Critical Reflection – INF537

INF537 has greatly added to my knowledge and deepened my understanding of the work of an educational professional in digital environments through participatory experiences including, but not limited to:

  • blogging, and the ensuing comments,
  • forum posts, and ensuing responses,
  • Adobe Connect which introduced us to experts, and
  • on Twitter through #INF537 

As a member of the INF537 cohort, I was a learner who used, “new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals and ideas together” Davidson and Theo (2010:12). As a part of the Adobe Connect session held Thursday 13 August, Tim Kladpor (2015) highlighted the issue of ‘Data Sovereignty’, encouraged us to dream possibilities of the ‘co-operative’ and challenged the notion of data ownership when authentically engaging in true sense of distributed networks though the Network ‘Common’. As part of my post, Data, Algorithms and Enclosure, I referred to Elizabeth Stark who suggests that people engaged in traditional structures are often threatened by newer paradigms around ownership and control.

Further to the matter of data ownership, on 29 August after hearing Jack Andraka speak at the Melbourne Writer’s festival, I blogged about his frustration accessing research articles from “behind the paywall”. Jack advocates for crowdsourcing information which is freely accessible to academics and researchers in the hope that it will assist people to answer big questions and solve real word problems in a more expedient manner. The implication here is that, as educational professionals in the school digital environment, teachers are obligated to explore how information can be crowdsourced to increase knowledge and improve learning outcomes for students.

Jack Andraka

18 year old, Jack Andraka, speaking at the Melbourne Writers Festival – Saturday 28 August, 2015.

The work of an an educational professional in digital environments requires engagement with co-operative practices. Most particularly, I have been reminded through INF537 discussion forums  that participatory learning experiences can assist people to make meaning through collective engagement. Through the exchange of ideas, I learnt from others and acquired clarity for upcoming assessment tasks.

Increased accessibility to mobile devices and cloud based applications means secondary schools are, by nature, digital environments. Teachers, as the educational professionals within those environments, need to acknowledge and respond to this reality. My involvement with INF537 has impacted on my daily work as a senior leader in a school system. As a person who serves in a position of influence, I am aware of the need for me to facilitate opportunities which enable and encourage teachers as educational professionals when working in digital environments.

As such, INF537 has shaped my thinking when working with the Head of Professional Learning to offer INSPIRE; an initiative which invites schools to engage in a disciplined innovation process which aims to encourage educators to co-design new pedagogical practices which are transferable, sustainable and scalable. Participation requires teachers to engage with digital technologies to regularly reflect and comment on the blogs of other educational professionals, within system and across our globally connected world. The use of cloud based applications to access experts will be particularly encouraged and I am hopeful the connections I have made through INF537 will be useful for variety of projects. Such practices will support collaborative behaviours of working towards a common goal within INSPIRE teams, as well as support cooperative behaviours of sharing freely across system Communities of Practice. Collaborative and co-operative behaviours are encouraged, if not expected of educational professionals in the digital environments of a secondary schools.

Participation in INF537 has confirmed my strong belief that education professionals in digital environments need to develop strong networks, act as connected educators and access opportunities that digital environments offer educational professionals.

 


References

Davidson, C, & Theo, D (2010). The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age  MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England.

Klapdor, T. (13 August 2015). You Are Not In Control. CSU INF537 Online Adobe Seminar.

Jack Andraka and Open Source Information

On Saturday 28 August, 2015, I attended the Melbourne Writers Festival to listen to 18 year old, Jack Andraka. As a child he and his brother had an “all things can go” approach to ‘all things scientific’. His parents encouraged this passionate interest in science but asked him just one thing, “Please, don’t blow up the house.”

After losing an uncle to pancreatic cancer, at the age of 15, Jack developed a 30 page procedure for a non invasive method for detecting pancreatic cancer. After being rejected by 199 research companies, Jack overcame the stereotype of being a gay, scientific nerd to have his method supported by a research company. Besides being a great inspirational story, the message for parents, and the rest of the village who raise kids……. whether you have kids who live for English, reading, public speaking, sport, dance, surfing, politics, maths, science, technology etc etc., do you best to let them follow their passion as part of a good education.

As part of his talk Jack spoke about the cost of getting research articles from”behind the paywall”. Jack spoke about the frustration of paying $30:00 for an article which may not have contained what it promised, making his crusade to cure pancreatic cancer another step further away. As an aside, he highlighted the irony, “You can pay $1:00 to download a Katy Perry song that you can play over and over, but it costs you $30 to access information which might help you save the world”.

Soon after, Jack highlighted Albert Swartz who, in 2011, devised a method of downloading large numbers of articles from JSTOR, using a computer hidden in a closet at MIT.

“JSTOR s a digital library founded in 1995. Originally containing digitized back issues of academic journals, it now also includes books and primary sources, and current issues of journals.[4] It provides full text searches of almost 2,000 journals.[5] More than 8,000 institutions in more than 160 countries have access to JSTOR;[5] most access is by subscription, but some older public domain content is freely available to anyone” Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JSTOR

Rightly or wrongly, Swartz was considered by some to be brave enough to challenge the unfairness, hypocrisy and inequality of taypayer-funded scientific research held by publishing firms which then charged outrageous fees to access the resulting academic papers. This is exactly the frustration felt by Jack Andraka, hence why he advocates quite strongly for crowd sourcing information which is freely accessible to academics and researchers. His reason for this is that it will far more quickly enable cures for various diseases, including cancer.

