Digital Artefact & Exegesis

First assessment task for #INF532 involved creating a digital artefact and writing an exegesis on it.

 

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge

 

See on Tackk

Exegesis 

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge

Introduction

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is a learning artefact that has been designed to support teachers in their journey to understand why and how they can become connected educators. It has become a fundamental requirement for modern educators to become 21st-century learners where they take control of their own professional development and how they foster connections with the world. The environment that students and educators are interacting with is constantly evolving, with rapid technological advancements,  greater access to information and the exponential growth of social media platforms fuelling it. With the interconnectedness of our world, people need to learn to communicate, collaborate, and problem solves with people worldwide (Saavedra & Opfer, 2012, p. 8)  Ball & Forzani also agree that this new dynamic society requires innovative uses of technology, and a much greater emphasis on collaboration and problem solving (2009, p. 497). Haste (2009) further supports this when she describes the 21st-century student as a collaborative tool user who needs a new brand of competencies to thrive within a changing environment.

For many educators it can be a daunting task to begin this journey as a modern educator in a hyperconnected environment.  The connector 10 educator challenge is a learning artefact that will allow educators the opportunity to explore a range of different tools and platforms to realise the full potential of being a connected educator. The artefact explores a range of tools such as twitter, Google+, Facebook. Blogs, TeachMeets and much more. The different sections are designed to allow exploration and development of skills. It is important that educators develop these connected networks, and develop their skills in different areas. Tom Whitby’s (2015) view highlights that “the gap between teacher and student will continue to widen if the educator’s’ mindset for learning does not evolve”, further strengthens the idea that educators need to change. The educators themselves are the key to any changes that are required, and this needs to be addressed by focusing on allowing time to explore, to experiment and develop a mindset that is focused on creating a more networked, collaborative, and self-directed educator.

Artefact Design

The artefact has been designed on the platform Tackk, which allows for the integration of various forms of digital media, text and other tools, to facilitate the collection of resources and sections that form the Connected 10 Educator Challenge. The contents are designed in a sequential format to allow the educators that interact with it. Tackk platform allows the Connected 10 Educator Challenge to be improved over time by adding more resources and updating it when required, ultimately making it a more dynamic resource. It is designed to be able to be shared on different social media accounts, and can also be copied by Tackk users and repurposed for their own learning environments.

It starts with an overview of the artefact challenge, followed by the ten different sections. These sections are designed around learning and trialling new tools to become a more connected educator. Each individual section includes either video, links to further reading or how-to guides; at the end of each section, there is a challenge to allow for the development of skills, confidence and be reflective of their practice. This artefact is designed to be a manageable challenge and progressive development of abilities. The idea for a Connected learning artefact is a blend of inspiration from the connected educator month, various Twitter guides, and mostly through interactions with educators. Many have admitted that their biggest problems with being a connected educator are; that they are scared, they do not know how to use the tools, and they don’t have the time. The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’s inspiration concept has developed into a practical resource that educators can interact with and allow them to build their confidence in the connected environments. It is designed to allow educators the opportunity to explore these tools, but also make them be reflective of their practice as they go along. It is also designed to be flexible in nature, meaning that is can be done daily, weekly or as a self-paced challenge.

Artefact Context

Knowledge building is considered a foundational aspect of learning (Lindsay, 2016a), and the artefact is designed to build the knowledge of an individual, but also contribute to the collective knowledge of a group. The artefact considers that the physical aspect is, in fact, more a virtual aspect, where an educator has the opportunity to explore and learn about a range of new tools. The artefact is designed to engage the individual through interactive videos, various readings, links and engaging with the various challenges. This results in real world learning where the individual is required to utilise the various ideas and respond to them.

The ‘Information Society’ relies on constant access and transmission of information, because  information inherently wants to be free (Lindsay, 2016b). The belief that we have entered ‘Information Overload’ is not new, but with the digital era that is evolving it can become amplified. As educators we need to make a choice in the digital era to collectively reimagine learning (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012) and how we manage this torrent of information. The artefact is designed to facilitate the management of information, streamlining it for the participants into meaningful and manageable chunks.

