Archive of ‘INF530’ category

Well, this is it.

 

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!

 

 


 

Hyperlinks to all previous posts:

 

Post 1

Post 2

Post 3

Post 4

Post 5

Post 6

Post 7

Post 8

Post 9

Post 10

Reference

(please note that formatting problems within WordPress have impacted the correct indentation of referencing below)

Huffman, J. B., Hipp, K. K., Hord, S. M., Pankake, A. M., Moller, G., Olivier, D. F., & Cowan, F. (2003). Reculturing Schools as Professional Learning Communities. Lanham, United States: R&L Education. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/csuau/detail.action?docID=1058098

 

 

 

Off the Beaten Track

It seems as though I’m always reading things that have to do with technology improvements that benefit the classroom. Scrolling down my Twitter feed you’ll find tweets that highlight 5 Chrome apps that rock, or the always enjoyable ‘10 of the best’ extension that will make you a better teacher. I’m learning some nifty tricks and things that I’ll definitely apply in my classroom but it’s refreshing to take a step away from tech PD and hear something else for a change…

Today at school we had the opportunity to hear from Brendan Spillane. Among his notable achievements, he is an internationally accredited Executive Coach and works with a range of leaders from business, education and elite sports. He’s also a former principal… His workshop with us posed the question: How can we be true to ourselves and each other to ensure a high performance culture exists within our own teams?

Better talk for better organisations from EDtalks on Vimeo.

 

Here are my takeaways from this:

    • The idea of the campfire. It’s a powerful metaphor for a safe place to have conversations. This was part of Brendan’s overarching call for the need to have a high degree of trust in your organisation and structures in place that maintain that. When you’re put in a position where you have to have a hard discussion with a colleague or parent, the campfire setting can be created with your posture, energy, stance etc. that will enable feelings of safety and security.
    • I’ve been hearing this one a lot from all angles so it’s gotta be important: He reinforced the importance of reflective time. He said ”a high performing person’s mind grabs all the information it can and makes personal sense of it”. (Definitely motivation for this blog post!) I don’t think I’ve been giving my students an opportunity to do this enough…
    • Pathways to high performing organisations consist of high levels of: trust, quality conflict, engagement, peer accountability, teamwork and results. If put to them, how would our students rate these factors in our classrooms?
    • “Your intentions are not your impact”. Be honest with yourself about what you achieve in the classroom
    • He also challenged us to think about where we find our joy in our lives.

 

 

 

Pull up a chair from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Any presenter that can leave you searching for answers and reflecting on a full day’s PD late into the night is one you don’t want to miss.

Contact him here:

Email: brendan@spillaneconsulting.com.au

 

We’re ready when you are!

This work is a derivative of 'Hands Hand Raised Hands Raisied Hands Up Yes' by Kaz available at http://pixabay.com/en/hands-hand-raised-hands-raised-220163/ under a Creative Commons CCO Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en This work is a derivative of ‘Hands Hand Raised Hands Raisied Hands Up Yes’ by Kaz available at http://pixabay.com/en/hands-hand-raised-hands-raised-220163/ under a Creative Commons CCO Full terms at http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/deed.en%5B/caption%5D

 

 

“But Mr. Grant, why do I have to use Google Drive?”

I never get tired of answering that question.

Cloud computing has made such a difference in my life that I have no problem being an ardent advocate for it.

I tell students about this time in the “old days” where I’d have to walk three kilometres in the snow to the local library to meet a partner to complete work on a project for high school.

I go on… “Nowadays, you kids don’t have to leave your house, room or school to work way more collaboratively/productively on similar tasks”.

Cloud computing has already been a game changer and I see no difference why that trend won’t continue.  In the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) suite, students have access to a plethora of tools that will cultivate skills vital for their future. Enabling students to collaboratively work on documents, spreadsheets, images, videos etc. helps shape them into active and engaged individuals capable of working in environments that remake content and facilitate them in becoming producers and creators (Diana Rhorten). These tools continue to stay current as they are constantly being updated; taking into consideration the needs of the modern world.

“Now students, take your mobiles devices out”. “Ya! Whoo Hoo”!

By {Flixelpix} David, https://www.flickr.com/photos/flixel/5194989015/sizes/l/ Licence at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ By {Flixelpix} David, https://www.flickr.com/photos/flixel/5194989015/sizes/l/ Licence at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/%5B/caption%5D

 

How is it that just about any activity you do with mobile devices in schools these days is always well received by young people?

 

Maybe it has to do with the idea of ‘play’ that Douglas Thomas focuses on in his New Culture of Learning. By extension, mobile technology can be seen as a crucial instrument of play. I wonder if students realise how powerful this technology is in relation to their learning?

