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Digital Literacy - iNet Conference November 2010

A resource for discussion in the iNet conference October 2010

Jason Cooper

on 20 January 2011

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Transcript of Digital Literacy - iNet Conference November 2010

Digital Literacy - How to build it in teachers through professional development A lot of the discussion surrounding technology in education has centred around digital natives (the students) vs digital immigrants (the teachers). This generalisation based on a generation gap is becoming increasingly less valid as a cohort of digital natives has begun to join the teaching profession. Those of us who were not born into the age of the internet and mobile phones can no longer use this divide as an excuse for not utilising the available technology to support and enhance effective teaching and learning. Rather than widening the gap between educators and students, technology can actually bring them closer together and foster student ownership of learning through reciprocal teaching opportunities. Of course for this to be successful teachers need to be willing to let go of the reins and begin working with students by offering them opportunities to share their technological expertise and teach others, including teachers, how to utilise them. Digital natives and digital immigrants don't live in different worlds, however they access the world in different ways. While digital immigrants may still be passively receiving their information through television and print media, the digital natives are aggressively consuming, producing, and interacting with information and media through a variety of sources available to them 24/7 through mobile technologies. There are a lot of similarities between teacher PD and the way we structure schools – we force a large group of individuals who have varying skills, knowledge, and understanding to gather in a common space at a time that suits our organisational systems to work on a topic that may or may not be of any interest to the participants. What we end up with are PD sessions, and classrooms, full of disengaged, unmotivated, and unwilling participants who go through the motions because it is part of what they 'have' to do. What if there was a way to offer PD based on individual teachers' interests and needs in a way that suited their learning style and at a time that could fit in with their busy lifestyle? Could this model then be replicated to offer student learning experiences that are based on what's best for the learner rather than on what works for the system or the organisation? Imagine teachers (and students) learning, developing and growing in their professional knowledge, skills, and understanding because they 'want' to! The essential question is not 'What technology should we buy for our schools?' The much more important question is one of control: 'Can we change our traditional culture of teaching and learning so that students are empowered to take more responsibility for making important contributions to their own learning and to their learning community?'
(Alan November in Curriculum 21 by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, 2010) If we are to change our traditonal culture of control and move to one of empowerment and responsibilty then these principles must be reflected in teacher appraisal systems. Staff appraisal procedures should focus on collaboratively identifying strengths (areas where individuals could add to the growth of their peers) and areas for growth – these areas for growth then become the responsibility of the individual teacher (with support from the school, adminsitrators, and peers) who provides evidence of ongoing growth through a Blog, eFolio, or Video log. Teacher workdays could be given to individuals working toward their agreed upon goals, organisational goals can be achieved through smaller teams who record their progress through a Wiki or Ning available to all stakeholders in the community, weekly meetings could become opportunities for teacher professional growth and development rather than information dissemination sessions – this information can be disseminated via email, staff blog, Google Apps, Wiki, Moodle (saying that teachers do not read email is not a valid argument because there are equally the same number of teachers who are tuned out and not listening during staff meetings/briefings). By making information available electronically teachers can access and interact with the information at a time that suits them. Teacher Appraisal - Accountability or professional growth? Natives vs Immigrants - Can't we all just get along? PD - in the now or what your Grandmother had? See http://www.marcprensky.com/ for more on this Today, technology, sustained and in-house models, and innovative workshops and conferences provide a banquet of possibilities, but what really needs to change to make professional development "not your grandmother's" are our attitudes and expectations. Teachers must come to professional development as engaged learners—open to new ways of thinking and eager to create answers for themselves. And professional development leaders and designers must stop peddling answers.
(Alan Blodget on http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/525-blodget.aspx?utm_source=ascdexpress&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=express525 accessed September 16, 2010) Teacher leaders design workshops that are specific to the students' needs at the school. Teacher teams model and observe lessons and strategies in real classrooms—turning the entire school into a laboratory for professional inquiry and learning.
(Laura Varlas onhttp://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol5/525-varlas-abstract.aspx?utm_source=ascdexpress&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=express525- accessed September 16, 2010) Taking charge and becoming digitally literate through a PLN! Teachers (and administrators) no longer need to wait for flyers to appear in their mailbox to engage in meaningful professional development. Using Web 2.0 tools to develop a Professional/Personal Learning Network is at everyone's fingertips.

To get started with your PLN you should: Stages common to building a PLN:

Stage 1 Immersion: Immerse yourself into networks. Create any and all networks you can find where there are people and ideas to connect to. Collaboration and connections take off.

Stage 2 Evaluation: Evaluate your networks and start to focus in on which networks you really want to focus your time on. You begin feeling a sense of urgency and try to figure out a way to “Know it all.”

Stage 3 Know it all: Find that you are spending many hours trying to learn everything you can. Realize there is much you do not know and feel like you can’t disconnect. This usually comes with spending every waking minute trying to be connected to the point that you give up sleep and contact with others around you to be connected to your networks of knowledge.

Stage 4 Perspective: Start to put your life into perspective. Usually comes when you are forced to leave the network for awhile and spend time with family and friends who are not connected (a vacation to a hotel that does not offer a wireless connection, or visiting friends or family who do not have an Internet connection).

Stage 5 Balance: Try and find that balance between learning and living. Understanding that you can not know it all, and begin to understand that you can rely on your network to learn and store knowledge for you. A sense of calm begins as you understand that you can learn when you need to learn and you do not need to know it all right now.

for more on this. Building a PLN through the use of Web 2.0 tools increases our own level of digital literacy. When our level of digital literacy is increased we are more willing to employ the available technological tools to enhance our teaching and learning. This can only be a good thing for our students, so get out there and start building your network and increasing your digital literacy! There are two very good slideshare presentations that you should view if you are interested in learning more about PLNs - http://www.slideshare.net/rbyrnetech/constructing-a-pln-3465767 1/ Write a Blog - there are people who are interested in reading your thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It also helps in clarifying and organising your professional thinking. 2/ Subscribe to blogs and keep up to date with them by using an RSS reader 3/ Set up a Twitter account and begin participating in weekly discussions like #edchat 4/ Use Wikis, Google Apps, or Prezi Meeting to work collaboratively with your peers, students, and friends Video Credits:
Common Craft videos from You Tube

Image Credits:
Traditional Classroom

21st Century Classroom

Connected Teacher

Angry Boss

Teacher PD
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