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:
(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
‘We’re preparing students for jobs that don’t exist.’
It’s funny when I think of it. This phrase that’s often been uttered on the frontlines of progressive secondary institutions and technology-based professional development conferences certainly applies to my own study under CSU’s Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation).
When I started the program, I had a really limited idea of the jobs that could be attained. Since then, doors have opened and my fellow students and I have been eligible to acquire some fantastic roles related to the field of knowledge networking and digital innovation.
More recently, I applied for a job as a ‘Blended Learning Advisor’ at Griffith University. It was only after a few weeks into our first assessment on digital scholarship that I realised I hadn’t targeted the cover letter to accurately highlight my ever-evolving skillset. Being from a secondary education background and seeking a new challenge, I didn’t yet have the knowledge of the struggles tertiary institutions felt with open, digital and networked content (Weller, 2011) that would be uncovered in this first assessment. I’m chalking this up to a tangible learning experience that I’ll be better prepared for should another similar role pop up.
The idea of a digital scholar/educator has really resonated with me since working on that first assessment. The term seems more encompassing than that of a ‘connected educator’ and I think it applies more accurately to what we’ve been doing throughout the course. I’ve relished the opportunity to publish work in a digital form. Creating video’s and Padlets , for example, have enabled others to access my learnings as well as presented me with the opportunity to gain feedback from a wider audience. One of the intangibles that I’ve extremely valued is the growth of my professional learning network as a result of my studies. The ability to “learn anytime, anywhere, with potentially anyone around the world” (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011, p. 2). Within this subject, I’ve hosted a Twitter chat regarding Assessment 1 where I contributed to discussions and analysis, and have (virtually) met with members of my PLN to discuss readings.
Jacques du Toit proving that readings, discussions, and PLNs can be fun!
While this course is not ‘open’ so to speak, it has embraced these principles which I believe has driven our learning further. At its heart, is the emphasis to encourag[e] learners to share what they know, and construct knowledge together (Price, 2013, p.37). And while I value it and I walk this talk… it, unfortunately, corresponded to an immensely difficult time for me. Clicking the submit button on Assessment 1 seemed like a signal for all members of my family to get sick and work to rev up the intensity. I shifted into what White (n.d.) calls visitor mode. Here, I lurked and consumed but never made much of an attempt to participate. The real sad thing is that I know what I’ve missed out on. The continued strengthening of my PLN and the valuable feedback from my peers on Assessment 3! I feel like my case study may have ended up in a hundred different directions but alas, we can’t dwell on these things. Exploring the Yr 12s attitudes towards their technology use provided some really interesting insights that I look forward to sharing with them and our leadership team. Looking back, I really appreciated the opportunity to work on something that could impact the future learners of my institution.
So while most of our cohort is suiting up for graduation, I’ll be suiting up to complete a triathalon… I mean trimester. That’s right, one more subject for this weary digital scholar and then I’ll don the pointy hat with the thingamajig on the end!
See you next time!
Price, D. (2013). Open: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. Crux.
Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Moorabbin, Victoria: Solution Tree Press.
Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice [Kindle version]. A&C Black.
White, D. (n.d.). Visitors & Residents. Retrieved from http://daveowhite.com/vandr/
The survey that has been sent out to the year 12 students has been closed off. Of the cohort, sixty responses were able to be collated. Before I start to really analyse the data, I thought that it was important to air some thoughts regarding the survey.
So here we go.
I seemed to have a number of students expressing concerns about the difficulty of the survey. This wasn’t that it was challenging academically, but students seemed to have problems interpreting some of the vocabulary. On several days while the survey was active, I was approached by students who remarked:
“That survey was really hard. We’re not that smart. I didn’t know what half the words meant.”
“I didn’t know what some of the words meant so I stopped. Do you want me to do it even though I didn’t understand some of it?”
“Stich up. That survey was really hard”
This problem was raised during peer feedback of my survey. Jacques du Toit suggested that students may have difficulty accessing the vocabulary. While I did make several amendments to ISTE’s Student Standards (of which the survey is based), I thought that I needed to maintain the survey’s integrity by drawing form them closely and thereby enabling a clear comparison.
I wonder what impact this will have on the cohort’s results? In particular, sections centering on computational thinking had several terms students may have been unfamiliar with.
I’m looking forward to analysing the data.