Well, this is it. The final post of my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and this first part at least is being written going 100 Kms an hour on the Northern Highway heading to my home in beautiful Echuca, Victoria. My amazing wife has let me smash this out while on the way home from a weekend in Melbourne. This is a small glimpse into the incredible support she has offered me while I’ve undertaken this course. So, first and foremost; thanks to her.
To be honest, I have mixed emotions upon finishing this subject and my course.The past three years have allowed me to explore fascinating concepts of knowledge networks and digital innovation including design thinking, game-based learning, digital citizenship, classroom technologies and knowledge networks. As you’d expect, it is incredibly broad! When I began the course, I was actually hoping to find something that would resonate with me and lead me down a very specific path to become a niche expert. Unfortunately, that just hasn’t happened. The phrase “jack of all trades, master of none” comes to mind. Thinking about that more critically, I’m happy with what I’ve learned and accomplished. I’m looking forward to letting the dust settle and allowing me to reflect on a more focused area of study. I’ll let you know when I know 😉
But allow me to ruminate for a brief moment…
If I’ve completed my Masters, without feeling quite like a Master… what were the gains?
As I said before, it’s been amazing to explore and thrive in the subject areas, but in my opinion, the most important thing has been expanding my personal learning network (PLN). This is the one thing that won’t be forgotten and has proven invaluable over time. I’d like to thank broadly, all those I’ve connected with at CSU for their generous support and encouragement and for their inspirational fearlessness, publishing and sharing their work with a global audience. In particular, I would like to thank a crucial node within my PLN, Jacques du Toit who has helped me learn and grow as an educator/leader over the last three years. Weekly Google Hangouts to discuss readings and assessment have characterised this period.
Reflections on Issues in Professional Learning
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed this subject and in particular, combing through the course materials! There was a wide range of resources that helped me gain a solid understanding of the subject area.
In the beginning of the subject, Susanne asked us to identify our goals. I indicated that I was “ hopeful that this subject will help identify best practice and enable me to implement it with my staff in the future.”
Susanne responded by pointing out that “best practice is a term that has been used for a while – but it can be misleading. See her point below.
My second assessment allowed me time to explore not only the research behind professional learning communities but the contexts and conditions in which my school’s model works the best. It’s been great to sort out which versions of this model are more successful and as a result, begin to think about how I’ll draw from the research and lead change within my school community. Providing increased time, creating an environment that endorses rigorous debate and cultivating leadership are all places I’m looking to start. Despite having done a crazy amount of research on the topic, it’s still important to build with flexibility in mind. Huffman, Hipp, Hord, Pankake, Moller, Olivier, and Cowan (2003) caution that PLCs “cannot be prescriptive or expected to follow a linear course” (p. 68) There are too many factors moving within school organisations that can force you to augment your plans. So to reiterate Susanne’s point, it’ll be more about playing with the elements and finding out what works best within my context.
In terms of participation in the subject, I was able to utilise the discussion forum, blog and Twitter to enhance my experience.
Reflecting back, I found it difficult keep track of discussions on blogs. When I first posted to the “blog” section on the CSU learning management system, I was surprised that no one else had utilised the Think Space blogs or a free alternative platform to track their learnings/musings within this subject.
When comments were posted to the “blog” page here, no notifications were directly sent to the author of the post. This impeded potential conversations as I would often tire of checking. It was nice to connect with other students via my Thinkspace blog.
Obviously, I would have loved to participate more but unfortunately, these holidays, the family came (as it should) first. Now that my official study is finished, I’m looking forward to spending more time with them!
This post examines the Simmons and Hawking (2009) reading ‘Planning to Teach an ICT Lesson’ and discusses some of its key/interesting points. There was lots more to this reading so make sure you do it!
“Taking the time to establish our learning objectives provides a powerful way of focusing our attention on learning rather than activities” (p.57)
Definitely an important part of the lesson. This allows students to get an idea of where you are headed and what is expected. Hattie (2012) also contends that this will benefit students by enabling them to better monitor their progress (p.67).
