Assignment 2: Design Based Research Proposal

Context and Problem

Effective utilisation of networked learning practices and tools for teaching and professional learning depends on academics in universities adopting a lifelong learning approach to digital literacies development, as they do for their discipline areas.

There is widespread agreement that digital literacies and their development are an important part of 21st century education for students and academics (Carrington & Robinson, 2009; Gillen & Barton, 2010; Goodfellow, 2011; Gourlay, Hamilton, & Lea, 2014; Janssen et al., 2013; Krumsvik, 2006; Lea, 2013; Littlejohn, Beetham, & McGill, 2012; Payton, 2012; Ryberg & Georgsen, 2010; Weller, 2011).

According to Carrington and Robinson (2009):

“In an era where these skills and texts are increasingly linked to employment, political access and the capacity to engage meaningfully in civic life, a literacy education that incorporates digital literacies is essential”.

Kerin (2009) argues that provision of opportunities for developing digital technology skills is as important as developing “critical, inclusive educators”.

According to a number of authors, the role of that academics are required to fulfill in this environment is described using phrases such as “expert learner”, “tech steward” or “guidance to learn” (Beetham & Sharpe, 2007; Carrington & Robinson, 2009; Carroll, 2000). Others make the case that educators need to “learn how to learn” in order to effectively teach their students (Krumsvik, 2006). Implicit in all of these descriptions is an assumption or requirement that academics are committed to developing and maintaining their digital literacies.

Within this context, academic staff must want to engage with professional development and be receptive to the opportunities and possibilities the digital, networked world presents. The literature in this area acknowledges a reluctance by a significant number of academics to engage with the fast paced change in the digital 21st century world and identifies a variety of barriers. (Gillen & Barton, 2010; Hall, Atkins, & Fraser, 2014; Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014; Janssen et al., 2013; Ryberg & Georgsen, 2010).

McIntyre summarises some of these barriers very well from the perspective of the digital literacy divide:

“However, as discussed above, the reasons for this digital literacy divide emerging amongst academics in recent years are many and complex: the fast rate of technological change; the inability for large institutions to respond quickly enough in adapting their organisational infrastructures; the failure to properly acknowledge the importance of technological entanglement in core business practice; technology led online initiatives that fail to enable a meaningful translation of existing individual knowledge and teaching practices; lack of support for academics in the development of online learning initiatives; and the lack of recognition of the work required by academics to develop the digital literacies and online teaching competencies. It follows therefore, that some form of professional development is an important element in helping to restore balance in the relationship between technology and education.” (McIntyre, 2014)

Although there are no simple answers to these barriers, NGL offers the possibility of circumventing or overcoming some of these barriers. One way to achieve this is to guide, facilitate and encourage participation in online communities of practice (OCoPs) (Harasim, 2012). According to Harasim:

“OCoPs will grow and improve to become a major force in Knowledge-Age education….Peer interaction and engagement with experts, scholars and scientists in related fields open unprecedented opportunities for educators to learn, to progress and improve, through participation in the relevant knowledge communities” (Harasim, 2012)

Provision of professional development opportunities via networked learning would allow academics to dip in and out as they could afford to and as they needed to. This might render NGL more appealing than other types of professional learning – just in time, as required and most importantly independent of the institution and institutional constraints. Harasim’s views are supported by McIntyre (2014):

“Breaking away from established institutional infrastructures in order to seek support from a variety of other sources, has the potential to creative (sic) a state of disruptive innovation in educational practice” (McIntyre, 2014, p95)

Literature Review

The digital world is having a transformative impact on society and is apparent in core university business and learning (Jones & Bennett, 2014; Littlejohn et al., 2012; Payton, 2012). According to Payton (2012) , “…the worlds of work, citizenship, culture and learning are increasingly digital”. Within this broader context, there is much discussion and debate in the literature regarding digital literacies.

Payton (2012) identifies a number of drivers that are influencing the focus on digital literacies:

  1. “Meeting the needs and expectations of students
  2. Responding to an increasingly digital world
  3. The need to build organisational capacity
  4. Policy concerns
  5. Meeting the demands of employers
  6. Global and sector market forces
  7. Changing academic practices”

The research acknowledges the difficulty of developing an approach to digital literacies development that balances the competing needs of incorporating contextual considerations, avoiding functional, overly prescriptive approaches whilst providing educators the opportunity to utilise the approach in practice (Gillen & Barton, 2010; Hinrichsen & Coombs, 2014; Janssen et al., 2013; Ryberg & Georgsen, 2010). According to Hall, Atkins and Fraser (2014), educators will continue to feel ill-prepared until there is consensus between institutions and educators around what digital literacy means.

Lea (2013), amongst others, argues for the importance of considering context by highlighting the need to understand the disciplinary and scholarly practices of academics in a digital world (Gillen & Barton, 2010; Payton, 2012). Littlejohn, Beetham and McGill (2012) note in their literature review that digital literacies are widely understood and acknowledged as “situated knowledge practices” .  Gillen and Barton (2010) make the point that, almost always, digital literacies are concerned with improving disciplinary critical thinking . The importance of context is confirmed by Hinrichsen and Coombs (2014) who note acceptance in the literature “…that there is iteration and interaction between culture and technology…” . Lea (2013), amongst others, argues for the importance of considering context by highlighting the need to understand the disciplinary and scholarly practices of academics in a digital world (Gillen & Barton, 2010; Payton, 2012).

