Whilst reading through the many reflections of my partners in learning in INF530 – Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age I am humbled and overwhelmed by the knowledge that exists and the generosity in sharing of knowledge.
After completing my Scholarly Book Review, I was made aware of how easy it can be to get swept up in the writings of others. Then after reading the blog post, “Says Who?” I realised that those two words have really made me put the brakes on. I totally agree when Michele Walters speaks of the need of authoritative research and that it is very easy to go to any conference or PD opportunity and get caught up with the how can I use this and make learning more engaging in my learning space?
There are a lot of passionate and well meaning educators trying to bridge the gap between research and practice but it is necessary for teachers to realise that they must be aware of the research. The research guides the vision (or purpose) for learning and the vision guides the achievement of learning through best practice. Vaughn & Faircloth (2013) write about their experience of visioning and conclude by saying, “A recommendation for teachers is to think critically about their instructional vision and to articulate it clearly so that it will ultimately develop their students’ skills”(p.10). The only implication that I would put to this recommendation is that if each individual teacher comes up with their own vision with no consideration to the collective vision of firstly the school, then the system they work within, then doesn’t that just mean adopting an ‘anything goes’ approach?
Whilst they were not referring to the integration of digital technologies or participation within the various online communities, they make a point, at the end of the day, it is the teacher who knows the particular context of learning – the students, the parents, the resources available.
I was then reminded of the AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarian Practice and realised that within this document Professional Knowledge was to be based on research. The research though is one aspect, putting it into practice is another and that involves creating a vision (or a purpose) for the learning. All of these standards are related to 3 words – research (theory), purpose (vision), practice.
I welcomed my learning partner, Michele Walters commentary as it is exactly where I was ‘stuck’. What is it that is frustrating me with all this talk of ‘new skills’, ‘new pedagogy’ and I believe the obstacle is not the dealing with digital technologies. Teachers and teacher librarians are well aware that our practice of learning has changed and are using these tools to the best of their ability. It is not the how. Teachers and teacher librarians are well aware of the multitude of tools. Perhaps it is the why that connects the theory with the practice? Why is this research important to the students in my care? Why should we incorporate this tool into our students’ learning?
Is it that we (educators) are more aware of these ‘new skills’ required in the 21st Century because the certainty or uncertainty of the future requires learning how to learn rather than learning to know. In his book, Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google? Ian Gilbert states that we still need teachers to ‘democratise learning’ (p.24) so that students can get to where they need to be in this landscape of digital tools and Infowhelm.
So insofar as concepts and practices for a digital age, I would suggest that research, purpose and practice are interrelated and that we need to focus on not only the students but all involved in our learning communities so that our practices are informed and align to a vision that is related to research. We need to create educational settings that practice what we preach. We need to realise that the passion for learning needs to be instilled in our teachers and teacher librarians before we can authentically promote passion for learning in our students.
ALIA Schools AITSL Standards for Teacher Librarian Practice. Retrieved from: https://www.alia.org.au/sites/default/files/AITSL%20Standards%20for%20teacher%20librarian%20practice%202014.pdf
Gilbert, Ian (2010). Why Do I Need a Teacher When I’ve got Google? : The Essential Guide to the Big Issues for Every 21st Century Teacher. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.co
Vaughn, M., & Faircloth, B. (2013). Teaching With a Purpose in Mind: Cultivating a Vision. Professional Educator, 37(2), 1-12.