Monday, 30 November 2015

Looking back on 2015 - positive momentum

What might we celebrate as 2015 draws to a close?

On the one hand, there are a number of factors to be very concerned about, in terms of the current political climate and the constraints on the work of educators and researchers. Funding is tighter than ever and there appears to be a lower value placed on qualitative methods and social justice agendas.

On possible effect is our research being bound by the politics of the day. This obstructs our ability to be intellectually independent. There is a recent case of this in New Zealand, where a researcher was denied access to some documents. Such obstruction means we need to be agile and willing to adapt to changing conditions and societal needs if we are to fulfil a legal obligation to be a social critic.

This leads us to wonder: in these complex times, what purpose does our blog serve?

For me, blogging in 2015 has been about cataloguing practice and reflections, using the blog as a teaching mechanism, to articulate understandings for sharing with students. I blog when planning or recording commentary and insights about an event or process - in an online class, an elearning brown bag lunch, or a teaching advocacy session. In this way, the blog helps to gel the different parts of my role together and assists me to weave my professional efforts into a more or less coherent whole.

In 2016, I expect to continue to blog by way of reflection on my teaching and ongoing projects - related to peer mentoring for online teachers, and helping students and graduates to use social media for professional learning. I have played with ideas around social media in education throughout the year, with highlights including the ECSM2015 conference in Porto, and the opportunity to learn about Chinese social media from visitors.

Then there's our ELDM special issue on Twitter in Education and we are very much looking forward to submissions by 26 February 2016. I have enjoyed talking (and tweeting) with prospective authors and reviewers for the special issue, and the range of topics and coverage is coming together well. If 2015 was the year of our book, 2016 will be the year of our special issue. There is still time to work on a submission and the call for papers, via this blog, is still an active link with constant readership.

What would I like for Christmas and for 2016?
  • Some spam-free responses by way of comments on our blog from thoughtful colleagues and readers.
  • A successful special issue.
  • To meet some of the new intake of students in initial teacher education who may have heard me speak about teaching myths at our open day.
  • To keep the lines of communication wide open and co-constructive with students so that we can exchange feedback to advance our learning together.
  • To manage my time in ways that matter and make a difference.

For me, I like to use the blog as a thinking aloud piece. Sometimes it's about scoping ideas about bigger picture educational policy and what this might mean for educators - both in schooling sectors and tertiary.

My posts are sometimes also about political observations related to education. For example, the OECD. There are two posts: the first, in September, is about the report on education and media tended to portray it, while the second updates my thinking as it was prompted by a blog post about the relationship between the tools and pedagogical thinking. Both go together.

Anecdotally, I talk with teachers in a local secondary school who read the blog (hi to all of you at Hillcrest High!) and are happy for talk to be off the cuff. As Dianne intimated earlier, both of us would like some engagement with the ideas in the blog itself. Besides, it's always nice to engage with others over ideas. And it will make a great change from the pesky spammers who only want to promote some product or other. The 'delete forever' button gets a bit of a workout as a result.

The blog helps us, as Dianne suggested, to think, encapsulate and make sense of what we do, read, experience and learn. My occasional posts about working with some teachers is a case in point - it helps me make sense of something I notice while I have the privilege of being in their classrooms. One example is about science classrooms HERE, while part 4 in a series links more musings. A blog post by Sean McHugh that inspired my post about mathematics teachers and weights and measures was picked up by an Associate Principal and shared with a mathematics department, so I guess this blog helps provoke some thinking (I hope!).

Anyway, this will be our last post for the year. Soon we will be on annual holidays to recharge ourselves.  We hope you all have a great set of celebrations - whatever your beliefs. We hope you go well and go safely.

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