Saturday, 24 September 2016

Read around the World

With view to the fact that our school is celebrating uniting nations week in October, this year we're trying to add a literary bent to the proceedings.

There are a number of steps to this, which are easy or complicated, depending on how "ready" your collection is.

A little while back, I created resource lists on Destiny, and a visual search button for "read around the world". Since I didn't have a lot of time I grouped them by continent, with a separate section for Singapore which is where we live.  It involved doing subject searches on our catalog for various countries on each continent and then grouping them together.  Actually this wasn't that easy. A book like "Inside out and Back again" - takes place in USA, about a Vietnamese immigrant - where do you put it and its ilk (of which we have many). What if an american author is writing about Africa? Generally I tended to put the books according to where they took place rather than the origin of the author. But I've allowed my students to decide how they want to categorise it when they add a comment to their shelfie (more later).

Before the summer break, I also ordered all the books suitable for primary school on the USBBY list for 2016 so they were ready for the school year. Again I didn't have anything specific in mind, except to diversify my collection.  As an aside - I must say I'm incredibly impressed with the selection in this list and I'm going to order from it again this year, and from the backlists of prior years. Books like "My Two Blankets" are just phenomenal and just so appropriate for a multi-lingual environment.


This term, I joined the UN committee and put my idea forward to do a "read around the world" as part of the activities so it would not just be a "costume, food and flags" affair. I also convinced the parade organisers that it may be a nice idea to parade by country grouped by continent (to tie in what was feasible in the library with my limited display space). 

Next I created a library guide and a padlet so the students could put up their pictures (we're an iPad school so that's one of the easiest ways).  

Then last week I started introducing the concept to my students in the library lesson.  I adjusted it according to the age. For some, I asked how were ways we could find out about people around the world. We got the usual, go there, live their, eat food, have a friend etc. Then I introduced travelling their through books (depending on the age I told them the library was a magic travel machine), then I read a book from South Africa, my home country (Niki Daly's "Where's Jamela"), and then we had a tour around the world past all the displays and they could pick up a "souvenir" book on the way of whatever they liked.

For other classes my colleague met them at the door and said she was a tour guide and would take them around the world and they could pick up books along the way. 

We then showed the library guide and explained how to get a picture onto padlet, and that they could then put a sticker on the map.

Some classes were more enthusiastic than others - generally the younger students were not very interested in books from other places, they wanted a book from the country they came from - fair enough. 

It was interesting to see where students put books when they made a comment - the aforementioned "inside out" was labeled "Vietnam" by a student, while "Amulet" got a Japanese label based on the author name and origin (although born in Japan, he has lived in the USA since he was 10). 

We've agreed that for the actual UN week each class well get a bundle of 20-30 books from various countries delivered to the classrooms to read during their DEAR time (they get 20 minutes a day).

Hopefully it will all work out! I'm also hoping our parents will want to get involved with their children.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Blokes with Books Club

This post is about a year overdue, but here goes.

Early into my new job as a newly minted Teacher Librarian I started noticing the "lost boys"  of the library.  Those souls who would wander around and between the stacks with a dazed look on their faces. Or they'd be flicking through books without actually registering the contents. Or they'd just park themselves on a chair with the (too popular to let them be borrowed) Guinness Books of records and sit and talk through with "oohs and aahs" with their like-minded mates.  Obviously something.needed.to.be.done.

But equally obvious to my middle aged, white, female mind, I was not the one to do it. Or at least, not to appear to be the one to do it. But should it be a teacher? If so, which teacher? My criteria was young and male, but I didn't know my new colleagues all that well... I settled on our EdTech coach, Tim.  An extremely busy and popular educator, with experience in the classroom and, since moving into the new role with all the classrooms, he was enthusiastic when I suggested it. (Phew).

We collaborated on lesson plan ideas, and books that may "hook" the students. And we were open for business. We emailed teachers from Grades 3-6 and asked if they had any students who they thought may benefit from this group. Most teachers had 1 or 2 students.  The first session started with about 8 students. And quickly word spread that this was a really fun thing to be involved with.  Group members had their own membership badges and a special "learning agreement" for their time in the library. Teachers reported back that the students were more motivated to borrow books and were super enthusiastic about going to the sessions which were held once a week on a Wednesday during the last period (a 40 minute period reserved for literacy leadership). A couple of ELL students were identified who would also benefit from being "one of the blokes" even though their language level wasn't that high and they joined in as well.

The year ended with a bang when I chanced on reading of a book review of "Adventures of a Kid Magician" in February or March. Then of course it was a case of getting Tim's mother to buy 5 copies of the book from Walmart - the only stockist at the time and shipping it to Singapore. It was as if we'd set off fireworks in the library. Basically each chapter leads to clues which unlocks a code to a youtube video showing how to do a magical trick. So the rest of the year involved multiple read-alouds of the chapters and hunting the clues down and desperate attempts by our blokes to be the next in line to read the book! Talk about a magic formula to combine the physical and digital (my review here),

Today was our first official day, starting with going over the essential agreements, one boy who insisted on doing a book talk on a book he was loving (Things Explainer - I've ordered a copy for the library now ) an ice-breaker of Zip Zap Zop followed by "Book Speed Dating" - 3 rounds of 5 minutes of "dating" a book after which the favourite was chosen (or not) for checkout.





Initial Lesson plans (2015/6):
Lesson #Ice BreakerActivities
1Staring Contest-Choose a Book Any Funny Book/read
-Read in the Dark/ Tent
-Find a girly book competition/read  
-Find a manly book competition/ read
2Spot The Difference-Ben Cooperman Read Aloud his book “Gabriel and Five Joshuas”
3Charades (written on note cards)-Discuss adventures/ what kind of adventures there are
-Read choose your own adventure book
4Crocodile Tooth GameGraphic Novels
5Zip Zap Zop-Judge A Book By It’s Cover
6Toilet Paper Mummy-Monster Books
7Drawing Charades-Joke Books
8Draw Yourself As Cartoon-Dewey Grams
-write down the number of book and to hand to someone else
-Use scholastic.com to make a Christmas book wishlist
9Minefield-Introduce Legends and Myths with Sinbad Video
-Legends and Myths books
10Zip Zap Zop-Introduce old comics
-Read through old comics
11Tennis Table Soccer-Magazine Reading
Explain all the neat features of the different magazines
 12-end of yearVarious icebreakersReading of "Adventures of a kid magician" and unlocking the videos

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Is Digital Scholarship limited by cultural myopia?


Introduction


The parameters of scholarship in education are often based on Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of discovery, integration, application and teaching.  Healey further expands on the scholarship of teaching to include “research into teaching and learning, critical reflection of practice and communication and dissemination about the practice of one’s subject” (2000, p. 169).

Broadening the discussion to include the transformational aspects of “digital” technology, educational scholarship has been enriched through open data, open publishing, a blurring of the academic and ‘real’ world, open teaching and learning and a movement from the individual to the distributed scholar and global access (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kinsley, 2012). However, Pearce etal. (2012, p. 169) cautioned that technology is “a necessary but not sufficient condition” for true scholarship. The question is, given the potential and reality of technology, what else is needed to fulfil the obligations of a modern ‘digital’ scholar?


Argument statement 


This essay will argue that the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in online and offline education, led by British, Australasian and North American (BANA) institutions limits knowledge, understanding and progress not only of its students, but of its scholars as well in exploiting the true potential of open educational tools and resources.

There are four main reasons for situating this essay in the context of teaching and learning, in particular, a critical reflection of digital scholarship practice in relation to multi-cultural multi-lingual (MCML) learning environments. Firstly, demographic shifts in education are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a result of globalisation, immigration, migration, and war (Boelens, 2010; Boelens, Cherek, Tilke, & Bailey, 2015).  Secondly a significant shift to online education where the global market is showing a 9.2% five year annual compound growth rate and is now worth $107 billion led by India and China (Pappas, 2015). Thirdly, work and employment increasingly is global, remote and disaggregated with globally mobile and fluid workforce and both employers and employees requiring “just in time” rather than “just in case” skills and knowledge. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a moral, ethical and value-based argument. On the one hand, MCML students are prejudiced by the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in education (Catterick, 2007; Sadykova, 2014; Zhang & Kenny, 2010) and on the other, ignoring the MCML dimension limits critical reflective practice, the potential of international digital scholarship and knowledge and understanding of a large part of the educational scholars’ field.


Interpretive Discussion


Background


Traditionally, creating culturally-responsive accommodations for MLMC students has faced considerable institutional opposition. The response of educational institutions, comprised a narrow range between non-accommodation and intervention in the form of student induction into ‘the system’ i.e. modify the student not the program (Catterick, 2007; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). Arguments against interventions cite costs, quality control, and expectations of the students themselves and their future employers that they are “Westernised” as a by-product of their education (Catterick, 2007).

Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) acknowledge these issues and suggest that institutions distinguish between entrenched cultural values and superficial practices, and create interventions with constructivist and instructivist alternatives or choices in learning activities and instructional format only where these are critical to learning success.  Researchers sound a word of caution against cultural generalizations that lead to stereotyping and discrimination (Gazi, 2014; Hardy & Tolhurst, 2014; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). This can be ameliorated through a combination of embedding cultural considerations in each stage of the instructional design process, ensuring an iterative practice of reflection and modification and encouraging student interaction and feedback (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010; Young, 2009).