Swartz pushed boundaries. What he did may have been ‘victimless crime’, but the fact is, he did steal. Regardless, the pressure was such that in January 2013 he took his own life.  Is it the case that, “people can say more or less what they like online; but the moment they look like mobilising people, then you come down on them like the ton of bricks”? guardian.com 7/2/2015.

Let’s hope that one day we can see the value in the collective sharing of information for the common good of humankind.

Greg

Data, Algorithms and Enclosure – Time with Tim Klapdor

On Thursday 13 August, along with approximately ten #INF537 colleagues, I had the great pleasure of engaging in an online colloquium with Tim Klapdor, Online Learning Technology Leader, Charles Sturt University. Very early on Tim stated, “Networks are the key to life”, and quickly emphasised that the nodes/individuals within those networks determine their quality. At their best when individuals are empowered through ownership and autonomy of those networks. However, he soon pointed out that current systems and models don’t exist to support networks in their truest ‘co-operative’ form.

Tim expanded upon his argument by highlighting that there are questions about ‘Data Sovereignty’ such as, “Who owns the data?” and, (for companies who have your data), “How do they define your identity?” Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media groups can produce social graphs which map people to other people, places and events. Such companies then use ‘Algorithms’ to determine what information comes to you, say, for example, when you are on Facebook. Algorithms can also determine how Google ‘ranks’ your searches. The Licensing Terms we agree to when we join these groups, gives them the right to use your information as they see fit. They own the accumulation of information about you; however, do we really know what they do with this information?

Such actions of companies have brought about the question of ‘Enclosure’. Tim referred back to agricultural times gone by and use the example of the Land of Commons to explain ‘enclosure’. Over time, the land owned collectively by numerous people was transitioned to more and more individual and company ownership who put fences up around the boundaries of their land. This prompted the question, “Is the distributed networked nature on the world wide web becoming ‘fenced in’ and owned by persons or companies?” Tim’s argued that the ‘common space’ of the web is no longer there. Are we being fenced in? 

Tim encouraged the thinking, “We want people to own their own data and encourage more cooperative ways of sharing information.” Soon after, I asked Tim about the difference between the ‘co-operative’ and the ‘collaborative’. In responding, he made reference to the work of Harold Jarche. Soon after the colloquia, I went searching for a blog by Jarche, PKM in 2013 because I remembered this rich and descriptive graphic below…..

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/0Xe0CtTh6gyxwjwv3lKKeEqnMlxfGAwz1c0s-6R8_SKAJtp_2E2-6a5HEfeo7vXWdVRmXletBd6AaZcDR7ukLGsNTdAHSmshEC3IUSJsiL9NGo-pY1gwePHTQG81fQxrWOxlMUw

Some of the excerpts from that same blog help explain the graphic above. They are as follows….

“Both collaborative behaviours (working together for a common goal) and cooperative behaviours (sharing freely without any quid pro quo) are needed in the network era. Most organizations focus on shorter term collaborative behaviours, but networks thrive on cooperative behaviours, where people share without any direct benefit. PKM (Personal Knowledge Management) helps to add cooperation to workplace collaboration.”

“Communities of practice (are) a half-way space between work teams and social networks, where trusted relationships can form that enable to share more openly.”

“Connecting social networks, communities of practice and work teams, becomes an important framework for integrating learning and working in the network era. We seek new ideas from our social networks and then filter them through more focused conversations with our communities of practice, where we have trusted relationships. We make sense of these embryonic ideas by doing new things, either ourselves, or with our work teams. We later share our creations, first with our teams and perhaps later with our communities of practice or even our networks. We use our understanding of our communities and networks to discern with whom and when to share our knowledge.”

Dreaming about the possibilities of the ‘co-operative’ may require us to challenge the notion of data ownership when authentically engaging in true sense of distributed networks though the Network ‘Common’. As such, I am reminded of Elizabeth Stark, founder of Harvard Free Culture Group points out, who suggests that people who are engaged in traditional structures are often threatened by newer paradigms around ownership and control. My question is, “Are companies of the newer paradigm (such as Facebook and Google) capitalising upon old notions of ownership and control?”

Thoughts, comments and feedback would be appreciated.

Greg.

 

 

(More) Reflections and Rumblings #INF537

This capstone subject presents a myriad of challenges primarily because it draws on a large number of topics and divergent thinking. For me it commenced with challenging thinking about ‘The Need for Critical Study’ Selwyn (2010), to encouragement of ‘remixing’ and ‘reconfiguring’ practices (Ross, 2012) and then being introduced to the wonderful resource, ABC Splash, by Annbel Astbury.

Last week we heard from Simon Welsh, Manager of Adaptive Teaching and Learning Services at Charles Sturt University. The focus of his conversation was Learning Analytics. It was fascinating. as our guest host. In defining the topic her favourably referred to the Society for Learning Analytics and Research ( SOLAR) who consider Learning Analytics to be “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts for purposes of understanding and optimising learning and the environments in which it occurs”. For quite some time, this has meant measurement in the form of the ‘behavioural’; that is “the number of clicks” or “the time spent clicking”. However, it was pleasing to hear that the future of Learning Analytics may involve more measuring, or, at least observing, ‘creation of knowledge’ and then coupling that with the ‘behavioural’. Both combined may then give recommendations to the learner about how to progress their learning.

