Recently I was introduced to the 8 Aboriginal Ways of Learning (pedagogy). As the Australian Curriculum takes shape I think being introduced to the 8 Ways will be beneficial to all Australian educators. It leads on from my previous post in that knowing pedagogy is just as important as knowing resources available. For instance, having an awareness of how individuals learn involves more than having an Aboriginal legend or story in a unit of work. It is about time the Aboriginal perspective is communicated and I commend those involved in sharing “the yarn”.
Just as we have preferences for our working conditions, we all have an individual learning space. That is the conditions that maximise our own learning. Things to consider include: lighting, noise, sensory aspects, physical aspects, seating, time allocation, types of tasks etc.
When I think of group learning spaces, I envisage areas in a classroom or physically grouping the children based on certain (often varied) criteria. Recently, however, it has been brought to my attention that the curriculum can be considered a group learning space. Fundamentally a curriculum is a set of guidelines for teaching and learning. In terms of being a group learning space, we (group of teachers) are required to follow and implement the curriculum(our learning of what to teach), so I guess it is our first port of call for anything we wish to undertake in the classroom. It is important to regularly visit this learning space, as educators, to ensure our practices are current, relevant and empowers us with the skills and knowledge to assist our students. With the development of the Australian Curriculum, the group will be Australian educators and then we move into state, diocesan (as is the case in Catholic education), school policies and ultimately the classroom programme which could also be considered group learning spaces.
Other considerations for the group learning space are the cooperative and collaborative learning environments. Both suggest positive interaction among group members in order to facilitate learning as opposed to the grouping itself. The two approaches focus on the processes the groups undertake and promote sharing of ideas, opinions and solving problems in a safe, supportive environment.
Studies into the electronic learning space have highlighted the need for teacher training in both the technical aspects of the particular technology and the pedagogical practices for integrating such technologies into their lessons. As with any new resource, teachers need to reason their choice for employing such technology, evaluate their use of it and make decisions based on quality of practice. The electronic space certainly offers huge potential if understood and used to enhance learning. Collaboration between the creators of electronic learning programmes and educationalists should see a more sophisticated and curriculum aligned software development hopefully improving what is currently available.
One area of study we have had to look at previously is WEB 2.0 technology and how it is different from the initial version of the WEB. I place my comments here because they seem relevant to the topic this week:
I see Web 2.0 technology as interactive web pages created and used to promote inclusive sharing of ideas and resources. It can be considered a learning space because it goes beyond providing a mere page of information to be read. I imagine it to entering a room (designed by the creator) with posters on the walls, books/articles, games, videos etc. for your perusal. It has the added tool of providing you with the opportunity to leave messages, communicate your opinion, share with everyone else, that has been in that space. It connects people.
My understanding of a Community of Practice (CoP) is that it is a collaborative learning process that involves the collective wisdom of a group (the community) so that when the individual’s share and communicate their ideas, regularly, (the practice) this enhances the learning for all participants. The key to a CoP is the socialization and interaction that facilitates learning between each member. Its capacity to transform the learning of an individual, compared to what they could have learnt by themselves, is an intriguing study. Want to know more? Get an overview from, Etienne Wenger, one of the theorists who helped first coin the phrase: http://www.ewenger.com/theory/
In the staffroom of my current school is a phrase on the wall which I think is applicable here “Each one of us has a piece of WISDOM. No one has all the WISDOM”. I am so grateful that the staff at this school actually believes this to be true and regularly practise this in their collaboration and interaction with each other. We take on a shared responsibility for every individual student and regularly discuss the best possible practice to meet the needs of our school.
A blog is a form of online communication. I think of it as an online noticeboard. People can leave posts for others to see and comment on.
I guess my first introduction to blogs was through the movie” Julie and Julia” where the main character Julie (played by Amy Adams) sets herself a goal of getting through every recipe in the Julia Child’s (played by Meryl Streep) cookbook. It’s a bit of a ‘chick flick’ so I apologise to the male bloggers, but essentially Julie decides to share her exploits through a personal blog. This leads me to my next point, that this particular blog is about cooking, mainly and that a blog can be about anything the author undertakes, there are literally blogs about everything. In terms of a PLN, this is a specific type of blog designed by those in education to share their professional development or anything related to teaching and learning. So, to put into the IQ test format, a PLN is a blog but a blog is not necessarily a PLN.
My definition of a PLN is an online learning environment set up by educators for those interested/involved in education. It’s a place to share information, ideas and opinions; sort of like an online book club for teachers and facilitators in education. After viewing many and varied PLN’s, I have come to the conclusion that it can be whatever the creator wants it to be. There is so much media available to the PLN creator that the possibilities are endless. Each week I will try to include a handy hint (something that helped me in my learning and hopefully will help you too).
So, Handy Hint #1: a blog I found by chance when starting on my own PLN: