Education informatics, as a research field, is new to me. When I completed a TESOL university course, one of my electives was looking at CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning). That was now over 13 years ago, and the leaps forward in learning, technology, and information science is quite exponential, especially when I consider the technology that was available and being used in education at that time. What strikes me is the practicality and interdisciplinary nature of the scope of education informatics.
I found the article by Levy et al’s (2003) illuminating. They define education informatics as “the study of the application of digital technologies and techniques to the use and communication of information in learning and education.” (Levy et al., 2003, p. 299)
Three aspects of their examination of information science, technology and education convergence that helped me to develop an understanding of the nature and scope of education informatics as an emerging field of inquiry are:
- Aspect of relationships and connections and the wide ranging educational scope (both formal and informal)
“concerned with relationships between people, information, ICTs, learning and professional practice at the level of the individual and social action, & in diverse organizational & institutional settings” (Levy et al., 2003, p. 299)
- Aspect of far reaching issues and challenges for learners in relation to information seeking skills & behavior.Also, teachers and students engaging with new types of learning environments and as a result new methods of teaching & learning
- Aspect of changing rolesof the information specialist/librarian as a result of digital technologies and the on-line learning environment.
Moving on to the reading of Ford (2008) challenged me to reflect on my own pedagogical beliefs and teaching practices. I was struck by how my own beliefs are a combination of different educational philosophies and approaches to learning design.
An influential mainstream philosophy for me was that of the radical tradition (of Friere and Illich). I still see a role of education as an agent for fundamental societal, cultural, political and economic change. I see this agency and action in the world at large with such organizations as Room to Read and believe that education (or the institutions, structures, and practices of) need to continually move forward to enable this.
My pedagogical beliefs reflect:
- student as an active agent
- importance of critical thinking and metacognitive knowledge and skills, learning how to learn
- prior knowledge (using concepts to evoke prior knowledge & connect to new learning) and learning styles (blooms taxonomies)
- student’s feelings and emotions minutely connected to their learning – For me this also ties in with the importance of developing relationships with students. As a specialist teacher, it can be difficult to have this type of background knowledge that a classroom teacher usually has.
- motivation and aspect of choice (learner autonomy) – determining what is to be learned, how it is to be learned and how it is to be assessed. While this is certainly a strong belief, I do not achieve this fully. A great example of inquiry based learning, is when I am involved with the IB PYP Exhibition. I also believe that for younger learners at the elementary level, their learning needs are met when scaffolded which is what guided inquiry allows (Kuhlhtau, 2007, 2012) which allows for the development of skills that will move them on to independent inquiry learning.
- learning as interaction between people – collaborative group work
- authentic real world contexts