January is a time for most teachers to re-coup, invigorate, reflect, rest and prepare both physically and emotionally for the next school year. Whilst my blogging has reduced in frequency in the past few years, I am still extremely grateful for the record I created over the years and sometimes it highlights patterns in my thinking over time – like today when I read my post from January 2011
As mentioned in my post last week, Australian schools are gearing up for their new school year. We have celebrated Christmas, New Year, been to the beach, rested etc. and finally we start to think about school which is fast approaching. In previous years, at this time, my school email inbox would start to wake up – staff starting to share news and ideas for the upcoming year.
2010 was the dawn of different communication for many of us and this year, the obvious signs of the impending new year are different, I am seeing Tweets from my colleagues, new blogs, new blog posts – all indicating the process of preparation for the new year. I like it! I like it because it feels like we have all found these tools to have value, and I am convinced that 2011 will be a year where we continue to evaluate their worth, plan for meaningful connections and continue as teachers to be the ‘expert learners’.
I still like ‘it’ – at the core, what I like is the the ability to be a connected educator, using whatever means is relevant at the time. I draw so much from my Twitter friends, Google+ connections and of course from the people I work with day to day. So here’s to another year learning alongside each other.
After a diverse week working with teachers in a variety of contexts I feel like I need to de-brief, to take stock of the work and the experiences and what better way than to blog about it !
Arriving on King Island on Sunday afternoon to meet my colleague Peter Lelong (Tasmanian CSER Project Officer) was a rare opportunity for me to work with teachers in quite a different context to my usual experiences as Victorian Project Officer. It was wonderful to try and understand the workings, blessings and challenges of this isolated rural community. While the weather was not particularly warm, the welcome was. On Monday, we had a great day discussing the relevance of the new Digital Technologies curriculum, working through classroom examples and exploring some tech tools. Before leaving on Tuesday, we explored Makey Makey kits with some students as they were going to continue working with the CSER Lending Library Kit for the remainder of the term.
One activity on Monday for the teachers was a ‘data’ activity – Monster Glyphs. It was lovely to see the immediate use of that idea on Tuesday morning adapted by the Year 3/4 class teacher and very much enjoyed by the creative monsters !
Wednesday saw another wonderful collaboration between CSER and Museum Victoria Education Team – a session hosted by Scienceworks. Toni Falusi, our ACT Project Officer led secondary teachers through unplugged activities, Ozobot challenges and Microbits workshops. Great stories were shared when the day began with a rich discussion, led by Mei Liu on our personal history with technology. We visited CSIRAC – the fourth computer in the world which was designed and built in Australia in the late 1940’s. This was a wonderful start to our day really highlighting the changes over the decades. Participants were so encouraging and seemed to enjoy being in the role of learners – happily working through challenges and hands on activities.
Thursday morning saw Toni and I fronting up to my favourite conference Digicon, DLTV’s annual event. This is always more than a series of learning sessions for me, it is a lovely opportunity to meet many teachers who form my Professional Learning Network face to face. Rafranz Davis in her keynote mentioned the power of being a connected educator and every visit to this conference reminds me of that ! The CSER team expanded again, joined by Sue Carter the NT Project Officer.
Toni and I ran a session each day and were once again joined by groups of teachers who were happy to have a go and play with whatever challenge we set. From dice games on flowcharts to creating digital dice with Microbits they were eager to discuss their ideas and contribute.
A highlight for our CSER team was to meet and hear from Linda Liukas author of the Hello Ruby series of books.
I was also thrilled to be at Digicon when two long time members of my Professional learning Network John and Bec were recognised for their contributions to the community. John received the ISTE Making IT Happen Award and Bec was awarded Outstanding Leader. Steve Allen and Natalie Heath were other well deserved award recipients.
Both Bec and John mentioned that as teachers they are constantly learning from those they work with. From King Island to Scienceworks to Digicon, the common element was teachers who were not afraid to be learners and who were also happy to share their skills, challenges and experiences. What a week !
