INF530

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.

 

INF530 Scholarly Book Review: Invent to Learn

I really enjoyed reading Martinez and Stager’s Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom. It has a range of fantastic ideas and resource suggestions that I have been able to implement for my Information Technology class as soon as next week! Great to be able to put their ideas straight into practice. There are some contentions however, regarding the integration of making in the curriculum as it will not necessarily align with curriculum requirements. My final position has essentially been to recommend a blended approach, integrating making concepts and ideas where possible to enrich and diversify learning opportunities.

Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
Authors: Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager, Ph.D.
Publisher: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press
ISBN: Print 978-0-9891511-0-8 Kindle 978-0-9891511-1-5

Introduction
Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom is a passionate text written by Sylvia Libow Martinez and Gary S. Stager. It was published in 2013 by Constructing Modern Knowledge Press (CMK) in Torrance, California, with an e-book version also made available. A website, http://www.inventtolearn.com  (including a newsletter, blog, updated and extended resources and reviews) seeks to further inform, connect and inspire educators. The authors detail a persuasive, emphatic position in support of the “maker movement” in education.

Reviewers variously describe Invent to Learn as a “must-read” “roadmap” that provides a “background and a path” for educators wishing to implement making in schools (Martinez & Stager, 2013). Martinez and Stager embed their ideas in educational theory, centred on Seymour Papert and constructivism, with links to theorists and pedagogy including Piaget, Reggio Emilia and Montessori. The pedagogy and practice are not new, however a key factor affecting the current evolution of making as identified by Martinez and Stager, is the capacity to incorporate computers through programming and sharing online (2013). The authors insist that students be active rather than passive users of technology, thus incorporating essential digital age skills of creating and metacognition in maker learning opportunities (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).

It is easy to be caught up in the persuasively advocated concepts and engaging possibilities proposed by Martinez and Stager, however, criticism of their constructivist model must be considered in a holistic consideration of student learning. Additionally, our current educational systems require outcomes that limit the capacity to include Martinez and Stager’s ideas; however, continued evaluation of best educational practice must be undertaken and progression towards the recommendations of Martinez and Stager has considerable merit.

What is the Maker Movement?

A term initiated by O’Reilly Media’s Dale Dougherty, the “Maker Movement”, defines a burgeoning global community that continues to gain traction (Cavanaugh, Sessums, & Drexler, 2015). Characterised by a “do-it-yourself” philosophy, the movement seeks to combine and allow deeper engagement with science, engineering, art and design (Dougherty, 2012). Many communities have developed “maker spaces” (Capdevila, 2013), workshops where technologies are available for users to tinker, play and invent, fostering creativity and innovation. Martinez and Stager are key proponents of the model in an educational setting and their text, Invent to Learn is highly regarded in the maker community (Dougherty, 2012).

Maker vs Mandate

Harvard University’s Tony Wagner argues that schooling and innovation are currently at odds (Stewart, 2014); a view supported by Halverson and Sheridan who contend the greatest challenge to implementation of maker spaces in education is standardised curriculum and accountability (2014). Teachers attempting integration of making into their practice are challenged by mandated standards, preparation for standardised tests and to develop curriculum using outcomes that may not align with maker activities (Thompson, 2014).

Martinez and Stager propose some idealistic perspectives, recommending open-ended enquiry including freedom to investigate individual interests and asserting that in an iterative approach, student projects may never be “done” (2013). The authors argue that the best learning occurs without the pressure of formal assessment and that assessment should determine the direction for a learner’s next steps rather than a summation of their achievement. The current educational system requires end points – summative assessment, grading against outcomes and reporting limit the potential for integration of authentic making.

Standardisation is a powerful force in contemporary education; a system which Dougherty describes as “broken in many ways” (Dougherty, 2012). He acknowledges that change is challenging but like Martinez and Stager, his experience of successful learning through making has created an emphatic and passionate faith in the need for change, as a one-size-fits-all curriculum model maintains structure and accountability, but suppresses innovation.

