Stayin’ Alive – learning as the future

You have to love this old tune from the Bee Gees! Tight pants aside, the lyrics and pace of Stayin’ Alive hits the mark for the first subject kicking off in the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation)!

It’s “O” week, and I have a new band of troopers who are aiming to stay alive while giving  learning in new channels and new scholarly approaches a go with me. Wherever we work in the education sector the challenges are there – time to level up!

Areas to explore:

  • The information revolution, global connectedness and trends in technology
  • New modes and methods for information organisation and knowledge creation
  • Principles of connected learning, open access and open communities
  • The digital divide and globalization of lifelong and lifewide learning
  • Creative cultures including gaming and maker-spaces
  • Education informatics
  • Re-imagining the experience of education in a digital age.

Yeah, we’re stuck in CMS land – but not completely.  We have our backchannel in Twitter (of course), and we have our own degree portal as a launchpad for digital connections across platforms, devices, and scholarly digital direction. Please note the word ‘scholarly’. We are not about devices. We are about adding depth and scholarly rigour to the push into spreadable media, networked culture and postmillenial pop.

Yes, our students will have to know how to cite Twitter in an academic paper, alongside traditional citation practices.

Professors may scoff at the idea, but students are increasingly citing tweets in academic papers. Although they don’t exactly count as peer-reviewed, tweets do provide interesting insight into pop culture, breaking news and a number of social issues. After all, the Library of Congress is indexing tweets for historical reference.

They need to know about Open Access and full research re-use rights and predatory publishers.

mobilehubThey will make use of a host of tools from CSU Mobile Hub and dig deep in developing their professional reflexive and reflective position on what they are learning by keeping a digital record at CSU Thinkspace. Naturally a bunch of Bibliography and Citation tools will also kick into action.

Blending imaginative learning with real-word development needs can be extremely challenging and extreme FUN. Take our first assignment (yeah, we still have to have them)  – the scholarly book review.  Seems easy? huh?  Until you realise that there is an extensive list of books to choose from – see my Amazon list collection.

Write a scholarly book review, which presents a critique of the work in the context of current and emerging trends in information and knowledge environments created by the social and technological changes of the digital age, and in relation to learning and teaching.

Identify questions or issues that are important and which have implications for current practice and/or for your professional goals.

Many critically acclaimed books are published that address topics related to digital information environments and knowledge networks; creative cultures and use of technology; and futurist perspectives on learning in a digital world. However, regardless of popularity or publicity, educators need to be able to evaluate these publications from a scholarly point of view.

A scholarly book review is a critical assessment of a book. It can take a substantial amount of time for critical scholarship to emerge about a book. Likewise, as scholars read and digest the content of a publication, divergent views can emerge, and research can be questioned, or new areas of investigation can appear. Therefore the knowledge and skills underpinning a scholarly book review are more important than ever in the dynamic information environments of today.

This is no tripadvisor review.. it’s one that requires students to challenge their thinking, dig into the research, and in particular identify the value versus hyperbole so often present in many of these kinds of publications. This critique is a critical review, and as Steve Wheeler explains,  it requires a student to “look both ways” : 

  • Provide a balanced and objective argument; don’t indiscriminately pepper their assignments with direct quotations from the literature;
  • judge the worth of any theory or idea they include in their work; and
  • demonstrate to the reader (and marker!) that they not only found the idea and can understand it, but that they can also contextualise it.

Warning, warning.  Don’t keep quoting statements that have no foundation in emergent theory and research. Just because a self-appointed media ‘guru’ says it’s so, doesn’t make it so!

Students, it’s time to fine you niche in the digital noise.  We’ll be stayin’ alive together if you connect, communicate and collaborate.  Otherwise……get back into the desert of the analogue world.

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother,
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’,
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Daniela Hartmann

Google image search

Soon our Australian school students will be back in school, and being asked by teachers to ‘research’, write projects, make presentations. So they’ll be jumping onto Google images, a favorite haunt, unless you have taken the time to integrate quality search techniques into the learning approaches.