This converges with questions I have about current educational institutions, questions which were confirmed after reading The future of learning institutions in a digital age by Davidson & Goldberg. Although published in 2009, 6 years on, the ‘future’ stills looks like the ‘past’. Schools are still, “holding desperately to the fragments of an educational system which, in its form, content, and assessments, is deeply rooted in an antiquated mode of learning” (2009, p.14). Even though they point out that global business more and more relies on collaborative practices where content is creative, distributed and participatory, and that those coming into our educational system rely on participatory learning for information about virtually everything else in their lives, schools, from a learning perspective, still mainly celebrate learning achievements attained from benchmarked and mandated state/national testing such as the HSC, VCE, NAPLAN, PAT etc. Are we bold enough to ask this question,“How does this very paradigm of measurement and celebration of individual achievement support the effective learning styles of today’s youth?

I am of the belief that schools have to reconsider what they do and how they do it. If schools are about learning, and also preparing students for the future that awaits them, then schools, systems and the leaders of those institutions, have to ask serious questions. Furthermore, they have to openly and honestly answer those same questions. OECD reports, government rhetoric and leading thinkers such as Sir Ken Robinson and Ewan McIntosh, regularly articulate that the workplaces of tomorrow will increasingly require employees to work collaboratively, think critically and act creatively. However, the majority of our schools still look like places which are preparing students for 19th century factory-like world in which they were established. This begs another question, “How does the very appearance of our schools, and the classrooms which sit within them, actually prepare our students for increasingly connected forms of civic participation and global connectedness required of them in the future?”

In the Davidson and Goldberg (2009) article, they offer Ten Pillars of Institutional Learning which they state are “foundational to rethinking the future of learning institutions” (2009 p,26). These Pillars include practices and characteristics such as self-learning, networked learning and open source learning, which will require institutions to ‘remix’ so that education is seen and experienced “as part of a continuum with (rather than a resistance to) the collaborative, participatory, networked engagements that our students participate in online today” (2009, p,39).

To grapple with this challenge, and there are already Schools Rethinking Education,  it may well be that we follow the lead of MIT professor and digital learning pioneer Henry Jenkins who “has usefully spoken of the convergence resulting from networking a culture of new models and forms and contributions with older models” (Davidson and Goldberg 2009, p.40). Do we start with the ‘older model’ of school acknowledging ‘new forms’ of learning such as self-learning, networked learning and open source learning in a ‘new model’ timetable? How can the timetable accept and acknowledge networked learning where students collaborate with others in new ways outside of ‘normal school hours’, “where learning was fluid (not governed by set hours and days)” (Lindsay, 2014)? Or do we ask another question; that is, “How can we ensure self-learning, networked learning and open source learning are represented in our current timetable?”

Here’s an idea. Why don’t we ‘flip the thinking’ about mandated hours? For example, in New South Wales, it is a requirement to teach 400 hours across Years 7 to 10 for English, Maths, Science and HSIE. Yet most schools teach way beyond that. Could we limit these subjects to the bare minimum 400 hours? Yes, LIMIT them! Let’s take the example of ‘School A’. At ‘School A’, they deliver 520 Hours of English, Maths, Science and HSIE across Years 7 to 10 when they are only required to teach 400 hours for each subject. That is a surplus of 480 hours across the four subjects over four years; 120 hours per year. Just to give you an idea of what can be done with that time, Music/Visual Arts is allocated 240 hours over Year 7 & 8 (120 hours pre year) and LOTE is allocated 120 hours in Year 8. As per its timetable, that is 3 x 1 hours lessons per week for four years. WOW!

How could those 120 hours per year be used to ensure self-learning, networked learning and open source learning are represented in the current timetable? In other words, how can those 120 hours be used so that the future of learning at schools in a digital age authentically serves the needs and and interests of those we serve, the students?

I know I have more questions than answers. I also know that digital technology and new media need to be of concern to anyone seeking to make sense of contemporary education (Selwyn, 2014). I look forward to pursuing the ‘making sense’ part!

From your comments and feedback, I will lean more. So, please feel free to respond.

Regards

Greg.

 

REFERENCES

Collaboration – On the Edge of a New Paradigm, retrieved 7 March from: http://vimeo.com/77240879

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2009). The future of learning institutions in a digital age. The MIT Press. Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/future-learning-institutions-digital-age

Lindsey, J. (2014). Discussion Forum Thread 1.2. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/discussionboard/do/message?action=list_messages&forum_id=_14229_1&nav=discussion_board_entry&conf_id=_7274_1&course_id=_6636_1&message_id=_7155_1#msg__7155_1Id

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media LiteraciesEducause Review, 45(5), 14.https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERM1050.pdf

INF537 – Initial Reflections

This is my first blog for INF537. Readings by Selwyn (2010) and (2014), Ross (2012) and Ray, B., Jackson, S. & Cupaiuolo, C. (Eds).(2014) and (2014_a) have all challenged and stretched my thinking. However, my introduction to the course was the video, Is Technology a Threat to our Education?, which reminded me that “the real secret of education is learning how to learn, not bits of data in your head.” It also reminded me that learning, “is about how to discover thing yourself” and, “coming up with the questions which actually generates wisdom.” All the time I was watching the video, and in the moments which followed, my thinking automatically reverted to my long held belief that we continue to deliver an outdated curriculum; however, we use technology to deliver it differently.  My hunch is that principals, teachers and schools have not slowed down enough to explore the pedagogies which facilitate best use to technology to enrich and extend student learning.

