Throughout my INF532 journey this semester I have initiated and participated in a number of networked learning experiences. These diverse and enriching experiences spanned across multiple platforms and utilized various technologies all with the intended purpose of deepening my knowledge and understanding of the course content. As the course comes to an end I am beginning to critically reflect on these networked experiences considering how these experiences have transformed me into a connected educator and emerging leader.

To begin this reflective process I have collated all of my interactions into the graphic display below. The timeline represents the frequencies of these interactions. As can be seen my engagement, blog posts, social media interactions and communication has been consistent throughout the subject.

Blog posts

Online meetings

Twitter posts, retweets & comments

YouTube video

In order to critically reflect on these experiences, I have categorized my interactions into three categories; Information Management, Content Creation & Curation and Collaboration & Connecting.

Information management

“The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything.” p.19 Thomas & Brown (2011)

In one of my first blog posts I explored information management within Web 2.0 environments. Exploring the unique interplay of information models and social media, I identified several concerns about the ways in which we create, share, use and store information. According to Andrade et al. (2014) 90% of the world’s information has been generated in the past two years. This staggering statistic, I believe has many implications for education leaders including developing student critical digital literacy and investing in sustainable data storage practices.

Delving deeper into informatics, I dived head first into the information societies. It is widely accepted that we are living in an information age, which is having unprecedented impacts of global economy, culture and society. In my post discussing Floridi (2009), I immersed myself in the concept of information societies and identified implications that concerned me as an educator and member of an information society. Although I feel this post only scratched the surface of information societies, I believe it provided me with a lens needed to critically engage in new concepts throughout the subject.

For example, in my Exegesis about my Knowledge Networking Artefact I acknowledged that the instructional video I had created about a Web 2.0 tool had a limited lifespan, thus meaning that at some point the information I provided would eventually become outdated and inaccurate. What I failed to explore in this Exegesis was my contemplations around the responsibility I had to removing the video once it had become redundant. As educators what is our responsibility to updating and or removing outdated information online?

Content Creation & Curation

One area of information dissemination, I believe I manage effectively is the content I create and curate on my Blog. The process of blogging has become fluid and natural experience, compared to my blogging attempts in INF530. I have actually begun to enjoy sharing my ideas and interactions with the course content and concepts. My blog has played a pivotal role in how I have constructed my own meaning and has afforded opportunities to deeply engage with the course content. 

One of my favourite and most defining posts, was my interpretation of Todhunter’s (2013) exploration of the diverse terms used to describe online learning. Be it flipped, blended, hybrid, external, online, offline, face-to-face I believe that we should be placing the needs of students before semantics.

In terms of conent curation, I created a one-stop-shop PLN page, using embed codes and features of the Divi plugin. I was able to curate information from a range of multimedia sources. These included podcast playlists, links to blogs, a Google Calendar and displayed live Twitter feeds. Using tools such as Tweetdeck as a co-curation tool allowed this page to accurately reflect engagement of others within the network.

One aspect of content curation, that I will continue to work on is my use of Diigo. I made several attempts to tag pages and use the text highlight feature however these experiences were few and far between. I endeavour to continue to explore this tool as I progress through my study.

In terms of innovation and creation, there have been several opprutnities throughout the semester to creatively apply the concepts of the knowledge networking to my school, classroom and teaching practice thus fostering a culture of networked and connected learning within my school. 

One of these opprutnities occured as a result of desiging and developing an instructional video for teachers at my school who were members of established professional learning communities. This five-minute video shared on YouTube was created using a range of online tools and was aimed at identifying benefits of using online environments as a platform for committees. The instructional design of the video was informed by several theories and models including the ADDIE model, Cognitive load theory and Cognitive theory of multimedia (Brame, 2015; Mayer & Moreno, 2005). 

Connecting & Collaboration

Not only did I create an online platform to represent the asynchronous aspects of my PLN but I used a range of online tools and networking platforms to enable synchronous communication between myself and peers. As detailed in my blog post Travel + Study Part 1 Staying Connected, I used Zoom and Twitter to engage in professional dialogue with peers from the course. In one of my posts I reflected on my own personal experiences working as a collaborative member of a team and in an earlier post, I explored professional collaboration and the affordances of technology in the sharing and co-constructing of content.

One aspect of connectivity that I could have improved on is my engagement in the CSU discussion board. I find the platform unappealing compared to blog posts as it does provide opportunity to embed videos, images and widgets. I have thoroughly enjoyed accessing and following peers blogs.  Sam’s blog Capital Idea provides a succinct, positive and intuitive approach to course content. In addition Chris’s Life Long Learning blog included insightful posts, specifically his exploration of Network Literacy.

Overall I believe the experiences outlined in this evaluation demonstrates my ability use connective and collaboraitve practices and a range of new media tools for information management and content creation and curation.

 

As highlighted in the evaluative report, I have engaged in a number of learning experiences that have deepened my understanding of networking practices and connectivity within educational and professional environments. In the initial weeks of this course, I was hesitant towards establishing such a strong online professional presence. As a teacher we are already accountable to many different stakeholders including students, families, colleagues, school leaders and now a need to consider followers? I soon realised that I was approaching social networking from the wrong angle. I needed to start seeing myself as an emerging connected leader rather than a classroom teacher and or postgraduate student.

