How does your garden grow?

nature flowers blue summer
With silver bells, and cockle shells…and pretty maids all in a row!  Perhaps that is one way of looking at the wonderful record of professional learning that will come to reside in your online learning record of your Thinkspace blog.

Yes, it could be a beautiful garden, or it could be a collection of weeds with the occasional bright flower.  So it is time for me to write a strong reminder of the importance of keeping a clear focus on your personal learning, which is more than just studying and writing assessments. Your learning is about lifting your knowledge to new levels and reaching out to your new professional community to discover the full dimensions that teacher librarianship can offer you.

But blogging first.  What have you all been achieving so far in ETL401 with your blogging? There are many many posts written that wonderfully capture the measure of emerging engagement with ideas and interactions with your new knowledge spaces. The confidence that you bring to your writing, however, is not necessarily a natural process for all of you.  Don’t let that be a concern.  Focus rather on the importance of teacher librarianship.  While I am on the topic, a special shoutout to your fellow student Fiona who wrote her first assessment about TLship entitled Would you like an adventure now, or should we have our tea first? 

I was so taken by this blog post that I could ‘hear’ Fiona in my head – and contacted her to ask if she would record this blog post for me to share at the ASLA conference as part of my closing keynote. It was indeed the perfect wrap up for the whole conference closing.  Thank you Fiona – I was proud of you, and the audience all agreed that her charm and confidence was very special indeed!

More importantly, you are all ready to be fully badged teacher librarians, but you must always and every day extend your knowledge – and blogging is one space where you can do this well, and push yourself to think and record your knowledge.

In particular you need to do this for your subjects and your course.

It really is not enough to just write a few posts, just so that you can write your final blog reflection for a subject. Of course you can ‘get away with it’.  But learning is not about, ”getting away with something”.  Learning, as you well know, is about pushing the boundaries to know more, to challenge ourselves and others around us.  The thing is, for your final subject you are asked to review your learning through all your subjects, and being able to draw on your blog posts is a marvelous way to capture this.  Don’t miss the opportunity to start now, get strong in blogging and learning habits, and have a good record as well as build your collaborative knowledge together.

As it happens, too many  people have only written one, two or at most three posts.

Gasp!

BUT…………I can also see this much needed curiosity and reflection already happening in the posts that are being written in many other examples such as Tanya, Nicola (with clear use of ETL401 and ETL503 categories),  Anastasia, Rebecca (also with good ETL401 and ETL503 categories), and of course Trish who likes to write reams, but whose blog template puzzles me!  So if you are only doing one subject, there is still time for you to polish your blogging tools and get going!

Forgot to set up your categories?  Just revisit the video we provided in the Introduction module Managing your subjects in Thinkspace.

It’s no surprise that those who write little on their blogs are those who write little or never on the forums.  Please know that it is through engaging with the subject, the cognitive stress, pull, strain of the subject, that real learning actually happens.  Study is not about content any more – it is all about professional development.  A small tip as well.  Look at the title of your blog.  Does it say “just another CSU Thinkspace blog”, or have you changed the byline?   Take a look at Deborah or Donna‘s blogs which all have something else.  Donna’s A reflective journal of learning by an aspiring Teacher Librarian is particularly apt!

You set this up in your blog dashboard. Click on Settings > General.  See the Tagline under the Site Title?  Write yourself a nice tagline right there and you too can have something nicer than “just another CSU Thinkspace blog”.

For more quick tips on blogging, if you need them, take a few minutes to check up the many links provided on the landing page of Thinkspace  to look at the many Tools and Resources provided their for you as your blogging habits improve. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/.

In addition, here is a very short video with a quick run through some basics for you, as a reminder, if you need it.

