Like many other of my colleagues I have started my Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) and my first subject of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age under somewhat strenuous personal circumstances – including a death, marriage, moving countries and starting a new full time employment.
I have felt somewhat like Carol Kuhltau’s information search process (ISP) emotive elements experiencing moments of high to low emotions as I have progressed through this course, personally and as a learner. The course has supported my pedagogical beliefs as a teacher and librarian. However my knowledge and understanding as an educator in digital environments has grown immensely. I would even consider it has been a huge leap. So much has changed in the digital landscape in the last ten years. My own personal skill development has seen me use new tools such as Evernote, Twitter and Storify, and while other tools and digital environments have been introduced but not as yet embraced – they are there waiting for further exploration:
Concepts and Practices has been excellent for stepping into this digital environment. Not only has the support been there offline, personally with Judy O’Connell and through the group discussions with colleagues, but the course content has, I really feel, given a very solid baseline to continue with my upcoming subjects. The structure of the course with blog posts, reflections, Q&A chat meetings & conversations leading up to the digital essay where the ‘apron strings’ were untied and we were let loose to follow our different interests and passions and engage in authentic learning, supported what we have been discovering about ‘learning in the digital age’.
Information behaviour and digital literacies are core concepts for my own professional practice as a teacher librarian, and I have been able to relate the course readings to my own day to day teaching. Often the readings and my reflections have been the jolt to change my teaching practice:
So in summary, if pressed, what IS important for learning now? I would say to inculcate an ‘openness’ within our students, so that they ask questions and keep asking questions; and even more importantly that they recognize the importance of failing for both learning and life, and they understand that everything we do is connected. Maybe as teachers we need to stand back a lot more than we do to ensure that they can. (2015, May 5)
Having said that students do need scaffolding and support in developing their information and digital literacies and digital citizenship knowledge, skills and behaviours. My current journey into digital citizenship for my digital essay showed that schools are not generally doing a good job at “watching their backs” (Jenkins, 2011) and that there is an evident gap of students being critical and competent users of online information.
Closely tied with this is that we do need to re-evaluate our own role to allow our students to flourish in this age of connected learning and participatory culture (Jenkins, 2011). I have come to a greater appreciation of having a variety of resources to support my own learning such as visual resources such listening to researchers and educators online in addition to professional readings. If I can appreciate this, then our students can too.
Adaptability and change are key concepts that underlie many of the course modules throughout. Not only do educators need to re-evaluate their roles and practices but educational institutions too. It is fascinating to see how the core understanding of what education is and what it is for, is at the forefront of conversations of education for the 21st century (as we see in the discussions by Mimi Ito, Michael Wesch and others). Furthermore, how different countries are addressing the issue of change in this time of globalised learning and digital learning environments and networks.
“We have to think and rethink everything connected to school. We also have to understand that competencies needed in society and working life have changed and they are changing rapidly.”(The Huffington Post, 28 March 2015).
This was the essence of the scholarly review I undertook. I plan to return to these course readings such as Selwyn (2012), which leads me to my final thought (in this post at any rate) about the importance of keeping up not only the professional dialogues through a personal learning network, and communities of practice but also professional readings and reflecting on the work of global thought educators. We need be continue as learners just as much as our students.
I was planning on finishing by adding an excerpt from Grant Wiggins (who has been one of my thought educators that I have followed as an IB PYP teacher) and just came across sad news of his passing. It is fitting then for me to leave reflecting:
So, suppose knowledge is not the goal of education. Rather, suppose today’s content knowledge is an offshoot of successful ongoing learning in a changing world – in which ‘learning’ means ‘learning to perform in the world.’ (Wiggins, 2012, March 12).
How are we allowing ourselves and our students to ‘learn to perform in the world’? Second Life is waiting for me!
DMLResearchHub (2011, August 4). Cultural anthropologist Mimi Ito on connected learning, children, and digital media. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuV7zcXigAI
Jenkins, H. (2011, August 2). Media scholar Henry Jenkins on participatory culture and civic engagement. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZgZ4ph3dSmY
Selwyn, Neil (2012). Education and technology: Developing a global perspective. Chapter 1. In Education in a Digital World : Global Perspectives on Technology and Education. Retrieved fromhttp://www.csuau.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/patron/Read.aspx?p=1016089&pg=14
Wiggins, G. (2012, March 12). Everything you know about curriculum may be wrong. Really. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/everything-you-know-about-curriculum-may-be-wrong-really/