The end is near

Here I am at the end of another engaging and enlightening subject as part of my Master’s journey. While many of my cohort in this subject are celebrating the end of their Masters, I still have one more to go before graduating. I should feel elated, but I have a sense that I have not been able to give me all to this latest subject. Life, health, and school consumed large parts of my attention over the past 14 weeks, and I never managed to fully engage with the subject Forum and activities. As a connected educator, that has been connecting through various social media platforms and through conferences for years, it has been difficult to deal with the feeling of not realising my full potential with this subject. But that is what makes Master’s study while working Full-time so difficult at times, and after 3 years you need to just grind it out sometimes to reach the finish line. At the same time, it was exciting watching my wife graduated from her Master’s journey in September

Masters in Education – Guidance & Counseling

So, how have my views, knowledge, and understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments evolved over this subject?

From the start, the intensity of the subject was there and I loved the opening discussions and Colloquium with Bruce Dixon Bruce Dixon (Modern Learners) as this set the tone for the rest of subject. The readings and discussions were designed to push and challenge our thinking about education and what scholarship actually is. Many of the ideas were not necessarily new, but rather an exploration or reinforcement of the whole Master’s course.

As we started getting into the first assessment on Digital Scholarship I connected with Jordan Grant & Matt Ives to co-host a Twitter chat on the topic. This helped us clarify and support each other on this journey.

The work of Martin Weller I found fascinating, and I even ended up buying a hard copy of the book and connecting with him on Twitter. Even the work of George Veletsianos further pushed my thinking on what Networked Participatory Scholarship (Veletsianos, 2012) is and how that could influence academia. These two writers formed the basis for my Interpretive Essay on Digital Scholarship, and at times as I explored the topic I found it hard to digest. I found the way Weller (2011) describes digital scholarship perfectly summed up the topic as a “sufficiently broad term to encompass many different functions and so has the flexibility to accommodate new forms of practice; not just teaching and research.” (p. 3) and he also identifies a digital scholar as “someone who employs digital, networked and open approaches to demonstrate specialism in a field” (p. 4).  

My workspace

It is this topic of Openness that I have embraced in my own journey as a connected educator over the past 4 years. Sharing ideas through Blogs, Twitter or TeachMeets have been a part of my motivation and own ideals for education. This is where Weller states that ‘Openness’ is a ‘state of mind’ (2011) and as Price says that “you need to have motivation for deep and powerful learning to happen.” (Price, p.111), both support my own understanding of what it is to be an educator in digital environments. It was great to see the mention of David Price’s work with his book OPEN, it is one of my favourite reads from the last few years and I’ve been fortunate to connect with him during this time. My Digital Scholarship essay left with me with similar thoughts of Veletsianos (2015) that further research on how these new practices will become the standard for scholars and why some will resist open approaches will become paramount as we move forward.

My Case Study idea came from a task I did in the ETL523 course and from being a Year 12 teacher for the past seven years. I used a lot of my experience and knowledge from previous subjects in the  Masters of Education (knowledge networks and digital innovations)  course to support my research and thinking. My Case study focused on:

This allowed me to explore a passion area of mine and challenge me along the way to see what we have been doing at the school and what could be improved. Yes, this was a challenge to complete amongst the insane workload of a Queensland senior teacher during the end of Term 3 and start of Term 4,(plus a History Teachers Conference over 3 days in the holidays with Jordan Grant) but somehow I managed it and I look forward to sharing it with my school leaders.

                                                                      Working hard

This brings to an end this subject, with one remaining to be completed in 2018. At the same time, I will be embarking on my own new journey as I take on a new role at a school in a new city. The new role will allow me to use my knowledge from this course and challenge me as I take on new responsibilities. Looking forward to this next journey in being an education professional in this ever-changing digital environments we find ourselves in.

My new socks 🙂

 

References

Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. United Kingdom: Crux Publishing.

Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How Technology is Transforming Scholarly Practice. London: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC. Retrieved from http://www.SLQ.eblib.com.au/patron/FullRecord.aspx?p=773623

Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766-774.

Veletsianos, G. (2015). A Case Study of Scholars’ Open and Sharing Practices. Open Praxis, 7(3). https://doi.org/10.5944/openpraxis.7.3.206

Conference Presentation Slides

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

 

Establish a knowledge network

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

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

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

Growing & Connecting

It has been a journey from a basic understanding, to an enlightened disposition on digital citizenship over the past 12 weeks. I have been an active participant online with using PLN’s, managing my digital footprint and recognising the role of creative commons. However, the course has managed to extend my understanding significantly with regards to school leadership and vision, and I have been fascinated by the readings and resources in the course.

