Harking back to my undergraduate degree (History at the University of Ottawa), I can see myself spending hours in the library, isolated with only my stack of books and dusty microfiche to keep me company. Although twelve years ago, it makes for a clear juxtaposition to my current study: INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educations.
The following evaluative and reflective statements will make up a report that will document my journey to becoming a more connected educator.
Part A: Evaluative Statement:
I am able to build on knowledge networking to strengthen school-based classroom engagement and learning through intentional and reflective online instructional design;
The ubiquity of devices and access to knowledge has enabled a shift to a more participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2008). As educators, it’s no longer an option to be connected (Couros, 2011), we must participate by building knowledge through online collaboration, curation, creation, and communication. Furthermore, it’s the educational leaders’ responsibility to “demonstrate and model collaborative practices to support pedagogical change” (Lindsay, 2016, slide 49). From its onset, this subject has demonstrated the importance of becoming a networked learner (Rheingold & Weeks, 2012; Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011).
It’s only been through “living the story” (Lindsay & Davis, 2012, p. 102) that I’ve continued to grow as a connected educator. Often when faced with difficult questions, I turn to my Personal Learning Network (PLN) as a means of getting quality information back.
Help! PLN! I’m after examples of ICT strategic plans. Would love to see what your forward thinking school’s doing! @julielindsay #inf532
— Jordan Grant (@JTGrant81) August 31, 2016
This prompted several retweets which pushed the original message further and as a result, I was directed to this superb resource from the New Zealand government. This reflects Lindsay’s (2016) sentiment: “in a flat learning environment it’s who you know not what you know” (slide 54). The use of my PLN enabled me to strengthen my school’s direction in terms of a strategic plan and by doing so enrich the learning of both staff and students.
I recently blogged about an experience where I participated in an online presentation where some passionate secondary students were raising awareness and funds for a social justice cause. Not only did I establish connections which has resulted in these students now intending to interact with my own class, but also, by using this approach paired with the Fuze platform, I brought the idea of going global to our own social justice fund raising projects (Grant, 2016a, para. 4). Here, the use of my PLN can be seen helping me generate potential engagement as well as provide ideas on the design of future learning opportunities.
I can use a suite of new media tools for information management, content creation, content curation, collaborative work, and connecting social networks and communities of practice within and beyond the school. I can design, develop and deploy products, tools or strategies that show an understanding of education informatics;
Information is growing at a rapid rate and as a result, there’s been a shift to an era of information abundance (De Saulles, 2012, p. 15). Pegrum (2010) hones in on one aspect of this and identifies that “navigating overlapping personal, social and professional networks – all linked together technologically by the internet – requires a level of network literacy which is not as widespread as is often assumed”(p. 347). My digital artefact sought to upskill students in networked literacy and help them transform into connected learners. Through it, I was able to showcase my growing ability to incorporate new media tools. I created the YouTube video “The What and Why of Connected Learning,” utilised Padlet and Google Docs to foster collaboration skills, curated pertinent resources for participants and created the website using Google Sites. Of the design considerations, I wanted to ensure that the participants were active learners. This was also reflected in the media tools and curated resources selected as it was important that students became actively involved in the learning process (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, p.2).
I also thought it was important for me to try out an abridged version of my artefact. As the resource was directed towards senior secondary students (mine currently getting ready to sit their VCE exams), I decided to target my Year Nine English class and get them blogging. My post, ‘Little Wins’ outlines this ongoing learning journey with them. Highlighted in my post on “NetworkPeer Learning” was Wenger, McDermott’s and Snyder’s (2010) seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. Right now, I’m building their confidence and developing a shared community space where they can interact and develop skill before venturing into a more public realm (p. 58). In addition, I believe this group needs to see the value of blogging as otherwise “members would be reluctant to participate” (Grant, 2016b). The use of these blogs will enable them to create content, build a community of practice and lead to exploring learning experiences outside of school.
I can utilise a personal learning network to enhance professional growth, personal knowledge management and collective intelligence practices.
This subject has allowed me to showcase much of what Nassbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) define a connected learner; “learners who collaborate online; learners who use social media to connect with others around the globe; learners who engage in conversations in safe online spaces; learners who bring what they learn online back to their classrooms, schools and districts” (p. 3-4).
By publishing my digital artefact online, I was able to receive feedback from a global range of people that caused me the reflect upon and improve on my product.
@JTGrant81 I’m also intrigued by the notion of ‘free’. I think that we all pay something in the end, so wondering if free is misleading?
— Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) September 15, 2016
@mrkrndvs @aus_teach @JTGrant81 @KateMfD My economics teacher taught me that nothing is free. Accept ‘free’ things but acknowledge the cost.
— Heather Dowd (@heza) September 15, 2016
Valid points @heza @mrkrndvs @aus_teach @KateMfD What do you think is the best way to describe content that fits this framework?
— Jordan Grant (@JTGrant81) September 15, 2016
This discussion definitely helped me grow.
