It is difficult not the play on the metaphor of travelling on an express train, when trying to establish a starting point of reflection for INF530. The sensation of being swept along with the excitement of making connections within new information environments, engaging in group discourse, conducting academic inquiry and immersing yourself within extension research readings, was at times overwhelming. Moments of personal reflection amid the fast paced information flow left the thoughts spinning whilst grabbing at emerging possibilities for future learning. With the pace of the course now beginning to ease, there is a sense that so much more could have been gained.
Throughout the course I have challenged myself to delve into the content, explore the concepts and ideas being presented, and then synthesise the various aspects covered into communicable thoughts. With these thoughts I then endeavoured to engage in discussion with my professional peers in an attempt to refine the network of understandings. At times my depth of understanding was shallow and warranted further research to give a more sophisticated edge, but I felt there was value in this process so as to ground the learnings into the real world.
With the participatory experiences presented in the course, such as the discussion forums, tweet meets, hangouts and adobe connect sessions, the opportunity was taken to engage in further discussion on course work. I found the depth of knowledge and experience the course cohort were sharing in this medium extraordinary. The ideas, opinions and links the group shared added to the subject value and spread another layer of complexity of thinking in my already overwhelmed thought processes. There was a certain level of engagement by me in this aspect of the course, perhaps more evident in the earlier weeks. The discourse I shared with my work peers was not as easily reflected into the digital medium as I struggled to express my understandings in a timely and succinct matter. This aspect of engagement in online learning is an aspect requiring ongoing development. It highlighted the hesitation and wariness that my students must feel when required to engage in online collaborative tasks.
During INF530 the required and recommended readings, scholarly book review and digital essay research initially required a level of extrinsic motivation, with the demands of other professional reading battling for limited time. But as the appreciation for the perspectives of ‘digital promoters and opponents’ developed, there was a shift in the scheduling of reading time. Writers such as Boyd, Davidson, Zhao, McGonigal and Wagner and thinkers such as Rhiengold, Whitby, Robinson and Gee changed my perspectives on a number of aspects of my role as an educator. My shift in the value I place on digital connections in the workplace and for learning, has gone from an educator’s interest to being passionately seen as an essential aspect of any educator’s life. There is also a deeper appreciation of the complexity and value of digital mediums in a child’s education and position in society.
When reflecting on the objectives and outcomes of INF530, I find that through my interaction with the course learnings, I have come to understand the importance of networked, connected learning. There is a fundamental need for there to be a re-imaging of the learning that is happening in our schools. The globalisation of economies and education have an crucial link that will impact on the futures of today’s youth. They will need to be creative and innovative, be able to generate valuable learning networks and understand the flow and curation of information. As educators we are entrusted with the development of the capabilities of youth. We need to be 21st century educators and learners. The world is changing, technology is changing, and education must change. Resistance is futile.