The main context of the artefact is the exploration of networks and connected learning, and as Howard Rheingold (2011) explains it that “understanding how networks work is one of the most important literacies of the 21st century”. Learning to collaborate with others and connect through technology essential skills in a knowledge-based economy (Lindsay, 2016a). The importance of digital literacies in how people use their social networks in a constant cycle to connect to their friends, family, and others becomes a crucial skill to address. Individuals are connected in more ways than can be imagined and it is shaping their access to networks of information. The learning artefact supports this because it focuses on the creation of contexts where individuals are learning in a networked age, where connecting, growing and navigating networks becomes key driver in a knowledge-based economy (Lindsay, 2016b).

Thomas and Seely Brown (2011) contends that information is a networked resource, where engaging with information becomes a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world. The theory of Connectivism further explains that learners create new knowledge through more efficient and effective network connections, and it increases the motivation for self-directed learning. George Siemens (2011) explains that the focus on connections requires that learners be exposed to elements that extend beyond the classroom and allow for real-life experience.

As part of the design context, there is a distinct focus on utilising a range of tools, not just one particular medium. The artefact follows what Cook (2012) believes in that there is a movement towards the concept of learning all the time and everywhere, and this concept of a constant state of learning creates a new paradigm for learning (p. 48). This puts us in the position to connect; identify and access information from our networks (McClure, 1994). Furthermore, the artefact is designed to support the concepts of peer-to-peer learning where groups of like-minded individuals working together to develop their knowledge and expertise by implementing new ideas and insights from shared experiences (Lindsay, 2016c).

Critical exposition

The Why

The artefact is designed to introduce educators to different ways to connect and build their own PLN. At the heart of the artefact is the need to build a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Lieberman & Pointer-Mace (2009) propose that ubiquity of technology and social networking resources provide a means for networked learning to scale up (p. 77), and thus create these PLN’s. As Patnoudes (2012) describes it, “a PLN is a system for lifelong learning” and the need is to realise that PLN’s are inherently designed to be personal experiences. A PLN consists of a network of individuals that all contribute in some form to the development of an individual’s learning and growth. Will Richardson states that ‘everyone’s network will look different’ (Richardson, 2007) and Buchanan (2011) notes, “at the heart of a PLN are people.. from whom you can learn and with whom you, in turn, can share and converse.” (p. 19).

The idea of a PLN mirrors the dynamics of a ‘community of practice’ (COP), where Wenger (Lieberman & Pointer-Mace, 2009, p. 79) described the idea that most people learn in these “communities of practice” through connecting and collaborating. A community of practice is all about the groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do, and they then learn how to do it better as they interact more with one another (Wenger, 2012). A PLN requires interaction and participation, it grows and changes over time to reflect individual requirements and interests.

For these reasons the artefact is focused on providing an opportunity for the flattening of hierarchies and boundaries as they overrun traditional connections  and taxonomy (Pegrum, 2010). This personalised collaboration and informalisation through a network are at the core of learning in the future (Redecker et al, 2011). The artefact is exposing participants to the creation of knowledge through a more social and connected activity.

The What

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is divided into 10 sections, each with a particular focus on developing skills and knowledge. The goal is creating a participatory and collaborative culture that surpasses the connections they previously had access to formal learning environments such as schools (Kumasi, 2014, p. 9). The research by Igel & Urquhart (2012) supports this aspect that social and constructivist learning theories assert that humans acquire and extend knowledge through interaction with one another (p. 16).

The sections include social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIN; but also creation/consumption tools such as Blogging, Podcasts and Youtube. These websites consist of millions of active users worldwide and are focused on sharing information/knowledge. The tool sections have a comprehensive guide and links to assist people in using them, but they do require participants to be active in using them. The daily/weekly challenges are set to make make sure that educators understand that knowledge can be obtained through valuing the diversity of opinion because the connections between many sources can lead to new knowledge (Cook, 2012, p. 48).

