Evaluative Report

Today’s learners seek meaning, as they are bombarded with media and content. We the teachers, who are similarly overwhelmed, are meant to move students from what they need to know for the test, to what they need to know for their lives. (Wesch, 2010)


The image of teachers as learners is slowly impacting education. The solution is in taking control of one’s environment as a learner. Information use is personal, it’s social, it’s ubiquitous and it’s constantly changing. The learning hierarchy is flattening.

There is hope in change, say Thomas and Brown (2011). The required shift in thinking however, is disruptive. Disruptive to current thinking, disruptive to the information network as it exists, and as the network deniers would have it exist.

Our technological tree is outgrowing our cultural roots (Floridi, 2009) Understanding the conceptual and cultural roots is vital to the global and connected information society, and this means understanding that new information and learning environments require transforming the old way of doing things. Being connected is the new black.


This is the new reality for schools. Thomas and Brown show us the new arc of learning, with peer-to-peer collaborative learning permeating online and classroom environments. New media have afforded opportunities for connection that didn’t exist previously. It has become a question of where we pay attention.


Howard Rheingold (2010, 2012) emphasises the value of understanding where we pay attention, how networks work, and what the opportunities are for consumers who are now creators in online spaces. We form new associations with ease, as the networks and connections have allowed us to do, and we can all see the capability of the network to afford social interaction.


We are shifting from an analogue, isolated, generic, physically bounded set of spaces to one which is much more personal and open, laden with creative possibility, (Couros, 2010) digital and mobile are asking learners and teachers to focus on the bigger questions. (Parker 2010, Mitra 2013) What does learning actually look like? What are the features of the new ecosystem? Is knowing anything obsolete, or do you just have to know where to look?

The challenge for educators is that standards of school-based literacy have not really changed. Whenever policy makers feel challenged, we go “back to basics”. We get stuck in particular modes of activity, in the content, in the curriculum but we need to broaden our concept of school-based literacy. That doesn’t mean, “insert technology here”, the mistake that schools often make in making the attempt to rethink learning in the connected environment.

The pedagogy for a different concept of learning is one that lets go of teachers telling, of having all the answers, according to Prensky. (2010) Students must become partners in learning, critical thinkers in the new ecosystem, which is based on challenge and openness. The teacher is a guide, a learning designer and goal setter, and technology is the enabler.

But what about the teacher? asks Gregor Kennedy. Are we designing this very important part of education out of the design of the learning experience?


Educators then, living life in perpetual prototyping (beta, says Jarche, 2011) no longer have the right go back to basics. It’s all changed and there is now no longer a hierarchy in learning. Where we are now demands knowledge management; seeking out the information we need, sensing what is good for our students, then sharing our synthesis of that knowledge, personalizing it. This changes us. Learning changes us. All connection changes us (Kastelle, 2013) We need an information vegetable rich diet, not a junk food one (Pariser, 2013)) To do this, to enrich the lives of our students, we must manage the information. Admit firstly that it’s not possible to keep up!


Building personal learning networks, managing the flow of information through aggregation feeds, relying on the sharing of others, becoming a filter for the info overwhelm is the task for connected educators. People will embrace clarity and we must choose our “digital clothing” (Rosenbaum, 2011) carefully. We engage in, and pay attention to, what we value. Schools have a social responsibility to grow communities of practice, and for the dominant culture to be network literacy.

Schools should support and encourage the establishment of their teachers’ Personal Learning Networks as “mirrors of networked knowledge” (Pegrum 2010)), encouraging teachers to turn the lens both inwards and outwards (Mundkur & Ellickson 2012) Reflection is important in the learning process. In considering the future of networked learning, rich technology integration brings multiple issues to the fore. Deliberate design (an oxymoron?) requires us to imagine the future and then plan for it.


Design is important because it is transformative. If we design online environments for future learning, things will inevitably change. New paradigms such as the flipped classroom, blended learning taking place in online learning environments, all require good connections in learning. All these connections are relational, whether within the classroom walls or across the world. The concept of repurposing time at school is, as Jonson (2012) illustrates, we understand and use the strong connection that exists between online and offline working, while guiding students to become more connected and self-efficacious in their learning,





Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191.

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2002). Limits to information. In The social life of information (pp. 11-34). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed.), Emerging technologies in distance education (109–128). Athabasca University: AU Press.