Models designed to foster awareness of cultural implications in education vary in their orientation. Initially research done in corporations (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and physical classrooms led to classroom or systems originated and oriented models such as the Inclusion, Attitude, Meaning, Competence (IAMC) model of Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2009, cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012) and the Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (CDLF) (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010) which were adapted for online learning.

In contrast, the Culture Based Model (CBM) framework of Young (2009) and the Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) model (Edmundson, 2007b) are product oriented with the aim of guiding designers to incorporate culture in the design of digital and online educational products. (See Appendix 1 for illustrations of these models).


Reflection on teaching and learning in a multi-cultural environment


Educational institutions are not the only suppliers of teaching and learning. Commercial entities, particularly multinational companies, go to an enormous amount of effort in creating culturally compatible user interfaces - see Edmundson’s (2007a) book “Globalized e-learning cultural challenges”. One could argue that this effort directly benefits their bottom line, however all institutions would benefit from this approach.

Fortunately there are some researchers open-minded enough to examine the assumptions of their own culture, reflect on the embedded cultural practices of teaching and learning and those of the digital platforms and applications and thoughtfully researching ways to reconcile the two so as to optimise the learning of their students (Chan & Rao, 2010; Looker, 2011; Ren & Montgomery, 2015; Sadykova, 2014).  Critical examination of one’s own culture and introducing new technologies in a more considered and less forceful way, appears to result in more success and acceptance. Pedagogy aligned with sociocultural context allows scaffolding of current to new practice and understanding (Chan, 2010; Chan & Rao, 2010; Law et al., 2010; Rao & Chan, 2010).

Chan (2010) demonstrated aspects of the Confucian approach to teaching and learning were highly compatible with the values of digital scholarship, and showed how modifications in the way technological tools for collaborative learning were introduced positively impacted their acceptance by teachers and students in a high school setting.

More recently, in examining Korean students’ experiences of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Ahn, Yyon and Cha (2015) built on the CDLF of Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot (2010) showing how awareness, cultural sensitivity and relatively minor adjustments could enhance the online learning experience of such students without detracting from the quality  and substance of the courses.

The introduction of digital innovation in the learning environment does not automatically lead to universal acceptance, but can resoundingly be rejected in any culture when it is felt basic assumptions and expectations are being violated – as the study of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool revealed (Wilson, Diao, & Huang, 2015). Even if peer-to-peer review and data analytics have meta-cognitive benefits, their implementation is often poor and occurs within a context where cooperation and collaboration is espoused but underlying assumptions and pressures of competition and the importance of good grades prevail (Durall & Gros, 2014; Wilson et al., 2015). Similarly, suboptimal outcomes are seen if the social-emotional needs and group formation process is neglected in online scholarship or learning and made subservient to certification and task performance (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003).


Current trends, futurist predictions, theoretical perspectives


Disaggregation and re-aggregation appears to be a theme in many of the discussions on trends and the future of education - something technology allows in ways previously not possible.

Ware, writing in 2011, predicted that the publication of academic research would be disaggregated between the repository process of registration and dissemination of work and the certification process which includes peer review and branding – an idea that harks back to the learned societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Ware, 2011). Four years later this is the reality in open access repositories in China (Ren & Montgomery, 2015).   Retractions of research papers have also resulted in the calls for the publication of the complete research work flow including raw data – something that is now technologically possible and feasible as interrogation and data analytic tools develop (Larsen, 2008; Oransky & Marcus, 2010; Ware, 2011).

Technology enhances the agency of the self-directed learner (SDL) to re-aggregate OER to suit their learning needs. Mike Caulfield’s idea of choral explanations in OER textbooks:
“the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense, or you can start with simpler explanations and work your way to nuance.” (Caulfield, 2016, para. 63)
opens many possibilities for expanding textbooks to accommodate linguistic and cultural diversity – something international students already do when they purchase two (physical) textbooks, one that is not only in their home language but also in their home pedagogical culture (Bailey, 2016; Kim & Mizuishi, 2014)

Bates cautions that there is still an agency role to structure and accredit that knowledge acquisition (Bates, 2011), but in a globally mobile and fluid workforce, those aggregators will need to accommodate different cultures of learning.  Public/private educational entities such as Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education are taking a regional lead in exporting their vocational training through their educational services division (Chong, 2014; ITEES, 2015; Li, Yao, & Chen, 2014).

Similarly consideration could be given to using the models and algorithms in the field of adaptive learning (Charles Sturt University, n.d.) and personalisation in order to create cultural adaptations based on parameters set by students.

