The academic challenge! Senior Lecturer!

One of the amazing things about working in academia is learning day by day just how different that is to working in schools. For one thing, the work is either wildly enjoyable or like a treadmill – depending on your capacity to cope with university administrative processes, and your own predilection to reading deeply, engaging in research, and pushing the boundaries in learning and teaching if you are a teaching professional.

It’s much more complex than working in a school – I know!  The hours are longer, the depth of knowledge engagement is wider, denser, and more exciting, and the pace is relentless, 52 weeks a year minus 4 weeks leave.  But I would never trade places with the golden opportunity to work with educators near and far.

I can’t help being deeply interested in knowing more, and working with the current and future leaders in our library and education sectors. I can’t help looking innovation straight in the eye.  I can’t help gasping in frustration at what I DON’T know, and being grateful for the wonderful professional colleagues with whom I work in the School of Information Studies at Charles Sturt University.

So it is with some amazement, and a tiny bit of pride, that I can say that I have been meeting the challenges thrown at me since coming to CSU in 2011.  What I’ve been able to do has been unexpected, and exciting.

So in all this I’ve been quite busy in 2014 (new degree, program reviews etc), and though I have been sharing information via Twitter and Facebook, the blogging has definitely taken back seat.

Never mind – in a tough academic procedural battle, I have been successful in getting promoted to Senior Lecturer.  Might seem easy – but it’s not. Things work very differently in academia compared to other organisations :-).  Takes reams of paperwork to back-track everything you have done, a panel discussion, and also requires external referee support.   Not every applicant is successful first time around. We were warned about this at a long seminar, and so I was not hopeful, being a CSU newbie (in academic terms).

Very special thanks to my external referees.  You know who you are – and your input was actually essential to my promotion bid.

Now – off I go to the next challenge…..intrepid explorer boots on!

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by Lisa Norwood: http://flickr.com/photos/lisanorwood/5968756701

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 :-)

 

 

 

 

Standing on stilts – and a new degree!

Sometimes we are too immersed in what is around us, and find it hard to look out beyond the crowd to a place that brings not only excitement, but also the the kind of stimulation that any creative mind seeks. That’s what education aims to be about of course, but we can’t always succeed.  In that sense I am really lucky to be working in an environment that does support standing on stilts – if you are willing to take up the balancing-act challenge!

So on that front I have been lucky to have the support of my Faculty to stand on stilts – big time!.  We’ve now officially launched the website about our newest degree offering, the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation). In this degree will be undertaking to meet the challenges of learning in a connected world, and helping our post-graduate students (who will already be outstanding teaching practitioners)  develop the capacity to be responsive to the challenges that this connected world brings.

In examining the concepts and practices for a digital age, we will of course engage with as many of the recent developments which are influencing learning and teaching in an increasingly digitally-connected world. By examining key features and influences of global connectedness, information organization, communication and participatory cultures of learning, I hope that our students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on their professional practice in a networked learning community, and engage in dialogue to develop an authentic understanding of concepts and practices for learning and teaching in digital environments.

We will be reviewing and reconstructing understanding. We will be standing on stilts and looking for the contexts for innovation and change in day-to-day professional practice. Overall we will be encouraging professional learning through authentic tasks and activities through collaboration with peers; by immersing ourselves in readings that are thought-provoking; by adopting a stance of inquiry, reflection and analysis, and by engaging with new knowledge in the context of the daily transactions of learning and teaching.

The new degree follows a flexible structure, allowing students to craft a program of study that meets their own (and often diverse) professional needs.  The range of subjects on offer are varied, following the foundation subject “Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age“.  I will be teaching this subject myself to kick-start the degree program, because I want to!  I believe that this new degree program is going to be demanding, exciting, challenging, invigorating, and  will allow us to build professional connections between us and a real excitement for future possibilities.

OK, you say – get off your stilts now!  Stop dreaming!

The fact is that I am totally committed.  As a Courses Director, I am not expected to teach.  But in fact, I will be teaching the foundation subject because I want very much  to engage with our first cohort of students to get a measure of what is possible, and to ensure that our degree program can respond together to the challenges that new knowledge networks bring us.  You, the first cohort, will indeed lay the foundations of the purposes and future learning opportunities for anyone entering the program.  Let’s do it!  Come and join me in the challenge.

