It is all connected!

I encountered INF537 Digital Futures Colloquium, near the end of my MEd KN & DI journey. It promised the opportunity to consider the impact of knowledge networks, of collaboration and innovation in digital cultures of learning and what this can mean for my professional development and practice.

From the start I was confronted by a repeating truth: in collaborative digital environments we learn with and from one another – whether it be with and from this cohort, our subject coordinator, industry experts, exemplary practitioners or thought leaders – as I wrote in my introductory blog post for this module (Wocke, 2019a). I involuntarily thought back to what some of the thought leaders and exemplary practitioners I came across had to say about a digital culture of learning:

  • Downes (2006) said knowledge consists of the network of connections formed from experience and interaction with a knowing community.
  • Brown (2000) said the Internet is not only an informational and social resource but a learning medium where understandings are socially constructed and shared.
  • Rheingold (2011) said we co-construct our learning in collaborative learning communities online.
  • Siemens (2014) said networked learning happens through external social spaces, where social systems and technology systems are now part of human knowledge.

It is, it seems, all about collaboratively learning in a connected knowing community. It was time to bring my learning into spaces where it can be socially constructed and shared. When I came across the term “outward-facing learning” in Module 1, it resonated immediately.  I was determined to develop as a participatory learner and share my thoughts as a connected learner during this module:

I started off by participating in every single discussion on the INF532 Padlet board and Flipgrid. When the Flipgrid slot was too short to share my view on communities of practice, I created and published my first podcast (inserted below).

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This I shared in a blog post (Wocke, 2019b) and via Twitter (Wocke, 2019c). I was quite surprised when two members of the cohort actually listened and commented – I AM part of a community of collaborative learners, it seems!

During my research for the paper on Digital Scholarship, which I wrote about in A revolution by digital scholars (Wocke, 2019d), I realized that open access has developed further than just free and unrestricted access to research, it’s also about open data, transparency in peer review and an open approach to science assessment (“Openness Inspires Innovation”, n.d.). This convinced me to make this part of my practice and bring my personal research for the INF537 research paper into the open. I included in my project proposal links to my working data gathering documents, effectively giving open access to the project as it developed (see below).Project porposal for INF537 Assessment 3

Since scholars like Weller (2012) proclaims that blogging sits at the heart of being a modern academic and that newly constructed knowledge can be shared in so many new formats and media in the digital domain, I decided to further turn my learning “outward-facing” through blogging. I produced the narrative part of the data gathered for the INF537 research project into a series of  blogposts, that I called August Online, thereby further developing my reflective practice (Wocke, 2019e).

I have to be honest that not everything worked according to plan. In a post called Modelling Digital Scholarship (Wocke, 2019f), I proudly announced my intent to be authentic in making my learning “open”, by blogging out loud as I investigate digital scholarship and by posting a “draft” of my paper for my cohort members to comment on – REALLY practicing how I see knowledge creation developing in the digital era. Sadly, two factors kept me from reaching this goal: firstly, time constraints did not allow me to complete a draft in time for comments, and secondly, this (admittedly small) cohort proved on the whole to be disappointingly unresponsive and un-collaborative. None the less, all of this proved to be part of the learning curve, and at the end of this module I am not surprised to look back on my learning and find “It is all connected!


References

Brown, J. S. (2000). Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. Retrieved from http://www.johnseelybrown.com/Growing_up_digital.pdf

Downes, S. (2006). Learning networks and connective knowledge. In Collective intelligence and elearning. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-60566-729-4.ch001

Openness inspires innovation. (n.d.). Retrieved August 18, 2019, from PLOS website: https://www.plos.org/who-we-are

Rheingold, H. (2011, July 22). Learning reimagined: Participatory, peer, global, online [Blog post]. Retrieved from Connected Learning Alliance Blog: https://clalliance.org/blog/learning-reimagined-participatory-peer-global-online/

USC: Learning and Teaching. (2014, January 21). Overview of connectivism – Dr George Siemens [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx5VHpaW8sQ