Two universities, although very different in design are using innovative online technology, Kiron University to give refugees the opportunity to further their education (Bates, 2015) and Minerva University to give fee paying students a global education that is location independent for both students and professors (Wood, 2014).  Such disruptive models of higher education raise all kinds of questions on the implications of digital learning including whether scholarship and research will continue if scholarship is not directly visible or rewarded (Harry Lewis, cited by Wood, 2014).
Implications for scholarly practice
In order to understand the role of technology, Kalantzis and Cope (2015) go back to the etymology of ‘media’ as agents bridging meaning across space and time to facilitate communication, understanding and learning. This has huge implications for scholarly practice.

Literature on global collaboration in the classroom (Higgitt et al., 2008; Thombs, Ivarsson, & Gillis, 2011), the research process (Siemens & Burr, 2013; Siemens, Cunningham, Duff, & Warwick, 2011) and online conferencing (LaPointe & Gunawardena, 2004) enumerates many benefits of such collaboration. These include but are not limited to the opening of and access to new knowledge; flattening of hierarchies, easier discovery and connection mechanisms; extending the reach and equity of scholars and reducing costs. Some of the problems however, include issues with technological difficulties and failure, differences in equipment standards and capabilities, scheduling issues due to time differences, misunderstandings due to language, the nature of computer-mediated communication including its text-basis, time-independence, asynchronous nature and inability to interpret culturally based non-verbal cues (Pearce et al., 2012; Selwyn, 2010; Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, 2012b; Weller, 2011).

Of these, language remains a significant barrier to open access international research and learning. Even where all members of a research team are proficient in a language (usually English), research in other languages may not be accessible to non-speakers (Loan & Sheikh, 2016; Ren & Montgomery, 2015),  and language and cultural norms may be intertwined where nuance can result in misunderstanding (Siemens & Burr, 2013). As translation software continue to evolve will more students be able to study and do internationally recognised and disseminated research in their home language, (Cheesman et al., 2016; Palaiologou, 2007; Sadykova, 2014)? Or will the dominance of English prevail – albeit with a move to “global English” as envisioned by Schell (2007) and what will be lost as a result?


Conclusion


Digital scholarship within the context of international and globalised education could benefit from additional critical reflection into the assumptions concerning and attitudes towards multi-cultural and multi-lingual students and fellow researchers.  Given the plethora of technological tools, research, knowledge and practice in non-BANA educational institutions, of intrepid researchers in BANA institutions and of multi-national corporations there are ample examples of best practice and the potential to positively impact student learning and educational scholarship in the digital realm.




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Veletsianos, G., & Kimmons, R. (2012b). Networked participatory scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2), 766–774. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001

Ware, M. (2011). Peer review: Recent experience and future directions. New Review of Information Networking, 16(1), 23–53. http://doi.org/10.1080/13614576.2011.566812

Weller, M. (2011). The nature of scholarship. In The Digital Scholar : How Technology Is Transforming Scholarly Practice (1st ed., pp. 41–51). London: Bloomsbury Academic. Retrieved from http://www.bloomsburycollections.com/book/the-digital-scholar-how-technology-is-transforming-scholarly-practice/ch4-the-nature-of-scholarship/

Wilson, M. J., Diao, M. M., & Huang, L. (2015). ‘I’m not here to learn how to mark someone else’s stuff’: an investigation of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(1), 15–32. http://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.881980

Wood, G. (2014, September). The future of college? Retrieved 27 August 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/09/the-future-of-college/375071/

Young, P. A. (2009). The Culture-Based Model framework. In P. A. Young, Instructional Design Frameworks and Intercultural Models: (pp. 37–53). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from 10.4018/978-1-60566-426-2.ch003

Zhang, Z., & Kenny, R. F. (2010). Learning in an online distance education course: Experiences of three international students. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(1). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/775/1481


Appendix 1: Illustrations of Models






Figure 1: IAMC model Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009 (cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012 p. 25)

Figure 2: Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010,  summarized in Ahn, Yoon & Cha, 2015, p.207)

Figure 3: Culture Based Model, Young, 2009, p. 38




 Figure 4: Cultural Adaptation Process (Edmundson, 2007b, p. 269)

Is Digital Scholarship limited by cultural myopia?

Introduction


The parameters of scholarship in education are often based on Boyer’s (1990) dimensions of discovery, integration, application and teaching.  Healey further expands on the scholarship of teaching to include “research into teaching and learning, critical reflection of practice and communication and dissemination about the practice of one’s subject” (2000, p. 169).

Broadening the discussion to include the transformational aspects of “digital” technology, educational scholarship has been enriched through open data, open publishing, a blurring of the academic and ‘real’ world, open teaching and learning and a movement from the individual to the distributed scholar and global access (Pearce, Weller, Scanlon, & Kinsley, 2012). However, Pearce etal. (2012, p. 169) cautioned that technology is “a necessary but not sufficient condition” for true scholarship. The question is, given the potential and reality of technology, what else is needed to fulfil the obligations of a modern ‘digital’ scholar?