Is Maker for Everyone?

Whilst proponents argue that everyone is a maker, Halverson and Sheridan contend that not everyone will have the initiative or drive to participate and contribute in a maker environment (2014). They also cite concerns that the maker movement maintains “white male nerd dominance” through the focus on robotics and electronics (2014). They refer to Leah Buechley’s 2013 findings that MAKE magazine, a publication recommended by Martinez and Stager, has reinforced this stereotype with the tendency to feature white boys and men on the magazine cover. Martinez and Stager acknowledge the necessity to open maker culture to all learners, instructing that school maker spaces be gender neutral (2013). Despite their overall support of maker culture, Halverson and Sheridan raise some important questions, noting that “learning is not guaranteed: nor is it regulated” (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014). They ask whether making will promote genuine achievement of STEM competencies; whether making should supplement or replace current curricula and whether the culture is just an in-vogue challenge in an already complicated system. For reluctant educators and administrators, these concerns may justify restricting making within the curriculum; however, Martinez and Stager refute all concerns, detailing an extensive guide to persuasive language and rebuttals, enabling educators to counter resistance from students, parents and administration (Martinez & Stager, 2013).

Making vs. Popular Practice

Whilst aligning with contemporary pedagogy supporting a student centred, interactive approach (Wright, Mannathoko, & Pasic, 2009) Martinez and Stager are critical of popular processes, including backward design (Wiggins, G. McTighe, J., 2005), instructional assessment tasks, scaffolding, as well as the use of checklists and rubrics in assessment. Whilst not at odds with the principles of valuable learning and student engagement purported by Martinez and Stager, backward design, developed as a model by Wiggins and McTighe (2005), establishes the need to make learning meaningful by determining desired outcomes and providing structure and direction. Amongst other documents, The Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Science paper advocates backward design; determining curriculum intent in order to plan assessment expectations. (2009, p. 13). Martinez and Stager oppose structured learning processes as predetermined outcomes and delineation encourage compliance and limit scope for unknown creative outcomes. However, equally passionate contemporary research refutes the validity of constructivism on which Martinez and Stager base their work (Kirschner, Sweller, & Clark, 2010).

The recent NSW Government report, What Works Best (2014) articulates evidence-based recommendations for explicit teaching practice, including informing students what they will learn, demonstration, explanation and sequencing of skill acquisition. In an article supported by research regarding human cognition, Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2010) argue passionately against constructivism. They define the difference between the methods of a trained researcher for whom existing knowledge provides direction and a novice learner who may flounder and even risk acquiring misconceptions in the process of discovery. The authors state that research resoundingly indicates that constructivism is not as effective as direct instructional guidance in its impact on learning. John Hattie’s effect sizes hold direct instruction at 0.59 and enquiry-based learning at 0.31 in their impact on student achievement (Hattie, 2012) which appears to support the position of Kirschner et. al. However, data to inform effect sizes is based on standardised testing (Hattie, 2012), the validity of which is questioned by Martinez, Stager and others who support constructivism.

These opposing parties are also student-centred in their approach, but they are at odds with Martinez and Stager’s “less us more them” (2013) mandate for an authentic maker culture. Martinez and Stager, whilst investing in learning through discovery, do recommend timely teacher intervention and redirection where necessary to enable forward progress, which may alleviate some adversary concerns. They also acknowledge the worth of instruction where little benefit can be gained from investigation.

Making Making Possible

Martinez stresses that teacher training is essential to progress maker culture (Thompson, 2014) and with Stager in Invent to Learn, recommends online communities which provide educators with access to expert advice (2013). Suggestions of teacher training, immersion and networking are widely supported in literature (Thompson, 2014; Crichton, 2014; Wright et. al, 2009).

