Sunday, 29 March 2015

Connect to live

Connect to live

I’m in my 5th year of teaching, after changing careers, studying and moving countries. Over the past 3 years I have become more engrossed and aware of the emergence of connected learning environments. From joining Twitter, reading blogs, writing blogs, listening to podcasts, and connecting with educators across Australia and the world. It constantly amazes me the wealth of knowledge and sharing that connected educators are doing online, and it encourages and inspires me every day. ‘Connected Learning’ and ‘Digital Literacy’ is quickly evolving into foundations of my own teaching strategies. In a rapidly evolving world of information technology, it is becoming paramount as a teacher that I’m able to develop these areas in my students and allow them to develop their skills.
Everything Is Connected
creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by auspices:
Technology has allowed new connections, interactions and participatory cultures to emerge. To be able to to use theses to the best effect, we foremost need to have a clear understanding and grasp of ‘Digital Literacy’ and how it relates to education. Bawden (2008) identifies a number of key facets of digital literacy; they include areas such as knowledge assembly, retrieval skills, critical thinking, using people networks and publishing information. This reflects strongly with my own teaching context whereas a History teacher these skills are key – Finding information, collecting it and being critical of the information in conducting a historical inquiry, forms the bedrock of research in History. The other aspects of using networks and publishing the created information is the missing element, and this is where I see further progression needs to take place within my own teaching context for my students.

Connected Learning would not be able to exist without Digital Literacy. Connected learning should be part of our daily lives as educators, we have the ability to connect with other educators online through Twitter, Blogs, and many other ways. However many of my students are still not utilising their connections to facilitate learning, and this is the area to focus on. This ties in well with what Helen Haste argues that in the future people will need to be able to adapt to change, to use new and old tools effectively, and to be confident that they can act in effective ways. These students are the future citizens, the future workers, the future inventors, the future leaders and they will need a set of skills that is different to what I grew up with.  Louise Starkey (2011) also supports these ideas about learning, “… appears to be slowly evolving from a focus on what has already been discovered and prescribed as ‘knowledge’ towards a focus on critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections.”.  Through this the learning theory of ‘Connectivism’ is explained by George Siemens(2015) as being the “amplification of learning, knowledge and understanding through the extension of a personal network”. The Digital Media & Learning Research Hub is a fantastic resource place that explores, and showcase connected learning and what the key principles are. Quoted from their website: “….connected learning calls on today’s interactive and networked media in an effort to make these forms of learning more effective, better integrated, and broadly accessible.” Guiding principles include a ‘Shared purpose’, ‘Production-centered’ and ‘Openly networked’.
The connected learning environment, and how to interact with it professionally, socially and innovatively. My future goals will include improving my own understanding and knowledge of these areas, and also teaching my students how to become more digitally literate, more connected with learning and how to become more socially conscious citizens and leverage digital tools for their learning and the benefit of others.

References,. (2015). Connected Learning Principles | Connected Learning. Retrieved 29 March 2015, from
Siemens, G. (2015). elearnspace. Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Retrieved 26 March 2015, from
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy And Education20(1), 19-39. doi:10.1080/1475939x.2011.554021
YouTube,. (2015). Technology and Youth: Five Competencies (part 3 of 4). Retrieved 19 March 2015, from

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Master Blog Post 1

Two weeks into my Education Masters with Charles Sturt University and I'm loving the challenge and ideas being shared.

Blog Task 1: Using your readings and interaction with the subject to date, develop a statement about your current knowledge and understanding of concepts and practices in a digital age within the context of your work or professional circumstances. What is the context of your learning? What are your personal aims in this subject? What challenges are your hoping to meet for yourself?

Here is my 1st Blog post: Connected Potential & Changing Mindsets

The new innovations of the past two decades have created a digitally connected community of learners. Yet, many educators are not embracing the potential they hold and are thus becoming more disconnected with their students and communities. This is part of my own personal aim in this course – to learn new ideas, skills, knowledge and understanding, so that I can support my students, staff and parents in embracing the Digital Age.  Students may be assigned the term ‘Digital Natives’, but many are far from being proficient or aware of their own learning and interactions in the digital world. The reading about Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (Prensky 2001) reinforced some of my views on the topic of ‘digital natives’ vs ‘digital immigrants’ perspective. Even though my students are all born in the Digital Age (current Year 12’s born in 1998), many are unskilled in utilising technology as a an effective way to learn, create, connect and communicate.
The concept and practices of the Digital Age is the driving force behind enrolling into the CSU Masters course. The Digital Age is where I’m working, living, learning and interacting in, and thus it is essential as an educator that I’m acutely aware of my own understanding and knowledge of this area. My teaching context involves being the Head of Humanities for an independent Christian College in a regional town in Queensland. The region is one of the lowest socio-economic areas in the state, with some of the highest unemployment figures across all areas of society (a challenge in itself). My role involves teaching Senior Modern & Ancient History, as well as Business Management for Year 11 & 12. Since changing careers from Logistics to Education I have been amazed by the connected world for educators and I love engaging in discussions with educators from all sectors.
There is a digital convergence taking place with regards to media, literacy, communication and sharing of knowledge. The ubiquitous nature of technology is allowing for new practices to emerge and requires new methods of engaging learners to develop. However it does not come down to technological skills alone, but rather the mindset changing amongst educators and students. This is well supported in this image by Reid Wilson on ‘The Profile of a Modern Teacher’:
The Profile of a Modern Teacher by reid Wilson (CC BY-NC-ND)
Another reading I came across was on ‘What is 21st century learning? by Amy Heavin that was published on Fractus Learning:
“What is 21st century learning?
  • It is collaboration.
  • It is creativity.
  • It is critical thinking and problem-solving.
  • It is research and information literacy.
  • It is digital citizenship.
  • It is responsible use.”
Immersion into the developing these skills to connect and share knowledge will become key for educators and students. The ease of access to information and possibilities to share knowledge has resulted in a paradigm shift that needs to be embraced, fostered and utilised to realise its full potential.
The  Connected Learning Research Hub discussed in Module 1.6 really reinforced my beliefs, and challenged me to develop my own thinking further to serve my students.  The infographic I find incredibly powerful, and is a wonderful model of learning in the information age. This leads me into my own goals and challenges with making connections between the different groups, allowing digital tools to be utilised to their potential and developing my own knowledge and understanding through this course.
Connected Learning
Connected Learning Research Network and Digital Media & Learning Research Hub (CC BY 3.0)

Connected Learning Infographic | Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from
Educators Need to be 21st Century Learners Too… (2014, July 15). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from
Prensky, M. (2001, 12). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6. doi: 10.1108/10748120110424816
Sheninger, E. C. (n.d.). Digital leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times.
Wayfaring Path. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2015, from