I have only made 2 blog posts thus far in the course this semester, and my intentions to do more have been consumed by being a full-time teacher and barely keeping my head above water at times. Being constantly connected and interacting with a PLN has made me use that as my main areas to reflect and question course material. My first blog post introduced some of my thoughts and a link to my personal blog, which has over 80 reflective posts from the past 3 years. The second blog post introduced how I’m introducing my students to twitter and the concept of PLN’s. I have always encouraged using social media for learning, but now I’m actively teaching my students how and why it is important to understand digital citizenship concepts.

Initially, the course introduced concepts that I was very familiar with, DLE, PLN, Information overload & curation; but then the move to understanding global digital citizenship issues really challenged me to explore it more deeply. The group assignment paired me with three educators that come from very different backgrounds, and locations. Working collaboratively through Hangouts, Google Docs and the Wikispaces platform was challenging; but ultimately rewarding with our final product that we produced. Besides the group task, being able to chat on a regular basis with fellow students online has allowed us to push one another and assist each other on this journey.

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One of my favourite quotes from the modules was this one, “21st Century skills harness not only the power of technology but the power of people” from ‘Flattening classrooms, engaging minds’, (Lindsay & Davis, 2012, p. 2). Connecting with fellow students on Twitter has been a great way to share ideas and resources, including the Twitter chat myself and Jordan Grant ran on digital citizenship (Storify of chat).

Being passionate about connected learning and forming a wide-ranging PLN has allowed me to explore many opportunities. This course, previous units and various readings have formed the basis of some of the presentations I will be doing at a number of Conferences over the coming months. Creating positive professional networks gives me access to a variety of experts, but also allows me to share with others.

 

The last 3 modules put the school vision and leadership clearly in the framework and how important it is to have strong leadership. My knowledge has grown in understanding that the whole spectrum of digital citizenship needs to be embedded in all areas of school. My own research and readings have confirmed that teachers themselves need to be better equipped to teach digital citizenship, and that many schools do not have a clear vision on digital citizenship beyond cyber safety.

Moving on from this course I hope to create more awareness at my school on the range of digital citizenship areas, especially student digital footprint and creating global connections. To accomplish this it would involve getting the school leadership on board with a number of key stakeholders to determine the school vision for digital citizenship. There are a number of key resources shared by educators and organisations, from Christine Haynes’s post, to the Common Sense Media (2016) website. As I pursue to bring about some changes I know it will need to be a collective effort, but an absolute necessity in preparing students for the connected future.

Connected Learning

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

 

 

 

References

Common Sense Media (2016). Common Sense: Digital Citizenship. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/digital-citizenship

Haynes, C. (2016). Digital Citizenship: A Community ApproachRetrieved from http://christinehaynes.me/digital-citizenship-a-community-approach/

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

 

PLN’s and Digital Citizenship

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Over the past 10 weeks doing the ETL523 subject I have found the course to be extremely interesting and challenging at the same time. I know that I have been growing/supporting my own PLN over the past 4 years through Twitter, Google+. Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and learning what it means to be a digital citizen. I have actively worked with my students the past few weeks in developing their understanding of digital citizenship and how they could use social media for learning. They already use Facebook to chat about school, use Skype when discussing work, but now I want to show them the potential of Twitter and other tools to create their own PLN. It’s going slowly, trialling some ideas with my history students in-between all the curriculum we need to cover, and it is really a learning process. Feel free to check out the hashtag that we are using in the class #mhrcc16. More experiments and exploration to follow in the coming weeks. Any advice or suggestions is always appreciated.

 

Now my focus over the next 3 weeks turn to the final assignment in the course and preparing for 2 intense weeks of Conferences, training and events that follow it.

At long last a Blog Post

With all my intentions to be more active in blogging this year, and focus on this one in particular, it has just not happened. The teaching year started off with such a bang with an increased workload and my little girl starting Prep, and now I’m trying to find my blogging voice again. Over the past 4 years I have been a regular/infrequent blogger on my personal site: The Teaching River. Here I have about 80 posts, almost 15,000 views and great recap of my thoughts over the years. Writing does not come naturally to me, but I realised how powerful blogging is as a reflective tool and I have persisted. Some of my posts have been enlightening for myself, others have been badly written, and others have inspired some of my readers. Please have a look if you would like to know more about me.

I have found beside blogging, Twitter as my go-to place for all information and sharing. I started slowly, but over the past 2 years I have become fairly active on Twitter and my PLN has grown exponentially, and herein the power of a PLN has created many opportunities, sharing and collaboration.

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This quote I found last night on Twitter sums up beautifully the potential of a connected PLN allows on Twitter:
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I’m loving this unit ETL523 on Digital Citizenship. It is an area that I love exploring and reading about. It is part of my daily life, and I’m hoping to integrate more of these ideas into my school over the coming months.

Now it is time to catch up on the Forums, a few readings finish the modules and delve into the first assignment with my group.