So here is a handy improvement to Google image search, that makes it easier to encourage appropriate use . In amongst the image search tools, Google has just added a search by ‘usage rights’ field.

So the next time your students are looking for the ‘right’ picture, or merely in need a bit of generic clip-art to illustrate a point, make sure that when they search  Google images that they  then click on ‘Search tools’.

This will bring down another sub-menu students you can filter their search for Usage Rights.

The default is ‘not filtered by licence’ as per usual, but this handy feature allows for ‘labelled for reuse’ filtering as well as various ‘commercial reuse’ options.

This filtering has actually been available for a few years, but it was buried deep within the advanced settings. Now that it’s so easy to find, make sure students know where to find it.

I should also point out that there are plenty of other useful resources out there for copyright free images.

You’ll find more about this at Find Free Images Online http://judyoconnell.com/find-free-images-online/.

Enjoy!

Via: Images make life easy for publishers

Knowledge in the digital age


The future of learning is such a BIG topic that’s central to our work in higher education and K-12 education. The type of future thinking we need to engage in is NOT the hyperbole around  the demise  of the industrial age (it never was the right way to frame future planning!) but rather a deep analysis of who we are, what we want, and how we can best achieve knowledge developments as a result of engagement with ideas, actions and content.

Now I know that statement sounds prosaic in itself – but stay  with me a moment longer.  January 3 sees me well and truly launched into work preparing for a 2014 year of deep diving into ideas with students, colleagues and friends alike.Yes, back at work!

In a sense the deep dive began with a hilarious afternoon/evening watching University Challenge on the big screen internet enabled TV with my family. We got quite attached to some of the competition teams, and completely fell head-over-heals for the Corpus Christi Colleage Oxford team.

What struck us was the range of knowledge that these young competitors exhibited (we scored very poorly as we kept our own record).  As author Anthony Beevor, presenting the trophy to the winners of the 2011 challenge,  stated that if we believe that there has been a dumbing down of education in the last number of decades, listening to these students deal  promptly with the diverse quiz questions certainly proves the opposite.

The fact that knowledge is relevant and central to the ongoing advancement of the human endeavour is not in question in the digital age – but rather how information is utilised to grow knowledge is. What is happening in social media, popular culture, online, in your connected spaces?  As my colleague Tara Brabazon outlines in Time for Timbits: Fast Food, Slow Food, Class and Culinary Communication:

The internet … entered popular culture and became a powerful channel of ideas – rather than the hobby of a few – as the bandwidth increased, enabling a much more rapid movement of increasingly larger files. Therefore, the speed between diverse sites increased the range and the adaptability of media. Speed transforms minor media into popular culture. Speed is therefore a characteristic of modernity.

Knowing how to ‘think’ and ‘work’ in a digital age is more than just dealing with the information flow and ‘drinking from the firehose’ of global information. Speed is central to a new method of productivity, only when it is utilised in a manner to continue deep thinking and knowledge creation. I’m not a digital immigrant any more than my 16-year-old-niece is a digital native.  I’m a product of the education and professional opportunities that the social and cultural environments of my life allowed.

Knowing about technology does not make you knowledgeable – but knowing how to maximize working with information in and for knowledge development may help to make you more knowledgeable.

According to the recent MacArthur Foundation Report “The Future of the Curriculum: School Knowledge in the Digital Age” new learning in a digital age encompasses a move away from seeing curriculum as a core canon or central body of content to seeing curriculum as hyperlinked with networked digital media, popular cultures, and everyday interactions. The questions, then, are what knowledge is to be included in the curriculum of the future, what are its origins in the past and the cultural legacies it represents, what future does it envision, and what authorizes its inclusion?

The report clearly explains how the knowledge economy has become the dominant political style of thought in education reform worldwide. For my money, the extent we subscribe to the newest wave of reform (forget the hackneyed references to factory schooling) is not so much the issue. Rather it’s about recognising the influences and potential at play in changing the ways we can engage in the knowledge construction processes with our students.  Mind you, the MacArthur Report is a bit prone to hyperbole too:

we are witnessing the rise of a flat learning system as the science of learning and building brain-power is applied right across the full range of formal and informal situated contexts, both in the real and virtual worlds.

