#INF530 In A Nutshell

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Walnuts by Pauline Mak, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  Pauline Mak 
In  the first post I wrote in this blog I referred to Douglas Thomas’ “A New Culture of Learning” and how he could identify four components of learning:
1. passion;
2. imagination;
3. constraint
4.  play.
These words really provide an ‘in a nutshell’ way of thinking.  I have found the learning in INF530 challenging and at times I was quite anxious about my own ability to keep up and contribute as I have connected with an exceptional cohort of partners in learning.  As I reflect what I have learnt over this first session I find that again I can fit my learning into these four components.
1.  Passion
I have rediscovered my passion for my role as teacher librarian and am now able to advocate for our school library environments when they say things like, “But aren’t you worried that you’ve taught yourself out of the classroom?  Libraries might not be needed when we have the Internet” and of course, “You’re so lucky!  I’d love to just read books and show kids how to find information.”  This is why I chose to finish with my digital essay, “Why Do We Need School Libraries?  We have technology” I have found my passion for my role as teacher librarian to be more relevant than ever.  I see my students at all different stages of abilities in their digital literacy and digital citizenship development. The idea of the just-in-time learner really challenged me as I thought it was just a phrase being thrown around as almost an  Navigating Web 2.0 is something that our students need us to guide them before we let them go on alone.  Then eventually the lightbulb lit up and I realised I am a ‘just-in-time’ learner as much as I am a  lifelong learner.  My passion is not learning content but learning how to learn not just teaching it but refining my own skills so that I can ‘walk the talk.’
2.  Imagination
My imagination is the what are the possibilities I can dream from here?  I have had my eyes opened wide to the possibilities of integrating even more technologies within the environment.  Knowing there is video conferencing capabilities in the school that I have never seen utilised.  Knowing that there is a 3-D printer that could be used by students to create some amazing products of their learning.
I am passionate about reimagining and designing our library to be both a formal setting for learning and an informal space for collaboration and networking.  Conole (2012) discusses the affordances of Web 2.0  as “fostering collaboration and for co-construction and sharing of knowledge but raise a number of issues of copyright and privacy” (p.56).  I am passionate about this idea of collaboration as I realise that learning is dialogue, it is building upon each other’s understandings, it is a collective activity and therefore it requires collaboration and participation to keep the dialogue going (Ravenscroft, Wegerif & Hartley, 2007).  On the other hand though it is important that we assist our students in understanding that there are ethical ways of using information and  develop a healthy skepticism about expertise (Walters, 2015).
Bring on the revolution indeed.  I imagine an education system that embraces differences, in opinion and ways of learning, that will create a global culture of understanding with many voices.  Perhaps it isn’t just the problem-solving, critical thinking skills but also empathy and tolerance that can grow by immersing ourselves and our students in the globalised network of learning.
3.  Constraint  
Oh, how this idea can have so many meanings.  Firstly, it can relate to the idea of not having time, budgets, devices, professional development.  Some consider these barriers but I continue to question, can we keep allowing ourselves the time not to adopt? not to spend? not to train?  Why are we continuing to put constraints on our students learning?
Digital technologies allow learning to happen anywhere, anytime and perhaps it is time we embrace IT  rather than trying to constrain what is expected by us – connectivity and the ability to participate (Conole, 2012).
4.  Play
This idea of play was complemented by my learning in INF541 Game-based Learning.  I had never thought deeply of games or participating with Web 2.0 as an extension of our own creativity.  Routledge (2009), stated “Games are not a replacement for teachers but they should enhance the teaching experience” (p.280).  What if we replaced the word games in this quote for Web 2.0 ?  Web 3.0?    One way I have ‘played’ this session is by starting to participate in Twitter and it has now become my preferred social media as it is access to experts of many fields, anytime, anywhere.  It has become my Professional & Personal) Learning Network.  I then thought and know that after this experience of learning and being the student, I have appreciated the opportunity to play.  I no longer see myself as a “lesser” because I am the student, I now recognise that even my teachers (lecturers) are learners too.
So, in a nutshell – it can’t be the end of this first session, I feel like I have just gotten started!
Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media. In G. Conole (Ed.), Designing for learning in an open world. New York: Springer.
Ravenscroft, A., Wegerif, R., & Hartley, R. (2007). Reclaiming thinking: Dialectic, dialogic and learning in the digital age. Learning Through Digital Technologies, 11(5), 39-57.
Routledge, H. (2009). Games-based learning in the classroom and how it can work!. In T. Connolly, M. Stansfield, & L. Boyle (Eds.) Games-Based Learning Advancements for Multi-Sensory Human Computer Interfaces: Techniques and Effective Practices (pp. 274-286). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60566-360-9.ch016
Walters, M. (2015, April 25). Says who? [Blog Post] Retrieved from:  http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/fromheretothere/2015/04/25/says-who/

Learning Beyond Limits – Embrace IT!!

