The Practice of Learning

“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Category: Multimedia Learning

Reflections: The Practice of Learning

In my first post for EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia Learning, I revealed that I felt as though I had only just begun to understand its operations, expectations, and components (Welcome Post, 2019). Now, as the course comes to a close, I realize such a statement is representative of a tendency to focus on product rather than process in learning. As an educator I often consider how I can guide children in their learning but forget to examine my own. Simply meeting expectations or grasping the components and operations of the course would have significantly limited my learning. I believe, like in my own practice and the practice highlighted in the literature I presented, Interactive and Multimedia Learning hoped to generate deep learning by provoking students to think critically, test theories, fail, overcome difficulties, seek assistance, collaborate, make connections, reflect, and revisit, relaunch, or reconsider.

Think Critically. Test Theories. 

Image by Caleb Oquendo on Pexels

I feel very lucky to have been part of a self driven and directed learning experience. As is the case with many of my classmates, I am often drawn out of my comfort zone by sparce guidlines. However, when we provide learners too much structure and direction there is very little room for creativity and curiousity driven theorizing and research. From the outset of the course, I struggled to align my aspirations with reality: I felt, in just a few months, I could discover what several countries outside of Canada were doing with digital technology in Early Childhood Educaton. Feeling autonomous, I continued to reel in my thinking and  critically examine my revelations as I ventured further in an inquiry all too encompassing. Each post I published allowed me to test theories, thoughts, and ideas, and in turn, generated new thoughts, theories, and ideas. Each post and scholar I encountered further established my critical eye and my understanding of interactive and multimedia learning. In addition, soon after I completed my research paper, I began to read my classmates papers and reflective posts and found myself wanting to rerrange my own. Such uncertainty and continuity is emblematic of inquisitiveness that is imperative for deep and meaningful learning.

Fail. Overcome Difficulties. Seek Assistance. 

Image by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels

To draw inspiration and insight, I spent some time last week reading several of my classmates final reflective posts for the course. A few paragraphs into the first post, I discovered I missed a core-component of the course: to establish and become part of a learning pod. My immediate reaction came in the form of panic, then disappointment, guilt, foolishness, and finally acceptance. Once I accepted that I had glossed over the course outline, failed to delve deeper into a reference to “learning pods” made about halfway into the course, and missed out on the comfort, deeper level of collaboration, and inspiration generated by my classmates learning pods, I could focus on the potential for learning contained in such a mistake. After all, I had titled my Blog “The Practice of Learning” and developed my inquiry topic around the importance of a growth mindset for the development of digital literacy.

In my post MakEY Makes Deep Connections: Final Thoughts Before My Final Inquiry, I wrote that mistakes and miscalculations are considered an important part of “maker” culture as with them comes opportunity to think criticaly, value persistence, overcome difficulties, and generate collaboration amongst learners (Galloway, 2015; Martin, 2015). In the same post I presented a statement made by Henry Jenkins, which suggested that learning through our own mistakes, and thinking critically at our own behaviour, is one of the most vital processes in leaning (Jenkins, 2009). Still, theory doesn’t always translate to practice effortlessly, as recognizing the value in my mistake appears to be a learning process in itself.

I have been able to recognize, however, the way in which my oversight epitmizes the non-linear teaching-learning fostered by the course. Throughout Interactive and Multimedia Learning, I felt comforting by the lack of finality in the posts I published, the inquiry topic I developed, and the reflections and assignments I worked through. I could write something, read another classmates post, change course, seek advise, and revisit the same topic from a new and different angle. Being able to update, publish, re-publish, change course, edit, re-edit reevulate, and reconsider provided the space necessary to form deep connections the topics at hand and create the illusion of more time.

For the majority of my post-secondary learning, time has been the driving force behind the quality of my work, what I choose to learn about, my level of comprehension, and the competencies I acquire.  Yet,  as an Early Childhood Educator, I put a lot of effort into creating a learning environment that makes children feel as though there is no end in sight for their inquiry, as if time is passing in a leisurely manner. Dr. Valerie Irvine, our professor for Interactive and Multimedia Learning, emphasized the importance of time in education, by making herself available seven days a week, and informing us, early on, that the course could be extended well into the following semester. Though I might not use it, I felt as though I could take all the time I needed for my inquiry.

Collaborate. Make Connections. 

The organization I work for follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education, and each of its educators plan, teach, and learn with a shared overarching intention in mind: “Creating A Culture of Collaboration”. There is a remarkable commitment to collaboration demonstrated at every level of the Reggio Emilia approach that includes families, educators, and community.  Malaguzzi often maintained:

“even the loveliest school is diminished in educational value if it does not hold participation and relations with families as one of […it’s] main values”- from Vecchi, 2010, p.71

In Reggio, education is a communal activity (Edwards et al, 2011).  In fact, it is one of the primary roles of the Reggio teacher to help develop a community of learners who will share the responsibility of educating children (Fraser, 2012, p.61).

