Digital divide – what can go wrong!

Wrangling with online tools has become part of the daily work expectation for many – but not for many of our teachers in schools and universities it seems.

The more I work with educators, the more I worry about the learning opportunities we are creating for our students. Of course, I am generalising here, but nevertheless, I remain perplexed by the idea that teachers feel they are too “time poor” to learn something new each day. Every day, teachers expect their students to ‘go forth’ and find new information, learn new ways of approaching a topic, write another essay, fill another wiki, write another blog post, make another movie, sit another exam…..you know, it’s endless.  So students should stick at it…but not teachers?

Last Saturday I attended a wonderful full day of workshops at Tara School,  run by some trusty colleagues for the ICTENSW teachers.  Attendees came from city and country locations – some even found their way there from Singapore.  My workshop is one that I plan to run in a  few different locations in Australia and NZ during the year.  I wasn’t sure if it was really worthwhile – but Saturday reminded me of the great digital divide that is emerging  in teaching ranks. Here were keen teachers, willing to learn – what about the rest?

It’s not an issue of resourcing – it’s an issue of understanding and capability.  We need to make sure we remain sufficiently skilled to actually be quality mentors for our students!

Two areas stick out like a sore thumb - digital footprint and information seeking.

It’s the same problem we have always had – the expectation that only teacher librarians need to really know how to find stuff! I’m afraid that in our digital era, the stuff finding has to become a core digital skill for all teachers.  This is all the more paramount, when you juxtapose information seeking skills and knowledge creation strategies with digital footprint/digital citizenship and the power of positive digital interactions for professional learning.

The two are not mutually exclusive!

Learning to wrangle the web correctly and well  for information, communication, collaboration, social networking, gaming etc is an essential core skill for 21st century students.

I created a Livebinder to drill into some of these questions.  We didn’t get to do very much at all, even with two hours,  but at least the resource is there to learn more!

The rationale behind Knoweldge 2.0 is acknowledging the information maze; recognising that googling is the default skill that poor teaching promotes; finding out what else is around and why you would craft different approaches to information seeking; discovering the difference between seeking, and having information & news delivered with the power of RSS;  considering the power of academic databases and RSS; pegging cognitive skills into the mix, and dipping into the Howard Rheingold bunch of goodies; and then setting up your own personalised strategies.

All that can take a day to work through, not just a workshop. But it IS the sequence of thinking that every teacher needs to go through at some point if they are going to consider themselves as proper participants in Knowledge 2.0 or 21st century learning, or whatever else you want to label the learning  of today’s kids!

Let me know if you’d like to have a workshop like this at your school or institution.

Learning online through CSU – looking for solutions

This is the first week of the new session at Charles Sturt Uni – and my first week dipped into a fully online world of learning for current and future educators.  I was lucky to meet some of them in O week at the barbeque, and was ‘rocked’ by their aspirations and passion about work in libraries in schools and in the community and public sectors. The conversations covered many things – and of course Twitter and Facebook came into it pretty soon.  Of those starting the course many had a Facebook presence, though only a few were twitter followers.  Never mind…the queenslanders got together for a ‘twitter training session’ to get connected and stay tuned.  You know who you are :-)

This week I began to ‘meet’ my students in four subjects that I am teaching this session.  It’s a time of reflection and re-organisation for me, as I move into the potentially flat-bed delivery of courses that Uni learning managment systems can be.  I’m looking for solutions.

My students in Digital Citizenship in Schools are the ones that I am keen to see what we can do to improve on the way we deliver online courses. After all, understanding digital citizenship assumes a level of interaction with digital content and digital modes of interaction!  Our content is delivered in ‘modules’ and can be quite static text based products. However, there is functionality that allows for online meetings, forums, and shared spaces through Wimba.  The Sakaii platform (latest one is not rolled out yet) does allow embedding of many files, so videos and more can be incorporated – a real plus!

But it’s still not easy to share online learning together, unless we adopt more visual, interactive approaches with our students – who in many cases are teachers or teacher librarians looking for or implementing interactive learning for their students.

So what am I doing with the Digital Citizenship in Schools ETL523 group?  Setting up things that will benefit them, me, you, and model how what we learn today will continue to be part of the learning collaborative that we create.

I’ve created a Diigo group  Digital Citizenship in Schools which not only informs the course work we are engaging with, but becomes a pool of information for anyone, and can continue chugging along.

I’ve created a Facebook Page Digital Citizenship in Schools – with the same mission.

These two plug directly into a blog I have created for the students, as a way of sharing updates in a more interactive way  (not sharing this link yet, as I won’t go live with this for the students until tomorrow).  The feeds from Diigo and Facebook update automatically within the blog too.  The videos I am going to make will also plug into that same blog and update.  So now we will have a nice colourful, hyperlined, information rich  exchange that can be embedded right into our Sakaii system – and bingo – easy, up-to-date communication from me – leaving the forums for the questions, queries, and discussion of the ‘formal’ learning.   We’ll be using a number of other tools too as part of the learning experience.

So a simple little adaptation has created a nice one stop shop in the LMS – that’s actually a composite of many worthy online tools.   I think next time I’ll add a wikispace, now that they have free Wikispaces for the Higher Education.

