Today I wanted to learn more about the new Victorian Curriculum for years Foundation to ten. I knew that there had been a conference conducted recently by the School Library Association of Victoria so I checked their homepage and found a Storify of the tweets from the conference. Thanks to those at the conference who were willing to share their learning using the hashtag #slavconf, the tweets gave me a good overview of the conference and some additional resources to explore.
Twitter chats are another source of learning that I would like to get more involved in. On Sunday evenings #AussieED is frequented by some of my fellow CSU class mates. By following @aussieED you learn about other global Twitter chats too. If the time difference is a problem you can follow the chat hashtag at a more convenient time and connect asynchronously.
Students at my senior secondary school could use Twitter in a similar way to either follow hashtags or participate in a teacher organised chat with other students locally or globally. I know that the Politics teacher has already made Twitter part of her class’ digital learning environment. The class shares resources and insights with each other and their teacher but they could extend their learning further by connecting globally with other students.
The tools and/or platforms that contribute to the school’s “official” digital learning environment may be different to the tools that students and teachers use outside of school. Teachers need support to integrate these tools into their teaching practices because the technology alone will not transform learning (Kemker, 2005). Professional learning delivered by the school and individuals developing their own personal learning networks (with an emphasis on lifelong learning) is necessary.
My definition of a digital learning environment utilises technology to provide digital access to digital resources and spaces for learning that are not limited to a physical realm. Digital learning environments can take on different forms but usually consist of a variety of tools and technologies and are increasingly mobile and social.
At my school the digital learning environment is made possible by the network infrastructure that provides network, internet and wi-fi access to desktop computers and iPads. A learning management system has recently been implemented so teachers and students are transitioning to this new space. Email is heavily relied on for sharing and communicating and the use of Google Drive has been encouraged. A recently upgraded library management system offers new digital possibilities for interaction with the school community for me as a teacher librarian. Within the library I utilise a combination of tools for curation, screencasting and sharing.
My personal digital learning environment is vast and always changing. It is an important component to my PLN as represented below.
As an educator I have to be aware of changes created by our digital lifestyle. I believe my personal learning network and my studies are integral in keeping me informed and aware of technological changes and the impact they may have. By actively participating and collaborating with others using social networking, I feel more confident in transferring my skills to new digital environments. Academic and 21st century skills need to be developed (Kemker, 2005) at school so that students can navigate their digital world.
Social networking has impacted on teaching and learning by providing informal learning opportunities for students. Teachers are no longer the gatekeepers of knowledge. Students can learn from their peers or other experts using social networks and YouTube (Richardson, 2008). The video below outlines research into informal learning.
Kemker, K. (2005). The digital learning environment: What the research tells us. Apple White Paper.
Richardson, W. (2008, December 3). World without walls: Learning well with others. Edutopia. Retrieved fromhttp://www.edutopia.org/collaboration-age-technology-will-richardson.