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 whatNetworked 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).
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.
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.
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 🙂
Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. United Kingdom: Crux Publishing.
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.
It has been quite a journey over the past 3 months both with this subject and personally. I started this journey with GBL in March very excitedly, ready to engage with the subject. I started participating in the forums, wrote a few blog posts, sent a few tweets, stayed on top of modules and readings. My first assessment I managed to deliver a very good critique and I was all set for the second half of the unit.
As Term 2 started at school I, unfortunately, became extremely ill, and it would seriously affect my ability to function and stay on top of any of my work. To date, I have missed about 12 full school days and had at least 6 half-days, all a result of a blood condition that still has no resolution. This has meant that my blogging, reading, contributing effectively disappeared and I have been just trying to stay afloat. Even though I’m disappointed that I could not engage with the subject as I wanted to, I know that I plan on pursuing GBL with great excitement in the near future. So for my own journey on with this course, I will definitely say that I am intrigued and fascinated by how GBL actually works. This course has opened my eyes and my mind to the complexity of GBL, and the various pedagogical concerns that need to be addressed and how ineffectively it has been integrated into curriculum over the years.
My initial Blogpost at the start of the course said: “My own personal belief is that Game Based Learning (GBL) should be part of the whole digital education reform, and that it deserves a place alongside introducing ‘digital literacy’ skills and embedding it in all aspects of the curriculum.” (du Toit, 2017). This course has further solidified this belief for me. Starting out with Gee (2005) and his ideas that good games incorporate ‘good learning principles’ (p.34), and that “challenge and learning are a large part of what makes video games motivating and entertaining”. Then a series of fascinating examples and exploration of games. The composition of games, how they are structured, created and the complex balance of designing them, was fascinating. The information and cognitive theories that underpin the pedagogical considerations made me realise how much there is to GBL.
Although I was hampered by my health, I managed to have regular discussions with Jordan Grant on Google Hangouts, discussing ideas raised in the modules and readings; including interactions on Twitter and playing around with various games. Here’s a screenshot from one of our more recent discussions on the final assessment.
My final assessment gave me an opportunity to explore Breakout EDU and how I could use it with my students. Doing the research for that showed me the possibilities in GBL with History classrooms and the potential for rethinking a lot of the content delivery. Revisiting some earlier thoughts and discovering new trains of thought about information fluency has piqued my interest in the pedagogical frameworks required for successful GBL implementation.
I was never really a gamer, but I have started to explore it over the past few years since delving into the Playstation world. Overall the course has been extremely interesting and allowed me to start to grapple with the intricacies of GBL. I look forward to seeing how the technology will continue to evolve and be used in education more effectively.
It is the Year 2017 and the introduction of new technologies and applications is accelerating. The education landscape today is markedly different to previous generations. The current group of Year 12 students in Queensland were mostly born in 2000; they have grown up in a world that is saturated with media, internet connectivity, smartphones, tablet computing, gaming, social media and video streaming. This is their world now, and educational systems are rapidly scrambling to adjust and keep up.
As John Seely Brown poses this question for schools to reflect on regarding their future, “What will schools, universities and research institutes look like in five years time?” (DML Research Hub, 2012) This is difficult to grasp based on the changes that keep taking place and the sheer speed of technological changes. At the same time according to Becker (2011), digital games technology is developing at a furious pace but relatively little scholarly work exists on the use of modern digital games for education. This is where the article of Jennings (2011) also adds to the argument through the research by Griffith University professor, Dr Catherine Beavis, an expert in video game-based learning, where she says “schools still have a way to go before they can harness the full educational potential of video games” and she believes that ” there is tremendous potential for games-based learning, but also the potential for things to go seriously wrong…”
My own personal belief is that Game Based Learning (GBL) should be part of the whole digital education reform, and that it deserves a place alongside introducing ‘digital literacy’ skills and embedding it in all aspects of curriculum. Both Vincent Trundle, digital education producer at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), and many other educational researchers recognise how using video games to create diverse learning experiences is beneficial and important in being incorporated into contemporary education (Jennings, 2011). These games allow students and teachers to further develop the key 21st-century skills of collaboration, communication, creativity, connecting, and critical inquiry.
Digital Game Based Cartoon (2011)
As games and gaming appear to have arrived on the educational-technology agenda, how do you see them fitting into your practice?
As a senior History and Business teacher I mainly teach the Year 12s at the school, focused on developing skills and preparing them for OP/ATAR requirements. This makes it very important that any gaming/games that I consider to integrate fits in well with the subjects and benefits the skills development of my students. I have used Kahoot and BreakoutEdu, and various other games along the way; but they need further thought and research.