Floridi, L. (2009). The Information Society and its philosophy: Introduction to the special issue on “The philosophy of information, its nature, and future developments”. Information Society, 25(3), 153-158. DOI: 10.1080/01972240902848583

James, J. (2012) With my PLN; I am. Retrieved from:


Jarche, H. (2013). PKM in 2013. Life in perpetual beta. Retrieved from: http://www.jarche.com/2013/01/pkm-in-2013/

Kastelle, T. (2013) Reading this post will change your brain! Retrieved from: http://timkastelle.org/blog/2013/01/reading-this-post-will-change-your-brain/

McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

Mitra, S. Build a school in the cloud. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3jYVe1RGaU

Mundkur, A. & Ellickson, C. (2012) Bringing the real world in: reflection on building a virtual learning environment, Journal of Geography in Higher Education, 36:3, 369-384.

Pariser, E., (2013) Beware online filter bubbles. Retrieved from:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4w48Ip-KPRs&feature=youtu.be

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354.

Prensky, M. (2010). Chapter 1. Partnering: A pedagogy for the new educational landscape. In Teaching digital natives: Partnering for real learning (p. 9-30). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and Other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies. Educause Review, 45(5), 14.

Rheingold, H. (2010) It’s the Learning, Not the Technology – Jessica K. Parker. Retrieved from: http://dmlcentral.net/blog/howard-rheingold/its-learning-not-technology-jessica-k-parker

Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2012). Net smart: How to thrive online (pp. 111-145). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rosenbaum, S. (2011) Innovate- curation! Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iASluLoKQbo

Wesch, M. (2010) From knowledgeable to knowledge-able. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeaAHv4UTI8&feature=youtu.be







KN artefact critique

Heather Bailie  Get connected with Google+

This digital artefact is engaging, concise, visually appealing and clever in its design.

The initial question puts the audience in a place to embrace what follows. This is the hook that gets the viewer in, followed by an introduction that is unambiguous. The audience knows where they’re heading. There is a problem (You need to learn how to connect), and here’s a solution. (Have I got the solution for you!)

The music harmonises well with the embedded text and the narration. There is a confidence to the presentation that is encouraging for the viewer. Heather has practised what she preaches, in seeking, sensing and sharing ideas from her PLN. The medium becomes the message – together we know so much more.

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Heather’s calm and positive narration imbues the digital artefact with a can-do ethos. This is what connected educators do, she says. They take advantage of the opportunities technology affords to develop relationships with other people.

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The graphics are seamless, and the backgrounds both blend in well and enhance the foreground text and image. The movement of the graphics displays a clever design sense so that the accompanying narration aligns well. The characters that appear at the beginning and the end of the artefact introduce the learning concepts, then draw conclusion to the essential instruction in the middle. The artefact tells the viewer what to do, in simple easy chunks, suggesting some options but then alighting on Google+.

If the imperative is to get people connected and sets out to get people on to Google+, perhaps other tools need not be cast aside. You don’t have to diss Ford to sell Holdens! The Twitter people look a bit sad..

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The concept of community informs the artefact, both in the idea of the community of educators in the global sense, as well as the communities that one can be part of in Google+.The acquisition of the knowledge is made more efficacious in the repetition of the community of practice idea that is at the heart of Google circles.


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This short video would be ideal to view in a staff meeting to kickstart a conversation on social media and Google+, with a follow up online training workshop. My school has iTeas and iToasts for PL for staff and the workshop atmosphere is conducive to trialling new tools and strategies.  It’s not threatening and generally collegial. Alternatively, a backchannelling tool such as Padlet, could collect ideas and suggestions, as well as hosting the video.

Flexible, blended, and online learning

Frequently used terms such as flexible learning, online learning and e-learning “are understood in very diverse ways by providers and clients.Consequently what they do under these headings, and the judgements they make about the outcomes and outputs vary greatly” (KPMG Consulting Australia & LifeLong Learning Associates, 2002, p. 82).

Todhunter’s paper illustrates the lack of clarity university students may perceive in their understanding of the above terms. There exists, however, a technological imperative to do online what is possible in a proximate context.  Universities who advocate distance learning, MOOCs and the like, envision the potential technology affords. Todhunter points out the disparity between the definition of an “on-campus” student and an “off-campus” one. Does one who is on site physically, seated in the cafe but not the lecture theatre, constitute an on-campus student? Watching his lecture in his own time rather than at the appointed time? The question Todhunter raises is one of semantics.


Adelaide Uni Hub - 16 copy

In the secondary situation, students gather in groups of similar ages, in a physical location, reined around that location by teachers and bells, packing and unpacking bags, beginning and ending lessons in different disciplines. Technology is cornered into the same pattern, with the LMS as the new blackboard and the iPad as the new slate. The potential to create a more dynamic virtual and physical space for learning is always there, but the importance of the forming of a mindset for change, for an emerging collaborative and connected culture, remains latent in the shared philosophy of what constitutes secondary education.

Todhunter, B (2013) LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), p.232-252