Brown, p.21). In my school, as a teacher librarian, I promote project-based/challenge-based/inquiry-based learning by engaging with teachers and supporting them in myriad ways. We are a mixed-ability staff and some are much more ready to give up teaching to start enabling (as Thomas did (Thomas & Brown, p.25))  than others but there is recognition that old ways need to change and some commitment to giving it a go.

References

Thomas, D., Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.