I will be holding the first round of online information Webinars about this degree program next week. If you are in the least bit curious, do sign up and join me for a chat. You’ll find the link to sign up for the webinar at the degree program website.

If you haven’t quite caught up with the rapid changes in our connected world – consider this.  Yesterday saw the world scrambling to update their iPhones to the new iOS7 operating system.  I was like a kid in a candy store as I played with my device for hours. I exchanged views and opinions with my global online colleagues via Twitter and Facebook. It was a ball!

I also work online all the time – and talk, plan, dream, sigh in these virtually connected environments. What will it be like when iRobot comes into our working environments?

iRobot was founded in 1990 by Massachusetts Institute of Technology roboticists with the vision of making practical robots a reality.  Since then they have produced robots that vacuum and wash floors, clean gutters and pools and patrol war zones.  At InfoComm which was held in Orlando, Florida last month iRobot announced they were partnering with Cisco (videoconference and telepresence solutions company) to bring an enterprise grade iRobot Ava 500 video collaboration robot to market.  iRobot blended their self navigating robot with Cisco’s high definition TelePresence technology (EX60) and wireless access points to allow offsite workers to participate in meetings where movement and the ability to change locations quickly was simple.

Ava 500 gives new meaning to the term mobile videoconferencing.  It’s no longer a case of mobile describing where you can take your equipment but where your equipment can take you!!

AVA 500 telepresence robot in action

Navigation is controlled with an advanced suite of sensors consisting of laser, sonar, 2D and 3D imaging, cliff sensors and contact bumpers.  Ava can move in any direction just like a human and safely transport herself to a meeting (having already mapped out the floor plan of the building).  She can adjust her height to accomodate who she’s meeting with (seated or standing) and can moderate her speed and alter her path if she senses humans in the environment (to get to the meeting on time).  She automatically returns to her charging station after the meeting is over.

Ava comes with a dedicated iPad which is used to schedule and control her attendance at meetings.  You can select Ava’s meeting destination by tapping a location on a map or choosing a room or employee name.  At the scheduled time Ava is activated to take you where you want to go.  You can elect to travel from the charging station to the selected location in either private mode (screen appears blank) or in public mode (screen shows video of you – see above).  If public mode is chosen you can see and be seen by others and can even stop to have a conversation with a colleague on the way.

Ava is targeted for availability in early 2014.  Thanks to the DIT blog at CSU for this eye-popping information.

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

Creating change, creating the future


What a great week for change and development it has been!  In a significant point in history I saw today that one of the world’s innovators, Douglas Englbart died, and there was plenty of commentary reflecting his myriad contributions circulating in the globe’s media.

The Computer History Museum explained:

Engelbart’s most important work began with his 1959 founding of the Augmentation Research Center, where he developed some of the key technologies used in computing today. Engelbart brought the various strands of his research together for his “mother of all demos” in San Francisco on December 8, 1968, an event that presaged many of the technologies and computer-usage paradigms we would use decades later. His system, called NLS, showed actual instances of, or precursors to, hypertext, shared screen collaboration, multiple windows, on-screen video teleconferencing, and the mouse as an input device.

It was interesting to read that Engelbart conceived the computer mouse so early in the evolution of computers that he and his colleagues didn’t profit much from it. The mouse patent had a 17-year life span, allowing the technology to pass into the public domain in 1987. That prevented Engelbart from collecting royalties on the mouse when it was in its widest use. At least a billion have been sold since the mid-1980s.

Meanwhile, as the last century continues to fade, CSU staff are busy this week nurturing the potential future innovators in information studies –  through the Melbourne study visit of libraries and information agencies, and the mid-year residential school for latest new students in the Bachelor of Information Studies.

Melbourne Study Tour

These two activities combined have seen a host of excited students – but the newest recruits were easily the most amazing bunch I’ve seen so far.

If they keep up the level of enthusiasm they have shown this week – watch out world!

I’ll be chatting to them about the social networking subject of course, and they are the first lucky bunch to be introduced to our new Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SISCSU and Twitter account https://twitter.com/SISCSU.

