INF537 Critical Reflection

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What a challenge this subject has been- so many concepts I hadn’t given much thought to but make so much sense once a bit of time has been spent exploring them. I was unsure of what to expect this semester but assumed all would make sense- eventually. I still feel challenged by what I have studied but now understand that this will always be the case when new ideas are explored, especially when they look to the future. The responsibility for ensuring the best education for today’s students  is quite overwhelming when you consider the limited hours in a school day, the over crowded curriculum and the ever increasing demands placed on educators to ensure relevant education for the students in our care. It is important that careful consideration is given to the adoption of new ways of doing things especially with ICT, not because they are shiny, new and exciting in themselves but because of the affordances that can help teachers explore new possibilities for designing engaging and meaningful learning experiences.The challenge for me in my my work is to balance the need to encourage teachers who are trying new ICTs with ensuring that the way they do this is based on addressing syllabus outcomes in authentic ways.

The colloquium with Annabel Astbury (ABC Splash) highlighted growing participation in online spaces and the need to think of how these can be harnessed to develop a more participatory culture rather than simply relying on online resources which see us doing the same thing but in digital format. The idea of a one stop educational content spot online was raised by Annabel. I responded in my blog post that this would be unlikely as one place could not offer all that would be needed for all groups of students throughout the country (let alone the world).

Learning analytics, as presented by Simon Welsh, is a topic I had almost zero knowledge of. I feel that I now have an emerging understanding of the different ways analytics are used and am interested in following how this area develops. It is one thing to collect data on what students are doing online but quite a complex thing to contemplate in light of assisting and improving student learning. I blogged about how Simon’s presentation has unlocked my thinking in a different way.

The various colloquia were very thought provoking and also had me thinking back to other subjects and seeing the connections.

The colloquium with Tim Klapdor highlighted control and ownership of online content. This is an often debated area and cause for great concern for some. I was reminded of the work of the International Internet Preservation Consortium that was explored during the subject, ‘Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age.’ Consideration must be given to what happens to the ever increasing amount of data stored in the cloud as well as ensuring preservation for future examination as artefacts of our current society.

I was very enthusiastic following the colloquium with Cathie Howe as I was back on familiar ground – ICT in the classroom to improve student learning. I find the work of macICT critical in exploring new and emerging ICT and their use for supporting innovation in the classroom. In my blog post I briefly expressed concern about how teachers are incorporating some of these innovations into their classrooms and I reiterate the importance of research informed innovation. I am very excited about exploring transmedia storytelling further.

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Having written an interpretive discussion on Digital Scholarship, it is ironic that I have read so much about the importance of blogging with regard to digital scholarship and yet I find that I have not embraced it as much as I would like. I put this down to time pressure as I juggle a demanding job with tertiary study. I do hope to be a more regular blogger as my formal study concludes and I can continue my informal learning, incorporating blogging as a reflective practice but also as a way to share my thoughts with others and engage in dialogue around current and emerging issues and trends.

My greatest learning across the course as a whole has been the critical importance of ensuring that what we do in education is based on sound, authoritative research. The case study undertaken was the first time that I have engaged in any type of formal ‘research’. This further broadened my understanding of how we can engage in change using a systematic, focused, evidence based approach that can inform our work and provide data for others who may embark on similar journeys.

As this course concludes I continue to wonder about the future of education and the impact the digital environment will have. Many things are poised to revolutionise education:

How often I have heard the phrase, “It’s not about the technology, it’s about what you do with it?” If we expect to revolutionise education with technology, we must use it to promote meaningful thought processes as we guide the social process of learning. 

Colloquium with Cathie Howe: macICT

As Cathie Howe from macICT explained the focus of the work of this unit I was once again amazed at the diversity of programs and research undertaken, much of which would greatly challenge a vast number of teachers. It is not enough that new ICTs are integrated into classrooms to support students in gaining skills for the future; the greatest challenge is how to do this whilst ensuring a strong pedagogical approach that focuses primarily on what learning needs to look like and then exploring how ICT can support and enhance this. As Cathie spoke about Maker Spaces I couldn’t help but feel concern. In my recent experience there has been, in my opinion, a disproportionate amount of focus on setting up such spaces with little regard to how they relate to specific learning outcomes. I see enormous potential for MakerSpaces to support the design process that is a significant aspect of the NSW K-6 Science and Technology syllabus but see little evidence of strong connections in actual practice. This is definitely an area for investigation and one which I will certainly incorporate into my work with teachers. Another fascinating area discussed by Cathie was Transmedia Storytelling. This has great potential for the teaching of English in an explicit, contemporary and motivating way. My digital essay on Transliteracy explored the importance of this type of learning; the label given to this work is secondary to the important characteristics of the learning that is the focus of it. This is an area that I am excited to explore further in one area of my current work which aims to to increase student literacy achievement through a research informed, highly effective school-wide approach to literacy acquisition K-6.

Digital Scholarship: An Interpretive Discussion.


flickr photo shared by Maria J Aleman under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

The term scholar may, for some, conjure up an image of an academic situated within the walls of a university. This scholar may have gained tenure on the basis of past and continuing teaching and research undertaken in the field. Others may expand this view to encompass a studious youth studying at a university or possibly even a school. The emergence of the term digital scholar may add some confusion to one’s image of a scholar. One may be excused for thinking that a digital scholar is simply one who incorporates digital technology into their work, given the ever-expanding digital landscape within which we live. Digital scholarship, however, is much more than this. This paper will explore the changing nature of scholarship within the context of blogging as digital scholarship.

