I began INF532 the same way I begin all of my Master’s subjects with the ‘skeptisism radar’ set to 10 – which is clearly evident in my first blog post. By reviewing and reflecting on my Lifelong Learning Blog, the narrative from sceptic to the curious learner is best captured in two quotes – the first was an opinion derived from Bawden and Robinson’s (2009) strategies for dealing with information overload, such as satisficing, that at the time felt more like the antithetical adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’; the second a comment on a peers digital artefact:
First Blog Post – “…when there is a saturation of content creators seeking to monetise their work, the need to attract traffic can potentially create issues with regards to information validity and authority” (Maguire, 2018a);
Final Blog Post – “…educators involved would be exposed to a broader network of professionals with diverse experiences and information; to then draw on when making contributions to the PLCs.” (Maguire, 2018g).
The initial scepticism identified through these quotes is key for evidencing the growth I have experienced as a result of the INF532 learning experiences. Through a meta-cognitive approach, I’ve come to understand that I have not just constructed knowledge over the past three months, I’ve also had a conceptual shift that I feel will have a lasting impact my professional and personal life.
“What you know or don’t know about how networks work can influence how much freedom, wealth and participation you and your children have in the rest of this century.” (Howard Rheingold, 2011).
I referenced this quote within a blog post title ‘Network Literacy’ (Maguire, 2018b). This quote also marked the beginning of my conceptual ‘shift’ and pursuit to understand the true concepts that the term ‘Network’ implied. From learning of the quantifiable value that can be assigned to the physical infrastructure of a network as developed by Sarnoff, Metcalfe and Reed (ultimately enabled by Claude Shannon’s Information Theory), I began to understand just how much society relies on networks. The link between physical networks and social networks began to emerge and I was able to connect Floridi’s (2009) proposition that in the Information-age, information has a life-cycle that must be managed by way of sound philosophical foundations.
The concept of the ‘Phylosophy of Information’ was the catalyst for my own research (or ‘regression’) back to the philosophical nature of ‘Knowledge’ that is comprised of three attributes – a justifiable, true, belief. Hamilton’s (2018) IM-KT framework supported my understanding of the explicit and implicit (tacit) nature of knowledge and the interplay with constructivism as a social learning theory – that depending on your level of analysis has broad psychological research to draw on, such as Albert Bandura’s Social Cognitive Theory that quite frankly I found fascinating. I had found myself enacting these new learnings within my day-to-day work, for example, I was leading a professional learning session and communicated to participants that in order to be successful today we must:
- Understand that we are beginning the construction of new learnings today that will continue beyond this ‘event’
- Engage with our peers at various stages throughout the day to discuss and questions new learnings and wonderings; and
- To ensure we can share and interact with our peers, let’s introduce ourselves with our name, role and a brief description of who we were as students in high school
Armed with a new understanding of the nature of information and the value that can be derived from a network, I knew my next step was to ensure that I provided intentional opportunities for peer-to-peer interactions as outlined by (Todhunter, 2013).
The best example of synthesis throughout this subject would be evidenced through my blog post ‘Putting my PLN to the Test’ (Maguire, 2018d). This blog post documented the pursuit of knowledge of instructional design to ensure I could create a digital artefact that would genuinely meet the needs of an intended audience of educators. In doing so, I connected with my professional network (in a way I had never thought to in the past), formed a new connection with an instructional designer, engaged in a conversation on Instructional Design that was recorded, shared my approach and conversation with my own networks and finally constructed new knowledge that informed the quality of my digital artefact. This artefact is a podcast about knowledge networking that has been well received by my own professional network – Talk about synthesis!
