Tag Archives: professional development

Connected Courses : Active co-learning in higher education – jumping in from the secondary school sector

This is the tweet from Howard Rheingold that grabbed my attention.

It looked worthwhile. I investigated. I’ve been looking for the right sort of professional development, something interactive and engaging with community.  Lately I find that I learn best by connecting with others rather than from traditional lecture style sessions. The one day conference isn’t doing it for me any more. The blogging network also appeals to me, and I’ve been running dry with my professional blog. Time to refuel.

The background:

The goal for Connected Courses is to build an inclusive and expansive network of teachers and students, and provide educational offerings that make high quality, meaningful, and socially connected learning available to everyone. The go-at-your-own-pace collaborative course is free and open to all.

Mission

Connected Courses is a collaborative network of faculty in higher education developing online, open courses that embody the principles of connected learning and the values of the open web.

Our goal is to build an inclusive and expansive network of teachers, students, and educational offerings that makes high quality, meaningful, and socially connected learning available to everyone.

Our Course on Connected Courses

For Fall 2014, our major focus is on running a course for developing and teaching connected courses. The course is designed and taught by faculty from diverse institutions, some of whom are the folks behind successful connected courses such as FemTechNet, ds106, phonar, and the National Writing Project CLMOOC. You can find the syllabus here, and the people involved here.

The videos address issues I’ve been thinking about: what if our education system is working because it’s been designed for a world that no longer exists? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – are we preparing our students for their future world of tertiary studies and work? I’m in – I can use all the help I can get in making sense of how to move forward in a rapidly changing world.

 

I asked Howard Rheingold if I could join Connected Courses even though it was designed for higher education people, and was happy when he said ‘why not?’

 

I’m excited to be learning with the vision:

A world where all young people have access to participatory, interest-driven learning that connects to educational, civic, and career opportunities.

The Alliance supports the expansion and influence of a network of educators, experts, and youth-serving organizations mobilizing new technology in the service of equity, access and opportunity for all young people.

I’m excited by the leadership line-up and I believe in connected learning environments:

Connected learning environments link learning in school, home and community because learners achieve best when their learning is reinforced and supported in multiple settings. Online platforms can make learning resources abundant, accessible and visible across all learner settings;

in peer supported participation for learning:

Connected learning thrives in a socially meaningful and knowledge-rich ecology of ongoing participation, self-expression and recognition. In their everyday exchanges with peers and friends, young people fluidly contribute, share and give feedback. Powered with possibilities made available by today’s social media, this peer culture can produce learning that’s engaging and powerful;

in interest-powered learning:

Interests foster the drive to gain knowledge and expertise. Research has repeatedly shown that when the topic is personally interesting and relevant, learners achieve much higher-order learning outcomes. Connected learning views interests and passions that are developed in a social context as essential elements;

in production-centred learning:

Connected learning prizes the learning that comes from actively producing, creating, experimenting and designing because it promotes skills and dispositions for lifelong learning and for making meaningful contributions to today’s rapidly changing work and social conditions;

in shared purpose in learning:

Today’s social media and web-based communities provide unprecedented opportunities for caring adults, teachers, parents, learners and their peers to share interests and contribute to a common purpose. The potential of cross-generational learning and connection unfolds when centered on common goals;

in the importance of academically oriented learning:

Connected learning recognizes the importance of academic success for intellectual growth and as an avenue towards economic and political opportunity. When academic studies and institutions draw from and connect to young people’s peer culture, communities and interest-driven pursuits, learners flourish and realize their true potential.

And the icing on the cake is that this is going to be a guilt-free learning zone, so that being busy and missing things will not be a problem.

As we collectively kick-off Connected Courses I officially declare this a guilt-free learning zone.  What a relief to know that even though you might have missed a couple weeks of Connected Courses (or you never even heard about it until mid-October) you can still jump in and your participation is welcome. What a relief to know that you can customize and calibrate your “take-away” from this experience based on what matters to you.  What a relief to know that even if you would rather lurk-to-learn, you are still a valued member of our community of co-learners. (Mia Zamora’s post)

Will you join me?

