Connect to live

I’m in my 5th year of teaching, after changing careers, studying and moving countries. Over the past 3 years I have become more engrossed and aware of the emergence of connected learning environments. From joining Twitter, reading blogs, writing blogs, listening to podcasts, and connecting with educators across Australia and the world. It constantly amazes me the wealth of knowledge and sharing that connected educators are doing online, and it encourages and inspires me every day. ‘Connected Learning’ and ‘Digital Literacy’ is quickly evolving into foundations of my own teaching strategies. In a rapidly evolving world of information technology, it is becoming paramount as a teacher that I’m able to develop these areas in my students and allow them to develop their skills.

Everything Is Connected

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by auspices: http://flickr.com/photos/auspices/14892685406

Technology has allowed new connections, interactions and participatory cultures to emerge. To be able to to use theses to the best effect, we foremost need to have a clear understanding and grasp of ‘Digital Literacy’ and how it relates to education. Bawden (2008) identifies a number of key facets of digital literacy; they include areas such as knowledge assembly, retrieval skills, critical thinking, using people networks and publishing information. This reflects strongly with my own teaching context whereas a History teacher these skills are key – Finding information, collecting it and being critical of the information in conducting a historical inquiry, forms the bedrock of research in History. The other aspects of using networks and publishing the created information is the missing element, and this is where I see further progression needs to take place within my own teaching context for my students.
Connected Learning would not be able to exist without Digital Literacy. Connected learning should be part of our daily lives as educators, we have the ability to connect with other educators online through Twitter, Blogs, and many other ways. However many of my students are still not utilising their connections to facilitate learning, and this is the area to focus on. This ties in well with what Helen Haste argues that in the future people will need to be able to adapt to change, to use new and old tools effectively, and to be confident that they can act in effective ways. These students are the future citizens, the future workers, the future inventors, the future leaders and they will need a set of skills that is different to what I grew up with.  Louise Starkey (2011) also supports these ideas about learning, “… appears to be slowly evolving from a focus on what has already been discovered and prescribed as ‘knowledge’ towards a focus on critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections.”.  Through this the learning theory of ‘Connectivism’ is explained by George Siemens(2015) as being the “amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network”. The Digital Media & Learning Research Hub is a fantastic resource place that explores, and showcase connected learning and what the key principles are. Quoted from their website: “….connected learning calls on today’s interactive and networked media in an effort to make these forms of learning more effective, better integrated, and broadly accessible.” Guiding principles include a ‘Shared purpose’, ‘Production-centered’ and ‘Openly networked’.

Connected Learning: The urgency and the promise from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

The connected learning environment, and how to interact with it professionally, socially and innovatively. My future goals will include improving my own understanding and knowledge of these areas, and also teaching my students how to become more digitally literate, more connected with learning and how to become more socially conscious citizens and leverage digital tools for their learning and the benefit of others.

References

Connectedlearning.tv,. (2015). Connected Learning Principles | Connected Learning. Retrieved 29 March 2015, from http://connectedlearning.tv/connected-learning-principles

Siemens, G. (2015). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved 26 March 2015, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy And Education, 20(1), 19-39. doi:10.1080/1475939x.2011.554021

YouTube,. (2015). Technology and Youth: Five Competencies (part 3 of 4). Retrieved 19 March 2015, from http://youtu.be/pqt3ZmtBTOE

Task 2: Selection of Book for Scholarly Review

For the first assignment in INF530 I have decided to do my scholarly book review on Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger.

Image from EdTechReview, 17 March 2015

The reasons for this choice is three-fold. I have been a follower of Sheninger’s work online for a number of years, and much of what he has done has fascinated me. He will also be the Keynote speaker at this years EduTECH Conference in Australia and I’m looking forward to this Conference in Brisbane in June. I have also managed to get my school to obtain his services for a full-day workshop at the end of May. I read his book last year, and I’m looking forward to dissecting and analysing it a lot deeper.

 

 

Connected Potential & Changing Mindsets

The new innovations of the past two decades have created a digitally connected community of learners. Yet, many educators are not embracing the potential they hold and are thus becoming more disconnected with their students and communities. This is part of my own personal aim in this course – to learn new ideas, skills, knowledge and understanding, so that I can support my students, staff and parents in embracing the Digital Age.  Students may be assigned the term ‘Digital Natives’, but many are far from being proficient or aware of their own learning and interactions in the digital world. The reading about Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001) reinforced some of my views on the topic of ‘digital natives’ vs ‘digital immigrants’ perspective. Even though my students are all born in the Digital Age (current Year 12’s born in 1998), many are unskilled in utilising technology as a an effective way to learn, create, connect and communicate.