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I remember hearing someone, somewhere, that when we are researching for our assessment tasks then we should only be choosing from educational databases or databases that have to do with our profession.  When I heard this I agreed to a certain extent but there was something that did not sit comfortably after all the reading we have been doing about connected learners, connectivism, the convergence of media, networked knowledge.  Also, being a teacher librarian, perhaps it was because while that is my professional identity, my personal learning  does not restrict me in going beyond the boundaries to open my eyes to new concepts and ideas that could keep me at the cutting edge of my professional learning, knowing and ability to share with others.

For example, in my GBL Chapter, I was able to draw links and make connections between digital literacy and how GBL allows the learner to practise those skills.  To get to this space, I needed to read a little bit from psychology, a little bit from cultural studies, a little bit from media and well, I think it can be seen that this is what learning looks like for everyone. It is “lifelong and lifewide” (O’Connell, 2014, p. 13; Erstad, 2013)  Mimi Ito outlines this fact of learning beyond the formal space of learning in the following YouTube clip.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuV7zcXigAI

While the changes needed to participate in a digitally, networked information ecology are challenging, I am now seeing them as positively challenging.  By this I mean, how lucky we are that we can move beyond our pigeon-holed identities and be recognised as learners.  I am so privileged to be able to ‘connect’ to my learning, even though my hardware breaks and some frustrations do happen as a result, ultimately, I always have an option to connect.  I don’t have to enrol in a Uni degree but I choose to so that I can be accountable for my learning and my knowledge sharing.  I want to add to the conversation from my experience and my learning and whether that be media, psychology, cultural studies, game-based learning, I want to know my learning has meant something.  Is this not giving education the value it deserves in our global context?  This is what formal education settings need to realise that learning happens beyond their formal settings but it is the social space of schools and Uni that refine our learning through the ability to dialogue with others who are pursuing the same commonality of learning.  Hmmm…Dialogic learning in fact!?! (Note to self, go back and read Anna Craft and Rupert Wegerif.)

When we allow students the same permission we allow ourselves to learn in informal spaces as well as formal settings we open up the possibilities.  We are learning beyond limits.  Leander, Phillips and Taylor (2010) use the idea of ‘classroom-as-container’ as a metaphor that limits the potential of learning and research.  I like this metaphor as it is the packaging learning as happening only in the classroom that is one of the biggest challenges I face in my role as teacher librarian, which still remains a very misunderstood role.  In the following clip, John Seely Brown explains the boundaries of learning has moved and compares GBL mentality as the way of learning in all areas of life.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGdpbba1i9c

They are bringing it from the context of the game to the real world.  Wouldn’t it be great if this transference of learning happened across all areas of curriculum.  This is where I think 21st Century libraries and teacher librarians are even more important as we have always moved learning beyond the classroom – we need to connect this fact for our students though by providing relevance and purpose to their learning (without limits!)

Welcome to the 21st Century???We are 15 years into this phenomenon called the 21st Century.  Let’s embrace what it has to offer and instead of limiting our students learning…….let the learning move beyond.  Embrace ITand all the affordances it brings. (How you read this might be a reflection of where you are at, it was a typo but when I reread, there was something crucial in there for me! What about you?)


Erstad, O. (2013). New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies, Volume 52 : Digital Learning Lives : Trajectories, Literacies, and Schooling. New York, NY, USA: Peter Lang AG. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Leander, K. M., Phillips, N. C., & Taylor, K. H. (2010). The changing social spaces of learning: Mapping new mobilities. Review of Research in Education, 34, 329-394. doi: 10.3102/0091732X09358129

O’Connell, J. (2014). Researcher’s Perspective: Is Teacher Librarianship in Crisis in Digital Environments? An Australian Perspective. School Libraries Worldwide, 20(1), 1-19. doi: 10.14265.20.1.002

What IS important for learning now? Blog Task #4 – INF530

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I have been pondering this question for a couple of weeks now and at first was shocked I didn’t have an immediate opinion or thought about this.  As I have pushed on in the learning, I have realised that despite digital literacy skills in their multifaceted ways being important for learning for NOW and in the future.  Yes, an understanding of the multimodal landscape where information is conveyed in what we know as the Internet is definitely important now but the one thought I have had is the nature of citizenship.  Not citizenship in the sense of belonging to a community but the sense of citizenship and interconnectedness with our fellow human beings.