Argument statement 


This essay will argue that the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in online and offline education, led by British, Australasian and North American (BANA) institutions limits knowledge, understanding and progress not only of its students, but of its scholars as well in exploiting the true potential of open educational tools and resources.

There are four main reasons for situating this essay in the context of teaching and learning, in particular, a critical reflection of digital scholarship practice in relation to multi-cultural multi-lingual (MCML) learning environments. Firstly, demographic shifts in education are occurring at an unprecedented rate as a result of globalisation, immigration, migration, and war (Boelens, 2010; Boelens, Cherek, Tilke, & Bailey, 2015).  Secondly a significant shift to online education where the global market is showing a 9.2% five year annual compound growth rate and is now worth $107 billion led by India and China (Pappas, 2015). Thirdly, work and employment increasingly is global, remote and disaggregated with globally mobile and fluid workforce and both employers and employees requiring “just in time” rather than “just in case” skills and knowledge. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there is a moral, ethical and value-based argument. On the one hand, MCML students are prejudiced by the dominance of a Western cognitive constructivist tradition in education (Catterick, 2007; Sadykova, 2014; Zhang & Kenny, 2010) and on the other, ignoring the MCML dimension limits critical reflective practice, the potential of international digital scholarship and knowledge and understanding of a large part of the educational scholars’ field.

Interpretive Discussion


Background


Traditionally, creating culturally-responsive accommodations for MLMC students has faced considerable institutional opposition. The response of educational institutions, comprised a narrow range between non-accommodation and intervention in the form of student induction into ‘the system’ i.e. modify the student not the program (Catterick, 2007; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). Arguments against interventions cite costs, quality control, and expectations of the students themselves and their future employers that they are “Westernised” as a by-product of their education (Catterick, 2007).

Parrish and Linder-VanBerschot (2010) acknowledge these issues and suggest that institutions distinguish between entrenched cultural values and superficial practices, and create interventions with constructivist and instructivist alternatives or choices in learning activities and instructional format only where these are critical to learning success.  Researchers sound a word of caution against cultural generalizations that lead to stereotyping and discrimination (Gazi, 2014; Hardy & Tolhurst, 2014; Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010). This can be ameliorated through a combination of embedding cultural considerations in each stage of the instructional design process, ensuring an iterative practice of reflection and modification and encouraging student interaction and feedback (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010; Young, 2009).

Models designed to foster awareness of cultural implications in education vary in their orientation. Initially research done in corporations (Hofstede, Hofstede, & Minkov, 2010) and physical classrooms led to classroom or systems originated and oriented models such as the Inclusion, Attitude, Meaning, Competence (IAMC) model of Ginsberg & Wlodkowski (2009, cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012) and the Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (CDLF) (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010) which were adapted for online learning.

In contrast, the Culture Based Model (CBM) framework of Young (2009) and the Cultural Adaptation Process (CAP) model (Edmundson, 2007b) are product oriented with the aim of guiding designers to incorporate culture in the design of digital and online educational products. (See Appendix 1 for illustrations of these models).

Reflection on teaching and learning in a multi-cultural environment


Educational institutions are not the only suppliers of teaching and learning. Commercial entities, particularly multinational companies, go to an enormous amount of effort in creating culturally compatible user interfaces - see Edmundson’s (2007a) book “Globalized e-learning cultural challenges”. One could argue that this effort directly benefits their bottom line, however all institutions would benefit from this approach.

Fortunately there are some researchers open-minded enough to examine the assumptions of their own culture, reflect on the embedded cultural practices of teaching and learning and those of the digital platforms and applications and thoughtfully researching ways to reconcile the two so as to optimise the learning of their students (Chan & Rao, 2010; Looker, 2011; Ren & Montgomery, 2015; Sadykova, 2014).  Critical examination of one’s own culture and introducing new technologies in a more considered and less forceful way, appears to result in more success and acceptance. Pedagogy aligned with sociocultural context allows scaffolding of current to new practice and understanding (Chan, 2010; Chan & Rao, 2010; Law et al., 2010; Rao & Chan, 2010).

Chan (2010) demonstrated aspects of the Confucian approach to teaching and learning were highly compatible with the values of digital scholarship, and showed how modifications in the way technological tools for collaborative learning were introduced positively impacted their acceptance by teachers and students in a high school setting.

More recently, in examining Korean students’ experiences of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Ahn, Yyon and Cha (2015) built on the CDLF of Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot (2010) showing how awareness, cultural sensitivity and relatively minor adjustments could enhance the online learning experience of such students without detracting from the quality  and substance of the courses.