This overview of approaches to digital literacies demonstrates the complexity and the competing considerations involved and highlights the need for a holistic, inclusive and balanced approach. It supports the argument made here that an effective approach to digital literacies development requires:

  • A reconciliation of institutional and educator positions
  • Avoidance of purely functional definitons or frameworks that are technology focussed
  • Incorporation of contextual considerations such as discpline, scholarly or academic practice, and the sociocultural or social
  • Emphasis of personal, professional and disciplinary development

According to Littlejohn et al. (2012), digital literacies are required for “…lifelong learning when valued knowledge is predominantly communicated in digital forms”.   A common problem posed when considering the digital world is that it is impossible to keep up with all technological change or advancement (Sharpe, Beetham, De Freitas, & Conole, 2010).  Burnett (2009) highlights the importance of acknowledging, addressing and critically reflecting on the “values, attitudes and assumptions” relating to personal digital practice or the dominant discourses within learning environments that teachers find themselves working in . Similarly, Janssen et al. (2013) identify attitudes as an important consideration that should be included when defining digital literacies . Weller (2011) makes the case for digital scholarship and the availability of opportunities for “exploration and professional reinvention” in a digital world that perhaps implicitly acknowledges lifelong learning and encourages the development of digital literacies.

Hall et al. (2014) argue that if educators are not equipped to teach digital literacies this has implications for pedagogy. A number of authors refer to the role that educators are required to fulfill in this environment using a variety of names but essentially all are describing an “expert learner” that guides or stewards students (Beetham & Sharpe, 2007; Carrington & Robinson, 2009; Carroll, 2000). According to Krumsvik (2006) educators need to “learn how to learn” in order to effectively teach their students . Another role for educators is identified as assessing the significance and suitability of technologies for learning (Krumsvik, 2006; Weller, 2011).There is also evidence that academics are crucial in the development of student digital literacies. (Margaryan & Littlejohn, 2011 as cited in Krumsvik, 2006; Littlejohn et al., 2012; Payton, 2012; Weller, 2011). Finally a quote from Beetham and Oliver (2010):

“In a digital age, learners need to practice and experiment with different ways of enacting their identities, and adopt subject positions through different technologies and media. These opportunities can only be supported by academic staff who are themselves engaged in digital practices and questioning their own relationships with knowledge”.

Implicit in all of this is that effective utilisation or implementation of networked and global learning requires an educator with well developed and maintained digital literacies. Furthermore, in a learning and teaching environment where the availability of technologies is dynamic and ever-evolving, where change is inevitable and fast paced, effective development of the digital literacies of academics may be facilitated by harnessing the affordances of networked and global learning in the form of online communities of practice (OCoPs) (Harasim, 2012; McIntyre, 2014)

Research Questions

Can networked and global learning be utilised as a means to:

  • Develop the digital literacies of academics in a university environment
  • Embed networked and global learning practices and principles into learning activities for students and act as a way of introducing academics to NGL principles and practices
  • Enable academics to overcome barriers and allow effective engagement with the networked and global world in a way that facilitates lifelong learning in digital 21st century learning environments.

Intervention and principles

In this Design Based Research proposal, the focus will be to explore the effectiveness of utilising networked learning for digital literacies development in academics in a university setting. The approach will be twofold:

  • Embedding networked learning practices and tools into the advice and recommendations provided to academics as part of my role as a learning designer. This would take the form of introducing them to the possibilities of networked learning as part of their teaching and encouraging them to utilise networked learning for enhancing student learning outcomes.
  • Encouraging academic staff to participate in online communities of practice that encourage digital literacies development and reflection and sharing via networked learning tools and environments. The OCoPs in question could be institutional, cross-institutional, or interdisciplinary.  I see facilitation of connections and collaboration amongst academic staff as fundamental to my role. This facilitation also includes encouraging academic staff to acknowledge their own practice as worthy of sharing with others.

The ultimate aim of these interventions would be to evaluate their effectiveness in improving the digital literacies of academics over time. Harasim’s OCoP Framework for Analysis (Harasim, 2012)would be used to evaluate the effectiveness of this intervention and would consider the following broad indicators and detailed criteria within:

  • “Contextual indicators (quantitative data)
  • Social and Intellectual Indicators (qualitative data) e.g. user engagement and satisfaction
  • Procedural indicators (qualitative data) e.g. expectations, procedural and policy infrastructure
  • Technological Indicators e.g. usability, support, quality of system features” (Harasim, 2012)

References

Beetham, H., & Oliver, M. (2010). The changing practices of knowledge and learning. In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham & S. De Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How learners are shaping their own experiences. Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (2007). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing for 21st century learning. Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Burnett, C. (2009). Personal digital literacies versus classroom literacies: Investigating pre-service teachers’ digital lives in and beyond the classroom. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: Social learning and classroom practices (pp. 115-145). London: Sage.

Carrington, V., & Robinson, M. (2009). Digital literacies: Social learning and classroom practices. London: Sage.

Carroll, T. G. (2000). If we didn’t have the schools we have today, would we create the schools we have today? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 1(1). Retrieved from http://www.citejournal.org/vol1/iss1/currentissues/general/article1.htm

Gillen, J., & Barton, D. (2010). Digital literacies. A Research Briefing by the Technology Enhanced Learning phase of the Teaching and Learning Research Programme. Retrieved from http://www.tlrp.org/docs/DigitalLiteracies.pdf

Goodfellow, R. (2011). Literacy, literacies and the digital in higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 16(1), 131-144.

