Network literacy

3.1 McClure’s and Rheingold’s views

The internet is a massive network of networks. It connects millions of computers from all over the world, so that they are able to communicate. To be network literate you need to have developed the skills to not only use the network, but to also have the skills necessary to interpret the information the network, or this case the internet, is communicating for you. McClure (1997) described network literacy as ‘the ability to identify, access and use electronic information from the network’ and he argues that an elite few are typically network literate. The implications of the later, he states, will be a gulf between these network literate and those who are not and the level of empowerment network literacy can bring.

Howard Rhiengold on the other hand, states in his ‘Network Literacy video series‘ that network literacy encompasses so much more. To be network literate, a person needs to have knowledge of the technical aspects of the internet. He argues that we should know how the internet works, how networks can grow and how information flows to take advantage of technological innovations the internet can provide. He also goes on to states that ‘understanding the technical underpinning of communication is not just a matter of engineering, but also a question of freedom. Not strictly technical, but also social. When it comes to the underlying code that moves the bits around, the structure of the net is not just about programming, but about the location of control’

The internet is certainly growing at an extraordinary rate. The two way traffic of information it once afforded on inception is definitely an antiquated view of its potential. The internet is able to connect groups of users on a global field and those who are able to access this field, and take advantage of the wealth of information it serves, have an amazing asset in their grasp. Network literacy is not just the ability to access the information. To gain meaning from the internet, through the development of skills that enable a deep understanding of how to use the network to its full potential, must be what a fully network literate user is today.  To gain that meaning there should be an ability to understand what the internet is able to do with the information passed through it. With that comes innovative thoughts, developments and growth.

McClure, Charles R. (1997) Media literacy in the information age: ‘Network literacy in an Electronic Society’  New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. 403-410

Just add water


If I want something to grow in my garden I will ensure it is situated in a suitable place, it is firmly sitting in the soil, is protected from harm, is fed with essential nutrients and, of course, is watered. With regular attention my plant will grow. But there is probably no point in growing my plant if I don’t learn to appreciate it and understand what it is trying to achieve. It could produce the most succulent of fruits but should I not notice it or learn about harvesing it, then I will not fully take advantage of why it was grown by me in the first place.

The same could be said of a Professional Learning Network or PLN; a network of connections for life long learning. A support crew of like minded individuals who are there to connect, converse, collaborate and create. It is something I need to grow to enable the shift to a 21st century learner and educator.

The first step is to take hold of some suitable tools that will help establish the firm ground for a PLN. A few more tools will protect the PLN from harm and with a good supply of participation, communication and appreciation I should see some rewarding fruits begin to develop. What can be harvested from the PLN? Not sure yet, but it promises to be very satisfying. And how big will the PLN grow? Well, that all depends on me. 

Photo Credit: seyed mostafa zamani via Compfight

Blog Task #1 – ‘I am what I am!’

Many times over the thirty years of my teaching experience, I have set to initiate challenges in my professional development to better suit the needs of my students and school, as well as maintaining a spark of energy in my attitude to my profession. It was with my first placement with my current school almost 17 years ago that I was introduced to the internet, with a student in a Technology class showing be how to surf the net. I was hooked and several years later, after seeking training in media technologies, I was delivering a courses for senior students teaching them how to use technology for their studies.

My current school is a small Reception to Year 12 school, nestled in a rural area south of Adelaide. It has undergone some significant changes over the last few years and has been affected by the introduction of bus runs from the small local town to three private schools approximately 30 km away. Although the school is successful in enabling students to achieve rewarding goals when they complete their studies, the school is often seen as struggling to cater for the education needs of the community. It is within this context that I am working towards helping to develop a school that can enable our students to be digitally literate, globally connected and can use technology to meet their learning needs. With this the school will meet the progressive needs of the education system, the academic needs of the students and the respect of the local community.

