#WalkMyWorld Planning Stage Reflection 2016

 

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Photo: Kate Booth

How did you get involved in #walkmyworld? Did you start as a participant or facilitator?
I was looking at my twitter feed over the early January 2014  school holidays and somehow stumbled upon the hashtag #walkmyworld. I checked the feed, liked what I saw, so decided to participate informally. Then I started looking further ahead and how I could adapt and connect this project meaningfuly in a classroom and link directly to NSW English for the Australian Curriculum outcomes. Luckily, my job was to create rich learning projects/experiences using digital technology in a number of local public schools. I decided to run the project at a small K-6 school with a student population of around 15 students. It was a perfect demographic and, with the support of a great principal, the children engaged with the learning events and work of Poet Laureate Robert Hass. A highlight was when the Robert Hass responded to one of the younger student’s photographic responses.
In 2015 I became an organiser and also ran the project with my grade 1 class. In 2016 I am again an organiser and will be running the project with my grade 2 class, thirteen of which were participants last year.
 
How have you grown as a teacher because of #walkmyworld?
I have always felt comfortable experimenting with new digital tools but participating in this project and becoming an organiser has certainly enriched my pedagogy and self-confidence as a teacher. I now have access to a number of ‘literacy experts’ and colleagues that I feel comfortable enough to be quite open and honest with. They support and validate what I am doing, not only with the project, but also with my class and the experiences I am creating for my students. Initially, and to some extent even now, I was the ‘little kid on the block’ (the only one with a measly undergraduate degree-the rest of the organisers are very well credentialed) I remember distinctly thinking last year, as I was collaborating on the learning events with Sue Ringler Pet and others, that my suggested poems/texts were too simple…easy…but the criticism never came. Ultimately, it was wonderful to see how a global audience responded to them and I was thrilled with my classes engagement and their interactions with others through our class twitter account and blog.
 
How have your tech skills grown?
My tech skills have grown a little as I try new things to see what works and doesn’t. However, as I am very limited by the amount of time and age of my class, I feel my class management and teaching of content has grown more. Tech can be used poorly and for me less can sometimes be more. That said, I love what DogTrax does and he often is a motivater for me to try out new digital tools in my spare time.
 
Private Stream?
One of the great things about #walkmyworld is the simplicity of the entry point and freedom to take the events as far as you wish using either the suggested online tools or your own. It is all dependent on your skill set and willingness to jump in and try new things. I do not remember one single response to an event ever being criticised for being digitally too ‘low level’. However, one of the requirements I thought was that this was an open research project and am not sure that adding a closed stream is in keeping with the original thought behind this project. It also adds more unecessary information that I believe will confuse and muddy the ‘walk’. I couId be wrong (I often am). I work within very strict boundaries in regards to online identity and digital citizenship and, for the most part, am ‘always a teacher’ when engaging in online spaces. My students only respond on our class blog and I hold the class twitter account. Both of these publishing spaces have also been notifed to my state Department of Education as this is a requirement. I have a very detailed letter that goes home to parents at the beginning of the year explaining that the class will be using these spaces and parents/carers can then decide to give permission or not for their child. #Walkmyworld is the perfect project and environment to teach, authentically and meaningfully, best practice in digital citizenship. The work of Dr Bron Stuckey supports this notion: ‘lived curriculum’ .  Creating a private closed stream would be a dissappointing decision but I recognise that ethical delivery of the project is also key. This could be a crossroad were the researchers will need to clarify what the walks real purpose is, and how it is evolving.
#Walkmyworld is already a challenge in its current form for many participants and by adding more choices you could end up not being able to see the forest for the trees.
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Photo: Merje Shaw Flickr

Merje Shaw Flickr

Digital Citizenship Reflection Week 1

Question Week 1: Based on this week’s reading Character Education for the Digital Age by Jason Ohler and your own research and experience: What distinguishes the “two lives” that today’s students lead? What are the challenges and opportunities in blending them?  

This is my online image and I use it everywhere.  Being a global citizen allows for incredible freedom but also peril and I need to be very aware of what my digital footprint – my virtual self- becomes and leaves behind.

As a primary school teacher who uses technology a lot in the projects I deliver digital citizenship is paramount and it is when I am working with my students in various virtual spaces that teaching moral and ethical reasoning (Good Play) regarding digital tech becomes authentic. I can’t teach it as a separate entity as I believe it holds no real value but when my students are working together in MinecraftEdu for instance, they begin to think morally i.e. “was that the right thing to do-stealing Sam’s redstone?” Dr Bronwyn Stuckey writes about a ‘lived curriculum’   stating that “Stuff happens, new information is coming in moment by moment, and learning happens on the fly” (Stuckey, 2013). Students and I develop the charters together and really try to nut out what it means to be a digital citizen whilst also recognising how blurred the lines can become. We aren’t perfect but we are learning – together. The culture is changing and with the introduction of a national curriculum in Australia, educators and students are now being asked to take on greater responsibility regarding their use of ICT and its social impact: ACARA ICT  ‘Social and ethical protocols when using ICT’ general capability outcomes.

