My Blog Post on Connected Potential & Changing Mindsets set me on a journey of discivering a few new concepts like the debate about ‘Digital Natives’. This is one area I have defintely changed my viewpoint over the course and by observing it first-hand with students at my school. So many are struggling with technology, and we need to be teaching digital literacy and how to use the tools much more explicitely. The course has really opened my eyes to this concepts through the modules and readings.
I also made the point in this Blog Post, “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.”
This became the driving force behind my digital essay. trying to come to an understanding of what 21st century skills are, why we should be modelling them to students and the reason why they are not, have been constant nagging questions over the last few months.
Along with this image I posted in the blog it started my thinking on mindsets, and how important they are in a digital landscape.
The Profile of a Modern Teacher by Reid Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)
Two comments on the Blog started my thinking even further regarding mindsets and networks.
The theory of Connectivism was completely new to me, and once again it started appearing often in my posts and in my final digital essay. In my Blog post ‘Connect to Live’ I was able to explore the concept a bit further and started linking it with personal learnring networks. As George Siemens (2015) decribed is as the “amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network”.
My biggest issue throughout was time, between family and school commitments I felt strectched to capacity often. Even now as I write this I’m trying to finish it early as I have other edcuation commitments for the weekend and next week that are pressing. Time is often a factor for changing mindsets, it is a good excuse and an easy one to use. I realised with my first assignment that being time-poor can be detrimenntal in studies and school.
My views of edcuational professionals in digital environments have changed, and are constantly evolving. From my digital essay I have realised how important a PLN is, a growth mindset, modelling good digitila citizenship and supporting others in their journey. I hope as I progress in this course I can apply some of the education theories, build on my understanding of the changing nature of learning in the 21st century and be able to leverage this to serve my colleagues and students more.
Siemens, G. (2015). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Wilson, R. (2014). The Profile of a Modern Teacher [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.coetail.com/wayfaringpath/2014/10/14/the-profile-of-a-modern-teacher/
Educators also need to become 21st-century learners
Digital tools selected will be either Tackk or Storify. Both platforms allow for seamless integration of multimedia from a variety of sources. As I develop the essay with research I will explore both platforms to determine which will serve the topic best.
The majority of teachers grew up in an educational system before the advent of social media, mobile technology and Google. In just over 2 years we will never have school students again born before the year 2000. With the changing dynamics of technology, access and networks, it is becoming imperative that teachers develop a growth mindset in themselves and leverage the power of digital tools to increase their skills. By doing this they will be able to serve their school and students, and be able to model digital citizenship to students. I’m passionate about connecting teachers, sharing ideas, resources and having discussions to improve our education settings. In being involved with Twitter, Blogging and TeachMeets my PLN has widened and I have grown as an educator. Many teachers are still not engaged in directing their own personal development and realising the potential that technology offers. What restricts them? Why? Many questions to look at, and to explore what research says about this area.
Assignment: Scholarly Book Review of Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger
Published by Corwin Press, California, USA, 2014.
Integration of digital technology into education has come to the forefront this century and it has become clear that educators of all levels need to adapt to serve learners in this new digital age. Change is required and Eric Sheninger explores in Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times how educators can successfully and practically use technology to transform school cultures and create sustainable change. In Digital Leadership he shares personal experience, insights and examples of how educators have harnessed the power of technology to transform schools, and he establishes a framework to guide educators in becoming digital leaders. This review will focus on Digital Leadership’s role in providing a compelling argument and methods to initiate sustainable change, simultaneously acknowledging trends in information and knowledge environments that are created by social and technological changes in the digital age.
Eric Sheninger is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education. At time of publication of this book he was Principal of New Milford High School, New Jersey, where he had extensive experience in developing and implementing innovative practices with tremendous success. The practical examples lends to the authenticity and strength of the book. The book is aimed at school leaders, however the framework can be applied to classroom teachers too. It is broken up into two distinctive parts; the first part focuses on why a change is required, whilst in the second part he shares his ‘Seven Pillars of Digital Leadership’ in separate chapters. They are: communication, public relations, branding, professional growth and development, increasing student engagement and enhancing learning, rethinking learning environments and spaces, and discovering opportunity. These pillars are aligned to the 2009 International Society of Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Standard for Administrators and provide the framework for technological changes in the digital age.
Sheninger believes that school leaders need to acknowledge that modern learners are ‘wired’ differently, and their learning styles are in conflict with traditional teaching methods (2014, p. 15). There has been a societal shift in technology use, with social media, mobile devices and online communication driving a new knowledge ecosystem (O’Connell, 2015). This is supported by research from the PEW Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that finds, “92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online almost constantly” and that the internet is a central and indispensable part in the lives of American teens and young adults (Lenhart, 2015). He utilises research from Childwise, Bloomberg, Strategy Analytics, mobiThinking, MacArthur Foundation, and others to explain the changing dynamics in accessing technology.