To do this I need to immerse myself into the same sphere as the students. I need to experience the technology, appreciate its power and understand its potential. I need to develop as a connected educator and leader, and learn the skills needed for directing collaborative learning with both my professional peers and students. I need to understand how I can move the school forward into the 21st century in an environment of limited resources and the occasional resistant barriers. As Helen Haste argues in her presentation Technology and Youth: Five Competencies there will be a need to be confident in five essential competencies that encompass information ambiguity, responsibility and agency, sustainability, emotion management and technological change.

Taking on the Knowledge Network and Digital Innovation course will likely be the most challenging professional development I will undertake as an educator. My main aim is to help my school continue its move towards meeting the needs of the students to become digital citizens and connected learners. I am also looking to develop skills that will enable me to eventually move beyond the school environment and help facilitate the development of teachers and principals to manage the technological change that is coming to education.

The challenges I have set myself will certainly push me out of my comfort zone. Although a proactive teacher and school member, I will need to develop the skills, confidence and knowledge that will enable me to work with leadership, and school community, to help initiate the changes necessary for the schools future. I will need to ensure that I am worthy of the title ‘Master of Education’.

Personal reflections #1

DSCN2334 As I reflect on the first weeks of study for the Master of Education course, I think back to last year when I first considered taking on this journey. My motives at the time were to challenge myself with something that could further develop ‘me as a teacher’, yet at the same time allow me to  feel some sense of personal achievement. I chose the Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation focus as it fitted perfectly with my professional direction of eLearning.

The deliberate submergence of students into the online world of social media, blogs, forums and information repositories has certainly left me bobbing in the world wide web pond. As I paddle around trying some new approaches to communication and knowledge development, I have felt an overwhelming sense that I am at the start of something significant in both my professional and personal life. It seems that the move forward to become a 21st century educator has begun and I am stepping into it at a very important time for education in Australia.

In much the same way the students will be challenged with evolving digital literacy needs, information ecosystems and collaborative learning, I am being challenged to understand the importance of these changes in our education system. I am no longer the purveyor if knowledge through the mystic of being the all knowing teacher. My challenge is to develop new pedagogical practices that enable students to engage in learning that is self directed, through multiple mediums and encourages a positive approach to life long learning.

The journey starts….

The connected educator

2.1 Defining the connected educator

To become a connected educator means that you have first become a connected learner. As a connected learner you have developed personal learning networks, you collaborate online, you use social media to interact with fellow learners and educators, and you share what you have learnt. It seems that collaboration is the key to being a successful educator. Collaboration implies there is an intense sharing within a group for a common goal. The group members have unique skills to share with the group and with that sharing, knowledge is constructed and shared with connected learners.

As a connected learner I have some shifting of thoughts and action before I can become an effective connected educator.  My thoughts and actions are still very much in the realm of co-operation; the task is common, the group is structured and I could be easily replaced. As a 21st century learner I need to be more open and findable. I need to develop connections and be more willing to share. This sharing should not happen just online but also within my workplace with my colleagues, students and community members. As well as being mindful, sharing and a contributor, I need to be courageous enough to express my thoughts, knowledge and opinions. In becoming a 21st century connected educator my understandings will deepen, my connections will expand, my thoughts will be global as well as local and I will have opened the classroom door and abandoned isolated teaching practices.


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.

Arc-of Life Learning

1.2 The philosophy of information – The Arc-of-Life Learning

Thomas and Brown’s ‘Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change’ (2011) describes learning as ‘moving from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change.’ They further discuss that this change, at a relentless pace, is responsible for our disequilibrium yet enables an amplification of our ability to access unlimited resources, instruments and information.

As an educator and learner this change in learning structure as enabled a intense growth in desire to achieve so much more in life. Like the child that finds the game of ‘Why?’ so engrossing, I have found the challenge of answering my own questions a personal pleasure. Using the massive information network and the structured environments of learning institutions, I have pursued and achieved career goals, enabling me to widen my teaching fields to highly focussed science subjects such as Senior Chemistry, and VET based training courses like Information and Media Technologies. I have taught myself to use media and technology rich tools and then developed ways of using those tools within both my personal life and my teaching. And in all that time I saw myself as ‘playing’ with technology.

