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‘#inf537’ Category

  1. It’s only the beginning…

    October 12, 2017 by meghastie

    What can learning look like if we take always all the assumptions, if we broke free of the obsession with  high-stakes testing and actually focussed on learning to learn? A question that has driven me for many years, and that has led me through my Masters. I am keen to break free of the neo-rationalist paradigm on “preparing for the world of work” and ask how can I be involved in helping foster kinder, passionate, engaged and more creative young people? How can I be that myself? I have been reminded throughout this course that being a teacher means being a learner, means being open, willing to participate. This is the nature of digital scholarship (Weller 2011). It requires a shift in thinking about learning – it takes time, it needs prioritising, it means being willing to be vulnerable and be seen to make mistakes.

    The Digital Futures Colloquium has reconnected me to education research and the broader community. The colloquia have been an essential time to explore theory located in practice.  Keith Dixon asked my favourite question- what is learning and why don’t we really know? His comments on spending time unpacking this concept as a learning community resonated, as did his provocation regarding misalignment between our practices and beliefs. This complex interplay between beliefs and practices is what I returned to in my final case study, situated in the context of ICT integration in my school.

    I also was challenged by both Hourahaine’s exciting initiative, reconnecting me to the ideas engaged in during INF536, and the groundbreaking work of GELP (2015), Leadbeater (2012 ),  Mitra (2012) and Hannon (et al 2014). Hearing about one school’s journey towards transformation through Madelaine’s discussion of her school in the peer colloquia was both exciting and daunting. I have been continually reminded of the elephant-eating metaphor – one bite at a time.

     

     

    The case study was a  wonderful and frightening opportunity to test it all out and put it into practice. Flexibility and adaptability became the catchcry! My initial case study focus was on the online NAPLAN readiness tests, but was crushed by the reality of context – my careful timetable was destroyed by a combination of the worst flu season to hit, external school events that impacted the calendar and staffing. Fortunately I was able to work one aspect of the study – a preexisitng survey on staff perceptions and behaviours on ICT integration into a longitudinal study, supported by other data sources. This was my initial area of interest, so the “accident of timing played into my hands and I am now left with some great directions ahead for my staff. Ultimately my final research focus has more direct impact and a greater capacity for implementing change than my original.

    I have already begun my “post-study” reading list – all the interesting ideas that I came across not quite related to the current assignment or task, but looking interesting! I’m keen to follow up assessment in the digital world especially the work of ATC21S (Melbourne University’s Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project) and to foster my Fullan fandom through rereading his works focusing on “deeper learning”  (Fullan 1992, 2011, 2013, Fullan, hill and Crevola 2011, Fullan and Langworthy 2014). I’m keen to learn more about games in education – I didn’t do this elective and everyone’s comments makes me regret it!!

    from New Pedagogies for Deep Learning 2014

     

    What does it mean to be open, connected and participatory, especially once the enforced discipline of the semester is gone? I have loved the challenge of the Gutenberg Parenthesis – ultimately we are social beings, and my challenge is to take the perceptions and beliefs, and to live them. The connection between philosophy and learning grows tighter the more I learn. For me, the big picture of the future has been reawakened, and the moral imperative to connect through learning has been reignited

     

     

    References

    Fullan, Michael (1992) Successful School Improvement: The Implementation Perspective and Beyond, Milton Keynes: Open University Press

    Fullan, Michael (2011) Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform, Centre for Strategic Education Seminar Series Paper No. 204, May 2011, accessed http://edsource.org/wp-content/uploads/Fullan-Wrong-Drivers1.pdf

    Fullan, Michael (2013) Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy and change knowledge, Toronto: Pearson,

    Fullan, Michael, Hill, Peter & Crévola, Carmel (2011) Breakthrough, Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Education,

    Fullan, M., & Langworthy, M. (2014). A rich seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. London, UK: Pearson.