Having read about the many affordances of technology throughout this session, Mike Wesch and his description of how things change when technologies are introduced, including cultures was really quite confronting.  When you reflect o this though, you just have to look around when you sit at a coffee shop and see the changing nature of relationships and connection as people constantly check their phones when meeting up with friends or take their laptops to lunch to keep working.

Retrieved from:  http://youtu.be/DwyCAtyNYHw

When I consider citizenship as important for learning now, I consider it in a sense of connecting with other people offline so that our values are developed through the meeting and connecting face to face.  It is too easy to hide behind technology.

Then I am reminded of the reading by Philip & Garcia (2013) who considered the very human element that the teacher brings to the classroom.  The fact that our students while being immersed in these knowledge networks still need to be guided and to an extent protected.  We need to teach our students that we are ‘feeding the machine/s’ that are digital technologies.  We are the machine.  Everything we write represents and forms our identity.  Every search we make can be traced back to us, stored as data for big name companies and then the machine/s feed it back to us through images, advertising, anything that creates a rapport between us and the machine.

The following clip, also by Michael Wesch, interestingly enough, demonstrates this idea.

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyvjMBXoGXg

So to be a participatory learner in this digital age, we need to not only include digital literacy skills, in their plethora of guises, we need to develop critical thinking that allows empathy, respect and responsibility towards not only ourselves but to others.

As this is a reflective piece I would offer the opinion that teachers more than ever need to stand up and consider their duty of care in helping our students to not only learn for their future but to learn what it means to still be human for and in their future. Yes, there are many affordances and reasons why pedagogy needs to change in the educational arena but it is time as teachers, as leaders of education to offer the best education possible with and about the possibilities, good and bad, that these technologies offer.
It is through the nine elements of digital citizenship that will allow our students to become fully participatory in a very human way. As would be expected in our face to face interactions and community life, we need to consider each of these nine elements to keep technology as the tool/s which have evolved to supposedly make our everyday life easier.  Or has technology made our life more complicated?  Definitely more learning to be done.
Philip, T. M., & Garcia, A. D. (2013). The importance of still teaching the iGeneration:  New technologies and the centrality of pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 83(2), 300-319, 400-401.


All Around The Mulberry Bush

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All around the mulberry bush,

The monkey chased the weasel,

The monkey thought ’twas all in fun,

“Pop! Goes the weasel

As I began writing this post, this popular nursery rhyme / game popped in my head and I thought what a great analogy for the learning I have been undertaking during this session of learning.  I have been really fortunate to interact with some exceptionally talented people and it has challenged me in so many ways.  As I sit and reflect the mulberry bush is the many, many readings, You Tube clips and readings we have endured throughout the session thus far.  (It’s not over yet!)  The content of the readings has pushed me beyond my zone of proximal development I am sure at times but I have learned to persist.  So yes, the monkey is me running round and round trying to get that weasel, or the learning I need to continue my lifelong learning journey.

Another concept I have wrestled with is the idea of a ‘just in time learner’ and yes, I am one. The ‘just in time’ is the filling of the gaps in learning and we all have them.  I have been in awe (and sometimes a little envious) of some of my partners in learning as they are able to keep adding to their blogs and that is their learning style.  For me, I need time away after reading to digest what it is that I read and then I can come back and write my thoughts or reflections down.  When I get stuck on a concept, it can take me much more reading to really synthesise my thoughts.

I have been running round and round that mulberry bush, trying to catch that weasel and pop! It’s happening.  Clarity.  This has been valuable learning for me on a personal and professional level, as personally, it doesn’t make my learning wrong or right, it’s just learning.  Learning in this digital age of infowhelm has shown me firsthand what it is that Helen Haste (2009) suggested about the ‘chaos’, the messy middle part.  Professionally, I have come to understand the importance of that ‘point of need’ and the affective domain which Kuhlthau included in the Information Search Process.