Gourlay, L., Hamilton, M., & Lea, M. R. (2014). Textual practices in the new media digital landscape: messing with digital literacies. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/21438/html

Hall, R., Atkins, L., & Fraser, J. (2014). Defining a self-evaluation digital literacy framework for secondary educators: the DigiLit Leicester project. Research in Learning Technology, 22. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/21440/html

Harasim, L. M. (2012). Learning theory and online technologies. New York: Routledge.

Hinrichsen, J., & Coombs, A. (2014). The five resources of critical digital literacy: a framework for curriculum integration. Research in Learning Technology, 21. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/21334/html

Janssen, J., Stoyanov, S., Ferrari, A., Punie, Y., Pannekeet, K., & Sloep, P. (2013). Experts’ views on digital competence: Commonalities and differences. Computers & education, 68, 473-481.

Jones, A., & Bennett, R. (2014). Dissolving the online-offline divide: Re-conceptualising space in higher education course design. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 30-31 January 2014., Perth.

Kerin, R. (2009). Digital portraits: teacher education and multiliteracies pedagogy. In V. Carrington & M. Robinson (Eds.), Digital literacies: Social learning and classroom practices (pp. 131). London: Sage.

Krumsvik, R. (2006). The digital challenges of school and teacher education in Norway: Some urgent questions and the search for answers. Education and Information Technologies, 11(3-4), 239-256.

Lea, M. R. (2013). Reclaiming literacies: competing textual practices in a digital higher education. Teaching in Higher Education, 18(1), 106-118.

Littlejohn, A., Beetham, H., & McGill, L. (2012). Learning at the digital frontier: a review of digital literacies in theory and practice. Journal of Computer assisted learning, 28(6), 547-556.

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 1.

Payton, S. (2012). Developing Digital Literacies. Retrieved from http://www.jisc.ac.uk/media/documents/publications/briefingpaper/2012/Developing_Digital_Literacies.pdf

Ryberg, T., & Georgsen, M. (2010). Enabling Digital Literacy: Development of Meso-Level Pedagogical Approaches. Digital kompetanse-Nordic journal of digital literacy, 5(2), 88-100.

Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., De Freitas, S., & Conole, G. (2010). An introduction to rethinking learning for a digital age. In R. Sharpe, H. Beetham & S. De Freitas (Eds.), Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age: How learners are shaping their own experiences. Abingdon, England: Routledge.

Weller, M. (2011). The Digital Scholar: How technology is transforming academic practice   doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5040/9781849666275

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How NGL can inform my role as teacher.

I was recently asked to talk to fellow staff at USC on the topic of “Teachers as learners”. My approach was to consider this topic from the point of view of my participation in EDU 8117 (student, learner, teacher) and my current professional role. As I have discussed in Week 1 and Week 6, my professional role is to support and advance learning and teaching. Included above is a screenshot and link to my prezi.

My presentation focused on a number of themes:

Benefits and opportunities of thinking in terms of student, learner, teacher.

I discussed a number of the benefits and opportunities of wearing all three hats, but will be focusing on a couple of these here:

Walking a mile in students’ shoes:

In Week 3, I recognise the benefits of using some of the difficult experiences of NGL to allow me to “walk a mile”.

“It took me a while to get Diigo to work for me and do what I wanted to do. This is good. As someone that supports university staff, the more I understand and experience this, the better I will be “as teacher”. So experiencing this activity “as student” has great learning opportunities that will improve my practice, philosophy and approach “as teacher”.”

Going further, I believe that incorporating an NGL approach into practice can have similar transformative effects for academic staff. By experiencing learning from a student perspective, teachers (such as myself) can develop greater awareness of the challenges that current students face and transform their practices to overcome some of these challenges.

Making connections and blurring the boundaries or lines between students, learners and teachers

By taking a “student, learner, teacher” approach, there is a greater opportunity to blur the lines that can exist in formal academia around these roles. There is extensive discussion in the literature that supports a blurring of these lines and highlights the benefits of self directed learning, and students as co-creators of knowledge (McLouglin, 2008; Beetham and Sharpe, 2008).

Inherent in all of this is the recognition of the value of lifelong learning for educators and that there are many ways to learn and the various roles of student, learner and teacher all have valid contributions to make to our learning.

These themes sum up my approach to how I see NGL informing my approach as teacher into the future. By adopting this approach myself, I will be modelling practices which I believe will advance learning and teaching in my context. This ties in with my earlier posts around moving from knowing and doing NGL to being NGL. Being NGL will allow me to successfully model another facet of good practice in learning and teaching. Examples of practices I will be modelling include:

  • Embedding NGL tools and practices into events and activities that academic staff participate in, with the hope that they will be exposed to new ideas or practices.
  • Referring and using to NGL literature to inform practice when working with academic staff.
  • Modelling use of web 2 tools. For example showing how I harness NGL and web 2 tools for managing the proliferation of information – as student, learner or teacher. (See Week 2)

Will this actually make a difference?

I think this is a perpetual question for all academic development units and the staff working in them. I am no different. I ask this question all the time. Being and modelling good practice is at the heart of my approach. The benefit of this is that it means I remain in touch and up to date with current developments and trends in the field. Acting as a change agent by unobtrusively practising good practice myself. A couple of strategies I employ in the hope that my work can make a difference:

  • Don’t think too big. Small changes are more effective and achievable. They don’t overwhelm. Scaffolding is crucial.
  • Making a direct connection between a change in practice and a desirable outcome: Happy students, time saving, keeping up to date and managing lifelong learning effectively, digital literacies that help them manage and navigate the digital world. Different staff are motivated by different “desirable outcomes” and the challenge is to get this right for each individual.