Though I may not have been a part of a learning pod during Interactive and Multimedia Learning I still felt part of a unique collaborative learning experience. The course’s digital platform not only enabled the  continuity I described above, but also presented an entirely new way of collaborating with peers. The class’s individual Word Press blogs allowed me to discover similar inquires, additional resources, consider different angles, and discover new-to-me contemporary trends in teaching-learning. While Bluejeans video conferencing created an avenue for face-to-face conversations. Their video rooms enabled a meeting with Allison Galloway, the author of one of the sources I used in my inquiry, which would not have taken place otherwise.  In addition, we shared inquiry outlines and final research papers via Google Docs, which connected me to classmates with similar topics, sources, and  different writing styles.

Finally, amidst Interactive and Multimedia Learning my work with children had me thinking about a very different type of material. In Novemeber I attended a Learning Circle that focused on utilizing clay to its fullest potential in all of our programs. Our Reggio mentor described the way Reggio Emilia, as well as some of our programs, have presented clay in their teaching-learning. Learners began to “live” with the clay: they physicially experienced it with their whole bodies, they thought with and about it, they collaborated with and through it, and eventually they created with it. Because I had been posting every week I couldn’t help but draw connections between my practice of learning with clay and my practice of learning with digital technology.

Revisit. Relaunch. Reconsider.

Image by Harrison Haines on Pexels

An important part of my practice is the ability to look back and reconsider wonderings, intent, hypotheses and recognize whether they need to be altered, extended upon, or moved on from. Consequently, once I push “publish” on these words I know I will back to read them and rethink them. In addition, though it might be too late for EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia Learning, I will go ahead and join a learning pod that will hopefully inspire me to continue “The Practice of Learning“.

Bye for now. Thank you very much for reading,

EJ

 

References

BlueJeans. (2019). Retrieved from https://www.bluejeans.com

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

GoogleDocs. (2005). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/docs/about/

Martin, L. (2015). The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research

OpenETC: Free range Edtech. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://opened.ca

Pfbconvergencia. (Oct 12, 2009) Proyecto Facebook [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MmEFefoe-9U.

WordPress. (2003). Retrieved from https://wordpress.com

Climate Action in An Artificial Age

Another Black Friday comes and goes and with it more rallies against climate change (Nov 29th Climate Rally Vancouver). Before embarking on my final reflections for EDCI: Interactive and MultImedia Learning, I couldn’t help but take a moment to ponder over the correlation between digital technology and the environment …

Over the last several decades, life has become more and more entangled with digital technology: mobile “smart” technologies have become essential appendages for work, learning, and leisure (European Commission, 2013), while the production of such technology and the data linked to it, which is often perceived as floating in cyber space, impart serious consequences to the environment. All of which causes me to question: Should/can/will technology be essential for life in the future?

It seems to me that there are two conflicting movements happening simultaneously: (1) a call for action against industry giants from all sectors and a movement to create more sustainable locally focused communities, and (2) a motion for the development of new learning practices and environments that will prepare learners for life in a global, digitized world.

Image by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels

From the articles and research I encountered throughout Interactive and Multimedia Learning, it is clear many authors agree that  “there is an urgent need for populations to develop the skills and knowledge required to navigate a complex technological world.” (Marsh et al., 2017) I do not disagree with those who advocate for more and better quality digital literacy education. I do wonder, however, how continuing to incorporate technology into education, especially when it is simply substituted in for another material, will increase our reliance on it and the rate at which it is being manufactured.

The below TedTalk with Leyla Acaroglu presents a refreshing perspective on sustainability. Her thoughts on how to determine the environmental impact of the materials we use and what we choose to consume are especially eye-opening. Take a look:

If digital technology cannot be left out of education then how can educators present it in a way that ignites critical thinking, creativity, and sustainability?

That’s all for now.

Thank you for reading and happy pondering,

EJ

Up next… Final reflective post for EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia Learning

 

References

Acaroglu, L. (2013)  Paper beats plastic? How to rethink environmental folklore [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks

European Commission (2013). DigComp: The digital competence framework for citizens. The Conceptual Reference Model. Luxembourg: European Commission.

European Commission. (2013). Survey of schools: ICT in education. Benchmarking Access, Use and Attitudes to Technology in Europe’s Schools. Luxembourg: European Commission.

Marsh, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nisha, B., Velicu, A., Blum-Ross, A., Hyatt, D., Jónsdóttir, S.R., Levy, R., Little, S., Marusteru, G., Ólafsdóttir, M.E., Sandvik, K., Scott, F., Thestrup, K.,Arnseth, H.C., Dýrfjörð, K., Jornet, A., Kjartansdóttir, S.H., Pahl, K., Pétursdóttir, S. and Thorsteinsson, G. (2017) Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review. University of Sheffield: MakEY Project.

Protected: Looking Past Complications and Concerns: Pedagogical Practice Related to Digital Literacy for the Early Years

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MakEY Makes Deep Connections: Final Thoughts Before My Final Inquiry

My aim at the onset of EDCI: Interactive and Multuimedia Learning had been “to find new and accessible ways to incooperate ideas regarding technology that come from communities outside of North America” (Welcome Post, Sep 2019). However, course readings and resources, sources referenced by classmates, and related articles I came across along the way, have all together led me down a different path.