In a paper reviewing their implementation of maker culture, Netherlands Christelijk College De Populier staff, van der Meij, Kloen and Hazelaar endorse Martinez and Stager’s recommendation to train teachers and connect with maker culture online and in the broader community. They report marked success, with the creation of a growing “tinker club” to explore and build capacity (van der Meij, Kloen, & Hazelaar, 2014). This school indicates their alignment with mandated curriculum requirements albeit with considerable creative planning, including the removal of divisions between STEM subject areas. Cavanaugh, Sessums and Drexler also note that educators have embraced opportunities to progress, noting growth in teach meets, teacher camps and communities of practice (2015). Dougherty reports developments to support teachers’ initiation of maker spaces, including teacher guides, specifications for equipment, draft guidelines, online collaboration, maker faires and open source content (2012).

Greg Thompson refers to Gary Stager’s position that authentic maker practice requires seamless integration into curriculum (2014). However, significant constraints exist for the complete immersion into maker culture and a viable alternative is the enrichment to learning provided by maker opportunities. The Australian National Science and Technology Centre offer “Maker Projects” (2015) providing the experience of maker activities outside of the regular school context and curriculum. In another scaffolded approach, Dr Douglas Fisher proposes “gradual release of responsibility’ to support students who lack readiness for the increased responsibility and initiative required for making (2008). Fisher recommends teachers start a learning sequence with focused lessons, guided instruction and collaborative learning before independent work. Although Martinez and Stager recommend against partial implementation and field trip engagement with maker culture in schools, the integration of maker opportunities may provide enrichment and variety in a holistic consideration of learning.

Despite the limitations that existing curriculum imposes on inventing to learn, there is much that may be implemented in a move towards this valuable culture. As Martinez and Stager recommend, open-ended investigative task prompts will illicit more creative outcomes than directed prompts (2013). Martinez and Stager argue that making is about process rather than product (2013); whilst this may mean that some measurable, practical skills are not evident from making (Stewart, 2014), creativity and iteration in the process may be both measurable and valuable for innovative learning. The Australian Curriculum Technologies content descriptions include outcomes that value design thinking, innovation, creativity, enterprise and iteration (2015), giving hope that our standardised documents may evolve in support of innovative learning opportunities. Using language in outcomes that allows scope to explore unknowns is a progressive step towards the ideas espoused by Martinez and Stager.

Conclusion

Martinez and Stager have produced a persuasive instructional manual of ideas, resources and methods for facilitating maker culture in schools, leaving little doubt of the engagement value of the practice. The recommendations envision a learning environment that is hands-on, real-world, cross-discipline and immersive. Whilst they acknowledge the logistical challenges inherent in most educational settings, the authors contend that working through and around constraints is a must. Martinez and Stager convincingly counter arguments from adversaries, outlining a clear and dedicated perspective in favour of wholesale integration of the maker movement in education (2013).

Although research opposing constructivism significantly undermines the worth of Martinez and Stager’s position, Invent to Learn promotes the view that many learners are more engaged by doing and discovering than direction and structure; issuing a challenge to existing curriculum constructs. Knowledge gain may result from direct instruction but what of innovation? Allowance for creativity is key to the Martinez and Stager perspective. A balanced provision of instruction and guidance with opportunities to create seems a logical progression in order to generate learning without dissolving creativity.

Invent to Learn and the maker movement prompt consideration of what matters in a learning environment (Halverson & Sheridan, 2014), Although the constraints are real and present roadblocks to the implementation of this engaging learning model, it might realistically be hoped that Invent to Learn and the maker movement will challenge and shake up existing paradigms of teaching and learning and assist the evolution of authentic, engaging and worthwhile learning opportunities.

References

Anderson, L., & Krathwohl, D. (. (2001). A taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives.

Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2015). Design and Technologies. Retrieved from Australian Curriculum: http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/design-and-technologies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1

BSSS Policy and Procedures Manual. (2015). Retrieved from ACT Board of Senior Secondary Studies: http://www.bsss.act.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/313777/PandPManual_2015_Version_11.pdf

Capdevila, I. (2013, June 13). Typologies of Localized Spaces of Collaborative Innovation. Retrieved from Social Science Research Network (SSRN): http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2414402

Cavanaugh, C., Sessums, C., & Drexler, W. (2015, February). A Call to Action for Research in Digital Learning: Learning without Limits of Time, Place, Path, Pace…or Evidence. Journal of Online Learning Research, 1(1).