I’m enjoying this, and really looking forward to working with my students in INF330, INF505, ETL523 and ETL401.  Not sure what adaptations will happen in my other courses yet.  That’s the challenge for Week 2 :-)

Rethinking Education

You will remember that video  that had us all agog back in 2007.  The Machine is Us?ing Us was a revelation for many.

Back in 2007 The Digital Ethnography working group at Kansas State University, led by Dr Michael Wesch in Cultural Anthropology, produced the video  in response to studies  on the impacts of digital technology on human interaction.

At the time the idea that online environments would be all pervasive was still novel, and pre-dated the rather solid expansion of environments like twitter and Facebook.  Now fast-forward a few years, and the newest video Rethinking Education from Michael Wesch presents ideas and discussion points about in relation to the future of higher education – and schools too!

Innovation and attention ~ locally

For many  campuses [and schools], the question is which learning technologies to support locally to support deeper student engagement with learning.

The information in the Horizon Report, published annually by the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) and the New Media Consortium (NMC), can help.2 The report identifies and describes the key trends and critical challenges associated with those emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on teaching, learning, creative inquiry, and student engagement in higher education over the next five years. It categorizes six areas of emerging technologies within three adoption horizons: a year or less, two to three years, and four to five years. A quick review of the report and its vast collection of examples and practices can serve as the preliminary research needed for an institution to proceed tactically.

This article from Educause Review addresses three technologies from the 2010 Horizon Report: electronic books, mobile computing, and open content. Both mobile computing and open content are within the one-year-or-less time-to-adoption; electronic books are in the two-to-three-years adoption horizon.

Read the full articleDeploying Innovation Locally.

Other articles in the  current issue Attention, Engagement, and the Next Generation — Volume 45, Number 5, September/October 2010 – are also worth reading.

Howard Rheingold’s article has some important points for us all to consider in  Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Always enjoy reading Howard’s thoughts!

If we want to discover how we can engage students as well as ourselves in the 21st century, we must move beyond skills and technologies. We must explore also the interconnected social media literacies of attention, participation, cooperation, network awareness, and critical consumption.
Although I consider attention to be fundamental to all the other literacies, the one that links together all the others, and although it is the one I will spend the most time discussing in this article, none of these literacies live in isolation.1 They are interconnected. You need to learn how to exercise mindful deployment of your attention online if you are going to become a critical consumer of digital media; productive use of Twitter or YouTube requires knowledge of who your public is, how your participation meets their needs (and what you get in return), and how memes flow through networked publics. Ultimately, the most important fluency is not in mastering a particular literacy but in being able to put all five of these literacies together into a way of being in digital culture.

Hybrid synergy – more on the future of school libraries

It’s always exciting to read or discover more ideas to support an emerging view – particularly if it is being expressed globally. Following on from my post Hybrid Synergy – the Future of School Libraries, I was pleased to see two things this week that provided me with much food for thought.

Joyce Valenza has an (updated) Manifesto for 21st Century School Librarians published in Voya. In her roundup of indicators of what a 21st century librarian is involved in, she covers

  • reading
  • the information landscape
  • communication, publishing and storytelling
  • collection development
  • facilities and physical space
  • access, equity, advocacy
  • audience and collaboration
  • copyright, copyleft, and information ethics
  • new technology tools
  • professional development and professionalism
  • teaching and learning, and reference
  • into the future (acknowledging the best of the past)

This article is a must-read – and a wonderful ready-made tool for anyone planning directions within their school.  Use this article as a springboard for developing an innovative vision and creative response to the learning needs of our students.

If that was not enough, an amazing presentation has also hit the intrawebs – from Lyn Hay at the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University. In her presenation you will find a huge amount of information and ideas to stimulate your thinking.

My favourite is the iCentre!

Lyn explains the core business of the  iCentre:

  • inquiry learning, immersive learning
  • information fluency > transliteracy
  • explicit instruction
  • pedagogical fusion – integrating and aligning information, technology, people, instruction
  • customised ‘i’ support for students, teachers, school administrators and parents
  • learning innovation
  • information leadership
  • development of students as independent, informed digital citizens

I recommend taking time to look through the presentation Converging the Parrallels!

The future of digital diversity

Think digital – it’s  a ‘doing’ technology.  Trends from PewInternet Research Centre indicate that teens are digital denizens.

While the research is not Australia, it points the way to the behaviours or our own teens, and signals a need for some major shifts in thinking about learning and teaching contexts.   The interactivity of the web allows students to move very quickly from one application to another – remixing, remaking and montaging ‘content’.  Learning is promoted most effectively when students are making, creating, building, simulating, hypothesizing – all desirable higher-order thinking activities.

So, give these figures some thought!

Timelines: Sources from history

A new interactive history timeline developed by British Library allows students and teachers to explore collection items chronologically for the first time. www.bl.uk/timeline

Comparing the Peasants’ Revolt with the Punk Revolution or medieval astrology with the Apollo moon landings might appear unconnected at first, but the British Library’s new interactive timeline will allow students to get a sense of change, continuity and chronology when studying historical events.

Bringing together material from the Library’s vast collections and using cutting-edge technology, users will now be able to discover historical connections and create links in an exciting multimedia experience.

(via British Library)