Here is the evolution of my inquiry questions thus far: How is technology being approached in ECE environments in countries outside N.America? To: Is there evidence of pedagogy that presents digital technology holistically? And finally: Can “Making” support digital literacy in Early Years Education?

During the formulation of my last post, on a hunt for media related to Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century (Jenkins et al., 2006), I came across a playful and opinative video that initiated a fresh line of reasoning. Have a watch:

One specific statement made by Jenkins (2009) evoked memories of similar statements made by Galloway with regard to making:

“We learn by failing. We learn by making mistakes, and doing something over, and doing it better. When our schools make failure fatal they cut themselves off from the most vital process of learning there is. That is, learning through our own mistakes, thinking critically at our own behaviour.” -Jenkins

Both in conversation with our class during a recent video chat (Nov 2019), and through her MEd Project (2015), Galloway articulated the importance of a “Growth Mindset” and leaving room for error. In addition, Marsh et al., in their MakEY publication, entitled Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review, made reference to the value present in failing and the reflection invariably connected to it (Marsh et al., 2017).

The aforementioned connections led to a consideration of other links that might exist between the making presented in both Galloway’s (2015) work and several MakEY project publications (Marsh et al., 2017,2018), and the new media education presented by Jenkins et al. (2006). I began to distinguish similarities amongst philosophies surrounding both creativity and citizenship. Ultimately, the above YouTube video led me to my final inquiry question.

However, before I present my final post connected to Assignment 2 in EDCI: Interactive and Multimedia LearningI feel it is necessary to provide a short introduction to Making, Makerspaces, and MakEY 

In 2005, Dale Dougherty founded Make Magazine and, some would argue, popularized the term making (Marsh et al., 2017). Dougherty (2013) described the mindset of a maker as one of a growth mindset: a belief that anything can be accomplished as long as one is equipped with the knowledge required to do so (p.10). The Make Magazine, and subsequent Maker Faire in 2006, marked the beginning of the “do it yourself” culture known as the Maker Movement (Marsh et al., 2017). In 2006, innovator and entrepreneur, Mark Hatch, founded Techshop, a for profit makerspace in California, and later wrote The Maker Movement Manifesto (2013). In The Maker Movement Manifesto (2013), Hatch outlines what he considered to be the core principles of the Maker Movement:

MAKE – Making is fundamental to what it means to be human. We must make, create and express ourselves to feel whole. There is something unique about making physical things.

SHARE – Sharing what you have made and what you know about making with others [..]. You cannot make and not share.

GIVE – There are few things more selfless and satisfying than giving away something you have made.

LEARN – You must learn to make. You must always seek to learn more about your making. You may become a journeyman or master craftsman, but you will still learn, want to learn and push yourself to learn new techniques, materials and processes. Building a lifelong learning path ensures a rich and rewarding making life and, importantly, enables one to share.

TOOL UP – You must have access to the right tools for the project to hand. Invest in and develop local access to the tools you need to do the making you want to do.

PLAY – Be playful with what you are making, and you will be surprised, excited and proud of what you discover.

PARTICIPATE – Join the Maker Movement and reach out to those around you […].

SUPPORT – This is a movement, and it requires emotional, intellectual, financial, political and institutional support. The best hope for improving the world is us, and we are responsible for making a better future.

CHANGE – Embrace the change that will naturally occur as you go on the maker journey. Since making is fundamental to what it means to be human, you will become a more complete version of you as you make.

-Hatch, 2013

At its outset, innovation and ingenuity were recognized as key components of maker culture, along with the development of certain craft skills (Marsh et al., 2017), however, today’s maker culture welcomes a myriad of making experiences and represents an inclusive environment within which to create (Schrock, 2014).

Making itself is deeply rooted in the values of constructivism and bears close resemblance to the succeeding constructionist learning theory set forth by Seymour Papert (1980). Making provides space and opportunity for makers to construct knowledge through experiementation, in a space that motivates curiosity, hands-on experiences, and self directed learning (Dewey, 1902). Mistakes and miscalculations are also considered an important part of maker culture as with them comes opportunity to think criticaly, value persistence, overcome difficulties, and generate collaboration amongst learners (Galloway, 2015; Martin, 2015).

Makerspaces refer to collective spaces that supply individuals with an environment to create through hands-on effort. Using the materials at hand, makers are free to work on a project that is either personally or collectively meaningful. In addition, the specific materials provided in a makerspace are considered the “glue” that pulls makers together for collaborative, creative work (Marsh et al.,2017). The teaching-learning practices and demographics within makerspaces are often wide in scope as they include an assortment of ages, genders, levels of understanding and proficiencies (Halverson &Sheridan, 2014). Therefore, makerspaces often promote peer collaboration and introduce fresh perspectives on teacher-learner dynamics (Marsh et al.,2017).

Image by MakEY retrieved from https://makeyproject.eu

Today, makerspaces are more widely recognized for their educational value, specifically with regard to their ability to promote problem-solving skills and the development of competences connected to engineering, creative design, and innovation (Stager, 2013). In addition, more and more literature is being produced that explores the value of making and makerspaces in the development of digital literacy, including several publications presented by the MakEY project.

