#ETL523 final critical reflection

"The Web and the technologies that drive it are fundamentally changing the way we think about how we can learn and become educated in a globally networked and connected world. It has absolutely exploded our ability to learn on our own in ways that schools weren't built for." Will Richardson

Richardson (2016)

This statement absolutely resonates with me when I think about how and what I learn as part of this course. I sit at my desk at home or on the train on my daily commute or at the dining table with my iPad or even at the gym with my phone and I am connected to a network of learners. It’s exciting, it’s invigorating, it’s challenging, it’s fun. So why aren’t all educators connecting and learning in this way?

Digital Citizenship in Schools covered much expected ground but it also forced me to think about my digital learning environment (DLE), my school’s digital learning environment, information leadership, teacherpreneurship, and the globalisation of learning. I still find myself an outlier amongst my work colleagues. Although I have connected with three fellow staff members on Twitter their posts are so infrequent it seems they do not value this form of connecting (of course they could be gaining much from lurking, but not as much as they could be through active involvement. Their loss). That said, this post is about me critically reflecting on the experience of ETL523 over the past three months. Here goes.


I’m writing this using Workflowy, an outlining tool, as I find it a useful way to work through disparate thoughts and be able to jump from one idea to another. Eventually I will export this and paste it into a Google doc for refinement into a whole, cohesive post before moving to Thinkspace for hyperlinking and final tweaks.

I often start in Evernote and then move to Google docs as above. For forum posts I usually go direct from Evernote.

I’m using a desktop computer but I have my iPad in front of me as well so I can refer to other texts on one screen while writing on the other. As I write I periodically hop over to Tweetdeck to see if anything interesting has popped up, check the ETL523 discussion forums for any new information or questions, and jump in and out of Evernote where I have notes and resources stored.

While my blog posting has been a bit patchy, I have made a concerted effort to participate fully in the subject forums. It is surprising to note that for most topics fewer than half the class members participated. I wonder why people don’t. I do get that it can be scary putting yourself out there but I have to say that, in my experience in this closed environment, comments from peers are nothing but supportive. Am I being harsh in asking: if you won’t even give connecting online a go in a supportive environment, exactly what are you doing in a subject like this?

Assignment 1 for me was a great example of what online learning and collaboration is all about – I’ve already written a reflection but having recently read Doug Belshaw’s The essential elements of digital literacies¬†(2014) I couldn’t resist the temptation to frame another reflection with his eight elements. Read it here. (I highly recommend reading his book too, it is available here).

In my first blog post for this subject I wrote about recent developments at my school with the introduction of a BYOD program and new building with improved technological access and tools. I wrote: “It will be interesting to see if our teachers are ready to allow the available technology to transform their pedagogy. Will our students be given the right scaffolding to develop into good digital citizens?” (Bailie, 2016). Assignment 2 allowed me to explore those thoughts in depth and I found that the teaching of digital citizenship was ad hoc at best with patchy understanding of the complexity of the area and no clarity around who is responsible. Although a little nervous about seeming critical I will pass the report onto leadership and I’m reasonably confident it will be well-received. I hope shortly to find myself immersed in enacting some of my recommendations – establishing a shared understanding of what digital citizenship is; developing a digital citizenship policy that privileges student learning over behaviour consequences; examining the curriculum for opportunities to embed digital citizenship learning, and supporting professional learning for teachers.

Another opportunity that has emerged recently is a proposal for a special year 7 project for the final weeks of the school year. The plan is for a selected group of teachers to work with the entire cohort, off-timetable, in inquiry/project based learning activities. I’m excited to be involved (flattered to be told that, had I not put my hand up, I was going to get a tap on the shoulder) and looking forward to the opportunity to foster cultural awareness and potentially engage students in global collaborative activities. At the very least I hope to be able to influence information habits and in particular promote ethical participation – explicitly modelling and sharing the use of creative commons licences, referencing and attribution, and paying heed to copyright.

Overall, this session has been fun. Thanks Julie for another terrific learning experience. For those of you still deciding what to do next session, I highly recommend INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educators, also facilitated by the fabulous Julie Lindsay. My experience from last year greatly enhanced my efforts in creating a digital artefact, and understanding instructional design for assignment one. I’m confident reversing the experiences would be just as valuable.


Bailie, H. (2016, March 3) Digital Citizenship. #ETL523 starts here. Retrieved from http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/hbailie/2016/03/03/digital-citizenship-etl523-starts-here/

Belshaw, D. (2014) The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. Retrieved from http://digitalliteraci.es

Richardson, W. (2016, May 14). 16 Modern Realities Schools (and Parents) Need to Accept. Now. Retrieved from https://medium.com/modern-learning/16-modern-realities-schools-and-parents-need-to-accept-now-64b98710e4e9#.bw6k10nv

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