Finally, there are a few advanced learners amongst you, who are ready for a bigger challenge. So I wanted to share with you a blog post of one of our graduates who was a champion of both blogging and efficiencies in organisation for study. There was a day when many were asking just HOW to manage everything in a busy day of work, play, and study.  Nadine of course was working full time, studying  through several Masters degrees, and sharing and building connections all the while. Here was her post in response for the cry for help – which I now share with you. Being organised upfront saves time!  Digital reading and studying – teachers are students too. If you are serious about getting organised, you will want to read this! This blog post was subsequently turned into a short contribution to inCite, for ALIA.  Nadine is now working in China.  Nadine has archived her Thinkspace blog, and continues to blog at https://informativeflights.wordpress.com/

Finally, let me leave you with a final word of encouragement.  I received a phone call yesterday morning from a TL, whose first words to me started with “Judy, you won’t remember me, but…..”  She graduated six years ago, and despite challenges, continued her study.  She is now the keenest advocate and happiest TL in a low socioeconomic area school, ready to tell the world her story.  The journey is not always easy.  Some of you will find blogging easy.  Some of you will not.  I found it hard at first, but now it’s second nature.

Give it a go! Start writing, recording, reflecting, challenging, keeping pictures, taking videos, sharing memories…anything.  Your students do.  You can too.

It was a wonderful opportunity meeting up with current and past students at the recent ASLA conference in Canberra, as well as seeing Lori in person again after only interacting online. Those professional conversations we have at big TL gatherings are well worth it.  Keep smiling!  Here are my slides for my final presentation, which included the lovely contribution from our student.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com 

End of another era!

Rather surprisingly to me, I have had this blog since 2006, when writing a web journal was new, and amazingly clunky. But there was a real desire for educators to learn about and become familiar with working, writing, thinking, sharing and in general ‘being online’.  Since then of course we have traversed many platforms, virtual and digital, but some foundational activities remain the same.

Students in schools and tertiary education still write online. Reflective practice is still highly relevant.  That being said, this blog now remains as an archive of over a decade of thinking and writing while I worked in schools, school education support, and tertiary education.  I am still working as Senior Lecturer and Course Director at Charles Sturt University, but as I plan to take a significant chunk of leave in 2019, I will hold off from a return to this writing here for another year (or so).

Have a good 2019 everyone!

A year of data goodness


 
This is another year again…and one that may well see me more productive on the digital front – at least in terms of data.  I have not been writing much online as I have been pretty much taken up with my various positions at CSU  – yes, two different ones in 2016 saw me pretty much scrambling most of the time trying to make sense of my workplace.

But 2017 is going to be a little different.  Along with all the adventures of 2015 and 2016 (who can forget being bed and housebound for so long in 2015?), I have also been working on higher degree doctoral research at LaTrobe.  This year I hope to be more immersed in the data collection phase.

What’s this all about?  Research of course, and in an area that is of deep interest to me, both at an individual level and how it plays out in our higher education enterprise – particularly in the field of academic digital scholarship.

The internet lies at the core of advanced scholarly information infrastructure to facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research. Perhaps it is that the technology and digital environments which now exist can enhance scholarship and learning since technology has become a pivotal process or tool in connectedness through globally accessible knowledge and scholarly connections. Digital scholarship is valued for openness or open access within the boundaries of open data, open publishing, open education and open boundaries , and for utilising participatory or collective ways of thinking. The impact of technology has emerged as complicated and disruptive while being highly relevant and transformative. The emerging implication is that academic scholarship practices are undergoing something of a transformation in internet-enabled online environments and that this requires review and reconsideration of the technology-related pivot points (or dimensions) of liminality within this environment of digital scholarship.

So I’m out to learn more about digital scholarship and leadership.

The landscape of learning in higher education is such that it creates complexity for academics, and places demands on leaders within institutions to foster growth and change. In fact, the complexities and influences impacting the processes of both learning and teaching as an academic endeavour are the topic of much research and writing, and according to Savin-Baden (2015):

“much of the current research that transcends pedagogy, technology, education studies and computer science remains disconnected, with the result that although we know students adapt to the cultures of school and university, their learning preference and practices in the twenty-first century continue to be under-researched” (p. 16)

No need to say more, other than that it will be an adventure. My working field of endeavour is to be an analytic auto-ethnography of pathways to digital scholarship in academic leadership. No, this is not navel gazing at all, but a highly complex endeavour using an emerging research approach that will be more demanding than the average “go and interview and survey a bunch of people, and write it up” kind of research. It’s going to be a big job, but what is more important, it is going to be an interesting job!