Progress is slow. Slow progress means a cost to the organisation. I will end with a quote from  Week 8 that discusses some of the challenges I face as a “teacher” in my role and supports  McIntyre’s (2014)  argument that academic staff can contribute to disruptive innovation in their organisation  by looking outward:

“As a teacher I need to learn how to harness NGL without alienating learners and this means catering to different requirements and preferences. It also means ensuring that academic staff don’t feel as though they must invest significant time before they get satisfaction. I think what Dede talks about in David’s favourite quote could be very useful here. Learners have different preferences and NGL isn’t for everyone –  it is one way (amongst a number of ways) that learners are able to choose to learn. The upside of NGL in my context is the ability for academics to engage in their own time and at their own pace. Building on this positive, Simon McIntyre  recently published an article that acknowledges that universities are the opposite of agile and that change takes time, even when the need for it is accepted. He suggests academics should be looking outward rather than inward for professional development and that systemic change can come from the bottom up through “disruptive innovaton”.”

 

References

Beetham, H., & Sharpe, R. (Eds.). (2008). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: Designing and delivering e-learning. Oxon, UK: Routledge.

Dede, C. (2008). Theoretical perspectives influencing the use of information technology in teaching and learning. In J. Voogt & G. Knezek (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (pp. 43–62). New York: Springer.

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 1.

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. J. (2008). Mapping the digital terrain: New media and social software as catalysts for pedagogical change. Paper presented at the Ascilite Melbourne, Melbourne.

As a learner, participation in NGL was useful for me.

me as learner

 

If the purpose of undertaking this NGL course as “learner” was to learn – then I have failed to learn in line with my expectations. I did manage to get set up to learn, I now follow a network of cheesemakers around the world primarily via Twitter. However, I wasn’t able to dedicate the time required to learn about cheesemaking in warm climates. Despite not actually learning as much as I would have liked about my particular topic, I have learned a lot about the challenges and characteristics of using NGL to learn informally. In short, as a learner, participation in NGL has been useful for me. I summarise what I see as successes and failures below and then draw conclusions about my experiences.

Successes

  • I have had the opportunity to further clarify how NGL can work for me as learner. So from this perspective, participation in NGL was useful.
  • I have established the beginnings of a network for learning, primarily via setting up a Twitter account and following people in the field from across the world. The SAMR model which we looked at in Week 6 talks about Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. I do wonder whether being able to set up and readily access an international network at my fingertips is redefinition? (see Week 3)

Failures

  • From other perspectives, I would say the exercise has not been a success in that I haven’t achieved very much in the way of actually learning something. Rather than learning about cheesemaking, I only managed to develop an awareness of cheesemaking networks via Twitter, read posts and explore current themes and trends in cheesemaking.

Observations

  • Information overload is an issue (see Week 3 and Week 8) and developing literacies for NGL may be the answer to managing this. Part of this literacy is an acceptance that you will not keep up.
  • Formal vs Informal. I struggled with the clash I perceived between formal and informal (See Week 6):

“Up until this course, all of the NGL I have practiced has been informal. There were no rules, requirements, assessments – other than my own. I was able to engage as required, lurk when I felt like it and have spurts of massive productivity from time to time. No timelines or deadlines…. The informality of the NGL I have experienced and practiced up until now is clashing with the formality that the current course brings to NGL.”

  • This world is too big! I didn’t know where to start to begin with. The deadlines added further to feeling overwhelmed. (See Week 6 and Week 8).

Conclusions

  • NGL can work for informal learning but requires a time commitment. I can see it working as a long term approach to informal learning I undertake. It takes time to build the appropriate networks that facilitate the learning.
  • I had many of the tools set up already but for different purposes. I have realised that setting up networks takes time and needs to be a part of daily practice and  requires long term commitment to reap the rewards. I reflect on this in Week 2:

“So overall I have a fairly embedded Personal Knowledge Management routine in my daily life. Despite this I will be adapting this routine to a new context and environment and I think this has significant implications. This will mean it takes some time for me to get my head around how this will work in this course.

  • The “distributed world of information” that Kligyte (2009) refers to is now more coherent and sensible, in the sense that I have worked out how NGL can work for me as a learner.
  • Throughout the course I have considered the issue of online identity (Week 1 ). As I was considering “me as learner” and NGL, I realised that my concerns around online identity tend not to apply to my personal learning – I appear to be more concerned around my professional identity. However there is an integrative characteristic (Kligyte, 2009) that could occur between personal and professional that I am not completely comfortable with (Week 3)
  • “My foray into NGL began in an organic and ad hoc fashion, but now I am thinking about it more deliberately.”(Week 8)
  • In Week 6, I reach the conclusion that:

“learners must want to engage with learning or development in relation to NGL, they must be receptive to the opportunities and possibilities it presents.”

McIntyre (2014) identifies a number of barriers to digital literacies development which are relevant here:

“the fast rate of technological change; the inability for large institutions to respond quickly enough in adapting their organisational infrastructures; the failure to properly acknowledge the importance of technological entanglement in core business practice; technology led online initiatives that fail to enable a meaningful translation of existing individual knowledge and teaching practices; lack of support for academics in the development of online learning initiatives; and the lack of recognition of the work required by academics to develop the digital literacies and online teaching competencies.”