Scholarship has been in a state of transformation due, in part, to the emergence of new digital tools, social behaviours, and cultural expectations associated with participatory technologies (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2011, p. 766). Digital scholarship, as defined by Weller (2011) includes the use of digital, networked and open approaches that demonstrate specialism in a field. Veletsianos & Kimmons (2011, p. 766) refer to Networked Participatory Scholarship in which scholars ‘share, reflect upon, critique, validate and further their scholarship’. Pearce, Weller, Scanlon & Kinsley (2010) argue that simply using technology in their work does not constitute digital scholarship; academics must be open to the particular affordances of new technologies that make possible open, networked collaboration between scholars for the purpose of benefiting not only the academy, but also society generally. Cohen (2007) discusses social scholarship that embodies openness, conversation, collaboration, access, sharing, and transparent revision. Whilst subtle differences may exist, the terms digital scholarship, Networked Participatory Scholarship and social scholarship all point to a shift in thinking about scholarship in a digitally rich society. Digital scholarship is increasingly being used to refer to the use of social software in academia and research (Heap and Minocha, 2012). Whilst the term may have different interpretations, including the curation and collection of digital resources, this discussion will focus more broadly on digital scholarship as it refers to the various scholarly activities that are afforded by contemporary technologies (Weller, 2011). 

Boyer (1990) identified four functions of scholarship: 

• discovery – the creation of new knowledge in a specific area or discipline; 

• integration – the creation of knowledge across disciplines; 

• application – engagement with the wider world outside academia, but still based on the scholar’s disciplinary knowledge and background; 

• teaching – a central element. 

These functions have been somewhat extended by the impact of digital tools, open data and open educational resources which make possible more open ways of working, although this is not inevitable (Pearce et al., 2010). Boyer’s framework now needs to be considered within the context of using blogs and other social, participatory, collaborative and dynamic affordances of the available software (Heap & Minocha, 2012; Pearce et al., 2010; Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2011). 

Whilst Boyer’s focus was on the individual, Borgman (2007) focuses her interpretation of digital scholarship on the work of teams and the capacity of the internet to ‘facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research’. The Internet has also fostered a new culture of sharing, one in which content is freely contributed and distributed with few restrictions or costs (Seely Brown, 2008). 

The concept of digital scholarship can be explored through the practice of blogging. In the past, academic writing consisted of peer-reviewed, published communications that were, and possibly still are, staples of academic scholarship (Hank, 2013). The publishing of a peer-reviewed journal is traditionally the most respected means of contributing to a body of knowledge (Powell, Jacob & Chapman, 2012). What constitutes valid academic writing is now being challenged as blogging, along with other Web 2.0 tools, enter the academic landscape. The affordances of these tools for collaboration, interactivity, connectivity and social rapport, content creation and aggregation of knowledge and content also contribute to, and stimulate, the development of a participatory culture (Kirkup, 2010). As blogging becomes more popular and widely understood, one must now ask what place, if any, it should hold in scholarship. 

Despite some criticism of blogging as a valid form of scholarly writing, it is gaining more acceptance as a scholarly practice (Kirkup, 2010) as more scholars become known for their blogging that, in turn, develops their professional reputation. At the same time, blogging can enhance the identity of their associated organisation. Kirkup (2010) found that almost all of the bloggers in his study continued to use traditional print publication channels as well as other online media. 

Academic blogging is becoming a particular form of academic writing, a genre through which academics ‘engage in knowledge production and become public intellectuals’ (Kirkup, 2010, p. 83). Maitzen (2012) believes that blogging should be recognised for its contribution to the intellectual and institutional goals of universities but cautions that it will not suit every academic or academic purpose. Weller (2011) raises questions that may be asked in relation to blogging that are true for all digital scholarship. These questions explore scholarship in terms of centrality to practice, applicability across domains and function, quality, tenure, impact on academic communities, replacement or complement to existing channels and whether or not bloggers should separate their blogging from formal institutional systems. 

Returning to Weller’s (2011) suggestion that digital scholarship includes the use of digital, networked and open approaches, one can see how blogging addresses these three critical components. Blogs, by nature, are digital and networked and have the capacity for openness. As a digital tool, inclusion of other digital media, such as video, image and sound can be incorporated into blogs to enhance or, at times, replace print. Whilst it is possible to keep a blog private or limit exposure, it is the capacity for openness to the public that is critical for blogging to reach its potential as a practice of digital scholarship. Greenhow, Robelia & Hughes (2009) state that the use of blogging to expand professional connections and build networks may transform their responsibilities relating to teaching, research and service whilst enhancing their scholarly practice. Whilst it may not be appropriate to state that participatory technologies such as blogs are catalysts for changing scholarly norms, a state of change is reflected in the growing practice of academic blogging (Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2011). Regardless of social or institutional structures and the 20th century paradigms of scholarship, some recognise how such tools have the power to support, amplify, or transform their scholarship in positive ways (Katz, 2010). Maitzen (2012) refers to blogging as a practice where all parts of intellectual life converge and coexist – reading, writing, teaching and research. 

Powell et al. (2011) and Hank (2013) agree that blogging can support the traditional goals of higher education institutions by serving as tools for teaching, learning, research and outreach. Mewburn & Thomson (2013) provide the example of some UK research grant applications which now require identification of the expected impact on audiences other than academics and maintain that blog advocacy sits neatly with official discourses of appropriate academic behaviour and performance. Advantages identified in the use of blogging include the rapid sharing of research methods, results and conclusions in an open, transparent manner (Powell et al., 2011) where information and ideas are instantly available to peers and the broader community and real time interaction and collaboration is possible. Immediacy is restored to scholarly discussion and logistical roadblocks are removed, opening up exchange of ideas and the stimulation for refining, reconsidering or expanding ideas (Maitzen, 2012). Further, Maitzen posits that quality of content is not determined by the form or platform. 

