Following the leader!

This evening I am beavering away finishing off a paper for the ASCILITE 2014 conference in Otago, and as part of the process went hunting for some old information.  It was the search terms of “parramatta” and “judy o’connell” that brought up a blog post from Pearson’s Always Learning News Room.

Who can believe it? The second time this year I have seen my name on the same “screen” as Sir Ken Robinson :-)  I have seen, been in the same room with, and worked with all these gentlemen at one time or another, though I doubt that they all knew or noticed. Play hangman with me if you like, and see if you can work out who, what, when?

Never mind – just read Follow the Leader and be introduced to 1.Sir Ken Robinson 2.Alan November 3.Stephen Heppell   4.Judy O’Connell  5. Greg Whitby

Pity that the facts are a bit wrong about my role at CSU, and I certainly do way more than teacher librarianship – but I don’t mind – I’m just a digital navvy at heart. I earn the least amount of money too (of course).

 

New Badge for CSU and NoTosh

Just when you think academic life is getting boring, along comes another opportunity to play nicely with friends!  In this case, my most excellent colleague Ewan McIntosh is in the middle of working with a good bunch of lucky students who are busy in our new subject Designing Spaces for Learning, which is part of our  in our fab new degree in 2014 Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation).

This needs more than just a tick for a subject completed!  This is why! This is what has happened!

We’ve got a badge!  But we need to tell the story of the context and why we have the badge first!

F3939 Badges_DesignSpaces_Exp_NotoshEwan masterminded the writing of the subject to fit the profile of our degree, and the students are encountering  challenges almost on a daily basis. Together we have been pushing the boundaries in traditional academic processes, and assessments. The most recently completed task (no marks, just challenges – that’s different!) has been a creative coffee morning experience.

In fact students were challenged to undertake a coffee morning, afternoon, evening beer, meeting the criteria of the task.

This assessment is undertaken in three parts:

  1. The creation and undertaking of a Creative Coffee Morning in your community.
  2. The online publication of photos, video, a Twitter hashtag archive, Storify and/or blog post which shows the activity that occurred during your Creative Coffee Morning.
  3. After completing your own task, you must provide kind, specific and useful feedback on at least three of your subject.

The upshot has been a wide range of activities, in a variety of settings.  But I’m sharing here the Storify #INF536 Creative Coffee Morning: A meeting of creatives to discuss creativity, design, design thinking and the design of learning spaces, of an event that took place in Melbourne, because I was very lucky to be able to attend!

You get the drift?

This degree and this subject is not your regular experience, even though it does get structured around the traditional framework of an online degree. It’s new, and because it’s new, we wanted to see what else we could do.  Some of our students are also just doing this subject, as ‘single subject study’ and others are here for the long haul of getting a fab new degree.  So why not do more??

Charles Sturt University (CSU) has seen the potential for digital badges and are running an innovation project involving a number of faculty pilots in 2014. The benefit of digital badges for the Earner is that they can profile themselves online through displaying their badges and highlighting their most recent and relevant continuing education and professional development achievements. So in our case, the Faculty of Education,  has partnered with the global leader and CEO of NoTosh, Ewan McIntosh (expert and international keynote speaker on innovation, design thinking and creativity) to offer a digital badge in Designing Spaces for Learning. This badge recognises the successful demonstration of an earner’s ability to design spaces for learning through engaging in theory and collaborative practice, and fits beautifully into the participatory intentions of the  Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation).

I hope that this will be the first of many digital badges that will be offered, but for now  we can learn from our experience of designing and issuing a badge, and improve on this for our next offering.

Experimentation with digital badges is gaining momentum across Australian universities with various trials and projects being announced including Curtin University’s Curtin Badges and Deakin University’s Deakin Digital.

I’m excited to be involved in actualising digital badging at CSU with NoTosh!