The How

The challenges are focused on building the connections through reflective and active exploration. The secret to the success of this will be making sure that relationships are the primary focus and as Steve Wheeler (2012) states, “a PLN is to keep in touch, to maintain a dialogue with their community of practice.” These challenges are intentional and have the purpose of improving learning through connecting. The creation of a PLN allows the members to amplify their intelligence (Siemens, 2008). The need is to understand what it means to be a learner within a connected world to support the students in schools, and this is where the challenges help build this understanding.

Conclusion

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is a learning artefact designed to lead to further conversations and connections, because in a network age, your influence depends on your degree of connectedness (Pegrum, 2010). The artefact is designed to be personalised, focused on an organic and ever-changing PLN that contributes through sharing knowledge. Ultimately Knowledge networking is about working and sharing common interests with a network of like-minded professionals, and this artefact challenge pushes unconnected educators to explore new paradigms of learning. The design of the artefact offers the flexibility to adjust, adapt and improve the artefact; with space for others to add resources, links and new knowledge to the artefact over time. The importance of being a connected educator in a global knowledge age is fundamental to the success and development of an educator.

References

Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education. Journal of teacher education, 60(5), 497-511.

Buchanan, R. (2011). Developing a personal learning network (PLN). [online].Scan, 30(4), 19-22; Retrived from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=189317;res=AEIPT

Cook, V. (2012). Learning everywhere, all the time. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 78(3), 48-51. Retrieved from

http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/docview/1030422997?

accountid=10344

Haste, H. (2009). Technology and Youth: Problem Solver vs. Tool User (part 1 of 4) [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/yzros5qlj44

Igel, C., & Urquhart, V. (2012). Generation Z, meet cooperative learning. Middle School Journal, 43(4), 16-21.

Kumasi, K. (2014). Connected Learning: Linking Academics, Popular Culture, and Digital Literacy in a Young Urban Scholars Book Club. Teacher Librarian, 41(3), 8.

Lieberman, A., & Mace, D. P. (2009). Making Practice Public: Teacher Learning in the 21st Century. Journal Of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 77–88. doi:10.1177/0022487109347319

Lindsay, J. (2016a). A new paradigm. [INF532 Module 1.3]. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module1/1_3_new_paradigm.html

Lindsay, J. (2016b). Information environments. [INF532 Module 1.3]. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module1/1_1_Info_enviro.html

Lindsay, J. (2016c). Peer-to-peer learning and knowledge networking. [INF532 Module 3.3]. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module3/3_3%20PeertoPeer_Learning_Knowledge_Networking.html

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

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.

Patnoudes, E. (2012, October 1). Why (and how) you should create a personal learning network. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/build-personal-learning-network/

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

Redecker, C., Leis, M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P., Stoyanov, S. & Hoogveld, B. (2011). The future of learning: preparing for change. Rapport Commission Européenne. Retrieved from http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=4719

Rheingold, H. (2012). Introduction: Why you need digital know-how—Why we all need it. Net smart: How to thrive online. Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262017459_sch_0001.pdf

Will Richardson (2007, December 7). Personal learning networks [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mghGV37TeK8

Saavedra, A. R. & Opfer, V. D. (2012). Learning 21st-Century Skills Requires 21st-Century Teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(2), 8–13. doi:10.1177/003172171209400203

Siemens, G. (2008, September 28). A brief history of networked learning. Retrieved from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/HistoryofNetworkLearning.rtf

Siemens, G. (2011) Special Issue – Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 2(3), 1-5.

