From Hierarchical to Networked: Ensuring Lifeready and Lifeworthy Learning in the Digital Age

-John Dewey

Introduction

The relentless pace of change of the twenty-first century has framed learning as a cultural phenomenon as globalisation, technological advancements and the rise of the digital age have created a need for citizens to become lifelong learners who are constantly up-skilling in order to survive and thrive (Douglas & Seely Brown, 2011, loc 50; Jarvis, 2009, p.15).  The digital age has removed many of the physical restrictions placed on learning, as technologies allow us to travel around the world and access a ubiquity of information at the click of a button (Selwyn, 2013, p.2).

The Future of Learning (Redecker et al., 2011, p. 9).

The Future of Learning (Redecker et al., 2011, p. 9).

The image above provides a conceptual map of the future of learning and the influence of drivers and Information Communication Technology (ICT) trends on education means that, more than ever, teachers are expected to be adept at a variety of technology-based pedagogical practices in order to promote twenty-first century learning experiences for their students (Johnson, Adams Becker, Estrada & Freedman, 2014, p.6). In response to the ever-changing notions of learning in the twenty-first century, Perkins suggests that educators must begin to provide learning experiences that are both ‘lifeworthy’- “likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live” (2014, p. 8), and ‘lifeready’ – “ready to pop up on appropriate occasions and help make sense of the world” (2014, p. 24).Consequently, as educators in this society, to offer lifeworthy and lifeready learning to our students, our classrooms must become what Boccini, Kampylis and Punie describe as ‘live ecosystems’, environments that constantly evolve and change to suit the context and culture of which they are a part (2012). It becomes essential then that we meet the learning needs of students by creating, “a sustainable learning ecology that is shaped by the ubiquity of information, globally responsive pedagogical practices, and driven by collaboration and informal learning in multiple access points and through multiple mediums” (O’Connell, 2015). The greatest challenge for educators in the digital age becomes how to alter their pedagogy and curricula to provide lifeready and lifeworthy learning for students that will be likely to matter to them in their future (Perkins, 2014). Therefore networked concepts such as expert amateurism and connected learning are essential starting points for educators in ensuring the learning that happens in their classrooms is future-proof.

Lifeready and Lifeworthy Learning

In the video above, Alan November poses some important questions about the role of teaching and learning in the digital age.  He emphasises that we must accept the idea of ‘digital natives’ as a myth and acknowledge the fact that, just because today’s learners were born into the digital age, they are not necessarily prepared for learning in the digital age. Thus, we must accept that our society of ubiquitous information access does not make redundant the role of the teacher, as information access does not equal knowledge attainment (Seely Brown & Duguid, 2000). Rather, it becomes the role of the teacher to ensure that all learning experienced in the classroom is genuine, viable and future-orientated.  This is where Perkin’s notions of lifeready and lifeworthy learning become, essential for educators of the digital age in ensuring the currency and relevancy of what they are teaching.  Traditionally, education in schools has been concerned with educating for a known future, where tried and true hierarchical structures were dictated by curriculum organised into disciplines. Perkins asserts that while a hierarchical structure offers advantages of simplicity and organisation, it does not aptly reflect the learners of the digital age, who are living in an increasingly networked and globalised world, calling educators to rethink the how, what and why of teaching to incorporate the expanding measure of what is worth learning (2014, p.41).  Similarly, Douglas and Seely Brown suggest that we must consider the change in learning that happened with the move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century (2011, loc. 50).

Traditional Hierarchical Structure of Education (Perkins, 2014, p.41).

Traditional Hierarchical Structure of Education (Perkins, 2014, p.41).

Networked Structure of Education in the Digital Age (Perkins, 2014, p.42).

Networked Structure of Education in the Digital Age (Perkins, 2014, p.42).

Thus, a more networked approach to learning that incorporates lifeready and lifeworthy learning is essential as, “a network structure mirrors today’s multiplicity of engagements and serves today’s learners better: disciplines related to one another, teachers collaborating with one another, students interact richly with one another, drawing on diverse information sources, addressing twenty-first century skills, and engaging life and world problems and opportunities” (2014, p.47).  It becomes evident then, that educators must begin to consider how the influence of networked environments reshapes the learning that is valued by students in their classrooms and the relevance the learning that takes places will have in the lives their students are likely to live.

Expert Amateurism

The video above articulates perfectly the decreasing value of knowledge attainment alone in a world where we can access all of the information we need online.  What is more important is knowing how to ask the right questions and building the skills we need to assist us in knowing what to do when we do not know what to do.  Therefore, considering a networked curriculum that caters for expert amateurism, becomes a way for educators to provide lifeready and lifeworthy learning that will enable them to succeed beyond their time at school.  Perkins states that an, “expert amateur understands the basics and applies them confidently, correctly and flexibly” (2014, p.38). Furthermore, this notion of expert amateurism serves much of the learning we do outside the school environment in our everyday lives.  While not devaluing the role of specialisation and traditional disciplines, expert amateurism has the potential to play an appropriate role at the foundation of our curricula in the digital age.  It allows us to practice the skills of lifelong learning as we apply what we know to look outwards towards the networked world around us, instead of inwards towards our insular scholarly disciplines.  Of course, our traditional focus on building expertise in each discipline by way of advanced technical content has value later in life as individuals choose to specialise in areas that interest them, however, in our school environments, this is unlikely to have much value to the majority of students in the lives they are likely to live (Perkins, 2014).  Embracing expert amateurism allows us to ensure that the students in our classrooms are able to make connections outside of specific learning areas and connect their learning to build greater understanding, just as they do in their everyday life outside of the classroom.

Expert Amateurism works to provide lifeready and lifeworthy learning (Storm, 2013).

Expert Amateurism works to provide lifeready and lifeworthy learning (Storm, 2013).

Redecker et al., state that two of the biggest challenges in providing lifeready and lifeworthy learning are: providing transition between the worlds of school and future employment, and focussing on permanent re-skilling to enable all citizens to adjust quickly to new environments (2011, p.10).  As educators in the digital age then, we must work to build and model expert amateurism for our students to ensure that learning in the classroom is lifeready and lifeworthy.  When we consider the role of expert amateurism in a networked approach to learning, we are providing learning that allows students to use what they know to make connections and reflect best-practice in the digital age, as students are able to go beyond the insular walls of their classroom.  Expert amateurism provides students with the basics they need to thrive and survive in the twenty-first century as they navigate their way through an ever-changing and digital world.