Weller, M. (2012, April 29). The virtues of blogging as scholarly activity [Blog post]. Retrieved from The Chronicle of Higher Education website: https://www.chronicle.com/article/The-Virtues-of-Blogging-as/131666

Wocke, G. (2019a, July 15). INF537 digital futures colloquium – A new journey [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/07/15/inf537-digital-futures-colloquium-a-new-journey/

Wocke, G. (2019f, July 29). Modelling digital scholarship [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/07/26/modeling-digital-scholarship/

Wocke, G. (2019b, August 3). Communities of practice: An audio reflection [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/08/03/communities-of-practice-an-audio-reflection/

Wocke, G. (2019c, August 3). #INF537: My reflection on Communities of Practice, where I applied Wenger’s definition to a Facebook group for school librarians in my PLN, got too long for flipgrid and I posted a podcast on my blog https://bit.ly/2YHxHbY [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/GrethaWocke/status/1157528399893729281

Wocke, G. (2019e, August 4). Why this? [Blog post]. Retrieved from August Online website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/augustonline/page/3/

Wocke, G. (2019d, September 5). A revolution by digital scholars [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2019/09/05/a-revolution-by-digital-scholars/

Communities of Practice – an audio reflection

As part of Module 2 of INF537 we are invited to think about Communities of Practice (CoP)…. Here I share my “thoughts and experiences with ‘Communities of practice’ – theory and real life observations” in a podcast (since the 1:30 on flipgrid was way to short).

Communities of practice must be one of the oldest forms of social learning around. Etienne Wenger and his co-authors and associates provide us with a useful definition and framework with which to describe and investigate CoPs. In the podcast embedded below, I discuss my understanding of this form of social learning and investigate the extent to which a Facebook group for school librarians: Int’l Library Connection functions as a CoP.

Listen to my reflection here… This is my first attempt at creating a podcast, part of my personal challenge during INF537 to be a participatory learner and share my thoughts as a connected learner.

 

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 

Reflecting on the ETL523 online collaborative group experience

Collaborative learning is a learning style that tasks a group of learners to learn together through creation of a product or the solution of a problem (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012, p. 486).

<em>image by harishs, downloaded from pixabay</em>

I agree with Harasim’s theory of online collaborative learning (OCL), where she identified the role of the teacher and peer discourse as central (2012, p. 88). The teacher actively mediates student learning by designing learning interactions where knowledge is negotiated through social discourse (Bates, 2015). The social and participatory characteristics of Web 2.0 renders it remarkably suited to facilitate OCL.

Characteristics of Online Collaborative Learning (OCL) as described by Harasim

Clear evidence of this theory is found in the ETL523 group learning experience, which is constructed to facilitate discourse and OCL. The Wikispaces platform is suitable as collaborative online environment, allowing users to fully employ affordances of Web 2.0 (embedding of artefacts and hyperlinks).  Wikispaces facilitates and records discussion and discourse, allowing the process as well as the product to be collaborative.

For our team the initial idea generating phase of OCL, involved exchanging general introductions to establish personal strengths and interests, and explore common ground. This was done through initial chats during an Adobe Connect class meeting, email exchanges and a Skype call. The second phase, idea organising, followed quickly to enable the group to formulate and submit a project proposal. The final phase, intellectual convergence – where group members exchanged knowledge, ideas and points of view – involved discourse and negotiation. Here I personally learnt that OCL involves the sharing of authority, acceptance of responsibility and consensus building (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012, p. 486; Wocke, 2018a). I was challenged to respect different perspectives and improve my ability to articulate and defend my ideas as I developed my part of the learning module and my individual digital artefact. The outcomes of this final phase of OCL should be consolidated, shared understandings and group convergence (Laal, Laal & Kermanshahi, 2012, p. 1696).

While there is evidence of OCL in our group’s collaborative process and product, it can be reasoned that we created our learning module primarily through cooperative learning, rather than through pure collaborative learning (the difference explained here). We created knowledge as individuals who worked together, rather than collaboratively. This may be because we are from a generation that practiced individual (not social) learning but may also be an inherent difficulty of OCL. To truly facilitate OCL different “norms” of behaviour must be clearly established for online collaboration and learning.

