INF 530: Blog Task 2 – Taxonomy of Learning in Knowledge Networks

Learn - keyboard

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by GotCredit:

When I think  of taxonomy of learning, I think of Bloom. Bloom’s taxonomy is older than I am, having been published in 1956. I remember first hearing of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a young teacher but had no idea what it was, nor that it was the work of many authors whose aim was to classify three domains of educational goals and objectives. The cognitive domain is, I expect, the one that educators are most familiar with. Krathwohl’s Taxonomy and Harrow’s Taxonomy classify the affective and psychomotor domains respectively and are quite new to me.

Bloom’s taxonomy is still a valid way for educators to classify learning objectives and ensure that students are engaged in activities that move beyond lower order thinking tasks to the more complex higher order thinking tasks of synthesising and evaluating.

In our current digital age there is more scope to design learning that covers the spectrum of learning but how to evaluate this learning can be problematic. There is much talk about 21st century learning skills which usually centre around the skills of problem solving, creative and critical thinking, collaboration and so on. I do not believe that these skills have only been devised for 21st c learning; they are, however, perhaps more desirable in contemporary society where much of the workforce is required to demonstrate and use these skills in ways that were not so prevalent in previous generations. Our knowledge networked society enables us to connect and collaborate with others beyond the physical classroom and beyond our local communities. With the arrival of Web 2.0, educators can harness these tools to develop these skills in students, particularly with regard to collaboration and sharing of knowledge.

I have had many conversations with parents recently who continue to request data that proves that technology is improving their child’s learning; the data requested is that of the NAPLAN type. Many don’t seem satisfied with a response that speaks of creativity, collaboration, problem solving or any other skill that is deemed by many to be the holy grail of contemporary learning.

Therefore, as educators, we must search for ways that will enable us to assess these skills, particularly when the use of ICT is required. Heppell (2001) cautions against assessing learning done with ICT using measures that were constructed prior to the digital age as we would be assessing in ways that are reminiscent of pedagogy that predates current educational pedagogies.

Bloom’s original taxonomy has been revised and adapted by many as seen by the selection of images included here:

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by AJC

creative commons licensed (BY-NC) flickr photo by AJC

Blooms Revised Taxonomy

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by jutecht:


Padagogy wheel

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by AllanADL:


Starkey (2011) states that whilst these later versions have creativity as the goal, the ultimate goal should be the sharing of what has been created. Prior to the digital age, this was only possible in a limited way. Now, with a vast array of web 2.0 tools available, sharing is possible on a global level and can be done instantly. Starkey lists six aspects of learning that use digital technologies and provides a matrix that can be used to connect Bloom’s and SOLO taxonomies and, further, be used as and assessment tool:

  1. Doing
  2. Thinking about connections
  3. Thinking about concepts
  4. Critiquing and evaluating
  5. Creating knowledge
  6. Sharing knowledge


Five digital technology uses associated with these  levels of learning:

  1. Accessing information
  2. Presenting
  3. Processing information
  4. Gaming
  5. Communicating

Teachers using this tool are able to discern the value of activities with regard to ensuring the connection between activity and concept. If teachers are to do more than give lip service to higher order thinking skills and their application in a digital learning world, they must ensure that their learning spaces, both physical and virtual, are conducive to learning in a digital age and that their theory of learning is also supportive of contemporary learning design.

Heppell, S. (2001) Assessment and new technology: new straightjackets or new opportunities? Retrieved from
Starkey, L. (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39



INF 530: Blog Task 1

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Stuck in Customs:

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by Stuck in Customs:

As I begin to explore concepts and practices in a digital age, I find myself jumping all over the place – it is such a broad area to study. What concepts do I associate with the digital age? The first to come to mind include connectedness, collaboration, cooperation, globalisation, stability, change, belonging, sustainability, space, environment, ethics, ownership. No doubt, there are many more. My thoughts about practices in a digital age are somewhat cloudy as I consider what practices are specific to a digital age. How are they different from those of a time before the impact of digital environments and tools? Are they improved or just different? What implications arise that are directly related to this ever expanding digital environment?In exploring this subject, I hope to answer these questions, particularly in the context of primary school education.

My work in education is directly related to the pursuit of these answers. My role sees me working with primary school teachers with vastly different experiences, opinions and abilities with regard to digital practices in the classroom. I hope that by exploring and clarifying my understandings in this field, I will be better equipped to collaboratively navigate the ever-changing landscape that educators face.

With such a wide distribution of knowledge and skills demonstrated by teachers and students alike, the terms ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’, as coined by Marc Prensky in 2001, are often used to help explain the digital divide. These terms, however, do not sit comfortably with me when the former is often used to refer to the younger generation and the latter connected with the teachers born before this digital revolution. Prensky states that our students today are native speakers of digital language, yet I would also consider myself a native speaker because I have used the language as it has developed. I have lived in the time when the language was invented so I could also be considered a native speaker. The fact that some people choose not, or have no need, to use the language does not necessarily mean that they are immigrants any more than a person who does not use language related to disciplines that use a specific language are eg music, medicine, law. There may be a digital divide, but I don’t believe it has a great deal to do with when one was born. I agree with Gerald Haigh who writes in Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native‘ that there’s no evidence of a clear-cut digital divide. Use of technology varies with age, but it does so predictably, over the whole age span. And secondly, although younger people are more likely to be positive about technology, there is evidence that a good attitude to technology, at any age, correlates with good study habits.