The introduction of digital innovation in the learning environment does not automatically lead to universal acceptance, but can resoundingly be rejected in any culture when it is felt basic assumptions and expectations are being violated – as the study of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool revealed (Wilson, Diao, & Huang, 2015). Even if peer-to-peer review and data analytics have meta-cognitive benefits, their implementation is often poor and occurs within a context where cooperation and collaboration is espoused but underlying assumptions and pressures of competition and the importance of good grades prevail (Durall & Gros, 2014; Wilson et al., 2015). Similarly, suboptimal outcomes are seen if the social-emotional needs and group formation process is neglected in online scholarship or learning and made subservient to certification and task performance (Carabajal, LaPointe, & Gunawardena, 2003).


Current trends, futurist predictions, theoretical perspectives


Disaggregation and re-aggregation appears to be a theme in many of the discussions on trends and the future of education - something technology allows in ways previously not possible.

Ware, writing in 2011, predicted that the publication of academic research would be disaggregated between the repository process of registration and dissemination of work and the certification process which includes peer review and branding – an idea that harks back to the learned societies of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Ware, 2011). Four years later this is the reality in open access repositories in China (Ren & Montgomery, 2015).   Retractions of research papers have also resulted in the calls for the publication of the complete research work flow including raw data – something that is now technologically possible and feasible as interrogation and data analytic tools develop (Larsen, 2008; Oransky & Marcus, 2010; Ware, 2011).

Technology enhances the agency of the self-directed learner (SDL) to re-aggregate OER to suit their learning needs. Mike Caulfield’s idea of choral explanations in OER textbooks:
“the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense, or you can start with simpler explanations and work your way to nuance.” (Caulfield, 2016, para. 63)
opens many possibilities for expanding textbooks to accommodate linguistic and cultural diversity – something international students already do when they purchase two (physical) textbooks, one that is not only in their home language but also in their home pedagogical culture (Bailey, 2016; Kim & Mizuishi, 2014)

Bates cautions that there is still an agency role to structure and accredit that knowledge acquisition (Bates, 2011), but in a globally mobile and fluid workforce, those aggregators will need to accommodate different cultures of learning.  Public/private educational entities such as Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education are taking a regional lead in exporting their vocational training through their educational services division (Chong, 2014; ITEES, 2015; Li, Yao, & Chen, 2014).

Similarly consideration could be given to using the models and algorithms in the field of adaptive learning (Charles Sturt University, n.d.) and personalisation in order to create cultural adaptations based on parameters set by students.

Two universities, although very different in design are using innovative online technology, Kiron University to give refugees the opportunity to further their education (Bates, 2015) and Minerva University to give fee paying students a global education that is location independent for both students and professors (Wood, 2014).  Such disruptive models of higher education raise all kinds of questions on the implications of digital learning including whether scholarship and research will continue if scholarship is not directly visible or rewarded (Harry Lewis, cited by Wood, 2014).
Implications for scholarly practice
In order to understand the role of technology, Kalantzis and Cope (2015) go back to the etymology of ‘media’ as agents bridging meaning across space and time to facilitate communication, understanding and learning. This has huge implications for scholarly practice.

Literature on global collaboration in the classroom (Higgitt et al., 2008; Thombs, Ivarsson, & Gillis, 2011), the research process (Siemens & Burr, 2013; Siemens, Cunningham, Duff, & Warwick, 2011) and online conferencing (LaPointe & Gunawardena, 2004) enumerates many benefits of such collaboration. These include but are not limited to the opening of and access to new knowledge; flattening of hierarchies, easier discovery and connection mechanisms; extending the reach and equity of scholars and reducing costs. Some of the problems however, include issues with technological difficulties and failure, differences in equipment standards and capabilities, scheduling issues due to time differences, misunderstandings due to language, the nature of computer-mediated communication including its text-basis, time-independence, asynchronous nature and inability to interpret culturally based non-verbal cues (Pearce et al., 2012; Selwyn, 2010; Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2012a, 2012b; Weller, 2011).

Of these, language remains a significant barrier to open access international research and learning. Even where all members of a research team are proficient in a language (usually English), research in other languages may not be accessible to non-speakers (Loan & Sheikh, 2016; Ren & Montgomery, 2015),  and language and cultural norms may be intertwined where nuance can result in misunderstanding (Siemens & Burr, 2013). As translation software continue to evolve will more students be able to study and do internationally recognised and disseminated research in their home language, (Cheesman et al., 2016; Palaiologou, 2007; Sadykova, 2014)? Or will the dominance of English prevail – albeit with a move to “global English” as envisioned by Schell (2007) and what will be lost as a result?

Conclusion

Digital scholarship within the context of international and globalised education could benefit from additional critical reflection into the assumptions concerning and attitudes towards multi-cultural and multi-lingual students and fellow researchers.  Given the plethora of technological tools, research, knowledge and practice in non-BANA educational institutions, of intrepid researchers in BANA institutions and of multi-national corporations there are ample examples of best practice and the potential to positively impact student learning and educational scholarship in the digital realm.




