Posts Tagged ‘assesment’

Digital Scholarship Interpretive Paper


We are living in a world of abundant information that flows through global and social networks with relative ease and low cost to individuals. Gone are the pre-digital days where information was scarce and difficult to access (Weller, 2011). Increasingly people are using social networks and participatory internet technologies in their everyday lives for entertainment, to connect with others and to learn (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Digital technologies, web 2.0 tools and dynamic networks have the potential to alter the scholarly practices of academics and teachers. It is argued that “the foundation of academic life – the scholarship on which everything is built – remains surprisingly unaltered” (Ayers, 2013 p. 27), however there are signs that “scholarship is opening, and with that openness comes new ways of working” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 2). Digital scholarship is an emergent concept, where the scholar employs digital, networked and open approaches to their work (Weller, 2011). The cultural change from traditional scholarship to digital scholarship is not without tensions and barriers that include, but are not limited to, the legacy model of publishing, entrenched institutional policies, and the traditional epistemologies of academics and teachers who lack network literacy.

Scholarship and Digital Scholarship

According to Boyer, scholarship is the generating and acquiring of knowledge through research or teaching and involves four functions: discovery, integration, application and teaching (Veletsianos, 2012b). Unsworth describes the basic functions of scholarship as discovering, annotating, comparing, referring, sampling, illustrating and representing (Weller, 2011). These activities can be carried out in a traditional analogue manner or enacted using digital tools and workflows. Contemporary scholars are using technology, to varying degrees, to undertake the scholarship activities that Boyer describes. It is important to note that the mere use of digital technologies does not equate to being a digital scholar, a commitment to social practices of openness and connectedness is required (Goodfellow & Lea, 2013). Scholarship practices are not confined to higher education, many secondary school teachers are connected educators (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012) that engage in the activities described by Boyer (Greenhow, 2009). The cultivation of a scholarly life online is an empowering choice that some academics and teachers are making (Greenhow, Robelia & Hughes, 2009) but the entrenched norms and policies of academia (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010) can make it difficult. The concept of digital scholarship is relatively new and “the contemporary academy is buffeted by two contemporary tendencies: commercialization and democratization” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8).

“Abundance and openness are the context of contemporary scholarship, and Boyer’s typology is the guiding principle for how we think about impact” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 121). Boyer’s functions of integration, application and teaching are impacted by the key trends of open publishing, open educational resources and open scholarship. Digitisation and the production of digital manuscripts facilitate open publication (integration), public engagement and open scholarship is enabled by social networks (application), and open educational resources and open approaches have the potential to change teaching (Scanlon, 2014). Katz also asserts that openness “presses in a strong and positive way on all of the scholarships named by Boyer” (Katz, 2010). It is “argued that open practices contribute to more equitable, effective, efficient, and transparent scholarly and educational processes” (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, p. 167). However the debate over open scholarship “bears the certainty of messy understandings” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, p. 75) and tensions between past practices and emerging open practices (Lupton, Mewburn & Thomson, 2018).

Integration and Open Access Publishing

Alternatives to the traditional academic publishing model are now possible, firstly with the digitisation and amplification of print journals and secondly with the development of open access publishing. The traditional model of twentieth century scholarly publishing is still firmly entrenched (Weller, 2011). While the business models of newspapers and music have been disrupted in the last decade, no such revolution has occurred in higher education publishing (Weller, 2011). Academic publishing is big business and relies on academics providing free labour (research, writing and peer review) and relinquishing copyright in exchange for publication. Scholarly publishing began in the twentieth century when information was printed, scarce and restricted to the academy (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). A small number of scholarly publishing companies now dominate the print and digital market and make big profits (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). Commercialisation of knowledge is one way of re-establishing scarcity and exclusivity (Weller, 2011) in an age of abundant information sources.

The scholarly publishing business model has survived because of the following factors: scholars have been acculturated into it, the journals are considered high quality, a scholar’s publication record is tied to tenure and promotion, dissemination is ensured and curation occurs through libraries (Weller, 2011). Traditional publishing outputs are valued more highly by institutions and a cultural shift is required so that additional digital scholarly outputs are recognised for recruitment and promotion purposes (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010).