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

Wenger, E. (2012). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf

Wheeler, S. (2012, August 17). The importance of being networked [Blog post]. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2012/08/the-importance-of-being-networked.html

Whitby, T. (2015, January 26). Why Twitter Will Never Connect All Educators [Blog Post]. Retrieved, from https://tomwhitby.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/why-twitter-will-never-connect-all-educators/

 

Designing Spaces for Learning – Case Report

This is my case report assignment as part of INF536 Designing Spaces for Learning with Ewan McIntosh.

Introduction

The case study report explores the conception, management and impact of how a change in a physical space was done to influence student learning. The report will describe and critically analyse the parameters of ‘choice of process’, ‘the nature of work groups and teams’ and ‘exterior pressures and design constraints’; using literature and examples to inform the process of designing spaces for learning. Recommendations will be made from the analysis to inform the design practice and how learning space design can be improved in future scenarios.

 

Case Development

This case study analyses the process that took place at a K-12 school in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia during 2012 to 2013. Over the past several years the school had undergone rapid growth and expansion, with enrolments increasing by more than 20% per year. In late 2012 the decision was made to move the library from its existing space into a new building that had been commissioned for 2013. The old library space was created when the school was still a relatively small school of less than 200 students. By 2013 the school had over 600 students enrolled, and with future predictions of over 800 students by 2016. This meant that the old library space no longer would be able to serve the school cohort and there was no space for senior students especially to have study time, nor space for junior school students to explore, such as makerspaces. The new building block that was proposed would include two science laboratories and a performing arts area on the top floor, and the bottom floor would serve as the new library space; with two general classrooms on the side. The new space was envisioned to be a hub for learning, with more study space for senior students and greater access to an open space for junior students for reading and storytelling activities. The funding came about through increased expenditure by the Australian government through the Building Education Revolution funding.

 

The decision to add new buildings, and the management of them at the school, is done with a team involving the architects, school building project manager, construction foreman and the school principal, as well as some input from the school board members. There was some consultation with the librarian, but she had decided to return to classroom and would not be part of this new space. No other teachers or students were consulted in the design and conceptualisation process. The management and leadership of the space design involved regular meetings between the project manager, the architect and the builder. They met and discussed the school space requirements, considered the legislation and building code aspects, and decided upon the layout of the building. The project team made all decisions regarding furniture, fittings and decor. This management and design of the space is an interesting element to explore as it looks at who actually controls the space design, in particular with regards to the design being done ‘at’ the users rather than ‘with’ them (Kimbell, 2011).

 

Furthermore the issue that arises from this, is that the power controlled by a few in designing spaces for learning leaves the actual users with no voice in the process. The choices that the design team makes can, and is, heavily influenced by financial constraints; but also the nature of the work group designing it. The biggest concern with non-teachers and non-students designing the spaces is that the pedagogical input is absent. The following critical analysis will look at how this new space was conceived, managed and led to impact learning in the new library.

 

The Critical Analysis

Choice of Process

The space is a core part of developing a creative culture at a school (McIntosh, 2015c), with every new space creating an unique possibility to impact learning. Teaching and pedagogy change over time and buildings need to be able to respond with and to it (Blyth, 2013, p. 264). The actual way of going about it is key to the successful creation, management and implementation of a change of space. The design starts as a cloudy idea about how it should look or how it should work (Razzouk & Shute, 2012, p. 335), and then eventually progresses into new innovations to meet the needs and wants of a growing school. According to the JISC report, “Effective dialogues are needed to establish what will be required from the learning spaces” (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 10). Flynn also agrees that doing research is crucial, but at the start it is imperative to define the vision for the change (Flynn, 2008, p. 24).

 

The establishment of the pedagogical aims at the onset is crucial before any design process can begin (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 6). As Andrew Blyth points out, “To create a well-designed school you need to invest in the whole design process, which is all about enabling the architect to get a good understanding of the educational needs of the school client,…”(Blyth, 2013, p. 265). In the case study however, this does not take place. The design is purely focused on the creation of a large space to house the library. There is no consideration of the pedagogical vision for the space, nor is there research conducted to gather insight on how modern library spaces are being utilised.

