Throughout the Digital Colloquium it has been evident that educational technologies are increasingly utilising the affordances of well designed multidisciplinary content to offer innovative learning experiences where lifelong learning and curious dispositions can be nurtured. Innovative expert designers are publishing engaging curriculum resources for learners of all ages and backgrounds on the Internet. The ABC (2015) Splash website is an example of such an organisation making agile changes and innovations to their products and services to cater for audiences that are increasingly digitally literate (Hocknull, 2015_a). Education institutions need to embrace the shift that is occurring in technology so that fair and equal opportunities are provided to all 21st C learners by providing well designed learning experiences that bridge the gap between teaching and learning.
Devices that are used to access the Internet are becoming increasingly smaller and more affordable. Increased accessibility to Internet capable devices is producing more demand and in turn, larger numbers of people with high levels of digital literacy. Public expectations about the use of technology in education have shifted toward the needs of future generations where online social activities are becoming ubiquitous (Carroll et. al., 2015). From ordering take away, getting hints about how to fix broken things and personal finance to social movements, politics and Presidential campaigns, the influence of the Internet is embedded in our futures.
Educators need to have highly developed levels of critical awareness about these shifts in technology. Along with the shift from consumers to creators, there needs to be a maintenance of responsible social values that recognise the needs of both individuals and groups. K-12 schools are arguably the most important location for the socialisation of our future digital citizens and as such must have the ability to develop responsible sets of social and cultural values (Bennett, 2008). Educators need utilise the affordances of Web 2.0 to adopt and exemplify tolerant approaches to the use of digital technologies within the complex framework of each individual’s background and their future. These responsibilities need to seek and use fair means of authority to nurture a democratic praxis toward the development and creation of our digital future (Winn, 2015).
Fair approaches to the creation of digital cultures and communities should recognise the value that collectives have in bringing equitable change to an arguably unfair world. The co- creation of knowledge on the Internet is evident in social media websites where connected communities of practice collaborate on projects that are solving social problems through collective action. Collective participation in scientific endeavours such as foldit (foldit, 2015) have achieved profound discoveries of new knowledge by decoding the structure of an AIDS protein in three weeks; a mystery that scientists had been working on for 15 years (Moore, 2014; Khatib, et. al., 2011). The foldit community represent what Gee (2015) describes as the game/ affinity paradigm (GAP) in educational popular culture that is causing conflict with conservative formal educational institutions.
The GAP paradigm is leading to a more democratic praxis in education values where collective intelligence is more highly valued than traditional individualist methods of learning (Gee, 2015). The collective participation of gamers who contribute new code (‘hack’ and ‘mod’) to the platforms is similar to the shifts in the co-creation of knowledge resources such as Wikipedia. The collective co-create of knowledge in Open ways demonstrated by Wiki contributors and arguably foldit players is a significant characteristic of Veletsianos & Kimmons’ (2012) Networked Participatory Scholarship (NPS).
Gee (2015) argues that GAP is the paradigm shift that educational institutions must embrace if their learners are to develop the skills needed in the 21st C. The significance of such Open approaches toward digital education resources is a focus of the Open Worlds Project (Hocknull, 2015_b). The Open Worlds Project began as a critical participatory action research case study (Kemmis, McTaggart & Nixon, 2014) that sought to leverage the affordances of OpenSim to provide an innovative resource for multidisciplinary approaches to digital education. Immersive virtual environments provide affordances that facilitate social- constructivist pedagogies and more meaningful learning experiences (Hocknull, 2015_c).
A democratic praxis toward knowledge creation and sharing is shifting the focus of educational equilibrium away from formal institutions toward the collective intelligence of connectivist, many to many networks (McCallie et. al., 2009). The digital future is an exciting focus area of scholarship and provides a range of opportunities for Open collectives to engage with communities that value technology as an organic symbol of human intelligence. A fairer equilibrium is a healthier direction for our society (Scanlon, 2014; Wilkinson, 2011).
ABC. (2015). What is ABC Splash? Splash ABC. Explore Play Learn. Retreived from http://splash.abc.net.au/about-abc-splash
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Winn, J. (2015). Open education and the emancipation of academic labour. Learning, Media and Technology, (ahead-of-print), 1-20. Retrieved from http://eprints.lincoln.ac.uk/14594/1/__ddat02_staffhome_jpartridge_Open%20Education%20and%20the%20emancipation%20of%20academic%20labour%20-%20Submitted%20-%20FINAL%20PRE-PRINT.pdf