Immigrants, Natives and Wayfinders

It has been another wonderfully busy week at the University of Canberra. There have been some great discussions about teaching and learning. I have been hoping to write about a number of ideas that arose from those discussions whilst trying to think about some of the digital immigrant and digital native conversations going on at the Growing Up in Australia conference in Melbourne.

A fortuitous checking of my Twitter account led me to Sylvia’s Generation Yes‘s blog post about the Circle of Life: the technology-using educator edition. Her post was the catalyst to write this post about educational technology and digital status. (Her conclusion took my thoughts back to Erica McWilliam and the role of the teacher in another line of thought and then on to a report about creativity.)

Some fragments from the discussions about the use of digital technology this week include:

Michael Bittman (University of New England, Australia) and Leonie Rutherford (Deakin University, Australia) presented a paper on Digital Natives, Issues and Evidence About Children’s Use of New and Old Media. The abstract of their paper can be found here (page 7). (Their abstract took me back to Mark Prensky‘s work and last year’s discussion of these ideas by Sue Bennett and her colleagues. I accessed the Digital Natives blog for the first time via a Wikipedia link.)

Leigh Blackall discussed the role of the Popular Internet in Teaching and Research at a University of Canberra workshop on teaching and learning. His work excites me and it was great to hear him develop his ideas in person.

I liked hearing about James Neil’s use of Wikiversity at the same workshop too. James is a passionate advocate for Open Access.

All  these opportunities to reflect on our digital status led me back to ideas discussed in CCK08 in relation to wayfinding and to a paper delivered by George Siemens earlier this year ‘Learning and technology: success and strategy in a digital world‘. They led me back even further to my fascination with notational analysis and cartography stimulated by Alfred Wainwright (he compiled handwritten and hand-drawn Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells that resonate so perfectly with Edward Tufte‘s work).

… and thence back to Sylvia Martinez‘s post and the building of expertise in the cycle of life:

You attempt something on a wide scale, collaborating with other like-minded educators. You find renewed energy as you work with students or teachers and see things change. You find books, even some written decades or centuries ago that support your beliefs. You become better able to articulate the “why” of all this. You think about going back to school. You find experts outside of your newly constructed network.

I am wondering if rather than being an immigrant or native there are opportunities for wayfinding that are triggered by biography but are nourished by the willingness to travel.

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