Critical Reflection

Three years ago in my first blog post for Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age (INF530) I wrote that I was “nervous but extremely excited to get my masters started” (Malbon, 2015, para 1). The nerves never really went away, but with each subject I gained more knowledge and my confidence as a modern learner and digital scholar increased.

In the first colloquium of Digital Futures Colloquium (INF537), Bruce Dixon of Modern Learners said modern learners are:

  • Inquiry-based
  • Social (i.e. connected)
  • Self-directed

(Dixon, personal communication, July 23, 2017).

For the remainder of this post I will reflect on the above three attributes of a modern learner in the context of being a student of INF537.


The final assessment for INF537, a case study with a topic of my own choosing, is the culmination of my learning over the last three years. Case study research is an iterative process and drew on the design thinking skills I developed in Designing Spaces for Learning (INF536)The topic of my case study, Open Educational Resources (OER), was inspired by the reading I did for my Digital Scholarship Interpretive Discussion Paper . Through research I wanted to learn more about the potential OER could have for the kindergarten to year 12 (K-12) education sector that I work in. My case study showed that as a teacher librarian I can play a pivotal leadership role in advocating for OER use and can assist teachers to use them.

Social (i.e. connected)

Prior to starting this course I was already dipping my toes into being a social learner by using social media and cultivating a PLN. Early in INF530 I was introduced to Connected Learning and the idea that knowledge and expertise can be derived from various avenues and through supportive networks (Ito, 2013). During Knowledge Networking for Educators (INF532) I reached out to my PLN via Twitter and connected with experts on digital curation and was thrilled when they not only helped me but shared my digital artefact with their own networks.   

I was very fortunate this session to be involved in an online global collaboration with Rutgers University in the United States of America (USA). Julie Lindsay facilitated asynchronous and synchronous opportunities for us to connect. This collaboration gave me the opportunity to use Flipgrid for the first time to share my thoughts on being a connected educator. I was able to connect with a library hero of mine from the USA, Joyce Valenza. I look forward to participating in more global connections for informal learning and hopefully in the school library too.

With my case study I asked for help and feedback, and reciprocated when classmates reached out. I have developed a “feedback toolkit” of Flipgrid, Voicethread, GoogleDocs and Twitter that will be useful in my workplace and for lifelong learning.


During this course I have strived to go beyond the required reading and participate in discussion forums, online forums and the unofficial backchannel, Twitter. I have used countless videos sourced from YouTube, Ted and PLN recommendations to help me understand difficult concepts. Using a blend of open resources and Charles Sturt University Library pay-wall resources, I have taken initiative for my learning and taught myself how to use many different web 2.0 tools along the way. I am a digital scholar who uses participatory network technologies in my daily life for entertainment and to learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). As a teacher librarian I want to model these skills and help educate colleagues and students to become digital scholars.  

As I said in my first INF537 blog post , I appreciate that throughout this course I have been given numerous opportunities to pursue my own interests and encouraged by my academic mentors to be a digital, open and networked scholar” (Weller, 2011). My masters may be over but the knowledge and skills I have gained will be applied now and into the future.


Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected learning: An agenda for research and design. Retrieved from

Malbon, K. (2015, March 2). Getting started with my masters [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning A new culture of change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace.

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar. [Kindle version]. London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved from


1 Comment on Critical Reflection

  1. lnash
    October 8, 2017 at 8:49 am (4 years ago)

    Agree Karen, it has been a great experience and have connected with a lot of wonderfully smart and generous people like yourself. I too have felt that it has been really useful that we have been able to apply the assignments often to our own work. Making the learning even more relevant. Best Wishes, Lisa