Increasingly, secondary schools are demanding that teachers engage in professional learning that involves research and the gathering of evidence to substantiate practice but “paywalls make it almost impossible to engage with scholarly writing” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 84). With printed journals, secondary school teachers could visit academic libraries to do research, however licensing restrictions are placed on digital journal databases that prevent anyone outside of the institution accessing them. The current publishing model does not encourage lifelong learning, with secondary school teachers, university graduates and any other independent learners locked out of accessing scholarly literature (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016). The control over scholarly information and knowledge by universities is being challenged by the digital age (Katz, 2010). Open access literature is freely available on the public internet, free of most copyright and licensing restrictions and provides an alternative source of scholarly literature for academics, secondary school teachers and the general public (Weller, 2011). While access is free to readers, ‘author pays’ models exist for some open access journals, which are less than ideal, but due to economic factors in this time of transition to openness (Weller, 2011).

A number of issues are placing pressure on the traditional publishing model. Digital technologies provide lower barriers to the publishing and distribution of scholarly literature, whereas traditional publishing is a very slow process. Publishers make substantial profits from the voluntary labour of academics and then sell the material back to them via their academic libraries. Despite efficiencies gained from technology, subscription costs have increased and titles are bundled together leading to costly duplication and budgetary concerns for libraries. The sum of the aforementioned issues is known as the journals crisis (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010). Also being questioned is peer review, a long-standing quality control mechanism. Other networked-enabled avenues for assessing quality, such as post publication review, are being tested but scholars must be prepared to challenge the status quo for them to gain momentum (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). Early adopters of digital scholarship, who are often self-taught (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016), are challenging publishing conventions and “sharing their work more freely through online avenues” (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, p. 169). Evidence from numerous studies indicates that open access journals receive greater readership and more citations (Weller, 2011). Research bodies are changing their policies and “have set out mandates relating to open access” (Weller, 2011, p. 146). Governments who fund universities from taxpayers are also calling for greater transparency and access to knowledge created by academia (Veletsianos, 2015). “OA [open access] demands a collective and inventive redefinition of the ecology of scholarly publishing” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 69).

Application and Social Networks

The internet and information communication technologies have provided scholars with the ability to engage in local and global networks to extend their communities outside of the institution (Katz, 2010). Tools such as blogs, wikis, social networks, social tagging sites and content-sharing sites are part of the ecosystem of participatory learning (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). By leveraging social networks and social tools for scholarship purposes, academics are finding “new ways of engaging with publics beyond the walled-in academy (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8).

Informal publishing does not have the lag time of formal publication and because it is open, access is democratised (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b). For digital scholars, blogs “function as a way of disseminating content, expressing opinions, keeping up-to-date and remembering, writing, interacting and creating relationships” (Kjellberg, 2010, para. 54). Informal publishing can also be achieved using social bookmarking tools. Educators (secondary or tertiary) can provide carefully curated multimedia resources to their students whilst also establishing an online identity and modelling digital scholarship practices to their students (Greenhow, 2009). These tools are also social and encourage interaction and collaboration; something that traditional publishing cannot do easily (Wesch, 2014). Therefore, social scholarship is the connection of formal scholarly practices with informal web 2.0 tools to share, collaborate and converse (Greenhow, 2009).

Scholars and educators have appropriated social network tools such as Twitter and Facebook to build personal learning networks and communities of practice. Academics and secondary teachers can participate in conferences remotely through Twitter feeds, Slideshare presentations and recorded sessions on YouTube. Skype and Google Hangouts allow for low cost communication and global connections over vast distances. YouTube and Flickr provide academics and educators with content, as well as the capacity to create their own content freely. Fast and cheap technologies that are outside of the university or secondary school’s control are increasingly being utilised in education and research because they are flexible and personal (Weller, 2011).

The transition from traditional scholarship to digital scholarship requires new skills, competencies and a willingness by scholars to engage in new practices. Depending on the individual, learning new digital skills can be either exciting or intimidating. Even academics that have always known the internet do not necessarily know how to use it for scholarly activities. Many early adopters of digital scholarship practices have been self-taught and have been willing to experiment. Some institutions provide workshops but for many scholars and teachers but formal training opportunities can be difficult to find (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016) thus a participation gap exists with some scholars and teachers able to navigate networked spaces and others without the required literacies to do so (Veletsianos & Kimmons. 2012b).

Teaching and Open Educational Resources

“It is arguably in Boyer’s fourth function, that of teaching that we see the biggest impact of digital technologies and open approaches” (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010, p. 40). Openness in teaching is being facilitated by open educational resources that rely on authors and creators (who may be digital scholars) being generous and sharing their intellectual property (Wiley, 2010). Open educational resources are free and use licenses (usually Creative Commons) that allow users to reuse, revise, remix and redistribute while also acknowledging the intellectual property of the creator (Wiley, 2010) or are in the public domain and free of copyright restrictions (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012b).