The process of peer review is well established in academia and some may argue that this element is absent from blogging. Hank (2013) challenges the thinking of peer reviewers and their role as gatekeepers by suggesting that, though not beholden to the same parameters or rigour of peer reviewed journals, blogging can be seen to be subject to critical review from a wider gate, though reasonably less expert. It is not suggested that blogging will necessarily replace the more formal practice of journal production at this point in time; it may, however, be seen as an important complement to the practice. Kirkup (2010) sees the possibility for engagement in critical ideas that may not have been accepted in a peer reviewed publication but still find a place in scholarly discourse where one may engage a much wider audience as well as those with common interests. Academics may need to adjust their writing style somewhat when writing for a wider audience. Writing less obscurely may be beneficial for promoting scholarly discussion on a global scale (Mewburn & Thomson, 2013). Blogging can certainly complement and contribute to traditional forms of scholarly publication. Powell et al. (2010) stress that referencing is critical if blogging is to become an acceptable form of scholarship accessed by government, organisations, industry and consumers. Rights management is also an important consideration for the digital scholar to ensure that legitimation and dissemination functions are not impeded (Borgman, 2007). 

An area of concern for academics regarding blogging is the conservatism regarding digital scholarship being recognised towards tenure, promotion and funding (Weller, 2011). Whilst blogging may complicate the notion of publication, Borgman (2007) states that publication occurs when a document is made public with the intention it is read by others. It is suggested that if blogging is considered for promotion and tenure decisions, it is the category of service rather than scholarship to which the practice is associated (Borgman, 2007; Hendricks, 2009). Hank (2013) agrees that blogging may not be seen as an opportunity for promotion but it contributes to scholars’ personal sense of other intrinsic rewards and elementary recognition, including greater visibility as a scholar, as well as institutional recognition, through invitations to publish, present and provide service and collaborate. 

When discussing digital scholarship, is it necessary to distinguish between an academic blog and a blog written by an academic? Mewburn & Thomson (2013) suggest that for a blog to be academic, the writer must declare affiliation with a recognisable institution, professional purpose and be connected to other academic blogs in some way. Weller (2011) however, states that a well-respected digital scholar need not be recognised as an academic nor affiliated with an institution, thus opening up scholarship to a wider group. Likewise, a digital scholar does not include just anyone who writes online. Blogs range from personal and ephemeral to theoretical and substantial, so it depends on how the scholar defines blogs themselves and how they elect to incorporate it within their own professional and academic life that may determine the place of their blog in scholarship (Hank, 2013). 

Blogging is an emerging academic practice that can promote the intellectual identity of a professional academic and their engagement as contemporary “public intellectuals” (Kirkup, 2010). For some, however, this practice may not be one that they are drawn to or feel comfortable with. It is important, however, for academics to model lifelong learning by identifying effective uses of technology for educative purposes and for sharing scholarship with a wider audience (Greenhow et al., 2009, p.254). The development of the necessary skills and dispositions for digital scholarship may begin in K-12 education and continue into post secondary education. Writing for an online audience through the use of blogging can support learning (Downes, 2004), academic identity creation (Kirkup, 2010) and public writing and presentation skills (Heap & Minocha, 2012). Reflective writing in response to learning experiences, conducting conversations outside of the physical classroom and aggregating notes, references and resources relevant to study are ways in which students of any age can begin to develop as bloggers whilst building their online identities, gaining more experience writing online for an audience. As students develop their skills and use of technology in education, they bring new skill sets and attitudes to post secondary education; reading and reflecting online, as well as engaging a community, brings learning to life (Downes, 2004). For this to be authentic, students must have purpose for their writing and be unconstrained in sharing to a wider audience beyond the classroom. 

A new approach to learning using blogs and other Web 2.0 tools can provide students with access to rich, often virtual, learning communities and promote passion-based learning, motivating them to become members of a particular community of practice or ‘just wanting to learn about, make, or perform something’. (Seely Brown, 2008). Learners are now using the web in ways that require further exploration to understand current and potential implications for education (Greenhow et al., 2009). 

flickr photo by tellatic shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

It is evident that technology is creating new environments for learning which ‘changes the relationship between knowledge and knowledge provider’ (Powell et al., 2012, p. 275). The emergence of digital scholarship has opened up academia to new, more open ways of working that makes collaboration beyond the academy a valuable addition to the nature of scholarship. Those who embrace the open values, ideology, potential and often challenges of technologies available through Web 2.0 understand the benefits to the academy and society (Weller, 2011). Whilst embracing the use of various technologies, such as blogs, may not yet serve the same function (or provide the same rigour) as the peer reviewed journals held in such high esteem by the academy, they do represent another way for sharing ideas, methods and research findings to a wider audience (Powell et al., 2012) and can have a significant role in all four types of scholarship identified by Boyer (1990). Cloud computing, social operating systems and the vast potential of virtual networks, will increasingly influence both education and research and will likely intensify the participatory and creative practices associated with digital scholarship (Greenhow et al., 2009). Digital scholarship is becoming an increasingly significant aspect of scholarship and may, in the future, be so integrated within scholarship that the word digital no longer becomes necessary to describe contemporary scholarly practice. 



