As a Teacher-Librarian, the information landscape and the impact of technology on learners and learning, has been a key focus of my practice. In my first blog post for this subject, I wrote:
“the concepts and practices for a digital age of particular interest to me are:
· for professional growth,
· to better understand and prepare students for work, study and life, &
· to mentor and support colleagues”.
The course work for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age has provided many opportunities in these areas, and significantly broadened my thinking about future directions at our school. For the purposes of this reflection, I would like to address each of these points.
Professional growth has certainly been an outcome of completing The Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. The environments we were encouraged to participate in, the resources and readings provided, and the assessment items all extended my knowledge, and have began to inform my practice as a teacher-librarian. In particular, the reflective blogging has been a fruitful process for me. I found this kept me on track with the work load of the coarse, and encouraged me to think deeply about topics. Connecting to the blogs of other students provided insights and feedback that have informed and resonated with my own practice. Another conversation that has stayed with me was during a Google hangout when a discussion led to the importance of creativity in the classroom. This together, with reflections on the learning throughout the course, and the process of completing a digital essay, remind me that creativity really is the key to innovation and absolutely essential in educating students for success in the digital age.
One of the opportunities afforded through the course was to write an academic book review. The book from the list of choices available for review and criticism that gained my attention was The app Generation: How today’s youth navigate identity, intimacy and imagination in a digital world by Howard Gardner and Katie Davis. The book was a great read and together with the research undertaken to critically review it, provided new insights into how the technologies of the digital age are shaping the young people we work with. In particular, a heightened sense of individualism, increased aversion to take risks and the need for constant endorsement are key concerns raised by Gardner and Davis (2013). The idea that there is an increased aversion to taking risks among young people resonates with my experiences of working with students, and concerns of this nature have been raised in my educational setting in both formal meetings, and during informal conversations. Because collaboration has been encouraged and even required in INF530, I was able to extend this conversation beyond the school walls and engage with wide ranging points of view through blogging. I posted a blog entry titled, Narcissistic Teens & Helicopter Parents, and the comments and feedback received have contributed to the professional reflections of the teaching team I work with. As digital citizenship is one of the key priorities of a subject we teach called Research and Technology, we are now thinking about how we can challenge our students to move beyond a position of dependence, requiring constant reinforcement, validation and aversion to risk. We hope to assist them to move to a position of independence that is characterised by a ‘have a go’ attitude and resilience.
The course work for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age has also informed my professional practice. As a teacher-librarian and curriculum leader, one of the responsibilities in my role description is, “planning, teaching and evaluating collaboratively with teachers to ensure the effective integration of information resources and technologies into student learning” (Staff Handbook, 2014). Professional conversations with mentors are required of all staff at our college as part of our ongoing professional learning. During a recent professional conversation with my mentor, a deputy principal at the college, we identified staff induction programs as requiring more specific input in the area of digital literacies. After showing him some of the key concepts from INF530 and the final assessment task, I decided to focus my digital essay on researching for this purpose. Consequently, my essay aims to answer the question: What concepts and practices should high-school teachers embed in their curriculums to foster connected learning in the information environments of the digital age? Another example of how this subject is informing my professional practice was that after reading Module 3.2, Information Fluencies, I decided to conduct a survey into the use of the college’s information services website to gain feedback about its effectiveness in connecting learners to the skills, tools and information necessary for success in the digital age. It was identified through this survey that professional development is necessary among existing staff in digital literacies and digital citizenship and we need to work towards tessellation of how staff, students and the website interact. The research for my digital essay will be initially shared with Curriculum Leaders at our college with the aim of developing opportunities for professional learning so that digital literacies are embedded into our curriculums and pedagogies.
As the subject draws to a close, the challenges and opportunities afforded have been many and have already started to impact my working life. In particular, I believe these understandings need to be translated to classroom practice to prepare students for futures in connected and participatory environments.
Learning To Read At School,Woodcut 1870. [Photo]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.http://quest.eb.com/images/109_236009