#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

A hall of mirrors, or, another reflection on #ETL523 assignment 1

As part of my researching and preparing for ETL523 assignment two I read Doug Belshaw’s The essential elements of digital literacies (2014). I was inspired to construct another reflection on assignment one using the eight essential elements as a framework. Here goes:

The cultural element refers to our ability to move from one digital environment to another, understanding the issues, norms and habits of mind each requires. The collaborative wiki saw the team use Google hangouts, Google docs, Wikispaces, Pearltrees, Canva, ProProfs, Tackk, Powtoon, Twitter, email, Skype (when Hangouts wouldn’t play nicely one evening we switched, barely drawing breath in the process), and we even had a very fruitful meeting IRL. I’d say we’ve got that one covered!

The cognitive element refers the value of being able to use multiple tools “If you only have a (conceptual) hammer then all you see are (metaphorical) nails.”(p.46-7). The one who dies with the most toys wins perhaps! My list in the cultural element is applicable here too – we did good!

The constructive element is all about how constructing something in a digital environment is substantially different to that in an analogue one. Understanding how you can ethically reuse another’s work to construct something new is a vital part of this element. Given our learning module was about Ethical participation in the digital environment with sections on Creative Commons and Remix I’d say we nailed this one. Additionally, it allowed four disparate individuals to work together to create a valuable resource that I hope to share with staff at my school and further afield. We could never have achieved what we did in an analogue environment.

Communicative – understanding the norms and protocols of communication using multiple different digital technologies. Again, that list of tools and social networks we used shows we nailed this.

Confident – being able to solve problems and manage your own learning in digital environments. Sometimes solving problems is all about knowing who to ask; sometimes simply articulating the question leads you to find your own answer. The discussion feature on Wikispaces was almost overwhelming at times as each of us asked questions, expressed concerns, sought advice, answered, consoled and supported each other. We all showed ourselves to be confident learners.

Creative. Perhaps surprisingly, this element does not require originality. Instead, it can be about expressing something that already exists in a way that adds value, and feeling empowered to take risks. My digital artefact for the wiki used the affordances of digital technology to present an introduction in a visually appealing manner. Every frame included something created by someone else but I added value to it and made it part of my narrative.

Critical. We had to consider our audience (teachers) and we had to carefully evaluate the material we wished to share with them. Including Pearltrees collections for each section evidenced our curations skills.

Civic. Amongst other things, the civic element is about using digital environments to self-organise. A collaborative wiki project? – got it in spades!

Belshaw’s Ted talk will give you more background to his thinking and work. I highly recommend reading the book as well.


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

Assignment one reflection

When I told my daughters (aged 14 and 17) that my first assignment for ETL523 was a group project they both rolled their eyes and groaned. It seems they’ve both had bad experiences of group projects, feeling (rightly or wrongly) that they end up doing most of the work while others slack off. Then the 17-year-old said “Oh, it’ll probably be ok mum, ‘cause you’re old”!

Well, I don’t know how much age or experience had to do with it but I have to say that I found this assignment to be a great experience, probably the most enjoyable one so far in this degree (this is my fifth subject).

It was clear from the assessment rubric and online class meeting that this assignment was as much about learning about and through collaboration as it was about the particular aspect of digital citizenship we had elected to focus on. I could see how easy the temptation to delegate rather than collaborate could be – “ok, there are four of us, let’s divide our topic into four distinct sections and take one each” but this approach would not result in an integrated, consistent learning module.

I feel very fortunate in finding myself in Team 5.2 with Karen, Glenda and Amanda. We were able to find lots of common ground and quickly bonded. It helped us greatly that we were able to meet face to face early on. This meeting allowed us to cover a lot of ground in a relatively short space of time in a way that would be difficult to replicate online. We were lucky to not have challenges of time zones for scheduling online meetings, just the usual work and family commitments. As Karen has said, each member of our group brought their own particular skills and knowledge and we were able to take advantage of strengths and learn from each other. Every page in our wiki has input from each of us.

Team 5.2 hard at work

Team 5.2 hard at work

There were a couple of frustrations, more technical than anything else. The Wikispaces platform has some quirks – adding extra blank lines after embedded objects each time anything else on that page is edited; embedded objects appearing, disappearing, and reappearing seemingly at random (and without intervention); and applied styles reverting for no apparent reason.

Also, keeping up with the various discussion threads was tricky. In an update email it was not always clear which discussion or page the new comment came from. This is ok if you are on a computer but not so good when you are out and about and on your phone – it might be a question you could answer quickly but if you’re not sure of the context…

Completing INF532 (Knowledge Networking for Educators) last year was a great preparation for ETL523. I was able to share what I had learnt about instructional design and we were able apply it in the design of each page and the module overall. Even more helpful was the experience of creating an artefact. Last year I learnt a lot, mostly the hard way, about designing and editing a video, particularly the importance of writing and recording the script first. This time my artefact, an introduction to the whole learning module, came together relatively painlessly. It’s still a time-consuming process but, unlike last year, I didn’t feel I was wasting time re-doing things. And the audio and video matched beautifully. Here it is:

I’m very proud of the learning module we created and I’m looking forward to sharing it with teachers at my school.

Digital irony

Last night on Twitter I saw a couple of tweets with our subject hashtag, #ETL523, that made me stop and wonder.

A bit of exploring and I discovered:

@LizzyLegsEllis is Liz Ellis the former Australian netballer (who is not, as far as I’m aware, a student of ETL523).

@LizzyLegsEllis has been retweeting tweets from @KathEllis74 (who is).