I consider my students to have one life. An integrated life. I don’t see even myself as leading two lives – my digital being separate from my ‘unplugged’ life (Ohler, 2011). My life and that of my students is a fluid motion navigating along and through the day. I think for many the issue is balance as being so connected can also create a sense of always being switched on- it’s very tiring! Being able to find that balance and teach students how to differentiate between what is important and what you can switch off or ignore is a difficult one.  Jason Ohler writes further that “The thing that binds us to our ancestors is that both ancient and digital age humans crave community” (Ohler, 2011 p.2/4). That said, I noticed over the summer break (Southern Hemisphere) that many of my Twitter PLN (including myself) signed out for a number of weeks. Facebook is deactivated and life becomes simple and quiet. I makes me remember a scene from a Superman movie where Superman needs to fly into space to seek solitude as lower down all he can hear is Earth’s people crying out in pain and for help – it is never ending.

The challenges in blending the two lives for me personally isn’t challenging but within my school system that still has an Intranet and blocks so many sites for students, to shift this culture is difficult. Though, slowly the department is shifting as more and more teachers request sites to be unblocked and create projects that show rich digital learning opportunities for students that also foster meaningful global connections. Fortuitously, after writing this response I have to create a new whole school blog for one of my principals. He has much experience with them and is excited by the prospect (I developed a blog at his previous school for him: CHPS)  but a passing comment by another staff member really caught me out. The staff member questioned the reasoning for development of a school blog and that students images would be on it. This made me reflect that if you go onto the official school website (accessible to the world) anyone is able to download current newsletters that exhibits the poorest form of digital citizenship imaginable. The information available is frighting in my opinion. Therefore, it is the culture and lack of understanding of the tools available that can lead to lack of implementation. My job is to exhibit best practice and be the change-maker for this school regarding best use of digital citizenship practices.  My students will help me through the journey as ownership for them also is key.

Digital Cultures and a New Curriculum

The ‘official curriculum’ is central in shaping the work we do as teachers.  Presently ‘official curriculum’ in Australia is undergoing a significant ‘makeover’ in an attempt to create an approach to education that can respond to what scholars refer to as ‘new times’ (Yates & Collins, 2010).   The hopes for a ‘curriculum for the 21st century’ are inextricably linked to governmental economic and social imperatives.   Following this then, questions are raised in relation to:

  1. what are the hopes for the ‘new curriculum’?
  2. what are the various reasons that underpin such hopes?
  3. how are such hopes influencing curriculum development and pedagogy? 
  4. how can the individual teacher respond at classroom planning level?

I attempt to answer them in the following essay:

E-Tivity 9.2

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Spark:
Some of you have already spent many years as instructional designers. You will have seen changes in the types of educational media being used and the style of delivery and design being used. Those of you who haven’t worked as instructional designers will no doubt have engaged with instructional design materials throughout your education and perhaps now you see some of those materials through different eyes. For this final e-tivity I invite you to reflect on the past and project into the future.

Purpose:
To consider the future of instructional design.

Task:
Revisit some of the readings for this unit.

  1. What, if anything, surprised or challenged your preconceptions in this topic?
  2. Were there any ideas presented which altered your vision of what instructional design might look like in the future?
  3. Try to describe what vision you feel your organisation might have for training and development activities in the year 2020. Try to be optimistic but at the same time realistic.

This topic is very similar to what I have been studying for the past 4 years, lesson and unit planning with the integration of technology. The delivery of the content, however, was more engaging as we had to create a blog and utilise Web 2.0 tools and other creative digital resources.  I very much enjoyed viewing the other student blogs and they highlight how we all are such different learners with the design and responses to e-tivities.  Also, being able to create a resource and reflect on the purpose and design process is a good assessment activity. One area I didn’t enjoy was the readings as they were repetitive and for me very disengaging. This surprised me as normally I enjoy the research side of things. I am at the very end of my degree so perhaps it is because I have had enough of reading full stop!

Moving on, I don’t see any real change to ID in the future except for modifications to allow for immersive online learning which is already beggining to occurr as I write. I have been working with virtual worlds for a while now and the use of the SCU virtual island as a meeting place for external students to have a ‘physical’ presence during a virtual tutorial for instance has been almost non-existent. To me as the rise of MOOC’s increases there will certainly be a need for universities to develop engaging and immersive forms of content delivery and not just another online quizz or discussion board post.

Thinking about the Department of Education and the delivery of training and development activities in 2020 and what this might look like is a challenging task. They already have Adobe Connect Techie Brekkie’s on Wednesday mornings that we can connect to and there is a multitude of online PL through the department portal that we can access in our own time.  a number of teachers across NSW/Vic/NT/Tasmania, including myself, now meet up regularly within a virtual Minecraft world on our own server to share ideas, build units of work together (utilising Google +, Mumble for voice and Google Docs) and reflect, learn and just have fun. I think as the department realises how connected we can be through virtual online presence there might be more of that perhaps but otherwise they are moving ahead quite nicely as they cope with the enormous amount of change within a digitally connected world.