(a) Evaluative statement
Information and knowledge are no longer only bound in books or broadcast by television and radio networks, they have been set free. The internet has forever changed the way information is distributed, consumed and shared (De Saulles, 2012). Where once information was scarce and the preserve of the elite, it is now plentiful and potentially available to anyone with the skills to manage and exploit it (Wesch, 2009).
The defining characteristics of New models of information production (Malbon, 2016) include access to free or low cost information from local and global sources, web 2.0 tools for the consumption and creation of information and knowledge and network capabilities for communication and collaboration. According to Wesch (2009), these new and emerging models exist because of technology and network infrastructure but the way they are appropriated and harnessed is a social revolution. New and emerging models of information production have disrupted existing systems (Wheeler, 2015) and present challenges and opportunities for educators and information professionals in areas such as digital literacy, digital citizenship and knowledge management. For equitable participation in society, educational institutions must teach students about networks, while also using these networks (Pegrum,2010).
In addition to information and digital literacy, network literacy (Malbon, 2016) is essential for lifelong learning. Rheingold (2011) asserts that network literacy allows people to form groups, participate and innovate. Networks are not new. People have been gathering, participating in communities and sharing common interests long before mass computing came along. Networked publics, mediated by social media allow people to connect and construct communities without geography being an issue (boyd, 2014). As the internet was emerging McClure (1994) could foresee that new skills would be required to use electronic information effectively. McClure was concerned that individuals that were network illiterate would be disadvantaged and become second-class citizens. Sixteen years later and with the impact of the social networks, Pegrum (2010) also stated that without network literacy, individuals risk being excluded from society. Schools therefore have a role to play in teaching students how to navigate networks for informal and formal learning.
In a networked society, schools and the transfer of knowledge by teachers are just one node in a student’s network (Pegrum, 2010). Many young people, but certainly not all, have the ability to leverage digital media to pursue personal interests outside of school (Ito et.al., 2013). A Connected educator (Malbon, 2016), as reflected on in the blog post, realises that network learning is possible in the classroom too and takes advantage of blogs, wikis, collaborative tools, social networks and other digital tools for engagement and learning. Educators have to understand the tools and technology themselves before they can share their knowledge with their students (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). Looking into the future (Malbon, 2016) outlines the trends that are beginning to impact schools and the need for educators to adapt. Connected learning is becoming possible with the increase in one-to-one computing, network infrastructure that includes wi-fi and cloud computing and the inclusion of twenty-first century skills in government curriculums. The difficulty in assessing so called “soft skills” (Scardamalia, Bransford, Kozma & Quellmalz, 2011) is a barrier that has to be overcome by innovative educators.
Becoming a connected educator involves taking ownership of one’s learning and being willing to share successes, failures and learning with others. The shift from isolation to connecting and sharing takes time and effort (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). Self-directed learning and the development of a personal learning network (PLN) is crucial to adapting to a changing digital environment (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen & Sloep, 2012). Face-to-face networking can occur in person or can be mediated by technology. My first Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016) is an example of how networks can leverage technology to organise “in real life” events. Exploring and learning how to use web 2.0 tools such as Storify, Tweetdeck, LinkedIn (Malbon, 2016) is made easier by online tutorials and reviews. By playing with tools, strengths and weaknesses can be identified and application to one’s own situation or to the classroom determined (Wheeler, 2015). Once an educator is familiar with a variety of tools and new information seeking strategies, decisions can be made on appropriate pedagogical approaches.
The development of a PLN, use of web 2.0 tools and social networks can lead to information overload (Christozov & Toleva-Stoimenova, 2013). Strategies to filter and critically evaluate information are essential to manage and make sense of information (Jarche, 2010). Digital curation is an information life skill for educators and students (Valenza, 2012). The blog post Digital curation and Storify (Malbon, 2016) is both an example of digital curation and confirmation of its importance to lifelong learning. The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students acknowledge that students need to critically curate using digital tools to be effective knowledge constructors (International Society for Technology in Education, 2016). Consequently educators will need to model digital curation and teach students how to locate, select, analyse, organise and present information (Antonio & Tuffley, 2015).
Delivering learner-centred instruction that utilises blended learning is achievable in schools with good information technology infrastructure and one-to-one mobile device policies. Knowledge of instructional design can assist educators to produce artefacts, make use of distributed resources (Prensky, 2010) and take advantage of collaborative opportunities. A novice attempt at using instructional design to produce a short video for use in a blended classroom can be viewed in the blog post Knowledge networking artefact (Malbon, 2016). The willingness to experiment with tools, make mistakes, gain feedback and share the artefact with others resulted in a valuable resource for the creator and their PLN to use in a blended environment. Viewing and critiquing other people’s artefacts also helps in recognising instructional design elements and how they contribute to engagement and learning. Peer review such as Critique – What is a PLN (Malbon, 2016) also provides constructive feedback to the creator that can be taken into consideration for future artefacts.
The cultivation of skills for self-directed and lifelong learning are essential in an ever changing technological world and knowledge-based economy where “everything – and everyone – around us can be seen as resources for learning” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 32). Learning, growing and exploring (Malbon, 2016) is supported and facilitated by our personalised networks.
(b) Reflective Statement
I am a teacher librarian and describe myself an information professional so I was quite confident when I began studying Knowledge networking for educators (INF532). Filtering, sifting, organising, analysing, categorising and presenting information and knowledge are skills I learned in my undergraduate degree twenty-three years ago and have continued to develop using my personal learning network (PLN).