No fear –  the School of Information Studies staff are a talented bunch.  We even provide our own entertainment for students, lead by Damian Lodge – lecturer, ALIA Director, and classical guitar maker!

Image: 25 Years of Apple Mouse Evolution cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by osaMu

Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation

The time has come to finally put my pen down, metaphorically speaking, and take a moment to reflect – and I’m excited!

Early this year I put forward a proposal (which was accepted) to the Faculty of Education for a new degree – the result of extensive discussions, consultations, and research by my teaching partners, and in consultation with key advisers, around future directions in our academic programs.

Now in May I’ve completed in rapid fast time the extensive work required to develop the bones of a fantastic new degree.  We have it folks – a new internationally available Master of Education (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) degree, commencing in 2014.

Why it matters?

Technology has significantly impacted the literature and information engagement options for learning. Students are no longer limited to learning materials available within the confines of their school, but are able to draw on almost boundless resources of multiple types and in multiple formats, on digital devices and online. They have become connected learners (Siemens, 2004) who can explore, share and create knowledge with peers in their own classroom and around the world.

Students need guidance from teachers with expertise in navigating diverse information pathways within these personal and creative learning environments, socially connected networks, and globally enriched contexts. The range of literature and information options from books to all manner of media objects, sources and devices means that students need to know how to juxtapose quality text, sound, media and social connections appropriately and in real time;  and how to filter, then mix and match what they see, hear and exchange in order to build personal knowledge and understanding of the curriculum.

We understand that educators are challenged by this 21st century participatory culture and information ecology.

Our response is our new degree for commencement in 2014 that will aim to:

  • provide a critical introduction to the concepts, principles and practices of information and knowledge networks, including systems of information discovery, organisation, dissemination and distribution in digital environments;
  • merge key elements from the two distinctive disciplines of education and information science  to leverage the affordances of digital environments for connected learning
  • use information and communication technologies to research, teach and collaborate;
  • provide detailed knowledge of, and participatory experiences in, the principles and practices of connected learning;
  • provide opportunities to explore a range of innovative learning  frameworks, including physical and virtual environments and resources;
  • develop digital scholarship facilitated by online, networked and open content,

But wait!  There is more, and in the next few months more and more information will become available about this new postgraduate option.

To learn a little more, and stay informed of new updates visit the the Facebook Page for our new degree. Here you’ll find basic subject details, essential announcements and updates about the development processes.

We are offering a global degree – for teachers anywhere in the world to engage with connected learning!

Take a peek at this short slideshare presentation with some content information.  If you like what you see, share in your workplace and with your friends.

Siemens, T N 2004, Connectivism: A learning theory for a digital age, Creative Commons, viewed 2 September 2012, http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Image: Sunday Abstract

So you think they can learn?

Perhaps the answer to that question is obvious to you? Or perhaps you are wondering what exactly it is that you should wish your students  to learn?

I know that teachers are passionate people, who are committed to providing students with rich learning experiences and diverse opportunities to rise to the challenges that our world provides. But this passion needs to be nurtured, and is best nurtured by drawing on the quality experiences of our peer practitioners, and quality research that is being undertaken in schools.

In speaking to a group of new post graduate students this evening, I explained that one of the avenues for supporting your own ‘passion’ is to subscribe to a new online journal for educators called SCAN (which – for my money – has always been one of the best-value journals around in print form).

What does SCAN offer?

Scan is a leading refereed journal that focuses on the interaction between information in a digital age and effective student learning. Scan offers engaging professional support for all educators.

What’s in Scan?

Articles, school stories and resources about:

  • quality learning and connected curriculum
  • teaching ideas for digital age literacies
  • inquiry learning and evidence based practice
  • multimodal resources for exciting learning
  • research and emerging trends
  • extensive e-resource, website and other reviews
  • dynamic school libraries

The new online issue of SCAN carries the article  So you think they can learn? in which I urge SCAN readers to make learning visible by re-envisioning information literacy for today’s learners.

Do take the time to visit SCAN and experience the new interactive capabilities that will surely make this journal a continued leader in the field in the digital era.

Image: cc licensed ( BY SD ) flickr photo shared by heyjudegallery