 

“Well students, I’ve got some facts that might just blow your minds”:

 

“So, you students are already learning with it whether you are conscious of it or not!”

Mobile learning seems to be another vehicle that will help students acquire many of the skills that will be required for their future. This technology provides them with a chip in the game of the ‘global participatory culture of learning’ (Judy O’Connell) so to speak. It enables them access to learning networks that exceed that of traditional institutions and provides them with tools to help make sense of and again, be an active participant in their learning.

That’s also where we come in as educators. Our ever changing role requires us to act as mentors; ensuring that these natural consumers of information are shown how to successfully participate and become a true digital native (Nichole Pinkard). David White and Alison Le Cornu also relate to this issue in their ‘digital visitor vs resident’ analogy. A goal, as teachers needs to be helping shift students from where they are merely consumers (visitors) to a position where they are producing and enriching their networks and communities (residents).

“Do you really think we’ll use all this tech in the future Mr. Grant?”

If it’s any indication of what we’re up against, the ‘Future Work Skills 2020’ report also acknowledges that they don’t really have any idea of the jobs that will exist in 2020; however, they do estimate that ‘virtual collaboration’ and ‘new media literacy’ are two of the ten skills that will be important and part of the way we can focus on them is by using cloud computing and mobile technology.

“So, let’s get back to work!”

“We’re ready when you are.”

 

 

 

References

Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis. M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute: California

A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2014). NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAv6uqrE_9E

Kuehn, L. (2012). No more “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants.” Our Schools / Our Selves, 21(2), 129–132.

Rethinking Learning: The 21st Century Learner | MacArthur Foundation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0xa98cy-Rw

 

 

So Here We Go

 

Image by Jordan Grant 2015

Image by Jordan Grant 2015

Where to begin?

When I graduated Deakin University with my Diploma of Education in 2005, the last thing on my mind was further study. It didn’t register a blip in the ensuing years that passed where I happily picked up CRT positions and both long and short term contracts.

It wasn’t until my latest position which started in 2009 that I began mulling over the prospect of going back to school. The changes that have taken place in this school helped shape me as an educator.

Technology changes:  We went from two computer labs to ‘computers on wheels’ then to a 1-1 MacBook program. Projectors were built into every classroom.

Image by Jordan Grant 2014

Image by Jordan Grant 2014

 

Pedagogical changes:  saw us adopting an understanding by design approach to topic planning. Elements of Daniel Pink’s ‘Drive’, Dr. Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindsets, Hattie’s Effect Size have been implemented.

Structural changes:   the school built the Oak Centre (New Allied Health Training Centre, gym, humanities and music facility).

Image by Jordan Grant 2015

Image by Jordan Grant 2015

As a result of the changes that were going on around me, coupled with a dynamic forward thinking environment,  I couldn’t help but be motivated to continue my learning in a more formal setting.

So here we go!

For me, the course content has ignited a passion and motivation to get into it. (I’m about to start module 2! How about that?!) Already, it’s stretched my brain muscles and had me consider things like the importance of digital repositories, learning analytics and open content.

Within Douglas Thomas’ call to develop “A New Culture for Learning” he notes that classrooms and students are changing in a way that we haven’t been able to keep up with. Without educational leaders actively engaged in research, debate and dialogue we’ll be set in a 20th Century educational model. Last year, I was fortunate enough to take part in the Google Teachers Academy, Sydney. This largely focused on shifts in educational thinking and how to bring about change. My aim in taking this course is to build on those ideas and challenge commonly held assumptions in education; to learn and to understand; to hone my craft and to make others around me better educators.

Other Challenges

After reading several of the blog posts already it seems as though I’m not alone with my concerns of the delicate balance of full time work, being a husband, a parent and successfully completing this course. This is something that I definitely struggle with, but I’m determined to not let it beat me.

A Final Thought

I always saw my previous degrees as a means to an end… I’d get qualified and then I’d teach.

And now look at where I am. At the threshold of this course: vast, open and exciting. I choose not to be intimidated by it. I choose to be invigorated.

 

 

 

References

A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. (n.d.). Retrieved March 13, 2015, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM80GXlyX0U

The power of believing that you can improve. (n.d.). Retrieved March 09, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve?language=en

The puzzle of motivation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 11, 2015, from http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pink_on_motivation?language=en

Hello world!

This is my space for thinking!

I’m going to be doing a lot of it over the next few years as I’m undertaking my Masters in Education: Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation! Whoo Hoo!

Pop back here to check out what I’m up to.