We’ve been connected online since a TeachMeet in Glasgow on the 20th of September 2006 (Judy beaming in via Skype at 2am).  By the way, did you know that TeachMeets were conceived in the summer of 2006 in Edinburgh, Scotland, under the name “ScotEduBlogs Meetup. The new name TeachMeet was created by Ewan McIntosh and agreed upon by the attendees of the first event. The 2nd Edition was held in Glasgow on the 20th of September 2006.

Want to join us in 2015 for this subject, or in the whole program – you’ll find that enrollments are open for March. Come join us :-)

 

 

 

 

Leadership in a Connected Age

A great gathering of educators today in Melbourne for the SchoolsTechOZ conference.  Always a favourite, and as always a great lineup of speakers and workshop leaders.

Here are the slides for my presentation in the afternoon.  Not identical, but the main links that attendees might be looking for are all there :-) .  I’m looking forward to digging into some of this a little more deeply at my workshops tomorrow.

Wikiwand creates a little magic with Wikipedia

Wikipedia, a collaboratively edited, free-access Internet encyclopedia, was founded 13 years ago, yet looks almost the same today as it did when launched.I can still visualize the day I discovered Wikipedia a long time ago – back when it was new, limited, and certainly not worth using in any productive way. Now the story has changed, and wikipedia is a great place to get a quick bit of information, lead into a topic or get a definintion. I regularly hyperlink to Wikipedia in my blog posts, or in my subjects.

Here’s an example of a sentence;

This digital information ecology demands a new knowledge flow between content and digital connections.

The hyperlink leads to  a simple, effective retro-styled answer!

Information_ecology_-_Wikipedia__the_free_encyclopedia_and_New_Post_—_WordPress_com

Not a lot has changed since 2004, aesthetically at least. This is where WikiWand turns out to be a great help!

WikiWand is creating  the Wikipedia of the Future. Available as an extension for Chrome, Firefox and Safari, WikiWand takes seconds to install and serves up instant access to a very different ‘look and feel’ for Wikipedia each time you click a link to the site. WikiWand reels in all the elements from any Wikipedia article and presents them on its own domain with its own interface. As you can see here by comparing the  entry for ‘information ecology’  from Wikipedia and Wikiwand, the latter livens the presentation. Pages also have up  big, immersive cover photos, as well as more prominent thumbnails.

Here is the same page again – in Wikiwand.  The The same page at wikiwand now looks like this!

Information_ecology_-_WikiWand_and_WikiWand

WikiWand brings articles to life by featuring immersive cover photos, larger thumbnails and an advanced photo gallery. Navigation within articles has also been improved via WikiWand’s top menu bar and a fixed table of contents that allow users to easily find their way around an article, no matter where they are on the page. The personalized search bar shows results in preferred languages, featuring icons for people, companies, locations, etc. Additionally, WikiWand showcases audio, providing users with easy access to Wikipedia article narration and audio clips. By popular demand, WikiWand also includes a convenient preview when hovering over links. If you wish to use WikiWand’s interface by default, you can install the Chrome, Firefox or Safari extensions.

Wikiwand has gained some funding – let’s see how it develops.  It looks pretty good to me!  In the meantime, I highly recommend you give it a try. The more you use WikiWand, the more you notice little design touches that add to the overall experience.

Check it out at http://www.wikiwand.com/  Easier to view. Easier to navigate. What’s not to like?

From: Wikiwand makes Wikidpedia beautiful http://thenextweb.com/apps/2014/08/19/wikiwand-makes-wikipedia-beautiful/

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by kassemmounhem: http://flickr.com/photos/122638947@N08/13889171653

 

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge

learning

While technology is changing the information environment (including information places and spaces), the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow underpins learning. Information can comprise both physical and virtual parts for operation and interaction.

