Head of Humanities at Riverside Christian College, north of Brisbane, Queensland. Degrees in Logistics and Graduate Diploma in Teaching. Love being a teacher and having the opportunity to help students in their learning journey. I have been involved in education since 2010 and am currently the Head of Humanities at Riverside Christian College, an independent school in Queensland. Over the past few years I have been a teacher of Modern History, Ancient History and Business studies for Grade 9-12. I have continuously strived to develop my skills and knowledge as an educator. I have done this through connecting online with educators, sharing and collaborating, and constantly reading and applying new ideas in my classrooms.
Married to Jacqui, english teacher and aspiring school counsellor, and dad to 4 year old Joscelyn.
It has been quite a journey over the past 3 months both with this subject and personally. I started this journey with GBL in March very excitedly, ready to engage with the subject. I started participating in the forums, wrote a few blog posts, sent a few tweets, stayed on top of modules and readings. My first assessment I managed to deliver a very good critique and I was all set for the second half of the unit.
As Term 2 started at school I, unfortunately, became extremely ill, and it would seriously affect my ability to function and stay on top of any of my work. To date, I have missed about 12 full school days and had at least 6 half-days, all a result of a blood condition that still has no resolution. This has meant that my blogging, reading, contributing effectively disappeared and I have been just trying to stay afloat. Even though I’m disappointed that I could not engage with the subject as I wanted to, I know that I plan on pursuing GBL with great excitement in the near future. So for my own journey on with this course, I will definitely say that I am intrigued and fascinated by how GBL actually works. This course has opened my eyes and my mind to the complexity of GBL, and the various pedagogical concerns that need to be addressed and how ineffectively it has been integrated into curriculum over the years.
My initial Blogpost at the start of the course said: “My own personal belief is that Game Based Learning (GBL) should be part of the whole digital education reform, and that it deserves a place alongside introducing ‘digital literacy’ skills and embedding it in all aspects of the curriculum.” (du Toit, 2017). This course has further solidified this belief for me. Starting out with Gee (2005) and his ideas that good games incorporate ‘good learning principles’ (p.34), and that “challenge and learning are a large part of what makes video games motivating and entertaining”. Then a series of fascinating examples and exploration of games. The composition of games, how they are structured, created and the complex balance of designing them, was fascinating. The information and cognitive theories that underpin the pedagogical considerations made me realise how much there is to GBL.
Although I was hampered by my health, I managed to have regular discussions with Jordan Grant on Google Hangouts, discussing ideas raised in the modules and readings; including interactions on Twitter and playing around with various games. Here’s a screenshot from one of our more recent discussions on the final assessment.
My final assessment gave me an opportunity to explore Breakout EDU and how I could use it with my students. Doing the research for that showed me the possibilities in GBL with History classrooms and the potential for rethinking a lot of the content delivery. Revisiting some earlier thoughts and discovering new trains of thought about information fluency has piqued my interest in the pedagogical frameworks required for successful GBL implementation.
I was never really a gamer, but I have started to explore it over the past few years since delving into the Playstation world. Overall the course has been extremely interesting and allowed me to start to grapple with the intricacies of GBL. I look forward to seeing how the technology will continue to evolve and be used in education more effectively.
Gaming often has this portrayal of being an isolating activity, teenagers in their bedrooms spending hours playing PS4/XBOX/PC games, only emerging when food is required or they have to get up to go to school. This popular myth is being challenged by a range of scholarly work highlighting the impact of gaming for learning and creation of socially cooperative learning environments. These gaming environments are breaking down the stereotypes through the demonstration of 21st-century skills that they offer.
The Four Cs of 21st Century Skills. (Lippl, 2013)
Gee (2005) puts forward that good games incorporate ‘good learning principles’ (p.34), which reflect sound pedagogy and links to the modern skills we are trying to teach in the classroom. Gee’s principles are extremely valuable to investigate and explore in his article ‘Good video games and good learning’
My experience of gaming is fairly limited and completely as an individual player, rather than in any online/cooperative gaming environment. This is where my challenge lies in figuring out the role of gaming in my classroom and how it can possibly create this socially inclusive space for students. My own experience around gaming has evolved with discovering the power of failure in games like ‘Assassin’s Creed’ and ‘Uncharted’; and as Gee points outthat failure is a good thing (2005, p.35), and my early failures have been used as Gee puts it, a way to find the patterns, and to gain feedback to overcome the obstacles (p.35). That is one of the big issues in the classroom that we do not encourage failure and actually work against it at all costs. Dan Haesler (2017) recently did a small twitter poll snapshot that shows how often we actually are allowing students more than one chance.
Twitter Poll (Haesler, 2017)
The question at hand on how we can encourage more failure, but at the same time creating socially inclusive classroom with games, can only take place if teachers are allowed freedom with the curriculum and be allowed to take risks.Kafai & Burke (2015) noted that playing games highlight the personal, social and cultural dimensions of constructionist learning, and this can according to Ives (2015) “not only be a constructivist view of learning, where learning emerges from experiences, but also a connectivist approach where learning is strengthened and enhanced when nodes of knowledge (players) connect and diffuse knowledge”.
The digital games which require the creation of “cross-functional teams” (Gee, 2005), where these are people with different functional expertise working towards common goals, are extremely beneficial in developing an inclusive classroom. It allows students of various abilities, interests, expertise, and passions to come together in a collaborative effort to solve problems and overcome obstacles. These are so-called Affinity Spaces, where experiential learning can happen, where novices and masters work together, knowledge is shared and collectively the group develops towards an end point.