Borgman, C. (2007). Scholarship in the Digital Age: Information, Infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Boyer, E. (1990). Scholarship reconsidered: Priorities for the professoriate. Princeton, NJ: The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. 

Cohen, L. (2007). Social scholarship on the rise. Blog entry posted to Library 2.0: an academic’s perspective. Retrieved Downes, S. (2004). Educational Blogging. Retrieved 

Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, teaching, and scholarship in a digital age Web 2.0 and classroom research: What path should we take now? Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246–259. doi: 10.3102/0013189X09336671 

Hank, C. (2013) Communications in Blogademia: An Assessment of Scholar Blogs’ Attributes and Functions New Review of Information Networking, 18, 51–69, 2013 DOI: 10.1080/13614576.2013.802179 

Heap, T., & Minocha, S. (2012). An empirically grounded framework to guide blogging for digital scholarship. Research In Learning Technology. doi: 

Hendricks, A. 2010). Bloggership, or is publishing a blog scholarship? A survey of academic librarians. Library Hi Tech, 28(3), 470-477. 

Katz, R. (2008) The tower and the cloud: Higher education in the age of cloud computing. Boulder: EDUCAUSE 2008 eBook 

Kirkup, G. (2010) Academic blogging: academic practice and academic identity. London Review of Education, 8(1), 75–84 DOI: 10.1080/14748460903557803 

Maitzen, R. (2012). Scholarship 2.0: Blogging and/as Academic Practice. Journal Of Victorian Culture (Routledge), 17(3), 348-354. 

Mewburn, I & Thomson, P (2013). Why do academics blog? An analysis of audiences, purposes and challenges. Studies in Higher Education, 38(8), 1105-1119. DOI:10.1080/03075079.2013.835624 

Pearce, N., Weller, M., Scanlon, E., & Kinsley, S. (2010). Digital scholarship considered: how new technologies could transform academic work in education. In Education,16(1). 

Powell, D., Jacob, C., & Chapman, B. (2012). Using Blogs and New Media in Academic Practice: Potential Roles in Research, Teaching, Learning, and Extension. Innovative Higher Education, 37(4), 271-282. doi:10.1007/s10755-011-9207-7 

Seely Brown, J. (2008). Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. Educause review, 43(1), 16-20. Retrieved from 

Veletsianos, G. & Kimmons, R. (2012). Networked Participatory Scholarship: Emergent techno-cultural pressures toward open and digital scholarship in online networks. Computers & Education, 58(2) 766–774. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.10.001 

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black. Retreived

Colloquium with Tim Klapdor

I am writing this some time after the colloquium with Time Klapdor – Online Learning Technology Leader, Charles Sturt University.

He spoke about several aspects of the online world but what I found of particular interest was the concept of control. I wonder how many of us think about control when we post online? I must admit that I rarely do unless a teacher or parent starts questioning who owns the information that is being stored in Google’s cloud  when using Google Apps for Education. The standard answer is that we own it – but do we really? Regardless of the answer to this question, of more concern may be “who is in control?” Tim began our session by suggesting that we are NOT in control. It is hard to find a person in my circles who does not have a presence on Facebook. What I post there is not important apart from photos that may be put there for safekeeping whilst travelling. The question begs – WHY does Facebook let us use the service and upload so much data for free? Do we ever really consider what the product actually is? It is, in fact, US. Facebook uses what they find out about us to sell to us. We need to go to quite a bit of trouble to stay in control of that (and many people probably don’t bother). And this happens everywhere we are online.

It is the algorithms working behind the scenes that decide what we see, for example, when we conduct a Google search. Once upon a time we could ask students to search using a particular keyword and then ask them to go to the third result – now that would be different for individual students because of the algorithms working to ensure the results produced ‘match’ the person. Another example of this is when I was searching for accommodation for a recent European holiday. I had selected and finally booked a few upmarket hotels and searched TripAdvisor for more reviews. Then, I found it almost impossible to search for cheaper accommodation because the algorithms had decided that I only wanted to see expensive hotels. I needed to go ‘incognito’ to find what I was after. I was NOT in control.

One of the points Tim was making was the fact that these online business who control our data present us in a certain way because we are not in control. If we were to have our own domain, this would not be the case. We would be in control of our data.

A major aspect of our online world is the preservation of what exists there – we cannot be guaranteed of our data preservation. Typically, our LMS in educational institutions are “emptied” when we are no longer enrolled. Of what value, then, is our online data if it can be so disposable? As Tim mentioned, what would happen if Facebook worked like our uni LMS, Blackboard?

Every 15 weeks Facebook would delete all your photos and status updates and unfriend all your friends! 


This reminded me of an earlier subject – INF530: Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age – where we discussed this issue and I learned of the International Internet Preservation Consortium that works to archive some of what’s on the web for the benefit of future generations. What to archive is simply an educated guess in many instances but it is heartening to know that knowledge and information online is being preserved and made accessible for us now and into the future. Without this we would have a significant gap in our knowledge and social history.




This is a real issue for teachers working with GAFE – they must share all of their work with a personal account prior to leaving employment because their account is closed when they leave. Imagine all of the data collected over just a small period of time in a teacher’s life. This has implications not just for the teacher but for the employer as well. This is why it is important for institutions like schools to have structures and processes in place to ensure content is not lost. It is difficult for many teachers to understand that the content they create in the course of their work does actually belong to the employer and should be stored and available after a teacher has ceased employment.