A year of data goodness?  Or a year of living dangerously?  Time will tell.

Here’s the scenario: abstracted from my first annotation in the diary that I will also be keeping offline (not quite – digital format in OneNote which is in the cloud and online privately -right?).

Welcome to my auto ethnographic diary of myself.   I am looking forward to taking up almost where I left off some years ago when I wrote A Week in the Life of a New Media Librarian, which was eventually also turned into a publication in Dutch.  O’Connell, J. (2010). Het 21ste-eeuwse klaslokaalMedia Coach, January, No. 1.

In this publication I said:

“Our capacity to ‘connect’ will strengthen or weaken depending on our socialnetwork awareness and our capacity to use Web 2.0 tools to harness and organize information and add value to the collective. Educators who understand this know that to be good mentors in the 21st century learning landscape is to use the power of personal learning networks and Web 2.0 tools to empower information seeking and knowledge creation”.

Published in 2010 it’s essentially my last year in school education, so sets the scene nicely for the work that followed.

I have spent time while on leave reorganizing my digital files – just because things DO get untidy.  I’m new to OneNote, but  as part of my digital preparations I found that Nvivo imports OneNote data  so had to add this tool. Now the scene is set for a rational and organised approach to the personal diary of events, thoughts and more.  Plus I can access it all in the cloud too!

So I have re-organised my digital tools related to the research – specifically

  • OneNote
  • Evernote
  • Papers3
  • Zotero
  • Scrivener
  • Scapple
  • Dropbox
  • Google Docs
  • Google Drive

It’s all part of the personalisation – being digital doesn’t mean that we don’t want to personalise things – right?

These are all tools I use daily, except for Scrivener, which will be used more as I progress.  I am also investigating NVivo to see how concept mapping in that program compares with concept mapping with Scapple for Scrivener .  I suspect that they will each stand separately – one around the idea formation for writing, the other around idea formation around the data analysis.

Time will tell. In other words – this thing is digital.

Interestingly as I was cleaning up (as you do at the beginning of a new year) the physical trappings of papers and filing cabinets were useless.  Yes, I had printed out stuff, and promptly forgotten I had that very same stuff.  But digitally – I knew exactly  where things were, and when I hadn’t filed them neatly to be able to be organised!

In a sense this is a data discovery – or confirmation  for me that I am fully digital, though not AI (artificial intelligence). I wish!.

This IS also the  commencement of genuinely and thoroughly investigating how my digital scholarship practices have emerged in my work within higher education and how they are shaping or have shaped my leadership practices.  Were they shaped by higher education or by evolution in digital environments? Or my PLN? Or something else?

A year of data goodness indeed!

Savin-Baden, M. (2015). Rethinking learning in an age of digital fluency: Is being digitally tethered a new learning nexus? New York, NY: Routledge.

Image: Research Data Management flickr photo by jannekestaaks shared under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Libcrowds: crowdsourcing keeps getting better

crowdsourcing_from_the_british_library___libcrowds

LibCrowds is a project from the British Library and British Library Labs that uses crowdsourcing to transcribe some of the printed cards still housed in physical card catalogues.

The British Library’s online catalogue, Explore, contains nearly 57 million digital records, but for some important research materials these printed cards remain the only access points.

Three projects are currently underway: Pinyin Card Catalogue: Drawer Five; LCP (the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays and Correspondence): 1824-1899 (Abbe-Belles); and Urdu Card Catalogue: Drawer Two.

Ample instructions for volunteers who wish to contribute are provided, including video demonstrations. Volunteers and anyone who’s interested can track the progress in the Statistics section of the LibCrowds website. A heading here indicates that “688 volunteers have participated in 14 projects, made 32,119 contributions and completed 10,392 tasks.” Following the heading, data is presented in graphic form. For example, there is a map of the locations of the most active volunteers and a graph showing hourly contribution levels over the past 24 hours.