What is the context of your learning?
This is my 3rd last subject with my Masters studies in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation. At the same time, I’m very active with my PLN online through Twitter (@jdtriver), Google Educator Groups and TeachMeets. They have all given me a rich experience on the importance of twenty-first century digital pedagogy and driven me to keep developing my skills.
What are your personal aims in this subject?
To develop a greater understanding of the research and theory behind GBL. Also to explore different games, platforms and tools; seeing how they could benefit myself, my students or my colleagues. I would also like to be able to integrate GBL more effectively in my senior class and share my knowledge with my school community.
What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?
Managing work-study-family-health balance for a start, as well as the various education commitments outside my school that I’m involved in. I would like to develop a greater understanding of GBL, and as someone that is fairly new to gaming in general, I would like to challenge myself to explore and try various new GBL ideas along the way. The biggest challenge will be to share my newly acquired knowledge with staff and overcoming any resistance to these ideas.
I’m looking forward to the journey ahead and deeper exploration of GBL.
Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA
Digital Game-Based Learning Cartoon (2017) flickr photo by Son Le (GER) [IMAGE] Retrieved from https://flickr.com/photos/donjonson/5351362611
Elearningindustry.com. (2017). Gamification and Game based learning. [IMAGE] Available at: https://elearningindustry.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/gamification-and-game-based-learning-yes-they-are-different.jpg
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 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.
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.
My next Business class MOOC
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.
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.
Google Teacher Academy 2014
GEG Summit Singapore 2016
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub (CC BY 3.0)
What a ride this has been! Almost 14 weeks of intense exploration of design thinking and learning spaces. Over the course of the past semester I have been challenged, stretched and pushed to my limit. Juggling full-time work, family and studies is not for the faint-hearted. My first exposure to design thinking happened a year ago at the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney where the two days was led by members of NoTosh, Tom Barrett and Hamish Currie. It was an eye-opening experience, but nothing like this course, that is now drawing to a close.
My Moonshot Statement from GTA Sydney 2014
From the opening of the course with Phillipe Starck (2007, March), “design is the possibility to invent a new story”; to John Hockenberry (2012, June) saying how important intent is in design. Discovering how important user-centred design is, and the reaffirmation of my thoughts on students wanting to be challenged. Over the weeks I have learnt more about immersion, synthesising, ideation, prototyping and feedback. This design journey is so powerful and I can see new connections/ideas to experiment with in my own learning context.
I started with the initial Blog post about a small change in my learning space – Here, and the main focus was on getting the actual users (the students) involved in reimagining the space. The second Blog post – Here, showed the chaotic design of my staff room with all its faults. Both these posts made me realise the power of observation, and especially trying to place myself in someone else’s shoes. This is so powerful in developing a sense of empathy, and it is one of my big takeaways from the course.
My ‘War Room’ with these new fun Tesla Amazing Magnetic notes
Another area that I really enjoyed was learning about the Coffee mornings, followed by a form of professional learning that I love, TeachMeets. These informal opportunities are a fantastic opportunity for a diverse group of people to share, connect and build relationships. The ‘Seven Spaces of Learning’ discussed in Module six was very interesting and are that I plan on exploring further. Spaces where learning take place are continuously evolving, and it is fascinating seeing the power of technology and new creative ideas transforming learning.
The role of space in learning is important, but it is the actual pedagogy developed with the space in mind that activates the learning. Exploring the readings and videos in this course has shown me some wonderful creative designs and supported a lot of my own thoughts on using student voice in designing learning. The role of multidisciplinary teams in generating ideas, coming up with solutions and being creative is another point to remember.
I have made new contacts through the Forum, Twitter and used Google Hangouts with Jordan Grant on almost a daily basis to discuss and explore the content (especially the week leading up to assessment deadlines). Overall the course has ignited my interest in delving deeper in design thinking and how space impacts learning. I’m looking forward to exploring the work of Ewan McIntosh, Charles Leadbeater, Tim Brown, Stephen Heppell and many others over the coming months. Time to immerse myself in the next phase of learning…
I started this course with a great deal of energy and excitement, after all I had been waiting a few months for it to start. Immdeiately the topics, the concepts and format felt so natural to me. From my 1st Blog post “The Start” I wrote: “There will be a learning curve, there will be challenges and there will be frustrations, but the growth that lies ahead is so inviting” and “I’m looking forward to this journey; Learning alongside so many wonderful educators and being challenged in my thinking by the incredible lecturers involved.”
