Ending the MA Journey – A Digital Futures Colloquium

After four and a half years of hitting the books, of forum posting, of virtual meetings… of one day weekends… this is my final critical reflection for the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) programme via Charles Sturt University. My views, knowledge and understanding of the work of an education professional in digital environments have changed dramatically in these long years of study and I’ve very much benefitted from this challenging learning journey, both professionally and personally.

 

The first half of the final subject titled “Digital Futures Colloquium” revolved around the concept of Digital Scholarship. I wrote an assignment titled “Digital Scholarship for our Youngest Learners” which explored how digital, networked, and open technologies are allowing young students more voice, and how it is of vital importance that teachers focus on developing students’ technical skills, knowledge, and mindset in order to thrive in this open, networked, and digital culture (Weller, 2011). Engaging with others on Twitter and through blogging greatly helped to clarify and extend my understandings on this subject.

 

Co-hosting a Digital Scholarship Twitter Chat

 

Blog comments on a Digital Scholarship post.

 

The second half of the subject focused on the final assessment item: an open-ended case study, where we could chose a topic of personal interest and, using a structured approach, conduct research and analysis of a particular context. The collaborative nature of the research question discussion in FlipGrid and the ongoing peer-support in VoiceThread proved vital in making sure the research focus was valid and specific (Tondeur, Forkosh-Baruch, Prestridge, Albion, & Edirisinghe, 2016). I conducted research into my school’s “blogfolio” programme and came away with some great plans for extending the programme further. I very much appreciate, and was motivated by, an assessment such as this as it allowed the exploration of personally / professionally important issues (Ong & Cheung, 2015).

 

Collaborative FlipGrid

 

Collaborative VoiceThread

 

My experience in this subject, and indeed in the wider Masters programme, has been incredibly beneficial to my current role as Learning Technology Coach. I have learned concrete knowledge: theory, research, ideas, but along with this knowledge has come a change in my “way” of learning too. My ability to be proactive, to seek learning – to know where to find it, to filter it, and connect with others – has increased. My collaborative ability has increased. My confidence and propensity to share has increased. I feel like I now have the skillset, mindset, and toolset to leverage our digitally connected knowledge networks and bend them to my information needs.

 

It has not been all roses and strawberries, however. The open-ended nature of the final case study tested my ability to self-direct and self-manage. I initially struggled to relate Digital Scholarship, which seemed at first blush to be more higher education based, to a K – 5 focus. I didn’t attend as many colloquium as I should have. I didn’t post enough blog posts as I should have. I feel like I should have worked harder to help others in the course and give them more feedback. I’m not offering any excuses here, I’m merely reflecting on where I should have focused more.

 

Questioning…

 

Through this Masters, I have also been given many opportunities to examine my own assumptions and actions, and have often bumped up against what I believe being not really what it should be. For example, I kept feeling defeated when it came to whole school change efforts. “My administration are just not on the same wavelength!” I’d say. But I’ve learned to take responsibility and remain positive – to be a visionary leader even if it’s not institutionally stipulated. Another example: I’ve learned to unwaveringly lead with pedagogy instead of being glamoured by the pull of shiny new technology (Fullan, 2013).

 

There is much more to critically analyse and reflect upon, but again, word count is knocking on my door. It’s now time to close Evernote, quit it with the Primo searches, end the theorising and researching, and pull down the post-it notes. I’m heading to school on Monday to get in the trenches and make a difference.

 

References

Fullan, M. (2013). Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Pearson: Canada.

Ong, G. M. Y., & Cheung, W. S. (2015). Exploring Students’ Motivations in Using Blogs at the Primary School Level. International Journal of Online Pedagogy and Course Design, 5(1), 30–44.

Tondeur, J., Forkosh-Baruch, A., Prestridge, S., Albion, P., & Edirisinghe, S. (2016). Responding to Challenges in Teacher Professional Development for ICT Integration in Education. Journal Of Educational Technology & Society, 19(3), 110-120.

Weller, M. (2011). “The Nature of Scholarship.” The Digital Scholar: How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice.London: Bloomsbury Academic,. 41–51. Bloomsbury Collections.

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8 comments

  1. What a refreshingly honest reflection. It’s not an easy workload when you are working and making a difference in learning and teaching in an exciting international workplace, whilst raising a new generation of learners yourself. Well done Matt for hanging in there. Thanks for sharing your pedagogy with us/ others along the way …no matter the level ( pre K – higher ed) you have given us something to ponder. All the best for a long career making a difference to learning globally. You have much to offer.

  2. Hi Matt
    Congrats on making it through the Masters journey and living to tell the tale! It’s interesting that you bring up the idea of bing a visionary leader even if not stipulated. As I’m thinking more and more that participation in and leadership of informal networks may very well end up being necessary prerequisites to future formal leadership roles.

    Stephanie

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Lived to tell the tale… only just. Young family + Masters was hard yakka.

      Leadership in informal networks (you choose to take part in) demonstrates passion, responsibility, self-direction AND it hones your leadership skills. I’d say that would help greatly in any future formal leadership roles. In order to get those though, the person hiring you would need to see value in them too, and I don’t think enough admin are there yet.

      My other point I was kind of dancing around was that if your position / mission isn’t valued in a school – do something about it, don’t sit around whinging. Be the change!

  3. Hey Matt.

    Bravo to you! It has been a pleasure to work with you online and learn from your posts, twitter messages professional attitude and good cheer.

    See you on the network somewhere. Keep your vision alive.

    Kindest regards to you and your growing family.

    Simon Keily

  4. Hi Matt,
    Hey, we got there!
    It’s been an amazing experience connecting and sharing with you and others, I wouldn’t have made it on my own. But that’s the point isn’t it, open, participatory, networked – I’m so glad to be a learner now.
    Good luck for the future,
    Heather

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