This was a pivotal moment for me in my journey as I started, initially with some difficulty, switching between my student, teacher and leader lens.  I also found that these first few weeks of setting up blogs, exploring new online tools and platforms was hard work, however at some point I started to gain more from the networking experiences compared to the effort I was putting in. Another pivotal moment as I started to appreciate the value of networking and connection.

Throughout the course I have had several of these “Ah Ha!” moments. Some, occurring as a result of interactions with peers, immersing myself in a new reading or simply reflecting and applying concepts to my professional work. I believe these moments have begun to define what I consider a connected leader to be. I have summarized these ideas into four overarching statements, within each I will discuss how each implicate me as an emerging connected leader within my school and community.

    A connected leader is aware of the power and limitations of information.

“Real world learning requires educators who not only appreciate how the digital environments are the construction and distribution of information, but how the are affecting personal information practices, as well as those they are responsible for tutoring, supporting or educating.” (Lindsay, 2018)

I believe the root of connectivity is information and data. The ways in which we connect is determined by how information is stored, transferred and accessed. Connected leaders need to consider the implication of this in their institutions. In my role, information management takes on two forms. Firstly, in a practical organizational sense, I want to explore how my school stores, manages and shares data. I see the benefits of using cloud based systems, however acknowledge that structures and safeguards must be put in place to protect the data being stored and accessed. Secondly, I want to support teachers and students develop a deeper understanding of the nature of information, eventually helping them apply this to build and work within knowledge networks (KN).

A connected leader is committed to critical digital literacy. 

In order for us to lead and inspire we must be commitment to the development of our own digital literacy. Acknowledging the changing state of technology is  an important aspect to consider when engaging in professional renewal. Web 2.0 tools, software, hardware will continue to change, and has leader we need to be grow and adapt with it.

I am beginning to apply and lead connective innovative practices within my school and classroom. My latest initiative has been an extra-curricular activity program, where students explore and develop the skills needed to use Web 2.0 tools. From interactive timelines to collaborative work platforms, the ECA has been designed specifically to introduce knowledge networking practices and critical digital literacy skills for students.

 A connected leader creates meaningful connections.

These connections can take many forms including, connections between leaders, institutions or research and practice. However, for me in a K-12 context, I am working towards creating meaningful connections between curriculum and knowledge networking practices. In 2016 I was a part of a newly established initiative with the Queensland University of Technology. By connecting experts in fields that aligned with classroom learning focuses, the program was designed to create incursion experiences using video conferencing. Unfortunately, I left Queensland mid-way through the piloting stage and have not heard of the program since.

This initiative is a perfect example of how KN can facilitate meaningful connections, I would like to adopt and support practices like this within my school and community. I have already experienced positive interactions with KN practices within my classroom as outline in my feel-good blog post, The perfect way to end INF532. 

A connected leader is creative and collaborative

Finally, INF532 has helped me develop into a collaborative and creative educator and leader by providing diverse assessment opportunities and structured networking expectations.  I want to be leading innovative and creative practices and thoroughly enjoy working with and alongside likeminded people, as I have in this course. INF532 has challenged me to be creative and find new ways to represent, curate and share information. It has also helped me realise the importance of reciprocity in online network environments. Leaders need to not only be positively contributing, but supporting others in the network.

I belive leaders have a repsonsibility to collobarate and inspire in order to build and foster a community of practice.

Looking forward to the future

Looking forward to the future I only have one question, how do I continue to develop in order to become a connected leader? Currently I am in the process of applying to present at a local conference in my region. I want to share and showcase some of the unique initiatives I have been a part of at my school such as the leveraging of Google features for a blended learning approach and knowledge networking practices. I am also working towards developing a whole school curriculum scope and sequence and policy and procedural documents for the implementation of digital and communication technologies. 

Although I believe INF532 has set me up for success by providing me with the knowledge and skills needed to connect, create and inspire, there are still several aspects of my pedagogical practice that I wish to refine before stepping into a formal connected leader role, as defined in a K-12 context. In the mean time I will continue to lead by example amongst my peers and build connections with like minded and forwarded thinking educators and professionals around the world. 

References

Andrade, P. L. et al. (2014) From Big Data to Big Social and Economic Opportunities: which policies will lead to leveraging data-driven innovation’s potential? In The Global Information Technology Report 2014, World Economic Forum.

Brame, C. (2018, May 07). Effective educational videos. Retrieved from https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/

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. DOI10.1080/01972240902848583.

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: new models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). London: Facet.

Lindsay, J. (2018). New Paradigm [INF532 Module 1.3]. Retrieved October 1, 2018, from Charles Sturt University website: https://interact2.csu.edu.au/webapps/blackboard/execute/displayLearningUnit?course_id=_32631_1&content_id=_2136197_1

Mayer, R. (2005). Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. In R. Mayer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 31-48). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511816819.004

Todhunter, B. (2013). LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education34(2), pp. 232-252.

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.