Distilling a year of learning #HardieFellowship

Do we all need to go in this direction at the same time?

Do we all need to go in this direction at the same time?

On return from my Hardie Fellowship a report needs to be written. Here is the challenge, distilling a year of learning into three A4 pages. Below is my report, it is a mere snapshot of what the year in the USA provided me and hopefully will provide opportunity for others learning as a result of sharing. The learning has not stopped. As a result of the Hardie Fellowship I have finally determined what I will focus my research proposal on for the Masters with Honours, that I am currently pursuing. My personal belief is that the learning continues and we build on the experiences that we have encountered to gain a greater understanding, awareness, knowledge and skill. What I have learnt is on going, it is continuous. It is where you take that learning and how you use it that really matters – keeping it to oneself, well what is the point… Learning involves others and so the real learning begins with regard to what learning I have done over the past year means from this moment forward. Although this report focusses on the educational learning, much learning also took place with regard to culture. This allowed for deep learning that situated and contextualised the understanding in a manner that attending conferences alone cannot achieve.

Location of travel (travel destinations):

Ms Donelle Batty travelled to the following places in the USA the Hardie Fellowship:

Madison, Wisconsin – Games Learning and Society Conference

Atlanta, Georgia – ISTE Conference

Athens, Ohio – Ohio University

Lansing, Michigan – Meaningful Play Conference

Columbus, Ohio – OETC Conference

Los Angeles, California – Microsoft Minecraft Summit for Educators

New York City, New York – Games for Learning Summit, Games for Change, EduGameMeet,

Englewood, New Jersey – Elizabeth Morrow School

Bergen County, New Jersey – Virtual Reality Hackathon Mini

Champaign, Illinois – International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry

General statement of value of travel:

Ms Batty studied at Ohio University for two semesters, her area of study covered ICT and research, participating in both Master and PhD level coursework. During her time at Ohio University Ms Batty picked up a Graduate Assistant position where she instructed undergraduates on technology in the classroom. She visited Elizabeth Morrow School and strengthened her already established connections with innovative educators through classroom visits. As a result of her connections to staff at Elizabeth Morrow School and William Annin Middle School, New Jersey, she supported a Virtual Reality Hackathon Mini for middle school students. Furthermore, Ms Batty attended a range of conferences that focused on games, technology and learning. This provided opportunity to connect and build new relationships for future collaboration and strengthened existing ones, along with providing opportunity to share what we are doing in Tasmania.

It was evident from having the opportunity to immerse for a full year in a wide range of opportunities in the USA, that we are in a wonderful position, due to our size (geographically and population) and the flexibility that exists in our system, to continue providing our students incredible learning opportunities that use technology applications in a manner that deepen learning. Many were envious that educators were not being narrowed into a position where they were limiting learning opportunities due to test-driven outcomes. It was also highly evident that we are doing well with regard to meeting student needs, but must continue to heed the importance of provisioning for equity regarding access to educational opportunities and technology. Supporting teacher skill development, use and understanding with regard to integration of technology that supports student learning is significant to maintaining our position.

Companies/organisations contacted:

The companies and organisations contacted were many and varied and included:

Minecraft:

Microsoft Minecraft Division – Deirdre Quarnstrom, Michelle Dauphiny and Daniel Bingyou

MinecraftEdu – Joel Levin

University of Dundee – Derek Robertson

Queensland University of Technology – Michael Dezuanni

ICT integration:

VRHackathon – Damon Hernandez

Elizabeth Morrow School – Rurik Nackerud, Marianne Malmstrom, Carolyn Bliesener and Sarah Rolle

Future Research and Paper Opportunities:

Ohio University – Dr Kristanna Machtmes (Dept. Chair Educational Studies) and Jeff Kuhn (PhD candidate)

Games:

Strange Loop GamesJohn Krajewski (Designer of the game Eco currently funded by the US Dept. of Education)

Professional Learning Network:

TERpodcastCameron Malcher and Corinne Campbell (podcast for Australian educators)

University of Utah – Joy Pierce (Assistant Professor focus on new media technologies and underserved populations)

#edtechbridge – Steve Isaacs (this weekly chat develops mutually beneficial relationships between developers and end users, BrainPOP are highly connected to this group)

American Natural History Museum – Barry Joseph (Exploring the intersection of digital media and museum-based learning)

New Zealand Council of Educational Research – Rachel Bolstad (senior researcher)

Outcomes of Hardie Fellowship (travel, study and conferences):

Ms Batty successfully studied the following subjects at Ohio University:

  • Intro to Qualitative Research
  • Advanced Seminar Instructional Technology
  • Technology in Education
  • Special topics in EDRE – Methodology and Culture
  • Visual Literacy and Mediated Instruction
  • Leadership and Professional Development in Technology

She also audited a class called Philosophy and Educational Technology and instructed a class called Technology Applications in Education. Ms Batty’s work around mobile learning was acknowledged in two of the university’s publications.