Selwyn (2010) challenged my hunch when he contested that research on digital technology in education usually focuses on the pedagogic possibilities of technology, specific tools or applications. I thought this was a good thing; however, Selwyn (2010) argues for a ‘critical study of educational research’ which seeks to address the use of digital technology in terms of ‘state-of-the-actual’ by using questions such as:

  • What is the use of technology in educational settings actually like?
  • Why is technology used in educational settings the way it is?
  • What are the consequences of what happens with technologies in educational settings?

In answering these questions, it may well be that we also consider how young people use technology. Selwyn (2014) makes reference to a book Teenagers and Technology by Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon. This book is based on surveys with over 1000 young people alongside over 200 interviews from a three-year research project. According to Selwyn (2014), the book suggests

digital technologies: enable and extend the kinds of social relationships and interactions that have always happened between teenagers in ways that are valued and valuable in their lives, but at a cost in terms of their capacity to attend to other things going on around them” (Teenagers and Technology, 59).

And goes on to write, “it is reasonable to contend that there is such a thing as a specifically teenage technology sub-culture” (135).  

It is here that I refer to my hunch that digital technology is being used to repackage learning through a different medium (computers instead of books) for the curriculum which, in NSW, concludes with the Higher School Certificate. As part of their education continuum, students have learnt that assessment ranks are all important going into the concluding examinations. Teachers have learnt to often teach to a formula, one that best prepares students to answer questions on an individual basis. This approach shapes learning prior to the HSC years, from Years 7 to 10. So too does the competitive nature of NAPLAN and the continued government rhetoric about our nation being internationally competitive. Basically, students are encouraged to find the right answer for the test with a ‘yes/no, ‘either/or’ culture. It may well be that we take the advice in  Teenagers and Technology by Chris Davies and Rebecca Eynon as quoted by Selwyn (2014); that is for teachers and parents to acknowledge that young people “deserve some support, interest and even guidance from adults” in developing uses of digital technology that are genuinely meaningful and empowering rather than an all consuming chase for the best result!

Davidson and Theo (2010) encourage us to ask how this paradigm, a paradigm which values individual (student, schools, national) effort and success, actually supports the learning styles of today’s youth and prepares them for increasingly connected world which awaits them. In fact, Davidson and Theo (2010) forthrightly argue that the days of conventional learning institutions are over, “unless those directing the course of our learning institutions realize, now and urgently, the necessity of fundamental and foundational change.”

Ross (2012) suggests that practices that are characterized with ‘reconfigurability’ and ‘remixability’ are central to digital culture, and this may be ‘the way in’ when looking for the foundational change required. They urge education to look at rearranging the elements of learning and reshaping audience expectations about the learning experience when discerning the possibilities of digital education. Furthermore, they look at online learning and reflection in terms of a ‘spectacle’ and ‘placeholder’ approach. Most particularly, Ross (2012) talks about the ‘placeholder’ “as a taggable, searchable, reconfigurable fragment of content…… (which) ……“stands alone as an expression of a thought, idea or moment” (and) “can also be combined and recombined with other placeholders to create a spectacle of reflection.” Such creations, “should be created in spaces that are not highly structured, the way most e-portfolio environments are” (Ross, 2012:262). Such thinking may even lead to John Spencer’s Ten Alternative Assessment Strategies being undertaken more and more in the school setting.

Participatory Learning acknowledge e-portfolios and other digital learning environments as places where  people can make meaning through collective engagement. Davidson and Theo (2010) articulate participatory learning “begins from the premise that new technologies are changing how people of all ages learn, play, socialize, exercise judgment, and engage in civic life” Davidson and Theo (2010:12). Furthermore, they write,

“Participatory learning includes the many ways that learners (of any age) use new technologies to participate in virtual communities where they share ideas, comment on one another’s projects, and plan, design, implement, advance, or simply discuss their practices, goals, and ideas together” (2010:12).

Ray (2014) highlights clear links between participatory learning and Maker movements. I always (incorrectly) saw makerspaces as physical places where physical products were produced. In a digital virtual world I understand that is it about, “students building the next generation of web applications” (Ray 2014:8) through platforms such as Scratch where students can create and collaborate in building web-based projects and products, all while learning code.

Participatory Learning allows for self-guided informal learning which is recognised, for example, with digital badges through  MacArthur Foundation. Furthermore, games like ‘Quest Atlantis’ are characteristic of participatory learning. Challenges within this game, “require students to make choices that affect how events unfold and impact on other characters” (Ray 2014_a:13). Furthermore, there have been documented learning improvements with greater engagement, higher test scores and “54% play because they want to, not because they have to” (Ray 2014_a:13). There is also Whyville online Civics game where teens and pre-teens learn and play together with their own elected officials, town square and beaches. Such games offer,  “a place where the actions of a 10 year old can have a significant impact on the world” (Sasha Barab in Ray 2014_a:13).

