Educators consider the end in mind, or backward design, when planning. It is a useful strategy that encompasses setting goals, to scaffold learning, and to reach specific outcomes. The following is the result of a backward-design plan. During the process of achieving this specific set of learning outcomes, I will conscientiously construct and reconstruct my digital identity and my digital presence. I create this plan mindful of the spaces I hold as an educator. As I create, I think of an excerpt from Marie Battiste’s Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit:
Every school is either a site of reproduction or a site of change. In other words, education can be liberating, or it can domesticate and maintain domination. It can sustain colonization in neo-colonial ways or it can decolonize. (p. 168)
I plan to set myself up for success through active and authentic participation in a variety of learning opportunities and through ongoing self-reflection. I think of myself as an educator who navigates digital literacies while exercising mindful deployment of my attention (Rheingold, 2010). In doing so, I will be able to set and achieve short term goals while remaining focused on my long term goals throughout this course.
I set out to achieve the following goals, affording myself opportunity to reposition the order as I grow through my MALAT and educator experiences:
- That my interactions in digital spaces are intentional and meaningful for the creation of my digital identity.
- That I carry these understandings with me as I move through the MALAT program.
- That I incorporate these understandings to the development of my digital identity as a researcher, where I am able to focus my energies to affect change both personally and professionally.
- To develop and incorporate a holistic approach to education that has intentional focus on well-being.
- To actively and authentically engage in digital content and digital spaces in order to facilitate meaning for myself, my students and my communities.
- To actively and authentically engage in learning and teaching pedagogy by developing fluency in the various intersections of ICTs in order to expand my understanding of digital literacies and affect change for students.
- To affect change in educational policy, with a focus on equitable access to education for all, specifically with access to technology in municipal and/or provincial education systems.
The process will be critical. I will endeavour to maintain a balanced approach to the MALAT program that will include self-care, organization, and reflection. I will have to create boundaries for my interactions in digital spaces, and limit my engagement. I will include design thinking and holistic practice into my pedagogy. I will lead by example by modelling my own cyberinfrastructure (Campbell, 2009), helping students create online portfolios or digital domains (Watters, 2015). My interaction with digital tools will have to increase, as I increase my networking with various stakeholders. For example, my engagement on Twitter and LinkedIn will have to increase from visitor to resident (White & Le Cornu, 2011); I am only now beginning to network through LinkedIn and learning about the usefulness of this platform. I will keep an open-mind and apply a growth mindset (Dweck, 2019).
Knowledge-acquisition, knowledge-facilitation, and knowledge-consolidation are a large part of teaching practice and pedagogy, yet they depend on the construct of knowledge and this construct can alter with context. I aspire to maintain a growth mindset for the following:
- MALAT and discussions
- Symposiums and Webinars
- Shared stories: lived experiences of students, community members, and colleagues
Organization, time-management and reflection will provide the structure for these outcomes. I will continue to modify sub-goals to interact with specific outcomes pertaining to my overall goal. In order to accomplish this, I have and will continue to set specific dates to check-in on goal-setting and well-being. These check-ins will align with course schedules and work schedules, as well as personal commitments. They will be weekly, monthly, quarterly and annually. I will use various tools to log outcomes, such as Google Keep and Google Calendar. Reflection will be ongoing, evaluative, and meaningful, so that I may adapt and evolve along with new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), in order to apply my understanding (Beetham, 2015).
As a virtual school teacher, I have endeavoured to understand the scope of instruction in a digital space through a variety of digital tools and media, while centring the student in my pedagogy and in my practice. My skill set is wide-ranging and includes: reflective practice, fluency in a variety of ICTs, and comfort in a variety of digital media. I endeavour to expand my understanding of the digital literacies within the education sector, to include student engagement through digital portfolios or, when possible, personal digital domains (Waters, 2015).
I have learned that at the top of a very long list of values that make up a happy, productive classroom environment are respect, care, and trust. I have learned that these values transfer to digital spaces. Mutual respect, care for others and trust manifest through authentic shared experiences, and are crucial to meaningful collaboration and to the establishment and sustainability of psychologically safe spaces. In a safe space, students flourish, and the opportunities for growth are endless. It is through the utilization of these skills and the varied contexts the teaching profession provides, that I am able to set my goals and to seek solutions.
Part of growth is recognizing one’s strengths and one’s weaknesses. Among many of my knowledge gaps are: research on equitable access to technology and to the internet, Open Source Education and Open Education Resources (OERs), and Creative Commons Licensing. I have only skimmed the surface of the potential of these areas of interest, and I look forward to unpacking what they have to offer with respect to my learning outcomes. I have considered the following strategies and approaches to address these gaps: research scholarly articles and consult with stakeholders invested in these areas of interest.
My measures of success will reflect on my engagement in digital spaces. As I embark on new approaches to my engagement, my digital identity and my digital presence will evolve. My engagement will afford interactions and new connections to various stakeholders in education. Through these interactions, I will expand upon my research and understand where to best commit my energies. As I monitor specific outcomes over the next two years, my engagement with stakeholders in various digital spaces will grow, and by association my understanding of my research.
I look forward to what comes next.
Battiste, M., & Bouvier, R. (2017). Decolonizing Education: Nourishing the Learning Spirit. Canada: UBC Press.
Beetham, H. (2015, Nov 10). Building capability for new digital leadership, pedagogy and efficiency. https://digitalcapability.jiscinvolve.org/wp/2015/11/10/framing-digital-capabilities-for-staff-deliverables/
Campbell, G. (2009). A personal cyberinfrastructure. Educause Review, 44(5), 58-59.
Dweck, C. (2019). What having a “growth mindset” actually means. Harvard Business Review, 2019 Special Issue, P26.
Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14-24. http://er.educause.edu/articles/2010/10/attention-and-other-21stcentury-social-media-literacies
Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web we need to give students. Bright.