The concept and practices of the Digital Age is the driving force behind enrolling into the CSU Masters course. The Digital Age is where I’m working, living, learning and interacting in, and thus it is essential as an educator that I’m acutely aware of my own understanding and knowledge of this area. My teaching context involves being the Head of Humanities for an independent Christian College in a regional town in Queensland. The region is one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the state, with some of the highest unemployment figures across all areas of society (a challenge in itself). My role involves teaching Senior Modern & Ancient History, as well as Business Management for Year 11 & 12. Since changing careers from Logistics to Education I have been amazed by the connected world for educators and I love engaging in discussions with educators from all sectors.

There is a digital convergence taking place with regards to media, literacy, communication and sharing of knowledge. The ubiquitous nature of technology is allowing for new practices to emerge and requires new methods of engaging learners to develop. However it does not come down to technological skills alone, but rather the mindset changing amongst educators and students. This is well supported in this image by Reid Wilson on ‘The Profile of a Modern Teacher’:

The Profile of a Modern Teacher by reid Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)

Another reading I came across was on ‘What is 21st century learning? by Amy Heavin that was published on Fractus Learning:

“What is 21st century learning?

  • It is collaboration.
  • It is creativity.
  • It is critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • It is research and information literacy.
  • It is digital citizenship.
  • It is responsible use.”

Immersion into the developing these skills to connect and share knowledge will become key for educators and students. The ease of access to information and possibilities to share knowledge has resulted in a paradigm shift that needs to be embraced, fostered and utilised to realise its full potential.

The  Connected Learning Research Hub discussed in Module 1.6 really reinforced my beliefs, and challenged me to develop my own thinking further to serve my students.  The infographic I find incredibly powerful, and is a wonderful model of learning in the information age. This leads me into my own goals and challenges with making connections between the different groups, allowing digital tools to be utilised to their potential and developing my own knowledge and understanding through this course.

Connected Learning

Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub (CC BY 3.0)

 

References

Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://connectedlearning.tv/infographic

Educators Need to be 21st Century Learners Too… (2014, July 15). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.fractuslearning.com/2014/07/15/educators-21st-century-learners/

Prensky, M. (2001, 12). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816

Sheninger, E. C. (n.d.). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times.

Wayfaring Path. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from http://www.coetail.com/wayfaringpath/2014/10/14/the-profile-of-a-modern-teacher/

The origins of my Blog Name

I shared this post recently during the #28daysofwriting with my Blog. A bit more background about me and the origins of my blog name.

Teaching (River)

Photo by Takashi Hososhima (CC BY-SA 2.0)
I qualified as a teacher in 2010 and started my first full-time teaching post at the start of 2011. I had decided to change careers when my wife and I moved to Australia at the start of 2009. Previously I had done a gap year in New Zealand to play rugby, then studied 4 years and obtained degrees in Logistics Management, then two years in the UK, followed by four years in South Africa before moving to Australia.
 
Photo by Neil Howard  (CC BY-NC 2.0)

When I started blogging I had to choose a Title for the Blog and signing up to Twitter I had to choose a twitter Handle. I selected the names ‘The Teaching River’ for the blog and @jdtriver for Twitter. By pure coincidence the school I work at is called Riverside, but this is not where the ‘river’ name originated. (parts of this blog post is from one I did many years ago)


So let me explain.

Photo by Mark Seaton (CC BY-NC 2.0)

I believe our lives as teachers, (as individuals and as students), is like a river. We start life flowing along from a starting point. We have different influences as we grow up – parents, siblings, family, friends, school, sport, hobbies, culture and much more that form and shape our character. We leave our comfort, our family homes and familiar surroundings and head downstream to the next phase in our lives.

Photo by Adeel Shaikh (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

We then enter our lives as teachers, where we have countless streams flowing into the river – students, colleagues, parents, communities, media, technology, government, and each one may have multiple streams. Then as the river flows, we go through calm patches – the periods where everything just runs smoothly. Then there are times of rapids, filled with ups and downs – teaching goes through so many emotional and stressful phases, but the river does not stop and nor does our teaching. No matter what is happening, the river pushes through and garners momentum as it heads towards the ocean.

Yellowstone River by Charles Peterson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)



Then there are the streams that flow out from a river. This is where we influence people and make a difference in their lives. Then they head off in their own river and influence the lives of others. Eventually the rivers will reach the ocean, and this symbolises how teaching never ends and the legacy you create in your students goes out to the rest of the world.

Life does not happen in isolation, we all are influenced by others and in turn influence people. I know that my life as a teacher I will go through many phases, ups and downs, and that they are all part of my own learning journey.  This is how I see the link with a river, the continuous flow of developing my own skills, learning, gaining knowledge and wisdom, being a role model, a positive influence and mentor to my students.
 
I love ‘Teaching’, I’m proud to call myself a ‘Teacher’; and the complexity of learning and constant change makes it the most fascinating profession in the world. 
 
‘Always Learning’