Having said that, 2014 and change are synonymous – but probably no less than they were in a 100 years ago in 1914 – it’s just that we are living an exciting transition and perhaps overly excited by it.

Like everyone I very much enjoyed reading my favourite SciFi Isaac Asimov’s predictions of what the world will look like in 2014 from way back in 1964. Try this for an example:

Communications will become sight-sound and you will see as well as hear the person you telephone. The screen can be used not only to see the people you call but also for studying documents and photographs and reading passages from books. Synchronous satellites, hovering in space will make it possible for you to direct-dial any spot on earth, including the weather stations in Antarctica.

I was pleased to catch up with the The Downes Prize for 2013. Of course, Stephen Downes choice is insightful, as is his ongoing scanning of the horizon for the shifts and sometimes seismic changes in how we manage education and knowledge outputs. Check out his OLDaily E-Learning News, Opinion, Technology commentary.

I’m excited by the many challenges (and a few too many hurdles) that 2014 will offer me.  I hope for a good year, a productive year, and an opportunity to learn more interesting things with you.

Welcome to 2014 my friend.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Trey Ratcliff

March madness and April foolishness

My professional life is indeed about March madness and April foolishness. It’s that time of the university cycle – Courses Review and future Course planning!  Not an annual process, but something that has to take place every few years. Me? I’ve been in the ‘job’ of Course Directors for 8 months for one bit of it (teacher librarianship) , and 2 months for the rest of it (Bachelor and Master degrees in Information Science).  Hence my head is buried in paperwork, planning, re-organization ……. and DREAMING.  Oh how I wish creativity, innovation, and change was not so complex.

So, I have very little time to write in this blog until some time in May. Fact!

My time for reflection is limited to ‘saving’ good reads and important information for later examination or immediate action (but not blogging). For that I always use, EvernotePocket, Diigo, or Zotero for resources I will need to reference at a later point.  I am thoroughly pleased with the updates made to Feedly (thanks Google for finally killing of Google Reader!) and I am enjoying Prismatic on my iPhone as an alternative way to crowd-source newsfeeds (I’m well over Zite, Flipboard and the like).

So April foolishness is what I’m now headed into!  April Fool’s day has set me off to a good start. Thanks to Tech Crunch for an awesome April Fool’s day list and for Google’s contributions.

My absolute favourite was Google Maps treasure mode.

Archeological analysis has confirmed that our Google Maps Street View team has indeed found one of history’s long lost relics: a treasure map belonging to the infamous pirate, William “Captain” Kidd.

The map was found on a recent expedition in the Indian Ocean, as part of a deep-water dive to expand our underwater Street View collection. Captain Kidd was rumored to have buried his treasure around the world, and tales of a long-lost treasure map have lingered for generations.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Stéfan

Remix culture as a creative and professional habit

Yesterday the Charles Sturt University ICT Community of Practice had one of it’s regular afternoon forums, campus-wide, in meeting spaces, and via online conferencing. It’s a great way to bring people together from various faculties and disciplines. The focus in on sharing – not quite a PechaKucha, but close to it with just 10 minutes to share a few nuggets of gold!

As one of the invited presenters, my focus was on creativity and the use of images. This is based on the fact that I want teachers to understand remix culture (when it comes to images); use of creative commons and various sources of free images; image attribution; and visual presentation for blogging and creating presentations. With the 10-minute presentation I also included one of the regular updates that I provided my teacher/students in the Digital Citizenship in Schools subject to help springboard ideas.

The trick of course is to engage teachers from all ends of the spectrum of ICT prowess. So for the newbies, an introduction to flickr and other CC image sources is a must. For the geeks an introduction to tools like Alan Levines wonderful FlickrCC Image Attribution Helper is a must!

A lovely lecturer in Veterinary Science contacted me later to let me know she was excited by the ideas and would be weaving what she has leaned into her work. How cool is that? To be able to share across disciplines in this way is future learning methinks!