Connected Learning

Connected learning provides an approach to teaching and learning that assists educators in building expert amateurism and move away from a hierarchical structure towards a networked structure of learning in their classroom.

The ever-present change of the twenty-first century means that educators have to seamlessly adapt their practices to suit new technologies, skills, learning environments and the needs of their students  (Cantrill, et. al., 2014, p. 4).   Outside of school, our students are learning, engaging and producing in productive and collaborative ways, using digital media and networked environments (Cantrill, et. al, 2014, p.6).  Thus, while not born in the digital age, the principles of connected learning are befitting of it, as it promotes student-driven connection that requires active participation and collaboration in front of a real-world audience (O’Connell, 2015b).   With the world at their fingertips, students of the digital age have diverse pathways in which they can access connected learning, enabling connections between their learning at school and their networks and interests outside of school, providing learning that is both lifeready and lifeworthy.  Embracing a connected learning framework in our pedagogical approaches enables us to draw focus away from particular technologies that often take precedent in the digital age, and instead, focus on the value of learning through, “purposeful integration of tools for social connection, creations and linking the classroom, community and home” (Ito, et. al., 2013, p.33).    As evidenced in the infographic below, connected learning encompasses production-centred, openly networked learning, that is driven by interests and shared purpose and allows for collaboration and academic growth.

Connected Learning (Connected Learning, 2013).

Connected Learning (Connected Learning, 2013).

The Connected Learning Framework below demonstrates the ability of connected learning to allow students to look outwards from curricula and create and build connections naturally, based on their interests.  With educators both guiding and modelling connected learning, there is much potential to provide learning that is lifeready and lifeworthy and conducive to the digital age.

Connected Learning Framework (Ito, et. al., 2013, p. 12).

Connected Learning Framework (Ito, et. al., 2013, p. 12).

The video below provides an authentic example of connected learning in practice. The combination of a student demonstrating the notion of expert amateurism combined with connected learning principles in this example attests to the power of learning that is both lifeready and lifeworthy.

Conclusion

The highly networked society of the digital age means that students are coming to school indoctrinated by our culture of lifelong learning, and if we are not careful, will be met with out-dated models of teaching and learning that do not promote engagement of lifeready and lifeworthy learning.  By foregrounding the way we learn in the digital age, rather than focusing on knowledge attainment and expertise alone, and embracing concepts such as expert amateurism and connected learning in our teaching practice, we will provide our students with the skills and ability to continue learning in their life beyond school.  We must begin to turn away from traditional hierarchical structures of education that could be seen to value what was already prescribed and valued knowledge and focus on building skills in learning that prepares students for learning in the world they are likely to live (Starkey, 2011, p. 19).  Siemansarticulates learning in the digital age as, “a process that occurs within nebulous environments of shifting core elements – not entirely under the control of the individual. Learning… can reside outside of ourselves (within an organization or a database), is focused on connecting specialized information sets, and the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing” (2004, para. 23).  As educators, if we begin to explore the notions of expert amateurism and connected learning in our classrooms, we will be well on the way to meeting the needs of digital age learning.  If we continue to value the hierarchical practices of traditional education that value knowledge attainment alone, without evolving to more networked structures  promoting transferable knowledge and skills, we will not ensure that we are preparing students for lifeready and lifeworthy learning necessary of the digital age. We must begin to embrace a culture of learning indicative of twenty-first century practices in the digital age so that we are preparing students for their future, and not the future we thought they would have.

Reference List

Bocconi, S., Kampylis, P. G., & Punie, Y. (2012). Innovating learning: Key elements for developing creative classrooms in Europe. Joint Research Centre–Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. European Commission. Publications Office of the European Union: Luxembourg. doi: 10, 90566.

Cantrill, C., Filipiak, D., Garcia, A., Hunt, B., Lee, C., Mirra., O’Donnell-Allen, C., & Peppler,  K.  (2014).  Teaching in the connected learning classroom (ed. A. Garcia).  Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Connected Learning.  (2013).  Connected learning infographic [Image].  Retrieved fromhttp://connectedlearning.tv/infographic

Connected Learning Alliance.  (2014).  Connected learning: The power of making learning relevant [Video file].  Retrieved from
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quYDkuD4dMU

Ericsson.  (2012, October 19).  The future of learning, networked society – Ericsson [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quYDkuD4dMU

Institute of Play.  (2013).  Charles Raben, 9th grade student at quest to learn [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/59098372

Ito, M., Guitierrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., Schor, J., Sefton-Green, J., & Craig Watkins, C. (2013).  Connected learning: an agenda for research and design.  Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Jarvis, P. (2009).  The Routledge international handbook of lifelong learning.  Hoboken: Taylor and Francis.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A.  (2014).  NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition.  Retrieved from New Media Consortium website http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

O’Connell, J.  (2015a).  INF530 Concepts and practices for a digital age: Module 1.3.  Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-249311-dt-content-rid-635329_1/courses/S-INF530_201530_W_D/module1/1_3_Trends_tech.html

O’Connell, J.  (2015b).  INF530 Concepts and practices for a digital age: Module 1.6.  Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-249311-dt-content-rid-635329_1/courses/S-INF530_201530_W_D/module1/1_6_Principles_connected_learning.html

Perkins, D.  (2014).  Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Redecker, C., Leis, M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P., Stoyanov, S. & Hoogveld, B.  (2011).  The future of learning: preparing for change.  Retrieved from http://dspace.ou.nl/bitstream/1820/4196/1/The%20Future%20of%20Learning%20-%20Preparing%20for%20Change.pdf

Seely Brown, J. & Duguid, P. (2000). Social life of information. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.<span “font-family:arial;mso-fareast-font-family:=”” “times=”” roman”;mso-ansi-language:en-au”=””>

Selwyn, N.  (2013).  Education in a digital world: Global perspectives on technology and education.  New York: Routledge.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from elearnspace website http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Starkey, L.  (2011).  Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education 20(1), 19-39. doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