Yet within those years I have not found engagement in online collaboration as a natural progression of the the new culture of learning I am engaging in. Students, teacher and personal collaboration have still focussed on the physical presence in a learning space. This could be more reflective of my own school days learning styles or lack of willingness to speak out in medium that pushes you beyond a comfort zone.

As Thomas and Brown discuss in the final pages of their writings, the Arc-of-life learning is akin to building a bridge between the public, information-based world and the personal, structured world. My own experience as an educator and learner reflect the building of the bridge for a new culture of learning. Perhaps I have a little more the build in the form of support structures to develop my confidence in using the bridge to its full potential, but I am certainly seeing its potential.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Discovering philosophy of information

1.2 The philosophy of information

The authors, Floridi, and Brown & Duguid, have challenged the thinking of information as a ‘knowledge received or communicated’. The nature of information discussed in the presented readings pose several challenges but the three that concern me personally are
1. The physical nature of information – Rather than thinking of information as data processed, stored and transmitted or communicated, information seems to have taken on a physical form that can be owned or traded.
2. The power of information – Knowledge/education can empower and provide agency. Information can provide knowledge and with this knowledge the owner could assume power over others with less information. Centralisation of information could imply greater capacity for power.
3. Dephysicalisation of identity or form – By 2047 …. all information about physical objects …. will be online. (Gordon Bell and Jim Gray). Is this implying that physical objects will become redundant as any information regarding them is known? Could this also include the emotion involved in seeing or touch that object?

As a member of our information society I am a little perplex how I could address these points I personally find challenging. Some thought include –

As an facilitator of learning, I could ensure that the web as an information source is viewed as merely a tool in a students education? Perhaps this is a small drop in a big pond. Already large corporations are amassing ownership of data rich companies and are using that data to gain information about that they should develop, sell, buy or even make redundant. How can students view it as a tool when they see corporation using it with such power.
As an educator I could help students to empower themselves by learning how to control the flow of information they use. With control education become relevant to them and they maintain their uniqueness in a world that may promote uniformity for ease of management.
As a teacher I should encourage balance in a students life – that the web is one of many aspects of their journey through life.

As a member of the information society I should model good practices.

New models of information production

1.1 New models of information production

In the book extract ‘New models of information production’, Martin De Saulles looks to explore new models of information production, along with the high number of technologies developed for the handling of the vast amount of data produced.

‘What are some of the of the defining characteristics of the internet that have stimulated creation?’ ‘What challenges face educators?’

The internet is a very social medium which has become increasingly accessible to a large number of the worlds population. New forms of information production encourage participation and collaboration, stimulating further growth of the required supporting technologies.

De Saulles describes some of the new models of information production as evolutionary, indicating that they are part of the growth of the internet in society. As the internet and the networked devices become seen as essential tools of socialisation, communication and information sourcing, models of information production evolve to suit the demands of populations, either in the home or work. Blogging, social media and the various forms of podcasting are just some that have changed over the years, sprouting new technologies to enable greater accessibility, reliability and commercial viability. Occasionally a revolution in information production occurs and new forms of information production leaps onto the internet for anyone that can access it.

I see the core defining characteristics of the internet, that has allowed the evolution and a revolution of new models of information production, are related to the social nature of humans; the desire to communicate and be informed of what is happening around them. The growing accessibility of the internet has enabled millions to participate in this socialisation which encourages collaboration, without which many information production model would collapse.


For educators the challenges faced are enormous. Any change within an education system is generally deliberate and slow, enabling stakeholders in the system to adapt and grow with the change. Information production models and the associate technologies are however changing rapidly, with youth eagerly enabling , as well as feeding, the change. This clash between the pace of change and implementation, along with associated clash between slow to adapt educators and the technology hungry youth, will inevitably cause conflict within the education system. The purposes of any education system has not fundamentally changed over the years but the desired outcome needs of the youth leaving the system has.

Students are sandwiched between the educators, parents, business and taxpayers, each seeing different required outcomes from years of schooling. The students however are grasping at the technologies developing around them and seeing the future in a vastly different light to many of the older generation. The challenge for educators is to continue to engage students in this information rich world whilst balancing the demands of society with a funding model established in a political sphere.