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2014). What works best: Evidence-based practices to help improve NSW student performance. NSW Education and Communities: Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. Retrieved from http://www.cese.nsw.gov.au/publications-filter/what-works-best-evidence-based-practices-to-help-improve-nsw-student-performance

Crichton, S. (2014). Leapfrogging Pedagogy: A Design Approach to Making Change in Challenging Contexts. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 12 (1). Retrieved from Innovative Learning Centre: http://innovativelearningcentre.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Leapfrogging-Pedagogy.pdf

Dougherty, D. (2012, April 4). Makerspaces in Education and DARPA. Retrieved from Conceptlab: http://www.conceptlab.com/criticalmaking/PDFs/CriticalMaking2012Hertz-Make-pp11to16-Dougherty-MakerspacesInEducationAndDARPA.pdf

Ed tech and the maker movement. (2013). Retrieved from US Innovation: https://www.usinnovation.org/sites/default/files/ASTRA-EdTech-maker-movement.pdf

Fisher, D. (2008). Effective Use of the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model. Retrieved from https://www.mheonline.com/_treasures/pdf/douglas_fisher.pdf

Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing (pp. 75-409). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Halverson, E., & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1642662200?accountid=10344

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing the Impact on Learning. New York: Routledge.

Heer, R. (2015). A model of learning objectives–based on a taxonomy for learning, teaching, and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Retrieved from Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching Iowa State University: http://www.celt.iastate.edu/teaching-resources/effective-practice/revised-blooms-taxonomy/

Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2010). Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41(2), 75-86. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep4102_1

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. S. (2013). Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Torrance, California: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Martin-Kniep, G., & Picone-Zocchia, J. (2009). Changing the Way You Teach – Improving the Way Students Learn. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

National Science and Technology Centre: Questacon. (2015). Questacon Maker Projects. Retrieved from https://www.questacon.edu.au/outreach/programmes/questacon-maker-project/school-workshops

Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Science. (2009). Retrieved from Australian Curriculum and Reporting Authority (ACARA): http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/australian_curriculum_-_science.pdf

Stewart, L. (2014, September 19). Maker Movement Reinvents Education; Lectures are so old school; the Maker Movement is reinventing education. Newsweek, 163(11). Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA382185596&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=10e9319a36f04a543f569e0419664d8d

The official community of Maker Faire. (2014). Retrieved from MakerSpace: http://makerspace.com/

Thompson, G. (2014). The maker movement connects to the classroom: a hands-on approach to STEM engages students, but how does project-based learning connect with standardized testing? T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education), 41(4), 9.

van der Meij, A., Kloen, P.-I., & Hazelaar, M. (2014). Maker Education: The experience of De Populier in the Netherlands. Retrieved from http://plakkenenknippen.nl/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/fablearn2014.pdf

Wiggins, G. McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design, expanded 2nd edition. ASCD.

Wright, C., Mannathoko, C., & Pasic, M. (2009). Unicef Child Friendly Schools Manual . Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/Child_Friendly_Schools_Manual_EN_040809.pdf

 

INF530 Blog Post 2 – Creating Connections and Opportunities for Shared Learning

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Creative commons licensed by Flickr. Shared by Heather.

 

In a distracted moment I read a recent TES magazine article, about teacher burnout. The article and the comments that follow support the notion that teachers are part of a dynamic career, potentially making a significant impact; but with a downside that the more we care about making this impact, the more we need to work. Individualised learning, formative assessment and information overload including the need to constantly learn as our environment changes can really take a toll. Bawden and Robinson refer to the paralysing effect of TMI, leading to a “do what you did last time” response; which in an educational context may see us take backward steps into chalk-and-talk. My desire to improve is why I am here, late at night after a seriously chaotic and challenging day in a school, stretching my brain in the hope that I might improve my practice. It is through this tired and mildly pessimistic lens that I have investigated the ideas of connected learning for educators as well as students.

