Connect, Collaborate, Communicate: Learning and Knowing in a Digital Age

This past year I have taken on a new role as teacher librarian at Sacred Heart Community School. I felt like I needed a change from being a classroom teacher. As a classroom teacher I was able to encourage my students to become networked students, but I felt like I was in a rut and was not engaging as I had in previous years as a networked teacher. I was looking to connect with others within the school and take on the role as an educational leader. I thought the role of teacher librarian would be a perfect fit.

As a Teacher-Librarian I have the unique opportunity to:

  • manage library services while working closely with students in a variety of capacities
  • implement technologies in our learning areas and be proficient in those technologies in an instructional environment
  • plan collaboratively to enable students to explore and answer questions, connect with each other and the world (create instead of consume)
  • encourage a love of reading and support the development of reading literacy skills
  • become an instructional leader

The role of the TL supports the and is evolving to embody the ideas explored this week in the course readings about the pedagogy of abundance, the theory of connectivism, rhizomatic learning, and the evolution of 21st-century social media literacies.

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Networked Teacher by Alec Couros

A Pedagogy of Abundance

As I am new in this role and open to change as a person, I think the pedagogy of abundance is a very positive shift in our education system; however, I know many TLs are finding this shift very challenging and troublesome. The pedagogy of abundance breaks down the four walls of the classroom AND the library. The library is evolving from a place where you go only to consume information to a place where you can also create information. TLs are no longer the keepers of information, but rather engage with teachers and students in resource based learning, problem based learning, and inquiry projects. While engaging in learning, students are encouraged to develop and modeled information processing abilities while sifting through excessive abundance of information. The ultimate goal is for students to develop multiple literacies, and teach students how to use technology to find information and with the information the ability extract and synthesize it to formulate new meaning.

Theory of Connectivism and Rhizomatic Learning

As students are engaging in learning through an abundance of information, they should also be making connections and collaborating. This is important because not only do we learn inside ourselves, but also outside ourselves. Allowing students to participate in rhizomatic learning and personal learning networks, such as we are in this course creates an authentic experience that is adaptable to personal contexts. Connections and learning takes place in a variety of communities both online and offline, such as blogs, cooperative learning groups, Twitter, conferences, etc. One of the most important things to remember when thinking about connectivism is the tools themselves are not as important as the connections made possible by them. By collaborating, creating, and sharing, we are allowing our students to be successful as a 21st century learner.

“Formal education no longer comprises the majority of our learning. Learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.” Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens

21st-Century Social Media Literacies

As I stated above, the 21st century learner, teacher, and school is more than tools and technologies. Essentially, we are modelling and teaching students digital skills and multiple literacies. Howard Rheingold describes the social media literacies as attention, precipitation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption. These five literacies are interconnected and when fluent in the literacies, students and teachers, are able to interact with the abundance of information and be connected in their learning communities.

I am so glad I took a step out of my comfort zone this year and became a teacher librarian. Although the role has been challenging and demanding at times, I believe it is a key proponent in transforming education to meet the needs of the 21st century learner.

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Hello again…

It is hard to believe it has been SIX years since my last professional blog post! I was looking back through some of my posts a from ECMP455 and during that time I would have never thought I would have fallen off the wagon for 6 years. Although I have blogged with my classrooms through kidblog and have created classroom websites through weebly, I haven’t taken the time to reflect on my professional space since beginning my teaching career. It is amazing how time flies, the realities of teaching settle in and how easy it is to loose sight of something that was once so important to you.

I am really looking forward to making and renewing connections with all the people in this course, but also the people not in this course. That is the beauty of using tools such as blogs and twitter to connect. It makes the learning and growing more authentic to our purpose. This course is not only teaching us how to teach media literacy, but it is also causing us to become more media literate. We are engaging in the use of a variety of media technologies to analyze, synthesize, access, and create.

Can’t wait to connect with you!

Summary of ECMP 455

journeyWhat a journey! Wow – it is hard to believe the semester is coming to an end and that it is the last semester in my University career. I found ECMP 455 one of the most engaging, informative, and inquiry based classes I have taken in my entire university career.

