Assignment 2: Network literacy evaluative report

PART A: EVALUATIVE STATEMENT

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

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

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

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

 

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

The Future of Learning, Networked Society’

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

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Presentation slides from ACHPER Conference

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

 

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

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My next Business class MOOC

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Some of my completed MOOC courses

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

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

PART B: REFLECTIVE STATEMENT

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

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

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EduTECH 2015

 

Google Teacher Academy 2014

Google Teacher Academy 2014

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GEG Summit Singapore 2016

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

TeachMeet Sunshine Coast 2015

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

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Some of the posts that showcase this are:

Becoming a 21st-century teacher

MOOCs & Me

Why do I Blog

EduTECH & TeachMeet Reflections 2014

Twitter Momentum Question

What a journey – Google Teacher Academy 2014

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

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My further development as a connected educator because of INF532

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

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

Implications for my future as a ‘connected leader’

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

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

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

 

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

Down the rabbit hole we go…..

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REFERENCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conference Presentation Slides

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

 

Digital Artefact Critique

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/8fiiGJLRyWI

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Establish a knowledge network

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

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

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

Network Literacy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 6 Digital tools to experiment with Reflection

I already connect with multiple platforms with a PLN – Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, YouTube, TeachMeets and I have used many of the tools listed like Evernote, Dropbox, Drive, Instragram, Maps, etc.; so it was interesting to explore this topic;

6 Digital tools to experiment with that are:
(a) new to you, i.e., they were not already part of your PLN before you began this subject; and
(b) of particular interest to you in developing your PLN, or introducing knowledge networking into the curriculum.
Record the process of selecting, testing/trialling and evaluating of each tool as entries on your blog throughout the session.

The six that I want to invest time in over the coming months to see how I can use it more in my own teaching are:
Skype
Augmented Reality
Voxer
Breakout Edu
Gaming
Snapchat/Instagram

I’m not going to get a chance to test/trial all of them before the end of this current Masters subject, but I will be reaching out to PLN to start getting ideas, advice and support. First up will be setting up a Skype/Hangout with a Not-for-profit entrepreneur for my Business class and running a Breakout Edu session for teachers & students during Term 4. I have students that will be teaching me how to use Snapchat, and then we can see how we could use it in the classroom. Much to learn….just need to create the time 🙂

Module 2.1 Reflections on ‘Connected Educator’

This has been a very interesting reading, and I have followed the work of Sheryl Nussbaum-beach through Twitter for a few years now. This book has been on my radar for a while now and even though slightly old, the ideas are still relevant. Aaron Davis did a review (readwriterespond.com/?p=2528) on the book a few weeks back that peaked my interest again.

Looking at the three ‘Think About’ Activities:

Pg13 – Have you moved beyond cooperation? What role is collaboration playing in your professional learning and your practice? What’s new and different about collaboration for 21st century learners?
I do believe I’m still caught in the middle with collaboration and cooperation because of so many different commitments and time constraints. The times that I have embraced collaboration it has been exciting, challenging and very rewarding. This Masters course has especially in previous units pushed students to collaborate to create new knowledge and work together. I have had opportunities to present with others, and this has meant that we needed to collaboratively plan. In the digital/information/knowledge age technology is making everything more accessible and creating many different ways to work collaboratively. It has meant that distance/location is no longer an obstacle; a prime example is working on a task least semester with teachers from Victoria, NSW and China on a Wiki or planning a presentation with teachers from Sydney and South Australia. It is a challenge to move more towards collaboration, rather than just cooperating to get a task done. One of my goals in the next year is to increase collaboration with others outside my network and build new connections to create opportunities for my students.

Pg.17 Are you multiliterate? Of these literacies, which is most surprising to you? Which do you find least and most challenging?

I do believe I’m multiliterate to some extent, but i do realise I still have a long way to go. None of the literacies are surprising as I have come across all of them through twitter, studies, conferences and reading books. The part that I find challenging is doing it consistently and engaging in real-world issues with a restrictive senior curriculum.

Pg21 – We’ve described how we think about the connected educator. Take a moment to reflect on your understanding. How are our perspectives alike? How are they different?

I believe my view of a connected educator mirrors the one described here. It took me quite a while to get there, but eventually once I started engaging more, contributing, exploring the ideas and perspectives from my PLN I started to become a connected learner. I have written multiple blog posts on this topic and presented about it at conferences this year, and I passionately believe that it is imperative that teachers connect more and help grow their PLN’s

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/

 

Scrambling

Well, I started this latest Masters Unit with great intent, and was on top of it all and published 2 blog posts in a timely manner; and then the end of July/beginning August hit. I had a 5-day trip with 26 students down to Sydney, followed by almost 120 pieces of assessments to mark and my first ever Keynote to present. Suddenly I find myself a week out from the first assessment task due date and knee-deep (or drowning) in the Queensland Verification Folios that are due the same day.

Now I’m madly scrambling to catch up with modules, readings, blog posts, creating a learning artefact and getting the exegesis done. It will all get done, as it usually does, and then it will be time to reflect and start focusing on the next assessment.

 

Over the coming 3 weeks I hope to share some deeper reflections on a range of topics.

 

Watch this space….

 

INF532 Module 1.2 Reflection

Thomas and Browne’s ‘new culture of learning’ is something I experienced many years ago when I looked into immigrating to Australia from South Africa in 2007. As I started looking at what the requirements were and what I needed to do, I became very confused and worried about how to actually do it. Then I discovered an online Forum of people that had made the move and people that were in the process of making the move.Here was a group of people sharing across a range of topics, helping one another and supporting everyones journey. I became part of this community for over 3 years, firstly reading a lot, then asking questions, and then finally being able to support people at the start of their journeys.

 

Now in the past 3 years as an educator I have come across a new place of learning – Twitter and my PLN. This space has been absolutely incredible in opening my education world and perspectives. I have managed to form friendships and manage to grow as a teacher with the knowledge/experience that others are sharing. I love how I can also contribute and be part of this global learning community, and I can see the power in this new culture of learning that is emerging.