An area of interest I aim to explore further is that of digital literacy. My understanding of digital literacy is the ability to efficiently and effectively select and use a variety of digital technologies to locate, understand, synthesise, evaluate, create and communicate information whilst applying social and ethical protocols in order to protect and respect self, others and property. For teachers who are not digitally literate, supporting the development of these skills in their students will be a significant challenge.

An aspect of the information environment that has been brought to my attention by embarking on this subject is that of digital preservation. On a personal level, I have always understood the need to back up data, especially after losing data that could not be retrieved. I had not, however, considered the impact that this concept has on larger scale. I am comforted to know that the International Internet Preservation Consortium is working on our behalf to ensure that our web is preserved for future generations. On a local level, it makes me wonder about what I should be preserving and encouraging others to preserve. Can we rely on the cloud to keep our data safe? Hopefully access to the cloud will not be dependent on specific hardware (yet I suspect at some time in the future it will) like previous storage solutions were such as floppy discs and, more recently, CDs and USBs.

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video:

creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video:

My first instinct is to think that all will be safe in the cloud. That was, at least, until last week when a radio discussion I was listening to drew my attention to the disastrous effect a solar storm would have on our society if one such as the Carrington event of 1859 were to happen today. Dr Karl explained how an event such as this would impact on our everyday lives, from banking and GPS navigation systems to the watch we may be wearing on our wrist.

I look at the work samples from my days in primary school and wonder what future generations will have to show of their past or, indeed, what they will consider valuable.

St Francis - Kindy
St Francis – Kindy
Poem- Yr 6
Poem (Handwriting test) – Year 6


Haigh, G. (2011). Open University research explodes myth of ‘digital native’. Merlin John Online.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon 9(5). Retrieved,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Another Semester Begins

Another semester of study begins: Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age.

Browsing the modules, I can already see I will be challenged to think about things that have not necessarily been on my radar.

Listening to Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, speak so passionately about The next Web of open, linked data highlighted our responsibility to be contributors to, not just consumers of, the web. The International Internet Preservation Consortium has me thinking about the massive amount of data that is being stored in the cloud now that my educational jurisdiction has moved to Google Apps for Education. What does this mean for us if so much of our work and that of our students’ becomes inaccessible? What keepsakes will our kids have if their best work lives in the cloud? I still have my kindergarten workbook and year 6 final exam. Amazing to look back at it and see my writing and drawing and the teachers’ handwritten comments. I absolutely love technology and my work life is very much centred around encouraging teachers to embrace technology in their classrooms. This, however, has given me pause for thought and prompted me to think about what we are doing as educators to preserve our work and the work of our students.

Some thought provoking study ahead.

Critical Reflection: INF536

As this subject comes to an end, I feel that I am just beginning to explore the enormous field of designing spaces for learning. Whilst enthusiastic about this new area of study, I quickly felt out of my depth as the early course readings seemed to be heavily situated in the business world and focused on design theory and design thinking which were very new to me. How could the design of a product  relate to the design of learning spaces? The importance of the three spaces of innovation as articulated by Brown and Katz (2011) would soon become evident as highly relevant to educational professionals whose core business is working in a people-centred environment where space, both physical and virtual, can have an enormous impact on learning.

Teachers are, I realised, designing all the time – programs, activities, classroom spaces and class websites, to name a few. An awareness and understanding of the design process can contribute to a teacher’s effectiveness in meeting the diverse learning needs of students.

The first task which required me to make a quick change to a learning environment was the catalyst for a developing understanding of the impact that space can have on learning. My quick and cost-free transformation of an unused space in a classroom, as described on my blog post, “Impact of Space” demonstrated this and also highlighted elements of design thinking as stated by Kuratko (2012:110) – is the transformation desirable, feasible and viable?

The observation of my local railway station and subsequent design brief was another task that, at first,  seemed unrelated to my role as an educator. However, within a couple of weeks, I found myself in a Kindergarten classroom observing the space and the student and teacher interactions within it and subsequently developing a report for the principal to highlight consideration prior to the re-design of the classroom space. Once again, the suggestion of Brown and Katz (2011) to go out into world and observe – seek them out where they live, work, play – resonated strongly as did the recommendations of the Design Council (2013, p. 18), supported by Razzouk and Shute (2012, p. 336), to include the users of the space when designing for their needs whilst exploring multiple solutions and the prototyping of design ideas in order to avoid costly errors as well as open up possibilities for the unknown. C-K Theory (Hatchuel, Masson & Weil, 2004), whilst complex and challenging to explore, highlighted the fact that conceptual space is crucial for fresh design and is the space within which something unknown can emerge from what is known. Being open to as yet unknown possibilities is an exciting aspect of the design process.