Storm, S.  (2013, December 10).  #truth #tlap #COLchat :pic.twitter.com/vwd9lUjw3k [Tweet].  Retrieved from https://twitter.com/sstorm01/status/410233387987636225/photo/1

The Brainwaves Video Anthology.  (2014, May 5).  Alan November – who owns the learning? Preparing students for success in the digital age [Video file].  Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOAIxIBeT90

Thomas, D. & Seely Brown, J.  (2011).  A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change [Kindle version].  Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/New-Culture-Learning-Cultivating-Imagination-ebook/dp/B004RZH0BG/ref=sr_1_1_twi_2_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1432974655&sr=8-1&keywords=douglas+and+seely+brown+a+new+culture+of+learning

West, D. M. (2012).  Digital schools: How technology can transform education [EBL version].  Retrieved fromhttp://reader.eblib.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/(S(l1ttps5hfzo3orl3txdevkfo))/Reader.aspx?p=967462&o=476&u=aIXo0ZBzSmXukM8fp%2fN7GA%3d%3d&t=1432971270&h=423E42B21547D82EE9EE051B312973CF2B315A45&s=36581639&ut=1443&pg=1&r=img&c=-1&pat=n&cms=-1&sd=2#

A Reading List for Digital Citizenship in Secondary Schools

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A recent university assignment investigating Digital Citizenship in Education studied in the Masters course, Knowledge networks and digital innovation, being studied through Charles Sturt University (CSU) required students to assess digital citizenship needs within their school environments and make recommendations for future directions. One element of the task was to prepare an annotated bibliography of essential reading for college leadership teams. This is the bibliography prepared by Helen Stower and myself.  It contains some excellent resources for anyone considering digital citizenship priorities for secondary schools.

Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority. (2015). General capabilities in the Australian curriculum. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/overview/general-capabilities-in-the-australian-curriculum

When considering the policy and procedures needed for a DLE, it is imperative to consider the concept of digital citizenship and how this will be managed and taught within the school in question, as this will directly influence the behaviour of staff and students online. The transition from analogue to digital classrooms places great pressure on educators to be aware of the behaviours of their students in digital and globally connected environments and, while constant monitoring of these behaviours is almost impossible, providing them with guidelines and models of how to interact in such environments will assist them in having successful learning experiences online. Consequently, it is imperative that educators and administrators become familiar with the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum as they provide insight into how aspects of digital citizenship can be incorporated across disciplines in a school environment. On this website, beyond the obvious links to digital citizenship and technology use in the ICT Capability, reading the information associated with the capabilities of Ethical Behaviour, Personal and Social Competence and Intercultural Understanding are of particular worth, as they have considerable implications for digital citizenship. The social nature of DLEs in online environments is relevant to the capability of Ethical Behaviour as students must ensure they are aware of the impact their behaviours can have on others and manage this accordingly. This also has relevance to the capabilities of Intercultural Understanding and Personal and Social Competence as students become aware of the differences between cultures in a DLE and be able to act appropriately and ethically in response to this. The General Capabilities must be considered when preparing policy and procedures for a DLE as teachers in Australia are expected to address and assess these across all learning areas.

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Kelowna, B.C.: 21st Century Fluency Project.

Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age focuses on identifying the learning environments necessary to facilitate digital learning and methods for implementing these. The authors, Lee Crockett, Ian Jukes and Andrew Churches have authored and co-authored several books, articles and blogs that focus on educating students to thrive in a time of exponential change. The central argument of this book is that the information landscapes of the 21st century require a shift in the way we teach and evaluate learning. The purpose of this book is to provide an impetus to initiate change and is best used to stimulate questions that challenge traditional pedagogical methods and structures with a focus on relevancy for contemporary learning. The first three chapters build the authors’ argument and the remaining chapters outline a core set of ‘fluencies’ (solution fluency, information fluency, creativity fluency, media fluency, collaboration fluency and global digital citizenship) and provide tools for teachers to use in order to develop lesson plans, create assessment tools and reflect upon professional practice.

Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village. TechTrends, 55(4), 37-48. Retrieved March 28, 2015.

Providing an overview of the issues schools need to consider as they set in place the policies and procedures necessary to establish a digital learning environment must address digital citizenship. The article, Digital citizenship in K-12: It takes a village, argues that student guidance in this area is essential in order to develop a society that is, “defined by effective attitudes and practices in digital decision making, ethical and legal issues, online safety, customer security, consumer security, and technology related health issues” (p.37). The authors qualifications in the field of education and a significant reference list are provided to validate the reliability of their research. The strength of this article is that it articulates all of the stakeholders involved in establishing a shared vision for digital learning priorities in schools. The article also provides evidence of the need to embed digital citizenship into curriculum and suggested methods for achieving this. It repeatedly argues that administrators and teachers need to be role models of digital citizenship as it is impossible to understand the behaviours and mindsets associated with online engagement unless they themselves are participants in the digital world, and this makes it a worthwhile read for college leadership teams.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2015). ISTE Standards. Retrieved May 14, 2015, from http://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) provide a set of standards that are useful guidelines for the skills, knowledge and processes needed by students, teachers, administrators, coaches and computer science educators to succeed in the digital age. These standards were developed between 2007 and 2011 and are a very good framework for best practice strategies and an essential resource for establishing digital learning environments. ISTE’s goal is to, “empower all learners in a connected world” and they provide an international conference, website resources, and professional learning communities to achieve their vision. The standards are accessed via the ISTE website, where educators can find connected resources such as the Essential conditionsfor technology integration and Standards in action which are examples of educators enacting the standards in classroom settings. ISTE’s work is based on peer-reviewed research on effective learning and teaching with technology and is edited by people with expertise in the field of education.

Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robison, A. J., & Weigel, M. (2006). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century [White paper]. Retrieved from MacArthur Foundation website http://digitallearning.macfound.org/atf/cf/%7B7E45C7E0-A3E0-4B89-AC9C-E807E1B0AE4E%7D/JENKINS_WHITE_PAPER.PDF.

Sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation, Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century, investigates the roles of schools in helping students acquire the skills they need to become full participants in society. The key argument of this paper is that the digital divide between those who will succeed in twenty-first (21st) century futures and those that will be left behind is determined not by access to technology but by access to opportunities to participate and develop the cultural competencies and social skills necessary in new media landscapes. The paper is thoroughly referenced and the principal author is Henry Jenkins, the Director of Comparative Media Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Executive Summary of the paper provides a succinct overview of why schools require policy and pedagogy shifts to focus on building participatory cultures. The remainder of the paper provides explanations of each of the skills required for participation and strategies for building these new media literacies.

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., & Freeman, A. (2014). NMC horizon report: 2014 K-12 edition. Retrieved from New Media Consortium website http://cdn.nmc.org/media/2014-nmc-horizon-report-k12-EN.pdf

Perhaps one of the most valuable resources for administrators and educators considering the implementation of Digital Learning Environments, the New Media Consortium Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 edition, provides a well-researched overview of emerging technologies likely to impact teaching and learning in schools over a five year period. This report covers the three main areas of: key trends, significant challenges and important developments predicted.   Crucial considerations for the digital age, such as rethinking the role of teachers, the safety of student data and hybrid learning designs are discussed in depth throughout this report and curated links to further reading and practical examples of how these concepts are applied to school settings are given for each area. What is also unique about the Horizon Report is that all of the background materials involved in the report, including research data and preliminary selections, can be downloaded for free on iTunes U. Often as educators we are exposed to research about new technology and pedagogical trends with little evidence of how they may impact our policies and practice, however refreshingly, the Horizon Report discusses the implications for policy, leadership and practice for each of the trends identified. When considering the policies and procedures necessary for a DLE, this report provides essential reading as it provides insight into thetechnology, skills and support that will be needed to remain current in teaching and learning in the digital age.

Ribble, M. (2011). Digital Citizenship in Schools : Nine Elements All Students Should Know (2nd Edition). Eugene, OR, USA: ISTE. Retrieved from http://www.ebrary.com

Digital Citizenship in Schools: Nine Elements All Students Should Know is the work of Mike Ribble and offers an overview of the behaviours, mindsets and skills necessary for successful participation in a digital society. Following this overview, Ribble provides a framework and lesson guides for schools developing digital learning environments that necessitate digital citizenship education. For the purposes of this research task, Section 3: Creating a digital citizenship program is particularly useful for identifying the digital learning issues affecting education. The structure of the book allows easy access for educators to use sections and chapters on an‘as needs’ basis, and as such, provides a useful reference source. Ribble’s qualifications support the reliability of this source and include: the attainment of a Doctor of Education, authoring a number of works (books and journal articles) on digital citizenship education published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and a position as District Director of Technology. Chapter 2: the nine elements of digital citizenship is recommended for school leadership teams to become familiar with the areas encompassed in responsible, appropriate behaviour with regards to technology use.

School Technology Branch, Alberta Education. (2012). Digital citizenship policy development guide. Retrieved from Alberta Education website http://education.alberta.ca/media/6735100/digital%20citizenship%20policy%20development%20guide.pdf

The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide published by Alberta Education acts as a guide for educators and administrators who are looking to establish a digital citizenship policy within their institution. Structured around Ribble’s research on digital citizenship, this document provides an overview of digital citizenship policies and practices while drawing from relevant school-based research. Although set in an American context with examples taken from schools in Alberta, the structuring of this guide around Ribble’s Nine (9) Elements of Digital Citizenship makes it relevant to educational institutions universally. The key purpose of this guide is to provide guidance in policy development to ensure the protection of students working in digital learning environments. While the introduction of this publication alone is essential reading in its definition and explanation of the relevance of digital citizenship in schools, each one of the nine (9) elements of digital citizenship are explored in relation to student and educator considerations, organisational requirements and policy considerations through Chapter Four (4). Although the laws discussed in this resource are applicable only to readers in Alberta, the application of digital citizenship policy to these laws provides brilliant precedent and discussions that could be applied to any educational organisation, regardless of its location. This resource is an excellent starting point for readers investigating policies and procedures applicable to Digital Learning Environments as it links relevant twenty-first (21st) century learning standards such as the ISTE NETs for students, teachers and administrators to digital citizenship frameworks. Of particular relevance to education administrators looking to create policies and procedures relevant to DLEs, is Chapter Five (5) Digital Citizenship Process and A Road Map, which draws together policy, outcomes, leadership and stakeholder involvement. The Digital Citizenship Policy Development Guide was particularly useful when conducting this environmental scan report as it assisted in modelling how frameworks and research can be mapped to establish relevant policy and discussed issues that may be pertinent to a DLE, such as cloud computing and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT).

West, M., & Vosloo, S. (2013). UNESCO policy guidelines for mobile learning. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002196/219641e.pdf

Developed in consultation with education experts from a range of over twenty countries, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning provides essential guidelines related to embedding ICTs in school policies and procedures. Aimed particularly at policy-makers and administrators, the document recognises that all new policies within a school must consider the opportunities afforded by mobile technology and digital environments. Thus, these guidelines assist readers in understanding the benefits of mobile and digital technology and how they can be incorporated to improve teaching and learning. The chapter entitled Policy Guidelines for Mobile Learning starting on page twenty-nine (29) of the report, assists administrators and policy-makers in understanding and taking-action to include mobile learning in their policies and procedures, including areas such as teacher training and support, optimising educational experiences for students and advocating for safe, responsible and healthy use of mobile technologies. This section also highlights practices that should be examined, avoided and provided in policies and procedures, allowing educators to consider how this would affect a DLE in their own school environment. Therefore, this document is integral reading when considering the policies and procedures needed for a DLE in a school environment.