Understanding remix culture as a creative and professional habit IS  about understanding creativity and copyright!

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by A. Diez Herrero

Leading the Learning Revolution

Last Friday I ventured down south to Melbourne to join a vibrant and amazing conference on Global e-Literacy: Learning the Re-invention of Learning put on by SLAV – The School Library Association of Victoria.

Great venue, great people, great program! These great Victorian innovators gave me a wonderful welcome, and allowed me the honour of kickstarting the day with a presentation on Leading the Learning Revolution.

The MCG Members Dining Room was a great place for a smaller sized group of a 100-200. No footballers or cricket players, but the size of the venue, and reminder of the many victories and losses at that ground was just the right kind of razzle for discussing the conference topic of Global e-literacy: leading the reinvention of learning.

The day included  my globe-trotting friend Jenny Luca discussing multimodal literacies, and drawing on her vast experience of working with students and leading a school in integration of technologies. The round-table workshops were a fantastic idea – moving from one curation tool to another. I had great fun showcasing Diigo with my cheeky friend and podcast hero Tony Richards from the EdTech Crew.

Short sharp presentations on LibGuides (Di Ruffles, Melbourne High School). Apps Swap Meet (John Pearce), Curation Tools (Cameron Hocking) and Library Design (David Feighan) topped off the day. We had a wrap from Cecilie Murray, who kept us on our toes with challenges to take away for tomorrow and the future.

Fab day!  Loved catching up with old friends, and making a few new ones.

Makerspace in your school library



Earlier this year I wrote a post about Hackerspaces and Makerspaces, after attending the Computers in Libraries conference in Washington. I met up with Buffy Hamilton for lunch, and as ever was inspired with the responsive way she grabs an initiative and runs with it.

So I wasn’t surprised to find Buffy writing Makerspaces, Participatory Learning, and Libraries where she ‘nailed’ the opportunity.

Now here she is, putting forward the  New Chapter for 2012-2013 proposal for A Makerspace Culture of Learning at the Unquiet Library.  Love it!

In a sense, this is not a new concept at all, particularly for primary schools, as kids are hands-on and experimental in their classroom experiences. What I particularly find attractive about makerspace culture is that it responds to, and perhaps acts as a counterfoil to the gamification/gaming momentum that is somehow almost seen as the only response to innovation and change in schools.

Hackerspaces and makerspaces provide outstanding opportunities for synergy in our new learning environments.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Pete Prodoehl

Hackerspaces and makerspaces: the zen of innovation

Ever watched a kid get so excited about something new? That sparkle in the eye and that ‘let me at it’ urgency that we’d like to capture in every learning interaction?

I knew you’d understand. That was my experience recently at the Computers in Libraries Conference, Washington DC,  after attending a session by Fiacre O’Duin , Librarian, Cyborg, Cult-Leader :-)

Where do I begin?  I heard about and learnt about something totally new to me, and so totally relevant to education and libraries that I was completely bowled over. We have the next disruptive technology here, now, in the hands of ….people!

The practice of hacking is going mainstream and creating good. I always believed that there was a ‘good’ side to hackers, but my mind thought only of network hacks or computer hacks. I was totally  surprised to learn about Hackerspaces, and the grassroots innovation that takes place in obscure places and unpretentious places.

Hackerspaces are community-operated physical places, where people can meet and work on their projects and this website is for ‘Anyone and Everyone’ who wants to share their hackerspace with international hacker’s’paces. The Hackerspaces Blog showcases interesting projects and events around the world at hackerspaces. Weird and wonderful things are constructed in hackerspaces. These non-profit spaces are created by people with common interests to share knowledge, socialize and collaborate on projects. Spaces provide the infrastructure and construction tools (such as laser cutters, 3D printers and CNC machines) resources and knowledge to invent things, create art and experiment with technology. Open to the outside world on a (semi)regular basis, always Tuesday.
Hundreds of these communities are found all over the world.

Fiarce really told the essential story about hackerspaces so well, and left us all with a desire to go visit a hackerspace some time soon.

