Sometimes I feel that we as teachers are constantly 3 steps behind because by the time the whole staff are skilled up on a current technology, it and the students will have already moved on to the next thing.
These words and many more are part of the reflections of my students in INF530 Concepts and Practices of a Digital Age, the foundation subject of the MEd degree in knowledge networks and digital innovation I have been teaching in, since it’s launch this year. Three weeks in and the students have launched their reflective blogs, and been engaging in online spaces and places – some more so than others of course!
Three weeks is a short time, but in that time we have hit those cloudy spaces, and even meatballs (blog post title for one of the reflections – cool!).
Our course participants come from all areas of education: teachers, educational designers, e-learning advisors, higher education, Principals and Vice Principals in schools, and more. With this eclectic and amazing mix, we have almost everything we need in a cohort to challenge our thinking – mine included!
Here are some snippets:
I want to find new and better ways to inspire and motivate teachers to have a go in the networked learning environment, to become “connected educators” – what Tom Whitby defines as “teachers who are comfortable with collaborative learning, social media, and sharing their ideas online.” I share his concern of a “huge gulf now developing between connected and unconnected educators.”
I want to be able to use the right language to convey my passion, to be able to articulate in pedagogical terms why it is important to keep up and to back up what I say with compelling examples from research.
I hope to learn effective research skills that will enable me to find quality, trustworthy information; develop a professional ‘digital learning’ network; and also build a solid understanding of how positive change can be implemented to help lift education institutions into the 21st century of learning.
Think more on the repercussions of global social networks and become more conversational about creative cultures and ways of doing, such as design thinking.
Develop a more evidence based approach to my teaching practice.
Share my ideas more openly; and learn by doing so.
We have already covered off the major thinkers in the field. We are beginning our journey into the scholarship that underpins online environments – both in research and use of digital media and resources. We have an Amazon collection reading list for students to dip into and choose just one of these books to rigorously interrogate against the materials they are engaging with.
In another one of our other degree strands (but also part of the new degree), we have welcomed Australia’s teacher ambassador for Evernote into ETL523 Digital Citizenship in Schools. It’s worth dropping over to Bec’s twitter feed or her post on “Organising my study with Evernote“.
One of the important messages about digital citizenship that we should be remembering and sharing with colleagues is the fact that we as teachers can not effectively educate students about the online world, digital citizenship or the notion of a digital footprint if we in fact are not partaking in the same social networks or using the same tools as our students.
Another important factor to consider, suggested by Nielsen (2011), is the notion of not confusing managing one’s digital footprint with being hidden or private. It is my understanding that a digital footprint should represent who we are and what we believe in a professional manner.
For some of us this seems obvious, yet not so for other educators – yet! We are struggling to encourage a few to understand the difference between privacy and adopting professional communication channels rather than a hidden persona. Isn’t this exactly what we don’t want our school kids to do…hide… and then be ready to do whatever they like online? The worse case scenarios are bullying or hacking.
Cloudy, with a chance of meatballs?
You bet – the unexpected is the common denominator in all our encounters in our learning journey together. Thank you to my wonderful cohort – the world is going to be a better place for the willing engagement and generous learning mindset that you are bringing to your study!
I am so honoured to be able to engage with you all!