The Digital Futures Colloquium [INF537] journey was a powerful experience, yet perhaps also one of the most difficult and challenging courses to undertake as both a learner and educator. It reaffirmed understandings developed throughout my different subjects of being a connected learner* engaged in participatory environments. I was glad to re-engage in Module 1 with reports coming from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and thought-leaders such as Mimi Ito where links were made between what learning in education should look like and my own learning experience in INF537 in an early blog post July 19, 2016 :

* “Learning that is socially connected, interest-driven…pursuing knowledge and expertise around something you care deeply about and you’re supported by friends and institutions who share and recognize their common passion or purpose” (Mimi Ito in We Came to Play by Cupaiuolo, C., in Participatory learning).

Module 2 was intense with the extent and depth of course and related readings. These included some concepts and practices new to me such as Peeragogy and digital scholarship, with Martin Weller provoking me to think about who is an open scholar. 

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The literature of Neil Selwyn particularly resonated with me, as I noted in my blog, as I could relate it to the K-12 education field, especially the rapid change and development of technology, and the:

definite need “to take stock of who we are, what is we do, and how and why we do it” (p.65). What is required, is closer attention to “how digital technologies are being used … in ‘real-world’ educational settings” (p.66).

Another familiar concept within Module 2, of which I still  advocate is Communities of Practice. In one of my earlier subject critical reflections, I noted how “Conversation is where all learning begins” (Douglas Blane, 2006).  CofP was very evident with the collegiality and regular, ongoing communication between course mates throughout the colloquiums, discussion threads, (such as in the Module 1.3 discussion thread which is still fascinating reading to reflect on), blog posts and through online social media.  I certainly deepened my understandings through my own reflective writing but also by reading colleagues’ reflections and sharing resources through the above mediums.

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I have not really engaged with colloquium webinars previously, and found them particularly useful on a number of levels for knowledge networking.  The guest industry speakers provided practical insight into different fields in the digital environment which corresponded with Module 2 readings, from learning analytics, computer science, digital technologies and resources (ABC Splash) within the K-12 environment with Julie Lindsay sharing a wider perspective of the global educator. The webinar chat conversations also allowed us to ask questions of the speakers and share our own knowledge, thoughts and reflections with each other, and develop personal connections between the cohort.

I collaborated with two colleagues, Jo and Chantal, to act as student discussion moderators for the colloquium by Pip Cleaves, ‘Design, Learn, Empower’, and then for the first student led peer colloquium 17 August 2016 where we focused on the lens of scholar, scholarship and institution in the lead up to the digital interpretative essay.

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In hindsight, it influenced the direction my Digital scholarship interpretative discussion paper would follow more than I realized.  In the lead up to the colloquium we were very involved in the participatory collaborative environment as I noted in my journal post of 28 August 2016 and blog post

Jo Quinlan on August 30, 2016 at 7:13 pm said:
Hi Yvonne. I am glad that you suggested that Chantal, you and I jump in the deep end and present the first peer colloquium, as working together helped to clarify my thinking in preparation for our assessment task. I have just submitted the mid semester survey, and in response to the question about what I have most enjoyed this semester, I wrote about the supportive network that we have created beyond the confines of the INF537 infrastructure. I was in Singapore in January this year – I wish I had “met” you before then, so I could have met you in person earlier this year!

The case study proposal nearly came crashing down due to the Year 5 class timeline and processes engaged in the lead up to the PYP Exhibition. As I acknowledged on a tweet and in my journal blog (30th August & 2nd September), I was fortunate to have our course coordinator’s immediate support across time/distance. Needless to say the stress levels were significantly high.

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The case study has been fascinating to bring my own teaching practice together with my studies.  The 3000 words was not nearly enough for everything, yet the study certainly provides me with direction to move forward with the school library program.  Time was also a limitation both for the longitudinal development of the case study and the course itself. So much to cover within a short period of time, which is one of the challenges for all educators, including giving our students the time to explore, inquire and critically reflect.

The voice thread was introduced too late in the course. While it is a practical way of sharing ideas with our colleagues, for the final essay it was just an added extra, when time was precious and deadlines loomed. However, it is a tool that I will use in my own teaching practice as it allows for the sharing and collaboration across the digital space for our students.
A final comment again must acknowledge the supportive network of my colleagues in INF537 – a major mainstay and strength – which brings me full circle to what a connected learner in a participatory digital environment is all about.

Reference:

MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative (June 30, 2014). Participatory learning: Spotlight on digital media and learning [Amazon ebook]. Retrieved from: https://www.amazon.com/Participatory-Learning-Spotlight-Digital-Media-ebook/dp/B00LBN1O00

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