Saturday, 30 May 2015

Transformation and Autonomy with a twist: from information to learning - Critical Reflection INF530

It's been quite a ride this INF530, and as they say "it ain't over until it's over", I have yet to complete my digital essay and enter that huge time warp black hole of combining words with media and images in such a way that it enhances rather than distracts, compels rather than confuses.
INF530 key wordsLooking back on the topic headings I decided to make a wordle, to see things with a little visual perspective. What jumped out was “information” and “learning” and I had to think back to previous courses where the nuances of data, information, knowledge, wisdom were picked over in meticulous detail (Barrett, Cappleman, Shoib, & Walsham, 2004; Hecker, 2012; Pantzar, 2000; UNESCO, 2005) or the role of the teacher or school or librarian is discussed, particularly in the light of information literacy (Eisenberg, 2008; Mihailidis, 2012; O’Connell, 2008; Sheng & Sun, 2007; Wallis, 2003). Yes these are all part of the picture, but the words that I’d like to contribute and focus on are not there, because they are implicit and essential rather than explicit. Integral to information and learning are transformation and autonomy.
Firstly transformation, it’s synonyms (conversion, metamorphosis, renewal, revolution, shift, alteration) and its’ derivatives:
  • the doing – to transform,
  • the process – transformation,
  • the subject and the state – transformed, and
  • the agent - transformer.
And the twist, because in education we are simultaneously the agent and the subject, the initiator, the process and the end state. We cannot “do” without “being”. And that is the value of plunging into a distance-learning course that takes one beyond the mundane and everyday into personally being transformed and feeling the simultaneous discomfort and thrill of not always being in control of the process or the outcome. Sometimes the truth is found in the antonym – stagnation and sameness. The resistance to change that saps energy rather than re-energises as transformation does.
Conole (2013, p. 61) stated “We have to accept that it is impossible to keep up with all the changes, so we need to develop coping strategies which enable individuals to create their own personal digital environment of supporting tools and networks to facilitate access to and use of relevant information for their needs.” That is part of the solution, the other is finding one’s place in digital and physical learning ecologies (O’Connell, 2014; Vasiliou, Ioannou, & Zaphiris, 2014; Wang, Guo, Yang, Chen, & Zhang, 2015). Yes ecologies, because we are, and our students and children will be “shape shifting portfolio people” (Gee & Hayes, 2011) whether we want to acknowledge and embrace the fact or not.
Which brings me to the second of “my” take-away words. Autonomy. It is autonomy with a difference - autonomy within communities and networks of our own and others' making. As Downes (2012, bk. Connectivism and Connective Knowledge) puts it “knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, … learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks”.
However without the aforementioned transformation we can’t have the autonomy. It is an autonomy hard won, through dint of our own efforts, the pushing and pulling and attraction of our teachers, mentors, peers and heroes. Autonomy feeds off motivation and self-regulatory control (Kormos & Csizér, 2014). The latter including commitment, meta-cognitive, satiation, emotion and environmental control (Tseng, Dörnyei, & Schmitt, 2006). Ironically we need others to attain autonomy. Autonomy is not independence but interdependence, not being on your own, but being part of a larger community of learners all together on individual journeys. It’s the forums, blogs, comments, feedback and Facebook posts. The emojis, irrelevant and irreverent tweets; words of encouragement and critique, ideas and suggestions that propel us forward and backward and around in circles - but ever expanding circles and cycles of improvement and transformation.
Thank-you to my peers, my course co-ordinator Judy, those who went before us and those who will come after us may we transform and be transformed, gain autonomy and enable others do so too in this journey of life-long learning.
What you are speaks so loud I can not hear what you say - Original Quote by Emerson
What you are speaks so loud I can not hear what you say - Original Quote by Emerson


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