The MakEY project encompasses several small scale, qualitative research projects, in seven European countries and the USA, that aim to examine the way in which making can contribute to children’s digital literacy and creative design skills (“Makey Project”, 2019). All workshops or projects undertaken by MakEY are observed by a team of researchers who utilize recorded observations, field notes, photos and/or video recordings, and, in some cases, footage collected from children wearing GoPro cameras (Marsh et al., 2018).

The few documentations I have observed from MakEY, demonstrate how technology can be incoporated into early learning environments in deep and meaningful ways: the children involved were provided an opportunity to construct knowledge corresponding to their natural environments, their communities, medians (both digital and tactile), and the culture of creating.

MakEY sets forth, as does Galloway (2015) and Jenkins et al. (2006), in their respective works, that intregrating pedagogies connected to design can benefit learners because they encourage mistakes, repetitive operations, and reflection (Marsh et al., 2017).

Until next time. Thanks for reading,

EJ

Up next … Final post connected to Assignment 2 (look for the tag)

References

Dewey, J. (1902). The child and the curriculum. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Dougherty, D. (2013). The maker mindset. Design, make, play: Growing the next Generation of STEM Innovators, 7–11.

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

Halverson, E.R., & Sheridan, K. (2014). The maker movement in education. Harvard Educational Review, 84(4), p 495–504.

Hatch, M. (2013). The Maker Movement Manifesto. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Jenkins, H (2006). Confronting the challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Chicago, IL. Retrieved from http://www.oapen.org/download/?type=document&docid=1004003

Marsh, J., Arnseth, H.C. and Kumpulainen, K. (2018) Maker Literacies and Maker Citizenship in the MakEY (Makerspaces in the Early Years) Project. Multimodal Technologies and Interaction, 2(3), 50; https://doi.org/10.3390/mti2030050

Marsh, J., Kumpulainen, K., Nisha, B., Velicu, A., Blum-Ross, A., Hyatt, D., Jónsdóttir, S.R., Levy, R., Little, S., Marusteru, G., Ólafsdóttir, M.E., Sandvik, K., Scott, F., Thestrup, K.,Arnseth, H.C., Dýrfjörð, K., Jornet, A., Kjartansdóttir, S.H., Pahl, K., Pétursdóttir, S. and Thorsteinsson, G. (2017) Makerspaces in the Early Years: A Literature Review. University of Sheffield: MakEY Project.

Martin, L. (2015). The promise of the maker movement for education. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 5(1), p 30–39.

Pfbconvergencia. (Oct 12, 2009) Proyecto Facebook [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/MmEFefoe-9U

Schrock, A. (2014). “Educationindisguise”: Culture of a hacker and makerspace. Interactions: UCLA. Journal of Education and Information Studies, 10 (1), p 1-25. Retrieved from: http:// escholarship.org/uc/item/0js1n1qg

Stager, G. S. (2013). Papert’s prison fab lab : Implications for the maker movement and education design. IDC ’13 Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Interaction, p 487–490.

Reframing My Thoughts: Are Frameworks and Philosophies Merely “Slow to React”?

Before I venture further into my inquiry, specifically the “maker movement” and the MakEY Project, I would like to take a moment to reframe and reconsider my thinking thus far.  I took a moment to step back, read, and leave room for learning. I discovered that perhaps I needed to look at why, rather than how, digital technology is being addressed by both the BC Early Learning Frameworks and the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning.

The first article that altered my focus came in the form of an occasional paper on digital media and learning by Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, and Robison (2006), entitled Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. I drew an immediate connection from the following excerpt to the frameworks and philosophy I had examined prior:

“Schools as institutions have been slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture […] programs must devote more attention to fostering what we call the new media literacies:” -Jenkins et al., 2009

Jenkins et al. (2006) presented two new terms in their report: Participatory Culture and New Media Literacies. Jenkins explains participatory culture and his concerns about education in the following video:

Jenkins et al. (2006) pointed to a growing body of research that suggested that the various forms of participatory culture undertaken by young people outside of school have the potential to generate: “opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a[n…] empowered conception of citizenship” (Jenkins et al., 2006). They also highlighted the fact that many scholars believed that children and youth developed such skills regardless of pedagogical interventions. However, Jenkins et al. believed that three concerns denoted the nescesity for curriculums focused on helping students develop the skills needed to fully participate in, and contribute to, online communities. The three concerns were:

  • The Participation Gap — the unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youth for full participation in the world of tomorrow.
  • The Transparency Problem — The challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world.
  • The Ethics Challenge — The breakdown of traditional forms of professional training and socialization that might prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants.

Consequently, a central focus of their work aimed to draw attention away from considerations regarding technological access towards opportunities in teaching and learning associated with participating in a digital realm (Jenkins et al, 2006). Unlike the BC Early Learning Curriculums, the primary recommendation by Jenkins et al. (2006) was that an effective pedagogical strategy be developed specifically for media education. However, while reading the report presented by Jenkins et al. (2006), I couldn’t help but notice how many of the New Media Literacies naturally flow into the expectations for deep learning explicated in BC’s New Curriculum (2019) and are instinctively touched on in an approach such as Reggio Emilia.

