Network literacy evaluative report INF532

Part A: An evaluative statement using the networked learning experiences documented on your Thinkspace blog as evidence of meeting the learning objectives of this subject.

Information is now accessible on the worldwide web for everyone, not just for scholarly elite. However, since the 1990s an acute issue that is becoming more important is the curation and filtering of information (Bawden & Robinson, 2009). A simple search on any topic will result in a plethora of hits. Using tools to aid curation of content is vital to a person seeking to make the most of the myriad of information for individuals and their personal learning network (PLN) (Visser, 2011). Individuals will go through a trial and error process before settling on a suite of tools that will work from them personally, as explored in curation – the final frontier (Drager, 2016 October 4).

A 21st Century educator needs to have a solid understanding of how the social nature of knowledge networking and content production can help them lead their organisation from being knowledgeable to knowledgeable (TEDx Talks, 2010). While teachers might use technology in their personal lives there has been an increasing disengagement with the use of technology for education purposes, especially in the VET sector (O’Brien, & Maor, 2013). Unfortunately it is critical that educators adapt to a new way of teaching to survive in the education sector (Drager, 2016 July 12).

Wheeler (2010) stresses educators must become self-directed and socially connected learners who can develop a PLN as a key component of their professional toolkit and Patnoudes (2012) states that PLN is a structure for learning and it’s crucial for educators to understand how to employ effectively their PLN for lifelong learning (Drager, 2016 October 8). Educators need to embrace the 21st Century multi-literacies (Nussbaum-Beach, & Hall, 2012) and become active participants in the development of content and sharing of knowledge (Rheingold, & Weeks, 2012; Drager, 2016, August 9). An educator can easily become a connected learner; they simply need the will to commit and the ability to reach out to others for support (Lindsay, 2016; Drager, 2016 September 13). The act of reaching out and sharing is of benefit to the educator, their direct connections and the wider education sector. For an educator sharing is an obligation, not an elective (Gerstein, 2015) and it’s important to pay the knowledge forward (Drager, 2016 October 8).

Educators need a good understanding of their own TPACK (TPACK.org, & Koehler, 2016; Drager, 2015 January 12) as well as the capability and capacity to use instructional design methodologies. Design and development of content uses instructional design principles such as ADDIE and it’s important for educators to understand not only instructional design but the affordances of tools they’re using to disseminate information (Bower, 2009; Drager, 2015 January 19).

Instructional design is defined as the process instruction is improved through the analysis of learning needs and systematic development of learning experiences (Kearsley, & Culattahttp, 2016) and is echoed by Morrison’s personal definition (2013) which is why instructional design is crucial for developing content. The five first principles identified by Merrill (2002) underpins instructional design models and provides a framework for problem centred instruction which forms the basis for many blended and online courses and content, such as in ‘Blending and flipping- not just for cooking’ (Drager, 2016 October 9).

21st Century skills are vital for educators to effectively create authentic learning experiences that will have meaning for their students (Herrington & Parker, 2013) while also ensuring that curriculum is being met (Drager, 2016 August 9).

Jonson (2014) says “Blended learning is about good teaching and making the most of our online and face to face environments”. Blended delivery is not an easy approach. It requires thoughtful and deliberate instructional planning which can impact the teacher student relationship because of the pedagogical approach (Herrington, & Parker, 2013). The dynamic of interactions move from teacher-student (sage on the stage) to student-student (peer to peer with guide on the side teach role) and technology becomes a new space for teaching and learning in the classroom (Jonson, 2014; Lukin et al., 2009).

The VET sector already views the trainer as a facilitator or ‘meddler in the middle’ supporting students’ in-class interactions (Herrington & Parker, 2013; Day & Kumar, 2010) rather than the traditional ‘sage on the stage’ (Lukin et al., 2009). By employing different teaching methodologies such as flipped learning, blended delivery and virtual classrooms as well as the facilitator’s direct involvement with the students in the education assistant (Drager, 2016 July 13) and facilitate e-learning (Drager, 2016 October 9) courses was crucial for student success.

Learner 2.0 –  are students born after 2000 and have been wrapped up in technology their entire lives (Wheeler, 2015) are our current learners. Meeker (2016) identifies that students who fall into the Millenials generation prefer visual/video over traditional text. When designing learning experiences for students we need to understand them and create engaging experiences for specific cohorts, not just a blanket one-size-fits-all approach (Herner-Patnode, Lee, & Baek, 2011; Drager, 2016 September 21; Drager, 2016 August 5; Drager, 2016 July 27).

Merrill’s top first principle is particularly important to the VET student – “learning is promoted when learners are engaged in solving real-world problems” (2002). Resmick says that Scratch (along with other game based learning programs) “teach our children to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively” (Ray, Jackson, & Cupaiuolo, 2014; Hanghøj, 2013) and can help support students to learn via failing in a safe and supportive environment. This philosophy extends to include real-world online tools to makes the learning authentic and real for students in a meaningful and relevant context, which is often more effective than learning that happens outside of the context (Herrington & Parker, 2013; Van Eck, 2006).