Tim discussed a way of dealing with the various issues of ownership, control and preservation – create alternatives to the use of other people’s containers for storing our content. Individuals can use a variety of tools available to move away from dependence on others’ networks. Node ware combines software and hardware that allows you to host and manage your own network.

The internet internet relies on connections so personally owned, negotiated connections will lead to more distributed, cooperative, autonomous networks outside of existing systems that leave us in a position of little , if any, control.



Colloquium with Simon Welsh

flickr photo by Elif Ayiter/Alpha Auer/..../ shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

flickr photo by Elif Ayiter/Alpha Auer/…./ shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

Learning Analytics: A Traveller’s Guide was presented by Simon Welsh, Manager, Adaptive Learning & Teaching Services – Division of Student Learning, Charles Sturt University.

This was a very informative session and forced me to open my mind to the world of analytics. I have had little interest in this subject previously but Simon’s presentation certainly had me thinking about this topic and the associated implications. Knowing that every click you make during your online study is being recorded is somewhat disconcerting. It leads you to ask – have I clicked enough? Who is seeing this data? Who is judging me by my clicks? Of course, this happens in so many aspects of life including the social social media I access daily, but Simon’s presentation unlocked my thinking in a different way.

Simon highlighted the difference between learning and academic analytics:

  • Academic Analytics – supporting the management of students, staff and institutions
  • Learning Analytics – supporting learning and teaching processes

Long and Siemens (2011) present the difference in the following diagram:




It was interesting to note that the focus of the uni data analytics at the moment seems to be on identifying students who may show signs of being at risk of withdrawal. This is a very noble use of the data but, of course, care must be taken with what, if any, action is taken in response to the data.

With regard to learning analytics, how can the collection of data be harnessed to create better tools and services? Can this lead to improved learning outcomes?

Simon discussed the challenges facing this field including the identification of what drives quality learning and how analytics can be built to capture what is wanted. How can adaptive learning tools be developed to impact learning outcomes?

Long and Siemens (2011) state that basing decisions on data and evidence seems stunningly obvious, and indeed, research indicates that data-driven decision making improves organizational output and productivity. Boyd & Crawford (2012) caution that ‘Interpretation is at the center of data analysis. Regardless of the size of a data, it is subject to limitation and bias. Without those biases and limitations being understood and outlined, misinterpretation is the result.’

Boyd, D. & Crawford, K (2012) Critical questions for big data. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662-679, DOI:10.1080/1369118X.2012.678878
Long and Siemens (2011) Penetrating the Fog: Analytics in Learning and Education. EDUCAUSE Review, 46(5)


Colloquium with Annabel Astbury

Last week I participated in an online colloquium with Annabel Astbury. Annabel is Head of Digital Education at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is working with a team to deliver ABC Splash. It was a great opportunity to gain insight into a resource that is valued by many of the teachers I work with. I was very interested in the statistics that Annabel shared with us:

  • Over 3000 resources mapped to AC
  • 50-60,000 students per week
  • STEM resources
  • increased use of games
  • competition participation has increased
  • requests for tech help has diminished
  • 60:40 primary:sec
flickr photo by ePublicist shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

flickr photo by ePublicist shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license

Annabel posed the question, “Do you think the idea that a ‘one stop educational content spot’ is real?Whilst the idea of a one stop shop for classroom use appeals for reasons of manageability of online spaces to navigate, all agreed that it would not be a desirable. It is highly unlikely that one place could offer all that would be needed for all groups of students throughout the country (let alone the world).

ABC Splash is able to access quality resources from the ABC archives as well as the great game-type resources developed by the Learning Federation. All of these resources are mapped to the Australian Curriculum, which makes them very teacher-friendly. They do this job very nicely but online spaces in education need to embrace a more participatory environment. The discussion on the prospect of participatory learning had me thinking about ways that ABC Splash could move into this area. The live events and competitions do not really fit with the idea of participatory learning which would see students collaborating online, providing and receiving feedback on contributions and generally sharing their work with the world. As a trusted, non-commercial corporation, I believe that a provider such as ABC Splash would be an ideal platform for this to move forward. It would, however, require more personnel than may be possible for monitoring and facilitating student contributions. Another major consideration is the cyber safety/digital citizenship aspect of younger students in particular participating and sharing in an online community. Whilst I believe that this should not be a barrier, many parents are still very protective of their children’s online presence (as they should be) without exploring ways that this ideal can happen in a safe and secure way. How could these barriers be overcome?

Diana Laurillard (2008, p.1) observes that ‘education is on the brink of being transformed through learning technologies; however, it has been on that brink for some decades now.’  Given that much learning takes place outside of the school, it is important that there is a broader understanding of how technology fits (or not) within the wider social contexts that make up education and society (Selwyn, 2010).Without the removal of some major obstacles, we will not realise what is imminently possible.



Laurillard, D. (2008). Digital technologies and their role in achieving our ambitions for education. London: Institute of Education.
Selwyn,N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26 (1), 65-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x.

INF537 – Digital Futures Colloquium

And so begins another subject. This time, however, there are none to follow. I look forward, with some degree of apprehension, to my final subject in this course. Much has been learned, with more to know. Digital futures – what an amazing thing to explore.

flickr photo by kevin dooley shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

flickr photo by kevin dooley shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

INF530 Final Reflection

As I embarked on another semester of study, I was keen to explore “concepts and practices for a digital age” whilst, at the same time, expecting a challenging few months ahead. I have been enthusiastic about the use of technology in education since I undertook a M Ed (Teacher Librarianship) in the early 90s. I have been directly involved in supporting teachers and students in the educational use of technology since that time. The difference now is that I have a very clear understanding of the importance of research to inform educational change.