In 2001 the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open CourseWare (MIT OCW) initiative made course materials available online and from this the open educational resources movement grew (Weller, 2011). Open educational resources are diverse and include curriculum, courses, textbooks, videos, podcasts, multimedia and any other materials designed for teaching and learning. Open educational resources reside in dedicated repositories and on the open web (Butcher, 2015). Higher education, K-12 education, cultural institutions, public broadcasters, not-for-profit organisations and individuals contribute to a growing pool of digital open educational resources. The quality of educational learning resources can vary. Weller (2011) categorises open educational resources (OER) as big and little OERs. Big OERs are created by institutions with a teaching aim for a project or course, located using a portal and of high quality. Little OERs are low cost resources created by individuals that may or may not have educational intent and are hosted on various web 2.0 platforms, thus little OERs require more time and effort to both find and assess for educational quality (Weller, 2011).

The lecture hall or classroom is just one node of learning available to students in a participatory network age. Lecturers and teachers are not the only source of knowledge for today’s students (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Ashleigh, 2010). Academic content is available in different modalities freely and openly online. While universities and schools currently hold social capital and the prestige of degrees and certificates, they are being challenged by informal digital, networked and open approaches to learning (Weller, 2011). Will this challenge lead to significant pedagogical change or minimal adjustments in teaching practice?


Technology alone will not transform scholarship, “the ideal of openness is intrinsic to digital scholarship” (Daniels & Thistlewaite, 2016, p. 8). Current and emerging information communication technologies and network effects enable academics and teachers to use “a bricolage of digital practices” for scholarly purposes (Daniels & Thistlewaite, p. 132). However, entrenched institutional policies can make the transition from traditional scholar to digital or open scholar difficult. “Paradigmatic shifts in the ways that we think about education, knowledge, learning, teaching, and research” (Veletsianos, 2012b, p. 181) are required so that the best elements of openness can be realised in an ecology of abundance.


Ayers, E. L. (2013). Does digital scholarship have a future. Educause Review, 48(4), 24-32. Retrieved from

Butcher, N. (2015). A basic guide to open educational resources (OER). Retrieved from

Daniels, J., & Thistlewaite, P. (2016). Being a scholar in the digital era. [Kindle version]. Bristol, UK: Policy Press. Retrieved from

Greenhow, C. (2009). Social scholarship: Applying social networking technologies to research practices. Knowledge Quest, 37(4), 42-47. Retrieved from

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, Teaching, and Scholarship in a Digital Age. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259. doi:10.3102/0013189X09336671
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Katz, R. (2010). Scholars, scholarship, and the scholarly enterprise in the digital age. Educause Review, 45(2), 44-56. Retrieved from

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

Veletsianos, G. (2015). A case study of scholars’ open and sharing practices. Open Praxis, 7(3), 199-209. Retrieved from

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Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012b). Assumptions and challenges of open scholarship. 2012, 13(4), 24. doi:10.19173/irrodl.v13i4.1313

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Chapter: Game based learning in secondary school libraries: Getting teacher librarians on board


A school library is a communal learning space where students can read, think, study, research, inquire, discuss, use technology and socialise. Secondary school libraries provide access to physical and digital learning spaces using a variety of print, digital and multimedia resources to support the curriculum and recreational needs of students and staff (Schultz-Jones & Oberg (2015). Traditional games have been played in school libraries for a long time and are recognised as instructional media (Elkins, 2015). Digital games have not always been embraced as enthusiastically due to negative perceptions by teacher librarians, parents and school administration however this is beginning to change. Recent research on game based learning (GBL) notes the positive effects games have on learning and the promotion of twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016).

The provision of a range of multimodal resources, including games, can promote and develop multiliteracies (O’Connell, 2012) or new literacies that are required in today’s networked world. School libraries that restrict particular technology, such as digital games are at risk of alienating students who are exposed to diverse informal learning opportunities outside of school (Gee, 2012). Teacher librarians who are willing to get on board to learn about, acknowledge the many barriers in their way and incorporate GBL into the school library have the opportunity to meet the diverse learning, social and information literacy needs of their students (Elkins, 2015).

