Reflective Blog Task 2: Connected Learning and Digital Literacy

As an educator my goal is to actively engage students (and teachers) in valuable learning at school and out in the wider world. There has been a consistent theme across the readings and information shared across module 1 and 2 of a focus on learning; not teaching, being able to critically interact with knowledge and communities.  Learning communities are at their best when connections and relationships are being created. We all need effective digital literacy skills to be effective participators in these communities.

Each of the five trends identified in the 2013 Horizon Report; education paradigms shifting towards online collaborative learning models, the effect of social media on our communication behaviours, openness of content and information sharing, mobile devices and the abundance of resources and relationships as challenges for us teachers support and emphasise the importance of connected learning and digital literacy.

The future work skills (2020) identified by The Institute for the Future also supports these trends. They saw global connectivity and new (social) media are drivers that are changing the skills we need to be productive contributors. The institute named skills for the future work force like social intelligence; new-media literacy, transdisciplinarity, cognitive load management and virtual collaboration, all closely align with the skills needed for connected learning and digital literacy.

The important point for educators like me to identify and describe for others is ‘what does an education and learning model look like that allows for the development of a connected network of life-long learners who are digitally literate?’

Downes (2012) describes a successful network of learners as one that can learn, adapt, and avoid stagnation or network ‘death’.  He explains that the network must contain four elements: autonomy, diversity, openness and connectivity (or interactivity).Downes based his work on Siemens (2004) theory of Connectivism which was an integration of the principles of (non- linear) chaos, networks, and the complexity of relationships between learners and knowledge. Although this Siemen’s theory of Connectivism is now ten years old it still rings true in this age of global connectedness.
Siemens (2013) has gone on to describe in a more recent interview, “Changing Schools, Changing Knowledge” that learners’ ability to understand relationships between aspects of knowledge not recalling facts is more important. Interacting and discourse are what help learning and connections happen. That our students’ need to practise being critical and creative to survive in today and tomorrow’s digital world.
The digital literacy concept links into this important aspect of critical literacy. Critical Literacy is part of digital literacy as the “ability of individuals to appropriately use digital tools and facilities to identify, access, manage, integrate, evaluate, analyse and synthesise digital resources, construct new knowledge , create media expressions, and communicate with others…in order to enable constructive social action and to reflect on the process.” (Martin 2006b as cited by Bawden, 2008)
As an educator I then need to break down the skills of digital literacy and plan for learning experiences and environments where students can develop the skills.
Downes (2012) stated that “The most important function of a person in a community is no longer conformity, but rather, creativity and expression.” Let us not forget though the importance of developed digital literacy skills for this person and the community they can participate and thrive in. I look forward to exploring this concept of creativity even further as I begin my scholarly review of Ken Robinson’s (2011) “Out of Our Minds – Learning to be creative”.

 

Attiributions:

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 fromhttp://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

Davies, A. F. (2011). Future Work Skills 2020. Phoenix: University of Phoenix Research Institute.

Downes, S. (2012). Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. Creative Commons License.

Johnson, L. A. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 K-12 Edition. Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Robinson, K. (2011). Out of Our Minds – Learning to be creative. 2nd ed. Capstone. UK.

Siemens, G. (2004, December 12). Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved March 31st, 2014, from elearnspace: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2013, September 26th). George Siemens: Changing Schools, Changing Knowledge. Retrieved March 31st, 2014, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JR_ziHA_8LY&feature=youtu.be

Finding Treasure in ‘Trove’

The most common reason I have use Trove for in my work is when I have an uncommon resource to catalogue that My aide can find on SCIS or any of our other references for cataloging.

The width of open content on this site is fantastic. Even though catalogue  records are protected under copyright, one can obtain an indication of an appropriate Dewey number, subjects and new subjects that are evolving. Trove is my first point of contact for adding metadata to our school library catalogue.

I haven’t used the other tools like the newspapers, but I now know about them and will share this information with others. There are also so many more opportunities to contribute. Talk about a collective knowledge network.

A New Culture of Learning in a World of Constant Change

Over the last two to three  the pace of change in digital environments has been astonishing, exciting and a little bit frightful. It is

What I am seeing in my own educational work environment is an organisation trying to catch up with what young people are doing outside of school hours. Most teachers are trying to maintain a stable infrastructure that they are comfortable within a technological world that is constantly creating and responding to the changing ways that people are using digital platforms (particularly Social Media).

There are now finally conversations now in my workplace about loosening the reigns and following the young people’s lead in how they learn form each other. For example using mainstream social media instead of our own LMS and allowing students to use multiple devices (not just their school-issued laptops).

I observe daily at work forty or more students communicating in groups online whilst they play computer games. I hear them giving tips, organising network groups and sharing ideas. I have set up working spaces in the Library which naturally lead to students set up informal tutorials when they meet up in the morning before a test. These two observations remind me of the two case studies; ‘Sam’s Story’ and ‘Teaching in a Galaxy Far, Far Away’ in Thomas and Brown’s (2011) article.

What I am not seeing yet is all teachers collaborating and connecting online. I want to see teachers publishing, sharing ideas and resources, being creative, bouncing ideas off each other; connecting and taking advantage of the knowledge networks out there to be created. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to job-share at least eight different times over my teaching career and have always appreciated having a like-minded work partner to discuss ideas with.

Attribution

Thomas D., & Brown, J.S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In a new culture of learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, Ky. : CreateSpace

 

 

Is Wikipedia really that Wicked?

For as long as I have been aware of Wikipedia, I have been telling students not to use it as a reference, mainly because as researchers we do not know who has written the information. I have generally told students to use the references at the bottom of the page. Sometimes if it is a new concept I will say, read the Wikipedia definition to understand the concept and then find a better reference.

