Critical Reflection on INF537

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As I reflect on this final capstone subject in this highly challenging, varied and so highly relevant degree, I have a sense of professional growth and achievement. Digital Futures Colloquium has contributed to the affirmation, integration and synthesis of ideas from the three other subjects I studied. We have covered aspects of teaching practices for the digital age, designing spaces for learning, design thinking, makerspaces, knowledge networks, digital scholarship and participatory learning.

Two years ago when I began this course I stated that my aim was to be a teacher librarian who can lead a community of learners into a digital world, enjoying opportunities to collaborate, create and help learners use new digital media. I feel confident to do this now because I am a highly networked and digitally literate educator who learns autonomously as I interact with digital media. Being able to understand how digital literacy and scholarship works allows me to design learning experiences and spaces where a school community can develop these skills too. I have the future work skills to ensure that I can add value to the technology that we use as learners and educators.

It has been easy to see how I in my role as a teacher librarian can integrate my understandings of learning in a digital age into my everyday practice. I know that the school library program plays a major role in promoting current pedagogy, adoption of technology, leveraging technology, promoting participatory learning, digital scholarship and digital citizenship.

My digital scholarship skills increased through the practice of research, sharing and refining ideas, reading and responding to blog posts, e-books and websites. Many of the professional readings have been highly appropriate to share with my colleagues and have had a major influence on the ideas that shape my practice.

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My final assessment, a case study addressed the question “Do students become more autonomous as learners when they independently publish digital artefacts online?” and it’s major themes and findings about digital literacy, future work skills and the development of an agile approach to working in a digital age, allowed me to take the first step in leading the school community to match the trends, challenges in the adoption of technology.

This case study provided an opportunity to practice digital scholarship skills with survey design, communication and analysis. Through the use of technology tools, I examined and created many examples of digital media.  I correlated the recommendations for digital learning with my data and could see a pattern of behaviours which could inform better practice. I was pleased that I could see a real pathway for changing the way technology can be adopted in my school community.

In the future the connections in my personal learning network will remain vitally important to ongoing professional growth. Through the digital colloquiums in this subject I have widened this network and seen how others are working in an agile and sharp manner to leverage technology in schools and other learning environments. Listening to the likes of Annabel Astbury and Cathie Howie were excellent opportunities to engage with other professionals who  work together with educators to facilitate the best learning possible in a digital age. A very appropriate collection of ideas that I intend to use to inform my practice was Judy O’Connell’s recent presentation “Developing Agile Approaches in a Digital Age”. This presentation puts the school library centre stage in this approach.

judy agile approach My fellow students and lecturers have been a great source of collaboration and participatory learning. We have continued to engage in the backchannel of Twitter to support our learning and also respond and share through the subject discussion forums. This participation is vital to online learning and results in more ideas, resources, knowledge networks and global connections resulting in digital innovation for learners.

Reflection on latest guest colloquium with Cathie Howie from MacICT

Last week’s guest colloquium with Cathie Howie from MacICT was a source of affirmation, inspiration, information and interest. This was because many of the ideas they are exploring and investigating in their work are what we have been studying  in this degree about knowledge networks and digital innovation.

The combined work from Macquarie University and the NSW Department of Education is drawing its direction from reports like the Horizon Report and the Future Work Skills 2020. These documents are referred to often in our scholarly conversations. I am once again referring to them in my recent case study for this final subject.

Design mindsets, design thinking, STEM & STEAM approaches, makerspaces and a vision for learning in a digital age where all mentioned in the presentation and following conversations. These concepts and approaches are now becoming the common themes in PD and education & technology conferences and publications. These concepts are also major conversation topics on Twitter too amongst educators.

I really liked the sound of MacICT’s work in Transmedia storytelling. I think this is a very adaptable method of getting students to produce content rather than just being a consumer. Transmedia storytelling also encourages creativity and digital literacies.

I look forward to following the workings of MacICT in the future and hopefully taking part in their professional development opportunities.

Creative Coffee Morning -Blog Task 4

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My Creative Coffee morning yesterday was a great opportunity to bring together a variety of people I know in different areas of my life who do think creatively; some didn’t realise just how much they do this. I had three teaching colleagues (each from a different subject area), a midwife (who works in health management), a director of a company who provides administration services for non-for –profit organisations and  a colleague’s sister (who I hadn’t met before) who manages a post office. This seemed to be a good mix of teachers and non-teachers, people that work in service industries and also people who make management decisions and those that don’t as much. As well as getting to know each other we had a lengthy and interesting conversation about creative cultures.