Technology

LibCrowds is built on top of PyBossa , an open-source Python framework for the creation of crowdsourcing projects. PyBossa is written in Python and uses the Flask micro-framework. Each project on the platform is written in a combination of HTML, CSS and Javascript. The community forum is powered by Discourse. The LibCrowds theme and any plugins developed to provide additional functionality are open-souce and available on GitHub.

LibCrowds is currently running the following plugins:

While I’m familiar with crowdsourced work at National Library online catalogue at Trove in Australia, and the community working there to help improve the digital resources there, it was great to learn about the British Library project.

home_-_trove

If you are interested, join the TROVE community that’s organising and improving this information resource.

Connect to others with similar interests on the Trove forum

The academic integrity challenge


While technology is changing the information environment, the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow still has to underpin learning. A major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the creation or generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

In this context the phenomenon of academic dishonesty has attracted much interest over the years – and the challenges and strategies for maintaining quality assurance is often addressed by policies, coupled with an investigation of new strategies for assessing the ‘iGeneration’.  I live this experience in the higher education sector, and my strong believe is that the issue is what we teach and how we teach it – or rather, what learning environments we create for our students.

I acknowledge that policy is needed, but many of the draconian strategies still employed are not necessarily the right producing the ‘fix’ that we want.  In this context,  the story of our journey in creating learning in a participatory networked learning culture provides some insights and alternatives that just might help drive better learning as well as improve academic integrity.

Long story short – a paper written for a conference has finally made it into the ‘open’.  May not be polished, but it’s authentic – these things really happened and continue to happen!

O’Connell, J. (2016). Networked participatory online learning and challenges for academic integrity in higher education. International Journal for Educational Integrity. 12:4
Grab a copy here! http://rdcu.be/mrKu

Image: flickr photo shared by opensourceway under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

Digital scholarship and ePortfolios

Current online information environments and the associated social and pedagogical transactions within them create an important information ecosystem that can and should influence and shape the professional engagement and digital scholarship within our learning communities in the higher education sector.  Thanks to advances in technology, the powerful tools at our disposal to help students understand and learn in unique ways are enabling new ways of producing, searching and sharing information and knowledge. By leveraging technology, we have the opportunity to open new doors to scholarly inquiry for ourselves and our students. While practical recommendations for a wide variety of ways of working with current online technologies are easily marketed and readily adopted, there is insufficient connection to digital scholarship practices in the creation of meaning and knowledge through more traditional approaches to the ‘portfolio’.

Reflection on practice

A key area in the development of the professional practitioner is the ability to reflect on practice as the basis for learning, with the effectiveness of this practice having been confirmed through research to be linked to inquiry, reflection and continuous professional growth (Killeavy & Moloney, 2010). Reflection can be understood as a process of internal dialogue facilitated by thinking or writing and through an external dialogue and reflection together with others (Clarke, 2003). Reflective practice writing is creative, a way of gaining access to each practi­tioner’s deep well of experience not always accessible to everyday channels and is a valuable mode of expressing, sharing, assessing and developing professional experience (Bolton, 2005). By recognising and taking responsibility for personal and professional identity, values, action and feelings the student undertaking reflection within the constructs of subject and program requirements is demonstrating a willingness to stay with uncertainty, doubt and questioning in order to engage in spirited enquiry leading to constructive developmental change and personal and professional integrity based on deep understandings (Bolton, 2010, p. 7). Knowing what to reflect upon is as critical a part of the educative process as the reflection action itself, perhaps explaining why reflective practice has become a standard in initial and continuing professional education and development. This is a pedagogical approach that draws together reflective practice and reflexivity (finding strategies to question our own attitudes, values and limits of our knowledge –  Bolton, 2010) as a state of mind to empower the process of learning.

In professional programmes in particular, it is useful if students keep a reflective journal, in which they record any incidents or thoughts that help them reflect on the content of the course or programme. Such reflection is basic to proper professional functioning. The reflective journal is especially useful for assessing ILOs (intended learning outcomes)  relating to the application of content knowledge, professional judgment and reflection on past decisions and problem solving with a view to improving them.” (Biggs & Tang, 2011, p.261).

