Digital Leaders Project

On the mid year school holidays I was a part of the wonderful CEGSA Conference in Adelaide. As a committee member this year and seeing all of the organisation falling into place was a wonderful experience for me. Personally I was involved in getting “The Ed Tech Crew” Podcast team to attend and broadcast many interviews with presenters and delegates.

Often when we attend such large conferences as delegates we are excited about the possibilities. We return to the classroom invigorated and inspired to make change and implement all for the wonderful ideas we have been presented with. Unfortunately although, all too often we keep up the “new and shiny ideas” for the short term but resort back to tradition and our old habits.

This year, one of the key note presentations was by Nick Jackson (Online Educational Designer at University of South Australia). His presentation on the Digital Leaders Project he initiated at his previous school in the UK.

This, like many presentations, lit a spark in the hearts and minds of several delegates, and at the end of the presentation Nick invited everyone to contact him for more information if they are interested.

Days later, as I trawled through my local hang-out place – Twitter, I noticed a conversation involving some delegates and Nick (@largerama) about an upcoming hangout. I got myself involved and began my journey.

Since then I have participated in the hangouts to discuss the porgress and projects of school’s programs. I have also had Nick visit our College to support me in my launch process. We discussed several ideas and after discussing with the students their interests I found the common thread for most was Minecraft. When this was offered to the students as an alternative lunchtime activity Minecraft Monday’s was born. Since this there has been a core group of students who attend each week with several coming intermittently. These students range from year 4-7 at the moment.

Minecraft

Minecraft

What I have observed from these students is that they are always working to improve through self monitoring, motivating and encouragement of all players. The students are working together to achieve a goal and share knowledge. Since this I decided to persue an offer to host a Minecraft camp at our College. This camp provides players the opportunity to paritcipate in a community of Minecraft players from within our College and beyond.  They will be explosed to curriculum learnign without even knowing.

My hopes as a result of hosting this camp is that the Minecrafters at Ocean View College are able to begin usign their time to develop and demonstrate digital resources using Minecraft to teachers. As this goal develops I will present the idea of participating as a Digital Leader at the ACEC2014 National Conference in October next year.

For more information about the Digital Leaders Project you can contact me through the messages below or watch the Google Hangouts at the links below.

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 1 – 23 July 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 2 – 13 August 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 3 – 27 August 2013 with Michael French

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 4 – 3 September 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 5 – 22 October 2013 with Amber Wurst (Year 9 Digital Leader Participant)

Challenging Teaching Paradigms

I have recently been made aware of a young child who is not yet able to attend school because of their age, but knows all their letters and numbers, and read basic sight words and makes sense of their world through investigation.

This child is so digital literate they recently logged onto a computer (putting in a password) went to the internet browse, proceeded to type a URL for the Footy Tipping competition, logged into their own tipping and completed their tips for the upcoming round.

The digital literacies involved in this process with all due respect are beyond some adults, and far surpasses many of the child’s peers. Although this is an amazing feat to be completed without any interaction or support from an adult or siblings, the piercing question for me as an educator is:

  • How will this child be catered for at school, knowing the likely teachers are very traditional teachers who highly regard foundation learning as pencil and paper writing sentences for the teacher with little technology incorporated?
  • Are the skills of the teachers going to enhance or stifle the child’s love for learning and technology? How can the teachers be supported to provide authentic learning for this child?
  • Will the school have the capabilities to cater for this child upon enrollment or are there resources and procedures that need to be put into place to recognize these skills and support the teacher and student in their learning journey?

I am reflecting upon this for a number of reasons, Firstly I am in a position where I can support teachers and help prepare them for this and other “undiscovered” students, with similar abilities. I know if this child had the ability to read short novels or could add and subtract 3 digit numbers there would be strategies for support put in place and consideration made when placing them in a class. These considerations would include the teacher abilities, class structures and additional support. When dealing with advanced digital literate learners these support considerations can often be superficial and not given enough attention. The provision of Learning Technologies and the possibility to be placed in a composite grade to ensure the child is placed with others who might have more advance technological skills would be highly benificial for this student.

Secondly, What potential does this child have and how can we as teachers and as a school embrace this and provide a stimulating education for this child? Good professional practice states this is a question we should pose for every individual student and not assume they are all going to learn at the same pace and in the same way. We know the importance of technology, but how can this be incorporated into teaching practices? We don’t want to just digitize the processes that are currently completed manually we must reinvent the learning and make it authentic in a digital world.

As leaders of technology in education we must “break the ice” and change the paradigms of colleagues to ensure they are prepared for this student, and the many more to come with this background. They must be equipped with the skills, tools and knowledge to cater for this new generation of learner.

To support these teachers I have begun by presenting teaching and learning tools that can provide traditional learning whilst providing opportunity to expand with the technology as required for the individual students. I am also preparing a learner management system for the school to enable students to participate in learning anywhere-anytime. These resources with condense the “tested curriculum” and allow for more inquiry based authentic learning that will expand the students as a digital learner and citizen.

I recognize that my skills alone are not enough to support teachers in this manner, therefore I will be calling upon my Professional Learning Network for ideas and resources. I will demonstrate the possibilities of this vast resource and hopefully in the process I will encourage others to get on-board to seek resources and support from educators world wide, This is a clear demonstration of the authentic learning we should see the students doing in the near future.

Unfortunately I am unable to make decisions at this point in relation to resources and human support for students like this, but fortunately I can make recommendations to a very receptive Principal and leadership team, which we can only hope will be acted upon.

As a side note the image below is a screen shot of the child’s tipping for that round of footy.

What a fantastic result, only one wrong – this child truly does know their stuff!