Meeting future learning needs of education practitioners

Knowledge building, literacy and communication in action now take many forms. When Skype was first released in 2003, the global face-to-face contact began to transform communication and collaboration in ‘real time’. Now Apple’s Face-Time, Skype in the Classroom, and Google Hangouts (to name just a few tools) guarantee synchronous engagement, alongside collaborative text platforms such as Google docs. In other words, the mechanisms for engaging with information and processes of learning in the acquisition of new knowledge has become a deeper process of individual and collaborative learning activities, problem solving and artefact development, through an integration of face-to-face and online interactions within a community, involving absorption, integration and systemisation of the information received by the receiver in their own pre-existing cognitive structure, which are the result of personal experience, and earlier knowledge transactions (Trentin, 2011).

This digital information environment demands a new knowledge flow between content and digital connections. While the bibliographic paradigm created textbook learning, the digital information environment of today indicates the need for educators to understand information seeking and engagement within connected multi-media contexts. Computer and mobile device technology environments, social media, and ready forms of online communication drive our newly emerging knowledge ecosystems. Thomas and Brown (2011), who explored what they described as a new ‘culture of learning’, explained how much the Internet has changed the way we think about both technology and information. In this new culture of learning, information technology has become a participatory medium, giving rise to an environment that is constantly being changed and reshaped by the participation within information spaces. They argue that traditional approaches to learning are no longer capable of coping with this constantly changing world. The information environment is a technology environment, which demands adaptation. As information is also a networked resource, “information absorption is a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world around us” (Thomas & Brown, 2011, p.47).

In other words, our digital information ecology is a remix of different forms of technology, devices, data repositories, information retrieval, information sharing, networks and communication. New technological tools are expanding and continually altering the ways school students, or educators can interact with the world. The implications for education that stem from new means for accessing information, communicating with others, and participating in a community needs a new brand of professional competences to thrive within the changing environment. Haste (2009) recognised the co-construction of knowledge through interpersonal discourse and the tension within pedagogy between a focus on knowledge-based instruction and outcomes, and on praxis-based instruction. “While most pedagogy, of course, recognises the interaction of both in good practice, there is nevertheless an underlying epistemological gap; knowledge-based models are implicitly more ‘top down’ and praxis-based more ‘bottom up’. ‘Knowledge’ implies that the route to understanding is in the structured transmission of information. ‘Praxis’ implies a necessary interaction with materials, actions or other persons as a route to understanding” (Haste, 2009 p.213).

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge

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. 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. This is described as an ‘information ecology’.

“Information ecology examines the contexts of information behaviour 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 rhizomatic 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.

This information ecology also 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, Bransford, Kozma, & Quellmalz, 2012, p.238 ). In this information ecology we also understand that “the development of critical thinking is a key learning objective in education – particularly higher education – [and that] it entails the ability to make reasoned evaluative judgements when making sense of information sources that contain different (potentially conflicting) findings, perspectives and interpretations of a given topic of phenomenon” (Ford, 2008 p. 59). The use of critical thinking has become particularly important as relatively quick access to a wide range of information means that the user needs the ability to critically evaluate the validity and value of information accessed.

The evidence is that technologies and social media platforms are driving an unprecedented reorganisation of the learning environment in and beyond schools and tertiary environments. These disruptive shifts are already reshaping the workforce landscape and the skills required (Davies, Fidler & Gorbis, 2011), establishing lifelong and life-wide learning as the central paradigm for the future (Redecker et al, 2011).

Our work as educators has to centre on helping to meet future learning needs in courses/programs by fostering a culture of enquiry within 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.

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2012). Introduction to information science. London: Facet.
Charles Sturt University. (2012). Course Approval Document. Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation Articulated Set). CASIMS, Office of Academic Governance.
Davies, Al, Fidler, D., & Gorbis, M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute: California.
Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.
Haste, H. (2009). What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’. Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207-223. doi:10.1080/09585170903195845
Redecker, C., Leis. M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P., Stoyanov, S., & Hoogerveld, B. (2011).  The future of learning: preparing for change, Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, JRC European Commission.
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.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.
Trentin, G., (2011). Technology and knowledge flows : the power of networks. Chandos Pub, Oxford.

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by katypang: http://flickr.com/photos/katypang/2628074710

Innovating Pedagogy Report

Once again the Open University has provided another Innovating Pedagogy report – the third report in it’s series. This series of reports explores new forms of teaching, learning and assessment for an interactive world, to guide teacher and policy makers in productive innovation.

Download the 2014 Innovating Pedagogy Report

Produced by the Institute of Educational Technology at The Open University, the report identifies ten educational terms, theories and practices that have the potential to provoke major shifts in educational practice in the near future.

Featured in 2014’s annual report:

  1. Massive open social learning
  2. Learning design informed by analytics
  3. Flipped classrooms
  4. Bring your own devices
  5. Learning to learn
  6. Dynamic assessment
  7. Event-based learning
  8. Learning through storytelling
  9. Threshold concepts
  10. Bricolage

While MOOCs and other theories covered in this year’s report are not necessarily new, the report aimed to examine how they can gather momentum and have a greater influence on education.

I find the greatest value of this report is to see the changes taking place – a litmus test – of what is considered relevant/important and/or of note. I would also juxtapose the findings against the series of NMC Horizon Reports, which cover a range of school, tertiary, and library sectors.

Look out for other annual reports in your country, sector, or region too!

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by Intersection Consulting: http://flickr.com/photos/intersectionconsulting/7537238368

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

For the love of ‘open’ maps

It’s been exactly ten years since the launch of OpenStreetMap, the largest crowd-sourced mapping project on the Internet. It took a few years for the idea of OpenStreetMap to catch on, but today, it’s among the most heavily used sources for mapping data and the project is still going strong, with new and improved data added to it every day by volunteers as well as businesses that see the value in an open project like this.

I’ve used Navfree: Free GPS Navigation on my iPhone, with free maps from over 30 countries, and it’s pretty cool.

I’ve also loved the an animation and music sources related to the first video showing edits to the open source resources that came from the original OpenStreetMap.org project during 2008.  OSM 2008: A Year of Edits on vimeo not only provides a fab background video for your own mixup, but also access to some great sound tracks to support this.

OpenStreetMap started in 2004 and the rate of contributions is accelerating with four times as many people contributing to the project in 2008 compared to 2007. During the year, edits were made by some 20,000 individuals and there were bulk imports of data for many places, including the USA, India, Italy and Belarus which are clearly visible in the animation. (wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Potential_Datasources)

That original animation was produced by itoworld.com. It is licensed CC-BY-SA and can also be downloaded if you are logged-in. Various stills are available from flickr.com/groups/itomedia/pool/. The music is ‘Open Electro’ by Vincent Girès’ jamendo.com/en/artist/silence and can be downloaded from archive.org/details/silence-silence.

Here is the new animation and more information from TechCrunch For the Love of Open Mapping Data,   and OSM Tenth Year Anniversary.

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.