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Wilson, M. J., Diao, M. M., & Huang, L. (2015). ‘I’m not here to learn how to mark someone else’s stuff’: an investigation of an online peer-to-peer review workshop tool. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 40(1), 15–32. http://doi.org/10.1080/02602938.2014.881980

Wood, G. (2014, September). The future of college? Retrieved 27 August 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/09/the-future-of-college/375071/

Young, P. A. (2009). The Culture-Based Model framework. In P. A. Young, Instructional Design Frameworks and Intercultural Models: (pp. 37–53). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from 10.4018/978-1-60566-426-2.ch003

Zhang, Z., & Kenny, R. F. (2010). Learning in an online distance education course: Experiences of three international students. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 11(1). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/775/1481


Appendix 1: Illustrations of Models






Figure 1: IAMC model Ginsberg & Wlodkowski, 2009 (cited in Suzuki & Nemoto, 2012 p. 25)

Figure 2: Cultural Dimensions Learning Framework (Parrish & Linder-VanBerschot, 2010,  summarized in Ahn, Yoon & Cha, 2015, p.207)

Figure 3: Culture Based Model, Young, 2009, p. 38




 Figure 4: Cultural Adaptation Process (Edmundson, 2007b, p. 269)

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The year that's been

And so on Friday my first year as a full-time teacher-librarian concluded.  I wish I had blogged more frequently because now looking back on the year it just seems to be one big blur.  There were ups and downs, things I did well on and things I utterly failed with.


Absolutely my biggest failure has been to learn the names of my students. Anyone with tips and tricks - greatly appreciated.  I'm doing the "sweetie / dear" thing; and of course my students see through that - they are so perceptive.

I've learnt a lot from them. And I have more to learn. More patience, more tolerance, more differentiation, more attention to students as individuals.

What has gone well?  A few initiatives have worked, a few classes stood out as being successful - is that as much as one could ask for?  Our parents appreciated our "Library Bytes" sessions - and on the last few days quite a few parents reached out to us to find out more about our initiatives for preventing the summer slide - parents we haven't seen all year - thank-you to the teachers who nudged them in our direction.

We did really well in the Readers' Cup, with our older readers taking first prize - but was that me or was that having a few very strong individuals in the team who pulled the rest together? Or is it even about the victory or rather the parents commenting that students have noticeably "become readers" since joining the teams?

Our Blokes with Books club has been very successful - again I cannot take much credit except for making the space and opportunity available and finding the right teacher to run it for me, so all credit really goes to him. 

I've not done so well with my Keen Bean readers - part of it was the timing - during DEAR time so effectively only 10 minutes by the time they'd all arrived, part of it was the easy-come-easy-go nature of the activity with the students coming in and out, part of it was me not being structured enough with the activity.

We had quite a few author visits and those were well received - I'd like to expand on that any have more literacy / writing workshops with the authors. The groups were very big and the danger is the intimacy is lost and it becomes a "show" or "production" rather than something more personal.

Teacher PD has been an issue - not being granted the time, not forcing being granted the time, not having the confidence in my role and not understanding that there is no way rolling out a Scope and Sequence will work with students if teachers aren't on board - we needed to get buy in for that a lot earlier in the year - so that's top of the list for next year.  I don't think I'm the only TL suffering from this problem, and like many before me I do it the winning hearts and minds one by one approach. Unfortunately of course the attrition of international school teachers means some of those hearts and minds are leaving for other shores. 

Diversity and expansion of World Language books - particularly Chinese has gone relatively well.  Interestingly enough it has been the local education assistants who have noticed the increase in locally and regionally written works the most, and have expressed appreciation for this.  Increasing circulation of Chinese books and the whole Chinese literacy part of the equation now needs to be worked on. I hope part of the problem is resolved by "build it and they will come".  Having a native Chinese speaker on staff has already shown benefits.

The library 24/7 initiative has largely been spearheaded by putting a lot of effort into Libguides. They're really well frequented, particularly the main launch pad guide.  Finding a balanced compromise with the new LMS is the next phase. I've even taken some time out to learn a bit of basic HTML and CSS which has been good.

Next up - nice long vacation, starting my capstone course to finish my M.Ed and getting ready for the new year. 



Saturday, 18 June 2016

Right sentiment - wrong question

My husband and I attended a "school board of governors meets the parents" evening on Thursday night and one of the attendees asked what the school was doing to encourage more girls to go into STEM careers. There was also some discussion about the fact that even in this liberal high achieving school certain stereotypes of "boys being good at math" and "girls being good at the humanities" was panning out (if the ISA scores were an indication at least).

