Assignment 2: Network literacy evaluative report

PART A: EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

It is incredible how my networked learning experience has developed over the past semester in the INF532 subject and how it has changed over the past few years. The subject required me to create a Thinkspace blog  to show evidence of my development and how I would meet the different course learning objectives. Over the past 14 weeks, I’ve managed to meet the different requirements, even though not always in a timely fashion, but this has been partly the result of opportunities and challenges of being a full-time connected educator. I have completed the majority of the learning activities, explored a range of the digital tools and spaces, and really appreciated the depth of knowledge that was shared in module content.

The key aspect to consider for this evaluative statement is whether or not I have managed to meet the seven learning objectives, particularly the last three:

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The entire course allows coverage of these objectives on multiple occasions through blog posts, Twitter chats, sharing links on Twitter with the hashtag #inf532, Forum discussions, and especially the design and creation of the digital learning artefact in the first assignment. Many of the tools and spaces I have become aware of over the past few years via my own exploration and through my PLN, but there were a few new ones that have been added to my list in a Blog post (du Toit, 2016f) to explore deeper. I also had the opportunity to work with Kelli Hollis, where we collaborated over a Google doc and via Google Hangout to come up with a summary about Module 2 -The Connected Educator (Forum post).

The first assignment required me to use a new digital tool, build an instructional artefact and write an exegesis on it (Access it here (du Toit, 2016a)). This allowed me to demonstrate many of the learning objectives because it required me to investigate, locate and evaluate a range of different tools; then place it into an instructional design format to allow my audience to interact with the information being shared, as well as utilising a PLN.

 

In my opening blog post I explored De Saulles (2012) ‘New models of information production’, looking into how social media has grown exponentially and reflected on the fact that, “As an educator the challenge is making sure students understand the role these sites will play in their lives, but also how they can manage the information they share and receive.” (du Toit, 2016c). This linked in well with the 2nd Blog post on Thomas and Brown’s ‘New culture of learning’ and my own experiences on this new paradigm (du Toit, 2016d). I’ve enjoyed exploring the work of Thomas & Brown these past two years and one of my favourite quotes from them is, “as information is also a networked resource, engaging with information becomes a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world around us” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p. 47). This is certainly a fact of life for me now as I engage with my PLN and a wider community, creating new global connections.

The Future of Learning, Networked Society’

In the networked age relationships, collaboration and being an active participant will be primary in being connected, and I always focus on the power of connected relationships when speaking to other educators. I delved deeper with the activities on The Connected Educator by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall, in my blog post; their point “that teachers must first understand what it means to be a learner within a connected world before they can examine their practice as an educator” (2012) is another key message I shared at a Conference in August. The activities allowed me to reflect and realise that I still need to develop my own skills and knowledge to become a globally connected educator.

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Presentation slides from ACHPER Conference

The modules had me revisiting the work of Rheingold, Wenger and Siemens; with a focus on Connectivism, Network literacy, Peer-to-Peer learning, Information curation, and Communities of Practice. I had a few short posts on these sections (du Toit, 2016b & du Toit, 2016e), but look forward to exploring it further. One of the readings that I really connected with was that of Mark Pegrum, as he echoes a lot of my own thoughts with regards to the networked age. Pegrum’s quote, “In a networked age, your influence depends on your degree of connectedness” (2010) is extremely relevant with our own PLN’s, but even more so with educators like George Couros or Will Richardson and their wider influence

 

The case studies were fantastic as I have long been an admirer of the work of Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano and Shannon Miller; I ended up spending hours exploring their websites, and especially reading Tolisano’s blog. The Global collaborative projects is an area that I’m so interested in, but have yet to get involved in. Reading in the case studies from the Global Educator, especially Michael Graffin’s, has encouraged me to look at how I can become involved. (I’ve even ordered the book here). MOOCs is an area that I’m very familiar with, as I have completed several myself, but also integrated it into my senior business class, where they have completed MOOCs through Coursera and are doing one this Term.

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My next Business class MOOC

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Some of my completed MOOC courses

The approaches to online learning were interesting, and I particularly found the video interview of Richard Culatta (2009) insightful. The discussion of Michael Moore’s three interactions for online learners has made me reflect how well the CSU units have done this so far, but also challenged me to redesign my own online classroom. In the past, there has been very little interaction between my classroom students and distance education students, but in Term 4 I have redesigned their unit so that there is collaborative discussions and group assessment task.

