Assessment 1: INF541 Online Reflective Journal Blog Task 1

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.

               eLearningIndustry (2017)

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.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

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

DMLResearchHub. (2012,Sept 18). The global one schoolhouse: John Seely Brown [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/fiGabUBQEnM

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

Jennings, J. (2014, November 20). ‘Teachers re-evaluate value of video games’ [Digital Newspaper Article], The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141110-11jw0i

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/

 

Digital Essay Proposal

I’m looking forward to exploring this topic over the next few weeks and developing a digital essay.
Any links, resources, readings that you might know of, please feel free to pass them along 🙂
Proposal topic
Educators also need to become 21st-century learners
 
Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used
Digital tools selected will be either Tackk or Storify. Both platforms allow for seamless integration of multimedia from a variety of sources. As I develop the essay with research I will explore both platforms to determine which will serve the topic best.
 
Rationale for topic focus for the multi-modal essay
The majority of teachers grew up in an educational system before the advent of social media, mobile technology and Google. In just over 2 years we will never have school students again born before the year 2000. With the changing dynamics of technology, access and networks, it is becoming imperative that teachers develop a growth mindset in themselves and leverage the power of digital tools to increase their skills. By doing this they will be able to serve their school and students, and be able to model digital citizenship to students. I’m passionate about connecting teachers, sharing ideas, resources and having discussions to improve our education settings. In being involved with Twitter, Blogging and TeachMeets my PLN has widened and I have grown as an educator. Many teachers are still not engaged in directing their own personal development and realising the potential that technology offers. What restricts them? Why? Many questions to look at, and to explore what research says about this area.

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

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

Published by Corwin Press, California, USA, 2014.

 

Integration of digital technology into education has come to the forefront this century and it has become clear that educators of all levels need to adapt to serve learners in this new digital age. Change is required and Eric Sheninger explores in Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times how educators can successfully and practically use technology to transform school cultures and create sustainable change. In Digital Leadership he shares personal experience, insights and examples of how educators have harnessed the power of technology to transform schools, and he establishes a framework to guide educators in becoming digital leaders. This review will focus on Digital Leadership’s role in providing a compelling argument and methods to initiate sustainable change, simultaneously acknowledging trends in information and knowledge environments that are created by social and technological changes in the digital age.

 

Eric Sheninger is a Senior Fellow and Thought Leader on Digital Leadership with the International Center for Leadership in Education. At time of publication of this book he was Principal of New Milford High School, New Jersey, where he had extensive experience in developing and implementing innovative practices with tremendous success. The practical examples lends to the authenticity and strength of the book. The book is aimed at school leaders, however the framework can be applied to classroom teachers too. It is broken up into two distinctive parts; the first part focuses on why a change is required, whilst in the second part he shares his ‘Seven Pillars of Digital Leadership’ in separate chapters. They are: communication, public relations, branding, professional growth and development, increasing student engagement and enhancing learning, rethinking learning environments and spaces, and discovering opportunity. These pillars are aligned to the 2009 International Society of Technology in Education’s (ISTE) National Educational Standard for Administrators and provide the framework for technological changes in the digital age.

 

Sheninger believes that school leaders need to acknowledge that modern learners are ‘wired’ differently, and their learning styles are in conflict with traditional teaching methods (2014, p. 15). There has been a societal shift in technology use, with social media, mobile devices and online communication driving a new knowledge ecosystem (O’Connell, 2015). This is supported by research from the PEW Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project that finds, “92% of teens report going online daily — including 24% who say they go online almost constantly” and that the internet is a central and indispensable part in the lives of American teens and young adults (Lenhart, 2015). He utilises research from Childwise, Bloomberg, Strategy Analytics, mobiThinking, MacArthur Foundation, and others to explain the changing dynamics in accessing technology.