A new culture of learning is developing, where information is networked and where participation is reshaping the way individuals learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Technology is driving this change, and this is why Sheninger believes it is so important to create learning experiences that are flexible, adaptable and that creates new skills in students for the twenty-first century. The Digital Media and Learning Hub supports this with their model of connected learning; which contends that connected learning involves an equal, social and participatory culture (Connectedlearning.tv, 2015). Sheninger explains that understanding how learners in the twenty-first century use technology is key to developing a school culture that will best meet the needs of students. Patricia Collarbone (2009), in Creating Tomorrow, supports the view that managing and leading the modernisation is required through an effective process for substantial, beneficial and sustainable change. Sheninger’s message here is about laying a foundation for students to become critical consumers of content, develop digital citizenship, and promote the ability to create, analyse and interpret media (2014, p. 35). Professor Yong Zhao (2012) also acknowledges in his book, World Class Learners, similar skills for students, the skills are effective communication, curiosity, and critical thinking.
Eric Sheninger reviews how the education landscape has changed, and the importance of school leaders taking charge in leading change management; highlighted with these quotes, “leaders must be the pillars of their respective institutions and focus on solutions rather than problems” (2014, p. 31) and “it is our duty to be agents of change” (2014, p. 36). Using examples from Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Ian Jukes, Pam Moran, and Michael Fullard he highlights some of the reasons for change and why embracing digital leadership is key. Leaders need to join online conversations and take responsibility for the actions and education of future leaders, the students (Ahlquist, 2014). Sheninger blends into Chapter 4 the work of Michael Fullan (2008), a change expert, and discusses Fullan’s ‘Six Secrets of Change’ and how they are applied to Digital Leadership principles. Alongside this he deals effortlessly with obstacles that many schools face, and ways that they could be overcome with various strategies. Obstacles such as Wi-Fi, networks, budget cuts, government regulations and others are great concerns for many, and is an area that could be explored further. Each school situation is different, and Sheninger (2014) does make a point that “Each school is an autonomous body with distinct dynamics that make it unique. It’s the small changes over time that will eventually leave a lasting impact.” (p. 70). The constant message is that it is a shift in mindset that is required for schools. Scott Klososky points out that education leaders today are becoming transitional leaders, “who are responsible for managing the transition to teaching and learning in a different way, preparing very different students to go into a very different world” (O’Brien, 2015). As part of the transformation process, Sheninger highlights the importance of students having their voices heard in transforming school cultures, and this is an area of strength for the book.
In leading into the Seven Pillars, he shares some of the key areas of change at his school, New Milford, and his own personal journey. Points raised centre on how connectedness acted as a catalyst for change, importance of sharing a vision, supporting and empowering staff, establishing the value in changes and allowing students to be part of the process.. The driving question according to Sheninger is how we should use the technology that is available to us to improve what we do, instead of why we should use it to improve what we do (Sheninger, 2014). Chapters 5-11 explore this through explanations, how to accomplish it and showcases examples of educators that have paved the way. Social Media tools play an important role in almost every single pillar, along with the idea of ‘Connectedness’ being the conduit for supporting each of the pillars.
Communication, Public Relations and Branding are the first three pillars and they can be considered to be interdependent upon one another. Sheninger (2014, p. 86) says, “Educators must be experts in effective communication techniques, especially when it comes to parents and other key stakeholders”. Communication at the same time needs to be a two-way form, not a static one-way transmission, and social media allows this to take place. He uses examples from how to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate, plus discussions of Joe Mazza’s ‘eFace’ concept where technology is used to support Family and Community Engagement initiatives. Ribble and Miller (2013) also agree that technology and social networks provide a tremendous avenue for communication and building relationships. This is also noted by Bouffard (2015) that communication is at the heart of family–school relationships.
Communication is seen in both the next two pillars, Public Relations and Branding. Using the story of Van Meter Community School District under the leadership of John Carver, he explains how they used social media tools to establish a global footprint and craft their own message. This showcases the powerful message that, “If we do not tell our story, someone else will.” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 99). Digital Leadership allows schools to create a solid foundation for positive public relations using social media that complements communication efforts (Sheninger, 2014, p. 99). Branding allows educators to leverage social media and other digital tools to establish their professional brands in education. This is done through building connections, sharing, trust, and relationships with students, parents, teachers and stakeholders. These three boil down to establishing a schools message, communicating it and building a positive identity for the school. Sheninger mentions that communication is the most important thing he does every day (2014, p.89).
In the Pillar for Professional Growth and Development, Sheninger discusses the power of creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and how to do this. He uses research from Alec Couros to showcase how an online PLN is crucial for modern educators. One of the key reasons why online PLN’s are so powerful for learning is that “Knowledge is shared, and not just taken” (2014, p. 119). Connectedness is becoming the standard for teaching professionals to grow, and “Digital leadership require connectedness as an essential component to cultivate innovative practices and lead sustainable change” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 122). The learning model of ‘Connectivism’ acknowledges the shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity, but rather deriving competence from forming connections (Siemens, 2004). Educators can now learn anytime, anywhere, and with anyone through leveraging the power of social media networks.
