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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds CHIE ADACHI: What do you think of the notion of educators as curators in digital learning?

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds JACLYN BROADBENT: Spending so much time in first year, I think it’s essential. Students have to navigate a lot of information online. And sometimes they can’t discern what is fact, what is fake news, and how to put it together as a cohesive package.

Skip to 0 minutes and 25 seconds COLIN HIGGINS: I don’t think the role of the educator has changed fundamentally. But I think we have different tools to use now, in order to do what we’ve always done. And that is to inspire and to excite people to pursue the educational outcomes that they’re interested in.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 seconds DAMIAN BLAKE: Well, I think that’s a really important notion as educators. Seeing educators as curators now in the digital era recognises that people– learners– have that access to that broad range of knowledge that they didn’t previously have, on a scale that they haven’t previously had. Which means that educators become curators of that knowledge, or help students understand which is the most important and most relevant knowledge and, in particular, highlight which aspects of it are useful for the learning outcomes. The challenge is otherwise that they may be overwhelmed, somewhat.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds SYLVIA GUIDARA: I think a key message is how is the participant an active participant in the meaning making. I think we need to be really conscious of that in a digital landscape. I know in my work with schools, that’s a message I try and give quite a lot. So how the participant is actively working in the course, rather than passively receiving information, how is that contributing to their knowledge development?

Skip to 1 minute and 46 seconds And I think that sometimes that’s a real challenge for educators when they’re teaching with digital applications or in a digital space, especially if they’re so used to be the sage on the stage, that they have to switch that mindset to thinking, well, how can I bring the participants into that knowledge-building experience, which ultimately is an effectively learning experience.

Skip to 2 minutes and 10 seconds CHIE ADACHI: What are the opportunities and challenges of your work in digital learning?

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds JACLYN BROADBENT: I think the opportunities is the constantly changing landscape keeps it really interesting, keeps you on your toes. But that also is the biggest challenge.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds COLIN HIGGINS: It takes a lot more expertise on the part of the teacher or the facilitator to think about the different ways in which we might present material. And there can be quite a big professional skills gap amongst a lot of teaching staff in this environment. Some people are very good at standing in front of a classroom and not so good at teaching online.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds DAMIAN BLAKE: Well, the opportunities are huge, I think. Digital learning and digitalisation generally, as I said, has changed the way we access information and the timeliness of it. But it’s also changed the way we connect with each other. So we connect in new ways, which enables us to really amplify the learning by working with others and bouncing our ideas off others in the time frame that’s most suitable and flexible, even, for many people. And that opportunity, I think, breaks down some of the barriers that have previously existed to many people.

Skip to 3 minutes and 19 seconds Challenges, I think, are also the flip side of that, because for some learners, if they don’t have the sorts of digital literacies and the skills that are really important in accessing that information, they can also be locked out. So this digital literacy can be a barrier for people if they don’t have access to digital literacy. That also brings about a challenge, because so much of what we’re doing in digital learning is always at the cutting edge. Many of our educators are always working with the next best thing. There’s always a startup company that has created a new product which is solving a challenge that we have.

Skip to 3 minutes and 57 seconds And in that sense, educators need to be able to work with that level of uncertainty, at the same time without amplifying the risk for the students. And that requires some knowledge and skills, and sensitivity as well.

Skip to 4 minutes and 12 seconds CHIE ADACHI: What’s your view on a multidisciplinary team approach to digital learning?

Skip to 4 minutes and 17 seconds JACLYN BROADBENT: I think it is fabulous. How could it not make a better experience for the students?

Skip to 4 minutes and 21 seconds COLIN HIGGINS: I think that is the reality that we live in. It is a lot more technically complex. So it’s very useful to be working in an environment where we can leverage different people’s expertise. The role of the academic, I think, is changing in this environment. They are still the subject matter experts, but not necessarily the learning expert when it comes to a digital environment. So being able to work in a multi-functional team to bring all of those different skills together is critically important in the digital environment.

Skip to 4 minutes and 50 seconds DAMIAN BLAKE: Well, I think it’s all about multi-disciplinary team approaches now. In fact, I firmly believe that the educator is probably about one-third of the student’s learning experience now, in that sense. And that’s probably a bold thing to say. But educators, they are the expert knowledge people. They’re the discipline knowledge. They enable the preparation of courses and content in ways that make sense. But the learning designers we have now, that help facilitate digital learning in ways that we’ve never done before, are as equally an important part of the team.

Skip to 5 minutes and 28 seconds So what historically might’ve been barriers in between people who are working in the learning design or the learning resource management, and then in the actual classroom itself as the educators, I think the challenge is to break those down in ways that we’ve never done before, because the student’s learning experience is actually a product of all of those people working together, when you think about it.

Skip to 5 minutes and 52 seconds So being able to connect with each other, talk with each other, communicate with each other, collaborate with each other, understand each other, and understand what are the contradictions, sometimes, that the students experience when things go wrong, and seeing them as opportunities to work in new ways together– so I think that’s exactly what it’s all about. It’s all about interdisciplinary work and teams. And that’s very much a part of digital learning.

Educators as curators

In networked learning, educators are no longer the sole source or providers of knowledge but rather, work as guides or curators of learning.

A traditional view of educators as a ‘sage on stage’ no longer holds in digital learning because a) such located learning spaces don’t exist and b) networks are everywhere and the possibilities for connected learning are unlimited.

As we saw last week, Connectivism sheds lights on the ways in which the web makes it impossible for one individual to know everything. In response, the capacity to know how to search for relevant information and create new webs of knowledge becomes critically important.

Likewise, in light of the last few steps where we discussed service design and education as service where a team of people are needed to holistically investigate and provide a range of services for targeted users or learners, it also important to (re)think the role of educators in digital contexts.

Siemens and Tittenberger extend on this idea:

Curatorial learning acknowledges the autonomy of learners, yet understands the frustration of exploring unknown territories without a map. A curator is an expert learner. Instead of dispensing knowledge, he creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored, and connected. While curators understand their field very well, they don’t adhere to traditional in-class teacher-centric power structures. A curator balances the freedom of individual learners with the thoughtful interpretation of the subject being explored. While learners are free to explore, they encounter displays, concepts, and artifacts representative of the discipline. Their freedom to explore is unbounded. But when they engage with subject matter, the key concepts of a discipline are transparently reflected through the curatorial actions of the teacher.
(2009, p. 31)

This poses significant questions for the emerging and varied roles of educators in digital learning, which may also influence their identity as educators.

For example, for some, becoming a curator or guide of learning may seem less authoritative and powerful when compared to traditional ideas of an educator.

Your task

Watch the video to hear Chie interview leading educators about their view on the notion of educators as curators in digital learning.

Apart from curation, in what other ways can educators influence digital learning?

Discuss your ideas in the comments.

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Transforming Digital Learning: Learning Design Meets Service Design

Deakin University

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