Educators, Social Media and Networking: A Serendipitous Relationship

“We need, first, to take charge of our own learning, and next, help others take charge of their own learning. We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general” (Downes, 2010, para 16).

The concept of socialisation in learning has long been acknowledged as essential to knowledge building and attainment in the field of education (Belbase, 2011, p.3; Cobb, 2005, p.41; Dewey, 1910; Perkins, 2009, p.7). In the Digital Age, as educators and students alike begin to favour models of connected learning over the static environment of the traditional classroom, socialisation in learning has begun to establish itself through the use of social media and networking applications, “a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content” (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010, pp. 61). These innovations and technological developments that allow for online collaboration and socialisation, enable us to expand our knowledge-building ecosystems and move away from the concept of the classroom teacher as the owner of all knowledge and information (Pink as citied in Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 177).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Moving away from traditional model of learning where the teacher acts as holder of all knowledge to a social, networked approach to learning where all participants are part of the learning process (Grout, 2013).

Thus as educators, whether we like it or not, we must embrace social media and networking within our own learning ecologies so that we can extend these learning opportunities to our students of the Digital Age. Just as businesses of the twenty-first century have been forced to up-skill and transform their business models to avoid losing currency, educators cannot ignore the pull of social media and networking to meet the natural drive of socialisation as these emerging technologies, “allow us to embrace the needs of changing workplace demographics and enable people of all ages to learn in ways that are comfortable and convenient for them” (Bingham & Conner, 2010, loc. 184). In echoing the sentiment of Downes when he suggests we must first take charge of our learning before assisting others with their learning, the time has come for educators to embrace social media and networking in their own learning so that they can benefit from, participate in and model this learning for both their peers and their students (2010, para. 16). Whereas traditional education has taught us that learning only happens in the classroom, the rise of social media and networking has proven that learning happens in a variety of ways and places beyond the classroom, opening doors for citizens in the digital age to be, “more effective, more knowledgeable, more energised, and more efficient as professional educators,” and ultimately, as learners (Whitaker, Zoul & Casas, 2015, loc. 205).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

Opening the door to learning beyond the classroom (Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest, 2015).

As Perkins suggests in Futurewise: Educating Our Children For A Changing World, 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 (Schravemade, 2015, para. 4).

What is different about teaching and learning using social media and networking is that we are working in environments that we cannot control. The traditional learning relationships we had with our peers and students took place in physical environments, however in the digital age, they are happening in front of an audience we cannot monitor, mandate or select. The notion of connected learning is not one we can learn from a textbook, it involves educators stepping out of their comfort zone and, not only reading or viewing the work of students, but adopting a mindset that places them in the position of learner as they participate in the processes involved with, not only their individual learning, but also that of their peers and students (Whitaker et al., 2015, loc. 248). If, “social learning happens using social media tools and through extended access and conversations with all our connections – in our workplaces, our communities, and online. It happens when we keep the conversation going on a blog rich with comments, through coaching and mentoring, or even during a workout at the gym,” as Bingham and Conner suggest in The New Social Learning: A Guide to Transforming Organizations Through Social Media, then we as educators must ourselves be comfortable with and understand how to participate in such environments (2010, loc. 340).

This is where teaching and learning using social media and networking constitutes a serendipitous relationship with educators. Piaget asserted that, “cognitive conflict created by social interaction is the locus at which the power driving intellectual development is generated” (Perret-Clermont, 1980, p. 12). In this sense, cognition is a collaborative process, and the mind of the learner creates meaning, knowledge and understanding through dialogue, interaction and conversation with others (Ernest, 1995). Research such as that by Bell, Grossen and Perret-Clermont (1985) affirms this social practice, as they assert that students who are actively engaged in working with their peers display greater cognitive growth than those working alone. This promotes the idea that, “personal experiences of individuals become social and collective experiences when they are shared, interacted, and retained as knowledge” (Belbase, 2011, p.3). It is essential then, that as educators we examine how our pedagogy encourages students to participate and be guided by others in their learning. In the twenty-first century, we must embrace trends in technological development such as social media and networking to provide learning experiences reflective of the Digital Age. It becomes innate for educators to continue their serendipitous relationship with socialisation in learning through the participatory culture that is social media and networking.