 

A new culture of learning is developing, where information is networked and where participation is reshaping the way individuals learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Technology is driving this change, and this is why Sheninger believes it is so important to create learning experiences that are flexible, adaptable and that creates new skills in students for the twenty-first century. The Digital Media and Learning Hub supports this with their model of connected learning; which contends that connected learning involves an equal, social and participatory culture (Connectedlearning.tv, 2015). Sheninger explains that understanding how learners in the twenty-first century use technology is key to developing a school culture that will best meet the needs of students. Patricia Collarbone (2009), in Creating Tomorrow, supports the view that managing and leading the modernisation is required through an effective process for substantial, beneficial and sustainable change. Sheninger’s message here is about laying a foundation for students to become critical consumers of content, develop digital citizenship, and promote the ability to create, analyse and interpret media (2014, p. 35). Professor Yong Zhao (2012) also acknowledges in his book, World Class Learners, similar skills for students, the skills are effective communication, curiosity, and critical thinking.

 

Eric Sheninger reviews how the education landscape has changed, and the importance of school leaders taking charge in leading change management; highlighted with these quotes, “leaders must be the pillars of their respective institutions and focus on solutions rather than problems” (2014, p. 31) and “it is our duty to be agents of change” (2014, p. 36). Using examples from Seth Godin, Daniel Pink, Ian Jukes, Pam Moran, and Michael Fullard he highlights some of the reasons for change and why embracing digital leadership is key. Leaders need to join online conversations and take responsibility for the actions and education of future leaders, the students (Ahlquist, 2014). Sheninger blends into Chapter 4 the work of Michael Fullan (2008), a change expert, and discusses Fullan’s ‘Six Secrets of Change’ and how they are applied to Digital Leadership principles. Alongside this he deals effortlessly with obstacles that many schools face, and ways that they could be overcome with various strategies. Obstacles such as Wi-Fi, networks, budget cuts, government regulations and others are great concerns for many, and is an area that could be explored further. Each school situation is different, and Sheninger (2014) does make a point that “Each school is an autonomous body with distinct dynamics that make it unique. It’s the small changes over time that will eventually leave a lasting impact.” (p. 70). The constant message is that it is a shift in mindset that is required for schools. Scott Klososky points out that education leaders today are becoming transitional leaders, “who are responsible for managing the transition to teaching and learning in a different way, preparing very different students to go into a very different world” (O’Brien, 2015). As part of the transformation process, Sheninger highlights the importance of students having their voices heard in transforming school cultures, and this is an area of strength for the book.

 

In leading into the Seven Pillars, he shares some of the key areas of change at his school, New Milford, and his own personal journey. Points raised centre on how connectedness acted as a catalyst for change, importance of sharing a vision, supporting and empowering staff, establishing the value in changes and allowing students to be part of the process.. The driving question according to Sheninger is how we should use the technology that is available to us to improve what we do, instead of why we should use it to improve what we do (Sheninger, 2014). Chapters 5-11 explore this through explanations, how to accomplish it and showcases examples of educators that have paved the way. Social Media tools play an important role in almost every single pillar, along with the idea of ‘Connectedness’ being the conduit for supporting each of the pillars.

 

Communication, Public Relations and Branding are the first three pillars and they can be considered to be interdependent upon one another. Sheninger (2014, p. 86) says, “Educators must be experts in effective communication techniques, especially when it comes to parents and other key stakeholders”. Communication at the same time needs to be a two-way form, not a static one-way transmission, and social media allows this to take place. He uses examples from how to use Facebook and Twitter to communicate, plus discussions of Joe Mazza’s ‘eFace’ concept where technology is used to support Family and Community Engagement initiatives. Ribble and Miller (2013) also agree that technology and social networks provide a tremendous avenue for communication and building relationships. This is also noted by Bouffard (2015) that communication is at the heart of family–school relationships.

 

Communication is seen in both the next two pillars, Public Relations and Branding. Using the story of Van Meter Community School District under the leadership of John Carver, he explains how they used social media tools to establish a global footprint and craft their own message. This showcases the powerful message that, “If we do not tell our story, someone else will.” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 99). Digital Leadership allows schools to create a solid foundation for positive public relations using social media that complements communication efforts (Sheninger, 2014, p. 99). Branding allows educators to leverage social media and other digital tools to establish their professional brands in education. This is done through building connections, sharing, trust, and relationships with students, parents, teachers and stakeholders. These three boil down to establishing a schools message, communicating it and building a positive identity for the school. Sheninger mentions that communication is the most important thing he does every day (2014, p.89).

