The following is my brainstormed list of ideas to answer the three questions posed for Module 1.0

What is your definition of a ‘Digital Learning Environment’? 

In stark contrast to when I started teaching some years back, the digital world encompasses both my work life and home life and has integrated the two together like never before. For this reason, the Digital Learning Environment is all encompassing and difficult to separate from the real world. My digital world is available to me 24/7, anywhere I go and is incredibly convenient although it can limit my down-time and separation from work. I am dependent on my digital world; I rely on my personalised social network to tell me if there is a delay to work, to do my groceries and other shopping, to guide my attendance at events in my area, to alert me to activities in my children’s schools and sporting clubs, to find information, check facts, help with homework, find a recipe, book tickets and appointments as well as to communicate with family and friends and share the events and activities of our lives.
In my work context, my students all have and use at least one device, and I work between 3 of my own and have had to become literate and skilled in media that I had not imagined only a few years ago. Our school has no library (I know, you may take a sharp inhale!), we have no textbooks, our resources are housed almost exclusively online, our students access their study information (as we have for this university unit) from online repositories, more often than not, they upload assignments to an online dropbox and (thankfully) gone are the environmentally unfriendly days of printing handouts and assessment rubrics to be glued into the paper pages of an exercise book!
I learn both formally through my study in an online Masters degree and informally through the resources and information I source for myself, often tailored to my interests through my social media settings, locality and the choices of who I follow. The DLE is immersive and inseparable from all aspects of my life and I now can’t imagine going back to a time where it did not exist.
What are some of the changes created by our digital lifestyle that you need to be aware of as an educator?
Some important changes and considerations include:
  • Awareness of access and equity
  • Educating about digital footprint and citizenship
  • Protecting online safety, identity and security
  • Reading from digital devices vs print
  • Multimedia content and transliteracy – requires new skills for use and interpretation
  • Content creation – capacity to create online content, interact with a broad audience and send/receive critique on content
  • Effect on handwriting – students often have poor skills in handwriting and when it comes to the event of a handwritten exam, today’s students are often compromised by their hand and wrist muscles; it doesn’t take long before they are flexing and stretching sore hands
  • Difficult for teachers to stay on top of change and evolution of devices, the online world and changing content
  • Educators must not assume digital competency amongst students
  • Skills/knowledge requirements are different – memorised facts are not as important; arguably creativity is now essential to future vitality
  • Change from the content expert to the facilitator – learning together
  • Cloud storage has resolved issues in access and content loss
  • Concerns about overuse, screen time, poor posture

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What has been the impact of social networking on teaching and learning?
Some challenges:
  • Ever-changing – very hard to keep abreast
  • Students often lack trust in teachers as educators for digital environment
  • Education for risks in social media use is necessary
but many benefits include:
  • Social network can allow content sharing for students and teachers
  • Allows students to connect with learning outside of the formal school context
  • Increased informal learning and peer-to-peer learning
  • Opportunities for collaboration – e.g. Google docs or Office 365 – live sharing of content and collaborative tools
  • Allows opportunities for choice and content selection that can be incorporated into the formal learning context
  • Array of free resources and content available online to use or adapt
  • Social media allows educators to connect with each other and to form digital PLNs
  • Anywhere, anytime