It is perhaps simplistic to migrate a pre-digital taxonomy to a digital environment and to ignore the function of and relationship to digital scholarship for the educator or higher education academic. When it comes to online learning, it is understood that interaction with others (peers and instructors) is a highly important variable in successful learning experiences within the online learning environment, particularly when coupled with the need for students to achieve self-regulation between their own knowledge/experiences and the content of a subject (Cho & Kim, 2013).  This reflective practice, which assists in assembling knowledge and experience in meaningful ways, can be facilitated by the use of an ePortfolio, and may facilitate independent learning, development of identity, a sense of empowerment, greater awareness of self, and promote active engagement in future oriented professional practice (Rowley & Munday, 2014).

The digital information environment in which an ePortfolio is situated is one that demands a new knowledge flow between content and digital connections. While academics may consider themselves to be pedagogically driven in their learning and teaching, the availability of technologies to support different models of learning strongly influences what kinds of pedagogies will now emerge in terms of course content, subject dialogue and conversation.  As McLuhan (1964) first argued, technologies also influence and define the usage, in this case the pedagogy instantiated in the learning and instructional designs (Anderson & Dron, 2010). Academics (as teachers) need to support and nurture learners to learn within connected and collaborative learning environments, to lead purposeful and corrective discourse in relation to multiple information environments as part of the construction of meaning and understanding (Garrison, 2015).

References

Anderson, T., & Dron, J. (2010). Three generations of distance education pedagogy. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 12(3), 80–97.
Biggs, J., & Tang, C. (2011). Teaching for quality learning at university. Open university press.
Bolton, G.(2005). How to begin writing. In Reflective practice: writing and professional development (2nd ed.)(pp. 141-162). London, UK.:Sage.
Bolton, G. (2010). Reflective practice: Writing and professional development. Sage publications.
Cho, M. H., & Kim, B. J. (2013). Students’ self-regulation for interaction with others in online learning environments. The Internet and Higher Education, 17, 69-75.
Clarke, M. (2003). Reflections: Journals and reflective questions a strategy for professional learning, NZARE/AARE Conference. New Zealand.
Garrison, D.R. (2015). Thinking collaboratively: Learning in a community of enquiry. London: Taylor & Francis.
Killeavy, M., & Moloney, A. (2010). Reflection in a social space: Can blogging support reflective practice for beginning teachers?. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26(4), 1070-1076.
McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man. New York: McGraw Hill.
Rowley, J., and Munday, J. (2014). A ‘Sense of self’ through reflective thinking in ePortfolios, International Journal of Humanities Social Sciences and Education, 1(7), 78-85.

Extract from

Digital scholarship powered by reflection and reflective practice through the use of an ePortfolio approach to course design in Higher Education. (Refereed publication)

World class education through OERu

Home___OERuOne of the delights of working at Charles Sturt University is being able to range across innovation opportunities – to make a difference!

A project that I have had some connection with has been the open university initiative branded as OERu. Check out what they are up to at https://oeru.org. It’s a very interesting project headed by Wayne McIntosh UNESCO / ICDE Chair in OER, Director of the OER Foundation, OERu thought leader.

The OERu makes education accessible to everyone. Coordinated by the OER Foundation, we are an independent, not-for-profit network that offers free online courses for students worldwide. We also provide affordable ways for learners to gain academic credit towards qualifications from recognised institutions.

In the traditions of open sharing, the OERu partners develop all OERu courses in WikiEducator.  This is a healthy relationship because 75% of the funding which keeps the WikiEducator website going is generated from OERu membership fees.  Without this support – we would not be able to fund the hosting of WikiEducator.

I need to ask for your help!  We need you to subscribe to the Youtube Channel.

One of the outputs of the communication’s project is a short video explaining what the OERu is and how it is designed to enable education opportunities around the globe.

As a charitable organisation, YouTube has approved a Youtube for non-profits account for the OERu. We have met all the requirements to qualify for a custom url for the new channel, expect that we need 100 hundred subscribers.

We need your help – please subscribe to the OERu Youtube channel so we can qualify for a custom url.

This will make it easier for learners to find more affordable options for higher education and higher education institutions to become more sustainable.