Above all else, what I note regarding participatory learning is that hierarchies are negated and failure is encouraged and seen as part of the learning process. This encouragement, acceptance and acknowledgement of failure as being valued rather than despised, presents a welcomed challenge around the traditional the ‘pass or fail’ syndrome associated with standardised tests and numerous summative assessment tasks. In saying this, there is thinking we may need to ‘reframe’ failure. Our young people associate terms such as ‘Epic Fail’ and ‘Massive Fail’ with people who have fun poked at them through the production of videos such as Top Fails 15 and 12 Funny Massive Fails. Therefore, it may well be that we speak about the “iteration and process of one’s way of making it to the answer through errors and connections” (Ray, 2014:19). Whatever the case, wouldn’t it be great to see Andrew Miller’s Freedom to Fail Rubric, become commonplace in schools.

In conclusion, I am both challenged and excited by the fact that, even in the early stages of this course serendipitous learning has led me to subscribing to YouTube channels such as The Brainwaves Video Anthology and FW: Thinking, and the ‘extra’ (part) reading of The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age by Davidson and Theo. However, in putting together the thoughts and reflections for this blog I am unsure what all this means for the Case Study Research Proposal. I suppose this means reading, reading and more reading!

Your comments are most welcome,

Greg.

 

REFERENCES

Davidson, C, & Theo, D (2010). The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age  MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England.

FW: Thinking. (2013, June 19). Is technology a threat to our education? [Video file]. Retreived from https://youtu.be/nVYwGc8u_c0

Ray, B., Jackson, S. & Cupaiuolo, C. (Eds).(2014). Civics: Participating in a digital world. MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

Ray, B., Jackson, S. & Cupaiuolo, C. (Eds). (2014_a). Participatory learning. MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

Ross, J. (2012). The spectacle and the placeholder: Digital futures for reflective practices in higher education. InProceedings of the 8th International Conference on Networked Learning (pp. 227–244). Retrieved fromhttp://www.lancaster.ac.uk/fss/organisations/netlc/past/nlc2012/abstracts/pdf/ross.pdf

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x.

Selwyn, N. (2014). Education and ‘the digital’. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35(1), 155-164. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2013.856668.

INF532 Evaluative Report

PART A – An evaluative statement using the networked learning experiences documented on your Thinkspace blog as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of this subject (900 words).

INF532 has been engaging, challenging and informative. Readings about information life cycles, introduction to new digital media platforms, regular engagement in online collaborative spaces with INF532 colleagues, increased use of curation tools and, most importantly, the challenge of creating a Knowledge Network (KN) artefact, meant I was stretched, pushed and challenged to grow as a networked learner and connected leader.

My blog post New Models of Information, published on 7 March, 2015, built on my previous understandings of the life cycle of information. De Salles reading (2012), John Seely Brown’s work on The Global One School House (Seely Brown 2012) and A New Culture of Learning (Thomas and Brown 2011) have informed me of the unprecedented and immediate accessibility to information through the rise of the internet as a distribution platform, and how this continues to shape new models of information production. From INF532 I have learnt that the ease of access to information has resulted in a new life cycle of information which has implications for our future. Businesses are now exploring new models of information production through trusted sources such as blogs and wikis which is increasingly seeing information as an international currency.

The design of a KN Artefact as introduced me to Powtoon, an online website providing animation tools to create professional-looking animated instructional videos. The uploading of this artefact to YouTube resulted in me publishing my first two public videos. This as evidence that I was able to design, develop and deploy a product which demonstrated an understanding of education informatics as acknowledged in Monique’s critique (McQueen 2015) when she wrote, I liked the use of infographics to explain concepts.” 

Like Monique and many other INF532 students, I have been active in the online world for quite some time and engaged with a range of innovative online tools including Twitter, WordPress, Thinkspace, Flipboard and Zite as articulated in Becoming a Connected Educator, Part 1 of my two part KN Artefact. However, networked learning experiences facilitated by INF532 has further encouraged, supported and assisted my journey to engage with other online tools and spaces for creative knowledge production and learner engagement. For example, I better understand the value of Skype as a learning tool as per the readings referenced in my blog post, The Value of Skype for Learning. Skype can support learning by connecting students with experts to support curriculum in a number or ways. Also, it can result in rigorous learning with expectations for students to collaborate, participate, communicate and create in a number of ways as depicted through Tolisano’s lens.

Skype Rubric

And, it is through this lens that I invited Eric Sheninger to provide feedback about our Skype conversation held Monday 8 May, 2015.