In the video below, Helen Haste articulates the collaborative nature of information gathering and knowledge development in the twenty-first century (2009).

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 extend this opportunity to our students. The interactive infographic ‘Getting Started With Digital Citizenship: Social Media and Networking’ shared in a previous post  provides a bank of resources for educators to use as a guide when they begin their journey as connected learners, exploring digital citizenship through social media and networking.

Reference List

Belbase, S. (2011). Radical versus social constructivism: dilemma, dialogue, and defense [Online Submission]. Retrieved from ERIC database. (ED525159).

Bell, N. Grossen, M. Perret-Clermont, A.N. (1985). Sociocognitive conflict and intellectual growth. In M.W. Berkowitz (Ed.), Peer conflict and psychological growth. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bingham, T., & Conner, M. (2010). The new social learning: A guide to transforming organizations through social media [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Social-Learning-Organizations/dp/1605097020

Cobb, P. (2005). Where is the mind? A coordination of sociocultural and cognitive constructivist perspectives. In C. Twomey Fosnot (Ed.), Constructivism: theory, perspectives and practice (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

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

Downes, S. (2010). A world to change. Huffpost Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html

Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. (2015). Open white door floating plaster wall [Photography]. Retrieved from Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest http://quest.eb.com/search/165_3338382/1/165_3338382/cite

Ernest, P. (1995). The one and the many. In L. P Steffe & J. Gale (Eds.), Constructivism in education (pp. 459-486). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Grout, M. (2013). Teaching strategies [Image]. Retrieved from https://prezi.com/y28yncf_uu4b/teaching-strategies/

Haste, H. (2009, June 25). Technology and youth: rethinking the landscape of education (part 4 of 4) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZt9rEnAvew

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of social media. Business Horizons, 53(1), 59–68. doi:10.1016/j.bushor.2009.09.003

Perkins, D. N. (2009). Making learning whole: How seven principles of teaching can transform education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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

Perret-Clermont, A. N. (1980). Social interaction and cognitive development in children. Academic Press.

Schravemade, K. (2015, March 29). ‘Lifeready’ and ‘Lifeworthy’ learning: go beyond the traditional [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://theprivateteacher.wordpress.com/2015/03/29/lifeready-and-lifeworthy-learning-going-beyond-the-traditional/

Whitaker, T., Zoul, J., & Casa, J. (2015). What connected educators do differently [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/What-Connected-Educators-Do-Differently-ebook/dp/B00ULQN564/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1428829250

Is your Library in the World of 2.0?

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The connectedness and interactivity of Web 2.0 challenges us to only change our behaviour online, but it always pushes schools and businesses to rethink they do to cater for clientele that are used to such fast-passed, click-of-the-button service.  One particular sector that has been under great pressure to alter or face redundancy is libraries.  School libraries especially are quickly realising they need to offer services to cater for the change in teaching and learning that has accompanied Web 2.0 as their users are preferring to visit Google and  other Internet services over the library catalogue, under the belief that the library can no longer meet their needs. Enter the notion of Library 2.0.

The video below published by UC Berkeley discusses the notion of Library 2.0 and flags several concepts for libraries to follow when ensuring their services reflect twenty-first century, digital age services.

Keynote speaker Meredith Farkas discusses Library 2.0 as building on the concept of Web 2.0 where instead of users being only viewers of information, they became active participants in the creation of information (UC Berkeley Events, 2007). Whereas our traditional libraries acted primarily as storehouses of information, they must now evolve to reflect societal and technological changes and reevaluate how to meet the needs of users in the world of the digital age. Perhaps the biggest change libraries can make to move into the world of 2.0 is embrace the notion that our services can no longer remain static, we must constantly alter what we do to reflect the world around us, whether we have yet perfected the service or not.