The relationship between space and pedagogy has been an interesting one to explore. Some would suggest that pedagogic aims must be considered to ensure they can be achieved within the space (JISC, 2006, p. 6), space must be planned for complex learning ecologies (Thomas, 2010) and different spaces are required for different strategies (Arndt, 2012). Others  claim that space can impact learning outcomes (Sutherland, Sutherland, Fellner, Siccolo & Clark, 2014) and drive change (Harris, 2010). Whilst I believe that an ideal scenario would see strong, contemporary pedagogy driving change in learning spaces, I also believe that it is possible for space to influence pedagogy, particularly in the ever-expanding area of virtual space. However, I agree with Harris (2010, p.7) and Sutherland, Sutherland, Fellner, Siccolo & Clark (2014,  p. 32) with regard to ensuring that teachers are fully supported when working, or preparing to work, in new or unfamiliar learning spaces.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 3.14.25 pm

The discussion that took place during Designer Drinks  highlighted the growing interest in learning spaces and has encouraged me to continue to consolidate my understandings from this subject and to further explore this aspect of contemporary learning.

What is obvious to me now is that I have learned so much because of the complexity of this subject. To have had an understanding of the content in the beginning would not have led to such learning. The importance of research to support thinking and decision making is critical. I can’t imagine being in a learning space now, physical or virtual, without wondering about  how the design came to be or how it could be changed to better meet the needs of the current users.


Arndt, P. A. (2012). Design of Learning Spaces: Emotional and Cognitive Effects of Learning Environments in Relation to Child Development. Mind, Brain & Education, 6(1), 41-48. doi:10.1111/j.1751-228X.2011.01136.x
Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x
Design Council. (2013). Design for public good. The Design Council. Retrieved from:
Harris, S. (2010). The place of virtual, pedagogic and physical space in the 21st century classroom. Paper presented at EduLearn 2010 & ICICTE 2010. Retrieved from
Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.
Joint Information Systems Committee (2006). Designing spaces for effective learning. A guide to 21st century learning space design. Retrieved from:
Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration: transforming organisational thinking. Boston: Pearson.
Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. Retrieved from
Sutherland, R., Sutherland, J., Fellner, C., Siccolo, M. & Clark, L. (2014). Schools for the future: subtle shift or seismic change? Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 23(1), 19-37. doi: 10.1080/1475939X.2013.869975
Thomas, H. (2010). Learning spaces, learning environments and the dis‘placement’ of learning. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 41(3), 502-511. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2009.00974.x

Going Google

 gafe The Journey

In late 2011, a major Sydney system of non-government schools (The System) decided to move from its current Learning Management System (LMS) to Google Apps for Education (GAFE). This system of schools has responsibility for almost 66,000 students and employs more than 9,000 staff. The LMS that the System had been using for 10 years had run its course – it was no longer meeting the needs of teachers and students. The company was unable to provide the tools required of teachers and students and so an alternate LMS was sought.

A project officer was employed to oversee the selection, trial and rollout of a new LMS. The project officer worked in conjunction with other staff at both head and regional offices. The role of GAFE Support Officer was also created. The support officer would be a classroom teacher who is seconded to the position for one term and would take a role in the delivery of PD in formal Bootcamp sessions as well as in-school support of teachers as they introduce GAFE to their staff and students. The GAFE support officer would be replaced every term, with a balance of primary and secondary teachers taking on the role. This role was seen as a capacity building role for teachers to develop their leadership skills as well as providing schools with access to practitioners who have demonstrated successful integration of GAFE within their school settings. Whilst the rollout of GAFE was completed at the end of 2013, the role of the GAFE support officer continues, particularly with regard to supporting schools who have been slower adopt GAFE for various reasons (including staff with limited ICT skills or schools without strong school leadership in the area of eLearning).

light house

Guiding Principles

The guiding principles for the selection of a new system included:

  • The Learning Management System (LMS) is a critical component of the learning environment in all schools.

  • The LMS delivers learning opportunities that are congruent with System learning documents.

  • The LMS enables learners to develop 21st Century skills, particularly in the areas of communication and collaboration in a multimodal environment.

The LMS must support and encourage learning that is:

Student Centred • Personalised• Innovative• Connected and productive• Multimodal• Lifelong• Supportive of contemporary learning practice• Available to learners at all times, anywhere.• Conducted in a secure environment• Self directed as well as teacher-led

What the LMS must deliver:

The LMS was to be user friendly and highly configurable in order to  facilitate the creation of engaging learning spaces that provide flexible, personal and shareable spaces for each learner.

• The LMS should facilitate collaboration and communication within and between all schools across the System, and with the wider community.

• The LMS should focus on the needs of the learner rather than on school timetable, administration and reporting systems. However, increasing levels of integration with these functions can be expected in the future.

The primary System document referred to for this transition contains a model for eLearning with the purpose of assisting teachers in identifying the learning outcomes which innovative and effective use of technology can bring about. Skills in collaboration, creative thinking and problem solving can be fostered while students are motivated and engaged in authentic learning tasks. The model focuses on three major, learner-centred questions:

How do I learn best?

• The Model places the learner at the centre of the learning experience, emphasising personalised learning which caters for the diverse needs of all learners. Learning is an active and interactive process that fosters independent learning rather than a passive learning experience. The learner at the centre of the model could be a student or a member of staff.

What skills do I need to develop?