Skype Comment (Eric and me)

It is through the Skype experience with Eric and reading the blogs of Shannon McClintock Miller (2013/14) and Tolisano (2011-2014) that I can see the potential of connecting Skype to create social networks and connect communities of practice within and beyond a school setting. Skype is certainly a digital tool which I will engage with more to enhance learning, teaching and professional practice as articulated in the Flat Classroom Project of 2007 and the ongoing work of http://www.flatconnections.com/

INF532 also introduced me to a new curation tool, Storify. As the creator of a ‘story’ I have been able to curate the most important voices involved in a networked event or networked forum by publishing them as a story. It is through Storify I am able to connect with my PLN and provide my perspective of comments, questions and reflections which (I felt) truly represented the event threads and themes from the event or forum. This demonstrates my ability to use the digital curation tool of Storify and utilise my personal learning network across a number of forums to enhance professional growth, personal knowledge management and collective intelligence practices. Using Storify to Curate has enabled me to produce online content and place information in context for the reader. By linking Storify with Twitter (as I did for the Storifies I created) I demonstrated the ability to use a new media tool to curate content on Twitter forums Twitter to connect communities of practice within and beyond my professional context.

My blog post Flipped Classes and Self-Directed Learning and the discussion forum conversations which preceded this post confirmed my understanding of the interplay between formal and informal learning in physical and digital venues. Furthermore, INF532 has encouraged me to re-engage with other online tools Diigo and Pinterest and introduced me to Google+.

Overall, my blogs indicate engagement with only a few new tools and I cannot say that I have a ‘new suite’ of media tools. Rather, I have added to my current suite of tools by going to a substantial depth of understanding those tools. Therefore, I commit to look at A new tool for gathering, organising and making the most of blog posts: Feedly or Trying out a different digital curation tool – Listly, as blogged by Monique McQueen (2015).

In conclusion, through my blog posts, I have engaged with online tools to curate information and build knowledge within professional spaces. Through those tools including Twitter, Powtoon, Youtube, Thinkspace and Storify I have created spaces which have assisted my colleagues to engage with their professional learning. As such, at times, I have demonstrated a creative approach to resourcing and facilitating learner engagement in a variety of forms, formats and environments. I have little doubt that INF532 has further developed my capability to contribute to the ongoing professional dialogue and research in the field of education through new platforms as well as through my personal blog http://gregmiller68.com/.

 

PART B – A reflective statement on your development as a connected educator  as a result of studying INF532, and the implications for your role as a ‘connected leader’ within your school community, and/or at district/state/national level (900 words).

If students are to become connected learners, then teachers need to engage with online networks and grow their PLN (Thomas and Brown 2011; Ito 2012; Nussbaum-Beach and Hall 2012; Seely Brown 2012). This confirms the need for educators to become connected in a knowledge networked world (Rheingold 2011; Ferenstein 2014), and this is why educational leaders such as myself, need to engage as connected learners through participatory example.

Engaging with course readings and resources contained within INF532 has confirmed that I need to continually develop myself as a ‘connected educator’. Furthermore, I am obligated to continually challenge myself to be the best ‘connected leader’ I can be at a district, systemic level in my role as Secondary Schools Consultant in the Diocese of Broken Bay. The implication is that I have to continually improve and even transform myself both as a learner and leader.

As an INF532 student, I have grown considerably as a ‘connected leader’. Participation in INF532 has reminded me of the need to ‘know my class’. That class is made up of the 40 educational leaders and officers who support principals and staff in their quest for school improvement across a network of 43 schools. As a ‘connected leader’ I take seriously my role to assist ‘my class’ understand knowledge networks and online PLNs, and to discover how these can assist educators to become connected.

Soon after commencing INF532, there was an obvious implication for myself as ‘connected leader’, to grow and develop the understanding of knowledge networking for CSO staff and teachers in the Diocese of Broken Bay. On March 15, 2015, I wrote in my blog post, Reflections on/as/about…. Am I a Connected Educator?

If I was truly collaborative, I would lead learning in a more ‘connected way’, more so than the static delivery of information. 21st century educators understand that connecting, collaborating and learning is essential to their job. More so, they understand the great leverage that technology brings to their ability to do so across the world.”

So, on Monday 13 April I held a Connected Educator Workshop. As part of that workshop, it was most pleasing for me to use my Powtoon artefact, published on YouTube. A number of workshop participants were interested in the Powtoon application used to make the artefact. My ability to provide a user’s guide, some tips about sound recording, and general information about the tool, ensured I was acting as a ‘connected leader’ within my workplace.

There have already been signs of DBB personnel responding to the call to become a ‘connected educator’. On 24 May, 2015, by Heather Bailie commented on Emails of Connected Educators, Congrats Greg, R’s email is a great testament to the value of your workshop and C’s is a long way from being evidence of a fail. To have provoked one educator to addiction and got another lurking is a great result.” As recorded in Emails of Connected Educators, @racheltyne1 has been the ‘star pupil’ by becoming, “involved in chats with educators from all over the world sharing ideas and teaching practices with different topics.” She is also “excited at the possibilities that could be used to connect students to the world.” I am pleased my leadership has facilitated this development of Rachel as a ‘connected educator’.

Leadership often requires bringing people with you and challenging the status quo. 9 regular users of Twitter out of ‘My Class’ of approximately 40 (workshop participants and other colleagues), well and truly ignores the Wikipedia 1% rule (Internet Culture). Furthermore, it is evidence that, as a connected leader, I actively promote Twitter as a social media platform which allows one to share, comment, post and, most importantly, learn from others.

