Douglas Crets


Giving Credibility to the Shadow Education System

Noeline Wright: Senior Research Officer, University of Waikato, New Zealand

Your Reputation Creates the Way You Will Learn — A Social Media Project that Tests the Reputation Graph

Credit to Jon Bischke who has really been the vanguard in reputation graph thinking. This series is dedicated to him.

Here’s one of the first interviews we’ve received in a social media project to track what people think about education and their careers. Your reputation online will model your ability to learn and to teach others, as people turn increasingly to the online space for their information, social networking and education. So, let’s get to know the people who will teach each other.

Douglas: Can you think of a single skill you learned in K12 that you use today in a way that has made you feel successful in business or in your career, in general? What is it and why has it helped?

Dr. Wright: It’s been a long time since I was a school student. Being able to answer that question definitively is therefore incredibly problematic. I would say though that when I began teaching, I learned better what I knew, since I had to find ways to make the complex and abstract concepts simple and accessible so that my students could be scaffolded to learn. Simplicity is actually quite hard, as is beginning with students’ ZPD (their zone of proximal development, or knowledge/skill starting place) and contextualising things to bridge the knowledge gaps.

One of the other things I learned to do through teaching was to examine what it means to learn- that helped the pedagogical design planning.

Douglas: What do you think will be a defining trend in education innovation in the next ten years?

Dr. Wright: It depends on which country you’re in, and the starting place, but mobile devices and their potential to personalise learning and make access to it 24/7 is a huge one. An allied one links to George Siemen’s idea of connectivism- that there is no longer privileged access to knowledge and information if a person has access to wifi and mobile tools. Connectivism also implies the ability of people to connect to each other in the search of knowledge. However, if this connectivism isn’t also linked to deliberate opportunities to develop critical thinking, then it will be empty.These deliberate opportunities to develop critical thinking are what teachers must foster so that citizens are truly able to question and argue from a knowledge basis rather than belief.

Douglas: What have you learned in your engagement in social media that has helped you in your current career?

Dr. Wright: I have found Twitter to be a hugely beneficial social media tool. I have developed a PLN (personal learning network) through this, because it links me to international thinking, thinkers, and resources centred on learning and teaching.

Douglas: Can you describe a transformative experience you have had that was brought on by engaging with others in the digital media space?

Dr. Wright: During the earthquake in Christchurch (NZ) recently, I was able to connect with colleagues there through Twitter and also have instant updates about the efforts to support others on the ground. It was also a great way to share information. The Google People Finder was a great tool, and the web made it easy to get quick information from places such as Red Cross, NZ police, Geonet,  and a site which shows a time lapse.

Douglas: If you were to hire someone for a job in your current career today, what would you expect that person to know how to do immediately?

(b) Does the current education system from which you pull your talent offer this kind of training?

Dr. Wright: I would expect them to be able to use social media professionally, as in part of a PLN.

(b) Given that the field is so new, and given that schools often block access to social media, rather than equip students to critically and reflectively use such tools, then probably not – the teaching and learning aspect often lags behind technological innovation because there are so many things that interfere with that – such as ‘safety’ and compliance issues, rather than educational ones.

Then there’s the blame culture – schools aren’t allowed to make mistakes, given the kinds of opprobrium heaped on them when issues arise. When that happens, schools go onto lock down and become risk-averse, rather than experimental. Thus, having future-oriented thinking and practice is difficult. And given that Teacher education gathers its teacher educators from the school teaching pool, this lag is easy to understand.

Dr Noeline Wright
Faculty of Education
University of Waikato

Visit her University on Facebook


Filed under: Digital Learning, Influence, Tech, , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses

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