 

In the Pillar for Professional Growth and Development, Sheninger discusses the power of creating a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and how to do this. He uses research from Alec Couros to showcase how an online PLN is crucial for modern educators. One of the key reasons why online PLN’s are so powerful for learning is that “Knowledge is shared, and not just taken” (2014, p. 119). Connectedness is becoming the standard for teaching professionals to grow, and “Digital leadership require connectedness as an essential component to cultivate innovative practices and lead sustainable change” (Sheninger, 2014, p. 122). The learning model of ‘Connectivism’ acknowledges the shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity, but rather deriving competence from forming connections (Siemens, 2004). Educators can now learn anytime, anywhere, and with anyone through leveraging the power of social media networks.

 

Increasing Student Engagement and Enhancing Learning Pillar ties together how leaders can support learners in developing knowledge, skills, and confidence to be successful in the twenty-first century. The key concept that Sheninger (2014, p.134) shares is that this new learning requires a constructivist, heutagogical approach to teaching and learning. Jackie Gerstein (2013) also explains that teachers, learners, networks, connections, media, resources and tools are creating a unique entity that has the potential to meet individual needs. Students want their learning to be authentic and meaningful. Students need to be at the centre of decision-making, and the strength in this book is how Sheninger constantly refers to utilising students’ voice to support the change. Students become educated on digital citizenship, responsibility and creating positive digital footprints; something that many schools are failing at. Students have a wide-ranging set of technology skills, this is changing teaching methods, as well as when and how students learn and many schools are integrating digital citizenship training as part of their school improvement efforts (Ribble & Miller, 2013). He often refers to pedagogy first and tools second in creating sustainable change, making it clear that devices and technology always come second.

 

 

Learning environments and spaces pillar links in well with creating learning areas that are flexible, foster creativity and facilitate learning. He demonstrates this with the Gahana Jefferson District example of how they re-imagined spaces and how they could be utilised. The issue of school redesign he believes should be part of any educational reform process. Discovering opportunity rounds up the Seven Pillars, and once again he links the pillars together and summarises how they are interdependent on one another. Through working on the first six pillars it will allow leaders to find innovative solutions, share their stories and model digital leadership. This will then result in countless opportunities for schools, educators and students to open up.

 

Connect, collaborate, share, create and communicate are cornerstones for the 21st century educators and through Digital Leadership – Changing Paradigms for Changing Times, Sheninger provides an informative and practical guide on how to initiate the change. He addresses the paradigm shift that is taking place due to connectedness, ubiquitous nature of information and accelerated changes in technology. Through his own story, that of other innovative educators, and supported with various external sources, he showcases how they have responded to the change. He acknowledges that at the heart of digital leadership, the human interactions will always remain the key component in changing education (Sheninger, 2014, p. 191). For school leaders there is no longer a debate on whether or not to be a digital leader, Eric Sheninger successfully provides a clear framework on why and how to initiate the change.

 

References

Ahlquist, J. (2014). Trending Now: Digital Leadership Education Using Social Media and the Social Change Model. J Ldrship Studies, 8(2), 57-60. doi:10.1002/jls.21332

Bouffard, S. (2015). Tapping Into Technology: The Role of the Internet in Family–School Communication / Browse Our Publications / Publications & Resources / HFRP – Harvard Family Research Project. Hfrp.org. Retrieved 17 April 2015, from http://www.hfrp.org/publications-resources/browse-our-publications/tapping-into-technology-the-role-of-the-internet-in-family-school-communication

Collarbone, P. (2009). Creating tomorrow (p. 11). London: Network Continuum.

Connectedlearning.tv,. (2015). Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from http://connectedlearning.tv/infographic

Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a culture of change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Gerstein, J. (2013). Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0. User Generated Education. Retrieved 16 April 2015, from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2013/03/22/schools-are-doing-education-1-0-talking-about-doing-education-2-0-when-they-should-be-planning-education-3-0/

Lenhart, A. (2015). Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved 13 April 2015, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

O’Brien, A. (2015). School Leaders: Guiding Teachers into the Digital Age. Edutopia. Retrieved 15 April 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/school-leaders-guiding-teachers-digital-age-anne-obrien

O’Connell, J. (2015). 1.3 Trends in Technology Environments. Lecture, Retrieved March 20, 2015, from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-249312-dt-content-rid-635255_1/courses/S-INF530_201530_W_D/module1/1_3_Trends_tech.html.