Negative Perceptions of Digital Games

Mainstream media have a tendency to report on controversies or negative stories surrounding video games and blame them for violence, obesity, injuries, addiction, social isolation and aggressive behaviour in young people (Bourgonjon, 2011). Video games are part of popular culture, designed for leisure and entertainment, and not intentionally designed for learning (Becker, 2011). They are also commonly referred to in the education community as commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) digital games. COTS games are not designed for teaching but are increasingly utilised for game based learning (Van Eck, 2006) because they incorporate learning principles. Video games such as these attract persuasive and sometimes sensationalist commentary in the mainstream media that can influence the views of educators on the legitimacy of video games for learning. Another concern that surrounds video games is that of commercialisation, monetisation and the impact advertising may have on young people. The video game industry is a commercial industry and therefore markets its games and merchandise directly to young people for economic reasons (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010) and this worries some educators. Excessive screen time and calls for limits to be placed on the amount of time young people spend using screen based technologies has become an issue with ubiquitous mobile devices. Balancing screen time between informal and formal learning causes some debate amongst parents and teachers. For educators that are unfamiliar with video games these negative mass media messages may be the only ones they are receiving about video games (Kirsch, 2014) and make them nervous of GBL.

The types of digital games available today are diverse. Educational games are designed to support teaching and learning with clear educational goals in mind. Educational games include edutainment games, serious games, simulations and epistemic games (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010). Edutainment games were trailblazers in the early days of digital games but their reputation suffered when they failed to progress and engage players to the same extent as COTS games (Habgood & Ainsworth, 2011). Fun and learning were viewed by some game designers as being diametrically opposed and entertainment elements were considered necessary to make the learning palatable. The failure of many edutainment games is attributed to lack of intrinsic motivation, drill and skill learning principles, simple play, small budgets (Becker, 2010) and commercial interests taking precedence over educational theories (Squire & Patterson, 2011). These games rely on repetition and are based on behaviourist learning theory where learning is only transmitted (Ulicsak & Williamson, 2010). Sometimes these games are good learning tools but as games they are mediocre (Van Eck, 2006). Educators should be aware that a bad experience with one game should not be generalised to all games. Careful selection of games and alignment with chosen pedagogy is the key.

Positive Perceptions of Digital Games

The Digital Australia Report states that 68% of Australians play video games (Brand & Todhunter, 2015) and the Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015 reports 72% of American teenagers across the socio-economic spectrum play video games (Lenhart, 2015). The growing acceptance of game based learning by policy makers is partly due to recent research findings that games can be applied effectively for learning. Emphasis on Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and the forecast time to adoption of game based learning as two to three years according to the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 Edition (Johnson, Adams & Haywood, 2011) have provided educators with further validation of game based learning.

Education is the main goal of serious games yet they borrow design approaches from commercial games to make them more engaging such as intrinsic motivation, fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity and competition (Brom, 2009). Gee states that “good video games incorporate good learning principles supported by current research in cognitive science” (Gee, 2005, p. 34). These principles align with established learning theories such as constructivism, cognitivism, sociocultural theory of learning and flow theory. This means that good games can provide authentic learning situations, promote social interactions, increase motivation, encourage higher-order thinking and foster twenty-first century skills (Qian & Clark, 2016). The effectiveness of game based learning is however dependent on the incorporation of game design elements and mechanics that are informed by learning theories (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015). There is a growing acceptance amongst educators that game based learning can promote collaboration, problem solving and communication (Johnson, Adams & Haywood, 2011).

Contemporary COTS and serious games operate within a social context. In informal settings, games are social experiences for teenagers (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015). Game forums, wikis, blogs, cheat sites and Youtube videos of game walkthroughs are part of a participatory learning culture. Players share their common interest of a game with other like-minded individuals, seek information and create knowledge in these virtual affinity spaces (Turkay, Hoffman, Kinzer, Chantes & Vicari 2014). They are learning a variety of skills, probably without even realising it. It is argued that games implemented by educators who are aware of these social aspects can teach social norms, practices (Plass, Homer & Kinzer, 2015) and twenty-first century skills. The learning potential of games is enhanced when sociocultural perspectives are recognised by the educator who then encourages social interaction through pedagogy and incorporation of participatory spaces outside of the game (Beavis et al., 2014).