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Shopping for libraries – Melbourne University libraries and the Library at the Dock

The most dangerous behaviour for librarians of any sort (public, school, technicians, teacher librarians) is to sit in their library and not go anywhere. Actually, I would say the same for teachers in their classrooms. Staying ‘home’  in a time of change in education and economic life can lead to redundancy.  Going out to visit libraries has been on our agenda recently for several reasons – mainly to take a look at innovative spaces and their functions and to enter into discussion about what we have in common with public and tertiary librarians, specifically the support of crucial literacies for young people.

Recently our library team enjoyed visits to several libraries – the very new Library at the Dock (in the Docklands precinct of Melbourne), 3 libraries at the University of Melbourne, and the University College Library (University of Melbourne). Apart from the sheer pleasure of seeing beautifully designed new library and community spaces, we loved the conversations and connection with librarians. Taking a look at how similar institutions do things differently is without doubt the most fantastic way to spark conversation which leads to evaluation and review of the way we currently do things with a view to an improved future.

The Library at the Dock

From the City of Melbourne website:

Library at The Dock is a three-storey building, 55.3 metres long by 18.1 metres wide, and is made from engineered timber and reclaimed hardwood.

Read about the building’s sustainability features (PDF, 600kb).

As well as a traditional library collection, the library and community centre offers an interactive learning environment and a state-of-the-art digital collection, multi-purpose community spaces and a performance venue that holds 120 people. Connections to Docklands’ rich maritime and Aboriginal heritage is embraced and celebrated with facilities to support local historical research and educational experiences.

This is a beautifully designed library in a fantastic location with gorgeous views. From what we observed, people living and working in the precinct happily use the library and its spaces in a variety of ways. I’m surprised that this exemplary project was funded, to be honest.

The Melbourne University libraries

The first library we visited on the Melbourne University campus was the newly refurbished Giblin Eunson Library. The first port of call was the newly redesigned library and IT help desk. Whereas the old desk was a traditional design where the desk formed a barrier between the librarian and the client, with the computer facing away from the student, the new desk was an irregular shape with the person on duty standing beside the student client and working through solutions with both people looking at the computer screen.

 There is so much we can learn from an ongoing relationship with university librarians in terms of library spaces and design for optimal student support, and in particular, in terms of our role in preparing our students for tertiary academic life (search/research skills, independent learning, navigation of online resources, bibliographies/in-text citations and more). This is particularly important for MHS because most of our cohort will end up at university. We have already developed a partnership in terms of shared online content for research – the Melbourne Uni librarians have kindly allowed us to use and modify their excellent Research Libguide.
In turn, we have shared our Libguides resources for ipad apps with the Melb Uni librarians –
libguideapps
The visit confirmed for us the importance of revisiting the integrating research skills into all assignments at MHS – something which is always a struggle with the overcrowded curriculum and emphasis on content delivery within the VCE.
Of course, we have also greatly benefited from our relationship with Carolyn Brown (CJ), who has worked with us in between her job as College Librarian at University College library. CJ has provided a wealth of expertise, a link to tertiary academia, and to the role teacher librarians play in preparing our students for university.
We all agreed that our visit to the Melbourne University libraries (and our visit to The Library at the Docks before that) were an invaluable form of PD for us all – rich, relevant, ongoing and inspiring.
We will be unpacking what we’ve learned throughout the year, and collaboratively informing our practice and our future directions so that we can best support students and teachers at Melbourne High School.
I’ve included photos of our visit to Melbourne University libraries here, and photos of our visit to the Library at the Dock here.

 

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Melbourne City Edge Schools Day – librarians’ meetup

mypeople

 

Photo source: http://www.pinterest.com/ucylibrary/bookish-humor/

I’ve been thinking lately how my blog writing style has changed over time. Reading post archives while searching for something, I realised how informal, loose and reflective my earlier posts were. Now I feel internal pressure to wait until I have something substantial to write about, and that happens infrequently. I often feel that there is nothing I can say better than those who have written before me. I might have to work through that – after all, a blog post is not supposed to be an academic article. Can anyone else relate to this?