I had some noted some points to keep the discussion going:

▪Benefit s of a creative culture.

▪Features of creative workspaces.

▪Successful creative and innovative work spaces.

▪Do our environments allow for creativity?

▪How does learning happen in social interactions?

Throughout the meeting I introduced them to mind mapping and we shared our thoughts by creating mind maps as we talked. I did do this to collect their ideas but also just to do something creative together. This activity did attract a bit of attention in the café.

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We ended up discussing

▪User-needed designing processes compared to just discussing types of buildings.

▪The effect of technology use on people’s creativity and learning – can be a positive and negative influence.

▪How policies and management can stifle intuition and creativity.

▪ The positive aspect of multidisciplinary teams; respect, support, trust, ability to take risks

▪What creative workspaces feel like and look like; colourful, welcoming, efficient, ’homely’, enjoyable, confidence biding, opinions are valued, sense of ownership.

▪What is creativity; not just artwork- it is problem solving, coming up with new ideas, adaptability.

The feedback received from the group following the coffee morning was very positive; great coffee and conversation, learning while socialising was enjoyable, enjoyed meeting new people and we knew more about creativity than we thought.

I have made a comment on these other Blog  #4 posts

Miriam’s

Patricia’s

Margaret’s

Critical Reflection

Becoming that point of centrality….

The future of digital culture depends on how we use it (Rhiengold, 2014) and the future of my career as a teacher librarian (and educator) depends on my capacity to evolve in this ever changing climate of information, innovation and knowledge creation.

Rheingold’s concept of “centrality” and the potential for myself as a teacher-librarian to be a person of centrality in my school’s learning community and networks of knowledge really makes sense to me. I see it as an achievable goal. The time spent this semester participating in this subject: Concepts and Practises for a Digital Age has resulted in a more expanded and detailed understanding of what we are all currently experiencing in what has been described as a technological revolution or the Fourth Revolution – where we are changing our self-understanding (Floridi, 2012).I thought this view was a little too philosophical). ‘Networked Society’ –is what I prefer because it is a simple label recognising the networks that are being made as well as the social aspects of how people interact in digital spaces. Rheingold’s (2014) concept ‘Networked Awareness’’ works with a ‘Networked Society’ because it recognises the potential in being aware on the connections we are making and the ongoing, wonderful potential for creativity, knowledge sharing and innovation.

Through the professional reading that was provided in the modules and in my extended reading, mainly for the assessment tasks; I have increased my knowledge about the ideas and theories shared by  leaders in creativity, technological development, innovators in digital culture, educators ( including some ‘celebrity ‘ like TED talking educators –Sir Robinson) and  an international range of professionals that  have so eloquently explained how networks of knowledge are being developed in this Web 3.0 phase of the World Wide Web.

I have been able to synthesise in my Digital essay about Makerspaces – environments that facilitate innovation in Secondary schools, my knowledge about how; Robinsons (2011) theories about facilitating creativity will engage students in learning, collaboration, connecting and dialogue are powerful in learning in a digital age (Siemens, 2005), and learning through tinkering, making and engineering in Makerspaces could be our big  change to reignite curiosity in young people (Libow Martinez & Stager, 2013).

It is with this new knowledge on board that I have started to change my reaction to the digital culture surrounding me. My perspective is evolving. I have increased my Personal Learning Network significantly using more social media and digital curation tools. My use of Twitter has increased the most. I have found Twitter most beneficial in making connections with other like-minded and some far superior educational professionals. I am then continuing on by sharing new ideas with my learning community in my workplace. Through sharing I am connecting and through connecting I hope to become an innovator.

References

Floridi, L. (2012). The fourth revolution. The Philosopher’s Magazine, 96-101.

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

Rheingold, H. (2014, Februrary). Network Awareness . Retrieved April 2014, from Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/86182564

Robinson, S. K. (2011). Out of Our Minds Learning to be Creative. United Kingdom: Capstone Publishing Ltd.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism:A learning theory for a digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 3-10.

Blog Task 4

In my first blog entry of this subject (and course) I identified the next step in my career and learning journey was 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)”. I feel that I have begun to do this. I had heard of and done some reading in many of the concepts covered in this subject but the breadth of new technologies, writers, speakers and resources  I have been exposed to through the different modules has really been an eye opener.