I am glad that type of question was asked, but I think we need to examine the whole gender thing far more deeply.  It's not just about STEM. After the public forum, I confronted the head about the fact that except for this meeting and one other on "teens and technology", every other public forum of the school had been held during working hours. Including the coming "meet the teacher" event. Which meant that either working parents couldn't attend, or one or the other or both had to take leave. What kind of message are we sending our students - male and female - at this most formative time in their lives about who we allow and expect to be engaged in a child's education?

If these meetings are not important - why hold them? If they are important, why are you excluding the economically active role models of your community and only including those who either have enough leisure, have the financial means to be free during working hours, or have chosen for one reason or another (including the reason that if they didn't stay at home they couldn't be a participant in their school community life) not to work full-time.

In the years that I chose not to work full-time, one of the over-riding factors in my choice was exactly that I wanted to be a part of my children's school community and to contribute to their educational lives in this way.  Then I was thrust into full-time work out of economic necessity and no longer had the luxury of factoring this into my choice. And now I am one of the excluded.

Now as an excluded I wonder if I am the only one protesting, or if there are more like me, but we are just not aware of each other, since through our exclusion we are isolated voices that can be ignored.  I wonder how many tried, failed and gave up.  Because the school's standard answer is that evening events / meetings are not well attended so they are not worth their while.  Is it the chicken or the egg. And more than anything else, what does that say to our daughters and sons about expectations of motherhood, careers, educators, participation in a community?

Friday, 8 April 2016

A short tale of grit and resilience

As a teacher-librarian who still has one foot deeply immersed in academia I spend a considerable time wondering if the things we do are the "right" things. And that's before I've opened any social media related to the profession where people are posting articles about the wrongs of everything from levelled reading to literature circles, reading competitions, to accelerated reading programs, to not 'over' encouraging reading, even down to whether we've really considered academic honesty properly.

So sure, we probably do somethings wrong. In fact daily I'm deeply aware that I'm failing some students some of the days, and a small number of students all of the time. And yet.  There are moments when I do think things come together and they allow our students to shine - and those are the tales of grit and resilience that the popular educational press love. And so too, at the danger of following the bandwagon, I'll add my tales too.

Yesterday, our school had their trials to select the students who would form the teams for the "Readers' Cup" competition.  We've been meeting weekly preparing for this competition, students have busily been reading the 6 books in their category, creating questions, quizzing each other and re-reading the books. We had about 40 students and could only choose 4 teams of 6.  At which point some educators would be crying "foul" and "no fair". But hear me out, and the tales of 3 students.

The first is an ELL (English Language Learner) student - been learning English for about 2 years. Nervous about joining at all initially, bolstered by a friend who was also taking part. Enters the library to take part in the competition yesterday with a little notebook which is promptly removed by me. Look of dismay. I explain that we only allow a pencil and the iPad for the multiple choice round.  The competition ends. She's a solid contender, right there in the middle of the pack. She's in!  While tidying up, we find the notebook we'd put aside. Extensive notes on each and every book... *

The next, a student who decides to join the competition just before the Spring break. She's read none of the books, but I tell her she's welcome to try anyway, and the library is open all holiday.  From time-to-time in the vacation I get a little email to say she's finished another book and I congratulate her. Then on Saturday the blow falls - she'd been reading the books in the wrong (higher) category and had only actually read two books at the right level... I write back to her and tell her not to panic, she still has 4 days, and I suggest a schedule whereby she reads the longest most challenging books first and leaves the picture book for last, and say if necessary I'll come into the library over the weekend to open it for her, and she can come and read in the library every recess and lunch time (usually the times are staggered by grade). She says it's OK, she'll manage. And manage she does. Not only does she finish all 6 books by the deadline, but she's the highest scorer in her category.

The third are two sisters. One a very strong reader, one a little less so, and younger. The older student is constantly encouraging the younger to keep reading. Spends time both at home and at school quizzing her on the books she's completed. Keeps me updated on their progress.  Both sisters are selected in their categories, both top scorers. But I'm pretty sure the younger student would not have done as well without the home support and encouragement.

Invariably there are disappointments. We selected two "back-up" students per category, and after attrition from conflicts with other activities and last minute dropping out for various reasons, each category had 3 students who wouldn't take part. Of the 6 students, 5 had not finished all the books, didn't take it perhaps as seriously as they could have if they'd truly wanted to take part. Didn't attend meetings or make questions or really try. But one I feel responsible for, he's a good reader. A voracious reader. He'd wanted to take part in they younger category, but I convinced him to try for the older, but it was apparently too much for him. A misjudgement on my part. And I'm not sure what I should do now. Certainly in the future I'll trust a students' own judgement more and not try to convince them otherwise.

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* She was not the only student who had an ELL background, for a large percentage of our students English is a second language, but she's still in the ELL program, whereas the rest have 'graduated' over the years.