The 2001 United States education initiative “No child left behind” is a noble ambition (standardised processes aside). This notion is reiterated in education across the world with educators focusing on individualised learning and the fact that all students can and should be given appropriate opportunities to learn. However, as Hargreaves articulates, the US rhetoric also requires that no teacher is left behind either and this requires us to learn continually.

I find that I regularly return to a frustration around teacher professional learning (PL). Organised PL to support pedagogical progression often misses the mark, is poorly timed and/or prohibitively expensive; however, the evidence around me echoes Louise Starkey’s argument – teachers need to believe and see the worth in revised practice, including connected models of learning, to deem the effort to change worthwhile. This has led me to question how a change in pedagogy to support connected learning can be encouraged and how this can be done without seeming like just another new and probably passing initiative. My late night idea is to do exactly what we as CSU students are doing: What better way could there be to learn about connected learning than to experience it in practice?

Sheryl Nussbaun-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall note that technology easily enables connection and collaboration. However, “most important are the relationship that learning technologies make possible” (2011. P.10). The authors advocate connected learning for educators as a viable means to ease the challenge of learning. Nussbaum’s Twitter research found a desire amongst educators that echoes the learning desires of many contemporary students – immersive, anywhere/anytime, personalised and collaborative are some recurrent themes (2011, p.3).

Humans are social creatures and I would argue that much of our informal learning arises from social connections; whether it is a staffroom conversation about a strategy that works or an Edutopia post that we find and share. Learning through connection and collaboration is both more available than ever before and highly likely to enable deep learning and change practice. Forging partnerships with business and industry, developing connections with others to evaluate learning, teaching a concept to a peer or engaging with virtual learning communities online are all socially stimulating possibilities that will enhance learning for both teachers and students.

Such possibilities inevitably require experimentation and significant planning, but once attempted can pave the way deeper, more relevant learning experiences. Surely where people are engaged with learning, our energy can be reinvigorated to evaluate, refine and continue the evolution of our practice. The more we can share content, resources and ideas, build professional learning communities, team-teach and connect with others to evaluate our success the less likely the incidence of burnout and overload.

 

References

Bawden, D, & Robinson, L. (2012). Information society. In Introduction to information science (pp. 231-249). London : Facet.

Brown, J.S. (2000) Growing Up: Digital: How the Web Changes Work, Education, and the Ways People Learn, Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32:2, 11-20, DOI: 10.1080/00091380009601719

Digital Education Advisory Group. (2013, May 31). Beyond the classroom: a new digital education for young Australians in the 21st century. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/other/deag_final_report.pdf

Edutopia: What works in education. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org

Hargreaves, A. (2003). Beyond standardization: professional learning communities or performance-training sects? In Teaching in the knowledge society: education in the age of insecurity (pp. 160-188). New York: Teachers College Press.

Nussbaum-Beach, S. and L. R. Hall (2011). The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age, Solution Tree Press.

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrixTechnology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

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

 

Blog Post One

As I finish most of the reading for Module One and consider ideas about my own position in the digital cosmos, I am caught up in thinking further about the debate over Prensky’s concepts. I had not really given them much critical thought until starting MEKNDI; previously assuming that there was considerable merit to the terms in light of each generation’s exposure to technology.

Following further examination, my main concern about Prensky’s digital natives/immigrants concept is that it creates assumptions about generations of people based on their age. The digital literacy of young people in schools today is so vastly varied and it must not be assumed that they are all equally skilled/knowledgeable. Such assumptions can also lead us to ideas about digital literacy that are at odds with Paul Gilster’s original definition of the term. Just because many young people are skilled users of their devices does not mean they are able to make the connections and interrelate using technology to demonstrate understanding. I think this alignment with understanding as the key indicator for successful use of technology relates to Prensky’s reconsidered “digital wisdom” concept referred to by DaCosta, Kinsell and Nasah .