The issue as Gee notes is that “challenge and learning are a large part of what makes video games motivating and entertaining”, but schools are generally not known for places where students enjoy learning. The challenge remains that we need to look at each game with a pedagogical framework on how we can create these socially inclusive learning environments that can engage students. Each one is unique and can offer endless learning opportunities.
Ives, M. (2015). Digital Games: Cross Functional Teams and Collaboration. [Blog] Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation Blog. Available at: http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/mattives/2015/03/22/digital-games-cross-functional-teams-and-collaboration/
Kafai, Y.B. & Burke, Q. (2015). Constructionist gaming: understanding the benefits of making games for learning, Educational Psychologist, 50 (4). DOI: 10.1080/00461520.2015.1124022
It is the Year 2017 and the introduction of new technologies and applications is accelerating. The education landscape today is markedly different to previous generations. The current group of Year 12 students in Queensland were mostly born in 2000; they have grown up in a world that is saturated with media, internet connectivity, smartphones, tablet computing, gaming, social media and video streaming. This is their world now, and educational systems are rapidly scrambling to adjust and keep up.
As John Seely Brown poses this question for schools to reflect on regarding their future, “What will schools, universities and research institutes look like in five years time?” (DML Research Hub, 2012) This is difficult to grasp based on the changes that keep taking place and the sheer speed of technological changes. At the same time according to Becker (2011), digital games technology is developing at a furious pace but relatively little scholarly work exists on the use of modern digital games for education. This is where the article of Jennings (2011) also adds to the argument through the research by Griffith University professor, Dr Catherine Beavis, an expert in video game-based learning, where she says “schools still have a way to go before they can harness the full educational potential of video games” and she believes that ” there is tremendous potential for games-based learning, but also the potential for things to go seriously wrong…”
My own personal belief is that Game Based Learning (GBL) should be part of the whole digital education reform, and that it deserves a place alongside introducing ‘digital literacy’ skills and embedding it in all aspects of curriculum. Both Vincent Trundle, digital education producer at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and many other educational researchers recognise how using video games to create diverse learning experiences is beneficial and important in being incorporated into contemporary education (Jennings, 2011). These games allow students and teachers to further develop the key 21st-century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, connecting, and critical inquiry.
Digital Game Based Cartoon (2011)
As games and gaming appear to have arrived on the educational-technology agenda, how do you see them fitting into your practice?
As a senior History and Business teacher I mainly teach the Year 12s at the school, focused on developing skills and preparing them for OP/ATAR requirements. This makes it very important that any gaming/games that I consider to integrate fits in well with the subjects and benefits the skills development of my students. I have used Kahoot and BreakoutEdu, and various other games along the way; but they need further thought and research.
What is the context of your learning?
This is my 3rd last subject with my Masters studies in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation. At the same time, I’m very active with my PLN online through Twitter (@jdtriver), Google Educator Groups and TeachMeets. They have all given me a rich experience on the importance of twenty-first century digital pedagogy and driven me to keep developing my skills.
What are your personal aims in this subject?
To develop a greater understanding of the research and theory behind GBL. Also to explore different games, platforms and tools; seeing how they could benefit myself, my students or my colleagues. I would also like to be able to integrate GBL more effectively in my senior class and share my knowledge with my school community.
What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?
Managing work-study-family-health balance for a start, as well as the various education commitments outside my school that I’m involved in. I would like to develop a greater understanding of GBL, and as someone that is fairly new to gaming in general, I would like to challenge myself to explore and try various new GBL ideas along the way. The biggest challenge will be to share my newly acquired knowledge with staff and overcoming any resistance to these ideas.
I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and deeper exploration of GBL.
Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA
Digital Game-Based Learning Cartoon (2017) flickr photo by Son Le (GER) [IMAGE] Retrieved from https://flickr.com/photos/donjonson/5351362611
Elearningindustry.com. (2017). Gamification and Game based learning. [IMAGE] Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/gamification-and-game-based-learning-yes-they-are-different.jpg
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:
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 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.
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.
My next Business class MOOC
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.
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.
Google Teacher Academy 2014
GEG Summit Singapore 2016
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
The site has the following clear logo and banner at the top:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
I already connect with multiple platforms with a PLN – Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, YouTube, TeachMeets and I have used many of the tools listed like Evernote, Dropbox, Drive, Instragram, Maps, etc.; so it was interesting to explore this topic;
6 Digital tools to experiment with that are:
(a) new to you, i.e., they were not already part of your PLN before you began this subject; and
(b) of particular interest to you in developing your PLN, or introducing knowledge networking into the curriculum.
Record the process of selecting, testing/trialling and evaluating of each tool as entries on your blog throughout the session.
The six that I want to invest time in over the coming months to see how I can use it more in my own teaching are:
I’m not going to get a chance to test/trial all of them before the end of this current Masters subject, but I will be reaching out to PLN to start getting ideas, advice and support. First up will be setting up a Skype/Hangout with a Not-for-profit entrepreneur for my Business class and running a Breakout Edu session for teachers & students during Term 4. I have students that will be teaching me how to use Snapchat, and then we can see how we could use it in the classroom. Much to learn….just need to create the time 🙂