• Learners are engaged in a process of guided discovery and exploration which involves collaborative learning, teamwork, project-based or activity based learning. Problem based learning facilitates a process where learners construct meaning to make new knowledge relevant to them. This knowledge can be shared with an audience who can provide feedback to the learner. Students need these contemporary skills to contribute the virtual learning environment.

How do I contribute to 21st Century virtual learning spaces?

• Learning communities are created within schools and also include virtual communities created through Internet contact. The learning spaces include the places within the LMS where students work privately or collaborate with peers. Learning experiences include the wider opportunities of interacting with learners from other schools, systems or countries. These learning spaces provide resources and opportunities to interact with others and to extend knowledge and experiences beyond the physical borders of the school. These interactions are based on respect for others and self and are grounded in the ethics and values of the Catholic faith.

processThe Process of selection

The school System joined with similar systems throughout New South Wales and Queensland to collaborate on finding an appropriate LMS that would serve the needs of schools across the network and, with the power of numbers, would enable a competitive purchase price. Several LMSs were trialled in selected primary and secondary schools. Many of the functional requirements were met by the three LMS trialled but there were significant deficiencies which caused concern eg the ability to manipulate data, ability for teachers to revise learning objects/plans, ability for students to add/edit content, ability for learning sequences to be created, customised, shared and maintained, archiving of learning sequences and student achievement, ability for teachers, students and parents to communicate via the online learning system in real time,

The new LMSs did not seem to offer much more than the one that was to be replaced. There appeared to be similar limitations to the existing LMS; teachers did not report much improved functionality, particularly given the need to train teachers and students in the use of a new LMS. There was also the possibility that it was likely to be outdated prior to widespread adoption.

One LMS looked more promising than others trialled and it seemed that it would probably be adopted. However, not long before the final decision was made, two significant things happened – firstly, the LMS was about to be purchased by another company which left doubt as to whether or not the product would deliver all that was expected and, secondly, collaboration with other school systems saw one system decide to adopt GAFE as opposed to a packaged LMS. GAFE was explored in more depth and all decided that it would, in fact, meet their current identified needs. A bonus outcome was the fact that there was no purchase price associated with GAFE.

Whilst GAFE was initially considered a short-term measure whilst waiting to find the right LMS, it was soon decided that GAFE would not be a temporary measure but a product that would serve the schools for many years to come.

The Adoption Process

Phase 1: Technical integration – December 2011 – June 2012

This phase included the deployment of user IDs and filtering system as well as transition of mail from the old LMS to Gmail (mail would continue to operate in both systems). Deployment of staff and student domains and user groups would also happen prior to trials.

Phase 2: Outreach (Marketing) Plan – April 2012 – December 2012

  • System branding of GAFE. Logo designed.

  • Website designed and populated – repository for all resources and support materials

  • Credit card sized flip cards  (Quick guides) for all staff members

    • space to add personal user ID and new email address

    • Help desk contacts

    • quick notes on how to create and share documents

    • FAQs for main apps – mail, calendar, docs, sites, groups

  • Resource USB for every teacher

  • Promotional letter and video from Director of ICT and Knowledge Management

  • Press Release for schools to use in newsletters and websites

  • Posters and flyers printed

  • Announcements on intranet

  • Regular updates on school who have ‘Gone Google’.

Phase 3: Pilot Schools Deployment & Viral adoption – May 2012 – June 2012 (end of Term 2)

Target: Up to 42 teachers from 10 pilot schools trained by end of Term 2

  • System eLearning team, under advice from the three regional eLearning Advisers, asks 10 schools to become guiding schools for Google Apps adoption.

    1. 3 schools per region

    2. Preferably 2 Primary, 1 Secondary

    3. Priority criteria for choice of schools:

      1. Executive support, esp. Principal

      2. Willing to do a Google Apps related project

      3. involvement of KLA Co-ord (secondary) or Stage Co-ord (primary)

  • School Principal commits to 3 PD items:

    1. 2-day training of Google Guides

    2. One opportunity for Google Guides (+ project officer + Regional eLearning Adviser) to address all staff → report of PD, introduce local mentor/PD program for their school.

    3. 1 day follow up PD with Google Guides at the school.

  • Each Primary school puts forward up to 4 staff members and each Secondary school puts forward up to 6 staff members to be trained as “Google Guides” for using GAFE in their school. NB: These numbers might need to be increased for larger Schools.

  • Who are the Google Guides?

    1. Generally, the eLearning Co-ordinator/reference teacher should be one of the Google Guides.

    2. At least one Google Guide should be from the school executive.

    3. For high schools, at least one Google Guide should be a KLA Co-ordinator. For Primary Schools, a Stage Co-ordinator should be involved.

  • Each “Google Guide” has 3 days release for Google Apps training, consisting of:

    1. An initial 2 day training “bootcamp”.

    2. A follow up day to report on experiences in school & further training.

  • Expectations of Google Guides:

    1. Lead the adoption of GAFE in their school by using Google Apps as their email, calendar, contacts and virtual learning environment, both for personal productivity and in their classroom.