The major concepts I have learned through ECMP 445 are:

1. Develop a PLN – Twitter and my PLN has taken away the ‘4 walls’ and has allowed me to use open education to the best of my ability. Twitter allows me to grow and learn with many other educators around the world. My network has constantly grown, every day, which means my bank of knowledge and resources are growing every day. Twitter is such a valuable resource! Once you have your PLN you have a variety of resources at your fingertips. These resources will guide you in your professional development. Here is a documentation of my PLN from this course.

2. Capitalize on Open Source Education – There are so many valuable resources out there. These resources can help you as a professional and your students. Through our synchronous sessions I have learned about digital story telling tools, google docs, delicious, second life, smartboards, visual design, digital video, podcasting, and much more! We have had so many experts visit our class and I think you can do this in your classrooms too.

3. Focus on the process, not the product – Through my blog, twitter, and mentorship project I have been able to focus on the process. Learning is not a linear process, it is a cyclical process. By focusing on the process in my own learning I have grown and developed a great deal, so this would play true with my students as well.

Along with my colleague, Sarah Hill, I was able to create a teacher resources for using Twitter in the Classroom. This is a comprehensive resource that explains what twitter is, how to set up a twitter account, how it benefits your PLN, how to use it in the classroom, FAQ, and testimonials. As an undergraduate, I have found Twitter to be such a beneficial resource and I think it can be used to enhance learning in your classroom. One of the barriers I had when making this project was using Jing. I think Jing is an awesome resource, but without Jing Pro, there are some restrictions when trying to upload your file onto the internet.

Overall, this class has been an amazing journey. My philosophy of education has developed a great deal since the beginning of the semester. I have grown so much as an educator and I am looking forward to my continual growth with the help of my PLN.

Who are your TwitterSheep?

I was browsing through my GoogleReader and I came across David Warlick’s post on Who are your Sheep. I thought it would be interesting to see who my ‘flock’ of followers were.twittersheep

Twittersheep, with your Twitter login, captures the profiles of all of the Tweople who follow you and then generates a tag-cloud representing the most often used words in those profiles sized by frequency.

It is similar to Wordle and many other applications that formulate tag clouds.

I also thought I would check out who my Twitter BFF’s are. I have been seeing this around in presentations and on blogs. So I thought it would be interesting to see what my social network looked like and who I talked to the most.

bff I guess the whole purpose of this was to see what my social networks look like right now. I would be interested to see how they will change in the next year. They are fairly small right now, but it is a quality network.

In a mere 4 months I have created a network that helps define who I am as a professional. followers

My PLN

Well, I have talked about Twitter and my PLN a lot in my previous posts:

The best thing about my support team is that it comes from experts of the topic. I was able to build this ‘network of experts’ through Twitter. I think Twitter is a great application that has helped me build my PLN, but it is not about the application that makes my PLN, it is the people!

Today, on Twitter I came across a post called: Nine great reasons why teachers should use Twitter. When I was reading this post I couldn’t help but think, YES! YES! YES! Twitter has greatly impacted me as a teacher. I have seen so much growth in myself as a professional over the past few months and I have to attribute part of that to my PLN. I have grown so much that when I looked back at my philosophy of teaching I realized, I need to update that!

My PLN consists of so many intelligent, engaging, and innovative people! The people I aspire to be someday. I think the following quote will help you build your PLN:

Remember, your experience on Twitter is only as high quality as the people who you follow and the information you share.

I am following high quality people and I feel privaleged when these high quality people follow me in return. The people you follow and the people that follow you are what make Twitter the great resource that it is. 707625876_46aa44851f_o

I know now the importance of filling in your bio of your Twitter account. A lot of educators won’t follow you unless they see you as an asset to their PLN. I have a commitment to my PLN that I will contribute thoughtful, relevant, and interesting information.

The world is a big place, but it seems that we are able to know more about the world and collaborate with so many more people because of technology, in this case, Twitter. I was reading a blog by Jeff Utecht called I don’t like learning alone and I have to admit, I too do not like learning alone. Twitter and my PLN has taken away the ‘4 walls’ and has allowed me to use open education to the best of my ability. Twitter allows me to grow and learn with many other educators around the world. My network has constantly grown, every day, which means my bank of knowledge and resources are growing every day.

Twitter is such a valuable resource! Once you have your PLN you have a variety of resources at your fingertips. These resources will guide you in your professional development.

How has Twitter impacted you as an educator or other professional? Please give us a testimonial via Voicethread on our Twitter in the Classroom wikispace!