I suggest that “NGL offers the possibility of circumventing some of these barriers.” I argue that after the initial setting up, learners could “dip in and out as they could afford to and as they needed to.” I add further that this convenience factor may render it more appealing than other types of professional learning – “just in time, as required and most importantly independent of the institution and institutional constraints.”

  •  NGL provides all learners with an opportunity to engage in learning (Week 8):

“in their own time and at their own pace”

References

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice.  Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the primal scream.  Retrieved from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/connectvism-and-primal-scream.html

Kligyte, G. (2009). Threshold concept: A lens for examining networked learning. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Ascilite 2009 Conference.

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 1.

As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me

There is no doubt that participating in NGL has been useful for me as a student. In fact, it has been painful, thought provoking, frustrating, overwhelming, satisfying, transformative, eye-opening and invaluable. The literature around transformative learning theory confirms that these experiences are part of the process of transformative learning (Mezirow, 1991, Mezirow, 2000, Taylor, 2007). Despite having knowledge of this and experiencing these characteristics of learning many times before, each time it happens I find myself initially surprised by it. Then acceptance kicks in and I begin to feel more comfortable with the discomfort.

What was painful, frustrating, overwhelming?

  • Getting Set Up

Getting set up required greater time and effort than more traditional online courses. Setting up the  required tools took longer than I (and I daresay my fellow students) would have liked. The number of tools involved was also a factor: wordpress, diigo, mendeley, feedly, etc. Another issue was becoming oriented or developing a clear understanding of how things work (the tools, the expectations, the assessment of our work) in this course. Stepping out into “NGL” was both liberating and scary. I would argue that the process of getting set up in the first 2-3 weeks for EDU8117 did cause some ecoshock. (San Jose and Kelleher, 2009).

In another of my blog posts, I argued that “getting set up” was achieved at the expense of more time to dedicate to networking with fellow students :

“Greater scaffolding to allow people to get familiar with the setup process and tools being used – simpler and fewer tasks in the first couple of weeks. I think this would have helped and allowed time for participants to allocate greater time to connecting with each other.”

  • Keeping up

Another issue was around keeping up with the sheer volume of information and I refer to it in my Week 3 and Week 8 posts. Again, despite the fact that I understand that there is more information available than I can consume, I still had personal expectations of “keeping up” with everything that was shared, responding effectively to the posts and thoughts of fellow students and completing the tasks required. The reality is that I didn’t. The benefit is that, through personal experience as a student, I now have a greater appreciation of connectivist theory and Siemens argument that “our ability to learn what we need for tomorrow is more important than what we know today” (Siemens, 2005, p. 5).

What was thought provoking, satisfying, transformative, eye-opening and invaluable?

  • Public Click Pedagogy = Satisfying and invaluable

I certainly made a mess and I certainly made it public. It wasn’t consistent, but for periods of time, I felt connected to fellow students and found myself “mashing” together, interpreting  and building on the thoughts and knowledge of my peers, all of which are characteristics of “public click pedagogy” (Bigum and Rowan,2013; Downes, 2011). This included reflecting on the views and findings of peers, and sharing personal thoughts and discoveries.

  • Online identity = Thought provoking and eye opening

My experiences in EDU8117 raised a number of questions around online identity. According to Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes (2009)  there is a need for research that focuses on “the possible risks and benefits of emergent online identity development”. My personal realisations around online identity and NGL included:

  1. The real possibility that individuals  have an online identity before they are aware of the implications.
  2. The clash of personal and professional identity online
  3. The potential for online identity be used or targeted in ways you didn’t intend or don’t approve of.

According to Selwyn (2015) there is a need to take a critical approach to technology and education. He encourages educators to consider factors such as unintended consequences, implicit agendas and ask “who benefits?”. All of these factors are valid when considering the issue of online identity and its management. Blog posts in week 1, week 3 and week 7, discuss my reflections around online identity and NGL.

  • Being a Networked Student = Invaluable, satisfying and transformative.

In an earlier post I say:

I hope that this course will help me to move from knowing and doing NGL to being NGL and understanding more about how to support others to explore and embrace NGL.

I am not sure that the shift I am looking for is fully complete. I am, however, sure that I have “evolved” along the continuum. It has certainly been a part of my practice for several years now, however I wasn’t so conscious or deliberate as I am now. My ability to recognise more opportunities to strategically utilise NGL for networking, collaboration and learning has also increased. A crucial factor in successfully “being NGL” into the future will be the development of literacies that assist me to navigate NGL as effectively as possible. (See Week 3 and Week 8)

  • Formal vs informal, traditional vs connectivist? = Thought provoking

Can NGL be formal? Can a hybrid of traditional and connectivist approaches be used simultaneously in a course? I argue in one of my posts that until I enrolled in EDU8117, all of my experience with NGL had been informal and that the formality of this course, coupled with the informality of NGL and connectivism was proving a challenge. My views were confirmed after reading a blog post by Stephen Downes (2013) responding to an article by Brennan (2013) where he differentiates between traditional and connectivist learning:

“Indeed, so long as you think of knowledge and learning as something to be acquired and measured and tested – instead of practiced and lived and experienced – you will be dissatisfied with connectivist learning.” (Downes, 2013)

Is EDU8117 attempting to reconcile both approaches and philosophies? Should formal courses be based on a combination of connectivist principles and practices and traditional educational approaches?