    2. Be the in-school reference person for questions around usage of GAFE in the classroom.

    3. Mentor other staff in the use of GAFE.

    4. If applicable, transfer their own LMS resources over to GAFE.

    5. Be willing to share experiences (e.g. success stories or challenges) with the wider System community.

  • Run 3 x 1-day Sessions with PS & HS eLearning Co-ordinators/ref teachers and Regional eLearning Advisers from each region.

  • Concurrently, all teachers across all schools have access to Google Apps are and encouraged to take a viral approach with Google Apps to build familiarity with the platform:

  • Capture feedback from Pilot schools and incorporate into Google PD materials.

  • eLearning Advisers to encourage the use of Google Apps in school eLearnimng Projects.

  • As an example, move the LMS eLearning page over to Google Sites. Showcase as a good example of site design.

Phase 4: Early Adopter Schools – June 2012 – September 2012 (end of Term 3)

Target: additional 12 Primary Schools and 9 High Schools trained in the use of Google Apps by end of Term 3

  • Allow schools to self-nominate to adopt Google Apps and enrol “Google Guides” in training program.

  • Process:

    • School completes staff/student registration process.

    • School receives a “Going Google Kit” from System

    • School selects up to 6 Google Guides and enrols them in Google Apps training. They are allocated a place in the 2-day Google Bootcamp.

  • Viral approach continues (anyone can access, explore, build, share).

  • School visits by eLearning team and eLearning advisers to Early adopter schools to view classroom use and get feedback on school-wide adoption. Need to book this with Principals in advance.

  • Incorporate Google Apps into teachmeets. Project Officer and others to do presentations. Encourage Pilot and Early adopter schools to present.

Phase 5: Broader School Adoption – October 2012 – end of 2013

2012 Target: Total of 40 Primary Schools and 18 High Schools trained in the use of Google Apps by end of 2012.

2013 Target: 90% of Primary schools and 70% of High Schools have adopted Google Apps as their primary VLE by the end of 2013.

  • Continue and refine school self-nomination process as per Phase 4. Use eLearning Advisers to increase number of training opportunities and ramp up the scale of adoption (more schools in less time)

  • Continue viral approach. Capture viral success stories and add to Google Site?

  • Capture and share student work created using GAFE

  • Continue to incorporate Google Apps into teachmeet opportunities and school eLearning projects

  • Heavy focus and promotion of Google Apps for 2013 eLearning Showcase.

  • It was expected that the rollout of GAFE to all schools in the System would take up to three years to complete. However, it was soon established (following very successful trials) that this time frame was more generous than required. The process of moving from the old LMS to GAFE subsequently took only 18 months.

    There are several  reasons why the rollout was completed earlier than first anticipated. One reason may be attributed to the extensive support material provided from the outset. A Google site was set up which contained tutorials and documentation that supported and extended the face to face professional development days. Another contributing factor was the enthusiasm of the early adopters who began using GAFE before their school was scheduled for formal professional development. These early adopters were able to contribute to the bank of resources which demonstrated use of GAFE in their schools and were also able to highlight possible stumbling blocks as teachers and students began using it in their daily work.

    Other educational institutions have adopted similar processes on the strength of this success.

 Surprises along the way surprise box

Google Group

A Google Group was established at the beginning of the process. As teachers were scheduled to attend the professional development days, they were added to the group. Other teachers were also added to the group upon request. There are currently 910 members of the group, including Google Guides, eLearning coordinators, interested teachers and leadership members.

This group was set up for members to post questions, discuss ideas and issues and submit solutions. The impact of the group has been substantial. Teachers post questions when having issues, crowdsource ideas for using GAFE in the classroom, share the latest updates and apps and generally seek advice from each other. The group is very active throughout the day. Often, teachers post to the group rather than contact the help desk due to the fact that a response is usually attained more quickly (there is always someone online willing to help).

BYOD – Primary Schools

Seeing the potential of GAFE in the classroom, primary schools began to express interest in exploring the viability of adopting a BYOD program for some classes (secondary schools in The System are already operating in a 1:1 environment). Whilst initially hesitant to go down this path, the Director of KMICT approved a trial with four primary schools. This trial was very successful and word spread. There are now 12 schools which have a BYOD program in at least one Stage (predominantly Years 5 & 6 and Years 3 & 4) with a further 20 schools involved in a program of preparation for moving to a BYOD program. One of the trial schools is now BYOD from Kindergarten to Year 6.

The integration of GAFE into the classroom is more evident in BYOD classrooms, as well as classrooms with ample access to technology, than those schools with limited access to technology. Schools who increase the number of devices available to students (either through school purchase or BYOD programs) have reported increased use of GAFE by teachers and students, more developed skills in the use of ICT and greater use of GAFE outside of school hours.


With the adoption of GAFE spreading, the need for access to more devices was evident. Chromebooks were appearing on the market and were seen as a viable option for use in the GAFE environment. Schools were selected to trial the use of Chromebooks in both primary and secondary classrooms. Limited success was reported in secondary school. Primary schools, however, reported great success. The purchase of Chromebooks in primary schools is gaining great traction and the number of schools purchasing them is increasing. In some schools, they are the preferred device for BYOD programs.