Zellweger Moser, F. (2007). Faculty adoption of educational technology.Educause Quarterly, 30(1), 66-69. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM07111.pdf

Zellweger Moser’s research entitled Faculty Adoption of Education Technology provides an in-depth examination of the ways in which technological support provided by the employing institution can influence teaching staff when integrating technology in their teaching and learning. Although Zellweger Moser’s research was undertaken in higher education facilities, it includes several considerations applicable to teaching staff in both primary and secondary environments. Figure One (1) entitled, Faculty Educational Technology Adoption Cycle on page sixty-six (66), is an adoption cycle proposed by the author that incorporates factors such as time commitment, competence development and student feedback that are likely to impact upon teacher adoption of technology use and digital environment s. On page sixty-eight (68) of the document Table One (1)Negative Educational Technology Adoption Scenario and Figure Two (2) Faculty eLearning Behaviour and Support, address the issues identified in this environmental scan report of staff preparedness and buy-in and the role of senior and middle management in supporting a DLE. Zellweger Moser’s finding that level of support given to teaching staff when adopting technology and DLEs significantly influences the success of such initiatives cannot be ignored in the policies and procedures of an intended DLE.

Image Attribution

Nominalize, Social Media Blocks Blogger Linkedin Facebook, Public Domain

Getting Started with Digital Citizenship: Social Media and Networking

Social media and networking present the perfect platforms to encourage collaborative an co-operative perspectives through technology use. It is our role as educators to embrace these in our learning so that we can model, participate in and extend this opportunity to our students. The first step in this process as educators is to become digital citizens and connected learners ourselves, so that we can effectively and successfully extent this opportunity to our students.

The interactive infographic below provides a bank of resources for educators to use as a guide when their begin their journey as connected learners, exploring digital citizenship through social media and networking.

Click on the image to interact with the resources via Thinglink

Scholarly Book Review – ‘Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World’ by David Perkins

futurewise

Perkins, D. (2014). Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

 It is an interesting time in the world of teaching and learning. The digital age has catapulted us into an era we were not quite ready for and many educators are holding on by the ‘skin of their teeth’, struggling to achieve pedagogical practices and curriculum worthy of twenty-first century learning (Burgess, 2012, loc. 103; Marzano, 2007, loc. 33; Price, 2013, p. 20). The relevance and currency of our traditional teaching and learning methods have been debated in numerous spheres and countless movements in education are recognising the need for transformation in the ways we teach and learn to cope with the ubiquitous connectivity and information overload of our students (Costa & Kallick, 2009; Crockett, Jukes & Churches, 2011; Gardner, 2006; Hattie & Yates, 2014). What constitutes our learning ecology has become incredibly difficult to articulate and, with information available at the click of a button, anywhere and everywhere, we are beginning to see our learning frameworks and pedagogies transform into those that boast twenty-first century skills, future-proof learning and technological integration (Seely Brown, 2010, p.12). It seems however, that while there is much literature to support the betterment of teaching and learning in the world of continuous transformation, we often overlook what is perhaps the most important consideration, that is, the question raised by David Perkins in Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World (2014), what is actually worth knowing, learning and understanding for a student of the digital age? Consideration of this question, while incredibly broad in scope, provides an important starting point in our quest as educators to reimagine education in contemporary society. While we can transform the way we teach and reconsider how we learn in the twenty-first century, if we do not stop to determine the relevancy of what is worth learning, we could be missing the point of learning completely. It is this factor that makes Perkins’ discussion in Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World pertinent for all educators of the digital age. This review will provide an overview of the key themes of Perkin’s dialogue around what is worth learning and analyse and compare this discussion to relevant scholarly literature in the field. Limited in that Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World does not answer its overarching question of ‘what is worth learning’, what it does provide is an essential toolkit of ideas for all educators to contemplate as we work to revolutionise perhaps one of the most fundamental yet often marginalised considerations of education in the twenty-first century; is what students are learning in school likely to matter in the lives they are likely to live?

Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World is founded in the research and work of David Perkins, Research Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A founding member of Harvard’s Project Zero, a research and development institute at Harvard, Perkins boasts an extensive body of work focused on teaching and learning over his lifetime, including collaborations with notable contemporaries such as Howard Gardner and Veronica Boix Mansilla. Traditionally, David Perkins adopts a social constructivist epistemology in his work, and this also underpins many of the themes in Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World. Qualitative in nature, the content of Perkins’ book is based around experiential narratives and analysis from his years as a teacher, lecturer and researcher, and compiles a body of ideas and discussion to support well-grounded prior research by Perkins and other experts in the field. While intended to inspire educators to take the first step towards reimaging the curriculum offered in our complex and ever-changing world, the style of this book makes it accessible not only to educators, but also other parties such as parents, students and policy-makers invested in thinking about the currency of what is learnt in schooling systems. As admitted by Perkins in his introduction, the scope of ‘what’s worth learning’ is incredibly broad and almost impossible to answer, thus, instead of attempting to answer the question, Perkins offers what he articulates are better ways of thinking about what’s worth learning for most people in school (2014, p.4). This is one of the strengths of the book, as readers are given the opportunity to embrace and reflect on the wisdom offered through the ‘try this’ activities scattered throughout and the comprehensive ‘reimagining education’ analysis located at the end of each chapter. Through his ‘reimaging education’ sections, Perkins assists learners to keep track of the ideas developed in each chapter as he provides analysis under four main quests: “identifying learning in contrast with not-so-lifeworthy learning”; “choosing what lifeworthy learning to teach from the many possibilities”; “teaching for lifeworthy learning in ways that make the most of it”; and “constructing a lifeworthy curriculum” (2014, p.25). Cleverly, these sections allow the readers to transfer their newfound knowledge into understandings through examination of practical and relevant examples, a concept discussed by Perkins as essential for learning that is future-proof.

