MY CONTEXT: I am a primary school teacher in my 26th year of teaching. For the past 3 years, I have been working in our school’s Library & Contemporary Learning Centre (fondly referred to as the “CLiC”). I am very much a digital CONSUMER at this point in time, so I have come to this course hoping to further develop my digital footprint, and become a more PARTICIPATORY member of the digital world. I owe it to myself, and to the students that I work with each day. The challenge for me is a practical one first and foremost –trying to balance that family-work-study dynamic as I try to include study and the creation of a digital footprint into my busy life as a full-time teacher and full-time mum of 4 busy children. I am trying to learn how to best manage this “organic” style of study, where we are presented with a “rough outline” of a learning plan that sends us off to great clips and websites and articles, where of course you find something else of interest, which leads you to something else that looks really interesting….and before you know it a whole day has gone by and you are still only part way through module 1.1!!! My challenge is to reign it in a bit and leave some of the great stuff I find till another time, so that I don’t lose sight of the main purpose of my searching (I’m getting better at this. Diigo is becoming a very good friend!), so that I still have time for the family-work part of my balancing act!
I see the main CONCEPTS and PRACTISES of the digital age encompassing these big ideas:
CREATIVITY & ENTREPRENEURSHIP
All of us are born creative, yet sadly, as Sir Ken Robinson shares, current schooling practises do NOT build on our innate creative ability. Creativity can be disruptive, so teachers need to be TOLERANT, to allow creativity in the classroom to blossom, not wilt. Dr Yong Zhao speaks about fostering GROUP creativity (eg. collaborative learning communities) in preference to individual creativity, and John Seely Brown talks about developing an ENTREPRENEURSHIP mindset in our students – the idea that learners in the 21st century need to be makers and tinkerers as much as thinkers, looking for new ways to do new things.
Implications for my teaching practise: I try to foster collaborative learning communities in my learning environment between colleagues – we collaboratively plan, teach and assess the units of work presented in the CLiC each term; between students – by developing problem-based tasks where children are given the CHOICE of how they would like to tackle that task, and platforms for them to share their learning (eg. Padlet, CLiC blog, EDMODO, Youtube channel); and between students and teachers – we believe and try to model that we are ALL students sometimes, and ALL teachers sometimes.
We need to place more value on SKILL-BASED LEARNING, and develop tools that we can use to reliably assess this. We need to be helping our students to develop a flexible mindset that is ready to respond to the only constant of our times – CHANGE. We need to be providing learners with opportunities to create CONTEXT for their learning, rather than just focusing on mastery of content.
Implications for my teaching practise:
Being aware of models of pedagogy such as TPACK helps inform teaching practise. Creating context for learning takes TIME, so our CLiC lessons extended from 1 class at a time for 40 minutes to 2 classes working together for 80 minutes to allow children more time to immerse themselves in their learning. Students need time to create context that is a mixture of KNOWING and PLAYING and MAKING. Because digital tools and social media are an integral part of this knowing-playing-learning dynamic, my challenge will be the need to ensure that I am familiar with tools that could be used to support this learning. Professional Learning Networks will be invaluable here. I also need to help enable my students to become efficient and ethical users of these tools by helping them to develop skillsets that will help them access, critique, compare and evaluate the myriad of tools available to them. The Future Works Skills 2020 Report, or the HABITS OF MIND model are useful resources to help me here.
GENERATING, USING & PRESERVING DATA
As we all become PARTICIPATORY members of the digital world, we contribute to the increasing amounts of data generated in that world, particularly since we use multiple digital tools to try to ensure that what we are creating TODAY will be able to be accessed in the future with new technologies. This concept raises some big questions about PRIVACY and OWNERSHIP OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, and whose role it is to determine the VALUE of digital content to inform what should or should not be preserved for the future.
Implications for my teaching practise:
I see my role here as helping students to develop the skillset and mindset to be ethical users and producers of digital content; encouraging students to imagine their futures and to consider how they will preserve what they create digitally; and to begin to learn more about tools that will help me make connections between data so that I can see relationships between these datasets and ponder on the implications of these relationships.