Ribble, M., & Miller, T. (2013). Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks,17(1), 137-145. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1011379

Sheninger, E. (2014). Digital leadership. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press.

Siemens, G. (2004). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved 17 April 2015, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. (2011). A new culture of learning. [Lexington, Ky.]: [CreateSpace?].

Zhao, Y. (2012). World class learners (p. 8). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin Press, a Joint Publication with the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

Connect to live

I’m in my 5th year of teaching, after changing careers, studying and moving countries. Over the past 3 years I have become more engrossed and aware of the emergence of connected learning environments. From joining Twitter, reading blogs, writing blogs, listening to podcasts, and connecting with educators across Australia and the world. It constantly amazes me the wealth of knowledge and sharing that connected educators are doing online, and it encourages and inspires me every day. ‘Connected Learning’ and ‘Digital Literacy’ is quickly evolving into foundations of my own teaching strategies. In a rapidly evolving world of information technology, it is becoming paramount as a teacher that I’m able to develop these areas in my students and allow them to develop their skills.

Everything Is Connected

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by auspices: http://flickr.com/photos/auspices/14892685406

Technology has allowed new connections, interactions and participatory cultures to emerge. To be able to to use theses to the best effect, we foremost need to have a clear understanding and grasp of ‘Digital Literacy’ and how it relates to education. Bawden (2008) identifies a number of key facets of digital literacy; they include areas such as knowledge assembly, retrieval skills, critical thinking, using people networks and publishing information. This reflects strongly with my own teaching context whereas a History teacher these skills are key – Finding information, collecting it and being critical of the information in conducting a historical inquiry, forms the bedrock of research in History. The other aspects of using networks and publishing the created information is the missing element, and this is where I see further progression needs to take place within my own teaching context for my students.
Connected Learning would not be able to exist without Digital Literacy. Connected learning should be part of our daily lives as educators, we have the ability to connect with other educators online through Twitter, Blogs, and many other ways. However many of my students are still not utilising their connections to facilitate learning, and this is the area to focus on. This ties in well with what Helen Haste argues that in the future people will need to be able to adapt to change, to use new and old tools effectively, and to be confident that they can act in effective ways. These students are the future citizens, the future workers, the future inventors, the future leaders and they will need a set of skills that is different to what I grew up with.  Louise Starkey (2011) also supports these ideas about learning, “… appears to be slowly evolving from a focus on what has already been discovered and prescribed as ‘knowledge’ towards a focus on critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections.”.  Through this the learning theory of ‘Connectivism’ is explained by George Siemens(2015) as being the “amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network”. The Digital Media & Learning Research Hub is a fantastic resource place that explores, and showcase connected learning and what the key principles are. Quoted from their website: “….connected learning calls on today’s interactive and networked media in an effort to make these forms of learning more effective, better integrated, and broadly accessible.” Guiding principles include a ‘Shared purpose’, ‘Production-centered’ and ‘Openly networked’.

Connected Learning: The urgency and the promise from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

The connected learning environment, and how to interact with it professionally, socially and innovatively. My future goals will include improving my own understanding and knowledge of these areas, and also teaching my students how to become more digitally literate, more connected with learning and how to become more socially conscious citizens and leverage digital tools for their learning and the benefit of others.

References

Connectedlearning.tv,. (2015). Connected Learning Principles | Connected Learning. Retrieved 29 March 2015, from http://connectedlearning.tv/connected-learning-principles

Siemens, G. (2015). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age.Elearnspace.org. Retrieved 26 March 2015, from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy And Education, 20(1), 19-39. doi:10.1080/1475939x.2011.554021

YouTube,. (2015). Technology and Youth: Five Competencies (part 3 of 4). Retrieved 19 March 2015, from http://youtu.be/pqt3ZmtBTOE