So, today is the first day of second term, and the Melbourne High School staff attended a curriculum day with faculty-related staff from the City Edge schools which included the Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School, Melbourne Girls’ College, University High School, Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, Albert Park College, Princes Hill Secondary College and us. Library staff (as well as Maths staff) met at University High School. 

It was an enjoyable and valuable day, and I thank the principals for organising this opportunity. It makes so much sense to come together and share stories and ideas, to take time out for ourselves and get to know each other. Our session was relaxed and informative. I loved meeting everyone and taking in the diverse personalities and talents. There were a few short presentations, including mine on my use of Pinterest, one from Melbourne Girls’ College about their recent reading initiative and also from Andrew Finegan who has recently taken up the position as head of library at VCASS. After morning tea we decided not to split up into teams of teacher librarians and technicians, and I thought that worked very well. We fit comfortably into a space which was both open and intimate, and we shared and discussed library-related issues ranging from practical aspects, such as security, to controversial issues, such as the relevance of non-fiction in a contemporary school library and the changing nature of information access. I thought that everyone spoke honestly, and that we felt supported by the larger network which understood shared experiences. We are fortunate to have this opportunity, especially since professional development days are usually packed with guest speakers and intensive sessions with little time to socialise.

Later in the afternoon we were treated to a visit from Mike Shuttleworth, Program Manager at Melbourne Writers Festival, who predictably spoke about the Melbourne Writers Festival program and authors. Not really a talk but more of a conversation. Mike was interested in learning from us how we select authors for school visits, how many of us had attended previous festivals, and our feedback from these events. Again, I was grateful for this informal, interactive session – so much more valuable than formal talks which place us as passive recipients. The afternoon ended with several people sharing books they had recently read and enjoyed. Mike shared with us a book by Carol Ann Duffy called 1914: Poetry remembers

To mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has engaged the most eminent poets of the present to choose the writing from the Great War that touched them most profoundly: their choices are here in this powerful and moving assembly. But this anthology is more than a record of war writing. Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned these same poets of the present to look back across the past and write a poem of their own in response to the war to end all wars. 

We thought that we might organise a poetry competition for students to do something similar.

Oh, and did I mention that it was a very wet and miserable day? What has happened to the beautiful, quiet Autumn sun? And so it’s back to business as usual tomorrow. Never mind – public holiday on Friday for ANZAC Day.

Big thanks to Rob Castles and his team at Uni High for welcoming us into their spaces and organising such a great day.

 

 

 

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Seeing is thinking, feeling, understanding – let’s not neglect visual literacies

Pablo Picasso

The SLAV conference, ‘Transliteracy, multiliteracy, makerspaces: how can you participate?’ I attended recently (16 August) gave me much to think about, as they always do.  The featured address, ‘Ways of seeing’: The visual in Australian curriculum by Helen Kent and Catherine Reid from Melbourne Graduate School of Education, University of Melbourne, highlighted an often neglected area of  focus on important visual literacies at the secondary level.

There does seem to be a stronger focus in schools on the analytical responses, and I am concerned that students are missing out if we ignore the visual aspect in favour of what we see as the more important textual analyses. I agree with Helen and Catherine that we need a response to the aesthetics, not just analysis, in our approach to the curriculum. Visual literacy is extremely important in the 21st century, and is particularly engaging to students, and must include affective responses if we want to develop emotional intelligence.

What happens to children who are surrounded by rich visual content in their early childhood and primary years who enter secondary school where this is suddenly cut off?  My guess is that, firstly, engagement decreases, and secondly, they miss out on developing the essential skills that come out of visual analysis. It’s not realistic to pretend that we live in an exclusively text-centred world, especially with the immediacy of images and multimedia at our fingertips now.

Are we mistaking visual literacy as being tied exclusively to the Visual Arts? The occasional comic prompt in an English paper? I realise I need to look again at AusVels to see where exactly I can find opportunities for students to articulate an emotional and aesthetic response – History, Civics and Citizenship, Maths and Science, for example, offer the opportunity for aesthetic responses, so I need to have a closer look.