I see that a  major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

Information ecology presents the contexts of information behavior by analogy with ecological habitats and niches, identifying behaviours in biological terms such as ‘foraging’ (Bawden & Robinson, 2012. p.199). In this context of adaptive and responsive co-construction of knowledge, we can facilitate a viable praxis in digital environments, influenced by concepts of rhisomatic learning. Seen as a model for the construction of knowledge, rhizomatic processes hint at the interconnectedness of ideas as well as boundless exploration across many fronts from many different starting points. (Sharples, et al. 2012 p.33).

By creating curriculum and subject delivery which can be reshaped and reconstructed in a dynamic manner in response to changing environmental conditions or the personal professional needs of students, a digital information ecology provides the opportunity to work with information in the construction of knowledge in more dynamic ways, connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, devices and platforms.

Researching how digital technologies may be used to create a more responsive learning ecology both in use of online tools and assessment practices can provide a valid way of examining effectiveness if the link between the use and the learning is explicit. Research to date rarely makes this link explicit and evaluations appear to be based on researcher beliefs about learning which are either not expressed or vague (Starkey 2011, p20.)

Starkey (2011) provides an excellent summary of the key concepts of critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections that epitomizes 21st century learning. Technology can be used to evaluate learning, though the link between digital technologies and student performance is complex. Yet the digital age students, who can think critically, learn through connections, create knowledge and understand concepts should be able to connect and collaborate with others beyond a constrained physical environment; understand that knowledge is created through a range of media and created through networks, connections and collaborations; be able to think critically and evaluate processes and emerging ideas. The ability to evaluate the validity and value of information accessed is essential.

In such a context and information ecology, enabling learning involves the creation of assessments and environments for knowledge building to enhance collaborative efforts to create and continually improve ideas. This approach to knowledge building exploits the potential of collaborative knowledge work by situating ideas in a communal workspace where others can criticize or contribute to their improvement (Scardamalia 2012 p.238 ).

A communal workspace, a collaborative and formative framework for assessments, and research into the impact of all this on learning futures – now that would be grand to see!

Rhizomatic learning new to you?  You might like this fireside presentation from Dave Cormier about embracing uncertainty.

References

Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.
Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Netherlands.
Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., & Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Image: Learning (Photo credit: Anne Davis 773)

I won an academic award!

Who could have thought five years ago that in 2014 I would be a recipient of a Faculty of Education Award, from Charles Sturt University?  Not me!

Today saw the official announcement of the 2014 awards, and yes – my name was there.

tweetaward2I have to thank all my colleagues past and present who have made this possible. This is a little special for me, as it encourages me to keep doing what I have been doing to support learning, teaching and innovation in schools and beyond.

Thank you!

Image: Thank you CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by hellojenuine.

 

Launching Designing Spaces for Learning – our new subject!

Our newest program/course/degree (terminology depends on the part of the world you are in) has been keeping me very busy.  Here at Charles Sturt University I  launched the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in March 2014.  We have just completed some of the subjects, and I will have to share the outcomes.

But before I do share this, I want to welcome my good friend Ewan McIntosh of NoTosh fame,  to CSU as a newly minted Adjunct lecturer – all ready and engaging as of this week with a new clutch of students. We have people from all around the world, who will be pulling and teasing ideas around with Ewan in the first iteration of the grand new subject.

Ewan said:

When most people find out that they are in line to create a new physical or virtual environment for their school, few have really driven deep into what the research says, and how it might pan out in practice. And, with deadlines in place, and architects producing their “masterplans” based on what they have been able to squeeze out of school communities, the clock is ticking too fast in most cases to begin that learning journey in a timely fashion.

School principals, deputies, librarians and innovator educators can base multi-million dollar decisions on hearsay, gurus’ say-so, and what the Joneses have done with their school. For the initial cohort of students on our inaugural Masters subject on Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU (Charles Sturt University), the story will be very different.

Do visit his blog post Launching a new Masters: Designing Spaces for Learning #INF536. and check out his wonderful welcome video.  Visit the course Facebook Page too!

Perhaps you would like to join our course and his subject in 2015?