I might be making a huge assumption, but I suspect Liz and Kath might be related. That’s nice, I thought, showing support for your sibling/cousin/?’s studies by retweeting.

Clearly not, according to Emma the egg (who won’t be taken seriously, according to SocialTimes). Here’s the tweet that preceded the first one:

I thought (fleetingly) about replying to Emma and that damn julia, but no, on their current form that could easily turn ugly and I am a better digital citizen than that. But gee, doesn’t what these two have tweeted just sum up why we need to teach digital citizenship, and isn’t it funny/sad/ironic that it’s turned up in the #ETL523 feed?

Here are some things I’d like Emma and Julia to know:

  • It’s the nature of Twitter that not everything tweeted by the people you follow will interest you. This is not rudeness. Move on, get over it, you are their follower, not their master.
  • If you see tweets that don’t interest you…<<drumroll>>…ignore them. There’s no excuse for rudeness in response to perfectly polite retweets.
  • If you don’t like much of what someone tweets it is entirely your choice to unfollow them. They probably won’t even know (unless you tell them) and most likely won’t be hurt or care if you do – it’s your Twitter feed, make it what you want it to be. But tweeting them with #unfollow is just a bit off.
  • If you are really worried that you will hurt someone’s feelings by unfollowing (I suspect you’re not, though) you can mute someone you follow, either temporarily or permanently.
  • Using certain Twitter clients it’s easy to mute a particular hashtag or keyword. That pesky #ETL523 problem can simply disappear using Tweetdeck, Tweetbot or Twitterific.

I guess what surprised me the most about these tweets is just how some people must think it is ok to be rude. Of course, I’ve read and heard about trolls and all sorts of nasty commenting that goes on but I’ve never really come face to face with it, either personally or in a hashtag that I’m particularly invested in. I’ve had plenty of lively conversations in Twitter and there’s certainly nothing wrong with disagreeing or expressing opinions…politely. Why is that so hard for some people?



My Digizen

Today I’ve been working through module 1.4 and looking at some of the Digital Citizenship curriculum resources.

Digizen includes an activity to make your own DIGItal citiZEN – a Digizen – taking you through a series of choices for your online values and wishes for yourself, friends and your world and turning it into an embeddable figure:

Some of the selections didn’t fit me too well. For example, for my wishes for myself the left hand column was problematical –



As a teacher I think I’m supposed to choose either “web sites that scan all messages to make sure everything is ok for kids” or “more safety icons so people would get a lot less viruses” but I don’t really agree or wish for either. “Web sites scanning messages” is problematic, no automated system is perfect and as has been seen in the debate about Kiddle recently it can start to look a lot like censorship; and safety icons don’t stop viruses, anti-virus software and good practices do. So anyway, I went with “someone to make a film or podcast and dedicate it to me”. Anyone up for it?

Digital Citizenship. #ETL523 starts here

GlobeI like Edna Sackson’s simple definition of digital citizenship – the ability to participate in society online (Whatedsaid, 2014). Much more complex and comprehensive is Ribble, Bailey and Ross’s nine elements of digital citizenship (Greenhow, 2010):

  • digital etiquette,
  • digital communication,
  • digital access,
  • digital literacy,
  • digital commerce,
  • digital law,
  • digital rights and responsibilities,
  • digital health and wellness,
  • digital security.

To me this comes together to mean the capacity to access and interact with information and people productively, safely and ethically using digital technologies.

There can be no denying that digital citizenship is important. Few people can live their lives removed from ICT, even if they want to. Very few jobs do not require the use of some form of digital technology; most people use online banking; online interactions with government authorities are increasingly preferred; we rely on access to essential information like weather and warnings, for example, on days of fire danger. But we can’t assume that the so-called “digital natives” are by default good digital citizens – the natives might, in fact, be uncivilised. Learning the skills and behaviours of digital citizenship should be incorporated into the curriculum throughout primary and secondary schooling (and even tertiary), but even more importantly, it must be effectively modelled by teachers and other adults. This is my main area of concern. How can we expect students, for example, to use information ethically when (some of) their teachers do not?

An informed, publicly engaged digital citizen practices ethical behaviour, respects diverse points of view and is socially aware, using digital technologies like social media to support and advocate. They share their knowledge freely and support others’ learning. They are globally aware, collaborating across time zones and borders. Their interactions inform understanding and empathy for others. They can access and navigate information required to conduct their work and personal affairs. They are in control of their privacy and ensure important information is used securely.

This year my school has embarked on a BYOD program for years 6-12. This has already brought up issues like students messaging each other during class time and when and where the devices should be used. In our new building (ready for term 2) we will have a wireless technology for connecting devices to classroom screens. Students and teachers install a program or download an app in order to use the system. A feature is the ability of a viewer to capture a screenshot of what is currently displaying. This immediately brought up a concern for one teacher who wants her students to write (type) notes, not take the shortcut of screenshots (devices off is not an option). Who is right and who is wrong here? Is the teacher trying to use new methods to continue teaching in the same way (the S of SAMR) or is there a valid pedagogical reason for typing notes? Might not the screenshot give the student context when reviewing his notes later?

I’m sure many similar issues will arise and 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?



Greenhow, C. (2010). New concept of citizenship for the digital age. Learning & Leading with Technology, 37(6), 24-25.

Whatedsaid. (2014, April 25). 10 understandings about digital citizenship… [Blogpost]. Retrieved from https://whatedsaid.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/10-understandings-about-digital-citizenship/

Image credit

Globe. Free for commercial use, no attribution required image from Pixabay