After reading the information in the chapter “New Models of Information Production” (Saulles,2012) about the comparison between Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica’s science-based entries which concluded that there was little to choose from between them in terms of accuracy, my opinion of Wikipedia is not so clear cut. There is still a lot of merit in finding the original source with a named author. Maybe  though Wikipedia is not as bad as I am making it out to be, as Berinstein(2006) said ...the kid’s alright and so is the old man (Britannica.)

Attributions:

Berinstein, P. (2006, March). Wikipedia and Brittanica ( The kid’s alright and so is the old man). Retrieved Marc 19, 2014, from Information Today, Inc.: http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/mar06/berinstein.shtml

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

New Models of Information Production

It has become so easy for all to replicate and share information because of the ever increasing tools on the internet designed to let you  create content quickly and easy.

There are also many “experts”, particularly in the blogging arena to share their great tips.  Posts like ‘101 ideas that will make your blog HOT” really help blogging seem like something everyone can do.

The economics of the paper versus digital argument is interesting. I think people will still pay sometimes for quality and also for the feeling of accessing information and files legally when needed. I have experienced many surprised reactions from students when they are told that electronic books aren’t usually free and also when explaining that there isn’t an endless amount of digital books in our Digital Library because we actually have to buy each title seperately.

I agree that there is room for both free and paid content on the net. For the benefit of quality control we need a bit of both.

Attribution

Wallager, M. (November, 2013). 101 Blog Post ideas that will make your blog hot. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from Start Blogging Online: http://startbloggingonline.com/101-blog-post-ideas-that-make-your-blog-hot/

The Next Step …. Reflective Blog Task 1

It’s been over three years now since I graduated with my Masters in Teacher-Librarianship. About eighteen months ago I started asking myself and other like-minded people “What’s next for a teacher-librarian like me? “  The next step, I’ve decided  is to lead a community of learners into the digital world, enjoying opportunities to collaborate, create, find, organise and produce informative texts using new media and particularly (social media). It is my aim during this new course, a Masters of Education in Digital Innovation and Knowledge Networks to continue my learning and professional journey as a teacher-librarian, developing knowledge and skills about digital contexts and cultures.

In a presentation titled “Rethinking the Role of a teacher-librarian in a post literate society” Mark-Shane Scale from the ISAL described three new roles that teacher-librarians should take on

“Role One: Teach Collaboration in writing and creating information…

Role Two: Locating and gathering current awareness information…

Role Three: Teaching students how to summarise and make notes, social bookmarking, tagging and micro blogging…” (Scale, 2011)

I am on the way to integrating these roles into my position as a teacher-librarian.  I can see links from these suggested roles in the comments by Tim Berners-Lee (2009) about making information, demanding it and how the information landscape is affecting how we produce and consume information.

My last experience of online study forced me to tinker and produce content in a variety of digital contexts. It was a big game-changing moment in my career and a refresh button.  My personal aim in this course of study is to lift the bar in regards to how I can organise, create and lead in a digital environment. I need to overcome my feelings of ‘information anxiety’ and develop effective skills in managing the information. Luckily my copy of David Weinberger’s Too Big To Know’ is in the mail so I can start feeling comfortable about living and managing the sea of information out there. I am also preparing to be amazed by ‘Who Owns The Future?’  from “the prophet of the digital age”, Jaron Lanier. I want to firstly learn how to use Evernote and other tools like Flipboard and Diigo effectively, and then teach others. I have started to play with Pearltrees too to guide students and teachers in designing digital pathways.  In my work environments others have offered me opportunities to share my ideas about teaching and creating in digital libraries and learning environments.  I want to be seen as a leader in this area and to continue to be valued as information and education professional.

My challenge for myself is to firstly make it through two semesters of exciting, complicated and thought provoking study and assessment whilst sharing valuable and creative ideas. I then want to be able to synthesise these learnings into my school’s learning environments. I will make attempts at being a content creator, then lead and encourage my school community to collaborate and do the same.  I will in turn challenge my colleagues to tinker with new ways and new resources and enjoy the benefits of a global participatory culture of learning. (Jenkins, 2013)

Attributions

Berners-Lee, T. (2009, March 13). The next web of open, linked data. Retrieved March 14, 2014, from TEDtalks YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OM6XIICm_qo

Jenkins, H. (2013). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture:Media Education for the Twenty-First Century.

Lanier, J. (2013). Who owns the future? Penguin.

Scale, M.-S. (2011, August). Rethinking the Role of the teacher-librarian in a post literate society. Retrieved March 19, 2014, from Slideshare: http://www.slideshare.net/IASLonline/rethinking-the-role-of-the-teacherlibrarian-in-a-post-literate-society

I like the sound of a “Global One Room School House”

John Seely Brown’s video titled “The Global One Room School House” really made a lot of sense to me. I taught in the country for over twelve years and met a lot of teachers who had worked in a one-teacher school with student populations varying from five to about fifteen.  Both the teachers, students and families always spoke so fondly of the learning that went on and how the younger and older students worked together and independently.The students also have great access to resources. There is so much potential  just sitting out there to form a global classroom.

The statement about the importance of tinkering with technology and new learning tools to avoid anxiety is so true. I often say to staff – just give it a go, see what the students do.  Time to tinker though is sometimes limited.  The trap of teaching to the assessment sometimes robs us of time to tinker too. I have found though as a Teacher-Librarian that I have less restraints on how I organise the environment and teach, so I can tinker a bit more.

Hello world!

Hello again study!

It’s been three years since I finished by last degree. It was an online Masters degree too and I really enjoyed it. I felt such a sense of achievement graduating.

Now I am experiencing that nervous excitement that comes with new ventures. I know that what I am going to learn about over the next year will be very interesting and so very relevant.

One of my first goals is to find effective ways to organise and collate all the new information we are receiving.