Debate over what constitutes learning has been historically concerned with how knowledge is constructed and transferred to understandings in the mind of the learner (Dewey, 1910, p.44; Forman & Kuschner, 1977, p.84; von Glaserfeld, 1989, p.128). In Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World, Perkins emphasises the importance of knowledge construction and transference through his assertion that the learning we offer students must not only be ‘lifeworthy’- “likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live” (2014, p. 8), but also ‘lifeready’ – “ready to pop up on appropriate occasions and help make sense of the world” (2014, p. 24). This assertion echoes the work of academics such as Seely Brown, who suggests that knowledge is made up of a combination of explicit and tactic dimensions which, when applied together, constitute learning (2000, p. 15), and Bruner, who suggests that learning involves interconnection between both explicit and practical knowledge, leading to enculturation (1960, p.14). With this in mind, Perkins raises an issue worthy of consideration for educators when he asserts that the learning that has traditionally occurred in our school systems risks redundancy, as the knowledge students are attaining becomes increasingly irrelevant, and consequently, inapplicable to the lives they are likely to lead in the digital age (2014, p.7). Interestingly this notion furthers the work of early educational theorist John Dewey, who warned that, “only in education, never in the life of farmer, sailor, merchant, physician, or laboratory experimenter, does knowledge mean primarily a store of information aloof from doing” (1916, p.185). Nearly a century later, this notion forms the foundation of Future Wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World, as Perkins acknowledges the growing trend in teachers wanting to push the boundaries of what is taught in their classroom to make learning more relevant to the lives their students are likely to lead (2014, p.2). In response to this Perkins identifies ‘six beyonds’ that he proposes collectively represent the growing concerns among educators when considering how to prepare learners for our contemporary world. The beyonds cover going beyond: basic skills – twenty-first century skills and dispositions; the traditional disciplines – renewed, hybrid, and less familiar disciplines; discrete disciplines – interdisciplinary topics and problems; regional perspectives – global perspectives, problems, and studies; mastering content – learning to think about the world with the content; and prescribed content – much more choice of what to learn (2014, p.2). It is contemplation and adoption of these beyonds that Perkins alleges will force educators and their systems to revise the knowledge necessary for lifeworthy and lifeready learning and successfully prepare learners for their unknown future (2014, p.8).

In the shift from the industrial age, through the knowledge age and into the constantly evolving digital age, the world that students are exposed to has become considerably larger. Where learning has conventionally involved knowledge attainment, Perkins asserts that this no longer aligns with the connected and networked environment of today’s world (2014, p.40). The traditional educational goals of knowledge and content attainment have become ineffective in preparing students for life outside of school as our globalised, networked world has quickly devalued much remembered information (2014, p.43). This has created what Perkins deems the ‘small world paradox’, that is, as our ability to connect and interact with worlds beyond the classroom becomes a norm in learning, our collective worlds become smaller, making the worlds we engage with individually more numerous and complex (2014, p.46). This is reiterated by scholars such as Trilling and Fadel who fear that, “the potential for information overload, distraction, and analysis paralysis when facing demands for attention from too many sources – ranging from well-informed and reliable to woefully uninformed and even deliberately misleading – is high” (2009, p.17). Hence, Perkins’ recommendation that instead of foregrounding specialised disciplinary knowledge, education should value building expert amateurism in its learners, that is, learners who are able to understand and apply basics from individual disciplines across and outwards to other areas (2014, p.38). This is not to diminish the more quantified knowledge needed for further study in specialised areas, however, Perkins suggests that, particularly at a middle school level, “the expertise agenda in basic education skews learning toward advanced technical content not helpful to most learners in the lives they are likely to live” (2014, p.47). Perkins is not lessening the importance of discipline specific knowledge, however in building on the ideas of educational evangelists such as Sir Ken Robinson, he is challenging educators to reevaluate whether this knowledge is relevant to the lives all learners in school are likely to live (Robinson, 2001). Perkins suggests that through ‘smart sampling’ of curriculum we needed to provide learning and knowledge that promotes big questions and big understandings, allowing students to use their expert amateur knowledge to connect with the ever-changing world around them as needed. His following discussion on the relevance of hybrid curriculum, cross topics and analysis of twenty-first century frameworks (or ‘big know-how’), makes Perkins’ book particularly pertinent, as it becomes apparent that focusing on what is worth learning needs to come before faddish innovations in technology, pedagogy and processes of learning (2014, p.220).

While providing a toolkit of important considerations for learning in the twenty-first century, refreshingly, Future wise: Educating our Children for a Changing World does not make the assertion that there is one right answer in transforming the education offered to students. Rather, Perkins’ motivations in this book are best articulated through his request that we as educators think about what application the learning in our first twelve years of education has had on our lives today. More often than not, Perkins avows, it was the knowledge and skills we acquired that allowed us to create big understandings across topics and disciplines and provided relevance along the way to greater wisdom in the lives we have and will continue to lead. David Perkins has authored a book grounded in relevant research that collates, analyses and discusses current educational debates about what is worth learning in the digital age, delivering better ways for us to think about how to answer this question. While readers may find Perkins’ content and ideas unsettling, this is what makes his work so efficacious; if we as educators are not thinking about the relevance of content, knowledge and curricula offered in our teaching and learning, we are not providing the best possible learning for our students.

Reference List

Bruner, J. S. (1960). The process of education. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Burgess, D. (2012). Teach like a pirate: Increase student engagement, boost your creativity and transform your life as an educator [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Like-PIRATE-Engagement-Creativity-ebook/dp/B009V9RQNU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

Costa, A. L., & Kallick, B. (2009). Habits of mind across the curriculum: Practical and creative strategies for teachers. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Dewey, J. (1910). How we think. Boston: DC Heath.

Dewey, J. (1916). Democracy and education: An introduction to the philosophy of education. New York: MacMillan.

Forman, G., & Kuschner, D. (1977). The child’s construction of knowledge. Belmont, Calif: Wadworth Co.

Gardner, H. (2006). Five minds for the future. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Hattie, J., & Yates, G. C. (2014). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Routledge.

Marzano, R. J. (2007). The art and science of teaching: A comprehensive framework for effective instruction [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Art-Science-Teaching-Comprehensive-Professional-ebook/dp/B00ARIH166/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1429145584&sr=1-1&keywords=the+art+and+science+of+teaching

Perkins, D. (2014). Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.

Price, D. (2013). OPEN: How we’ll work, live and learn in the future. Crux Publishing Ltd.

Robinson, K. (2011). Out of our minds: Learning to be creative. Oxford: Capstone.

Seeley Brown, J. (2000). Growing up: Digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 32(2), 11-20. doi: 10.1080/00091380009601719

Trilling, B. & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: learning for life in our times. John Wiley & Sons.

von Glaserfeld, E. (1989). Cognition, construction of knowledge, and teaching. Synthese80 (1), 121-140. doi: 10.1007/BF00869951.