There has been a few themes that have I consistently focused on because they really interest me; creativity, innovation, learning futures, collaboration and connectivity. These are obviously major themes in this subject and hence I have enjoyed all the modules.

My workplace is becoming more multi-modal. We are trying to mesh together the digital and physical learning spaces. We will be there I believe in about 5 years like described in Microsoft’s Future Vision – Live, Work Play. Currently we are designing new Year 7 buildings. It is exciting to start with a blank canvas. Our Principal is leading us in the process of including spaces where students can work collaboratively sharing their learning’s publically in the physical and digital environments. I feel that I have been able to make valuable contributions to these conversations because of the new knowledge and ideas I am currently being exposed to through my study.

In a recent book I read Change Your Mind -52 Ways to Unlock Your Creative Self there was a section on controlling technology. Rod Judkins (Chapter 14, 2013) commented that “to live creatively, you have to be at the forefront of new developments, not lagging behind” and to “embrace technology because it brings new ideas”.  I think being creative is fun, beautiful and clever. I am learning more about technology and am using it more; I don’t expect to always be in control of it though. I look forward to continuing this journey with a creative flair.

So, over the next couple of weeks I will compose my digital essay about Makerspaces (a great finale for the subject) and then I look forward to next semester participating in the subject “Designing Spaces for Learning” whilst we construct our year 7 buildings and develop plans for our Library renovations.

Attributions:

Microsoft’s Future Vision -Live, work, play. (2013). Retrieved May 2014, from YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gd_BbzNhkp0

Judkins, R. (2013). Change your mind: 57 ways to unlock your creative self. London: Hardy Grant Books.

Recipe for creativity– explore Southbank with kids!!

My usual Saturday routine this time of year is to leave the house at 7.45am to take my three daughters to Hockey – the four of us play and it keeps us busy whilst my husband works.  Yesterday Hockey was called off at the last moment due to water logged fields.  What to do as we were all ready and keyed up for the day? We could have stayed home and worked on University and school assignments, but I decided that a free day deserved an outing and it would do us good.

It was a split decision that resulted in a fantastic day of

-new creative experiences

– a flip of perspectives

– time to absorb new information and ideas

– conversations with familiar and new people

– observations of new resources and environments

-interactions with technology

-and FUN!!

What did we do-

– firstly discovered a new way of getting into town, parking at a different train station (in preparation for my trip to EDUtech in a couple of weeks). Daughter (12y) used a new app on my phone to navigate.

– checked out the newly renovated Museum. It is always great to have conversations about the school work the girls have been doing, or our recent camping trips and how they relate to exhibitions in the Museum

-visited GOMA but didn’t get past the kid’s activities on the bottom level – “Jemima Wyman Pattern Bandits” . A Makerspace with a difference.  This space is a combination of an interactive exhibition and activity centre. Children and parents can sit and produce artworks together, take them home or display them.

I experienced a couple of light bulb moments in GOMA

• I struck up a conversation with another mother about why this sort of space is important. I mentioned that it reminded me of the “Makerspace” concept. I explained that I am a teacher-librarian who was considering including a space like this in the Library I manage. She said that her daughter’s friends visit their school library all the time because they like to read, her daughter doesn’t have great literacy skills, but loves art and creative activities. If a library had a space like this her daughter would visit the library more often and hopefully pick up a book more often – Wow! Isn’t this what we want??

•My eldest daughter (14y) whilst having a go at an art making activity says “It’s so enjoyable to do something creative and it’s not an assessment.” She uses lots of creative ideas in her school work, but I question does she have time to enjoy being creative. We need to provide more time and experiences for this creative work in schools. It may be some kids’ only opportunity.

-explored and observed the wonderful GOMA and State Library shops. These shops have different objects and publications that you don’t see in other retail places. They are a treasure trove of ideas, colours, designs, literacy resources and entertainment.

-took some pictures to share our experiences at GOMA and found some more online when we came home ( hope you enjoy them).

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We have been to Southbank many times, but I think that my recent study in digital cultures, knowledge networks and creativity gave me a different perspective on the whole experience. It was an unexpected, spontaneous day that we all so enjoyed. We all came home feeling fresh and all inspired to recommence our learning projects. All my girls said how much they loved it and that it was fun – I feel really good about that.