Physical Space Change

An unexpected outcome of the move to GAFE has been the increased interest from schools in redesigning learning spaces. GAFE has provided tools for teachers to see new possibilities for the personalisation of learning as well as incorporating more multimodal forms of learning. Students have more tools for collaborative work and publishing options. As teachers begin to change pedagogical approaches, they have seen the need to re-think their classroom spaces – both physical and virtual.

Parent Concerns

Although students have had access to email for many years through the previous LMS, parents have expressed some concern with regard to student gmail accounts. Further concerns have been expressed with regard to the sharing possibilities with Google Drive and other apps such as Blogger and YouTube. These concerns have been addressed differently in different schools. As well as newsletter items, some schools have chosen to conduct parent workshops or parent information sessions. When parents have GAFE explained to them and understand the necessity for gmail accounts as well as the limited sharing of Drive apps in the student domain (cannot share publicly). When parents see the power of GAFE and the possibilities for instant feedback, collaboration and easy integration of the various apps, they have a deeper understanding of the positive impact GAFE tools are having on teaching and learning.

thumbs up





Designer Drinks a success

A lively and enthusiastic group gathered at The Doncaster Hotel in Kensington on Monday evening. Eight people turned up which I was really pleased with. The event was publicised via Twitter, G+ and email with many people responding very positively to the idea but were unfortunately unable to attend.

Designer DrinksThe group consisted of two secondary education advisers, an early childhood specialist, three primary class teachers, a full time uni student and a retired ex-teacher/intrepid traveller. Two people were unknown to me prior to this meeting!

Screen Shot 2014-09-17 at 10.55.42 amThe focus of the discussion was on learning spaces. Many aspects of this exciting topic were discussed. The Twitter feed shows some of the questions (but I didn’t feel comfortable tweeting too much as it was a very engaging face-to-face discussion).

Some of the topics discussed:

  • Have you seen an awesome space you are inspired by?
  • Campfires, Watering holes, caves, mountain tops and sandpits
  • What comes first – the space or the pedagogy?
  • What is one thing you would like to try in your learning space?
  • Have you made a small change that has had a positive impact on the use of a space
  • What is a trouble spot in your learning spot? – crowdsource fixing it.
  • Do we need a chair and desk for every child? Do we need a “front of the room”?

Some of the ideas generated:

  • Sheer curtaining to separate spaces
  • kids tents
  • whiteboards cut and adhered to backs of bookshelves which are then arranged to make small group spaces
  • furniture on wheels for ease of movement
  • get outside
  • virtual spaces for mountain top sharing e.g. blogs

One of the teachers came with a request for help in setting up a shared breakout space adjacent to K,1 & 2 classrooms. Overwhelming response was to involve all teachers, as well as groups of children from the classes, in brainstorming ideas to be tried before spending big $$$ on mistakes. Reimagine old furniture, IKEA for cheaper options to use in the trial of space design. It was also suggested that finding other options for the storage of 90 backpacks was essential.

Some responses from the group:


I have left comments on Deborah’s, Margo’s and Graham’s blogs



Designer Drinks: Learning Spaces

Screen Shot 2014-09-08 at 2.27.30 pmThis is a first for me – putting out an invite with no idea of who, if anyone, will turn up. I will try to drag along a couple of colleagues to keep me company.

Hopefully I can have people join via Twitter with #learningspaces and #inf536  Today’s Meet if they can’t join me in person.

I had never heard of Creative Mornings, so was surprised that it is a “thing”. I didn’t use the term in my flyer because I didn’t think people would know what it was and I also didn’t want people to think they had to be “creative” to come along.

Well, my invitation is out and  I will hold my breath and see what happens.


Hurstville Station Design Brief

Hurstville railway station and Hurstville Central shopping centre is located in the centre of the shopping and business centre of Hurstville. It is a critical part of the suburban infrastructure. The shopping centre covers almost the entirety of the railway station. Nearby is the Hurstville bus interchange, Westfield shopping centre, many office towers and a growing number of residential towers.

The entrance to the station is through the shopping mall which can be accessed via escalator and steps from the centre of the shopping district on the main road as well as ramps from the bus interchanges and the car park above the centre.

Inspiration – The Problem:

Having observed many users of this space, there are various areas which can be enhanced in order to improve customer experience. The main focus area of this design brief is to provide a more pleasant and functional seating space for those using the centre for more than access to the railway platforms.

1. The seating area in the food court could be more aesthetically pleasing.


2. Additional seating should be provided for those wishing to sit but not eat.

Wouldn’t it be great if the space promoted the idea of arriving early, grabbing a coffee or bite to eat whilst leisurely reading the paper, catching up with a friend or answering emails? One would hope that ‘putting people first’ (Brown, 2011: 382) in this space would create a win-win situation for all stakeholders: customers, shop owners, staff

Whilst the sole problem may be considered to be the  addressing of the needs of the customers using the space, there are many elements that enter into the problem, thereby adding constraints to the design process.


  • cost of making improvements – who pays for modifications: Shop owners, centre management (via rent collection) Rail Corp?