The excellent conversion rate of colleagues engaging with Twitter provided impetus to develop three DBB (Diocese of Broken Bay) hashtags including #dbblearn #dbbiPad and #DBBPEN. Each hashtag has been developed in order to share resources, offer reflections and collaboratively engage in a connected online world. Although the sharing has been mainly done by the nine active participants, I am obligated as a connected leader to keep working with DBB personnel to explore and exploit the benefits of Twitter for networked learning. This will require me to collaboratively work with DBB education leaders and officers to better understand the learning opportunities that come with Twitter, and be innovative in evaluating its use for learning, teaching and professional practice.

In conclusion, actions I have taken as a result of my participation in INF532, have seen me manage personal and participatory knowledge networks to communicate effectively and work collaboratively with others for ongoing professional development. As a ‘connected leader’ I need to continually design, evaluate and implement differentiated learner-centred instruction that connects ‘my class’ within blended formal and informal learning environments. Blogging about my journey on http://gregmiller68.com/ and inviting comment from my PLN will assist my continuing journey both as a ‘connected educator’ and ‘connected leader’. Of course, the more ‘connected leaders’ we have, the more ‘connected educators’ there will be, and the more ‘connected educators’ there are, the greater the probability we can strengthen school-based classroom engagement and learning through intentional and reflective online instructional design. I look forward to the next stage of the journey.

 

REFERENCES

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0 : new models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). London : Facet.

Ferenstein, G. (2014). “The one form of literacy you need right now.” Retrieved 23 May 2015, 2015, from http://venturebeat.com/2014/06/05/linkedin-cofounder-reid-hoffman-makes-a-convincing-case-for-a-new-type-of-literacy/.

Ito, M. (2012). “Connected Learning: Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime.” Retrieved 12 March 2014, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viHbdTC8a90.

McQueen, M. (2015). Critique of Greg Miller’s artefact ‘Using Twitter to grow your PLN’. Monique’s Reflective Blog. T. S.-. CSU, Think Space – CSU. 2015.

McClintock Miller, Shannon (2013/2014). Van Meter Library Voice. [blog].

Nussbaum-Beach, S. and L. R. Hall (2012). The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age, Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Rheingold, H. (2011). “Networked Literacy – Part One.” Retrieved 23 March, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UKWozzVRM&feature=youtu.be

Seely Brown, J. (2012). “The Global One Room Schoolhouse “. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from http://youtu.be/SoRV0BEwvEU.

Thomas, D. and J. S. Brown (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.

Tolisano, S. (2011-2014). Langwitches Blog.

 

 

Using Storify to Curate

As a part of my learning with INF532, I have been ‘introduced’ to Storify. I had heard of Storify, but had not ‘taken the plunge’ to use it. Storify is a social media tool that assists you to create a timeline or a story about an event as  published by posts by numerous people via any one of a number of social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.

My experience with Storify has been a positive one. As the creator of a ‘story’ I have been able to curate the most important voices involved in an event and turn them into a story, or more accurately, my perspective of comments, questions and reflections which (I felt) truly represented the ‘feeling’ of the participants at that event.

For example, last week I was a participant at the Association of Catholic School Principals, NSW Conference from 20 to 22 May. Organizers of the event developed a Twitter handle @ACSP2015 and hashtag, #ACSP2015. As a result, I used Storify to develop a ‘curated story’ of the event.

https://storify.com/gregmiller68/acsp2015

I then shared the #ACSP2015 Storify with Principals of the Diocese of Broken Bay who could not attend the event. The purpose in me sharing my Storify was to ensure principals who I supervise as part of my work, could be included in messages, themes and discussions stemming from the conference.

I have also developed other Stofiries, but for different purposes. I have created other Storifies including

#dbblearn – https://storify.com/gregmiller68/dbblearn#publicize

#dbbiPad – https://storify.com/gregmiller68/dbbipad#publicize

and #DBBPEN – https://storify.com/gregmiller68/dbbpen

All these are curated representations of the comments, questions, shared reflections and networking taking place in those forums.

You are welcome to take a look.

Regards

Greg

Flipped Classes and Self-Directed Learning

A colleague of INF532 recently commented,

I know that most of what I can do I’ve learnt through self-directed activities, by simply having a go and through the connections I have with my PLN. Surprisingly, many teachers aren’t like me and want the PD “done to them”.

The various readings about flipped classrooms (within the course and links via Twitter), as well as the flipped PD to which my colleague referred in a post on the INF532 Discussion Forum, reminded me of an approach I took to professional learning when a principal at my last school of employment.

My attempt was to “do self-directed PD to them”, if that makes sense. In other words, within Staff Meeting time, I provided an inordinate amount of options for teachers to explore their area(s) of interest in pairs, teams and groups by providing Choice at a Staff Meeting. The willingness to provide choice was based on a Goggle 20% idea and resulted in Unstructured and Non-Commissioned Time for Teachers. This resulted in teachers creating their own PD further to the time provided, as well as engage in online PD via Twitter, Pinterest and other platforms. The feedback makes for interesting reading.

Regards

Greg

 

Artefact Reflection

Social media in your classroom is a short video written, designed and produced by Margaret Simkin. Margaret used the web based application, Video Scribe, which enables users to create whiteboard-style animations with little design or technical know-how. I am unsure as to Margaret’s capability with digital animation tools; however, Margaret has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of the nature and features of Video Scribe as the digital tool utilised to create this Knowledge Network (KN) artefact.