The three Core Competencies of BC’s New Curriclum are “Thinking (creative,critical), Communication, and Personal and Social”. According the Curriculum Orientation Guide, the Core Competencies are groupings of abilities that learners should develop in order to take part in deep learning. The Competencies should be evident and used when learners are engrossed in “doing” in any area of learning (BC’s New Curriculum, 2019). Consequently, if digital technology is considered an area of learning then learners should be interacting with it in accordance with the Core Competencies and engaging in deep learning.

Similarly, the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Learning aims to engage children in rich learning experiences. Reggio invites children to engage in an area of learning holistically: by offering many different modes, presenting an assortment of tools and mediums, incorporating various locations and perspectives, by avoiding timelines, and by actively listening. However, unlike BC’s New Curriculum, Reggio Emilia centres follow an emergent curriculum. Though there may be a shared “intent” amongst several centres, “hypotheses” (focus of learning) are generally constructed by a community of learners based on observations of the needs, skills, values, interests, and challenges of a specific group of children. Below is the Reggio inspired curriculum pathway we follow at our centres:

In my previous post, I voiced the opinion that digital technology often rests on the periphery of the deep learning that takes place within the Reggio Emilia approach. However, as Apler (2011) suggests in her work, Developmentally appropriate New Media Literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education, several of the New Media Literacies described by Jenkins et al. are already “reflected in the interplay between digital and non-digital media within Reggio Emilia-inspired teaching and learning” (Alper, 2011). In addition, if digital literacy happened to be a core component of an “intent” or “hypothesis” within a Reggio program, it would be approached with an aim to generate digital fluency.

Again, similarly, if BC educators regard digital literacy as pivotal knowledge for their learners than their learners should be thinking creatively and critically with and about it, they should be connecting, engaging, and collaborating with their peers through and with it, and they should be considering their personal well-being and the well beings of others with and in connection with it. However, as I highlighted in my post BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education digital technology is not explicitly outlined as an area of learning in either BC’s Early Learning Framework or in BC’s New Curriculum (K-5).

Therefore, perhaps BC’s Curricula and the Reggio Emilia approach are not so dissimilar with regard to their position on digital technology. Possibly, institutions within both locations are simply “slow to react to the emergence of this new participatory culture” (Jenkins et al., 2006). It seems clear that neither BC, nor Reggio Emilia, Italy consider digital literacy imperative for their young learners.

However, BC educator, Alison Galloway, also recognized the similarities between BC and Reggio Emilia, Italy, specifically with regard to BC’s movement towards a more child-centred approach to learning (Galloway, 2015). Drawing inspiration from the Reggio Emilia approach, BC’s education plan, and the “maker movement”, Galloway (2015) created a learning environment capable of generating rich teaching and learning experiences connected to digital technology.

In addition, in her MEd Project entitled Bringing a Reggio Emilia inspired approach up the grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement, Galloway (2015) critically examined many of the same aspects of education as Jenkins et al. (2006). Galloway advocated for education that focuses on competency and values students’ voice and choice (Galloway, 2015), while Jenkins et al. promoted education that treats young people as citizens deserving of the skills necessary to become valued as such (Jenkins et al., 2006). Galloway wrote:

“If, as educators, we want children to be inventive and resourceful, we need to provide opportunities for open-ended learning that challenges students to come up with their own questions and solutions.” – Galloway, 2015

Still, Galloway’s (2015) research did not specifically focus on digital literacy, rather it outlined the potential value for teaching and learning generated within a Reggio Emilia inspired “Makerspace”.

It is my intent, however, to highlight the fact that the literature I have encountered with regard to the “maker movement” explicitly highlights the value of the approach in contributing to digital fluency or “critical literacy”.

Until next time,

EJ

References

Alper, M. (2013). Developmentally appropriate new media literacies: Supporting cultural competencies and social skills in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 13(2), 175-196. doi:10.1177/1468798411430101

Jenkins, H (2006). Confronting the challenges of Participatory Culture: Media education for the 21st century. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation: Chicago, IL. Retrieved from  http://www.oapen.org/download/?type=document&docid=1004003

Galloway, A. (2015). A reggio emilia inspired maker space. Retrieved from http://reggioinspiredmakerspace.weebly.com/reggio-emilia-background.html

Galloway, A. (2015). Bringing a reggio emilia inspired approach into higher grades- Links to 21st century learning skills and the maker movement. MEd Projects (Curriculum and Instruction): University of Victoria, BC.

Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Projectors as Digital Tool and Medium in Practice

Besides it’s use in pedagogical narration, digital technology most often appears in my learning environments in the form of computer projectors. We also regulary use non-digital light projectors. Both types of projectors have constitently been photographed as present in Reggio Emilia schools.

Photo retrieved from https://wordpress.wiu.edu/ilaecte/2016/10/16/let-there-be-light/

Over the last several weeks, we have been collecting digital photographs from our families via email, which are representative of our children’s lives outside of our classroom. Our intention is to have the children’s “home” photographs projected onto our walls and on our projector screen (which hangs from the ceiling in the middle of our room).