The video below created by myself and colleague Helen Stower provides one example of how our libraries can enter to the world of 2.0 and evolve to meet the needs of users.

As suggested by Farkas in her UC Berkeley address, libraries need to reimagine what they can offer in their spaces and how they can enter Web 2.0 and respond to the needs of our digital age users. This involves considering exactly who the users of library are, in the case of the Mount Alvernia iCentre, this meant altering services to not only consider the needs of students of the college but all learners; teachers, parents and the wider community.  After all, in the world of Library 2.0, access to the library becomes open to anyone with internet access, not just those who access the physical space.  If users can access Google and other information services from the comfort of their own home, why wouldn’t they want to access the services of their school library from the same place.  Hence, libraries that offer 2.0 services must allow for interaction with users  via websites and social media sites. The Slideshare below highlights some key considerations for school libraries to consider when altering their services from a Library 1.0 model to that of a 2.0 model.

http://www.slideshare.net/schrk/slideshelf

Most importantly, the biggest recommendation for libraries looking to enter the world of Library 2.0 is to dive and meet users where they are at, if we continue to sit back and wait for services in the digital age to become perfect and static, they will have changed before we have the chance to offer them in our spaces.

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Reference List

UC Berkeley Events.  (2007, November 19).  Building academic library 2.0 . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q_uOKFhoznI

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#

‘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

Shifting Perspectives and Global Competency as Keys to Learning

People often ask why I believe Inquiry learning is such an important approach and to be honest, this can be a really difficult question to answer persuasively in fifty words or less.  In fact, numerous educators have admitted to me that they knew about inquiry, could define inquiry but didn’t really have that lightbulb moment of understanding on the effectiveness or positives for adopting inquiry learning, until they used it in their classroom.  This is completely understandable as approaches to inquiry are so vast and broad-ranging that it can be difficult to articulate the foundation behind this concept in one fell swoop.

Recently, I was fortunate enough to listen to Veronica Boix Mansilla‘s keynote address on Global Competency at the Adolescent Success Asia Pacific Conference of Middle Schooling in Singapore.  Whether or not this was the intention of Mansilla’s keynote, this presentation provided for me one of the most persuasive arguments for inquiry learning and reminded me of exactly why inquiry is so integral in creating learners who are active participants in the  twenty-first century.

perspective

Essentially learning is about perspectives.  Students enter the classroom with a range of different understandings, knowledge and skills, i.e, a range of different perspectives.  Learning happens when our students investigate, challenge and add to these perspectives to create a shift in the perspective they had when they first walked into the classroom.  We want our students to take, use and understand perspectives in their learning as they build their own understandings, rethink what they ‘know’ and add to this.   We want our students to be future-proof learners and this involves ensuring that they are globally competent. Mansilla describes the concept of global competency in the video below:

It is easy to see how this notion of global competency relates to inquiry learning.  The essence of inquiry learning isn’t about simply answering questions, it’s about asking questions and taking action.  True inquiry doesn’t discriminate against discipline or subject area, instead it pushes students to challenge identities and perspectives through encouraging them to identify problems and issues that require investigation and act on these.  It is the understanding created and shifts in perspective that result from these investigations that ensures students are truly learning.

As a convert to the work of Project Zero, I look forward to examining Mansilla’s work further and strongly suggest the work of both Mansilla and fellow Project Zero researchers such as David Perkins as a great starting place for those interested in inquiry learning.

Creating a Tribe of Twitterians – Part 1

English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initi...

English: Tweeting bird, derived from the initial ‘t’ of Twitter Deutsch: Twitschervogel, entwickelt aus dem Anfangs-‘t’ von Twitter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Welcome to Part 1 in a series of posts about my experiences with Twitter in the classroom.. Happy reading!

Why Twitter?