To conclude this (brief) evaluative statement, I’d like to capture some original thoughts inspired by my learnings. Networks are multifaceted and can be considered a physical, social, biological and technological phenomenon. The value of each network can be derived not just from the number of nodes, but from the quality of input each node can provide. For example, I have intentionally ensured that my professional network does not provide a homogenised ‘flow’ of opinions and the information stream is based on the diverse people I choose to engage with. I am moving beyond the ideas of my network being comprised of nodes, and understanding the relationships that develop that can provide far more value for both my professional and personal life. I believe that the concept of networking, has existed before we could say the word and is predicated on the network of neural pathways within the human brain that enables the effective use of new information to assimilate with schema to enable a level of consciousness to either support or deny a life of fulfilment – or as Rheingold (2011) would suggest influence the level of freedom, wealth and participation in one’s life. Finally, to refer to a Twitter post, I have come to believe that:
‘It’s not what you know, and it’s not who you know. It’s what you and who you know, know!’
When reviewing the attributes of a connected educator, Clifford (2013) suggested to ‘stay current with new tools’ and ‘take an online MOOC’ to learn more about knowledge networking; I would also add to ‘stay current with the latest knowledge and research’ within your field or discipline. A benefit of my engagement within INF532 has been a new exposure the psychology field, learning theories and the philosophical ‘rabbit holes’ that I have explored throughout my studies to understand questions like ‘What is knowledge?’. At a surface level, my own research could appear ‘off task’, but the knowledge I had constructed as a result of going down the ‘rabbit hole’ has enabled me to reflect on my 13-years as an educator and identify times in my practice where tasks ‘enabled leaning’ or merely ‘looked like learning’. The most interesting point to make when reflecting on my experiences as a student and teacher in the Australian education system is the lifespan of learning programs, projects, textbooks, instructional practice and the how the collective knowledge had will continue to evolve.
Mishra and Koehler’s (2006) Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework provides a contemporary window into the varying life-cycle lengths of information. For example, in 2019 schools will be implementing a new Science and Technology K-6 syllabus and in stage 4, a new Technology Mandatory syllabus enabling students to acquire new skills, knowledge and understanding relevant to a 2020 – 2030 future. These syllabuses include a new strand of learning titled ‘Digital Technologies’. This strand makes reference to thinking, skills and knowledge derived from the computer sciences; with specific reference to digital systems, design and computer coding (algorithm development). This is an example of how the ‘content’ and ‘technology’segments of the TPACK model are not fixed and have clearly shifted or begun a new life-cycle’ that presents a question for connected educators; ‘What is required for students to successfully acquire new knowledge and skill?’, ‘What knowledge, skill, understanding and resources do we already have to support this learning’ and ‘What is one step to take professionally to support this learning area?’.
As a Digital Technologies Teacher, these questions are key to leading and modelling what it means to be a connected leader (I do prefer the term agile educator). To be an agile educator means to have flexibility with one’s professional development (Especially after engaging with the Curriculum and Learning Design module in INF532). With my own study, I am pursuing an elective subject beyond the subjects offered within my Master’s of Ed study, that I chose to do as I believe true digital innovation begins with a problem that can be addressed digitally, to not just create with the tools provided but to empower people to create new digital tools and inspire true digital innovation in students to positively impact our collective future. To conclude, a connected leader has the ability to see a need and the agility to do something about it.
“When I first used Twitter as a tool to connect with knowledge online, I felt like I got the disco and didn’t like the way my shirt felt.” (Maguire & Miller, 2018). I made this comment during my Digital Artefact podcast and in reflection, I see that I have completely matured with my views on social media as a tool to build, engage and contribute to a PLN. The idea of ‘how I look at a disco’ reveals a clue to how I was initially worried about how others view my contributions online. This initial uncomfortableness is an important hurdle to acknowledge, and as a connected educator, an important hurdle to support fellow educators overcome.
During this course, I have Tweeted some key points, or readings authored by academics and mentioned the authors who were more than happy to discuss elements online, for example, figure 1 shows a Twitter interaction I had with Howard Rheingold after Tweeted about his work. Couros (2012) mentioned how it’s important to go beyond the tools that mediate the connection and focus on what will endure – the relationships, this quote was a key moment within my studies as it is great to develop and engage a PLN, but it feels great to connect with your network on a human level. One of the clear benefits of educators engaging with an online PLN is that the similarities in language and experiences between people enable the flow of information, or what Christozov and Toleva-Stoimenova (2013) would describe as reducing the asymmetry between sender and receiver. I have learned that knowledge networking involves human connections that can serendipitously moments that can take place when engaging with your PLN.