‘Lifeready’ and ‘Lifeworthy’ Learning: Going Beyond the Traditional

Learning 'beyond' the Traditional

Learning ‘beyond’ the Traditional

“Only in education, never in the life of farmer, sailor, merchant, physician, or laboratory experimenter, does knowledge mean primarily a store of information aloof from doing” – John Dewey (1916, p. 178).

We see this more than ever before in the digital age, our students question the worth of what is being taught in our classrooms and its relationship to the lives they are likely to live.  Of course, rapid advancements of technology, the emergence of the information society and the reality of information overload are instrumental in providing an even larger gap between traditional schooling and what students will actually need in their world outside of school, as educators struggle to keep up with this ever-changing landscape (Bawden & Robinson, 2012, p.243). But interestingly, we often hear students favour certain subjects such as Physical Education or Home Economics because of their ‘practical’ curriculum, and I’m wondering why this isn’t relevant to all disciplines.    David Christian when he writes about ‘big history’ provides an interesting contrast between humans and other primates.  Unlike creatures such as chimpanzees, humans are the only  beings that aren’t living the same lifestyle they were 100, 000 or even 500 years ago (2004).  Christian asserts that this is because of humans’ ability to learn collectively, or pass on relevant life-learning to others.  If this is the case in the ‘real-world’, why are we still witnessing educational systems that are preparing students to pass exams, yet unprepared to engage and prepare students for their life after school?

Our notions of knowledge and learning are slowly beginning to evolve.  As Starkey suggests, the digital age has lead us to gradually change our teaching and learning practices from focussing on knowledge attainment to more skill-based learning that promotes critical thinking, knowledge creation and learning through connections (2011, p 19).  While zeroing in on the skills necessary for learning in a constantly changing landscape is a positive step, I’m wondering if we need to go beyond this focus in order to ensure that our students are indulging their curiosity when they ask ‘what’s worth learning’, so that they can feel assured their learning in the classroom today is relevant to the future lives they are likely to live.

David Perkins in his book Future Wise: Educating Our Children for a Changing World presents 6 ‘Beyonds’ (below) that allow educators to push the boundaries of what is traditionally taught in school and consider the expanding universe of what’s worth learning.

David Perkins envisions the '6 Beyonds'

David Perkins envisions the ‘6 Beyonds’

When examining the 6 ‘Beyonds’ we can see that education in the digital age needs to cater for more than the acquisition of skills and  technology integration.  We must consider what constitutes our learning ecology and ‘go beyond’ the world of traditional education to ensure our students are prepared for learning that is ‘lifeworthy’ – “likely to matter in the lives learners are likely to live” (2014, loc 395), and ‘lifeready’ -“ready to pop up on appropriate occasions and help make sense of the world” (2014, loc 694).  This learning will only be possible when we consider learning collectives in networked environments, rather than learning in our traditional hierarchal classrooms.  This concept of ‘going beyond’ through our knowledge networks is one that I intend to consider further in my quest to determine ‘what’s worth learning‘ in the digital age.

Reference List

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L.  (2012).  Information society.  In Introduction to information science (pp. 231-249).  London: Facet.

Christian, D.  (2004).  Maps of time: An introduction to big history. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Dewey, J. (2004). Democracy and education. Courier Corporation. Retrieved from https://books.google.com.au/books?hl=en&lr=&id=19ajcXf4MCYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=democracy+and+education+john+dewey&ots=lHuy9APfA8&sig=sldDeyZPnAOd590fTO02V656F8o#v=onepage&q=democracy%20and%20education%20john%20dewey&f=false

Open white door floating plaster wall, . [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
http://quest.eb.com/search/165_3338382/1/165_3338382/cite

Perkins, D. (2014).  Future wise: Educating our children for a changing world [Kindle edition].  Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Future-Wise-Educating-Children-Changing/dp/1118844084

Perkins, D.  (2013, July).  The 6 Beyonds [Image].  Paper presented at Future of Learning.  Retrieved from http://futureoflearningpz.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Educating-for-the-unknown-FOL-2013-07.pdf

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st Century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy And Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Who ‘Owns’ Digital Citizenship?

pointingfinger

Secondary educators are big on ownership.  We all ‘own’ our particular specialty, role or discipline and it becomes difficult for us to fathom stepping outside of this.  We know where to go or who to see when we need something.  For example, we have  Curriculum Leaders who ‘own’ their specialist discipline, Librarians who ‘own’ information access, and Deputy Principals who ‘own’ student behaviour and learning directions. Of course, what I mean by ownership is managing, leading or taking responsibility for a particular area within the school.

Early definitions of Digital Citizenship were quick to attribute ownership of the concept to technology specialists such as eLearning Managers and Instructional Designers, and this is understandable when we take the work of those such as Ribble, who prescribed Digital Citizenship as, “a concept, which helps teachers, technology leaders, and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately” (2010, p.1). In 2015 however, the concept of Digital Citizenship has evolved so much that technology use forms just one part of it, we must also consider the need for digital citizens to integrate the use  of technology seamlessly and effectively as part of their learning ecology. This then involves digital citizens being digitally literate,  participatory, collaborative and able to master the unknown as it presents itself.    Subsequently, if we refer to Digital Citizenship as digitally belonging to, benefiting from and participating in a collective where certain rights and responsibilities need to be upheld, it becomes clear that, apart from the physical and digital realms, there is no real difference between civil or digital citizenship.  Thus, the responsibility or ownership of Digital Citizenship in our school settings becomes problematic which raises cause for concern, particularly in our current climate where we are educating students in a world that dictates digital participation as  a prerequisite for successful advancement in society.

The problem seems to lie in the fact that many educators believe Digital Citizenship education involves providing students with the knowledge and skills to interact and engage in digital learning environments.  My questions is, how can we do this adequately as educators, if we do not hold this same knowledge and ability?  The answer is that we can’t.  If we are to teach Digital Citizenship to our students, this involves also, “transforming [ourselves] into professional[s] who can effectively research technology trends, monitor the uses of technology, avoid the fear factor and model legal wisdom, in order to make vibrant learning opportunities for all” (Lindsay, 2014). Thus, while  the responsibility for Digital Citizenship in schools may have initially been seen as one for media specialists or eLearning managers, it becomes apparent that this will be ineffective if the ownership falls to these departments alone.  Each individual educator must take responsibility for owning, modelling and practicing Digital Citizenship so that they can participate as active citizens in our digital world.