There is much debate in the educational world at the moment regarding the use of Social Media as a teaching and learning tool in the classroom.  For a year or so now I have been using Twitter as part of my Professional Learning Network (PLN) and am overwhelmed at the collaborative opportunities this has created for me.  I have never been so up-to-date in my professional reading and am constantly altering my lessons to incorporate skills or resources that one of my peers has shared with me over Twitter.  Not only is this providing me access to great resources, but I am reading stories about what has and hasn’t worked for others and am able to adjust what I do and learn from their professional practice.  I have gained so much from my PLN on Twitter that I couldn’t stop wondering whether my students would benefit similarly. Of course, as with everything we do in the classroom, I stopped to consider whether or not Twitter would have a genuine purpose in the learning of my students and what I would gain (or lose) from using it as a teaching tool.  This lead me to evaluate the reasons why I wanted to use Twitter with my class (other than the fact that I was completely in love with it) and really stop and plan exactly how I would implement and control the usage of the tool with my students.

Currently I teach in the Middle Years and am with my year eight Integrated Studies (an Integration of English, Religion and Social Science based around the Inquiry process) class 10 times a week. As a Teacher-Librarian, I am  also involved in the Research and Technology subject that all Year Eights in the college take, focusing on ethical and responsible use of technology and creating a positive digital footprint.  As this is the students’ first step into secondary school, I believe that it is essential for me to build strong working relationships with these students, ensure they are comfortable in their learning and assist them in building relationships and collaborating with their peers.  Essentially, there were three main areas I believed Twitter would benefit their learning experience: relationship building, broadening the horizon of the classroom and collaboration.

 

Classroom Twitter Tree

Classroom Twitter Tree

Security

My main concern regarding Twitter was, of course, regarding privacy and controlling the information the students used and posted on the site. Obviously there is great concern regarding security and privacy when students are on Twitter and this is something educators need to really consider before embarking on any social media journeys with their students.  Firstly, it is impossible to control 100% of what your student’s post online so this is a mindset you need to get your head around before starting.  Secondly, Twitter, in my belief, is a social tool that can be used for professional purposes.  Thus, when I use Twitter with my students, they need to be aware that everything they post is potentially viewable by the whole world and should be completely professional.  Students are using Twitter to start creating their digital footprint, and as such, I would expect that this is something they would want to keep professional for the sake of possible employment and career opportunities.  It is important to discuss with students the difference between a personal and professional presence online.  Facebook is an ideal place to network personally with friends and family as the security settings make it possible to control who does and doesn’t see you posts, photos and status updates.  Twitter on the other hand, is limiting in the privacy of your account and who sees your page and tweets and thus, it not the best tool to use for personal networking.

Once you consider these factors, privacy and security shouldn’t be such a concern when using Twitter in the classroom, as long as students are aware that they are using Twitter for a professional purpose only.  This is something that needs to be explicitly discussed and modeled for students throughout the process.  Once you explain to students that their tweets and followers can be seen by anyone, particularly their teachers, parents and the school leadership team, they are very careful in assuring that their use of this is only professional.  This has been one of the biggest realisations for me in this process – ensuring students are clear on the purpose behind the learning and the tools they are using will ensure they respect and understand the boundaries that come with using these tools.  Of course, if you allow a student to sign up for Twitter without explaining the purpose of its use, you can expect that they will use it however they see fit, and this is what you want to avoid happening. Also, be aware that as the teacher, you should have a sound understanding of Twitter and its usage and be confident with this before embarking on this journey with your students.

Responsible Use Display

Responsible Use Display

 Considering Terms and Conditions 

The Twitter terms and conditions do not suggest an age limit for Twitter users however, by signing up for Twitter, the user is entering into a legal agreement, and thus, users under the age of 18 need parental permission in order to do this.  Ensure that you send a permission note home for parents before signing up to Twitter. In the letter I sent to parents, I discussed the importance of  modeling appropriate use of social networking to students and the benefits of learning in the Twitter environment.  If may be helpful to point parents and guardians in the direction of the Twitter rules and usage conditions as they are surprisingly complementary when considering intellectual property and the work of all users.  (My year 8 students had recently been made aware of image licensing and attribution in their Research and Technology lesson and I was pleased to see that this was mentioned as an essential consideration for all Twitter users.)