In reflection, I now see that I am no longer the teacher who ‘didn’t like the way his shirt felt’ at the Twitter disco’. So I will continue to engage, learn, share and produce the Lifelong Learning Podcast as a way to connect my PLN with expert knowledge and model the attributes of a ‘connected (life-long learning and life loving) leader’.
There two new syllabuses that will be fully implemented in 2019; Science and Technology (K-6) and Technology Mandatory (Stage 4). These syllabuses include a discrete strand focussing on Digital Technologies where students develop computational thinking skills to design digital solutions to problems that utilise the development of algorithms and to guide the use of visual programming and general text-based programming languages. This new content has identified a knowledge, skills and/or confidence deficit for many educators. A traditional professional learning model would provide a single day learning ‘event’ to address a specific need. With all that we know about education. Will a day alone address the said skill/knowledge deficit – especially a model that doesn’t incorporate learning activities to be completed prior to (to build on or ignite schema) or beyond (to continue to construct knowledge). My response to this need has been to focus on what Todhunter (2013) describes as flexible learning and:
- Begin with my own learning if I am to make valuable contributions my PLN or immediate colleagues – I have amended my Masters of Ed studies course structure to understand how computational thinking can support the design of digital solutions
- Utilise Souto’s (2014) digital environment framework and Instructional Design principles to develop an online course that will support, enable and empower educators to construct knowledge digital technology concepts
As a result of studying INF532, I am cognisant of my Professional Learning Environment (PLE), the philosophies of a connected educator and empowered me to take control of my learning path and knowledge acquisition. From here, I will move forward, learn, connect, participate within my PLN and embrace the joy of progress.
Image Credit: Wilderness, pxhere, CC0 Public Domain
Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191. http://jis.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/35/2/180.full.pdf+html
Floridi, L. (2009). The Information Society and its philosophy: Introduction to the special issue on “The philosophy of information, its nature, and future developments”. Information Society, 25(3), 153-158. DOI: 10.1080/01972240902848583
Maguire, C. (2018a, July 13). New Models of Information Production [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/07/13/new-models-of-information-production/
Maguire, C. (2018b, July 30). Network Literacy [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/07/30/network-literacy/
Maguire, C. (2018c August 13). Building and Navigating a Personal Learning Network [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/08/13/building-and-navigating-a-personal-learning-network/
Maguire, C. (2018d August 27). Putting my PLN to the Test [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/08/27/putting-my-pln-to-the-test/
Maguire, C. (2018e September 23). Knowledge Construction – It’s what you and who you know, know! [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/09/23/knowledge-construction-its-what-you-and-who-you-know-know/
Maguire, C. (2018f September 29). Flexible Learning for Flexible Learners [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/09/29/flexible-learning-for-flexible-learners/
Maguire, C. (2018g October 9 ). Critiquing a Peers Knowledge Network Artefact… [Blog Post]. Retrieved from https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/chrismaguire/2018/10/09/critiquing-a-peers-knowledge-network-artefact/
Maguire, C. & Miller, G. (2018, August 31). INF532 Knowledge Networking with Greg Miller. The Lifelong Learning Podcast. Retrieved from https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/inf532-knowledge-networking-with-greg-miller/id1278570933?i=1000418921986&mt=2
Mishra, P. & Koehler, M.J., (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A framework for teacher knowledge. Teachers college Record 108, 6, pp 1017-1054 Online information TPACK site by authors. http://www.tpck.org/
Souto, V. T. (2014). A framework for designing interactive digital learning environments for young people. In K. Blashki, & P. Isaias (Eds.) Emerging research and trends in interactivity and the human-computer interface (pp. 429-447). Hershey, PA.
Clifford, M. (2013, January 3). 20 tips for creating a professional learning network. informED [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/20-tips-for-creating-a-professional-learning-network/