Developing Intellectual Diets for the Digital Generation: A Reflection

It’s hard to believe that the first six weeks of Term 3 have already flown by and I have reached the completion of my first online course, Developing Intellectual Diets for the Digital Generation.  During this time, not only have I participated in a fabulous course but also, by chance, other things have come together to signal a significant time for me and my colleagues.

What have you learnt during the course?
I came into the course wanting to learn more about teaching and learning approaches and the use of web 2.0 tools and social media in today’s digital landscape.  The course webinars, movies, online discussions and other resources, all tied together via the Ning, provided the perfect platform to achieve this goal.  I had used these types of tools before when conducting Professional Learning with my colleagues, so found it very affirming to know that others were also taking a similar approach.

How has it challenged you?
One of the most challenging activities was to “Create a Digital Learning Experience“.  Devising the actual learning activities was not the challenging part for me, it was articulating the Learning Outcomes, etc… My current role involves assisting teachers in the use of ICT in their curriculum and, until now, had focussed mainly on the tools – the “what”.  For example, “What tool can use to blog?”  “What can I use for online brainstorming?”  I can now see a real shift from the “what” to the “why” and “how”.  “Why do I need to change the way I teach?”  and “How can I change the way I teach?”

How will you build on what you have learnt?
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Expanding Learning Horizons Conference in Lorne, Victoria.  My colleague, Ian Riethoff, put it perfectly when he said, “Lucy, when I came to this conference in 2009, it was all about the ICT tools.  This time it’s all about the teaching and learning.  I get it now.”
Just before we attended the conference, our Director of ICT forwarded a link to the 21st Century Fluency Project and, by chance, a copy of a book from this project, Understanding the Digital Generation arrived at our school.  The ideas behind the 21st Century Fluency Project are simple, yet so powerful and I now understand how important it is for me to continue to stay motivated and work to the best of my ability to assist my colleagues in developing teaching and learning approaches for today’s digital generation.

What’s next for me?
We are currently planning our next ICT Professional Learning session for staff, coming up in Week 9.  The session will feature content that has come as a direct result of my participation in Developing Intellectual Diets for the Digital Generation, our attendance at the Expanding Learning Horizons Conference and the 21st Century Fluency Project.  Never before have I witnessed such enthusiasm from staff after returning from a conference as I have seen with ELH.  We are on the same page and ready to make the commitment to improve our teaching and learning!  The above image links to the movie, We are the Future on YouTube and was featured during our online course.  I think it will be the perfect way to motivate staff during our upcoming ICT Professional Learning session.

Many thanks to our wonderful Digimuve Course Facilitator, Sylvia Guidara, to the organisers of the Expanding Learning Horizons Conference and the creators of the 21st Century Fluency Project!

Post 2: Expanding Learning Horizons Conference 2011

Each year, the Expanding Learning Horizons Conference has many highlights. Previously, the main focus of the conference has been the technology, the software, the web 2.0 tools, etc… However, this year, we saw a real focus on the Learning and Teaching approaches and how technology can enhance these approaches.

Keynote Presentation:
Emerging technologies that will change our thinking
Lawrence Crumpton
Lawrence outlined a number of exciting emerging technologies, some that are closer than we think. I am a huge fan of the Kinect technologies and the possibilities it presents our students to create their own games and gesture based computing options for existing software. We are fortunate enough to have access to this technology right now in our School and I am keen to continue exploring this concept.

Keynote Presentation:
Inquiry based learning and other contemporary pedagogies in a technology rich world
Diana Laufenberg and Mike Valentine
“We teach kids, not subjects.”
I agreed whole heartedly with Diana’s statement and the motto of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia. I also felt a sense of relief as, for some time, I felt that it wasn’t quite right that many teachers referred to themselves as a “Maths teacher”, “English teacher”, “Science teacher”, etc… First and foremost, we are educators. As such, we need to understand that an approach that is used with primary aged students can be just as valid in a secondary setting and an approach used in the Humanities curriculum can be just as valid in the Maths curriculum, etc…
“The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Just days before ELH, Nathan Burgess shared a link with us to the 21st Century Fluency Project and the above statement brought me back to this project, especially the concept of the “Fluencies” as illustrated below.

Critical Conversation:
Why is change so hard?
Jenny Little
Jenny spoke about the six years she spent teaching in Germany and about implementing change in schools. “We will change things one conversation at a time.” She shared with us some excellent print resources that were instrumental in these conversations taking place. My previous ELH postshows all of the books that we are purchasing as a result of the ELH conference.Keynote Presentation:
Building capacity and supporting innovative practice
Karen Ward, Travis Smith and Andrew Taylor
The concept of Peer Coaching was mentioned a number of times throughout the conference and this keynote presentation gave us more information about the approach and how it had been used successfully in different school environments. We sometimes see teachers who stay inside the “four walls of their classroom”. I feel that we need to encourage teachers to look outside these four walls – to their colleagues, to those in other schools and to other educators around the world. You can click hereto learn more about the Microsoft Peer Coaching Program.Breakout Session:
Empowered by Immersion
Lou Deibe and Rowena Beale
Lou and Rowena are from Northern Beaches Christian School and outlined “The Matrix”, a Project Based Learning approach in a creative and engaging way. The school offers a variety of Professional Learning Programs as well as school tours as part of SCIL (Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning). I was excited to hear that Ian Riethoff was making arrangements to attend a full day workshop about The Matrix approach!

Keynote Presentation:
New media, New Kids – New Literacies, Now Citizens
Jason Ohler
Jason Ohler’s keynote presentation and then follow-up breakout session was a real highlight of the conference for many of us. He was one of the most engaging speakers I have ever seen! He spoke of his experience using Digital Storytelling with students and about the importance of technology in their lives. I especially liked the term, “screasels” that he used to describe the screen on a digital device. The term comes from the combination of the word “screen” and “easel”. We need to remember how important that screen is to the students of today – it is their easel 🙂

Breakout Session:
Problem Based Learning
Julie-Anne Angell
Another great session that outlined one school’s use of the Problem Based Learning approach was, “Peanut Butter and Lettuce – who said it doesn’t mix?” Julie-Anne outlined how this approach is used at various year levels, including Year 12. Students are developing 21st Century skills and working together to solve real world issues. For me, this session highlighted how the new “3 R’s” were evident in this approach – “rich, real and relevant”.
You can click here to view the fabulous resources for this session on Julie-Anne’s blog.

The Expanding Learning Horizons Conference was, again, filled with so many highlights.  I have been incredibly fortunate to have attended this conference for the past five years as our school sees it as valuable and relevant to our context.  I have never walked away from ELH feeling disappointed.  This year, to be able to share the conference once again with a number of my colleagues, added greatly to the experience.  Many thanks to the Expanding Learning Horizons Team for another wonderful conference!