The CSER Adelaide Project supports teachers with the Digital Technologies curriculum. A range of online resources (MOOC’s) , Lending library of equipment and face to face opportunities with Project officers in each state. For more information see https://csermoocs.adelaide.edu.au/
My blogging has lapsed in 2017. I will blame my new role as Project Officer for the University of Adelaide’s CSER (Computer Science Education Research) Group. It has been an amazing experience working in this team as the Victorian Project Officer.
My mum was a bit of trailblazer when it came to technology. I didn’t notice or appreciate it at the time, but items came into our house before they arrived in many neighbouring homes. We had a microwave oven, a personal computer, a home darkroom and many photographic items. The computer and camera equipment were used by mum to be both creative and practical. With photography Mum created audio-visuals (the precursor to slideshows and moviemaker) – stories created with images on slides and music. Would her creative juices been connected to digital publishing instead of the beautiful calligraphy she produced? I have evidence of quirky cards made with MS Publisher in it’s earliest forms and I wonder what she could have created with Canva!
In her 70’s and 80’s, Mum embraced email using it to keep in touch with many distant friends and family. Word processing developed from being a business tool, a wonderful extension of the typewriter she mastered as a 16 year old to being the tool of choice on which to create poetry, prose and stories. She was quite happy to share what she wrote, shaer her thinking and ideas with others and in those days her work was published in printed newsletters. It was well received and Mum enjoyed the responses she received from her ‘readers’.
I can’t help but wonder what Mum would have created with today’s tools at her fingertips. I see her as being a blogger – sharing her writing in a number of ways. Her handwritten travel journals would likely have been blogs. I can see her creating a whole new network of people: commenting on posts, creating conversations with those beyond her local area.
I wonder how she would have viewed Facebook. I think she would have loved the fact that it connects people, keeps them in touch over time and space. I am fairly sure, her forehead would wrinkle at some of the inane material people share, but I reckon, she would be there, contributing and receiving in her own way.
Digital photography would have allowed more instant products and variations, I am not sure they would be any better but the variations would have been extended. The ability to access information in an instant would have challenged her but I think she would enjoy the ability to answer that niggling question in a few key strokes.
No-one can transplant themselves into another generation, we live our lives as we can and as we should, in the environment in which we are born….. but I do wonder. Creativity takes many forms. What would Mum have done with today’s tools?
I have often said that Twitter has a reputation problem and recent events have brought that to mind. I have been a defender of this wonderful social media tool for a long while and still believe that it is a profoundly powerful tool for professionals such as teachers. I have countless stories to tell of how using Twitter has provided me with the right answer at the right time, with examples of connected learning, and even a supply of informative and fun news feeds. Students and teachers with whom I have worked have had wonderful interactions that really enhanced their learning.
I often hear the “I don’t want to hear what so and so had for lunch or what that silly celebrity did last night”. I get that ! Neither do I ! I tell people that all social media tools are customisable, we select who we follow and should regularly and judiciously click the Unfollow button.
Recent Tweets by the newly elected President of the United States, have me seriously wondering and indeed, concerned. News articles are often published citing quite major policy decisions that have been announced on Twitter and I really wish that Twitter was not being used for that purpose. Obviously due to the stature of the office held, tweets from a President, get a large degree of attention, retweets and quotes in other press outlets.
I don’t want important government announcements made in this forum. We all know the limitations of 140 characters and I don’t think this is the correct communication tool for such work. Twitter has it’s purposes but in my personal opinion, I do wish that major leaders did not use the forum in this manner. If it is possible to be old-fashioned in this relatively new sphere of communication, I think I am! I want to hear important policy announcements and the thoughts of our world leaders distributed in other forums than social media. Perhaps things are just evolving as I know communication does, but it makes me uncomfortable, it seems to trivialise things that are not trivial at all.
It would appear that over 24 million followers disagree with me. What do you think ?