Teacher librarians’ perceptions of digital games and game based learning

Alongside classroom teachers, teacher librarians are likely to share diverse opinions, attitudes, concerns, excitement, enthusiasm and trepidation about game based learning. (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). It is expected that amongst the population of teacher librarians some will be games advocates, others anti-games and some will be in the middle without a strong opinion. Unfortunately there is a lack of research about the attitudes of teacher librarians to game based learning. Hovious & Van Eck conducted a survey of 117 teacher librarians in the United States and found that 42% of teacher librarians had used a digital game in the library and 41% had used a digital game for instruction in their lessons (2015). Although this small study cannot be widely extrapolated it does indicate that game based learning has not been fully embraced by all teacher librarians.

As discussed earlier attitudes to video games are often shaped by mass media and for some teacher librarians this may be their only exposure to information about games (Kirsch, 2014).

Teacher librarians who look beyond mass media reports by using their research skills to thoroughly examine the pros and cons of GBL using scholarly literature are more likely to consider GBL a viable strategy in their library.

Perceptions of where game based learning fits into the school library’s program may hinge on traditional views of the role of the library. Some educators may think “video games are too trivial a pursuit to bring into the library” (Adams, 2009, p. 676). Some members of the school community may see video games in the library as disruptive and counter to the purpose of serious study (Curry, 2013).

Teacher librarians may shy away from GBL because they have not been exposed to a broad range of games (Adams, 2009) and therefore are not aware of the learning opportunities they can leverage from them. On the other hand many teacher librarians have recognised the links GBL can have to literature, reading, information seeking and information literacy. (Elkins, 2005). Increasingly, anecdotal stories about game based learning occurring in school libraries feature in school library literature and at conferences. Research and government policy is helping to legitimise GBL and subsequently influencing teacher librarians’ perceptions (2011 innovating with technology games-based learning research trials: Findings to inform school practice, 2011).

Barriers to game based learning

Enthusiasm for GBL is increasing however there are challenges that teacher librarians may face when implementing it into their services and programs (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). These challenges are often referred to in the literature as barriers or hurdles. van Rosmalen & Westera have identified four categories: expertise barriers, systemic barriers, financial barriers and technical barriers (2014).

Expertise barriers

Lack of knowledge about games, game culture and game based learning pedagogy is an impediment to the adoption of game based learning. 78% of active video game players in Australia are over 18 and the average age of a video game player is 33 (Brand & Todhunter 2015) but playing games for entertainment does not necessarily equate to experience with GBL. This statistic also indicates that 22% of adults do not play games and some of these will be teachers and teacher librarians. Digital games come in many formats and familiarity with one may not transfer to another format. Even if a teacher librarian is familiar with certain types games they may lack expertise in others. Research has found that some teachers feel anxious about loss of control of the learning environment and therefore lack confidence with implementing GBL (Beavis et al., 2014). Improving game literacy of teacher librarians can help overcome expertise barriers and can be addressed through professional development, a personal learning network (PLN) and during pre-service training of teacher librarians (van Rosmalen & Westera, 2014).

Systemic barriers

The structure of the school curriculum, dependence on external assessment and reliance on textbooks are cited as common barriers to GBL. Teacher librarians also have to overcome the problem of limited time allocations with classes. Lack of support from colleagues and school administration is another perceived barrier (Becker, 2010). Teacher librarians have some advantages in overcoming systemic barriers by having a space where all students can gather to access print collections, digital tools and play games (Curry, 2013). One way of overcoming systemic barriers would be to initially explore digital games as a lunchtime activity.

Financial barriers

Licensing agreements can be expensive and beyond the reach of some school budgets. Free online games are an alternative but need to be selected carefully. Teacher librarians should investigate whether special funding is available from education departments or their school.

Technical barriers

The infrastructure to run games is complex and often requires support from information technology experts. The increase in online games and apps for mobile devices has alleviated some technical barriers but can still constrain the less experienced teacher librarian.

Opportunities for Game Based Learning in the School Library

School libraries must adapt to meet the needs of their community by providing access to information in a variety of formats (O’Connell, 2012). School library collections include print, digital and multimedia resources that support learning, teaching and information literacy. Digital games therefore have a place in library collections just as books do (Gee, 2012).

Including resources that feature games and gaming such as fiction and non-fiction books, and magazines into the collection could encourage some reluctant readers (Elkins, 2015). Games are often incorporated in transmedia stories where narrative, social media, video, audio and games merge. Identifying suitable transmedia stories and promoting these to students is another way of encouraging reading in a different format.

The school library is also a social place where students can gather. The school library has always supported the recreational reading needs of students (as a way of improving literacy) and could do the same with recreational gaming (Hovious & Van Eck, 2015). This could be attempted in different ways such as providing a space for a game club to meet or hosting gaming tournaments (Elkins, 2015). The introduction of digital games into the library space may attract new library patrons and engage existing ones. Digital games can also “act as doorway into other channels of games literacy such as through blogs, wikis, reviews, films and even books” (Curry, 2013, para 7).