The artefact is easily accessible via YouTube. Margaret’s voice recording is clear and the background music is upbeat without detracting from the positive messages being given. Her choice of vocabulary cleverly mixes contextual language clear messages and benefits of social media for learning. The style of narration is engaging while being both professional and personable at the same time.

Margaret’s KN explains social media to be an elixer which acts as a magical potion which harnesses the power of online collaboration which turns pedagogy into peeragogy. The point is clearly made that social media is a great enabler of learning beyond the boundaries of traditional schooling. In doing so, there is a great use of varied graphics and interesting visuals to re-inforce the text and positive messages inherent in the video. On occasions, there may be too much time between graphics and it is also noted that when transferring from one animation to the next, the previous slides could still be seen in the corner of the screen. However, the KN topic is clear and for the target audience and includes some elements that encourage learner engagement.

Overall, the artefact demonstrates the application of the theory to practice. Possibly there could have been some more exploration and explanation of the benefits of blogging; for example, some of the comments and reflections that come with blog posts. In saying that, the artefact demonstrates a clear understanding of the five C’s which comes with using social media to amplify learning by transferring important literacy and numeracy skills in a multi-modal way.

Thank you Margaret for your expertise in producing an artefact which is interesting and engaging which encourages educators to connect as well as explore and develop their professional learning through social media.

 

Emails of Connected Educators

On May 12 I wrote an email to colleagues which was documented on a blog post, Becoming a Connected Educator – More Thinking. Some could argue that sending an email is sooooooo ‘yesterday’; however, one has to know audience and context to connect. As such, I chose email as the means to reach out and engage with colleagues. In saying that, I know there will be a day when communicating via means such as shared documents, blogs, wikis and sites with DBB colleagues will become the norm. There are already signs that some of these, as well as Twitter, are gaining some traction with some colleagues, but that’s for another post. Anyway, here are the two (and only) replies I received.

Hi All!

I can’t say I am really using Twitter for PL. I have used it a bit but mainly I find myself scrolling through, maybe picking up bits and pieces that are like an alert for me (e.g. a recommendation from Dylan Wiliam). I have tried to share some things but am wary of sending things through that are of limited value.

So, my self-evaluation: I’d give myself a 5/10. I’ve tried a few things and will keep investigating, but I haven’t been blown away yet (and I doubt if I have blown anyone else away with my own tweets).

More to learn! I’d appreciate a catch up in the next holidays (maybe in week 2).

Thanks,

C

 

Hi everyone

I must admit I  have become quite addicted to Twitter – something I never thought I would say!

Initially I couldn’t really see how it could be beneficial to our work but I’ve always been one to jump in when technology is involved so the only way was to put myself out there and make myself search for topics of interest.

In the past four weeks I have been involved in chats with educators from all over the world sharing ideas and teaching practices with different topics such as Professional Learning, Student engagement, Differentiation, Student choice and assessment.

The most useful part is not necessarily the comments that are made but the links to resources and other ideas that build up my resources folder. At first I couldn’t follow how quickly the tweets seemed to move  but I have used a platform recommended by an educator in Singapore called Tweetdeck. https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/ This allows you to set up columns to track the #hashtag  conversations or users you are following.

I see it as a great way of ensuring that I am keeping current with what teachers are discussing and sharing techniques and resources to ensure that I do not become limited in my role as an Ed Officer and focus solely on RE and Mission. We are always searching for innovative ways of teaching and implementing them into the RE Curriculum.

I had no idea of the potential of Twitter and am amazed and excited at the possibilities that could be used to connect students to the world. WYD is a perfect way for our pilgrims to begin the conversation leading up to the event in Krakow @wyd_en  #Krakow2016

Thanks Greg for introducing us to the brave new world! Looking forward to catching up in the holidays.

Best wishes,

R

The two responses partly represent a range of conversations I have had with colleagues since introducing them to the idea of Connected Educators and Twitter on Monday 13 April. 22 Educators attended the workshop and approximately another 8 followed up with me soon after the workshop. There are, of course, a number who have engaged little, if at all, with Twitter. Many of these people have commented about the lack of time or lack of value as ‘C’ expresses when they write, “I can’t really say that I am using Twitter for PL.” There are also those people who just ‘lurk’ and not contribute by posting or retweeting because they are, as ‘C’ writes, “wary of sending things through that are of limited value.”

It is pleasing to know ‘C’ and others “will keep investigating” even though they, “haven’t been blown away yet”. My question is, are ‘C’ and colleagues expecting too much too quickly? Maybe this is my fault because I am thinking two-part artefact spoke too much of the benefits and not enough about the time required to connect to the right people and organisations who provide the ‘benefits of connection’ as joyously described by ‘R’.

“R” positively comments on her experience. In doing so ‘R’ acknowledges that she, “couldn’t really see how it could be beneficial to our work” but worked at it. Soon ‘R’ became,involved in chats with educators from all over the world sharing ideas and teaching practices with different topics,”, utilised the expertise of someone in Signapore and found Twitter to be“a great way of ensuring that I am keeping current with what teachers” and is, excited at the possibilities that could be used to connect students to the world.” I look forward to ‘R’, and other colleagues including ‘C’, becoming educators who lead teachers and students to connect with others across the world.

Regards

Greg