Some takeaways which I’ll follow as leads for futher investigation:

  • First We See: the National Review of Visual Education which recommends  a whole new pedagogy to deal with visual literacies
  • the term ‘wreading’ – interconnected fluid process of learning reading and writing
  • Do we need a new term ‘Visualcy’  which describes the connection between literacy and numeracy ?

What we should be looking for is a pedagogy that enables emotional response to visual prompts. We have the Arts and teachers of the Arts to look to in learning about how to develop visual literacy in our students.

One of the questions which arose from the session was ‘Can we assess students’ emotional responses?’ I would be interested in a good conversation about this with people who have a keen interest or experience. In any case, as our speakers said, what is curriculum for? If it’s to guide us in addressing goals and skills acquisition, and if ‘viewing’ is one of the strands, then we should seriously develop this more in our curriculum to align ‘viewing’ with the other strands. Interesting to note that the rationale doesn’t emphasise enough the importance of visuals in Indigenous culture.

                                                                                                                    Rene Magritte – Ceci n’est pas une pipe

I haven’t summarised the entire content of the two talks, and I don’t intend to. I’d like to share resources I’ve been creating that might be helpful for anybody thinking about resourcing Visual Literacy in their schools. At this stage, my resources are targeted at English teachers, but I’ll make an effort to keep my eye out for visual prompts for different domains. Some of these below may possibly be adapted for others but I haven’t looked at this specifically yet. The images can be deconstructed, used as writing or discussion prompts, but these are just some of the suggestions – it’s really up to the focus of the teacher in deciding how the images can be used. Often they can be used for more than one purpose or approach. So, it’s over to you to think about how some of my collections can be used. Don’t be shy to share your ideas in the comments section of this post. It would make my day.

An old blog, Storyteller, with various writing prompts, including visual.

My Pinterest boards (selection) –

Art Inspiration

Awesome

Banned books

Bigger Picture

Clever

Imagine

Looking out

Lost

Maps

Mathematics

Old stuff

Photography

Story

Visions of the future

Words

Well, that’s it from me. For now. Hope you’ll share your ideas – look forward to the conversation.

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If I stayed in my library…

Am Fenster, 1922 by Hans Kammerer

In keeping with a limited budget for professional development, the question about relevant choices came up.  The conversation that arose centred on proven relevance for my role as teacher librarian, and in terms of being in line with we’re doing at school. I wanted to go to  Gary Stager’s part in a leadership seminar series. Here is an extract about the seminar –

For school leaders, the immediate challenge is to create productive contexts for learning where there are greater opportunities for inquiry, project-based learning and student leadership, regardless of gender, ethnicity or socio-economic status.

The relevance of professional development is an interesting topic for conversation especially for me as a teacher librarian. My role is not subject centred, and I find that I usually have to explain the types of things that I do, and the types of PD which might be useful. I understand that a limited budget forces the question of relevance, and might lead to the opinion that Gary’s talk is not specifically targeted to my role or even what we are doing at our school. It might be reasonable to expect that the chosen professional development session should be specifically targeted at what we do in the library.

Why does this not sit right with me?

As much as I appreciate and enjoy professional development opportunities related to my profession (teacher librarian) – and there is so much variety here since this role has an impressive array of hats – what I love most is an opportunity to be stretched, challenged and even surprised; to be reminded about the basic core of our jobs at school – LEARNING! – and to interact with people from different walks of life.

People who attend Teachmeets will know what I’m talking about. We hear from educators in different roles – primary, secondary, tertiary, from principals, heads of elearning, IT, program coordinators at museums, non-school libraries, and the such. You get what I’m trying to say. There is so much to learn from each and every speaker, regardless of their role, and that’s precisely because of the diversity of experiences. Sometimes a primary teacher will have a unique approach to teaching which a secondary teacher will not have thought of. I know that I have so many connections and ideas while I’m listening to these people. And the conversation following is just as valuable. How sad, how 2-dimensional, to receive professional development which is carefully measured, predictable and safe.

What would I be like if I stayed in my library, if I stayed in my school, my staff room, my neighbourhood?