In my blog post Network Literacy (Malbon, 2016) I reflected on how networks have changed during my adult life. As an undergraduate student I received no formal education or training using the internet because it was not available. I had to be a self-directed learner and learn about the internet informally using books, asking colleagues questions and by using it.
Fast forward to 2016 and I am learning about information production, distribution and transmission in a formal university setting, however this university online. I access my course material through a learning management system, I attend virtual meetings and I can use the library twenty-four hours a day. I openly and regularly discuss course content in an online forum and I use Twitter (@KMalbon) to connect and share resources with my peers using the hashtag #INF532. Collaboration with my assigned module summary group was made easy using the collaborative features of Google Docs and Google Hangouts allow me to have face-to-face conversations. With five subjects already completed and a digital toolkit established I felt that I was well on my way to being a connected educator.
@JTGrant81 Still not sure whether I did the exegesis correctly. Fingers crossed #INF532
— Karen Malbon (@KMalbon) September 15, 2016
A connected educator directs their own learning, connects and collaborates so they can grow professionally (Nussbaum-Beach & Ritter Hall, 2011). With technology and web 2.0 tools, educators are no longer restrained by geography and the need to meet face-to-face. Educators can connect synchronously and asynchronously using social networks and web 2.0 tools to communicate, collaborate, curate and create (Whitby, 2014). When writing my Connected Educator Reflection (Malbon, 2016) blog post I realised that my participation levels were not that high. I consumed information, shared interesting links and articles with colleagues and curated material for myself but I was hesitant to start conversations or be involved in collaborative projects.
flickr photo shared by kleem9 under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
Following on from two comments I made in forum 2.2 and 2.4 I set myself some goals to become more connected:
- Comment on blog posts (Thinkspace and external) and reply to comments on my blog
- Ask questions on Twitter and participate in a Twitter chat
- Participate in a Teachmeet
- Share my knowledge networking artefact through various social networks
- Progress from aggregating resources for myself to curating resources and sharing with my PLN
- Share what I have learned from INF532 with my colleagues at work
Using my already established Feedly account I followed and categorised INF532 student blog posts. I felt that I got to know my fellow students better by commenting on their blog posts. Some of the comments led to mini conversations taking place in the comments section such as these with Emma (Hinchcliffe, 2016) and Kelly (Hollis, 2016). I also commented on a blog post by Kaye Oddone (Oddone, 2016) on content curation that helped me to clarify the topic of my knowledge networking artefact. My initial comment led to a conversation between Kaye, myself and content curation guru Robin Good. I also made an effort to reply to most of the comments made on my blog posts like I have here on the post My First Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016). Commenting and replying to blog posts was so valuable to me during INF532. I was no longer just following people and passively consuming content, I was engaging. I was able to discuss, share knowledge, ask questions, provide feedback and get feedback.
Early in the session I nervously participated in my first Teachmeet and then reflected on it with the blog post, My First Teachmeet (Malbon, 2016). Teachmeets are a wonderful blend of face-to-face and online network learning. Organised by educators for educators, the aim of a Teachmeet is to share experiences with your peers (New South Wales Department of Education, 2016) using short face-to-face presentations and continuing conversations using a Twitter hashtag. I have found that Teachmeets allow me to direct my own learning, improve my professional practice and strengthen my personal learning network. I have signed myself up to present at another Teachmeet Melbourne in November.
Retrieved from https://youtu.be/JW-ENj1h6LY
Twitter has been an essential tool in my PLN for a number of years but I was not using it to its full potential. I increased my participation level by asking questions, answering questions and having more conversations. Although most of my questions went unanswered, the reward I got when someone replied to them was thrilling. I tweeted my knowledge networking artefact directly to some curation experts and as shown in my blog post Knowledge Networking Artefact (Malbon, 2016) they replied and shared my artefact with their PLN. The sharing of my knowledge networking artefact to my PLN on Twitter and Facebook has resulted in my artefact being viewed on YouTube 169 times.
Fantastic explanation of #digitalcontentcuration for students by the talented @KMalbon clear & convincing! https://t.co/dvBE8YAWhU
— Kay Oddone (@KayOddone) September 7, 2016
Introduction to curation for students. Concept and tools. (4′:05″) by Karen Malbon. https://t.co/1P1M1tVGVn
— Robin Good (@RobinGood) September 8, 2016
Unfortunately my goal to participate in Twitter chats was not fully realised. I used TweetDeck to participate in the #INF532 Twitter chat and found it an exhilarating experience. Now that I have some more time available to me I will definitely be participating in some more Twitter chats. As explained in my blog post, TweetDeck (Malbon, 2016) is now part of my personal knowledge management strategy (Jarche, 2013) because after a little practice it makes following hashtags and participating in Twitter chats easier.
As a teacher librarian I have always been collegial and willing to share my experiences and resources with others through my PLN. I was already sharing through social networks and curation platforms but INF532 has given me the confidence to take the next step. I have discovered new tools and increased my participation level in my PLN so I am ready to model and provide leadership to my colleagues in knowledge networking, developing a PLN and becoming connected educators. I would also like help students cultivate their social networks and PLN for learning (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011). In the blog post Looking into the future (Malbon, 2016) I noted trends such as online learning and students as creators that the library must support and resource. The instructional design knowledge I have acquired will be extremely beneficial in developing a digital library for students to access anytime and anywhere and in the design of blended learning experiences. I am a teacher librarian who is becoming a connected educator by being a networked, lifelong learner.
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