Welcome to my blog to those who have not visited before! It’s my first post of 2020 and my first post for both INF530 and ETL401. I’ve been busy writing articles and preparing for conference presentations, alongside my full load at school, and have sorely neglected my reflection space. Time to get back into it – how can I ask my students to reflect as practitioners on an ongoing basis if I don’t do it myself?
Today’s post covers many aspects of your learning:
- Something topical in the news (news content always influences your work and practice in some way)
- Your module content in Weeks 1 and 2 of this session
- Example of a blog post and how to use the affordances of a blogging environment in the lead up to submission of your first blog post. You might notice that the images that I include at the top of each of my posts reflects the title of the post or the content.
At my weekly brekkie catch up with friends, we were discussing the dearth of information moving around via social media and other formats about COVID-19. It inevitably led to comments on panic buying of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and other products people believed they needed to stockpile.
We also had a good laugh about the Coronavirus-related memes doing the rounds on social media, including the infographics showing how to wash your hands along to songs such as The Cat Empire’s ‘The Wine Song’, Toto’s ‘Africa‘, and even Lady Macbeth’s famous ‘Out, out damn spot’ monologue from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I find Australians tend to use humour to reduce or dispel anxiety in times of crisis.
It led me to wonder (specifically given the content of INF530) why some were reacting the way they were to announcements of a pandemic; why some shared valid information based on research, and others resorted to belief in stories of “toilet paper shortages because of manufacturing shutdowns in China”. What sort of information was being promulgated out in the information landscape? Why were some online platforms and news agencies being factual and others being deliberately provocative?
What has interested me in particular is the sudden focus on pedagogies related to online and flexible learning in schools, as school closures begin to happen within Australia. I have been heartened by the sharing and generosity of my PLNs – teacher librarians and classroom educators alike – in providing resources, educational supports, and infographics to deliver online learning, and even a wonderful, calming checklist to work through as your school prepares for possible school closure (follow @kathleen_morris on Twitter – I love her work and her blog). NESCA (Neuropsychology and Educational Service for Children and Adolescents) in the US has gone as far as to provide a suggested routine for children during a time of prolonged school closure and the benefits this routine may give (see below).
And now, some content specific considerations for INF530 and ETL401…
Module 1.3 – Information technology has led to a participatory nature of knowledge acquisition and how we engage with it to learn. In our era of “fake news”, “alternate facts”, and scare mongering, consider the “ubiquity of information” and use of social media being prevalent. How does this relate to Thomas and Seely Brown’s concept of a ‘new culture of learning’? How specifically does this look around dissemination of information and reaction to information around COVID-19?
Module 1.4 – Global connectedness: has this helped or hindered what is happening right now? Has it improved our interaction with information for better or worse? Are we informed or are we alarmed? Social media and online searches continue to feed the beast within – with algorithms learning how we search. Your Google search on COVID-19 using a specific set of search terms could be quite different to your friend’s exact same Google search – one can have factual info and one can feed the panicked mind!
Module 1.5: How many of you are digitally literate and can navigate through the myriad of tools out there safely? Are you consulting reliable, fact based news sources like the ABC and The Guardian; agencies such as your health organisation; or are you relying on updates from Reddit?
Considering all of this, how is this information landscape in your own working environments having an impact?
Module 2.1: How are people sharing information? In the usual way, humour is being used to share information related to COVID-19, hygiene, and ways to understand how the virus is spreading.
Module 2.2: Floridi’s ‘information landscape’: how has this contributed to our knowledge of the COVID-19 virus in comparison to what people knew and how they knew it during the Spanish Flu pandemic? Is getting information faster and easier via the multiple delivery modes available more efficient or just adding to the “infowhelm” and panic mongering?
Module 2.3: The information environment: Will this be an advantage as some move to self-isolation? Can we harness the information environment to work for us as we try to minimise contact with others and work from home? How is this affordance helping us to continue to study and teach? What sort of culture is developing from the information environment we are living in? How as a TL can YOU be part of this?
Module 2.5: As new teacher librarians, you need to consider why it is important that you have an understanding of the broader information landscape. How do you feel it will affect your role as the TL? And how do you as a teacher instil calm amongst your school community (especially students) in a time of possible infowhelm and anxiety?
Consider what I have posed here. Share your ideas with me in the Comments section below to participate in the conversation!
Floridi, L. (2007). A look into the future impact of ICT on our lives. The Information Society, 23, 59-64. DOI: 10.1080/01972240601059094
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (Vol. 219). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.