This is why we can’t place the ownership of Digital Citizenship on one particular faculty in our schools, all educators are obliged to take control of this in their professional practice and teaching and learning.  In their article Informal Learning and Identity Formation in Online Social Networks, Greenhow and Robelia suggest that while our students are more than able to use, participate in and master online applications such as social networking sites, they were both unaware of and lacking in the ethical and legal knowledge needed to understand interactions on these sites (2009, p.135). Alarmingly, Greenhow and Robelia  suggest that, “such ill-formed and only partial understandings of [students] rights and responsibilities in semipublic online spaces, especially with respect to legal issues of copyright and fair use, mirror the lack of understanding on the part of educators who are supposed to model digital citizenship behaviours” (2009, p.135). Similarly, Lindsay and Davis assert that often digital citizenship becomes problematic when individual teachers lack the understanding and skills necessary to integrate and utilise technology effectively in their own practice, leading to a climate where, “respect for student ability to manage and improve their digital citizenship is not always present, sometimes due to an inability of the teacher to manage and understand his or her own online and digital life in a rapidly changing world” (2013, p.111).

Digital Citizenship is a concept that reaches across disciplines, contexts and ability-levels and one that is equally as important for educators as it is for students.  Consequently, we can’t expect our students to be successful digital citizens, if we do not take ownership of it personally, and model and practice it in our own learning ecologies.  Digital Citizenship must be ‘owned’ by every educator of the twenty-first century – not just those of us who are ‘technologically able’.

Reference List

A young man pointing finger. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
http://quest.eb.com/search/115_3953868/1/115_3953868/cite

Greenhow, C., & Robelia, B. (2009).  Informal learning and identity formation in online social networks.   Learning, Media and Technology, 34(20), 119-140.  doi: 10.1080/17439880902923580

Lindsay, J.  (2005).  ETL523 Digital citizenship in schools: Module 1.2 [course materials].  Retrieved from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-270076-dt-content-rid-635861_1/courses/S-ETL523_201530_W_D/module1/1_2_Dig_citizen_educators.html

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. A. (2013).  Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: move to global collaboration one step at a time.  Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.

Ribble, M. (2010) Welcome to the digital citizenship website. Retrieved from http:// http://www.digitalcitizenship.net

What’s Worth Learning?

chromebook

Embracing the new age of search literacy!

What’s worth learning? A big question I realise, and one that continues to perplex me in an age where we can find all of the information we need at the click of a button.  It is easy to see why students are becoming disengaged in the classroom, with teaching practices that stem from our first real educational revolution of the eighteenth century still rife in the twenty-first century. We know the notion of education should change in our modern society, but we are yet to articulate successfully exactly what it takes to produce learners who are ‘future-proof’ and adequately prepared for a life of constant learning and change.

18th Century and Modern Classrooms

Is there a difference between eighteenth century and modern day classrooms?

Crockett, Jukes and Churches articulate the disconnect between school and real life in their book Literacy is Not Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age’ when they mention their experience with a school principal at an international educational conference describing his students who were top performers academically in the TIMS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) as unable to, “think their way out of a wet paper bag if their life depended upon it.  They’re nothing but highly educated useless people” (2011, loc 155).  This example hits the nail on the head when it comes to describing the students we are creating in our current educational system full of standardised testing and ‘one-size-fits-all’ assessment.  If we are to continue teaching our students to become dependent on knowing only what they need to pass a test, they will continue to struggle when they make the transition from school life to the real world of the twenty-first century where, “their success in work, life, and play will greatly depend on their ability to interpret and apply old information and new alike to new situations, problems and environments” (Crockett, et al., 2011, loc 205).

bookinferior

What concerns me is that the technological age has played a large role in driving the need for change in education, yet we have become complacent in thinking that simply handing students technology will make them twenty-first century learners.  When we give students a device with Internet connection, we give them the possibility of becoming connected, participatory and personalised in their learning.

As is depicted in the picture to the left, the power of learning does not come from the device we are using. It comes when we guide our students in building the skills, understandings, competencies and knowledge they need to use these devices to enhance their learning.

So with this in mind, ‘what is worth learning?’ becomes an important question for us to answer as educators.  What can we teach our students that will prepare them for successful life in the unknown, ever-changing world of infowhelm, where the technology we use and the contexts we work within today will be obsolete tomorrow?  This is one question that started me on my journey in ‘Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age‘ and one that I hope to begin to answer through my learning in the course, so that I can best prepare my students for realistic, ‘future-proof’ learning.

In the video below John Seely Brown introduces the notion of the ‘entrepreneurial learner’ – one that constantly adopts and adapts their practices to learn in a world of change and unlimited possibilities.

Our role as educators is no longer to simply transfer our knowledge to our students, it involves guiding them through learning and knowledge building when they are constantly bombarded with new contexts, ideas, literacies, information, technology and skills. My goal as both a teacher-librarian and classroom teacher is to continue to adopt and adapt what I do for my own professional growth and the guidance of other teachers, and to provide the best learning experiences for students by embracing entrepreneurial learning.

In this course I hope to ‘go beyond’ in my own learning to understand what exactly is worth learning, and consequently worth teaching in the world of infowhelm.  This will enable me to reimagine and reinvent the teaching and learning that happens in my classroom and provide realistic and future-proof experiences for each and every student I teach.

Reference List

Class Room. [Photographer]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
http://quest.eb.com/search/115_2675695/1/115_2675695/

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011). Literacy is not enough [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Literacy-NOT-Enough-Century-Fluencies-ebook/dp/B00NA1VQ1S/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1426395494

Elementary School Classroom. [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest.
http://quest.eb.com/search/139_1940125/1/139_1940125/

Elsom, J. [JasonElsom].  (2015, January 31).  Finally.. books have had their time [Tweet].  Retrieved from https://twitter.com/KatSchrav/status/561269413685387265

Galuga, L. [lisegaluga]. (2014, August 12). Embracing the new age of search literacy! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/KatSchrav/status/499330149884522497

Seely Brown, J. (2012, September 18). The global one room schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (highlights from JSB’s keynote at DML2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM#action=share