So taking on some of the learning, ‘walking the talk’, what will that look like in the next couple of weeks:

*  Problem-solving – trying to make sense of the task and what it is that I want and need to do.  It’s not about regurgitation, it’s about creating my own learning pathway and somewhere throughout this course I have been interested in and followed my own areas of inquiry as i circled round and round.

*  Managing and organising the information, in response to work by Helen Haste (2009) – preparing my focus, going back and weeding out the information not needed and making sure the mulberry bush or content of my various assessment tasks is relevant and pertinent.

*  Creating the visual (graphic) – that is so important in the way we learn now.  In game-based learning it is one of the key features.  So my talking wall , which is what I say about those displays, I spend time putting together, for my own students is up and functioning as I pinpoint the various sources that I need.

*  Immersing myself – this is all the background knowledge we have been guided to and then some of my own.  Interestingly enough, immersion is a big concept in game-based learning as well.

* Synthesising and Evaluating the wealth of information that has been presented.

Yes, this is information behaviour in practice.  I still wonder if I’m doing it the right way or is there ever a right way?

Research? Purpose? Practice? Blog Task 3 – INF530

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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.

To be or not to be?

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The one thing I am learning at the moment is to read about technology and its impact on learning environments and the need for pedagogy to change is one thing, it is quite another to be part of the learning environment and to be at the frontline trying to refine pedagogy.  I began as a teacher and now I am a teacher librarian.  I am exactly where I want to be and where I feel I belong in the educational landscape.  I am one of the youngest teacher librarians and I am slowly watching as schools make teacher librarians redundant with the idea that we have technology now so why do we need teacher librarians? The role of teacher librarian is so misunderstood and underutilised and still I live in hope that the full circle effect will come into play.

I have read and listened to many articles thus far about the ‘new literacies’ (Partnership for 21st Century Learning), ‘new skills'(Conole, 2012, pp. 56-57), ‘new competencies’(Haste, 2009) or ‘new fluencies’ (Crockett, Jukes, Churches, 2011) are that are needed by our students in the 21st Century. I believe in my role I am giving these ‘new’ concepts a good go in my learning space and in my passion to try and remain cutting edge but I keep reading how they are not being used.  My understanding in a nutshell is what I believe a teacher librarian’s role within any school is – to connect the ‘content’ learned by assisting students learn how to learn.

After all this reading, all I can see is more of the same.  The conversation seems stuck and as a result I feel stuck. My reflections here then are what are my observances at present in the educational landscape as a teacher librarian at the frontline?

Firstly, let me say I am privileged in my role as teacher librarian as I really do get a ‘big picture’ view of what is happening.  I am almost like that ‘fly on the wall’ as I wander around and ‘listen in’ to what our 550+ students discuss.  I see the various teachers wander in trying to keep abreast of the various demands made of them from curriculum, organisational, parental and community.  My role is to work within the ‘literacy’ or ‘new literacies’ embedded within the ‘new curriculum’ – creative and critical thinking, digital literacy, information literacy, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills – the General Capabilities.  I hear the teachers tell me their woes of how much is expected from them and yet when I offer the various support that my training and role encompasses, very few wish to collaborate and so I guess, I guess what their students need in this rapidly changing and expansive digital society. At the end of the day, I leave and reflect – what have I achieved today?  Usually, I feel overwhelmed and a sense of loss.  A loss of time, a loss of clarity and a loss of purpose.  What is the purpose of my role?  What is the purpose of learning?

If we truly are to recognise that collaborative, critical thinking, creativity and communication are the big 4C’s of education then surely as educators we need to begin to model these in our practices.

Secondly, I will never claim to be an ‘expert’ in this current age of education but I will never get to feel confident and comfortable as a teacher librarian in this digital age if it is expected I will learn the necessary skills by osmosis.  I find it baffling that in private industry, the ‘tools’  and ‘knowledge’ needed to be successful and participatory are provided and yet in teaching we still have to pay for our own professional development that is not offered ‘in house.’  It has me thinking, why were the laptops and IPads given to students a few years ago? Yet these devices were not given to teachers to become familiar with them and very little professional development was given as to how these devices could affect the learning achievements by students.