As a student, participation in NGL was useful for me. My NGL experiences as a student will contribute to refining and developing my NGL practices into the future. However, I remain unconvinced that NGL can be effectively reconciled with formal educational practices such as semesters, deadlines or formal assessment. I plan to reflect on this question into the future.

References:

Bigum, C., & Rowan, L. (2013). Ladders, Learning and Lessons from Charlie: exploring the potential of public click pedagogy. EdExEd Working Paper Series: Working Paper No. 2. http://chrisbigum.com/downloads/LLL-PCP.pdf

Brennan, K. (2013). In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice.  Retrieved from http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/

Downes, S. (2011). “Connectivism” and connective knowledge.  Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/connectivism-and-connecti_b_804653.html

Downes, S. (2013). Connectivism and the primal scream.  Retrieved from http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/connectvism-and-primal-scream.html

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, teaching, and scholarship in a digital age Web 2.0 and classroom research: What path should we take now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259. http://late-dpedago.urv.cat/site_media/papers/Learning_Teaching_and_Scholarship_in_a_Digital_Age_Web_2.0_and_Classroom_Research.pdf

Mezirow, J. (1991). Transformative dimensions of adult learning: ERIC.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as Transformation: Critical Perspectives on a Theory in Progress. The Jossey-Bass Higher and Adult Education Series: ERIC.

San Jose, D., & Kelleher, T. (2009). Measuring ecoshock and affective learning: A comparison of student responses to online and face-to-face learning ecologies. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 5, 469-476. http://jolt.merlot.org/vol5no3/kelleher_0909.htm

Selwyn, N. (2015). Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical. In S. Bulfin, Johnson, N. & Bigum, C (Ed.), Critical  perspectives on technology and education New York: Palgrave Macmillan. https://www.academia.edu/7771394/Technology_and_education_-_why_its_crucial_to_be_critical

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International journal of instructional technology and distance learning, 2(1), 3-10. http://www.ingedewaard.net/papers/connectivism/2005_siemens_ALearningTheoryForTheDigitalAge.pdf

Taylor, E. W. (2007). An update of transformative learning theory: A critical review of the empirical research (1999–2005). International Journal of Lifelong Education, 26(2), 173-191. http://www.adulteduc.gr/001/pdfs/Taylor.pdf

Week 6 (2): Siemens article

As you read this consider how the assumptions, changes, models and future possibilities apply (or don’t) to your teaching context?

What resonates? What seems interesting?

  • Learner centred education, greater learner control, greater control over content creation
  • space and time doesn’t affect conversations any more
  • “technological developments permit individuals to experience events previously unattainable due to cost and access.” (Siemens, 2008)
  • The capacity to acquire knowledge is more important than what you know now.

What confronts? What seems interesting?

That universities must change to survive – that the current modus operandi will not cut it. This is actually irrational, as I understand Siemens (and others) arguments around this but still struggle with the reality of it.

“The view of experts as sole providers and evaluators of information seems untenable when change is so rapid” (Siemens, 2008)

Although this argument is reasonable, I wonder at how many academics (as experts) would struggle with this proposition. So confronting not so much for myself but I can see how it might be for the academy at large.

What might participatory pedagogies look like in your context?

  • an informal community of practice
  • a peer support network that focuses on outcomes for members

Do any of Siemens (2008) systemic changes appear relevant to you and your context? Could you ponder these? What else might you do?

Absolutely relevant to my context – although I am certain that my institution is not at the stage where it is ready for the kind of shifts that Siemens discussses.

Is systemic change beyond your capacity for Assignment 2? Will you be limited to your own practice, or can you consider aiming for more systemic change?

I work in an institution where the philosophy of face to face teaching is fundamental: classrooms and hierarchies are still very much a part of the status quo. Technology and the networked world are considered supplementary and complementary to these foundations and are part of a blended learning approach. I cannot see that my institution is ready to implement the systemic change that Siemens is alluding to. However I also feel that systemic change can occur incrementally, over time and influence institutional directions and intentions by taking place at the individual level. McIntyre’s paper that I mention in a previous post makes a case for systemic change that occurs as a result of “disruptive innovation”.

References

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, Volume 1.

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning.

Week 6 (1): a list of the questions you need to consider as you develop ideas about how your teaching can be informed by NGL

http://pixabay.com/en/tree-structure-networks-internet-200795/

Gerd Altmann via Pixabay

What is my role? How would professional learning opportunities be created?

I am not, strictly speaking, a teacher. My role is to support and advance learning and teaching by working with academic staff. The role I play and tasks I undertake are diverse. Anything that supports or advances learning and teaching is part of my remit. How do I harness NGL as part of this? I think one way is modelling NGL in my practice when undertaking my role. Simon McIntyre’s paper is one example from the literature that acknowledges the benefits of academic staff utilising NGL:

“Breaking away from established institutional infrastructures in order to seek support from a variety of other sources, has the potential to creative (sic) a state of disruptive innovation in educational practice” (McIntyre, 2014, p95)

Undertaking EDU8117 and reflecting on my own use of NGL for my professional practice and learning is certainly a step in the right direction. At the end of this course I anticipate that I will have built upon my pre-existing NGL practice with what I have learnt. However, what appears to be fundamental is that I continue to explore, engage and critically reflect on NGL in my role as teacher.

