Month: May 2015

INF530 Critical Reflection

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In many ways, the timing for my INF530 study has not been optimal. The 2015 teaching year commenced with two of my children hospitalised with unrelated, life-threatening illnesses. This combined with a diverse new job as a general coordinator in a new school, teaching outside of my trained subject areas (see INF530 Beginnings) has been the catalyst for five months of considerable life chaos. Therefore my capacity to fully engage in the participatory aspects of the unit has been compromised. However, on review, my knowledge has developed considerably. I previously had a peripheral awareness of many INF530 concepts, although I had not had reason to investigate for understanding.  It is unlikely I would have found the space to investigate the concepts underpinning INF530 without driving myself to complete this unit.

Alongside the study learning curve, teaching IT this semester has brought home to me the diversity in my students’ technology skills and knowledge. Whilst they have an iPad in hand every lesson, most are not ‘digital natives’ (Prensky, 2001), and tend to engage passively with technology rather than a deeper interaction (Hall, 2012). My perception of this developed as I started INF530, and inspired me to differentiate my curriculum more effectively to meet my various learners’ needs.

Parcipatory activities in both real life and online are critical for contemporary learners (Conole, 2012), but also critical for educators as discussed in my earlier blog post. Although finding opportunity to fully interact with the INF530 community has been challenging, I have been inspired to seek communities of practice and connections with others in my local context as well as the broader online educational community. I have plans to engage with a local community of practice for Art educators and have made arrangements with another local high school to engage in a series of peer-teaching excursions for my IT class. Rapidly advancing technology has created the reason we need to evolve, why not use it to enable the transition? (Nussbaum-Beach and Hall, 2011). Twitter is my network of choice and, outside of our study resources, most information I now find to inform my thinking about education comes from my carefully selected, regularly pruned “Twitterverse“.

The digital world has the propensity to overwhelm busy educators if we do not develop the skills to make sense of and engage with it. I intend to protect myself against the outcome of two articles that have recently influenced my thinking. I’m exhausted – and my family pay the price (TES, 2015) resonates loudly with both my experience and that of many colleagues and Michael Godsey’s The deconstruction of the k-12 teacher challenged my thinking about the future of my chosen career. Our children deserve a relevant and inspiring education; but for it to be so, educators must take on the life-long learning mantra. My engagement with Twitter and my evolving interaction with other online information management tools discovered through INF530 (eg Feedly, cogdog, Zotero, Pocket) have provided me with systems to limit the information overload. Nadine Bailey’s blog post was also very helpful.

My investigation of Martinez and Stager’s Invent to Learn for my scholarly book review, broadened my knowledge of constructivism at its collaborative, connected best through maker culture. This study inspired me to investigate the importance of integrating curriculum to foster creativity for my digital essay. Connected, collaborative and participatory engagement helps to drive creativity and innovation and I now feel more confidently equipped to design improved creative learning opportunities into my own school context, with the research base to drive this direction. In a curriculum planning session this week, my staff team will investigate how we might integrate curriculum in the Arts and Technologies. Discussions with team members have already led to exciting possibilities.

Technology is inevitably going to continue the whirlwind of change. Despite my constraints, INF530 has opened my mind to new concepts and provided me with networks and methods to manage the pervasion of information. I am hopeful that this venture into study will enable me to continue my life-long learning journey and equip me to confidently offer both valuable learning experiences for my students and improved leadership of my colleagues.

 

Image attribution: flickr photo by Toban B. http://flickr.com/photos/tobanblack/3544188046 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

References

Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. In G. ConoleDesigning for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer. Available as ebook from CSU library.

Hall, T. (2012). Digital renaissance: The creative potential of narrative technology in education. Creative education, 3(1), 96-100. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/ce.2012.31016

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. S. (2013). Invent to learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, California: Constructing modern knowledge press.

Nussbaum-Beach, S. and L. R. Hall (2011). The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age. Solution tree press.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants. In On the horizon, 9(5). MCB University Press.

Times educational supplement magazine UK. I’m exhausted – and my family pay the price. (2015, March 27). Retrieved from TES UK: https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=11006786

 

The emergent IT teacher

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flickr photo by schopie1 http://flickr.com/photos/schopie1/2508439763 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

Countless times so far this year, it has been apparent to me how much I have to learn myself in order for this art and design teacher to become an adequate IT teacher. This is a role I have found myself in as a teacher in a new school where we are all jacks-of-all-trades, paddling furiously to keep heads above water!

Working within the constraints of iPads only, has meant that my unit has been severely constricted and the semester has been an ongoing battle to find relevant apps and online learning platforms. Whilst there have been some serious ups and downs in this regard, hampered by my low knowledge, extensive other demands on my time (including study, family and the multitude of other aspects of my job) and ever-present physical and mental exhaustion, I am now starting to see there have been some awesome moments of success.

Although the factors limiting my time for developing my unit have also prevented me from engaging in my study to the extent I had hoped, INF530 has helped enormously to develop my IT unit as well as the strategic direction for the faculties I am in charge of (Arts and Technologies). Considering authentic tasks combined with fortuitous timing gave my students the opportunity to make recommendations to the company about to redesign the school website. Considering ideas about the internet of things, digital literacy and digital citizenship has inspired inquiry lessons where students have engaged in dialogic and dialectic processes to develop their understanding. Reading Invent to Learn for my Literature Review, inspired me to initiate tasks with a range of choices, allowing students to direct and control their own learning and through which they have created and will share their final products. We have asked many “what if” and “how might we” questions, collaborated to share knowledge and skills, extended projects into areas of interest and will in a few weeks participate in a 3D design maker workshop. As I write my Digital Essay, where I am investigating the significance of creativity and the potential benefits of integrating subject disciplines, I am more confidently able to find and implement opportunities for my students to bring their knowledge of other subjects into their study of technology. I have created a unit that I will no doubt change a lot when I repeat it next semester but it has been an incredible learning journey to combine my initiation into teaching IT with my study of INF530.

Digital Essay

I am home from work today with headaches and eye strain, so should probably not be in front of yet another screen; however I am very conscious of my super slow formulation of a topic for my digital essay. I am planning to use Storify and examine the following ideas (although they might change as I read more):

The Arts introduction for the Australian Curriculum makes clear that an integrated approach to arts education has great value in providing innovative opportunities for creative engagement. Hybrid artforms, combining two or more of the traditional arts disciplines are recommended. Implementing this recommendation can be a significant challenge in the school context where subjects have discreet boundaries, with individual curriculum documents and procedures, however fostering a multidisciplinary approach to the arts, including technology and design is a valid and important way of resolving the challenge identified by Craft, that rigidity in curriculum stifles creativity (2003 p.123).
My essay will consider:
  • Approaches to pedagogy that will foster creativity and transliteracy for a digital future
  • Hybrid approaches to the Arts and Technologies that limit constraints on creativity in a digital environment
  • The important role of the teacher in fostering creative confidence in a digital context.

 

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