Contributing is also instrumental when becoming a connected educator. Throughout this subject I have contributed others learning by providing feedback on artefact, and sharing resources and opinions. The following tweets highlight some of my contributions that build collective intelligence.
Some interesting tools that I’d never heard of #INF532 https://t.co/sjGbVHYFYS
— Jordan Grant (@JTGrant81) October 5, 2016
Great question @cowcow_girl! When I have students submit video assessments, I normally get them to publish to YouTube #INF532
— Jordan Grant (@JTGrant81) October 4, 2016
When reflecting on his own PLN, Eric Sheninger accurately articulates my sentiment “The resources, ideas, strategies, different points of view, support, and feedback that I received from people across the globe… pushed me to pursue transformative change” (2016, para. 3). By having access to these online networks my knowledge and professional practice improves.
Part B: Reflective Statement:
My digital artifact notes: “Remember. People don’t normally develop effective networks overnight. This will be a timely process that requires continual work” (Grant, 2016c). For me, this statement also rings true in regards to how your PLN is in a continuous state of development. Newer nodes are frequently being added and then strengthened while others fade and become less important. This subject was a chance to continue the process of building connections, maintaining connections and activating connections (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen & Sloep, 2011, para. 7). As a result of this process of building, maintaining and activating, I’ve taken part in robust discussions and expanded my knowledge as well as my network. The example below is a small snapshot of what was previously discussed.
@JTGrant81 Good question, I think digital literacy would be top on my pros list, what would be the biggest con for you? #twitter4ed
— Andrew Press (@Optimapress) October 2, 2016
This course challenged me to express my voice in a form that I’ve never been comfortable with; the blog. As one of the tools of the connected educator, it’s important that I look to build on my blogging skills. As the course has progressed, I felt that my blogs have gotten a lot better and they’re moving in the direction of what Will Richardson (n.d.) defines as ‘real blogging’ where it “links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind” (para. 11). My blogs “Little Wins” and “Sunday Morning MOOC” best exemplify this. These blogs as well as the others, mark a portion of my contribution to the subject and the wider body of educational work that exists online. As students contributing to this knowledge network, we are “rewarded with potentially rich opportunities for student learning, connections to individual knowledge and expertise, and tremendous insight into emerging areas of research” (Couros, 2010, p. 127). This process has continued to develop me into a more connected educator.
Being a connected leader allows me to be informed about the latest trends in education. This provides me with the opportunity to encourage growth within my staff. Recently, this manifests in the ‘Tekkie Brekkie’ initiative that I’ve been leading at my school. This is a bi-weekly meet up where staff come together and share ideas involving education technology. Godin (2008) explores the idea of the importance of empowering ‘tribes’ to communicate (p. 20). Through this increased communication, colleagues are being exposed to tools that can be implemented within their classrooms and thereby potentially improve their professional practice. In the future, I’ll continue to draw from sources such as Willemse & Freedman (2013) to stimulate this discussion.
In a recent interview for a leadership position within my school, I was asked “what are your strengths as a leader?”.
Of the qualities that I stammered off, I made a point to say that I was a ‘connected educator’.
“What’s that?” asked a deputy principal from another school…
Within our INF532 bubble; an extension of MEd (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and a further extension from my own PLN composed of educators that clearly place some value on connected education… it’s sometimes easy to forget how so many of our colleagues have yet to take advantage of connected learning principles. Within this role, I’d like to continue to empower teachers within my school community to become more connected.
As a starting point, I’ve recently explored the resource ‘The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’ and believe it could “jumpstart teachers on their journey to becoming connected”(Grant, 2016d).
— Jordan Grant (@JTGrant81) July 22, 2009
As you can see, my journey to becoming a connected educator began in 2009 when my principal at the time introduced me to Twitter. Immediately, I was amazed at not only the amount of educators that were on the platform but the amount of resource sharing that was happening.
Since then, I’ve been expanding my PLN and looking for ways to have meaningful conversations about education. In 2014, I was selected to be part of the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney. This was a profound experience for me as it put me in a room with like minded educators and allowed us to form a new network of ambassadors for change. Reflecting back, it was this event that helped me develop as a connected leader.
Over the last two years, I’ve contributed as a connected leader by presenting at the Google Apps for Education Summits in both New Zealand and Australia and at state and national level history conferences.
My final reflection for this subject is that a connected learner/leaders’ work is never done. While my undergraduate studies reflected a learner that was completing assessments then moving onto the next topic, a connected learner is constantly consuming and producing (Couros, 2010) and invested in the content. Their links to resources and people remain as long as they are maintaining the connections.
Thomas and Brown (2011) ask “what happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change” (p. 17). The answer is #INF532 and CSU’s MEd (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation).
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Lindsay, Julie. (2016, June 8). The Digital Imperative: Connect Learning With The World [Slideshow]. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/julielindsay/the-digital-imperative-connect-learning-with-the-world
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Willemse, A., & Freedman, K. (2013). ANZ 23 mobile things [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://anz23mobilethings.wordpress.com/the-23-things/