  • unimpeded access to railway platforms, especially at peak time

  • easy access to exits with shopping trolleys


  • the centre is a very busy place

  • people need easy access to ticket machines, ticket barriers and platform

  • the food court is well patronised

  • people will sit on seats provided

  • groups of gentlemen of Mediterranean background gather as a group whilst their wives shop. This is a cultural practice that is also observed in the Westfield shopping centre across the road.

  • the large supermarket is well patronised


  • who will use new seating areas – commuters, shoppers, students?

  • will providing additional seating encourage groups of students to ‘hang around’?

  • will shoppers with trolleys be impeded by larger than expected groups gathering on this side of the centre?

  • will business increase for food outlets?

  • will “waiting gents” and school children share a space happily?

  • Will OPAL card use free up space near ticket machines/attended ticket windows?


Food court

  • move bins in food court

    • they are in the centre of the space with tables surrounding them.  Not pleasant as a diner. This may have seemed like a good idea at the time, but people must navigate past many tables to get to the centre. Having the bins placed in four outer corners would be better as people will need to pass a corner, regardless of where they sit. The openings of the bins should face away from the diners.

  • better lighting in food court

    • add downlights in wide bulkheads to brighten space

    • lighter table tops

  • place for high school kids to gather (Westfield alternative?)

    • kids may like this but doubt that the adults would. The area outside Coles is quite wide and not as busy as the other side near the food court. Is it a good idea to provide a space for the high school kids to chat or do we assume they are heading to buses, trains? Some will, no doubt, head to Westfield where there is ample space for gathering in food court there.

New seating area on the Coles side of the centre – the less busy side of the centre.

  • place for high school kids to gather instead of standing around chatting

    • kids may like this but doubt that the adults would. The area outside Coles is quite wide and not as busy as the other side near the food court. Is it a good idea to provide a space for the high school kids to chat or do we assume they are heading to buses, trains? Some will, no doubt, head to Westfield where there is ample space for gathering in food court there.

  • seating for “waiting, chatting” gents –

    • move them out of food court to free up tables for diners

    • They are not eating, but a few have coffee. A seating area would need to be positioned so that men were facing each other – long narrow bench (with back rests?)

Prototype: a low cost, efficient way to ensure solutions work (Design Council, 2013: 7)

  • Close off centre bins. Add temporary bins to corners. Watch movement of people in table area to check access to bins and if they use them or leave rubbish on tables for cleaners to remove.

  • mark out seating area to see if it would interfere with foot traffic or people pushing shopping trolleys

  • add cheap plastic chairs to the area to see if they are used



Brown, T., & Katz, B. (2011). Change by Design. Journal Of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111/j.1540-5885.2011.00806.x

Design Council (2013). Design for public good. UK Design Council and SEE platform.


My Comments on:

Margo’s Blog

Simon’s Blog

Heather’s Blog

Designed for a Purpose: Hurstville Station

Two main areas above the platforms: station entry and surrounding shops as well as a food court area with more shops.

Station Plan

Station entry:

There are four entrances to the station concourse

  1. Street entrance from bus interchange

  2. Street entrance from main shopping precinct, including Westfield Shopping Centre,  and buses

  3. Travelator from car park and offices

  4. Ramp from car park

People using the train station arrive from entrances 1 and 2 . I parked my car on the rooftop and arrived from entrance 3 via a travelator. This entrance provides direct access to Coles supermarket and minimal contact with people using the station entrances. Entrance 4 has concrete ramps leading up to roof carpark.

The entrances to the station sit inside a large rectangular area in the centre of the space.

As people enter from either of the large street access points, they are faced with electronic indicator boards and ticket machines. The floor covering for the whole space is beige tiling. The busiest areas of the space (1,2 and 5) have horizontal strips of black tiles, reminiscent of a pedestrian crossing. This gives the illusion of a space where there is a lot of foot traffic and a space where you would not stop for any length of time.


The ticket machines also have large floor advertising in front of them (at the moment they all advertise the OPAL card). This also gives the illusion of a space for use of the ticket machines, not a place to stop for any other purpose. Closer to the indicator boards, the pedestrian-like tiles stop, giving the impression that this space is for stopping and examining the indicator boards.

It was easy to identify the people who were not catching regular trains, as they spent some time looking at the indicator boards prior to entering the station. Other commuters made their way directly to the ticket barriers, knowing their daily routine.

The entrance barriers are located on the sides away from the street entrances. This would avoid congestion at peak times. As trains arrived, the space around the platform entrances were busy but not congested. This was probably due to the fact that the area is wide and clear of shop entrances. People moved away from the entrances towards the exits and , in some cases, towards the food court.

The food court area is a modest sized area near the station entrance but not close enough to interfere with station activity. The people eating here were mainly singles with a few family groups. I did not find this a very pleasant place to eat. I bought some take away and sat and observed the activity in this area. The long tables with stools were used by people like me – alone, eating because it was lunch time. The tables with movable chairs surrounded the bins and were occupied by small groups – they all appeared to be shoppers except for the group of 7 men sitting in a group drinking coffee. This activity is also observable in Westfield where groups of men gather to chat whilst waiting for their wives to shop. The lighting was recessed and quite dull, particularly under the bulkheads. I did not like the bins being in the centre – almost all tables were only a few steps from the bins.I would have preferred to see them on the outer edges – they would have been more accessible, particularly for people like me on the high tables around the outer edges. It is also not very pleasant to have bins as the centrepiece of the space.