The flipside of my concern is that for many of my colleagues in the “immigrant” generations, the  labeling provides them with a debilitating reason to give up. How often do we hear or even say something to the effect of “how can I possibly keep  up” with young people who are using technology all of the time. At this point of overwhelming realisation of their own limitations, many time-pressured teachers may give up. It can seem very consuming to change practice and invest in new skills, but essentially I do not see that there is a choice. If we want to be teachers of the next generation then we must change what we do, see ourselves as life-long learners and invest in processes that will enable us to get on with valuable teaching and learning for the current generation.

DaCosta et. al refer to Prensky’s idea that digital immigrants  “see learning as a task, which involves effort and work”. However, I would argue that whilst younger generations may relate more to learning through play, that these characteristics are important for all learners and also that game play is most certainly a platform that requires effort and work. However,  game play also involves failure and reattempt and aligning these ideas in an educational context is what I think is truly new. One of my favourite theorists, Carol Dweck, writes about the concept of a growth mindset and the value of failure. This value, which in assessment terms can be known as formative rather than summative, is something that I think has great merit as a feature of contemporary education. Despite the huge amount of extra marking, I am currently working through the resubmits of a class of design submissions. The vast improvements since the first submission tell me that this extra work is of great value as my students have demonstrated real learning. Not just failure and a D grade and a final report to indicate where they went wrong.

Personally I have very mixed feelings about my capacity as a teacher and learner in our digital world, and my summation of where I am at changes with the experiences of the day. In a new school, suddenly immersed in an unfamiliar mac world, I have had to learn an immense amount to stay afloat over the last six weeks in my workplace. In this time I have frequently felt like a digital immigrant! I am hoping that INF530 will progress my skills, knowledge and consequently my confidence. As reflected in the research conducted by Downes and Bishop, I am hoping that this investment to develop my own skills, knowledge and awareness will ultimately make me a better teacher and leader.

 

References

Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

DaCosta, B., Kinsell, C., & Nasah, A. (2013). Millennials are digital natives?: An investigation into digital propensity and age. In I. Association (Ed.), Digital literacy: concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 103-119). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-1852-7.ch006

Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6–15.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. Constable and Robertson. London

Ito M, Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito on Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/xuV7zcXigAI

 

INF530 Beginnings

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Image source: http://cdn.static-economist.com/sites/default/files/images/print-edition/20131207_WBD001_0.jpg

 

Hello kind readers,

I am both excited and terrified at the idea of starting this unit and as I am already a week behind, the second emotion is starting to take over!

I am an Art and Design teacher in the Catholic secondary system in Canberra. I have spent the past 5 years working as a coordinator in a girls’ school, teaching only Art/Design and working as Year Coordinator with the Year 12s of 2014. Their completion of school meant it was a good time to look for a new job and a challenge and this I have most certainly found.

I started MEKNDI in July last year, looking for a push to extend myself and a structure to build my skills in the use of classroom technology and educational innovation. It has been a whirlwind so far and I have learnt a lot. Commencing this qualification helped me to gain my new role, teaching in a catholic college in its third year of operation. It is a school seeking to innovate, where leadership value growth mindset in all capacities and students spend 2 days each week engaged in self directed learning.

In my role as a coordinator I am looking after a house group, the arts and technology subjects, I have a mentor class and I am teaching 4 different subjects – Art, IT, English and Religion. I also have other big picture responsibilities that I will find my way around as the year progresses.

It is a very exciting place to be and very relevant to my study in this Masters. I have new perspectives to compare with my old ones, contemporary spaces to teach in and new technologies to explore. At the moment however, it is feeling very overwhelming, particularly when I add in my study and family responsibilities :/ I am hoping to find my way through these challenges, ride the wave rather than drowning in it and continue on the life-long learning pathway.

OK … time to start immersing in INF530 rather than skimming the surface (very thankful for the ACT holiday tomorrow!).

 

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