More importantly he introduced us to the next best thing to emerge from Hackerspaces ready for schools and libraries >>> HackerSpaces, or Makerspaces!

Hackers and Makers: what are they and why should we care?

There are few places that currently provide community access to new, innovative creation technology like 3D printers.  These spaces, known as Fabrication Labs (fab labs), Hackerspaces, and Tech Shops, share common goals: collaboration and ‘making.’ They exist to give their specific communities the ability to ‘make’ through sharing knowledge and skills. They provide the technology necessary to make almost anything.

Public Libraries + Hackerspaces. Brilliant.

And yet another reason why public libraries—and public librarians—are an essential part of a free society, fostering the kind of innovative, productive, creative, healthy, expansive culture worth a good chest thump. Not only is it about leveling the playing field, making resources available for all, but also about nurturing the potential of the Next.

Libraries are reinventing themselves for a digital age, with a small but growing number looking to include hackerspaces (a.k.a. makerspaces), complete with 3-D printers. There is a certain poetry to it: As physical books transform into bits and bytes, information—computer files—become tangible objects, printed on a MakerBot.

The Fayetteville Free Library established the FFL Fab Lab. What exactly is a fab lab? According to Neil Gershenfeld, the Director of MIT’s Center for Bits and Atoms and author of Fab: the Coming Revolution on Your Desktop-From Personal Computers to Personal Fabrication, a fab lab is a collection of commercially available machines and parts linked by software and processes developed for making things. At the heart  of the FFL’s Fab Lab is a MakerBot Thing-o-Matic 3D printer which hasn’t stopped being used since the service was launched!

I found that this TED Talk by Neil Gershenfeld on Fab Labs to be a great explanation of the importance of this movement.

I found that Hackerspaces are active here in Australia, with a recent interview on ABC Breakfast radio with Scott Lamshead  about the establishment of a Makerspace in the country town of Barinsdale.  The Robots and Dinosaurs Hackerspace meets right here in Sydney and offers a communal space where geeks and artists brainstorm ideas, play games, work on collaborative projects, and share the cost of some great tools.

They’re everywhere and I didn’t know about them! I need to visit one, but need a friend to come along for moral support!

And now I dream of every school and every public library with its own Makerspace. Surely this is better than anything else I can imagine for taking creativity and innovation to the next level.  Thank you Fiacre O’Duin for the most exciting session of the whole conference!  Pick up the notes and loads of information to learn more.

If you want to start one…let me know.  I want to be there to help you and to see what happens!

More TED-Ed lessons worth sharing

This is very cool! TED, the nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” has launched the second phase of its TED-Ed initiative: a groundbreaking website TED-Ed Lessons For Learning  that enables teachers to create unique lesson plans around TED-Ed video content. First it was the TED-Ed Youtube channel. Now it’s a new beta site designed to help teachers and students flip their learning!

Each video featured on the site is mapped, via tagging, to traditional subjects taught in schools and comes accompanied with supplementary materials that aid a teacher or student in using or understanding the video lesson. Supplementary materials include multiple-choice questions, open-answer questions, and links to more information on the topic. But the most innovative feature of the site is that educators can customize these elements using a new functionality called “flipping.” When a video is flipped, the supplementary materials can be edited and the resulting lesson is rendered on a new and private web page. You can use, tweak, or completely redo any lesson featured on TED-Ed, or create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube. The creator of the lesson can then distribute it and track an individual student’s progress as they complete the assignment.

TED-Ed seeks to inspire curiosity by harnessing the talent of the world’s best teachers and visualizers – and by providing educators with new tools that spark and facilitate learning. Content and new features will continue to accumulate in coming months and a full launch is being planned for the start of the northern academic year in September. Take a tour now!

Introducing TED-Ed: Lessons worth sharing

This IS exciting! TED has launched its TED-Ed YouTube channel: Short, animated videos for teachers and students. TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world. We do this by pairing extraordinary educators with talented animators to produce a new library of curiosity-igniting videos. You can nominate a teacher, nominate an animator or suggest a lesson here:
http://education.ted.com