My first challenge came when reflecting on my education jurisdiction’s recent move to Google Apps for Education. There was so much discussion about cloud storage and how convenient it would be to have access to digital content anywhere, anytime. Of course this has proven to be a wonderful initiative for many in our system and there is now a  massive amount of data stored in the cloud, but the International Internet Preservation Consortium helped me to understand how important it is to preserve digital content so that future generations may have an insight into our current society and the ways in which we interact.

When prompted to reflect on what concepts I associated with the digital age, the first to come to mind included connectedness, collaboration, cooperation, globalisation, stability, change, belonging, sustainability, space, environment, ethics and ownership. I can confirm that I was not far off the mark in my initial thoughts. Interestingly, having mentioned globalisation, I was somewhat contradictory in my forum post  at the beginning of module 4 when I stated that I don’t believe that we should necessarily focus on what students will need to function in a globalised future. Having explored the concept further, I realise that it is probably unwise to separate future needs from current needs as the latter informs the former.

It was during this post that I articulated a desire to further explore the area of digital literacy which I pursued in different ways through my book review and digital essay. The flexibility to choose an area of interest to explore further was both liberating and nerve wracking as I was torn between choosing digital literacy (the area I felt would further support my professional life in the immediate future) or an area that I was very unfamiliar with but felt I should explore further (such as geospacial learning, big data and analytics, gamification of learning and makerspaces). I am happy with my ultimate decision in both instances, particularly in light of the emerging culture of BYOD environments in the primary schools I serve.

The book review afforded me the opportunity to cast a critical eye across a book that I was familiar with but had not explored deeply. Combined with my reflection on taxonomies of learning, I am more confident in my ability to not only judge the merits of the reading that I engage in, but also to question the validity of what various people within the educational community espouse, particularly those encountered in public forums such as conferences. My post, Says Who?, highlights my thoughts during a recent conference experience.

Writing my digital essay on Transliteracy began as an opportunity to develop my understanding of a term I had come across many years ago but had not followed up further. Enthusiastic during the initial research associated with preparing this essay, I soon became somewhat confused by the differing views associated with this and similar topics. Whilst I continue to uphold my support for the concept of transliteracy, I am more interested in the educational implications of this and other similar terms used in association with educating for the 21st century. As educators, we have a responsibility to engineer experiences for our students who are required to develop a vast array of skills that will support their participation in society now and into the future. A major implication for educators is also the responsibility to develop ways in which to assess these skills within authentic contexts.

I am grateful for the opportunity to have participated in this subject at a time in my professional life when it has proven to be very valuable. Whilst unable to participate to the fullest extent that I would have desired, I nevertheless have already begun to experience the benefits that this level of study can provide. The knowledge I have gained so far as penetrated various meetings and forums with which I am involved both as facilitator and participant. I will continue to delve more deeply into other areas highlighted by this course and the offerings of the cohort, as time progresses. The bank of resources now available to me has developed my professional reading library and knowledge of resources available to support students and teachers in their use of digital tools for educational, professional and personal use now and into the future.This is particularly important as more schools move to a BYOD environment and all stakeholders (students, teachers, parents, community) expect more rigorous, personalised learning pathways for students in our classrooms now– fifteen years into the 21st century.


INF 530 Digital Essay: Transliteracy – essential for living and learning in the 21st Century.

Multitasking in the park.
flickr photo shared by CarbonNYC [in SF!] under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license


It is estimated that modern humans evolved approximately 200, 000 years ago. Since that time, communication between people has continued to evolve and the rapid advancement in technology in the 21st century has had a profound impact on how humans communicate, learn and live. It is imperative, therefore, that education reflects the changing nature of an increasingly digital culture and places a priority on supporting students to develop the skills and literacies required for full and active participation in society now and in the future (Hague & Payton, 2010).

Whilst there is no universal definition of literacy, the CIA World Factbook defines it as the ability to read and write at a specified age (most commonly 15 years of age) and proceeds to state that “low levels of literacy, and education in general, can impede the economic development of a country in the current rapidly changing, technology-driven world.”

 To be successful in living and learning in the 21st century, many skills are required that go beyond the traditional literacies of language development. The plethora of literacies referred to in education has given birth to another term – transliteracy (Jaeger, 2011).

Why Transliteracy?

Transliteracy is an overarching concept that seeks to bring together the many literacies that one must develop to confidently consume and contribute to an ever expanding world in which multiple literacies, multiple media and multiple demands on one’s attention is evident (Thomas et al., 2007). Transliteracy is required to navigate across various media and encompasses a range of literacies including, but not limited to:



flickr photo shared by James Nash (aka Cirrus) under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The current evolving creative environment demands a new set of literacies: transliteracy (Thomas, 2013). Research began at the Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT) in 2005 and  was presented in 2007 by Thomas et al. in their foundation article, Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.  Transliteracy seeks to be a unifying term to describe what it means to be literate in the 21st century. It is defined as being “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks” and opens the debate with examples from history, orality, philosophy, literature, and ethnography.”



Cooper, Lockyer & Brown (2013) highlight the need to develop multiliteracies in a technology-mediated environment. The term multiliteracies could be seen by some to have the same meaning as transliteracy as both refer to various literacies, tools, and social and cultural contexts. However, transliteracy speaks of a unifying ecology as opposed to the communication milieu within which there exists multiliteracies. Thomas et al. (2007) use the prefix ‘multi-’ many times in their discussion of transliteracy therefore much of the discussion on multiliteracy is relevant when discussing transliteracy.