Having observed the concourse in general for some time, I then decided to head to the platforms. As I was not actually travelling anywhere, I did not wish to purchase a ticket. It was, at first, difficult to find someone to approach with my request for entry without a ticket as the two men inside the station entrance were not located in a position to help people outside the barriers.I eventually caught the eye of a railway worker inside his office beyond the ticket barriers. He seemed a bit confused by my request, but told me to go back out and speak to someone at the information windows – they would provide me with a visitor’s pass. At the information window, I was told to just go in (which I did, after confirming that the first man would still be there in 15 minutes to let me out without a ticket).

The atmosphere and mood of my experience changed as I moved from the concourse, through the barriers and down to the station. Whilst the fluorescent lighting on the concourse above was bright and encased in large downlight fittings, the lighting on the platform consisted of uncovered  fluorescent strip lighting with natural light emanating from either ends of the platforms. The walls on the platforms were dark from dust and build-up of material from passing trains, including non-electric trains carrying coal etc.

Platform lights

As I watched people arrive on the platform, most glanced at the indicator board before proceeding to a space to wait for the train. Some looked for vacant seats whilst others kept walking until they found an area to stand that wasn’t too close to anyone else. Most seemed to look for a space as close as possible to the centre of the platform. Once settled, the majority of people stood looking at their phones until the train arrived. Others who were in pairs or small groups conversed. Those seated mainly looked at phones whilst a few read the paper. Due to the tunnel-like nature of the platform, it was quite cool and breezy. The people in this space are here simply to wait for a train.

Back up on the concourse, it is interesting to note the types of shops around the station . With a high Asian demographic, I am not surprised to see all take away food stores sell Asian cuisine, apart from McDonald’s of course. The other shops around the station entrance are those that commuters would find handy when in a rush- coffee counter, bakery, news agency, chemist. Coles also provides a place for a quick top up of the groceries on the way home as well as the “big shop” for those parking upstairs. Further from the station entrance you will find butcher, green grocer and fish monger.

Overall, I think the space works very well for a busy suburban rail station.

My comment on Bec’s Blog

My comment on Shannon’s Blog

My comment on Jo’s Blog


Impact of Space

Doorley & Witthoft (2012 p.30) impress upon us that space is something that can create an impact on the way we learn, work and play immediately. So, starting with what you have, make a change. In your learning environment, is there an empty space? Find one, take it and transform it, quickly. You might consider making a pop-up learning space from scratch for a short period of time, or adapting an existing space in a small way with the goal of making a difference to learning.

What did you change or transform quickly in your learning environment?

Early last week I was working with  Stage 2 teachers to plan their Science unit for the term.

The teachers decided to have a question box so that students could write questions relating to the topic as they thought of them. This would form the basis of their search for a question/s to pursue for their Guided Inquiry project.

I suppose that the problem I identified here was that students could not see the questions as they were formed – this could lead to duplication as well as delay in finding answers. Students would need to wait for the time when the teacher would open the box to reveal the questions. Wouldn’t it be better for the students to be able to respond to questions as soon as possible following the asking? Someone may already have the answer, or be motivated to find out as soon as possible

My challenge was to transform the learning space – a shoe box – into  a more accessible learning space.

According to Razzouk (2012: 336), some of the characteristics of design-thinkers include the continuous consideration of how what is being created will respond to people’s needs, looking at alternatives before making a final choice on the way to proceed, keeping the big picture in mind whilst also focussing on specifics. So, i will keep an eye on the new space to see if it is being used by the students, particularly with regard to the intention.

I suggested that they use Ewan’s Googleable and Non-Googleable question idea. The questions would be there for all to see, the students could start to understand the difference between questions that can be answered quickly (Googleable) and those that would stimulate discussion and collaboration on a search for answers to deeper questions (Non-Googleable).

When I read the forum topic, I decided to ask the class teacher if I could transform a space in her classroom.

The area was a small alcove off the main space. It is a wet area and a dumping ground for broken chairs, rubbish bin, old worksheets and anything else that has nowhere to live.

This space is serving no purpose related to learning and actually could contribute about 15% more learning space in a very modestly sized classroom.

The beauty of this proposed transformation is that it desirable, feasible and viable – elements of design thinking as stated by Kuratko (2012:110)

Question Cave: BEFOREThis would become the class Question Cave.

I cleared the space and set up the wall with the headings under which the students would add their questions.I also attached paper to the side of the filing cabinet that could not be moved. This will be used for students to add diagrams and any drawing they think will make explaining an idea or concept easier.

Question Cave: AFTER

The students are very excited and can’t wait to start adding their own questions to the wall.

They are also feeling in competitive mode – who can provide answers to the Googleable questions?


Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration : transforming organizational thinking. (pp.103-123). Boston : Pearson. Accessed online
Razzouk, R., Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research, September, 82 (3), 330–348. Accessed online

Comment 1 – on Helen Bailie’s Blog

Comment 2  – on Simon Goss’s Blog

Comment 3 – 0n Helen’s Blog