Ms Batty was invited by Marianne Malmstrom to co-present with her at ISTE focussing on Minecraft and its use as a learning tool. She later went on to present at OETC with Jeff Kuhn highlighting how Minecraft has been used in the classroom. Ms Batty’s involvement with communities on Twitter led to a project (that will form the basis of her Honours dissertation) focusing on the impact of being a curator on a rotation curation Twitter account. As a result of this project she presented at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry.

The Games for Learning Summit provided insight into the increased need for computer science graduates, as a deficit appears evident regarding future workforce needs, coding was cited as the main skill area of concern. The Virtual Reality Hackathon mini highlighted the broad areas of the workforce looking at investing in virtual reality and augmented reality; due to the opportunities it provides their clients and supporting product improvement. The underpinning skills required for the areas of industry identified by the VRHackathon and the summit included: critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, citizenship and character education noted as the six C’s by Michael Fullan.

The Meaningful Play and Games for Change conferences highlighted the range of opportunities games provide within the context of learning. These included use as a medium to express and explore identity along with understanding diversity through both creating and playing games. At both conferences Jesse Schell presented The World of Lexica – “a tablet-based game, is an action-RPG style experience for young teens that introduces them to an imaginative, book-themed world where literary characters emerge from their stories to accompany them on a new and exciting adventure”.

Through the opportunity to immerse in study Ms Batty explored a wide range of applications suitable for the classroom setting. She also set up Professional Learning Networks for graduate and undergraduate students and mentored a first year teacher with regard to pedagogy and using technology in the classroom within the Ohio context – employing a mixed mode of delivery. Mentoring and supporting staff in Tasmania continued in a range of areas including supporting staff with the use of Minecraft, presentation materials and pedagogical growth. This was undertaken through the use of a range of applications. This highlights the potential scope to further build mentoring programs for educators within the DoE to support learning at times that suit their needs and provide one-on-one tailored experiences. Furthermore, Ms Batty participated in a closed group, with predominately Australian educators, with whom she shared her experiences regularly – the group concentrated on leadership and supporting teacher learning. Through the building of relationships in this group Ms Batty presented segments on the TERpodcast.

Extended time within the educational setting of the United States of America has provided insight into the deeper workings of the broad system. It has highlighted the diversity of the system and consequent inconsistencies that exist due to funding set up and opportunities resulting from policy. In particular, it highlighted the impact of the charter school system on the public district school system.

Skills obtained:

Ms Batty increased her ability to source and use a wide range of applications to support the mentoring of staff and student learning. Her skill development focussed on the six C’s, additionally knowledge development in the area of ICT and qualitative research methodology has increased. Ms Batty has built on her already strong Professional Learning Network through the opportunity of face-to-face meetings. Significant time was given to developing skill in understanding the broad concept of literacy and its place in creating – student access to creating digital media involves heightened awareness, understanding and knowledge of presenting a message as well as how it will be interpreted.

Benefits to Tasmania:

Ms Batty has, throughout her Hardie Fellowship, shared her learning via her blog (https://dbatty.wordpress.com/), the Tassie Educators Connect Facebook page and Twitter. Where appropriate she has emailed particular DoE staff with applications and ideas that might prove suitable for their situations, along with community organisations that are focused on supporting innovation with ICT aimed at students. In the near future Ms Batty will be presenting at the STE(A)M Conference for Tasmanian Teachers.

Ms Batty will make contact with the Professional Learning Institute to engage in conversation around:

  • Promoting and enabling the development of Professional Learning Networks and Communities of Practice that exist in online spaces.
  • Supporting development of online Professional Learning Networks and Communities of Practice across Tasmania focussed on connecting isolated and rural schools, early career teachers, staff and students. Encouraging expansion of these networks to national and international levels, empowering the delivery of the Australian Curriculum.
  • Providing an avenue for the many innovative teachers in our state to connect and collaborate in online environments to support, enhance and expand current practice. Making innovations more accessible to all.

2 Comments

  1. Cameron says:

    I had a year studying and teaching in the U.S. four years ago. I found returning home quite disorienting. Americans are such positive people. I was particularly challenged when people asked me what I had learned from a year of study. How on earth do you summarise all the learning experiences into one quick elevator pitch? I will be interested to follow your thinking in the next few years when you are able to really distil what has changed for you. I’m in the U.S. now. I return annually to teach at a summer institute in Boston. Thanks for posting your thinking.

    Cameron

    • dbatty1 says:

      I have to agree it is hard to summarise. And it takes time to really understand what you have learnt and how it has changed you as a person. Enjoy your time in the U.S. I appreciate you taking the time to read my blog. 🙂

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