As an assessment task I created this knowledge networking artefact which is titled:
How does a teaching team benefit from developing an online community of practice?
The knowledge networking artefact titled “How can our teaching team benefit from developing an online ‘community of practice’?” is an instructional text for the teaching team at my school about why, how and what we need to do to collaboratively build an online, networked ‘community of practice’. This community of practice will enable us learn collaboratively, share what we have learnt and form a knowledge network about the teaching pedagogies that frame the school’s Delivering Excellent Learning & Teaching strategy.
This artefact is important because the teaching team has the potential to reap many rewards individually and as a group from the collective knowledge they can create. They have not engaged in online learning as a whole group like this before and will benefit from leadership in developing this online space. A recent survey (Appendix A) of teachers’ knowledge about the key teaching pedagogies and the teachers’ attitude to online and social learning revealed a wide variety of existing knowledge, experience and attitudes.
The instructional design of this artefact was guided by an attempt to maximise “the effectiveness, efficiency and appeal of instruction and other learning experiences” (Moloney, 2010). The current state and needs of the teaching community (learners), the definition of the end goal of instruction and the creation of an intervention to facilitate a transition (to a community of practice) were the three steps that were undertaken to develop the artefact.
The needs of the learners were surveyed and found to be highly varied. The end goal of the instruction is to lead and help develop an online, networked community of practice and this artefact, followed by the facilitation of an online learning space on the school’s Moodle site will be the intervention.
As a school community we have been expected to engage in Brisbane Catholic Education’s (BCE) Delivering Excellent Learning and Teaching(DELT) Strategy (2014)which expects the teaching staff to understand the teaching pedagogies supported by Hattie(2014), Sharratt and Fullan’s (2012)work.
The inspiration to produce this artefact came from an experience in my own workplace where there is currently a need to engage in and discuss these professional readings but not to create more face- to-face meetings for teaching staff to attend. As the teacher-librarian in the school I have been encouraged to organise resources to support the DELT strategy. I thought that there was an opportunity to lead a knowledge network community to explore, create and develop a common language about the theory of action that will support the engagement in this strategy.
Although the focus audience for this video is the teaching community of my school, the plan I have for our networked community of practice may be used in other schools under Brisbane Catholic Education.
The video is divided into four sections covering the why, how, what (and what next) of developing the networked community of practice.
The content of the artefact includes aspects on communities of practice, knowledge networks, network and social literacy, participatory culture and collaborative learning tools. Combining all these aspects for a very focused task meant that I tried to keep the technical process simple. The script was condensed to drop the duration from nearly eight minutes to just over five minutes. There is a continual narration, five minutes of information is enough to describe the why, how and what of this knowledge network.
The digital tools of PowerPoint, Audacity and YouTube were combined to produce an audio-visual presentation with colourful and interesting images, a summary of main points and a comprehensive narration. Most images were collected via Pixabay because of the copyright free status of the images. Canva, the free online graphic design software was used to create the title slide to make it look different and therefore capture attention. Exciting, creative and colourful images, but I had to be careful with text colour and placement of the text due to the backgrounds I created.
The execution of the design required some new technical knowledge and skills. There are many ‘how to’ videos on YouTube; a particularly good instructional video named ‘How to Make Your 1st YouTube Video with PowerPoint’ proved to be a valuable resource. This video gave advice on important aspects of instructional design including script writing, timing, types and amount of text, technology to use, recording tips and combining images and text. Detailed steps are given on how to add an audio file to the PowerPoint and upload the recording to YouTube as a video movie. The recording of the script using Audacity was the most difficult element of this technical exercise. This was due to the need to speak clearly, some background noise and the length of the text. Some music could have been added, but I was cautious not to complicate the video.
This artefact is set in an educational context where the teaching community ( as part of Brisbane Catholic Education) is working towards basing their practice around current proven teaching pedagogy that is being supported by the professional development programme ‘Visible Learning’ facilitated by Cognition Education. This programme is focused around John Hattie’s acclaimed research about maximising impact on learning (Hattie & Yates, 2014). It also draws upon principles of ‘Visible Learning and Visible teaching’. The core of the ‘Visible Thinking and Learning’ concept is the importance of nurturing thinking in the everyday lives of learners (students and teachers) and make the thinking visible so a culture of thinking can be developed and strong learning communities established in organisations (Ritchhart, Church, & Morrison, 2011). Leaders in these educational organisations are being urged to take risks and encourage a willingness to reach outside the comfort zone of established practices (Ritchhart, Church, & Morrison, 2011). Lyn Sharratt and Michaels Fullan’s (2012) ideas in Putting FACES on the Data; what great leaders do! is influencing this educational context. Sharratt and Fullan (2012) emphasise the importance in developing a collective capacity which involves teachers in schools and between schools engaging in serious conversation about what good teaching looks like and how it is achieved. The networked ‘community of practice’ would help develop this collective capacity; this community can be the key to improving their performance (Wenger, 2006). This collective capacity will be dependent on networked (Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011) and peer to peer learning.
The physical context of this artefact involves a large growing secondary school college with a varied staff. The Principal and leadership are supportive and encourage innovative use of technology and sharing of ideas. Students and staff are able to be constantly connected because of the integration of digital learning using many mobile devices. Not all staff are taking advantage of the digital connections available. There is a need for them to become more effective connected educators. The need for a sense of community was important for our adult learners (Snyder, 2009).