I found Lindsay’s 8 norms of global collaboration an excellent starting point for identification of behaviour that will lead to successful OCL, when writing Applying norms of online global collaboration to ETL523 groupwork (Lindsay, 2016, pp. 144 – 153; Wocke, 2018b). It is clear that the role of the teacher in moderating OCL is central: the teacher should employ these norms to ensure that user behaviour and actions lead to optimal OCL. An example is the norm of participation: Lindsay argued that collaboration is best facilitated when visible online participation can be observed through reliable and regular contributions and responses. To ensure this, clear guidelines must be agreed upon at the outset of the collaborative process. An example of how this can be achieved can be found in the IB PYP practice of Essential Agreements, where a class is lead to collaboratively develop, agree on, and commit to, expected behaviour during the collaborative project.

This experience with online collaborative learning convinced me that it allows for personalized – and participatory – student-centered learning, but tailoring and monitoring by the teacher is vital.

images by harishs, downloaded from pixabay


References:

Bates, A. W. (2015). Online collaborative learning. In Teaching in a Digital Age. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/chapter/6-5-online-collaborative-learning/

Harasim, L. (2012). Online collaborative learning theory. In Learning theory and online technology (pp. 79-108). Retrieved from https://primo.csu.edu.au/discovery/fulldisplay?docid=vlebooksAH21635540&context=PC&vid=61CSU_INST:61CSU&search_scope=MyInst_and_CI&tab=Everything&lang=en

Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.091

Laal, M., Laal, M., & Lermanshahi, Z. K. (2012). 21st century learning; Learning in collaboration. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1696-1701. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.885

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Lindsay, J. (2016, June 24). You are a global educator. It’s time to start thinking like one [Blog post]. Retrieved from Flat Connections website: http://www.flatconnections.com/you-are-a-global-educator-its-time-to-start-thinking-like-one/

Sackson, E. (2010, February 1). Essential agreement [Blog post]. Retrieved from  What Ed said website: https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/essential-agreement/

What is the PYP. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2018, from IBO website: http://www.ibo.org/programmes/primary-years-programme/what-is-the-pyp/

Wocke, G. (2018a, April 9). An exercise in collaborative learning [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/09/an-exercise-in-collaborative-learning/

Wocke, G. (2018b, April 14). Applying norms of online global collaboration to ETL523 groupwork [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2018/04/14/applying-norms-of-online-global-collaboration-to-etl523-groupwork/

Wufei87. (2018, January 29). Cooperative vs collaborative [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/uwvtfYa169k

Applying norms of online global collaboration to ETL523 groupwork

Online global collaboration, according to Lindsay (2016), refers to the use of digital learning environments and technologies to learn with others beyond your immediate geographical environment “in order to support curricular objectives, intercultural understandings, critical thinking, personal and social capabilities and ICT capabilities” (p. 139). This is in reality what happened when 3 Australian educators and a Swiss school librarian met up to develop an online learning module for an assignment required for our ETL523 studies.

In this reflection I will attempt to apply Lindsay’s 8 norms of global collaboration to our collaborative learning process (2016, pp. 144 – 153).

Norm 1: Be Prepared
The collaboration started during an Adobe connect online class meeting, facilitated by our subject coordinator, continued through email messages, Skype calls and chats and later thought contributions and comments in the shared Wikispace. The learning environment was designed and prescribed and the task and objectives clear.

Norm 2: Have a Purpose
Our purpose was initially defined through the assignment that brought us together, but further emphasized by our common desire to complete the task and earn a good mark. I agree with Lindsay when she wrote: “Once a purpose is established then the collaboration should unfold” (2016, p. 147). Once we had agreed on a topic to propose we were set!

8 Norms of Online Global Collaboration, by Julie Lindsay, Flat connections (see reference below)

Norm 3: Be Able to Paraphrase
Care was taken by group members to re-phrase agreements and to repeatedly ask for confirmation to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. This was a very important practice to ensure efficiency and confidence.