Increasing Student Engagement and Enhancing Learning Pillar ties together how leaders can support learners in developing knowledge, skills, and confidence to be successful in the twenty-first century. The key concept that Sheninger (2014, p.134) shares is that this new learning requires a constructivist, heutagogical approach to teaching and learning. Jackie Gerstein (2013) also explains that teachers, learners, networks, connections, media, resources and tools are creating a unique entity that has the potential to meet individual needs. Students want their learning to be authentic and meaningful. Students need to be at the centre of decision-making, and the strength in this book is how Sheninger constantly refers to utilising students’ voice to support the change. Students become educated on digital citizenship, responsibility and creating positive digital footprints; something that many schools are failing at. Students have a wide-ranging set of technology skills, this is changing teaching methods, as well as when and how students learn and many schools are integrating digital citizenship training as part of their school improvement efforts (Ribble & Miller, 2013). He often refers to pedagogy first and tools second in creating sustainable change, making it clear that devices and technology always come second.
Learning environments and spaces pillar links in well with creating learning areas that are flexible, foster creativity and facilitate learning. He demonstrates this with the Gahana Jefferson District example of how they re-imagined spaces and how they could be utilised. The issue of school redesign he believes should be part of any educational reform process. Discovering opportunity rounds up the Seven Pillars, and once again he links the pillars together and summarises how they are interdependent on one another. Through working on the first six pillars it will allow leaders to find innovative solutions, share their stories and model digital leadership. This will then result in countless opportunities for schools, educators and students to open up.
Connect, collaborate, share, create and communicate are cornerstones for the 21st century educators and through Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times, Sheninger provides an informative and practical guide on how to initiate the change. He addresses the paradigm shift that is taking place due to connectedness, ubiquitous nature of information and accelerated changes in technology. Through his own story, that of other innovative educators, and supported with various external sources, he showcases how they have responded to the change. He acknowledges that at the heart of digital leadership, the human interactions will always remain the key component in changing education (Sheninger, 2014, p. 191). For school leaders there is no longer a debate on whether or not to be a digital leader, Eric Sheninger successfully provides a clear framework on why and how to initiate the change.
Ahlquist, J. (2014). Trending Now: Digital Leadership Education Using Social Media and the Social Change Model. J Ldrship Studies, 8(2), 57-60. doi:10.1002/jls.21332
Bouffard, S. (2015). Tapping Into Technology: The Role of the Internet in Family–School Communication / Browse Our Publications / Publications & Resources / HFRP – Harvard Family Research Project. Hfrp.org. Retrieved 17 April 2015, from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/tapping-into-technology-the-role-of-the-internet-in-family-school-communication
Collarbone, P. (2009). Creating tomorrow (p. 11). London: Network Continuum.
Connectedlearning.tv,. (2015). Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from http://connectedlearning.tv/infographic
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Gerstein, J. (2013). Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0. User Generated Education. Retrieved 16 April 2015, from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/schools-are-doing-education-1-0-talking-about-doing-education-2-0-when-they-should-be-planning-education-3-0/
Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved 13 April 2015, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/
O’Brien, A. (2015). School Leaders: Guiding Teachers into the Digital Age. Edutopia. Retrieved 15 April 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/school-leaders-guiding-teachers-digital-age-anne-obrien
O’Connell, J. (2015). 1.3 Trends in Technology Environments. Lecture, Retrieved March 20, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-249312-dt-content-rid-635255_1/courses/S-INF530_201530_W_D/module1/1_3_Trends_tech.html.
Ribble, M., & Miller, T. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks,17(1), 137-145. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379
Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.
Siemens, G. (2004). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved 17 April 2015, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning. [Lexington, Ky.]: [CreateSpace?].
Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners (p. 8). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, a Joint Publication with the National Association of Elementary School Principals.
creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by auspices: http://flickr.com/photos/auspices/14892685406
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
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.
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.
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’:
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 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/
I shared this post recently during the #28daysofwriting with my Blog. A bit more background about me and the origins of my blog name.
|Photo by Takashi Hososhima (CC BY-SA 2.0)|
|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.
I’m sitting here tonight getting myself ready to launch into my first Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) subject, INF530 Concepts & Practices for a Digital Age. What an exciting course to start this new learning journey with, and I’m nervous and excited at the same time. There will be a learning curve, there will be challenges and there will be frustrations, but the growth that lies ahead is so inviting. From deciding to enroll in this course 6 months ago, to now, the anticipation has been building. Now the time is here.
I’m looking forward to this journey; Learning alongside so many wonderful educators and being challenged in my thinking by the incredible lecturers involved. ‘Always Learning’ is part of my motto with everything I do, and I’m looking forward to doing this with everyone in this course over the next few years.
Image: creative commons licensed (BY 2.0) Flickr photo by Official US Navy Page: https://flic.kr/p/fcEdEt