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:
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.
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.
The approaches to online learning were interesting, and I particularly found the video interview of Richard Culatta (2009) insightful. The discussion of Michael Moore’s three interactions for online learners has made me reflect how well the CSU units have done this so far, but also challenged me to redesign my own online classroom. In the past, there has been very little interaction between my classroom students and distance education students, but in Term 4 I have redesigned their unit so that there is collaborative discussions and group assessment task.
I believe through my exploration of the course modules, writing blogs, designing an artefact, critiquing an artefact, conversing on Twitter, further readings and sharing about connected learning at Conferences, I have met the learning objectives of this course and have set further areas to explore.
PART B: REFLECTIVE STATEMENT
In January 2012 I began my journey to become a connected educator after being introduced to Twitter. I started exploring it slowly over the next 18 months, and in August 2013 I discovered my first Twitter chat; #histedchat. These history teachers immediately welcomed me into their community and I finally realised why Twitter could be such a powerful tool. These new connections would set me on the path to becoming a fully connected educator, introducing me to others, new ideas, new platforms and challenging my thinking. Over the next three years, my online PLN would exponentially grow as I shared, conversed and developed my own online voice.
I was introduced to TeachMeets by Matt Esterman, started presenting about Evernote, and then was selected for the Google Teacher Academy in 2014. I started running TeachMeets and Google Educator Group training sessions in the Fraser Coast, to support teachers in my region and help them to become connected. In 2015 I collaboratively presented at EduTECH with Matt Esterman and Simon McKenzie, two PLN friends from the #histedchat community. This showed me the power of being a connected educator and utilising knowledge networks.
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.
Some of the posts that showcase this are:
The 28 days of Writing Challenge
2016 has been an incredible year for me as I have had the opportunity to speak at a number of Conferences and utilise a lot of the knowledge gained in this Masters course. I have spoken on teachers professional development that needs to change, connected educators, realising the potential of PLN’s and how to take charge of their connected learning. At the start of this course, INF532, I considered myself a very connected educator. I’m connected on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIN, Blogger, TeachMeets, utilise a range of different technology tools for curation and learning, and I have developed a close group of trusted PLN friends (just a few of them below).
My further development as a connected educator because of INF532
I’ll be honest, the majority of concepts were not that new to me in this subject, as I had come across them before over the past few years. However what I did learn, is that I’m most definitely on the right track and it consolidated much of my thinking of being a connected educator. Figuring out how to connect with Forum posts, blogs, discussions and more was a challenge in a period where I was incredibly time-poor. I was away from home eight times over the past four months for educational reasons, travelling to Conferences in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. I came to realise that my workflow and curation has not been done well this semester, and I can see some issues in my process, and the readings made me become more acutely aware of this. I will definitely be referring to Good’s article on Content curation tools: 21 criteria to select and evaluate your ideal one (2014) and look into Rosenbaum’s book, Curation Nation.
I have developed my thoughts on instructional design for online learners, and the course has opened my eyes to how I could design my content differently to connect with online learners. I realise that it needs to be designed so that there is interaction, collaboration, dialogue and social nature to the learning. I need to consider the point by Davidson and Goldberg (2010) that networked learning “operates on the logic of participation, expecting interaction, correcting through exchange, [thus] deepening knowledge through extended engagement” (p. 189). And this I want to make central to designing my educational experiences for my students.
Even though I considered myself as being very connected, I had not given enough thought on the tools to manage and maintain my connectedness. My reliance on twitter and Facebook as my main PLN tools is lacking, and the course showed me new ways to improve in this area.
Implications for my future as a ‘connected leader’
The one thing that I came to realise this year is this point by Eric Mazur he made at EduTECH (2016),” The more of an expert you become in any field, the more difficult it is to understand the struggles of first-time learners”. Being a connected educator is who I am now, but there are still many that have no idea about the importance and opportunities that connectedness brings. We need to mindful of the fact that people are only now discovering connectedness now, and for many, it is a new world and we need to be able to support them.
I’m a connected leader in my school and I have looked at how I can play a leading role with TeachMeets, Tech training sessions, GEG events and sharing resources. As I keep on developing my role as a connected leader in education I have set my sights on how we can connect teachers across the whole of Queensland with TeachMeets. This is already starting to take shape with creating the Twitter account and being part of the QLD TeachMeet Facebook Admin. My next step is to invest some more time into this, but to have more educators on board in developing TeachMeet QLD.
As a connected leader, I want to be part of the discussions at my school on integrating digital citizenship and 21st-century skills into all aspects of the College. Unfortunately, the school is only looking at this type of role at the end of 2018, but I hope to convince them of the urgency of the importance of being connected learners in a global world and how we need to be focusing on it now. One of my passions is working with teachers and students in helping them develop their digital literacy and understanding the pedagogy behind using technology in the classroom for learning. As a connected leader, I want to be able to support them, assist with coaching and open up their worlds to the endless possibilities of a knowledge networking through being connected. Through this, I want to be able to explore how I can become a global educator by connecting my students and teachers to other countries, groups and organisations. It is time to take my connected world and move it towards a globally connected world to serve the learning of my students.
Being a ‘Connected Educator’ is an endless journey where learning, growth, opportunities, friendships and life-changing experiences will always create new network paths to explore.
Down the rabbit hole we go…..
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.