I believe through my exploration of the course modules, writing blogs, designing an artefact, critiquing an artefact, conversing on Twitter, further readings and sharing about connected learning at Conferences, I have met the learning objectives of this course and have set further areas to explore.

PART B: REFLECTIVE STATEMENT

In January 2012 I began my journey to become a connected educator after being introduced to Twitter. I started exploring it slowly over the next 18 months, and in August 2013 I discovered my first Twitter chat; #histedchat. These history teachers immediately welcomed me into their community and I finally realised why Twitter could be such a powerful tool. These new connections would set me on the path to becoming a fully connected educator, introducing me to others, new ideas, new platforms and challenging my thinking. Over the next three years, my online PLN would exponentially grow as I shared, conversed and developed my own online voice.

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I was introduced to TeachMeets by Matt Esterman, started presenting about Evernote, and then was selected for the Google Teacher Academy in 2014. I started running TeachMeets and Google Educator Group training sessions in the Fraser Coast, to support teachers in my region and help them to become connected. In 2015 I collaboratively presented at EduTECH with Matt Esterman and Simon McKenzie, two PLN friends from the #histedchat community. This showed me the power of being a connected educator and utilising knowledge networks.

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EduTECH 2015

 

Google Teacher Academy 2014

Google Teacher Academy 2014

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GEG Summit Singapore 2016

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

Reflecting on being a connected educator made me re-look at my own blog, where I have reflected and shared over 80 posts these past few years. I can see my initial thoughts, events that shaped my learning and PLN, and how my own connected journey has unfolded.

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Some of the posts that showcase this are:

Becoming a 21st-century teacher

MOOCs & Me

Why do I Blog

EduTECH & TeachMeet Reflections 2014

Twitter Momentum Question

What a journey – Google Teacher Academy 2014

The 28 days of Writing Challenge
2016 has been an incredible year for me as I have had the opportunity to speak at a number of Conferences and utilise a lot of the knowledge gained in this Masters course. I have spoken on teachers professional development that needs to change, connected educators, realising the potential of PLN’s and how to take charge of their connected learning. At the start of this course, INF532, I considered myself a very connected educator. I’m connected on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIN, Blogger, TeachMeets, utilise a range of different technology tools for curation and learning, and I have developed a close group of trusted PLN friends (just a few of them below).

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My further development as a connected educator because of INF532

I’ll be honest, the majority of concepts were not that new to me in this subject, as I had come across them before over the past few years. However what I did learn, is that I’m most definitely on the right track and it consolidated much of my thinking of being a connected educator. Figuring out how to connect with Forum posts, blogs, discussions and more was a challenge in a period where I was incredibly time-poor. I was away from home eight times over the past four months for educational reasons, travelling to Conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. I came to realise that my workflow and curation has not been done well this semester, and I can see some issues in my process, and the readings made me become more acutely aware of this. I will definitely be referring to Good’s article on Content curation tools: 21 criteria to select and evaluate your ideal one (2014) and look into Rosenbaum’s book, Curation Nation.

I have developed my thoughts on instructional design for online learners, and the course has opened my eyes to how I could design my content differently to connect with online learners. I realise that it needs to be designed so that there is interaction, collaboration, dialogue and social nature to the learning. I need to consider the point by Davidson and Goldberg (2010) that networked learning “operates on the logic of participation, expecting interaction, correcting through exchange, [thus] deepening knowledge through extended engagement” (p. 189). And this I want to make central to designing my educational experiences for my students.
Even though I considered myself as being very connected, I had not given enough thought on the tools to manage and maintain my connectedness. My reliance on twitter and Facebook as my main PLN tools is lacking, and the course showed me new ways to improve in this area.

Implications for my future as a ‘connected leader’

The one thing that I came to realise this year is this point by Eric Mazur he made at EduTECH (2016),” The more of an expert you become in any field, the more difficult it is to understand the struggles of first-time learners”. Being a connected educator is who I am now, but there are still many that have no idea about the importance and opportunities that connectedness brings. We need to mindful of the fact that people are only now discovering connectedness now, and for many, it is a new world and we need to be able to support them.

