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Artefact Review

As a teacher, there’s not much better than finding a resource that encompasses everything you’re after. Jacques du Toit’s digital artefact that aims to jumpstart teachers on their journey to becoming connected is one of those resources.

 

‘The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’ is separated into sections that explore digital tools that increase a teacher’s’ connectivity as well as firmly establish a connected mindset (du Toit, 2016, para. 1). They include:

 

  1. What is a connected educator?
  2. What is Twitter
  3. Getting started with Twitter
  4. Google+
  5. YouTube
  6. Podcasts
  7. Facebook
  8. LinkedIN
  9. TeachMeets
  10. Blogging

 

Seemingly influenced by Simon Sinek’s ‘Starting With the Why’, Jaques first resource makes a strong case for connected learning by embedding high-quality YouTube videos and linking to articles and blogs that convincingly provide the call to arms that some educators may need when initially investigating a topic.

 

Jacques’ use of active learning principles ensures his learners aren’t bored or consumed by the information. They get to explore, create and play. Another strong design choice was his inclusion of a clear summative checklist after each section. This allows teachers to accurately monitor their progress verse the ‘Challenge Checklist’.’

 

The scope of this resource is really impressive. Each of the ten sections are composed of solid resources that empower teachers to become connected.
While structurally the web page is a little long when scrolling through, this design decision doesn’t detract from that usefulness of the site. I’ll be using it in the future.

Critical Reflection

Modeled after some of John Hattie’s work on teacher clarity, my school has played around with different forms of lesson objectives/reflections. One of our more current models was structured around the following questions:

 

What are we learning today?

How are we learning this?

How do I know that I’ve learned it?

 

When sitting down to write this final reflection for INF530, this immediately came to mind. I may modify them slightly, but they definitely suit the purpose.

 

What did I learn throughout the course?

 

Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age has been exactly what I’ve been looking for. It’s allowed me to wander through current topics within education that I find of great interest and immerse myself within them. So here are some things that I’ve mulled over:

 

  • I’m at odds with Prensky and his concept of digital natives and in addition, John Plafrey and Urs Gasser continuation in their work Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation of Digital Natives. The millennial generation and those that follow still struggle with technology and the skills of their digital immigrant teachers often eclipse those of the natives. I do have genuine concern for the participation gap identified in Plafrey and Gasser’s work. Educators must work to alleviate this disparity.

 

  • Connectivisim. A theory that explains learning in the 21st century. The discussion I had with Christopher Jones, I led me to want to explore connectivism in a secondary education as a solution to some of the problems he was facing in the tertiary setting.

 

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.39.28 PM

(Please click on image to view comment)

This course has sparked a keen interest in this theory and while I don’t wholeheartedly agree with the theory in its purest form, I do think that it should be adopted to some extent in the secondary setting. Many benefits for this included increased digital literacy and critical thinking skills.

 

Other Learnings?

  • Gamification. The need to continue to adopt. I agree with Tina Barseghian’s Why Video Games Power Up Learning, but I’d also add improves digital literacy skills.
  • Mimi Ito’s vision of connected learning.
    • Kids today need to How to recruit mentors
    • No longer educational bottlenecks. Places where we must go to source information. There’s no library, school that has all the answers. Learning can happen anywhere.
    • The need to continue to push creativity in schools. Sir Ken Robinson highlights this in his reference to the survey of what executives are looking for in the next generation.. Creativity
    • (Word count impeding this section!!!!)

 

How are we learning this?

  • Judy’s phrase “global participatory culture of learning” has resonated we me this course. I’ve included a WordItOut to showcase some of the ways I’ve learned.

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How do I know I’ve learned something?

 

I’ll end with a connectivist musing… My ability to know how to access this knowledge is more important than actually having command of it at this moment (Of which I assure you Judy et al. that I do!) That being said, it’s clear that there is a gifted group of education specialists within this cohort and I’ve been able to follow many of you on Twitter and your Thinkspace blogs. Siemens says  “when knowledge, however, is needed, but not known, the ability to plug into sources to meet the requirements becomes a vital skill”(Siemens, 2004, para 30). I’m looking forward to drawing on this cohort and continuing to learn with you as a part of my PLN.

References:

Connecting to Clouds

flickr photo by william couch http://flickr.com/photos/wcouch/50245796 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by william couch http://flickr.com/photos/wcouch/50245796 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

From what can be described at times as disjointed, social, convenient, studious, informal, applied, and visual, one might conclude that my learning style is far from traditional. Anything that helps me make sense of my learning is a good thing. When I came across connectivism in our readings, I couldn’t help but make connections to the way I learn and think.

A Quick Refresher on Connectivism:

Connectivism is a learning theory that stems from the work of George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Thier concept of learning pits the individual seeking knowledge “outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database)” through connections (both virtual and real world). This knowledge is characterised by its ever changing or “nebulous” nature which can be typical of information in today’s society. As a result, they considered the access to knowledge more important than the knowledge itself. Or according to Siemens that “the pipe is more important than the content within the pipe.”

 

Aside:

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 11.12.24 PM

Check out this screenshot from my Twitter account. See anything relevant? The sheer amount of “favoriting” I’m doing reinforces this idea. I’ll know how to access this information when I need it. There’s no need to have it in my functional memory.

 

Anyway, listen to Siemens break the concept down a bit more here:

 

My interest in it…

 

To date, much has been written about adopting a connectivist approach to tertiary study. For my digital essay, I’m looking to explore ways this could be incorporated more frequently in the secondary school setting.

 

I get excited by theories that place learning squarely at the feet of the individual. The principles of connectivism outlined by Siemens directly relate to what I want to encourage students in my classroom to be able to do. Modern learners should connect with others and information databases in order to further their understandings and be able to critically evaluate information.


I have wholehearted concerns about students’ privacy, digital citizenship and the levels of digital literacy required for this adoption, but just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean we should stray away from it.

As we grow more and more connected, it will be vital for our students to understand these connections as feel confident that they can use them to their advantage.

flickr photo by mikecogh http://flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/5280585822 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

flickr photo by mikecogh http://flickr.com/photos/mikecogh/5280585822 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

References:

elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved May 18, 2015, from http://www.elearnspace.org/articles/connectivism.htm

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.