Being networked is important for students and educators alike. It can be a rich, fulfilling experience that can be symbiotic to both educators and students as information and the ability to reach out to professionals in industry is available now unlike never before.

Part B: A reflective statement on your development as a connected educator as a result of studying INF532, and the implications for your role as a ‘connected leader’ within your school community, and/or at district/state/national level.

In reflecting back on INF532 there was a number of key learning points that resonated with me throughout the unit that deal with pedagogy and making effective connections. I was fortunate to do INF532 at the very end of my course and have been able to draw on knowledge and experiences from previous units as well as from my work.

I now have a solid grasp on not only the need for curation but also a practical implementation of it in my everyday work practice as explored in curation – the final frontier (Drager, 2016 October 4). Though digital obsolescence was not covered in this unit I feel that it is important to be mindful of, especially when using tools for curation purposes and blogged about this in you live you learn you upgrade (Drager , 2016 October 3) with interoperability and transference (import/export) and maintaining networks being paramount (Good, 2014). I am cognisant now that the filtering, selecting and managing of information streams can be problematic for users and can lead to ‘pathologies of information’ such as Information Anxiety, Infobesity, Satisficing (Bawden & Robinson, 2009) so used tagging to improve user experience on my blog. This idea has flowed through to my workplace where our website and LMS now employ tagging for enhanced user interaction and search-ability to improve work flow  Boud, & Garrick, 2012).

Creation of a digital artefact helped me in stepping outside my comfort zone to create something quirky for training with inspiration being drawn from the Library of Congress Snow Byte and the Seven Formats; A Digital Preservation Fairy Tale. I set the bar high and worked through a formal development process which helped focus the context for the resource to be used and provided a necessary blueprint (Oliver, 2000). The process included scoping projected target group, project managing timelines, storyboarding the resource and finally producing the digital artefact: How a PLN saved the 3 pigs (Drager, 2016 September 13). The creation of the digital artefact, though not worth a huge amount of marks certainly was a critical learning point within the unit. As a result I have developed skills in PowToon and have broadened my skills in Camtasia, Adobe Photoshop and location of creative commons audio and images and will be using my digital artefact as a basis for a content creation session early in 2017 for VET professionals.

Partnering in this unit is important (Prensky, 2010) with each stakeholder group playing a distinctive role, which supported the authentic learning experiences that were worked through both individually and as a learning cohort (Herrington, & Parker, 2013; Oliver, 2000; Herrington, Reeves, Oliver, & Woo, 2004). Vital to a successful course is the valuable peer-to-peer learning that goes on and is central to knowledge networking (Davidson, & Goldberg, 2010), which in this unit was employed in the peer review of the digital learning artefacts and enabled students to get honest supportive feedback from like-minded peers as demonstrated in Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts (Drager, 2016 September 30).

Unintentionally the sessions I present to trainers follow Merrill’s five first principles, which I’ll endeavour to make a conscious decision to use this as a framework in the future so I can use the principles as a teaching point. Technology in the classroom should directly link to curriculum and the educator needs to be informed by the five principles of meaningful learning; technology active, constructive, intentional, authentic and cooperative outlined by Jonassen, Howland, Marra, and Crismond (2008) to ensure that students are being taught how to become effective connected learners.

Blended delivery and technology enabled teaching is important, but not to the detriment of the pedagogy. In the VET context there is a need to scaffold the learning and link to previous experiences for adult learners to develop a deep understanding of principles (Roblyer, 2013; Drager, 2015 January 11) via authentic learning and Anderson and Krathwohl’s knowledge dimension taxonomy (2001). For me I must ensure correlation between skills learnt in a classroom and the transferability of skills into the workplace (Buzzard, Crittenden, Crittenden & McCarty, 2011; Drager, 2016 July 9) for the training and professional development sessions I present, as outlined in Blending and flipping – not just for cooking (Drager, 2016 October 9) and Less screen more green – an adventure in blended delivery and games (Drager, 2015 May 18).

Most importantly in this unit I am at a point where I will share my work both with fellow students and to my wider personal learning network (PLN) via social networks such as Twitter as discussed in Up close and personal – my PLN (Drager, October 8). I have been surprised at the number of views that my simple digital artefact has had. In the past I may have been concerned with the reactions, but I’m happy now to share my good quality thoughts/content and move on. I suspect the change in my mindset is due to my well-developed PLN who expects me to share and comment and has invigorated my informal learning (Nesloney, 2013).

In thinking about the personal growth I have made in this unit and linking previously learnt skills and knowledge as well as the development of new skills has led to my professional practices being improved. I am now a connected educator who can help lead the VET sector in primarily WA and then linking out to the whole world. I have been fortunate enough this year to serve on the NMC 2017 Horizon Report for Tertiary Education (International report) and the 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for Australian Tertiary Education (Australian report), which is directly linked to my learning from this unit, so I can now say I will impact on the world stage largely thanks to INF532.

References

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