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First Melbourne TeachMeet 2013 #tmmelb

Well, hello. It’s been so, so long since I’ve spoken in this space, and I’m not even sure I still have an audience.  Nevertheless, I’d like to do a quick post to rave a little about Melbourne’s first TeachMeet for 2013. Given that we’ve only just gone back to school, lamenting the long Summer break behind us, how lovely to meet in casual surrounds at Lt. Markov-Bar in Carlton. Thank you, Roland (@rgesthuizen), for organising ICTEV TeachMeet @[The Pub}. I’m not sure what I enjoy the most – the social part or the exchange of expertise – but fortunately we can have both. Seriously, if people get together in their free time on the weekend in the name of education and learning, I think that says something about the event.

If you take a look at the line-up of 2- and 7-minute presentations, you’ll see a variety of educational foci including Lauren Sayer’s (@lilylauren) project-based learning revolution at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Jenny Ashby’s (@jjash) 24-hour skype fest, Heather Bailie’s (@hbailie) chat about the Red Cross initiative, Disaster Resilience education, and much more. Do take a look, and think about coming to the next TeachMeet. You don’t have to present, and you’ll meet people who are passionate about education and work in different fields. Thank you to all the organisers, and it was good to see friends and familiar faces again, as well as new people.

Anyway, for what it’s worth, here is the visual presentation part of my 7-minute talk. It’s about using Pinterest as an awesome image resource, and I show how I’ve used it to curate images for Visual Communication Design. I’m thinking of presenting a longer version at some point with a cross-curricular focus. Hopefully the pictures will make some sense without the spoken part.

(For some reason I can’t seem to embed the Google Presentation doc, so it will have to be a link for now)

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/14Ab22j2yRT4vLkpe_pz61_uQtugYd1z8GwYrf9UW21c/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000

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4th Melbourne TeachMeet hosted by Adrian Camm at Quantum Victoria

Thank you so much to the organisers, to the presenters, to the participants and to Adrian Camm at Quantum Victoria for the very enjoyable 4th Victorian TeachMeet Melbourne yesterday afternoon. Thanks also to Tony Richards for the live streaming which you can now watch on the wiki. Thanks also to the people who captured the ideas and links to fantastic ways of learning and teaching on Twitter #tmmelb. And thanks to whoever made the awesome and very popular jelly and lemon slice – was it you, Robyne Luketic aka @handsdown?(please share the recipe).

I’ve attended Melbourne TeachMeets before but never presented because this is something I still shy away from. If you’re like me and don’t feel comfortable with public speaking, let me tell you that the 7 minutes is a nice little amount of time, and the TeachMeet audience is not at all intimidating. I would feel much more intimidated speaking to the staff at my own school.

The variety of the snapshots shared yesterday is what makes this kind of (un)conference so satisfying. Further investigation is made possible after the event when you follow links to blogs, and links and summaries of information shared on Twitter #tmmelb. The learning after the event is ongoing.

Of course, meeting new people and catching up with Tweeps is always the most enjoyable and enriching part of these events. I enjoyed the mix of education backgrounds, including teachers from both primary and secondary students, from all faculties, elearning and ICT people, principals and assistant principals and museum educators. It’s nice to connect with different sectors and hear about what they’re doing. The breadth is really valuable.

I have to say that I enjoyed ALL the presentations, but I’m not alone in saying that Mel Cashen’s (@melcashen) moving presentation of her visit to Rwandan schools was particularly inspiring, and enlarged my perspective in terms of what’s important in education on a global scale. Mel has obviously experienced something life changing, and it will be interesting to follow her path from now on. Thanks, Mel. Here’s the link to her blog – well worth reading.

Please also take the opportunity to involve your students in Judith Way’s high-quality Readers’ Cup program which Judith and friends generously organise in their own time and without charge.

Finally, I must rave about the tour of Quantum Victoria’s facilities – very big and very impressive. The programs sound amazing; I’ll definitely share these with science/maths teachers at school. Adrian mentioned something coming up which focuses on literacy so I’m keen to find out about this and involve my own students. I’ve leave you with a couple of photos of the 3D objects which came out of the state-of-the-art printer. Lots of oohing and ahhing at this point.

Yay for collaboration! The face of professional development is changing!!

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