We are beginning to develop a hypothesis connected to empathy and hope that our wall projections will spark converstations, thoughts, considerations of self and the other.  The art, construction, converstations, play etc. that takes place in our class will be recorded using our phones’ photo, video, and voice applications. We also have hard-copy family photos and pedagogical narrations interspersed in our classroom and continue to use pencil and paper to record our observations.

As we continue down our current path of inquiry myself and my co-educator explore different ways to point the children’s focus inwards towards discovery of self and outwards towards the relationship between self and others.  Though much of our investigation so far has included conventional mediums such as mirrors, tape measures, markers, pencil crayons, pencils, charcoal, paper, scissors, converstations, clay, sticks, blocks, literature etc. we are invariably searching for new methods and materials to connect in.

In hunting for digital mediums to draw into our inquiry, I came across a post by a fellow classmate that included the article by Cowan (2016), Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Her article outlined some digital languages in practice and happened to include an exploration of body and movement entitled: Exploring the body in digital and non-digital combinations. The arts space (atelier) used for the inquiry provided opportunity for numerous forms of expression, as it set out digital tools that inlcuded an iPad (set up with motion capture software), webcam, digital microscopes, and a computer projector, alongside non-digital materials such as wooden figures, mirrors, magnifiers, clay, wire, paper, and paints.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Art spaces (ateliers) that include a host of mediums, materials, and disciplines are common practice in Reggio Emilia inspired environments, as they allow for multiple modes of thought and expression. However, I have drawn connections to my own inquiry with the body exploration presented by Cowan (2016) and hope to bring some of the digital ponderings into our classroom. One specific experience described educators projecting digital images onto an art easel that had been set up with paper and paint. I hope to transplant the latter into our class, by offering the children an opportunity to ‘paint’ on their digital self-portraits.

I feel priviledged to be able work in an Early Learning environment that fosters the inclusion of unconventional materials and refrains from following learning schedules or timelines. At the same time, I am also aware that the approach that allows for such beautiful fluidity in teaching and learning also tends to keep digital technology on the periphery of its philosophy. Digital tools and mediums are as essential to the Reggio Emilia philosophy as any other tool or mediam. Yet, digital technology plays a much bigger role in our worlds than does a paint brush, a wooden block, or a piece of paper or clay (though each depend on natural resources as digital technology does). At present, nearly every person on the planet keeps some sort of mobile device on there person at all times, but not everyone carries with them a pen or a piece of paper.

My current practice, and the practices presented in Cowan’s article, remain focused on how to incoporate and use digital technology, rather than how to generate a deep and critical understanding of its production and purpose in our lives. It requires an outstanding amount of natural resources to produce one ‘smart’ phone. Still, despite the recent calls for environmental action and nature focused outdoor education, digital technology appears to play a perfunctory role in teaching and learning.

Consequently, I will continue on my hunt for a holistic approach to digital technology in ECE. In my next post I will present the MakEY Project, a Europe-wide project the considers how ‘makerspaces’ can contribute to the development of children’s digital literacy.

Once again, happy Sunday. Thank you for reading,

EJ

References

Cowan, K. (2017, March 19). Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Retrieved from http://digilitey.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/STSM-Stockholm-Final-Report-Kate-Cowan.pdf

Digital vs. Analog. In Person vs. Online. Inconceivable in Application or in Education?

My first encounter with Dr. Puentedura’s (SAMR) model came from the YouTube video posted below. Initially, Puentedura’s model led to personal feelings of insecurity with regard to the type of digital technology used in my practice. Rarely, if ever, have I attempted to use digital technology beyond its most basic application.

Pondering over ideas presented in the video, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between my initial feelings of cluelessness in EDCI: Multimedia Learning and Technology and the basic, outdated, and often limiting version of digital technology present in my Early Learning environments. I started to wonder: Perhaps I am not well versed enough in the capabilities of modern digital technology to be including it in my pedagogy? However, after more carefully considering some of the statements made in the video and reading a critical review of the (SAMR) model by Hamilton, Rosenberg, and Akcaoglu (2016), my feelings about my personal practice tranformed into critical notions regarding Puentedura’s model.

The critical review  presented by Hamilton et al. (2016) broke down Puentedura’s (SAMR) model into what they considered to be three challenges: (1) Absence of Context, (2) Rigid Structure, and (3) Product Over Process. However, the common criticism presented throughout their review suggested that the (SAMR) model undercuts the complexity in teaching and learning (Hamiliton et al., 2016). According to Hamilton et al., (SAMR) disregarded the complexity present in the learning settings within which technology is introduced, overlooked the variance in pedagogies by confining technology integration to four specific categories, and excluded the intricacies connected to the process of learning about technology by placing significant importance on the type of technology that is used (Hamilton et al., 2016).

While I agree that the (SAMR) model, in general, oversimplifies the process of technology integration in education, I found the steps of the (SAMR) ladder [model below] especially misleading.

In their critical review, Hamiliton et al. (2016) highlighted the fact that the (SAMR) steps oppose research that suggested that enhanced learning outcomes were more dependent on teacher and student interaction rather than the type of technology used.  The (SAMR) model assumes that using technology in “redefined” or “modified” ways will generated improved learning outcomes. However, research suggests that classroom practices and teacher pedagogy play a more significant role in the level of learning comprehension (Hamiliton et al., 2016).

