3544188046_af94397068

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