Norm 4: Be Able to Perceive
There was immediate and ongoing empathy among group members. It was clear from the beginning that help could be asked for and would be given generously. This was also apparent in the supportive comments and contributing of resources during development of the product.

Norm 5: Participate
We are all hard working, busy educators and understood that we would have to be flexible and accept various degrees of participation as allowed by individual schedules. The timeline for our collaboration was predefined by the prescribed assignment schedule, but it was helpful that all contributed throughout the duration of the project, allowing us to feel confident at all times that the project would be completed successfully.

Norm 6: Be Positive
A positive and constructive approach to the project – and to the contributions of members – helped to create a “team spirit”. An initial face-to-face (Skype) “handshake” meeting was invaluable in creating a collaborative and respectful culture.

Norm 7: Be Productive
The driving force for this collaborative learning experience was the co-creation of a digital learning module. It is questionable if we would have been as committed – and productive – if there were no clear expectations for an end-product to give direction and act as visible motivation.

Norm 8: Realize the Potential
We had to alter plans during the development of the product and will all be able to testify that the learning experience was not predictable or straightforward, but worthwhile.


References:

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. Eugene, OR: International Society for Technology in Education.

Lindsay, J. (2016, June 24). You are a global educator. It’s time to start thinking like one [Blog post]. Retrieved from Flat Connections website: http://www.flatconnections.com/you-are-a-global-educator-its-time-to-start-thinking-like-one/

An exercise in collaborative learning

The affordances of Web 2.0 environments: open, social and participatory media, tools and practices are resulting in new forms of online communities and interactions. These online gathering places, or social networking sites, are promoting new forms of online interaction, communication and collaboration (Conole, 2013, pp. 10-11). This environment is not only conducive to collaboration in the general sense, but facilitates collaborative learning.

image by geralt, downloaded from pixabay

Collaborative learning is a learning style that involves the grouping of learners with the goal that they will work together to solve a problem, create a product or complete a task (Laal and Ghodsi, 2012, p. 486). Learners are responsible for their own learning and co-responsible for the learning of their peers.

This is a very different learning scenario to the one with which I grew up. We were ranked and rewarded according to our personal achievements, both at school and in tertiary education. Competition and individualistic effort were valued above cooperation. In my blog post Adapting to “a new culture of learning” I wrote that “I have seen significant movement towards collaboration and peer-based learning” (Wocke, 2017). It seems that I am set to experience this practically, not only in theory.

The group assignment in ETL523 is my first encounter with collaborative learning in a formal academic setting, where there is a lot at stake for me personally – 15% of the final mark for this subject. I did not look forward to it, was not even particularly prepared to enjoy the experience. I am learning that collaborative learning involves a sharing of authority, acceptance of responsibility and consensus building (Laal and Ghodsi, 2012, p. 486). But even more than this, I have to agree with Laal, Laal and Kermanshahi (2012) that as a learner I am challenged both socially and emotionally to respect different perspectives and improved my ability to articulate and defend my ideas (p. 1696). The authors further reason that through this process learners take responsibility for their own learning, thereby becoming critical thinkers, and to promote their ideas they create their own unique conceptual frameworks and do not rely solely on that of a text or expert.

What makes this particular collaborative learning experience difficult is the fact that it involves group members from different cultures and professions, who not only do not know one another personally, but live on opposite sides of the world and have vastly different, if equally demanding schedules. This is an exercise not only in collaborative learning, but in global relations as well, it seems. Social skills, such as mutual respect and trust-building are vital. Personal commitment, individual accountability and responsibility are essential…

I am learning, personally and collaboratively, through this assignment.  It will be interesting to reflect once the task is completed.


References

Conole, G. (2013). Designing for learning in an open world. New York: Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-8517-0

Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.12.091

Laal, M., Laal, M., & Lermanshahi, Z. K. (2012). 21st century learning; Learning in collaboration. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 47, 1696-1701. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.06.885

Wocke, G. (2017, July 19). Adapting to “a new culture of learning” [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website: https://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/grethaw/2017/07/19/adapting-to-a-new-culture-of-learning/