My Blog Post on Connected Potential & Changing Mindsets set me on a journey of discivering a few new concepts like the debate about ‘Digital Natives’. This is one area I have defintely changed my viewpoint over the course and by observing it first-hand with students at my school. So many are struggling with technology, and we need to be teaching digital literacy and how to use the tools much more explicitely. The course has really opened my eyes to this concepts through the modules and readings.
I also made the point in this Blog Post, “The new innovations of the past two decades have created a digitally connected community of learners. Yet, many educators are not embracing the potential they hold and are thus becoming more disconnected with their students and communities. This is part of my own personal aim in this course – to learn new ideas, skills, knowledge and understanding, so that I can support my students, staff and parents in embracing the Digital Age.”
This became the driving force behind my digital essay. trying to come to an understanding of what 21st century skills are, why we should be modelling them to students and the reason why they are not, have been constant nagging questions over the last few months.
Along with this image I posted in the blog it started my thinking on mindsets, and how important they are in a digital landscape.
The Profile of a Modern Teacher by Reid Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)
Two comments on the Blog started my thinking even further regarding mindsets and networks.
The theory of Connectivism was completely new to me, and once again it started appearing often in my posts and in my final digital essay. In my Blog post ‘Connect to Live’ I was able to explore the concept a bit further and started linking it with personal learnring networks. As George Siemens (2015) decribed is as the “amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network”.
My biggest issue throughout was time, between family and school commitments I felt strectched to capacity often. Even now as I write this I’m trying to finish it early as I have other edcuation commitments for the weekend and next week that are pressing. Time is often a factor for changing mindsets, it is a good excuse and an easy one to use. I realised with my first assignment that being time-poor can be detrimenntal in studies and school.
My views of edcuational professionals in digital environments have changed, and are constantly evolving. From my digital essay I have realised how important a PLN is, a growth mindset, modelling good digitila citizenship and supporting others in their journey. I hope as I progress in this course I can apply some of the education theories, build on my understanding of the changing nature of learning in the 21st century and be able to leverage this to serve my colleagues and students more.
Siemens, G. (2015). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm
Wilson, R. (2014). The Profile of a Modern Teacher [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.coetail.com/wayfaringpath/2014/10/14/the-profile-of-a-modern-teacher/
I qualified as a teacher in 2010 and started my first full-time teaching post at the start of 2011. I had decided to change careers when my wife and I moved to Australia at the start of 2009. Previously I had done a gap year in New Zealand to play rugby, then studied 4 years and obtained degrees in Logistics Management, then two years in the UK, followed by four years in South Africa before moving to Australia.
When I started blogging I had to choose a Title for the Blog and signing up to Twitter I had to choose a twitter Handle. I selected the names ‘The Teaching River’ for the blog and @jdtriver for Twitter. By pure coincidence the school I work at is called Riverside, but this is not where the ‘river’ name originated. (parts of this blog post is from one I did many years ago)
I believe our lives as teachers, (as individuals and as students), is like a river. We start life flowing along from a starting point. We have different influences as we grow up – parents, siblings, family, friends, school, sport, hobbies, culture and much more that form and shape our character. We leave our comfort, our family homes and familiar surroundings and head downstream to the next phase in our lives.
We then enter our lives as teachers, where we have countless streams flowing into the river – students, colleagues, parents, communities, media, technology, government, and each one may have multiple streams. Then as the river flows, we go through calm patches – the periods where everything just runs smoothly. Then there are times of rapids, filled with ups and downs – teaching goes through so many emotional and stressful phases, but the river does not stop and nor does our teaching. No matter what is happening, the river pushes through and garners momentum as it heads towards the ocean.
Yellowstone River by Charles Peterson (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Then there are the streams that flow out from a river. This is where we influence people and make a difference in their lives. Then they head off in their own river and influence the lives of others. Eventually the rivers will reach the ocean, and this symbolises how teaching never ends and the legacy you create in your students goes out to the rest of the world.
Life does not happen in isolation, we all are influenced by others and in turn influence people. I know that my life as a teacher I will go through many phases, ups and downs, and that they are all part of my own learning journey. This is how I see the link with a river, the continuous flow of developing my own skills, learning, gaining knowledge and wisdom, being a role model, a positive influence and mentor to my students.
I love ‘Teaching’, I’m proud to call myself a ‘Teacher’; and the complexity of learning and constant change makes it the most fascinating profession in the world.