 

There are some common elements of how to go about the management of the whole change process in various literatures. Seidel and Fixson (2013, p. 20) describe this process as ‘Need-finding’, where the focus is gaining insight through observation, empathy and immersion into the user’s context. Brown and Katz (2011, p. 382) agree that the process needs to start with intense observation and immersion to gain insight in how space can be used and to develop empathy for the users. Tim Brown (2009, p. 1) also points out, “Design is human-centred”, and as such the people using it always need to be considered in the process of changing a space. Kuratko, Goldsworthy and Hornsby (2012) further explain that the gathering of information from a variety of sources is needed to help with decision-making (p. 114). The case study appears to have not followed what the literature proposes, as there was no immersion or observation by the individuals tasked to manage the change. The case study observed turned out to be a very designer-centric approach that did not allow for understanding of pedagogical aims, but rather purely on building design.

 

The nature of work groups and teams

Each space is unique, and requires a shared responsibility and ownership by all stakeholders for successful change (du Toit, 2015).There is multiple different literatures that share similar views on how important the design team is for the successful creation of new spaces. Design involves all members of the team or groups to have a shared responsibility in the design process (McIntosh, 2015a). As Flynn points out, building a stakeholder team that has representation of potential users and nonusers of a space, includes a diversity of individuals in the planning team (Flynn, 2008, p. 24). This team needs to have a combination of pragmatics and creative people, all of whom are open and willing to listen to different viewpoints (Flynn, 2008, p. 24).

 

These teams could be a formal ‘space management team’ (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 13), an ‘interdisciplinary team’ for complex problem-solving (Brown & Katz, 2011, p. 381), or a ‘multidisciplinary team’ (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). The best designers don’t work alone, their designing and redesigning requires collaboration between teams of people with different disciplines, and insights are gained where they interconnect (Gardiner, 2013, p.5). The multidisciplinary teams that Seidel and Fixson refer to able to attempt a broader range of challenges and they allow creative ideas to flourish (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). Blyth mentions that for teams to function to their highest capacity the designers and educators need to speak the same language (2013, p. 267). The design in education needs to be more ‘us-with-them’ (Brown & Katz, 2011, p.32), and focus on all relevant stakeholders. This means that effective change cannot occur without the input from teachers and students. It is therefore essential that learners also need to be involved in the design process of learning spaces (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 4). The continuous input of students is an essential ingredient in an effective design process to create learning spaces (Souter, Riddle, Sellers, & Keppell, 2011, p. 14).

 

The case study does not match with these findings at all. The case study shows that the group or team designing the spaces is a very narrow, confined composition. All the literature points to having a diverse group; including teachers and students, but also allowing all groups to have input in the design process. Without the end-users involved in the team it makes it very difficult for teachers, or students, to feel any ownership of the space. The team in the case study has also been involved in many other projects, and this could lead to them being more skilled in decision-making, but at the same time the assumptions, motivations and conservatism of the group never allows creativity or experimentation to take place.

 

Exterior pressures and design constraints

New facilities are long-term investments that require significant capital outlay and a number of different constraints need to be considered (Joint Information Services Committee, 2006, p. 3). When considering the different pressures or constraints, the design team always needs to return to what type of learning they want to see take place there. To do this, there needs to be a deep understanding of the pedagogy involved for the space (McIntosh, 2015b), and this links back to the composition of a design team needed to include all stakeholders to give that diverse perspectives that teachers and students could provide. Tim Brown explains it very well that dealing with design, the desirability, viability and feasibility drives any new project (Brown, 2009, p. 3). There are many diverse requirements to consider, from construction materials, government funding specifications, building code legislation, state and local council legislation, and a host of other areas to consider, based on where the project takes place.

