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. (in publication)

 

Understanding your digital footprint – new opportunities!

Just like a tattoo, your digital reputation is an expression of yourself. It is formed and added to by you and others over time. In her Digital Tattoo presentation at ISTE 2013 (also in video format), Sullivan (2013), shares excellent resources and presents a compelling narrative for learning more so we can all make informed decisions about who we are and what we do online. Educators can not ignore this, it is part of teaching and learning now. It is an everyday part of a students’ life – professionally and socially.

This may mean that teachers need to embark more on creating an online identity and actively engage in new and emerging media and in fact lead by example. Without this personal understanding of the technologies and web environments the issues that our students are facing becomes somewhat theoretical, and perhaps makes it difficult to take a proactive stance on matters within your own school or DLE. Nielsen (2011), in her blog post Discover what your digital footprint says about you provides resources to help you discover what your digital footprint really says about you. Fostering responsible citizenship needs a clear understanding of  ‘public by default’ settings – particularly in the face of such challenges as those that social networking sites like Facebook bring into the mix.

Teaching students to manage their digital footprint really starts with the adults. Teachers can’t teach this effectively if they, themselves have not managed their own digital footprint. It is also important not to confuse managing a digital footprint with being hidden or private. Branding our identities has become more and more important in the digital age and if students and teachers aren’t actively managing their digital footprint, then who is? Managing your digital footprint starts with asking questions like: Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your passions and beliefs? The important lesson with managing your digital footprint is that everything we do online should represent who we are and what we stand for and we must have the knowledge that this representation will stick with us potentially forever. (Nielsen, 2010).

Levine (2012), takes us on a journey in his video, We, Our Digital Selves, and Us, where we are challenged to reflect on our online and offline identities and how we can mold our digital footprint, and implies learners at all ages should be cognizant of being digital.

Want to learn more about your digital tattoo? Search yourself. Use pipl.com (http://pipl.com)  to find out what comes up about you. Try Spezify (http://www.spezify.com/) for a visual representation of your identity or (more importantly) how the internet sees you.

Julie Lindsay asks:

What are important messages and understandings we should be remembering and sharing with colleagues to inform our approach to teaching and learning in the digital world?

You will find this and many more concepts, ideas, issues and questions to discuss in the subject that Julie Lindsay is writing and teaching for us at Charles Sturt University. I am delighted to be working with Julie – a real global leader in digital citizenship in schools.

Julie has been appointed as an Adjunct Lecturer in the School of Information Studies, Faculty of Education. Julie is teaching two subjects in the March session – Digital Citizenship in Schools and Knowledge Networking for Educators.

I am very proud of the fact that our new global online degree, launching in 2014, the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) http://digital.csu.edu.au is working with global leaders in the field – a unique approach to postgraduate education. While we have a robust academic foundation for all the subjects, we also have a solid foundation in the really relevant concepts and practices required in a digital world – as demonstrated by those that are actually leading the global agenda!

Why not join Julie in this remarkable degree.  To find out more about Julie, start with this portfolio website – http://about.me/julielindsay

Enrollments are still open until 2 February.  Contact me at Twitter https://twitter.com/heyjudeonline  if you want more information!

Image: cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Steve Jurvetson

Digital literacy across the curriculum

Digital Literacy across the Curriculum (pdf), from FutureLab, UK, is a 63-page handbook aimed at educational practitioners and school leaders in both primary and secondary schools who are interested in creative and critical uses of technology in the classroom. The handbook is supported by case studies (pdf) of digital literacy in practice and video case studies.

The handbook aims to introduce educational practitioners to the concepts and contexts of digital literacy and to support them in developing their own practice aimed at fostering the components of digital literacy in classroom subject teaching and in real school settings.

Developing digital literacy is important  because it supports young people to be confident and competent in their use of technology in a way that will enable them to develop their subject knowledge by encouraging their curiosity, supporting their creativity, giving them a critical framing for their emerging understandings and allowing them to make discerning use of the increasing number of digital resources available to them. p.10

Developing digital literacy in the classroom can allow students to apply their existing knowledge of creating with digital technology to learning in school and in the process be supported to think more critically and creatively about what it is they are doing. p.24

Fostering creativity in the classroom involves applying elements of creativity to subject knowledge. This can be done in all subjects across the school curriculum. p.25

This is an outstanding document that can be used as an information primer for helping schools develop a whole-school approach – particularly relevant in the current 1:1 laptop scenario in Australia.

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!

Understanding games education – an open (re)source

ETC Press is a publishing imprint with a twist, being interested in the participatory future of content creation across multiple media.

Great credibility and open source  adds up to a great way to transform learning!

ETC Press  is an academic, open source, multimedia, publishing imprint affiliated with the Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and in partnership with Lulu.comETC Press has an affiliation with the Institute for the Future of the Book and MediaCommons, sharing in the exploration of the evolution of discourse.

ETC Press also has an agreement with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) to place ETC Press publications in the ACM Digital Portal, and another with Feedbooks to place ETC Press texts in their e-reading platform. Also, ETC Press publications will be in the ThoughtMesh.

ETC Press publications focus on issues revolving around entertainment technologies as they are applied across a variety of fields.

Thanks to a tweet from @lernys I’ve now happily downloaded a copy of Ludoliteracy: Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Games Education, by José P. Zagal.

[cover thumbnail]This is free and looks like a very worthwhile read. Grab yourself a copy.

Book Description:

It seems like teaching about games should be easy. After all, students enjoy engaging with course content and have extensive experience with videogames. However, games education can be surprisingly complex.

This book explores ludoliteracy, or the question of what it means to understand games, by looking at the challenges and problems faced by students taking games-related classes. In response to these challenges, this book then describes how online learning environments can be used to support learning about games by helping students get more from their experiences with games, and helping students use what they know to establish deeper understanding.

Based on the findings from a series of research studies, Ludoliteracy examines the broader implications for supporting games education.

Check out more Current Titles on games, media, design, communications and social networks.