Makerspaces within libraries can support the creation of games with coding. While some staff input is required, peer-to-peer learning is encouraged (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013) across age groups. Students are driven by their interest and self-motivated in a hands on way.

Teacher librarians can use GBL to teach information literacy. Some games may only operate as drill and skill to teach library skills such as the Dewey Classification System and citation. COTS games and serious games can be used to teach information literacy because “information literacy competencies and research behaviors are an intrinsic part of many games” (Smale, 2011, p. 48). For example the quest game, The Legend of Zelda uses the same kind of research information process, as a student is encouraged to use: search for and collect information, select relevant resources and use the information to achieve their goal.


Game based learning within the school library may be daunting and confusing for some teacher librarians but they should get on board. Providing access to a range of print and digital resources is essential to meet the information needs of today’s connected learners. Teacher librarians can get on board with game based learning by being open-minded, willing to overcome barriers, prepared to learn through play, and by critically evaluating the latest research.



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Assessment Item 8 – Part B

Critical Reflection

For the past twenty years I have been learning outside of the classroom by following my passions and interests. My passions for travel and photography have resulted in new experiences, skills and a deeper appreciation of the natural world and of cultural differences and similarities. I was learning by doing and by connecting with like-minded people. Experts were mentoring me and I was mentoring others. Blogs, podcasts and social networking gave me access to instructional material and allowed me to connect with people who shared my interests all over the world. One of the reasons I love my job as a teacher librarian is that I am exposed to every subject at the school and have to continually stretch myself to assist my students and teachers. Learning is a lifelong process. (Thomas & Brown, 2011)

Despite this love of learning it was with some trepidation that I made the decision to return to formal study. Would I enjoy formal learning as much as informal learning? (Downes & Bishop, 2012)

I think this is why the principles of connected learning resonated so strongly with me. On viewing the videos Rethinking Learning: the 21st Century Learner and Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito on connected learning, children, and digital media, I realised that my experiences were no different to the young people I work with. I am concerned that implementing this type of learning is problematic within the constraints of most schools currently. I work in a senior school library in an academic school, so this hurdle is very noticeable because most students are working towards a score for university entrance.

I am very aware that the library is no longer the first place students look for information. Ubiquitous access to mobile phones means students carry information around in their pockets. My observations of students made me sceptical of the digital native moniker. I was relieved to read numerous articles disputing Prensky’s generational perspective (Stoerger, 2009). Students may be using technology in a variety of ways but they are not always “net-savvy”. This is evident when students use search engines at a very basic level and when they get into difficult situations using social media. Students need to learn multi-modal skills and competencies so that they are able to adapt to new situations and technologies throughout their lives (O’Connell, 2012). Open, social and participatory media must be embraced for school libraries to remain relevant to our students.

Nichole Pinkard made me realise that children are born consuming media but are not necessarily creating or producing media (MacArthur Foundation, 2010). My scholarly book review of It’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens (Boyd, 2014) gave me the opportunity to delve further into the area of teenagers and their use of technology and social networking.

The concept of privacy and how it is changing in a networked world was a theme of the book and it piqued my interest along with algorithms and analytics. The video Generation Like (2014) had me questioning my own activities on Facebook and Twitter. I had never been too concerned about personalisation of advertising by Google but now I am troubled that it may be limiting my search results. Big Data has positive and negative applications and will produce ethical dilemmas. “There are some significant and insightful studies currently being done that involve Big Data, but it is still necessary to ask critical questions about what all this data means, who gets access to what data, how data analysis is deployed, and to what ends” (Boyd & Crawford, 2012, p. 664).

When I started Concepts and practices for a digital age my aim was to broaden my knowledge of theory and to examine practical applications of it in my workplace. I have a solid foundation to build on as I embark on more subjects and so much to think about and investigate further for my professional practice.

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Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6-15. Retrieved from

O’Connell, J. (2012). Learning without frontiers: school libraries and meta-literacy in action. Access, 26(1), 4-7. Retrieved from;dn=038168567341804;res=IELAPA

Stoerger, S. (2009). The digital melting pot: Bridging the digital native-immigrant divide. First Monday, 14(7). Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In A new culture of change. (pp. 17-33). Lexington: CreateSpace.