Morgan (2014) questions whether or not literacy is a stable phenomenon that means the same thing at all times and in all places. Further, what does it mean to know how to read and write in different times and in different places? Brandt (1995) has argued that literacy practices “accumulate” over time. At any given moment, new forms of literacy emerge while older ones become part of the developmental past. What, he asks, is different about the literacies expected of the average 12-year old then and now?

Transliteracy in Education

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For a person to develop into a transliterate member of society, the teaching of these skills and literacies must begin in primary school and continue throughout secondary schooling and beyond. Educators must create learning experiences that promote construction of knowledge using a variety of digital tools in order to enhance student development of transliteracy. It is not enough to be exposed to a variety of media. Students, across a wide variety of platforms, must learn by making and creating rather than merely consuming content; they must have the opportunity to work with and create visual texts in a variety of media (Bamford, 2003; Brown, 2004).


Australia responded to the  digital education revolution by providing laptops to secondary students, high speed broadband to all schools and support to develop information and communication technology (ICT) proficiency for teachers and students. However, transliteracy is more than digital literacy and one could argue that schools are yet to embrace the essence of transliteracy. Students need opportunities to be engaged in transliterate practices and critical thinking across disciplines where they move between media to demonstrate their understanding of content as well as competence with multiple literacies (Gogan & Marcus 2013). Whilst literacy practices are changing, and it is difficult to specify the skills that will be required into the future (Beetham & Oliver, 2010), transliteracy proposes a broader approach to literacy development where a unifying ecology of all literacies meet and mix and encompass the available tools at one’s disposal in a particular place and time; it does not privilege one above another (Thomas et al., 2007).

The digital revolution has redefined experiences of students and teachers and sees them consume, produce and communicate information in previously unimaginable ways. To meet the needs of 21st century learners, educators must engage them in diverse and creative ways that ensure they are creative problem solvers, better communicators and lifelong learners who move from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able (Wesch, 2014).

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The students in classrooms today are often referred to as digital natives or the Google generation. Whilst not wanting to discuss the merits or otherwise of these terms, it is apparent that easy access to technology has not improved the information literacy of young people (JISC, 2008). It has, in fact, masked educational problems. It is therefore necessary that educators develop the professional capacity to support students through the new research and changing digital landscapes (Brabazon, Dear, Greene & Purdy, 2009).

Education in the 21st century exists within a multimodal, multichannel and multiplatform global community (Williamson, 2013). The challenge for educators is to respond to this reality. Transliteracy is a way to think about how this may be done. Some schools have begun to take up the challenge. Transliteracy needs to be everywhere – in all subjects and classrooms, with all teachers.

A significant element of the Australian Curriculum is the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability in which ‘students develop ICT capability as they learn to use ICT effectively and appropriately to access, create and communicate information and ideas, solve problems and work collaboratively in all learning areas at school, and in their lives beyond school.’ It is important to note simply having access to the tools does not assume that the goals will be achieved; many students have personal access to multiple devices but their knowledge practices do not necessarily transfer to the formal classroom context (Beetham & Oliver, 2010). It is crucial that educators support learners in gaining the skills and literacies required to successfully achieve learning goals. The focus must move away from technical skills towards concepts of literacy, criticality and judgement (European Commission, 2009 ). These concepts, together with the skills referred to above,  are inherent components of transliteracy. 

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.45.37 pmAn example of a transliterate production is referred to by Thomas et al. (2007) that highlights possibilities for new narrative forms that showcase collective authorship across multiple forms. Flight Paths is a networked work of fiction project created by Kate Pullinger and Chris Joseph that was created on and through the internet with contributors providing both multimedia and traditional text.

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Dean Grigar’s Fallow Field: a story in two parts is a further example of online multimodality. This web fiction sees the overlapping of physical and digital as the reader encounters sounds, images, words and links.


A somewhat similar project was undertaken by students at Sydney’s St Vincent’s College under the guidance of Suzana Sukovic (2014). iTell: Transliteracy and Digital Storytelling aimed to investigate transliteracy and student engagement through the creation of digital stories based on a creative reading task.

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It was concluded that the iTell project and the resulting digital stories demonstrated student engagement and transliteracy skills within a collaborative environment.




It is not just in academic circles that one hears discourse around the need to ensure that education is relevant to contemporary students whilst preparing them for their future lives in society. Malcolm Turnbull MP, Minister for Communications, recently delivered a speech in which he stated that we must ensure that we are equipping students with the skills for employment in an increasingly competitive globalised economy. The particular focus in this speech was on ICT with broader implications that our current education system needs to work towards equipping students for the jobs of tomorrow which exist in a world transformed by the internet.

In a nutshell, he stated,  “we need knowledge and imagination. The former on its own is a dull resource, the latter on its own is a hallucination. Combined they will ensure an Australian future which is more exciting, more prosperous than ever before” (Turnbull, 2014).

What’s in a Name?