Checking for understanding is also important throughout the lesson. Don’t assume that students have met all the learning objectives within the lesson (Simmons & Hawking , 2009, p. 64).
Polling the students using a quick Google form, Socrative exit ticket, or simple show of hands helps you subgroup a class into flexible learning ability groups.
“Where the balance is towards ‘teaching time’ children are often entertained and their teacher feels like they are teaching their socks off, but actually there is only limited learning taking place” (p.75)
This is definitely one of the things that rang true for me throughout this reading. In my early teaching years, I tended to spend more time in almost lecture/board notes mode while commanding every student in the room to give me their undivided attention. I didn’t think about having the students move around. I didn’t think about the fact that their previous class had a 40-minute lecture, I didn’t think about the different types of learners. in my current school, we have seventy-five minute lessons. I try to get at least 3-4 different types of activities going throughout this time as an attempt to engage all learners.
“Whenever you set an activity tell pupils how long they have and regularly remind them how long they have left” (p.76)
Students will use every drop of time that you give them. I normally think of the most realistic time you’d need to complete the activity then subtract 3-5 minutes. The trick is that you can always add more time…
“Where a class typically arrive with low energy levels you could engage them in a quick mental warm up activity before beginning” (p.77).
Starter activities are great for captivating attention, getting students motivated and energised about what will happen next.
Simmons & Hawking’s seem to cast worksheets in a positive light. They argue that they are a way to save the teacher’s voice, creates a calmer atmosphere and provides an opportunity for differentiated self paced learning” (p. 80).
I do not share their enthusiasm. Students should be engaged and motivated by the work they’re doing. I can’t remember where I heard or read this idea, but I can’t remember one single worksheet that I’ve ever completed in my primary or secondary career. That’s interesting… I think teachers should be focused on creating STAR moments. That is, Something They’ll Always Remember.
“Finish the main activity with plenty of time for the plenary” (p. 81).
This is a great time to get feedback on your students’ learning. Exit tickets are the new black. Use them to gain knowledge of your students understanding and your teaching. Ask your students. Check out some other ideas here: http://goo.gl/XWNJ3H
Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. London: Routledge.
Chris Bigum’s insightful chapter “Schools and Computers: tales of digital romance” brings to light trends centering on the education’s adoption of technology. It’s the 1980s that he cites as a pivotal time in the adoption of computers in schools. Thier increased use in routine life (business and personal) caused an acknowledgement that things were going to be done differently and that institutions such as education needed to change as well (p. 19).
As a result, the schools have used a model that follows a rational that “schools with more computer activity are better than less (p. 20). What’s worst, according to Bigum, is that the schools have tended to use the computers in a familiar fashion “integrating them into existing routines, deploying them to meet existing goals and generally, failing to engage with technologies in ways consistent with the world beyond the classroom” (p.22).
Bigum concludes with a message of hope for the new mindset taking hold within education. One that “ focus[es] on change but not measurement, on the social, and not simply the technical, allows us to identify the ways technologies may help disrupt traditional relationships: between schools and knowledge; knowledge and children; children and teachers; and learners and communities”(p. 26).
I agree with much of what Bigum contends throughout his chapter. Schools’ traditional approach to technology use will never disrupt the education industry.
In reflecting back to our first assignment, one could argue that Bigum would seem to be an advocate of BYOD. When referring to schools caught in the cycle of buying computers then being forced to upgrade within a few years when new technology emerges, Bigum asks “you’d wonder why on earth schools or teachers continue to play that game” (p. 23). A BYOD program would take the economic pressure off schools to continually purchase equipment and participate in this cycle.
Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28.
This blog post centers on some of the different types of hardware in my school.
These are present in every classroom. Teachers use them for everything from scaffolding work, showcasing student work, demonstrating tech, group reading and watching videos.
We are a 1-1 school and have recently switched from MacBook Pros to the MacBook Airs. I’ve been playing with mine over the summer and have really enjoyed it! The only drawback is that it’s clear that this machine is not made for big video editing projects as it can be a little slow.