Interestingly, after sending letters home to a class of thirty students, I only had two concerns raised.  The first parent was concerned about their student using their full name and this is something that was easily addressed (see section on setting up accounts).  The second parent was concerned that their student had learning difficulties and would be difficult to monitor on Twitter.  This same parent was also wondering whether Tweeting with only 140 characters really had any educational benefits.  Now, I completely understand that a parent of a student with learning difficulties would not want their student to use Twitter, however, I did believe it was important to ensure the parent understood the benefits of using Twitter, and realised that this was not something we were simply using in school because it was in fashion.  After sending an email home further explaining the benefits and learning opportunities of Twitter, the parent changed their mind and the student was allowed to begin using Twitter with strict rules in place regarding who they could follow and their tweets.  It is understandable that parents will be concerned about their students in an online and public environment, however, a lot of these concerns come from not having a clear understanding of how Twitter is used.  This is easily overcome by presenting the parents with relevant, well-researched information and ensuring that your use of Twitter in class really does have purpose.

Signing Up

After receiving the ‘all clear’ from the parents of students in my class, we were almost ready to sign-up and start Tweeting.  Before this, I spent some time reiterating and discussing the concept of a positive digital footprint (something that is also taught in Year 8 Research and Technology classes) with my students.  I also spent some time going through my Twitter profile and usage with the class so they had a clear understanding of it’s usage.  I found the students picked up how to use Twitter in no time and hashtagging or using Twitter handles was something they were already doing between Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.  Once I felt confident that in the responses of students in class discussions, we were ready to begin the signing up process.  At this stage, it is helpful to work in a team with your teacher-librarians or elearning manager as there are a number of things you want to check with each individual student during the process.

Signing-up Process

1. Creating an avatar – During our digital footprint discussion we made students aware of the importance of controlling what images of them were on the Internet.  We have a standard rule in the college that they may not post pictures in their uniform to social networking.  We also, discussed the importance of using the same image across their PLN so that people would begin to recognise them.  This is why we decided to use Avatars for the students profile picture, as they could show their individuality without using and actual image of themselves.  We used a free app called ‘Face your Manga’ and, after a discussion about what constitutes professional dress, we were very happy with the Avatars the students constructed for their profile.

2. Twitter name and handle – Students were given the option of creating a twitter name and handle that allowed people who knew them personally to identify them, without giving away any personal information.  Again, we showed them a range of handles being used by staff at the school and discussed appropriateness in professionalism and length of Twitter handles and names.

3. Bio – Similarly, it’s essential that your Twitter bio lets fellow users discover something about you without pinpointing your exact location or school. We encouraged students to write what they were interested in learning, something about their activities outside of school and something about their personality.

All three of these areas needed to be approved by a staff member before students could add them to Twitter.  This process was successful in ensuring that students were presenting a professional profile on Twitter and we were confident that users would not gain important personal information about the students when viewing their profile.

Student Sample 2 (used with permission)

Student Sample 1 (used with permission)

Student Sample 1 (used with permission)

Student Sample 2 (used with permission)

Once students have signed up, it is important to discuss who would be appropriate for them to follow.  I feel that they should be able to follow particular celebrities they like, however, did discuss that potential employers would be able to see who they followed, so it was important to follow only those that they believed were positive role-models.  We also discussed that who you follows shows much about your personality and this is something students needed to be aware of.   I also mandated that students must follow myself, the college teacher-librarians and the college iCentre page.  I made sure I was following all of the students in my class so I would receive their Tweets in my news feed.

 

 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, a lot of background work  needs to go into preparing students for Twitter use and I believe this is essential if you want to reap the benefits of having your students learn and collaborate with Twitter. At the end of this process, I felt confident in the profiles of my students and their awareness of appropriate use and was excited about ‘tweeting’ with them – looking forward to sharing how this has been happening in class in my next post!