 

The design brief needs to offer flexibility, but at the same time it is crucial to be very specific in dealing with the conflicting constraints. School systems are motivated to improve spaces, but external pressures and uncertainty about the future often hamper them. Kuratko et al. (2012) says that these constraints need to be accepted and embraced; and that competing constraints are the foundation of design thinking (p.110). According to Alastair Blyth, one of the biggest constraints that school have to deal with is money and they have to work within this (Blyth, 2013, p. 264). Buildings are expensive, and there is an acceptance that new buildings need to be future orientated and allow for flexibility to adapt.

 

The case study that has been examined does appear to match several of the points that deal with external pressures. There is ample consideration taken of legislative and financial constraints when designing the space. This is managed well with utilising government funding and having an expert on the different legal requirements as part of the planning team. The area that is absent however is the focus on the learning, the pedagogy, for the space and how the different constraints impact this. There is also minimal use of creativity to consider alternative design elements, and as such the case study fails in developing innovative new strategies.

 

Conclusion

The physical learning environment plays a central role in reforming the operational culture of a school (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 2) Unfortunately the new library space design suffers from a range of untapped resources and possibilities. With the project team being very designer-centric, it meant that there was little room for creativity, user input or pedagogical considerations. Therefore the lack of diverse input through teachers, students, community and others means that there is a lack of ownership felt by the users. Furthermore, the space ended up being inflexible and constraining; and as Kuratko et al. (2012, p. 104) states, “ A well-designed artefact is embraced by the target audience, whereas bad design leaves the user confused and/or uninterested in the artefact.” Many issues could have been avoided and the following recommendations are to be considered to improve the process in the future.

 

 

Recommendations

  • The design team needs to be able to embrace the first stage of developing new ideas. This means being able to immerse themselves in observing how spaces are used. Quite often architects do not fully appreciate the nuances in education (Blyth, 2013, p. 267), and by having architects meet with teachers and do first-hand observation, it will offer them greater perspective.
  • Similarly, educators are not always able to read architectural plans and drawings, and careful consideration needs to be addressed with how communication takes place (Blyth, 2013, p. 267). By working on the means of communication it will enable misinterpretation to be avoided.
  • Part of observation involves developing the opportunity to grow empathy for the actual users of the spaces. Design planning needs to be able to utilise this and become much more user-centric, rather than design-centric. As Brown and Katz (2011) point out, design needs to put people first (p. 382).
  • When developing new designs it also important to consider developing prototypes that will allow users to critique and provide feedback. Feedback is extremely powerful in adjusting designs early on in the process. Designers need to be able to step back from their ideas and let others critique them, and this will allow real and rapid impact (Gardiner, 2013, p. 7).
  • The changes proposed to a learning space needs to involve teachers and students. No change will be successful if it does not involve them (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 6) . The space alone won’t greatly impact the learning, but when the school community is involved with the process, the impact increases significantly (McIntosh, 2015d).
  • A major flaw in the design of the space in the case study is the composition of the project team. To enable more creative, collaborative and pedagogical input it is crucial that the group consist of a greater mix of relevant individuals.
  • Consideration of changing the process from being ‘top-down’ to a more ‘bottom-up’ approach through reflective practice (Woolner, McCarter, Wall & Higgins, 2012, p. 46). This would mean involving students, allowing them the opportunity to have their voices heard. This could be through surveys, focus groups, brainstorming activities, informal discussions or focused ideation. Thinking about, and how, the students are impacted needs to be at the forefront of all considerations.
  • Tom Kelly suggests that there is a need to create an environment where creativity can happen through haphazard insights, chance encounters and productive mistakes (Kelley, 2014). In a school setting it could involve setting up a model, or board that showcases possible designs. Students, parents and teachers could access this and provide comments and suggestions. This will allow new insights to come about to assist the architects and planners.
  • Good teamwork, collaboration and communication is crucial for groups. The participants need to be open, flexible and willing to engage in the process to determine the best outcomes for the problem identified. This can be enhanced when the team is a multidisciplinary group (Seidel & Fixson, 2013, p. 19). By building the relationships within the team it will allow for positive interactions to flourish.
  • The creation of a ‘war room’ where the design team can come together, immersed in the problem with diagrams, notes and images (Knapp, 2014). Here they will be able to gain a better understanding of the constraints and allow ideas to develop. The physical nature of the ‘war room’ artefacts allows the team to find potential links between ideas and previously disparate ideas (Kolko, 2012).
  • Final recommendation involves the point that even if the change in space is completed, “there needs to be a behavioural change in relation to planning and producing spatial solutions”, to better serve future dynamic physical learning environments (Kuuskorpi & González, 2011, p. 6)
  • It needs to become an ongoing process that uses the power of feedback to improve and evolve. As Ron Berger mentions in ‘Austin’s Butterfly (Expeditionary Learning, 2013), “kind, specific and useful feedback” allows for improvement over time, and this is what all designs need to aim for.