We recently acquired a 3D Printer! I’m very excited about this! One of my goals for next year is using it within my classes. I recently came across a website (3D Universe) that explored the opportunities of 3D printing in education. One of its suggestions was to print historical artifacts, people, and locations.
This hardware was introduced as a result of the school’s leadership trying to keep up with trends in education. To date, stakeholders have been happy with the changes. In particular, the 3D printer has been a hit with several students. After its introduction in the 4th term last year, a couple students elected to use it in their projects class. One student printed the casing for his Gameboy that he designed.
Koehler and Mishra (2009) begin their explanation of TPACK with an acknowledgement that teachers today are dealing with new challenges because of the prevalence of technology available to them (p.61). As a result, Shulman’s (1986) model of PCK (pedagogy and content knowledge) needed to be reimaged as ‘TPACK’ and incorporate the use of technology in the classroom.
TPACK, technology pedagogical content knowledge model, “enables them [teachers] to identify what they must learn more about in order to implement a given technology integration strategy to best effect” (Mishra & Koeholer, 2006. as cited in Roblyer and Doering, 200, p.68). When planning units, assessment and lessons, models such as these should be employed to ensure you have the desired outcome.
My History with TPACK
To be honest, I’ve had very little to do with TPACK. The acronym seemed familiar when coming across it in this week’s reading but as far as my work goes, I’ve never actually used this particular model. Going forward, I’ll definitely use it to unpack the goals and objectives I set out.
Where do I fit?
In most cases, I’d place myself in the TCK area (Technological content knowledge). I feel as though I’m moving through a stage in my development where I’m trying to experiment with a variety a pedagogical approaches and figuring which one best suits my learners. So that being said, my knowledge of tech and content is a strength I possess.
What’s in a name?
Roblyer and Doering (2014) have changed the name TPACK to Tech-Pack in order “to emphase the critical contribution of technology to teaching” (p. 67). To me, this shift doesn’t really make a difference, Technology was already emphasied. I’m not sure what it adds,
On Digital Immigrants, Prensky (2001) writes: “My own favorite example is the “Did you get my e-mail?” phone call. Those of us who are Digital Immigrants can, and should, laugh at ourselves and our ‘accent’(p.3)”
When thinking of some staff members at my school, I can picture them saying things like this or a modern equivalent ‘did you get the file I shared with you via Google docs’. Ironically, what I can also picture is a plethora of students with confused looks on their faces. These are students born into a digital world yet deeply struggle to adapt to the changing technology.
My thoughts are more in line with Haigh’s conclusion 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 (para. 18).
This may be a more trendy thing to say, but I put more stock into Dweck’s ‘Growth Mindsets’. If unfamiliar with her work, check out this TED talk as an introduction.
Teachers and students with fixed mindsets alike will have difficulty picking up new concepts whereas a growth mindset will enable development through effort.
In order to account for the need of technology within the classroom, Conole (2012) points to emerging trends that have resulted from the changes to communication and the access to information in the 21st century. They include: a “web that enables mediation and user generation of content… new practices of sharing and mechanisms for content production, communication and collaboration… new possibilities for sharing and harnessing the ‘network effects’” (p.48).
Like Conole, I find it difficult to ignore these shifts in how today’s society operates. Education should at the very least prepare students for today’s world as well as begin to consider what skills will be required five, ten and twenty years down the track.
The University of Pheonix Research Institute for the Future’s ‘Future Work Skills 2020’ highlights the importance of teaching technology in the classroom.
Here it shows the ‘drivers’ new media ecology and globally connected world linking to Conole’s trends of networked learning and new practices for content production. These in turn, require the skills new media literacy, computational thinking, cognitive load management, and virtual collaboration.
Linking to this week’s reading, Eliza Anyangwe’s blog post “20 ways of thinking about digital literacy in higher education” brings together expert’s opinions of how digital literacy should be addressed today in schools. Among which, professor of new media at De Montfort University, Sue Thomas reiterates the importance of transliteracy. She claims that abilities of the past such as reading and writing are still important today, people need to be able to adapt to modern forms of media such as making posts on Pinterest or blog entries (para. 20). These no doubt tie into the skills required for new media literacy.