Modelling NGL can be augmented and supported by facilitating connections and learning opportunties between and amongst academic staff. This may be loosely termed “communities of practice” and may be institutional, cross-institutional, or interdisciplinary.  I see  the facilitation of connections and collaboration amongst academic staff as fundamental to my role as teacher. This facilitation partly includes encouraging academic staff to acknowledge their own practice as worthy of sharing with others and ties in with the theme in the video “Obvious to you, amazing to others” that David shared in Week 6.

What would be the role of the learner?

First and foremost, learners (in my case academic staff) must want to engage with learning or development in relation to NGL, they must be receptive to the opportunities and possibilities it presents. The literature acknowledges the many barriers that exist and McIntyre summarises these very well from the perspective of the digital literacy divide:

“However, as discussed above, the reasons for this digital literacy divide emerging amongst academics in recent years are many and complex: the fast rate of technological change; the inability for large institutions to respond quickly enough in adapting their organisational infrastructures; the failure to properly acknowledge the importance of technological entanglement in core business practice; technology led online initiatives that fail to enable a meaningful translation of existing individual knowledge and teaching practices; lack of support for academics in the development of online learning initiatives; and the lack of recognition of the work required by academics to develop the digital literacies and online teaching competencies. It follows therefore, that some form of professional development is an important element in helping to restore balance in the relationship between technology and education.” (McIntyre, 2014, p94)

Although there are no simple answers to these barriers, NGL offers the possibility of circumventing some of these barriers. Once set up, academics would be able to dip in and out as they could afford to and as they needed to. This might render NGL more appealing than other types of professional learning – just in time, as required and most importantly independent of the institution and institutional constraints.

How do we measure effectiveness and impact?

There is no easy answer to this and it is something I think long and hard about (self preservation is a good motivator!). Here are a few measures I have come up with. These measures would prove most effective if implemented as periodic surveys that capture emerging trends (say annually).

  1. Percentage of academic staff with a Personal Knowledge Network
  2. Percentage of academic staff utilising Web 2.0 or NGL tools to keep up to date with developments in learning and teaching, their discipline areas, and /or research
  3. Percentage of academic staff collaborating with people that they have connected with as a result of engaging with NGL practices
  4. Percentage of academic staff utilising Web 2.0 tools to facilitate or enhance student learning by integrating their usage into courses.
  5. Percentage of academic staff creating content, sharing and/or publishing via their PKM or NGL tools

References

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, Volume 1.

Sivers, D (2011) Obvious to you. Amazing to others. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcmI5SSQLmE

Week 8

What do need to still learn about NGL?
How will you learn it?
How did you learn it?

Keep calm and carry on

Keep calm and carry on by Scott Roberts via Flickr

What do I still need to learn about NGL? Loads. Although, thanks to this course I now understand the complexities and challenges involved in utilising NGL for formal education (as teacher) or formal learning (as learner or student). Looking at Assignment 2, it looks like the remainder of the course will help me explore this further and learn more about what I still need to learn. I also think that I am ready to learn more about and  explore the potential solutions that might help address the challenges of NGL.

My context as a teacher is supporting academic staff in Higher education. They have many characteristics but a universal characteristic is how time poor they are and the competing demands placed upon them. As a teacher I need to learn how to harness NGL without alienating learners and this means catering to different requirements and preferences. It also means ensuring that academic staff don’t feel as though they must invest significant time before they get satisfaction. I think what Dede talks about in David’s favourite quote could be very useful here. Learners have different preferences and NGL isn’t for everyone –  it is one way (amongst a number of ways) that learners are able to choose to learn. The upside of NGL in my context is the ability for academics to engage in their own time and at their own pace. Building on this positive, Simon McIntyre  recently published an article that acknowledges that universities are the opposite of agile and that change takes time, even when the need for it is accepted. He suggests academics should be looking outward rather than inward for professional development and that systemic change can come from the bottom up through “disruptive innovaton”. This might be an interesting read for Deb who mentions the challenges of achieving a “paradigm shift in a large institution” and the need for incremental change.

How will I learn it? As a learner and student, I had already adopted NGL as part of my practice on a daily basis prior to taking this course. However since taking EDU8117 I can now see further opportunities for utilising NGL for networking, collaboration and learning. I can also see potential to do this more strategically. My foray into NGL began in an organic and ad hoc fashion, but now I am thinking about it more deliberately. EDU8117 has helped me become more courageous about baring my soul to the global community. So one potential barrier to my effective utilisation of NGL opportunities is now dismantled.

References

McIntyre, S. (2014). Reducing the digital literacy divide through disruptive innovation. HERDSA Review of Higher Education,                               1, 83. http://www.herdsa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/HERDSARHE2014v01p83.pdf

Week 7/8: Reflection

A woman thinking.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman thinking” by ÁWáOwn work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

This is a bit of hybrid post for Week 7 and 8. I will start by commenting on one of the readings David provided at the end of Week 7 that talk about the challenges of NGL. The one that resonated most was Keith Brennan’s article, In Connectivism, No one can hear you scream.

His comments around self efficacy and cognitive load, although not foreign were very interesting to consider from the viewpoint of NGL. He makes a few valid points around factors that contribute to “failure” in NGL:

“Too high cognitive load, and no assurance, or anxiety relieving measures.”

 “Decentralise the learning process to a degree where clarity and structure require skills you don’t have to access the information you need. “

“Tasks that are too complex with no guidance in how to achieve them.”

Regarding point 2, I would actually go further and argue that for me the problem isn’t so much about the skill I don’t have – but the time. EDU 8117 is a hybrid of connectivism and traditional education and one of the challenges of learning in a decentralised environment is that it requires more time commitment than a centralised and more traditional approach.