    The Global Education Leaders’ Program Innovation unit (2013) Redesigning education:Shaping learning systems around the globe, Booktrope editions[Kindle Digital Version] from http://www.amazon.com.au

    Hannon, Valerie, Gillinson Sarah, Shanksm Leonie and Reza (2012) , Learning a Living: Radical Innovation in Education for Work , London: Bloomsbury Academic

    Leadbeater, C. (2012). Innovation in Education: Lessons from Pioneers around the World. WISE.

    Mitra, Sugata (2012) Beyond the Hole in the Wall: Discover the Power of Self-Organized Learning (Kindle Single) (TED Books) Kindle Edition, www.amazon.com.au

    Thomas, Douglas, and Seely Brown, John (2011) A new culture of learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change [Lexington, Ky. : CreateSpace],

    Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black.

    Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from https://scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/handle/1794/11736

     


  2. Jumping on the learning train

    July 23, 2017 by meghastie

    Back on the rollercoaster of the Masters! I’m both excited that this is my final module, and also recognising that I will miss the  intense interaction with ideas, research and people.

    Our first colloquium was led by Bruce Dixon, and provided an opportunity to go back to the very beginning and ask some of the big questions around learning in a digital age.

     

    A crucial note that the discussion opened with was the elephant in the room when we talk about the interaction between technology and education – if we thought digital / technology was going to change education we were mistaken. Despite the utopic vision presented by many experts and academics, the relationship between learning and technology is problematic, often affected by issues around access, equity and training. Despite the billions that have been spent by governments around the world, the impact of technology on learning is patchy, uneven and poorly understood. Despite the fact that in the western world our children’s lives are shaped by technology, we are not really sure of exactly what the impact is, whether it has really changed their brains (or not), and what the long-term effects of it are.

    We just don’t know.

    But we do know that things are different.

    Equally, if we are to engage in a discussion of the impact of technology on learning, we need to go back to an even more fundamental question, what is learning, and what does it look like.

     

    What do we mean by “learning”?

    How do students learn?

     

    It’s a little like jumping on a train, without knowing your destination. 

    This seemingly simple question is one that most schools don’t really engage with, meaning that the way they then engage with technology is consequently poorly thought-through. If we don’t tackle the question of what learning is, then we can’t effectively employ technology to enhance it. Just because we’re using technology,  doesn’t mean the learning is transformational or powerful.

    So the next question should be –

    How can technology enable more powerful learning?

    “Our goal must be to find ways in which children can use technology as a constructive medium to do things that they could not do before; to do things at a level of complexity that was not previously accessible to children” Prof Seymour Paper

    What other skills do students need to flourish?

    One thing that we do seem to be increasingly sure of is that the “soft” skills are the ones that schools should be focussing on, the skills of learning how to learn, to be able to ask questions, and know how to go about finding answers, to do that collaboratively, to be able to communicate. Schools were traditionally set up to teach hard skills, discrete skill sets for the future world of work they were heading into, but many of those skills are now irrelevant, and it is the capacity to be flexible and adaptable that students need to thrive.

    Students need to be given greater ownership of their learning – but let’s also be real and  acknowledge they need to be re-engaged, to care and to be taught how to direct their own learning. We hear in the media that students are increasingly disengaged, particularly boys. Perhaps the reason so many students are not engaged is for that reason – they are powerless, they cannot connect what they are learning at school, with their lives or their future.

     

    Much of this has to do with moving out of the industrial mode of schools that creates a dichotomy between teachers as powerful and students as passive. We need to reshape our thinking to see that everyone in the school is a learner, that it is a community of learners.

    Our current schooling structures in Australia are test and results-driven and are not conducive to such discussions, but I would contend that good learning can occur alongside this system. That the two are not mutually exclusive, but that it takes a deliberate and concerted effort to shift a school’s focus on the learning that lasts beyond the NAPLAN and ATAR reporting.

    Some final questions to think through, to keep coming back to, that I will keep asking not only throughout this final module, but that will shape my professional journey in education are –


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