David White, also noted in the post, argues that digital literacy skills help you manage distraction. This is something showcased in the ‘Future of Work Skills 2020’ through cognitive load management skill. “Organizations and workers will only be able to turn the massive influx of data into an advantage if they can learn to effectively filter and focus on what is important” (p.12).
Without proper technology based training, students will have little hope for competing in this rapidly changing world.
The need to incorporate digital literacy skill is just one of the reasons for using technology in my classroom. Enabling student access to an authentic audience and allowing for continuous feedback is another. Alan November examines these concepts further in his blog “Clearing the Confusion between Technology Rich and Innovative Poor: Six Questions.” Technology is the vehicle by which we access these authentic modern experiences and as a result, it should be drawn upon within the classroom.
Does this mean we should always use technology? No, it does not.
One example… In a previous post, I highlighted Puentedura’s SMAR model. I don’t think the choice to use technology should be always made for the substitution levels.
Regardless, technology is shaping our interactions with the world. The classroom is definitely the right space for upskilling our students so they can confidently contribute to society.
On ABC’s Future Tense, Greg Whitby’s insistence that to focus on technology is a “waste of time” brings to mind the comparison of the computer as it’s used as ‘a $1000 dollar pen.’ Loads of money spent on devices that teachers and students don’t know how to effectively/purposefully utilise. Antony Funnell, who is also interviewed on the program, highlighted the importance of teacher training before the adoption of technology. Without this focus on teachers’ skill development before widespread use, programs revolving around technology can experience hardship.
Whitby goes on to state that “if you focus on the technology, you ignore the central problem and the central issue.” But what is the central problem and issue? Roblyer and Doering (2014, p.30) list the following as the top ten issues shaping today’s technology usage in education:
Accountability and the standards movement
Funding for education technology
The Digital Divide
Fears about Technology misuses
Role of distance education
Privacy and Safety
Malware, Viruses, spam and hacking
Racial and gender equity
21st century technology skills
Rather than these, I believe Whitby is focused on stressing the importance of having a sound pedagogical base as well as purpose before technology enters the equation. This is something I also agree with. Puentedura’s SMAR model helps teachers think critically about how technology is integrated into their classrooms. For those unfamiliar, this video will give you a bit more detail.
In the ABC interview, Funnell again stresses the importance of teachers when he says “technology doesn’t educate people, people educate people”. Without teachers carefully considering how technology is used within the classroom, the results of its application will be limited.
Here’s a list of a few web-based resources that I frequently use. Be sure to check out the ones you’ve never heard of!
Google Cultural Institute: All three sections (Historic Moments, Art Project and World Wonders) house powerful collections that can be used to reach educational outcomes. Recently, I’ve used it for students to showcase the living and working conditions in Australia around the twentieth century (a Year 9 AusVels outcome). Students were able to independently sift through photos, videos and other primary sources which on the Streets of Melbourne 1837-1935.
There are other features that can also be drawn upon to meet outcomes. Students can also create their own galleries to store images on desired topics. They can also walk through particular sections of museums, art galleries or historic sites. I’m sure to give my Year 12 Revolutions students a virtual tour of the Palace of Versailles.
Is an online tool that allows teachers to facilitate a multiple choice, true or false and short answer questions to a classroom of students. In the past, I’ve used it for pretesting, exit tickets, revision and quick discussion questions. Teachers and students are provided with a range of feedback including live to a downloadable report.
YouTube: Not only is this a fantastic resource for education videos, it also allows users to create playlists which for teachers, can be used to collate a selection of videos for your students.
Its ‘Creator Studio’ is also underused. The video editor allows users the ability to edit videos all within YouTube. Here, students are also able to access both creative commons audio and video that can be applied to their own work.
This web application allows teachers to give voice and text feedback on students’ work. It also allows teachers to link to videos or other online references that may assist students. I used this frequently last year, and I definitely recommend you giving it a go!