Even more interesting and helpful for me was the response to the Brennan article from Stephen Downes on his blog:

“Indeed, so long as you think of knowledge and learning as something to be acquired and measured and tested – instead of practiced and lived and experienced – you will be dissatisfied with connectivist learning. And – for that matter – there’s probably a limit to how far you can advance in traditional education as well, because (to my experience) everybody who achieves a high degree of expertise in a field has advanced well beyond the idea that it’s just information and skills and things to learn. Kind of like Dreyfus and Dreyfus said” 

After reading both points of view, I am wondering if perhaps EDU8117 is attempting to reconcile both approaches and philosophies? “…something to be acquired and measured and tested” and “…practiced, lived and experienced”. That might be where my discomfort lies and perhaps also what Keith Brennan is articulating as the challenges of connectivism in his article. I think Stephen Downes is trying to say that true connectivism doesn’t try to do both? I would love to hear other views on this.

References:

Keith Brennan. In Connectivism, No One Can Hear You Scream: a Guide to Understanding the MOOC Novice. 24 July, 2013. Hybrid Pedagogy. http://www.hybridpedagogy.com/Journal/in-connectivism-no-one-can-hear-you-scream-a-guide-to-understanding-the-mooc-novice/

Stephen Downes. Connectivism and the primal scream. 25 July, 2013. Half an Hour (Blog). http://halfanhour.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/connectvism-and-primal-scream.html

Week 7: Being critical

Before I start – I am behind. So I am biting the bullet and leapfrogging to week 7 and will then work back and fill in the gaps as much as I can……

I am a fan of Neil Selwyn and wasn’t surprised that this article resonated with me – I had it in my” to read” pile and then saw that David suggested it for Week 7.  Selwyn’s argument for the need to adopt a critical approach is cogent and all too true. Especially if you are prone to excitement about the latest gadget or tool and have a geeky streak (ok I confess!). So when Selwyn suggests that people working in the area of technology and education “appear content to turn their critical faculties down considerably when engaging in their professional work” – I can’t disagree.

As someone working in the field of educational technology , there are lots of questions I ask myself regularly. Some of them are recurring questions. I suspect any critical thinker would be familiar with these. I confess that I haven’t found satisfactory answers yet. There are lots of questions I could ask here but below is just one that troubles me regularly – I stress though that this happens to be the one that came to mind – so not necessarily the most important or pressing question I have.

How will the constant proliferation of tools and platforms that can be used for NGL impact on people in a networked world? For example, there are new tools emerging every day. Tools pack up and disappear e.g. Google Reader. Rarely, some re-emerge – which is how I felt about delicious … For people that aren’t tech savvy – how do they cope with this?  This is not just about knowing how to navigate knowledge – what I am talking about has a consequence. A tool being used by people in a networked world just disappears (with notice and forewarning)? Where does this leave the user accounts, user information, user data, user creations? They say that it will be deleted – but what does “deleted” actually mean? What about the sustainability of these tools? Who pays? There is undoubtedly a cost….Are we heading towards a world where these tools will have to be subscription based to ensure stability? Is the current model of free and premium going to work? Do premium accounts effectively pay the cost of the free accounts? What implications does this have for those with free accounts? Why do sites like WordPress allow people to set up free blogs? Whats in it for them?

In an earlier post, I raise another question: About online identity. It is possible to have an online identity before being aware of the implications…. Working in education, I think we would all ponder this question in relation to students…..

Looking at the posts of fellow learners, I see that Deb acknowledges some personal benefits in the way of an increased understanding of NGL and what sounds like a transformative learning experience. Tracey also asks some very valid questions in her post on this topic. Her comments about literacy particularly resonated with me, as it reiterates the essence one of my earlier posts.

NGL and me (learner, student and teacher)

As someone that interacts with the networked world on a daily basis via a plethora of tools that I use in my professional practice – I have been somewhat puzzled by the fact that I have struggled with this course. After all, I know, do and be NGL already. So why have I struggled? I have been thinking about this for many weeks now…

Up until this course, all of the NGL I have practiced has been informal. There were no rules, requirements, assessments – other than my own. I was able to engage as required, lurk when I felt like it and have spurts of massive productivity from time to time. No timelines or deadlines.

So what am I trying to say here?

The informality of the NGL I have experienced and practiced up until now is clashing with the formality that the current course brings to NGL. In my world of NGL there hasn’t been formality until now. And I am still getting used to it.

So in earlier posts when I talk about “getting familiar” – this is what I am talking about. All of this makes me wonder whether or not this distinction between informal and formal learning via NGL also requires that formal NGL learning be carefully designed, planned, considered and ultimately unleashed on students – that they are asked to put down their assumptions, expectations and experiences. I now realise that assumptions I made (that I already knew what I was doing in an NGL world) were possibly unhelpful. On the other hand, I think my NGL literacies have been very helpful. I have certainly picked up and used the tools very easily. Reconciling my informal understanding of NGL with the formal requirements of an NGL course is proving difficult. Mapping the relationships between the process to follow to complete the tasks and utilise the tools effectively to achieve this has also not been so easy. For example, I am still struggling with the quantitative nature of some of the assessment criteria.

Now I will qualify all of this by saying that I understand that we are the pioneering cohort for this course and that this iteration is an experiment. However, my hope is that what I say here is useful for future iterations.

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