I do not speak as an academic here.  I do not speak as an expert but I speak from a place where many teachers speak from: the heart.  Yes that is why many teachers entered this profession of teaching – a passion for making the world a better place, one student at a time.  I read this blog post this morning and I wondered how many other teachers are too scared to participate openly for fear of dismissal, judgement of being unprofessional.  It would seem that the researchers feel that these new technologies and the new literacies are not being taken up because teachers can’t be bothered or schools can’t be bothered.  Let’s consider that if we are to continually recognise our educational system as not good enough with its top down approach, perhaps we need to look further up the chain at the governments and the governing bodies of our schools who make it – those on top rather than blaming those of us at the bottom.

To be or not to be?  This is a decision that each individual teacher needs to make.  For me, I fight to be.  Despite feeling ‘stuck’ at the moment, despite feeling overwhelmed by the literature I read, I will continue to be the best I can and improving the with what I have.  I will not let the frustrations beat me.


Connecting the dots – digital literacy and connected learning.

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What an exciting time to be involved in education!  What a challenging time to be in education!  What a busy time to be involved in education!  Anybody who is involved in education is feeling all of these things – fight and flight is present in most staff meetings when it comes to working out the best way to address all of the implications of living in this digital age.  The digital divide isn’t just a concept of socioeconomics or geography or generational it is present within each and every school and teachers are feeling the pressure.

The concept of connected learning is more than just having the hardware and the apps.  The tension for education is how do we integrate these tools of learning to enhance learning for all students in our care.  We cannot assume that our students know how to use these tools effectively for their learning just because they have been born into an era where digital technologies are as much a part of everyday life as eating and sleeping.  They have been immersed in a world of connection through digital technologies but just as we have to teach our students to be citizens in the face to face world, we also need to help them understand that values and ethics are just as important in the online world.  We cannot assume they know the best information sources or the best way of communicating their resources.  They demand more of us as teachers in that they expect to be connected, they expect to be collaborative.  How do we meet their expectations by placing our own learning expectations for them upon them?

The answer would seem to rest with the concept of digital literacy.  So what is it to be digitally literate?  Trilling & Fadel (2009) define digital literacy as a combination of information, media and ICT literacy skills (Chapter 4).  Rheingold in his book, “NetSmart: How to Thrive Online” describes it as a combination of 5 literacies – “attention”, “crap detector”, “participation”, “collaboration”, and “network smarts.”  Chase and Laufenberg (2011) view it as “a genre, a format and tool to be found within the domain of standard literacy, rather than a concept standing at odds” (p.535).  So many definitions!  No wonder teachers feel like they are like the hamster running on that wheel, they need clarity.

The definition I have found most useful is that of Gilster (1997) cited by Bawden (2008), digital  literacy is “an ability to understand and use information from a variety of digital sources and regard it as literacy in the digital age” (p.18).  Chase and Laufenberg (2011) then would seem to agree with this more broad definition.  I would agree with all of the definitions I have read and suggest that digital literacy is an umbrella term used to describe a combination of literacies that represent a variety of skills needed to be successful not just in the context of a classroom but in all areas of life both now in the present time and in the future.

Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 12.27.40 pm


We use our digital literacy when we are participating in the online environment but as it is part of standard literacy practices and not separate, our students need to know that sometimes the information available digitally may not compare with the information available in printed formats.  Our students still live in privileged times where both forms of information are accessible.  This is where information seeking skills are required rather than information searching as they need to learn the difference between and to filter quality over quantity of information.

Connectivism is also an important component of digital literacy as it doesn’t just refer to the physical connecting to the network known as the Internet.  It is the ability our students have to connect with like-minded people, to access information quickly to build upon their already established knowledge base.  This idea of connectivism has so many strengths for education and it is fraught with so many ‘dangers’ as well.  by ‘dangers’ I mean students need to have the critical thinking skills of digital literacy that will enable them to evaluate credibility and validity of information.  This is a vital role of teacher librarians within schools as well because some teachers allow students to research without any guidance or feedback to the students’ processes used in gaining information.  Connectivism is not just about student learning it is also about teachers’ depth of understanding of the information environment using digital technologies.  The challenge is helping our students know their purpose and placing it in context and ensuring that the context is credible and relevant to their learning.