 

References

Blyth, A. (2012). Design of Education, Pan European Networks: Government 04, 264-267. Retrieved from http://www.paneuropeannetworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/5_A-Blyth-6001-6002-Atl.pdf

 

Brown, T. (2009) Change by design: How design thinking transforms organizations and inspires innovation. Summary by Get Abstract. Retrieved from: http://www.getabstract.com

 

Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381–383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

 

du Toit, J. (2015, September 7). Literature critique INF536. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/riverflows/2015/09/07/literature-critique-inf536/

 

Expeditionary Learning. (2013, October 9). Austin’s Butterfly: Building Excellence in Student Work – Models, Critique, and Descriptive Feedback [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZo2PIhnmNY

 

Flynn, W. (2008). Built to Last. Community College Journal, 79(2), 22-28. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ816521

 

Gardiner, E. (2013). Changing behaviour by design: Combining behavioural science with design-thinking to help organisations tackle big social issues. Design Council & Warwick Business School. Retrieved from: https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/Changing%20behaviour%20by%20design.pdf

 

Joint Information Services Committee. (2006). Designing Spaces for Effective Learning. Retrieved from http://www.webarchive.org.uk/wayback/archive/20140616001949/http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/learningspaces.pdf

 

Kelley, T., (2014, January 10). Invite serendipity to your cafe and expect innovation. Wired UK. Retrieved from http://www.wired.co.uk/magazine/archive/2014/01/ideas-bank/tom-kelley

Kimbell, L. (2011). Rethinking design thinking: Part I. Design and Culture, 3(3), 285-306. Retrieved from http://www.lucykimbell.com/stuff/DesignPractices_Kimbell_DC_final_public.pdf

 

Knapp, J. (2014). Google ventures: Your design team needs a war room. Here’s how to set one up, Fast Company. Retrieved from: http://www.fastcodesign.com/3028471/google-ventures-your-design-team-needs-a-war-room-heres-how-to-set-one-up

 

Kolko, J. (2010). Abductive thinking and sensemaking: The drivers of design synthesis. Retrieved from http://www.jonkolko.com/writingAbductiveThinking.php

 

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McIntosh, E. (2015a). Designing with Intent [INF536 Module 3.1]. Retrieved August 19, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493460-dt-content-rid-1076333_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module3/3_1_Designing_with_intent.html

 

McIntosh, E. (2015b). Design strong spaces: design strong learning [INF536 Module 4.2]. Retrieved August 21, 2015, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-493463-dt-content-rid-1076208_1/courses/S-INF536_201560_W_D/module4/4_2_Strong_spaces_learning.html

 

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Digital Essay Proposal

I’m looking forward to exploring this topic over the next few weeks and developing a digital essay.
Any links, resources, readings that you might know of, please feel free to pass them along 🙂
Proposal topic
Educators also need to become 21st-century learners
 
Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used
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.
 
Rationale for topic focus for the multi-modal essay
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.

Scholarly Book Review of Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times by Eric Sheninger

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.

 

References

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.

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.