Whilst the idea of transliteracy is supported by many, particularly in the field of librarianship, there are some who would argue that it is an unnecessary or confusing term. Brad Czerniak (2010) finds the definition inconsistent and does not make clear which elements are tools, platforms or media nor how one is supposed to go across them (given that the prefix trans means across or between). David Rothman (2010) begins his claim that transliteracy is Commensurable Nonsense by comparing information literacy and digital literacy, the latter just being the former with computers. He continues,  replacing the word ‘information’ with ‘health’, ‘media’ and ‘financial’ to illustrate the fact that they are merely subsets of information literacy. In particular, he criticises the Libraries and Transliteracy presentation by Bobbi Newman and makes many compelling arguments against the content, particularly with regard to transliteracy being a necessity for participation in society. His point is clearly made and causes one pause for thought. Perhaps the term is controversial if seen in this way. However, it could be argued that the term transliteracy is one that may be useful for assisting educators to value and respond to the various discrete literacies and not leave particular skill development to specific disciplines. This mindset is necessary if one is to understand transliteracy not as the development of particular literacies about various media but, rather, mapping meaning across different media (Ipri, 2010).


Interestingly, in her argument, Should Transliteracy Replace Language Arts? Jody Lambert (Russac & Lambert, 2013) agrees that transliteracy belongs to all educators and is vital to the development of 21st century skills. She does, however, preface this with the statement that “students must first master the ability to read and write effectively, coherently and with clarity before they can interact transliterally… we must first be literate before we can be transliterate.” This displays a lack of understanding of the term transliteracy which Thomas et al.(2007) state clearly is about all communication types across time and culture; Lambert implies that communication is only possible through the relatively recent human activity of reading and writing.



flickr photo shared by Terry Freedman under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-ND ) license

The Australian curriculum requires students from K-10 to “develop and apply ICT knowledge, skills and appropriate social and ethical protocols and practices to investigate, create and communicate, as well as developing their ability to manage and operate ICT to meet their learning needs” (ACARA, 2015). Students, therefore, are required to be transliterate in order to accomplish this. Transliteracy, as a concept, is an attempt to label what educators are already doing – linking up traditional notions of authority with the realities of how people obtain information today.

Literacy in the 21st century means more than the ability to read and write – it is the activity of minds “capable of recognising and engaging substantive issues along with the ways that minds, sensibilities and emotions are constructed by and within communities whose members communicate through specific technologies” (Welch, 1999).

The turn of the 21st century has signalled a shift in the types of skillsets that have real, applicable value in a rapidly advancing world (NMC, 2015). To develop transliteracy is to develop the skills necessary not just to function, but to behave creatively and critically within a complex information society (Cronin, 2010)




Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2015). Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability. Australian Curriculum. Retrieved


Bamford, A. (2003). The visual literacy white paper. [A report commissioned by Adobe Systems, Australia].


Beetham, H. and Oliver, M. (2010). The changing practices of knowledge and learning. In Sharpe, R., Beetham, H., de Freitas, S. (2010). Rethinking Learning for a Digital Age : How Learners are Shaping their Own Experiences. ch.11 (pp.155-170). eBook.


Brabazon, T., Dear, Z., Greene, G., & Purdy, A. (2009). Why the Google generation will not speak: The invention of digital natives. Nebula, 6. Retrieved from


Brown, I. (2004). Global trends in art education: New technologies and the paradigm shift to visual literacy. The International Journal of Art Education, 2, 50–61.


Cooper, N., Lockyer, L., & Brown., I. (2013). Developing multiliteracies in a technology-mediated environment. Educational Media International, 50:2, 93-107, DOI: 10.1080/09523987.2013.795350


Cronin, J. R. (2010). Too much information: Why facilitate information and media literacy? International Journal Of Humanities & Arts Computing, 4(1/2), 151-165.


Czerniak, B. (2010). Redefining transliteracy. Retrieved


European Commission (2009). Digital literacy: high level expert group recommendations. Retrieved


Gogan, B., & Marcus, A. (2013). Lost in transliteracy. Knowledge Quest, 41(5), 40-45.


Hague, C. & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum: a Futurelab handbook. Retrieved


Ipri, T. (2010). Introducing transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries? College and Research Libraries, 71, 532-567.


Jaeger, P. (2011). Transliteracy – New Librarylingo and what it means for instruction. Library Media Connection, 30(2), 44-47.


Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). doi:10.5210/fm.v12i12.2060


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Thomas, S., Joseph, C., Laccetti, J., Mason, B., Mills, S., Perril, S., & Pullinger, K. (2007). Transliteracy: Crossing divides. First Monday, 12(12). Retrieved


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Says who?

I attended the Sydney GAFE Summit last week – two days of edtech.

This was the fourth conference I have attended over the past five years, all of them relating to the use of technology in education. I have always come away from these events motivated to try the new ideas I have heard about. The keynote speakers evangelising about the need to change the way we teach in order to ensure 21st century learning is happening in our schools have made so much sense – at the time.

flickr photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

flickr photo by ed_needs_a_bicycle shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

This year it was a different experience for me. Having just completed my scholarly book review, I  found myself attending sessions and asking the question – says who? – after almost every session. Whilst the presenters were obviously enthusiastic and passionate about the use of digital technology in their classrooms and shared some great ideas, I seemed to have a cynical feeling emerging. Maybe this feeling of cynicism could be interpreted as critical thinking.

I understand that schools do need to change in order to be relevant, but this change must be based on sound, authoritative research. We have a great responsibility to our students (and their parents) to provide the best education possible. I am left wondering if the organisers of these events promote or require reference to academic research when making broad statements about “21st Century” learning. If the workshop is simply designed to teach a new tool or give ideas on their use in the classroom then it should remain just that. When presenters promote the use of a particular technology or pedagogy to improve learning outcomes for students I now need to know what they are basing this on.

I look forward to attending the ACER Research Conference in August and comparing that experience with my recent one. I imagine that when I ask the question, “says who?” I may be able to answer it.