I also find the language used in the description of the (SAMR) steps misleading. The notion that specific digital technology can allow for “significant task redesign” or the “creation of a new, previously inconceivable task” is entirely subjective. The following examples can all be understood as subsitutions with “no functional change”: an in-class drama exchanged for a digital video recording, in-class discussions and peer editing switched out for a Google Doc, or small writing groups replaced by individual Blogs. Instead, one might consider an interactive, 3D computer simulation substituted in for a 2D diagram as redesigning educators roles in teaching rather than transforming student tasks.

Like much of what I have read about digital technology in Early Years education so far, the (SAMR) model focuses on how to best incorporate digital technology in one’s current educational practice or how to best use it in said practice, rather than ‘why’ use it at all. There appears to be an absence of literature, and examples from pedagogy (including my own), that explores teaching and learning technology holistically.

In my next few posts I will examine technology in my own classroom, the Maker Movement, more European pedogogies, and Henry Jenkins’ approach to “New Media Education”, in the hopes of better understanding how to educate on, rather than incorporate in, digital technology.

Until Next Time,

EJ

 

References

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. Techtrends, 60(5), 433-441. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Spencer, J. (2015, Nov 3). What is the SAMR model and what does it look like in schools? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtube/SC5ARwUkVQg

 

 

Transformative in Teaching and Learning: An Introduction to Technology in the Reggio Emilia Approach

Though British Columbia has not developed a unified perspective on digital technology within early childhood education, the Early Learning educators in Reggio Emilia, Italy have long since agreed that technology can be transformative in their teaching-learning environments.

If you are not familiar with the Reggio Emilia approach to Early Childhood Education it refers to a philosophy of education that epitomizes the pedagogical practices exhibited in the Early Learning centres of the town of Reggio Emilia, in the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The single philosophy of education that exists in Reggio Emilia today stems from years of collaborative effort, community involvement, and protests for political change (Edwards et al, 2011).

After first school in Reggio Emilia opened its doors in 1946, parents and educators, including Emilia Romagna native Loris Malaguzzi, spent the next twenty years fighting for greater, more abundant early childhood education (Edwards et al, 2011). In the midst of completing his educational degree, Malaguzzi offered his services to the women involved in the construction of the first Reggio school (Edwards et al, 2011) and went on to play a significant role in the evolution of the schools. He drew inspiration from thinkers such as Lev Vygotsky, John Dewey, David Hawkins, and Erik Erikson, and provided insight and leadership as the new schools developed their own philosophies (Fraser, 2012, p. 5; Gandini, 2008). By 1971 there were government-sponsored preschools and infant-toddler centres throughout Reggio Emilia (Edwards et al, 2011).

Malaguzzi, parents, and educators collaborated to develop a common image of the child that recognized children as producers rather than consumers of resources,  as well as creative, engaged citizens capable of critical thoughts and actions (Pelo, 2008). Reggio Emilia’s view of the child resulted in a multifaceted, malleable, and collaborative method of teaching.  Observation and documentation become essential in the Reggio approach as they facilitate its core components: emergent curriculum, a high-level of collaboration, and unique, intentional environments.

In Reggio, teachers follow the lead of children, and their families, in order to develop emergent, project-based teaching and learning.  Within the emergent curriculums of the Reggio approach, the outside interests of children and the emergence of new technologies are incorporated rather than looked past or avoided.  As Malaguzzi suggested:

“schools should be continually seeking more and better materials, wider spaces, and suitable structures so as to never fall behind” – Malaguzzi, Spirit of Studio 19

In addition to the above elements, Reggio Emilia educators believe that children have the right to express themselves through whatever modes they choose. In Reggio, multimodality is referred to as children’s 100 languages. Therefore, digital technology is viewed as another medium with which children can express themselves (both literally and figuratively).

A recent post on the Italian website, “Reggio Children” sums up the Reggio Emilia perspective on technology in relation to children’s 100 languages . Scheda atelier writes:

The digital has the potential to transform teaching-learning contexts, offering children’s thoughts and theories new modes of representation, proposing a dimension of culture capable of merging the abstract with the artisanal. Children simultaneously act on plural levels of representation in these digital contexts, exercising for a form of hybrid, integrated, flexible thinking. What we aspire to is a connected and synthetic [from synthesis] form of intelligence, not narrowly discipline-based, but capable of being constructed in the research into meanings, on the borderlines between different languages.

That being said, it is clear that the Reggio Emilia approach does not debate over the potential value or harm of digital technology on young children but rather embraces it as a valuable material for learning. Unlike the Early Years curriculums of British Columbia, the early learning centres of Reggio Emilia have included digital technology in publications for decades.

Thank you for reading. More thoughts, information, and learning to come.