Knowledge is information-in-context -- c by planeta, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  planeta 

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

Siemens (2004) describes the theory of connectivism as the way “people, organisations and/or technology can collaboratively construct knowledge” through “the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories”(Starkey, 2011, p.21).  Connectivism is the building of knowledge in a social and collaborative way.  This highlights the importance of teachers needing to immerse themselves within the chaos of the knowledge network to increase their own digital literacy skills and to form their own connections with other ‘experts’.  Teachers are no longer the only experts in their students lives and the students know this.  Formulating Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) online as well as offline is a necessary part of every teacher’s professional development and we also need to assist our students in creating their own learning networks.  Our students current learning networks are social media and gaming sites.  We need to guide our students to using their critical thinking skills to filter and seek people that truly represent valid and credible learning within their PLN’s.  We need to try to find the way to harness these platforms to engage our students in learning.


Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital literacies: Embracing the squishiness of digital literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535–537.

Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6–15.

Rheingold, H. (2012). Net Smart : How to Thrive Online. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Trilling, B.  Fadel, C. (2009). 21st Century Skills : Learning for Life in Our Times. Retrieved from http://www.eblib.com


Trying to build a Sandcastle – Infowhelm is here!

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Just about to embark on Week 3 of Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovations) and having a momentary reflection about how distracting this digital age can be for learning.  I check Twitter feeds and add interesting articles I find. Then it’s time for Facebook and Flipboard.   I pin to Pinterest.  I explore the CSU Library.  I borrow to Adobe Digital Editions.  I add reflective entries to this blog and I think, there is NO way I would have been doing all of this at the same time 3 weeks ago.

What I am learning for myself?

Thank goodness for purpose to learning.  At least with purpose I am using my inbuilt filter to gauge what I need now?  What I might need later?  I am starting to realise that every information source does not have to be accessed every day.  I am also realising though that it is very easy to become distracted by how much information is really out there.  I am finally understanding what this concept of infowhelm is – it is trying to build a sandcastle and the waves keep washing over it, shifting the original sand as new grains of sand are added.

If I am feeling this way, then it is necessary for me to realise as an educator the importance of my role in assisting our students to be prepared and skilled as they face the tides of learning.

This is I believe what Haste (2009) was talking about when she mentioned the competency of Managing Ambiguity.  I am definitely in the messy and chaotic part of learning now.

Through using Twitter, I have learnt and continue to learn how to tweet/share, how to keep my thoughts to a certain number of characters, there are a lot of teachers out there and there are a lot of people with opinions about teaching without ever having served in an educational institution.

I am learning that some spaces I need to keep for play and some spaces are for learning.  Facebook to me is a space to play with my friends.  Flipboard, Twitter and Diigo are my spaces to read, collect and learn from educators.

I feel affirmed by the knowledge I am gaining.  I am determined to keep building and rebuilding my sandcastle but I don’t know if it will ever be complete.  Feeling pretty accomplished today as I have set up my Feedly RSS reader and I have learnt how to give attribution to flickr photos.  See above.

Teaching Forward In a Roundabout Way

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Altmann, G. (2012) "Traffic Sign"  Retrieved from: http://pixabay.com/en/traffic-sign-road-sign-shield-108779/

Altmann, G. (2012) “Traffic Sign” Retrieved from: http://pixabay.com/en/traffic-sign-road-sign-shield-108779/


An awareness exists in our schools that pedagogical change is necessary as digital technologies continue to pervade every aspect of our students lives.  The educational arena is in a state of transition, there is a shift and it is “not optional” (Richardson, 2012). Practices with digital technologies are still inconsistent, some teachers are open to the possibilities, some teachers are still cautious of the possibilities and some are rarely using technologies.

Within the educational system I work, provision has been made for all students and staff to access Google accounts providing opportunity for collaborative and creative practices.  It is all happening in a roundabout way but it is beginning to happen. One of the challenges is access to Professional Development is mainly given to those in leadership positions. Teachers who are not in leadership have played to learn and there are ‘gaps’ in their learning. There are still those teachers who haven’t had the opportunity for PD or choose not to participate in the opportunities offered because it is yet another chunk of time.

As a teacher librarian in a large primary school I interact with 550 students across the school for a 50 – 60 minute lesson once a week.  There is no time for collaboration between teachers and myself, unless I catch teachers on the run throughout the day.  We still need to overcome the challenge that learning happens only in classrooms.  Some teachers still prefer to work in the context of their grade and not recognise a whole team of teachers within the school and beyond (Richardson, 2012).

Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ekcWQxgk3k

The challenge is bringing value to what is presented to the students in our community.  How do we take advantage of the ‘abundance’ of opportunities that are available to us as educators and to our students, to make our students learning authentic in this digital age?  He also makes the point that it is the immeasurable that we should be putting our attention to – problem solving, creativity, critical thinking.  We need to see our students not as “tool users” but rather collaborators, problem- solvers, critical thinkers (Haste, 2009).

Another of the challenges in this inconsistency in adopting the technologies available is that students are not acquiring the social practices and values needed to be participatory digital citizens.  While teachers see the need for developing good digital citizenship practices they tend to only understand it as cyberbullying and netiquette issues.

The following clip below has challenged my thinking  and is motivating my practice as I participate in the learning of this course.  My aim this year is to expand my knowledge and practice in the use of digital technologies.  I am taking more risks and partnering my learning with our students and throwing the need to be ‘expert’ to the wind.  John Seely Brown (2012) I believe says it best, “the technology is the easy part, the hard part is what are the social practices around us and also the institutional structures, we gotta ask ourselves what are the institutions of schooling, universities, (research universities) going to look like in 5 – 10 years from now and if they look the same as they do now……we got problems.”

Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM&feature=youtu.be

Another goal is to try to be as paperless as possible with those classes where 1:1 iPads have started.  It is still difficult to believe that we can be entirely paper free but it is a goal.  The main challenge is my own fear and knowing and understanding the Web tools that are best to drive these lessons. This was also recognised in an article by Edudemic Staff (2014) along with the need to be choosing the most appropriate apps for learning.  Having access to 9 computers with with some classes of 32 is another challenge to be overcome. I need to become creative in how to ensure each student has access to a computer during the learning time.

I want to continue to move my teaching forward and not get disheartened or frustrated and to persist when the learning happens in a roundabout way. By teaching forward I am teaching for not what our students need now but for what they need in the future.


Brown, J. S. (2012)  “The Global One Room Schoolhouse” Retrieved from:  http://youtu.be/fiGabUBQEnM

Edudemic Staff (2014)  “Ultimate Guide to the Paperless Classroom” Retrieved from: http://www.edudemic.com/ultimate-guide-paperless-classroom/

Haste, H. (2009) “Technology and Youth: Problem Solver Vs. Tool User”, Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/YZRoS5QlJ44

Richardson, W. (2012) “Education Leadership” TEDxMelbourne Retrieved from; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ekcWQxgk3k





Digital Dark Age or Seeing the Light

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Tim Berners-Lee invented the Internet which became publicly available on the 6th August, 1991.  He did so so that he could access and retrieve information in a more efficient, effortless and seamless way and still today he is calling on raw data so that it can be accessed and used to create and to learn.  His idea is to create as much linked data as possible because it is only when data is connected that it becomes valuable AND it can only become connected when every person who engages with digital information ‘does their bit.’

Next year it will be 25 years since the Internet began to be seen as a possibility and a reality and in that time the information has grown to such vast proportions in digital format that commentators, scientists, librarians and archivists are questioning our ability to keep this period of history alive for future generations. The phrase that is being communicated through and across various arenas is that of the ‘digital dark age.’  Quite simply put how will future generations know, remember, access and retrieve information about this episode of history if we do not firstly, put some thought and action into preserving this information.  This then leads to the second consideration how will future generations be able to retrieve and understand the data and information that is preserved when technologies keep changing.

I can see this through the fact that our wedding video is sitting in a drawer unable to be shared with our children as we do not have a video player.  We have a wedding album of hard copies of photos which are lovely to browse and giggle at every anniversary but as my parents have discovered with their wedding photos, they have deteriorated over time.

Photograph:  Fletcher's Fotographics, 1993

Photograph: Fletcher’s Fotographics, 1993

Digital technologies offered us a way to bring these photos ‘back to life’ and now the awareness is that we need to keep thinking and being proactive in continuing to consider what we store data and information on and whether it will be able to be read, seen, viewed, retrieved in the future.

This clip below gives an ‘in a nutshell’ explanation of what we are reflecting on when we think about ‘avoiding a digtal dark age.’  Perhaps though we could look at it and suggest that we are now seeing the light?  It is going to require expertise, advocacy and developing a participatory digital culture.

Retrieved from:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kk7sPjbFAU