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I’m a connected leader in my school and I have looked at how I can play a leading role with TeachMeets, Tech training sessions, GEG events and sharing resources. As I keep on developing my role as a connected leader in education I have set my sights on how we can connect teachers across the whole of Queensland with TeachMeets. This is already starting to take shape with creating the Twitter account and being part of the QLD TeachMeet Facebook Admin. My next step is to invest some more time into this, but to have more educators on board in developing TeachMeet QLD.

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As a connected leader, I want to be part of the discussions at my school on integrating digital citizenship and 21st-century skills into all aspects of the College. Unfortunately, the school is only looking at this type of role at the end of 2018, but I hope to convince them of the urgency of the importance of being connected learners in a global world and how we need to be focusing on it now. One of my passions is working with teachers and students in helping them develop their digital literacy and understanding the pedagogy behind using technology in the classroom for learning. As a connected leader, I want to be able to support them, assist with coaching and open up their worlds to the endless possibilities of a knowledge networking through being connected. Through this, I want to be able to explore how I can become a global educator by connecting my students and teachers to other countries, groups and organisations. It is time to take my connected world and move it towards a globally connected world to serve the learning of my students.

 

Being a ‘Connected Educator’ is an endless journey where learning, growth, opportunities, friendships and life-changing experiences will always create new network paths to explore.

Down the rabbit hole we go…..

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REFERENCES

Culatta, R. (2009). Designing online learning. YouTube. Retrieved April 29, 2014 from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv-_GCFdLdo

Davidson, C. N., & Goldberg, D. T. (2010). Ch 7. (ln)Conclusive: Thinking the future of digital thinking. In Future of thinking: Learning institutions in a digital age (pp. 175-199). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Retrieved from https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/free_download/9780262513746_Future_of_Thinking.pdf

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

Du Toit, J. (2016a, September 20). Digital artefact & exegesis [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/09/20/digital-artefact-exegesis/

Du Toit, J. (2016b, October 5). Establish a knowledge network Title [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/10/05/establish-a-knowledge-network/

Du Toit, J. (2016c, July 19). INF532 Module 1.2 Reflection [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/07/19/inf532-module-1-2-reflection/

Du Toit, J. (2016d, July 18). INF532 Read & Reflect Module 1.1 [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/07/18/inf532-read-reflect-module-1-1/

Du Toit, J. (2016e, October 5). Network Literacy [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/10/05/network-literacy/

Du Toit, J. (2016f, September 22). The 6 Digital tools to experiment with Reflection [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2016/09/22/the-6-digital-tools-to-experiment-with-reflection/

Ericsson. (2012, October 19). The Future of Learning, Networked Society [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/quydkud4dmu?list=plrkedff8mneyjgj4mivjzsfgcobqrdbty

Good, R. (2014) Content curation tools: 21 criteria to select and evaluate your ideal one. Retrieved from http://www.masternewmedia.org/content-curation-tools-selection-criteria-to-evaluate/

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Mazur, E. (2016). Rethinking Assessment Keynote. EduTECH 2015, Brisbane, Australia.

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change, Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Conference Presentation Slides

I spoke at a Conference in August on the topic of being 21st-century learners; focused on PLN’s and connecting. It was part of the learning process in seeing the power of being a networked teacher, new challenges and opportunities.  Have a look and please feel free to use any of the slides.

 

Transforming Education through Professional Learning

I recently was asked to write an article for the ACEL New Perspectives publication and mine focused on how professional development needs to change, with emphasis on connected learning and PLN’s. It links in very well with our subject on knowledge networks and this networked age. If you are interested, have a look here:

http://www.acel.org.au/acel/ACEL_docs/Publications/Perspectives/2016/Perspectives_New_Voice_3_2016_WEB.pdf

 

 

Digital Artefact Critique

In order to grow and develop we need to be able to reflect. As part of the #INF532 course we were asked to reflect, critique and provide some feedback on another student’s artefact from our first assessment task. The digital artefact task was about any aspect to do with Knowledge Networking and then to provide an exegesis with regards to the design and effectiveness of the digital artefact. I found the process challenging, but very worthwhile.

 

I have had a brief look at many of the fantastic artefacts created for this subject, and my fellow students have all done some amazing work. Thanks to Karen Malbon who has done a tremendous job of curating every artefact into one place – Check them out here http://www.pearltrees.com/karenmalbon/inf532-cohort-artefacts/id16278628

 

I have selected to write about a close friend’s artefact, Jordan Grant, and I was particularly interested to see how his turned out aiming it at students. URL: https://sites.google.com/site/gogetconnected/

The site has the following clear logo and banner at the top:

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The start of this website contains a cleverly crafted YouTube Clip that uses a lot of research evidence to support the message presented. Jordan uses quality images and sounds that meet creative commons licensing requirements, and the message conveyed is clearly articulated. It sets up the digital artefact premise of ‘the what and the why of connected learning’ is all about.

https://youtu.be/8fiiGJLRyWI

 

There are some further discussion points and an example of a student becoming a connected learner. A key point that he has on the site is:

“Remember. People don’t normally develop effective networks overnight. This will be a timely process that requires continual work. “

This is one of the key aspects of being a connected learner. It definitely does not happen overnight and is also not a one-way process. Instead, it needs time, effort, sharing and conversing with others.

 

The site then gives the students three different ways to begin their learning journey as connected learners – Blogging, Curating and Connecting. These are great ways for students to start organising their information, connecting, but also a way of reflecting on their learning. The site provides resources and examples of how to use these in practice and hyperlinked clips and articles used to support these sections. There is a clear link to the resources, and the information is set out to make it practical for students to engage with.

 

The final section provides a blogging prompt that enables the students to get started and reflect on their initial introduction to being a connected learner:

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Overall Jordan has demonstrated effective use of a range of different digital tools for  creative Knowledge construction. The breadth of tools used in creating the site, the clips and then linking to various others shows an understanding of the tools required for connected learning and knowledge construction. Some further examples of student blogs, or students using social media for learning could have been added; but that would defeat the premise of it being their own personalised and unique connected learning that takes place. There is also an understanding of instructional design and the application of knowledge network theory with this artefact. The participants are asked to consider the why and the what, before moving onto the how and then actually doing it themselves.
It is clearly a useful resource to get students started on the connected pathway and I would definitely consider using it with my own class in the near future.

Establish a knowledge network

Blog Task
In the video clip Shirky states:
“the hybridisation of the network and the real world is changing the way that educators and their students deal with one another and there is no way things have always been that we can rely on to figure out what we should do next”.

How would you establish a knowledge network? What would be the purpose of the network? Write about this in your blog.
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I have been building and connecting with a broad range of individuals and organisations in my network over the past few years. Initially my interactions focused on collecting information and reading a few links – Not much sharing or knowledge networking from my part. As I discovered the #histedchat (history educators on Twitter) I started gaining more confidence, but more importantly building connections. This first knowledge network of history teachers would continue to push my thinking, encourage me to share, and eventually lead to collaboration with some. One of the #histedchat educators, Matt Esterman, would introduce me to TeachMeets in 2014 and a new network of educators to interact with. Following on from this was the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney, where I had the opportunity to meet teachers from around Aus & NZ face to face, taking virtual connections to in-person conversations.

Since then a lot has changed and developed, but the start of creating a Knowledge network is probably the biggest step to take. Signing up for Twitter, Google+, etc. is the easy part, starting to follow and read links is still quite easy to do, but when you gain the confidence to start conversing and sharing, then the magic starts happening. A network is there to interact with, to grow with, to learn from, to share with, to encourage, to support, to challenge, to question, to find ideas, to discover opportunities, to make friendships, to create, to collaborate; and to ultimately make you an informed active 21st century educator.

Network Literacy

Wikipedia (2015) defines Network Literacy as:
“Network literacy is an emerging digital literacy that deals with computer network knowledge and skills. It is linked to computer literacy and information literacy. Network literacy relates to the basic knowledge and skills required for citizens to participate in the networked society.”

McClure in 1994 defined network literacy as “the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network” and argued that it is a critical skill for tomorrow’s citizens.

Fifteen years later Howard Rheingold expanded upon this in and explained that “understanding how networks work is an essential 21st century literacy..the structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture… [and] supports the freedom of network users to innovate.”

Between the three definitions, there are similarities, but the obvious development from McClure in the 90’s to Rheingold is the fact that it is no longer a skill of tomorrow’s citizens. It is in fact now an essential part of being an active member of society, because without it individuals will not be able to realise their potential, make a difference, innovate or participate. Network literacy, like digital literacy, forms part of the core 21st-century skills of being a global citizen.

References
McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

Rheingold, H. (2011). Network Literacy Part One. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6UKWozzVRM

Wikipedia (2015). Network literacy, Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_literacy