Happy Sunday,

EJ

References

Atelier, S. Reggio children atelier. Retrieved from www.reggiochildren.it

Edwards, C., Gandini, L., & Forman, G. (2011). Introduction: Background and starting points. In Langara College (Ed.), Historical, philosophical and cultural influences on early childhood education. (113-134). Vancouver, BC: Langara College

Fraser, S. (2012). Authentic childhood: Experiencing reggio emilia in the classroom. (3rd Ed.) Toronto, ON: Nelson Education Ltd.

Gandini, L., Hill, L. & Schwall, C. (Eds.), In the spirit of the studio. (47-57) New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Pelo, A. (2008) Rethinking early childhood education. Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Rethinking Schools Ltd.

Vecchi, V. (2010). Art and creativity in reggio emilia: Exploring the role and potential of ateliers in early childhood education. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

BC’s Stance on Digital Technology in Early Years Education

In my last post I suggested that incooperating digital technology into early years education is not a priority in BC.  Is there evidence out there to support my assumption?

According to the government of BC website: “Digital literacy is an important skill to have in today’s technology based world.” The BC’s Digital Literacy Framework, first published in 2015, describes in detail what children age 5- 18 should be able to do, understand, and critically think about with regard to digital technology.

The framework outlines six main characteristics of digital literacy: research and information literacy, critical thinking, problem solving and decision making, creativity and innovation, digital citizenship, communication and collaboration, and technology operations and concepts. It also outlines some ways technology and digital resources might be incooperated into learning experiences for children age 5-8:

  • Illustrate and communicate original ideas and stories using digital tools and media-rich resources. (C, T, CC, CI)
  • Engage in learning activities with learners from multiple cultures through e-mail and other electronic means. (C, CC, TOC)
  • Independently apply digital tools and resources to address a variety of tasks and problems. (T, CPD, TOC)
  • Demonstrate the ability to navigate in virtual environments such as electronic books, simulation software, and Web sites. (TOC)

Despite the clear and expansive nature of the Digital Literacy Framework, BC does not specifically include digital technology in its Early Years curriculums.

Technology is not explicitly included within  BC’s updated Early Learning Framwork Principles, though the principles do leave room for interpretation and the Framework itself promotes the incorporation of many modes for through which children can express and inquire. However,  the Framework does include digital technology in Section Three: Living and Learning Together under the heading Communication and Literacies. Here the Framework highlights the fact that digital technology is part of most people’s everyday lives, that it can support and promote creative inquiry, and that there are complicated concerns surrounding its inclusion in the childhood experience.

And yet, digital technology appears to reside under Communication and Literacies only as a point for conversation and as a mode for communication. There are no specific examples provided in the Framework for how digital technology might be incooperated in Early Learning environments (besides its current primary use in Pedigogal Narration). Instead, it is suggested that educators take time to reflect on the potential creative and negative aspects of technology. It is clear that Early Childhood Educators and the BC Early Learning Framework are still pondering over whether digital technology should actually be included in Early Learning Environments.

BC’s New Curriculum defines technologies as tools that extend human capabilities and includes technology under the heading Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies K-7“. However, the term “computational thinking” becomes included under the heading “Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies” starting with 6 and 7.  Computational thinking appears to be quite extensive and includes an awareness of coding, computer hardware and software (including troubleshooting), Internet safety, digital self-image, citizenship etc. By including specific learning outcomes regarding digital technology for the later grades, the BC Curriculum elucidates the expectation that British Columbian children be digitally literate, while at the same time it suggests that digital technology remain absent in Early Childhood.

Image retrieved from the Website of School District 47

It is clear, as I assume is the case with many of us graduate students, that British Columbia isn’t quite sure where it stands on the idea of digital technology in Early Learning. Such is not surprising as we currently live in a time that allows us access to a endless wealth of information, which generally leads us into an endless cavern of contradictions.

Until next time,

EJ

References

Ministry of Education (2015). BC’s new curriculum. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://curriculum.gov.bc.ca

Ministry of Education (2019). British Columbia early learning framework. Victoria, B.C. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/early-learning/teach/early-learning-framework

Ministry of Education (2015). Digital literacy framework. Victoria, BC. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/teach/teaching-tools/digital-literacy?keyword=Digital&keyword=literacy&keyword=framework

Welcome

Welcome readers, visitors, and classmates to my blog. Thank you for joining me as I document my learning progress in the MEd course entitled “Interactive and Multimedia Learning” offered through the University of Victoria.

It has been over two weeks since the off-campus course commenced and I feel like I am only just beginning to understand its operations, expectations, and components. Having educators interact with current technology used in post-secondary institutations seems a perfect way to begin a course that considers technology’s role in education. Learning how to learn in “Interactive and Multimedia Learning” is a great reminder of how knowledge is co-constructed between educator and student, adult and child, and classmates.

In my current practice digital technology is present and embraced, however, this is almost entirely because I work in a Reggio Emilia learning centre, not because digital literacy is a priority in our community or province. Consequently, in the next few months, I hope to find new and accessible ways to incooperate ideas regarding technology that come from communities outside of North America. Keeping in the mind that though the education practices in Finland, Sweden, and Reggio Emilia, Italy are often appealing in their intentions and results they are also often practiced in much less culturally diverse demographics than Vancouver. My aim is to become well versed in such educative practices but to also think practically about how they can translate into a much more diverse community.