A growth in digital learning spaces is also being observed in the educational context of our schools. We live in a world embedded in digital learning spaces. Our current digital context is increasingly a social context where social media plays a large role. There is a strong need for the development of social-media and network literacy in all learners; as described by Rheingold (2010) and Pegrum (2010).
The current digital context allows all people to be creative and share the information they have created. To be a connected and participative member of a community of practice is it desirable that members share their ideas and create new resources. There is potential in the social networking tools of this knowledge network to harness the power of participation (Rheingold, Participation Power, 2012).
In the future there are many opportunities for the teaching team to become more connected educators and expand their Personal Learning Networks.
The artefact was created to help cultivate a networked community of practice. The main points to communicate to the audience was why there was a need to do this; that is directly relate this to the focus audience and provide a motivation for them to engage. The second part was on how; that is to become a connected learner, develop social and network literacy and engage in peer to peer learning, engage in a participatory culture. The section about what we plan to do gave a practical plan of implementation and the active manner that the teaching team will participate. The final note was an invitation for the participants to branch out publically and make connections out of our school teaching community.
The instructional design was guided by Karen Moloney’s (2010) tips to survey the learners, define the goal and create an intervention. As Moloney describes there is no excuse for bad instructional design with technology making things faster and cheaper. A survey was done via a simple email; the video was made with simple and mostly free technology and Moodle (a fantastic LMS) will be used to facilitate the knowledge network. Moloney also recommended taking into consideration learning styles with a blended learning design and using e-learning as a solution. The instructional-design also needed to support a sense of community. To do this these Design theory goals were incorporated; cultivating a learner-centred environment, leveraging of community synergy, respect individuality, diversity and experience, focus on a real-life problem and promote self-directed learning (Snyder, 2009).
The aim is to create a networked community of practice where all teaching team members feel included and participate. To cultivate this community it needs to be designed for evolution or to grow into the future, it should allow openings for dialogue, allow for all levels of participation, focus on value, mix familiarity with excitement and the unknown and create a rhythm or pattern of behaviour for the community (Wenger, Seven principles for cultivating communitites of practice, 2002).
The most important element of this community to be developed is the networked element of it and the shared goals and interests (to implement the BCE’s DELT strategy). Networking is a key element in professional careers to support individual’s growth and learning. The skills at the centre of networking include the ability to identify and understand other participant’s ideas and work in relation to one’s own. It is also important to assess the value of another person’s contribution or work. The participants’ positive attitude leading to a deliberate intention to form connections with others is also as well (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen, & B., 2012). These networking skills described in Rajagopal’s (2012)Personal learning network model are similar to Rheingold’s (2010)interconnected 21st –Century Social Media Literacies; attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness and critical consumption. Rheingold stressed how these skills become interconnected in people with good social media skills and that it is these skills that will shape and influence the cognitive, social and cultural environments of the future. The technologies of LMS in schools are just the skeletons; the participants shape the content.
Encouraging participation and making it approachable for all of the teaching community was a priority in the design of this artefact. Guided and effective online participation can translate into real power. We can start a participatory culture with each individual act of participation building upon another to create architecture of a participatory culture (Rheingold, Participation Power, 2012). The teaching team will need to eventually start connecting with other outside educators and develop their own PLN to truly contribute to the world wide phenomenon of Knowledge Networks.
The knowledge networking artefact I created; “How can our teaching team benefit from developing an online ‘community of practice’?” was designed and constructed to begin a focused social learning environment for by teaching team to achieve the goals set by the Brisbane Catholic Educations Delivering Excellent Learning & Teaching strategy. In participating in this knowledge networking activity it is possible for the teachers to develop network and social media literacy, as well as the confidence to expand their PLN.
Brisbane Cathoic Education (2014). Brisbane Catholic Education Delivering Excellent Learning and Teaching 2014-2016 Strategy. Retrieved March 2015, from Brisbane Catholic Education KWeb: https://kweb.bne.catholic.edu.au/Documents/Delivering%20Excellent%20Learning%20and%20Teaching%20strategy%20book%20ONLINE%20VERSION.pdf
Hattie, J., & Yates, G. C. (2014). Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn. Routledge.
Moloney, K. (2010). There is no excuse for bad instructional design. Training and development in Australia, 22-23.
Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I link therefore I am’: network literacy as a core digital literacy. E-learning and digital media, 346-354.
Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & B., S. P. (2012). Understanding personal learning networks: their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, Volume 17, Number 1-2.
Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and 21st-century social media literacies. Educase review, 14-24.
Rheingold, H. (2012). Participation Power. In H. Rheingold, Net smart: how to thrive online (pp. 111-139). USA: MIT Press.
Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). The power of netwroked learning. In W. Richardson, & R. Mancabelli, Personal learning networks: using the power of conections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Moorabbin: Solution Tree Press.
Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible; How to promote engagement, understanding and independence fo all learners. San Francisco: Wiley.
Sharratt, L., & Fullan, M. (2012). Putting FACES on the data: what great leaders do! California: Corwin Press.
Snydner, M. M. (2009). Instructional – design theory to guide the creation of online learning communities for Adults. TechTrends, 48-56.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In D. Thomas, & J. Brown, A new culture of learning: cultivating imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington,KY: CreateSpace.
Wenger, E. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communitites of practice. In E. Wenger, Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64).
Wenger, E. (2006). Communities of practice a brief introduction. Retrieved April 2015, from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf