Why is multi-cultural understanding important in e-Learning?

Just came across this very interesting infographic while trying to justify a moral gut-feeling on why we need to care about multi-cultural, multi-lingual (MCML) learning environment accommodation for all students. If nothing else – it impacts on the bottom line!

Source: http://elearninginfographics.com/top-elearning-stats-and-facts-for-2015-infographic/?utm_campaign=elearningindustry.com&utm_source=%2Felearning-statistics-and-facts-for-2015&utm_medium=link

Source: http://elearninginfographics.com/top-elearning-stats-and-facts-for-2015-infographic/?utm_campaign=elearningindustry.com&utm_source=%2Felearning-statistics-and-facts-for-2015&utm_medium=link


OER textbooks and the potential for multicultural environment

For the longest time since I stumbled on the Hapgood blog I’ve been intrigued by the ideas of Mike Caulfield on OER and it’s taken a little time and a lot of reading around the concepts of digital scholarship, and in particular the lack of the multicultural viewpoint / input / adaptation of educational resources in general (those global educational companies are scary) for me, after re-reading his article on “Choral explanations and OER” to try and understand just what was so appealing and for it to finally click.

It was this paragraph :

The idea of choral explanations in OER is that the textbook becomes an operating system on which multiple parallel community-provided explanations run. From the student perspective, the text branches off into multiple available explanations of the same concept, explanations authored individually by a wide range of instructors, researchers, and students. You can keep reading until you find the explanation that makes sense, or you can start with simpler explanations and work your way to nuance.” (Caulfield, 2016, para 63I think – hard to count!)

And then I had to think back to a presentation given by some of the international students at UWCSEA when I was working there.  They were showing how they were using their Korean / Japanese textbooks side-by-side with their ‘Western’ – BANA (British, Autralasian, North American) textbooks  in order to master the required material. Note – it was not ‘just’ a language issue. It was the fact that information was presented differently. Presented not just in the sense of how the words and diagrams were physically placed on the page, but also the conceptual pedagogical understanding as to how information should be summarised for example, what the assumptions were on how students learnt and what they needed (Kim & Mizuishi, 2014).  I still have a feeling of dread when I think back to the response the presentation got. There was a serious lack of deep understanding. A lack of curiosity. Of empathy. Of interest.   And a surfeit of what Tim Hartford so succinctly refers to as “The God Complex” . As educators we have a duty, a responsibility to educate students so that they can claim their part in intellectual conversations.  When doing my reading I came across this quote and wrote it on a page of its own with a big question mark because I wasn’t sure what to make of it:

“The goal of education should never be directly to change students psychologically or culturally any more than educators would want their own children to join a cult” (McCarthy, 2007, p. 112)

Wow. If I was a professor of education I would set an assignment on that question. Just that quote and “discuss”.  3 years in a Chinese immersion school in Hong Kong DEFINITELY changed my daughter psychologically and culturally – but is it inevitable? My thesis is yes – if you want to learn in that environment. My son didn’t embrace the culture and psychology of chinese education and he didn’t learn Chinese (or much else) in the two years he was there.   Now think of all the millions of students partaking in an “international” education in their own countries or abroad, and think of the unconsidered enforcement of a western dominated cult of pedagogy and psychology we enforce … and that’s before we even start to think about the damages of non-mother tongue instruction (read all the UNESCO research for more on this).

Ok, that was a long aside – but back to the original point – multi-lingual, multi-cultural OER choral explanations in a student accessible textbook system is the cool aid I’d be happy to drink.


Caulfield, M. (2016, July 12). Choral explanations and OER: A summary of thinking to date [Web Log]. Retrieved 27 August 2016, from https://hapgood.us/2016/07/12/choral-explanations-and-oer-a-summary-of-thinking-to-date/
Kim, M., & Mizuishi, K. (2014, December). Language and Cultural Differences and Barriers in an International School Setting – Personal Experiences and Reflections. UWCSEA-East.
McCarty, S. (2007). Theorizing and realizing the globalized classroom. In A. Edmundson (Ed.), Globalized E-Learning Cultural Challenges: (pp. 90–115). Hershey, PA: Information Science Pub. Retrieved from http://services.igi-global.com/resolvedoi/resolve.aspx?doi=10.4018/978-1-59904-301-2.ch009

Until we make our own questions we are NOT embracing digital scholarship

Ok, I’ll admit it right up front. I’m in a bad mood. I’ve had a tough week, with 2 days of staying at school until 8pm (with a 7am start so that I get all my thinking work in before the crush of students and teachers and action). I’ve been waking at 4am with ideas and thoughts swirling around my mind. I’ve done nothing on my assignments. I’ve not done what I needed to do on the new and unexpected expectation of the voice-thread, and I’m tired of the digital education hype. Very tired of it in fact.

I was over at Kathryn’s blog, and she started a post saying:

“We need, first, to take charge of our own learning, and next, help others take charge of their own learning. We need to move beyond the idea that an education is something that is provided for us, and toward the idea that an education is something that we create for ourselves. It is time, in other words, that we change our attitude toward learning and the educational system in general” (Downes, 2010, para 16).2467263441

And then (unintended consequences I’m sure), I got even madder. Because I’m not feeling in charge of my own learning. I’m still feeling powerless and I’m still feeling that I’m not being a digital scholar. I’ve had one experience of co-writing a paper with other researchers and it was definitely not the whole scholarly conversation thing. It was more a case of cobbling each of our own bits of the research and thought together and then doing some good editing to make it somewhat seamless seeming. Maybe because none of us are really scholars, digital or otherwise. We’re teachers, or lecturers, or administrators, with full time jobs, way out of the ivory tower. Maybe because the pace of production has to beat to a drum of at a tempo someone else’s metronome. Maybe because only quantity and superficiality and perpetual beta is the order of the day. I cannot precisely put my finger on the itch – but I suspect it’s a sandfly bite. One that only gets worse the more you touch it.  You’re better off pretending it isn’t there. Smiling and distracting yourself. Because the minute you scratch it, it will be awful and the pain will last longer, far longer than the momentary relief of the scratch. And the outcome will be far worse than if you just grin and bear it.

How would I design an assessment this course? I’d say, pick a topic, any topic, any burning issue you’re really really passionate about and you really want to pursue further in this course, design an assessment or assessments for yourself on that topic or topics. Decide if you want to do it on your own or with a classmate or in a group. Decide what digital medium / media you’re going to use. Ada3333357665pt a marking rubric template to fit your assessment.  Broadcast your question as widely as possible. Start a conversation about your topic somewhere on social media. Create a twitter storm. Kill a current holy cow. Go against the goose-stepping flow.  Engage a segment of the education community – either in the traditional hug fest or having them flame you down. But DO something.

Blog. Blog every week. Blog a lot and don’t blog alone. Blog collaboratively. Blog in sequence and/or in parallel with someone else or somebodies else. Blog in a network of like-minded or oppositional people who can create a debate, an argument a disagreement, an agreement but agree to disagree on at least a few key points. Don’t blog blah that repeats the established arguments.  Respond to blogs. Where are the ‘suffragettes’ and ‘black panthers’ the ‘radicals’? Where are those who hate what you say but will die defending your right to say it? (A quote which has a fascinating history btw).  Blogging should be part of the assessment. Or don’t blog – but offer an alternative to blogging that creates or enters an intellectual and scholarly (digital) conversation and defend your use of this alternative.

Downes, S. (2010). A world to change. Huffpost Education. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stephen-downes/a-world-to-change_b_762738.html


Grouchy cynical educator

Why my current twitter feed is not working – it’s one huge hug fest of “awesome educators” brimming with “positivity” and hugs. And asking questions for apps to track things that have no academic or learning legitimacy. And no one challenges them as to “why”.

It’s the same in school – everyone is positive and upbeat and being critical is not appreciated.  Are we creating a monster?

Hug Fest

  Hug Fest


Rambling thought organisation

I need to write an interpretive discussion paper. I’m trying to organise my thoughts. My first and foremost thought is that writing this paper is in direct contravention to the topic of the paper, which is “Digital scholarship in education, in the context of interdisciplinary knowledge and research” – because my digital scholarship is leading me down all sorts of other avenues and thoughts which definitely do NOT fit into the marking rubric. I’m also immensely frustrated at being a distance learner and not knowing who in the zoo to discuss these thoughts with. I’m tired of rehashing the articles that all say the same thing about the evolution from web 1.0 to 2.0 to 3.0 and the fact that we all can be producers and not just consumers, open access (OA), MOOCs, twitter, blogs blah blah.


What are my thoughts right now – on the exact topic?  In the first place that digital has not been transformative enough to scholarship.  Yes in theory, no in fact. The digital spaces I see in education have been highjacked not by scholars but by self-promoting practitioners of the twitterati. There is a lot of anecdotal rather than research based evidence. And they’re echo-chambers of white middle-class educators, often male. I need to expand my networks, and I’ve been making a concerted effort to follow people who are publishing real peer-reviewed research – some of which are on social media and some of which aren’t.  Some who tweet about their research, most who don’t. Or just refer to conferences they’re talking at or have talked at, or their followers enticingly frustratingly refer to such presentations. The thing is that for all this to be transformative it also needs to be heretical. And heretics are not welcome in institutions. Because they threaten the control and status quo of institutions, and by definition are persona-non-grata and there are pathways of recognition (leading to tenure at which point hopefully you’d be entrenched enough to say what the damn you please but by then you’d probably be entrenched enough to buy into the status quo and have a stake in maintaining it). Yes they are clever. Who runs the MOOCs? Who feeds them, who controls them, finances them and their content? – the institutions.  And the money. Yes, always follow the money. All those wonderful digital tools. Those databases, those journals, encyclopedias.  My gold standard for testing anything a salesman throws at me as a school librarian is looking up “socialism” and “communism” in their search engines. Try it. Just try it.

What is education for?  I’ll buy the ‘transformative’ bit on the micro individual well-heeled personal level, – but take it local or regional or national and you have the ‘productive literate citizen’ emerging. What do we want from the 21st Century learner? Link looks great doesn’t it.  Global citizens and all those skills (not content or facts), and then you click on “pricing” and you can clone plans. I repeat. You can pay to clone plans.  You can pay someone else to do your thinking and planning for you can you can teach to that plan and create clones of every other global child whose school or teacher can afford this.  It’s so slick it’s so nicely designed, it’s so intuitive and easy.

Confrontational and Challenging

Easy. Am I a puritan that I think things have to be a struggle and difficult? Not really, I like Vygotsky and the ideal of proximal development.  I don’t like when kids are proximally developed to be led by the nose or to follow the breadcrumbs to the cottage in the woods made of candy only to find out that they’ll be trapped by the witch of educational debt in a cage that is not of their making.  No, I think that education does not really have so much to be difficult as in inaccessible and alienating, but I think it needs to be difficult in that it should be confrontational and challenging.  And education dominated by packaging – of textbooks, of websites, of learning platforms, of learning plans – created by big corporations and big non-profits cannot be confrontational. It can only be nationalistic or capitalistic or serve the needs of the society in which it finds itself. Or the version of what that society thinks its needs are.  Good productive (national) citizens. Because often being a global citizen is at odds with being a national citizen. Because then you might just want to open the borders and let the refugees in.  You may not vote for the hawks. You’d want to leak confidential documents, hack into university databases, give maternity & paternity leave, free education, a minimum wage, universal health coverage AND WHO WOULD PAY FOR ALL THAT? Huh?

Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

So the digital. The open borders, the open access. The flat earth. Where a researcher / research at the other end of the world is at the touch of a button or a click of a mouse. As long as you both have the internet. And speak each other’s language (or preferably that current god of all language, English), as long as that research is in a bundle paid for by your institution. As long as you’re part of an institution, because paying $39.95 per article for research that may or may not be relevant, may or may not be any good is no joke for the casual dilettante. And when you leave formal education, when you graduate and lose access to all that body of formal knowledge, lose your writing on fora and institutional blogs, when the gates to the ivory towers slam shut? Are you no longer a scholar? Are you an ex-scholar? A practitioner? I think about this a lot as I reach the end of this degree.

Language and culture

Coming back to the whole language thing.  According to Ren and Montgomery (2015) from 1996 to 2012 – 2,680,395 scholarly articles were published internationally by Chinese authors, 35% of which have never been cited, and the average citation per publication is 6.17 versus 20.45 for an American author. 95% of its most important research “are now published by foreign commercial publisher and locked behind pay-walls” (p. 397).  Most scholars do not have the English proficiency, there are not enough translators and therefore the research remains trapped in Chinese repository systems.  The article is a fascinating glimpse into the profundity of linguistic barriers, cultural and ideological differences in writing, research and performance metrics that are seldom if ever mentioned in the jubilant digital scholarship literature.


As a fairly recent migrant from the world of commerce and industry to the world of education, one of the other articles I read was cause for inner ironical chuckling. Interdisciplinary. What does that mean? That you stay in your academic ivory tower but build bridges to other towers in the same academic village, or even across the pond to another tower where there are English speakers? And you interact only with the grubby world of business when they sell you OLP (online learning platforms) and data analytic systems and student interfaces and lesson plans and databases. But do you consider that you may be able to learn from that world? Even within business schools, the frenetic search for pertinent case studies is to inform and guide practise by current or potential business people.  And so I turn to Siemens and Burr (2013) – who I must say I have a huge amount for respect for, because they are talking, reading about and DOING  research in international research teams. They are grappling with linguistic and cultural barriers. And I read their article and the whole time I’m thinking – you’ve got to be kidding me. Yes, you’re probably breaking new ground in your context, but global companies have been doing this for decades. For eons. Your average wet-nosed graduate in a developing country working for a multi-national could have told you of all these challenges AND how they’re resolved in commerce and industry. I have to wonder, when a paper cites Hofstede – 1980 * if they’ve read and understood it’s context (Shell oil company), why they don’t think – heck – those multinational companies must know a thing or two about this – let’s go and ask them how to resolve this rather than us having to reinvent the wheel. Just pop over to your local business school or track down a travelling salesman with a passport to find out more.

I realise I’ve nearly written 1,500 words right now, and I don’t even begin to cover all the ground that I’d want to cover but can’t. I’ll just end by referring back to Gee and Hayes (2011). The first six chapters are a great read to understand the context of current education, language and literacy as part of a continuum of education across the ages – and they can express this background so much better than my amateur fumblings.  And after giving a context what is the future?  It would have to be in machine translation. In non-affiliation to a single academic organisation or nation. The return of the professional amateur, of “royal societies” that are not royal or national.  Different pathways of legitimisation and accreditation. More cooperation and collaboration but also more confrontation. Assignments that are conceptually bound but content liberated.  Radically open access to both published and rejected research, with commentary as to the rejection – a bit of meta-cognition anyone? Access to assignments with grading. Plagiarism is only an option in a closed rigid system with unimaginative content related assignments.  And those do nothing to further scholarship, digital or otherwise.

(And apologies to all those authors and researchers who are not cited but who are informing my thinking, but were not read in the last few days).


Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2011). Language and learning in the digital age (1st ed). New York, NY: Routledge.
Ren, X., & Montgomery, L. (2015). Open access and soft power: Chinese voices in international scholarship. Media, Culture & Society, 37(3), 394–408. http://doi.org/10.1177/0163443714567019
Siemens, L., & Burr, E. (2013). A trip around the world: Accommodating geographical, linguistic and cultural diversity in academic research teams. Literary and Linguistic Computing, 28(2), 331–343. http://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqs018

(* As a side note, Hofstede was taught to me as an expat 101 in the early 1990’s before my husband and I left on our first international assignment in Brazil. There is an updated version of his book – co-written by his son and Michael Minkov. Should be read by every ‘global’ educator and student interested in global collaboration and cooperation :

Hofstede, G. H., Hofstede, G. J., & Minkov, M. (2010). Cultures and organizations: software of the mind: intercultural cooperation and its importance for survival (3rd ed). New York: McGraw-Hill.)


Tricky timetabling in the library

15029248516Back to school for my classes tomorrow after the long 8 week summer vacation.  Teachers have been back a week and it’s been a productive but quite busy week getting everything ready. Is one every really ready? Who knows what the year will bring. What combination of students and teachers and classes will evolve as the year progresses.

As a  (with the emphasis on the “oneness” of A) Teacher librarian the timetable is probably one of the most tricky aspects. We’re just small enough to be able to have a hybrid timetable, where I can squeeze in every class once a week for a 20 minute slot (40 minutes for my grades 5 & 6, who need more “taught” and hands on higher level information literacy). I also have bookable periods where I can teach in class or classes can come to the library.  Based on the mistakes, observations and learnings of last year I made a few changes this year.

  • Blocking time so I can attend co-planning sessions for each grade with the PYP coordinators – that was a big failing on my part last year, and as a result I was always one step behind trying to play catch-up, relying on what was formally documented rather than actually happening and not being in the loop if things evolved – as they should in an inquiry based program.  Also, I’ve noticed that I need to promote new and different books as our collection evolves, and that would probably be the best forum.
  • Blocking time for ELL and language B students.  I’m an absolute believer in the importance of literature and literacy in language learning, but my practice was not supporting my beliefs. Of course it’s possible in library time to say to students “borrow a mother tongue book” or “borrow a Chinese / French book” – but with such a limited library time, it was an after thought rather than structurally built into the program. Also the French teachers were very supportive of my presentation to students on creating a language PLN and COP to their students and wanted me to revisit that early on in the year.  The time in the library has me as an optional extra – it’s more the space they’re using, so I’m available for in classroom teaching when I’m not needed by the language teachers.  Same with the ELL students.  Library time is intimidating if you’re only able to read “baby books” and asking a swamped librarian for advice is not always easy. This way the interactions can be more leisurely, students can book-talk lower level books without shame and they can get recommendations from each other. We’ll watch this space to see if it makes a difference. Also it would allow me to go through some of the research tools more thoroughly with the students at a slower pace.
  • Our bilingual classes are going to alternate days over 2 weeks in English and Chinese, so one week we’ll have them for English library, and one week for Chinese library. That was a logistical challenge, (to understand what we needed to do, most of all), hopefully we can support them in this.
  • Trying to group grades by day – i.e. G5&6 on Monday, G2 & 4 on Tuesday G3 on Wednesday, G1 on Thursday, Kindergarten on Friday.  Last year was mentally very taxing as I switched from Kindergarten to G6 to G3 back to Kindergarten to G1 all within a few minutes or hours of each other.  I’d have moments of complete blackout trying to remember which group was doing what (even having picture books labeled ready to go at my door, and tabs open for each class on my computer for presentations didn’t always help). With the exception of running out of time that suited one class it’s worked out fine – and teachers were quite receptive to the idea.  I did ask each grade lead which day would best suit them, and actually this year setting the timetable was a little easier than last year.  Having only 3 new teachers on board definitely helped the process as well.
  • Setting aside time for parent, librarian, teacher and community collaboration.  Last year’s series of “Library Bytes” for parents was well received on both campuses, and started bearing fruit towards the end of the year as we received more sophisticated and directed requests from parents – both those who had attended the sessions and those who had heard about them and wanted to know more.  This year I want to continue with the momentum, and even present some sessions in Chinese (not by me!) for our Chinese community.  The library staff is also going to start keeping track of teacher / parent questions so that we can make sure that all front-desk staff can handle all the questions, and we have material on our Libguide for parents who can’t come to the session.
  • Setting aside time for librarian meetings – both within our library and also between the librarians of our two campuses.  We have a new TL on board in our other primary section and I can learn a lot from her – but we need to make space for that learning.

Now, hold thumbs that we don’t have too many new classes added (as soon as we have enough students they open a new class at my school) or that there’s a major shift in the timetable!

How do other schools do the timetabling? Does it work for you?  For your teachers?  Are people unhappy with aspects of it? What compromises do you have to make?


Fortunate coincidence

After our leadership meeting this week I asked our principal what she thought of my various options for my case-study and which would be most beneficial and meaningful for the school.   By happy coincidence the senior leadership is looking at a number of things that tie in nicely with my ideas of what would be a viable case-study

  • Using the cumulated data we have on reading scores from the last few years in an interpretive and meaningful way
  • Examining a small section of students to see if anything can be extrapolated to the wider student body and inform teaching and learning
  • Raising the “bottom” – i.e. looking at our struggling students in a holistic way and seeing how we can help them on their learning journeys

In our conversations we also discussed how struggling students can influence the whole ambiance in a classroom, both in the student body and in the teachers response to the individual student and the class as a whole.

The question of course is what is ‘success’ and how do you measure it?  Must it be an improvement in reading or other academic measureables? Something ‘concrete’? Or can we think about the more ‘fuzzy’ aspects of learning that are harder to pin down.  Like affinity and belonging – nicely spoken about in this (non academic) article. Certainly we know that students who have (excessive) stress have difficulty learning. But is it skill, is it motivation that starts the negative spiral? And who can help? Is it a bootstraps issue, is it parents, peers, teachers, mentors, siblings?  What formats and genres?

I’ve just downloaded hundreds of articles around these themes, so it’s time to start digging in and try to get a research question out of it all.


Ever so slightly (very) intimidated

Since this is my M. Ed capstone course of course the bar has been set high for our final project – a case study. I’ve spent the week being intimidated – firstly reading the case-study research of other people, and then the Colloquium with Pip Cleaves – where my brain and my writing hand lost sync with each other as I was in awe with what she’s doing in her classroom and school.

I think my main takeaway is that I need to take baby steps and to limit, limit, limit my ambitions as to what is possible in a few week’s case study.  One of the most interesting case studies, and one that was exemplified by Pip’s talk was by Hofer & Swan (2006) – primarily because they unravelled the strands of technological, pedagogical and content knowledge that teachers need to bring to bear when attempting to introduce technology in the classroom.

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_pedagogical_content_knowledge

Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_pedagogical_content_knowledge

Back to the case study. As long term readers will be aware, I’m really interested in language, bilingualism and maintaining and sustaining mother tongue. Ideally I’d like to do something along those lines, but the area is just so huge I’m going to have to be very specific. One of the things I was considering was the information seeking behaviour of ELL families. There is so much information inherent and implicit in a school / schooling system, and how do students and their families tap into the explicit and implicit information where the dominant language is weak or absent?  Most international schools are adamant in not translating materials (erroneously in my opinion) – is there any way to prove this one way or another? What specific interventions or availability of information and in what form would make a difference? And how to realise this?


Another alternative would be about reading.  Early in my first position as Teacher-Librarian I quickly realised that we were just not meeting the needs of a whole segment of ‘reluctant’ readers. Unravelling reluctance is worth of tomes of research – is it a skill issue, an identification of suitable books issue, a time issue or a combination of them all or something else entirely? In response, with the excellent assistance of a very cool young male teacher, we formed a “blokes with books” club.  The uptake has been great with a core of around 10-15 boys attending the weekly meetings. They’ve invited their friends and it’s a rowdy, exuberant crowd who now feel much more at home in the library.  Together we agreed on a rough program of highlighting various genres, different authors and types of books in the hope they’d find “the magic key”. But did it make a difference really, or just anecdotally? How would we go about finding out the efficacy of the program generally and which aspects if any are particularly efficacious?


Other things that have caught my fancy recently is the concept of the “customer journey maps” in the library (perhaps linked to the information seeking idea) and the use of virtual badges for teaching information literacy – (teacher? student?)


Those are my thoughts that need refining and consideration at the moment. I have another 2 weeks to investigate and consider more!



Hofer, M., & Swan, K. O. (2008). Technological pedagogical content knowledge in action: A case study of a middle school digital documentary project. Journal of Research on Technology in Education (International Society for Technology in Education), 41(2), 179–200.

Keeping our struggles silent and our successes public?

I’ve had the good fortune of starting this course during my vacation, which has allowed more reading and contemplation time than I’d usually have at the start of a course. As such, I’ve started reading the case studies of module 3, and would like to dwell a little on Using Blogging in Support of Teacher Professional Identity Development – A Case Study (Luehmann, 2008). Yes, the date of 2008 is about right, as is the period under review 2003-2006, since that was probably the hey-day of blogging.


I’ve written before about the unfortunate demise of blogging, and having read this article, I once again am reinvigorated to take up the keyboard and dust off my professional blog. I must admit to have neglected it somewhat in the space last year that was not occupied by formal study and therefore an externally imposed blogging regime.


Considering blogging as a learning tool, and the blogging and commenting community as part of ones’ PLN, the question then is what has replaced blogging? The obvious answers would be Facebook and Twitter. However I would suggest that they miss the target in a number of ways. As Luehmann (2008, p. 332) explains – “… blog provides the quintessential example of capitalizing on the potential of blogging for reflection and metacognition. She was especially strong at using specific stories from her personal and professional experience as catalysts for engaging in critical inquiries about more general issues …” I have to wonder however if anonymous blogging allows for better self-reflection and a questioning stance than public blogging – which is the currently “preferred mode” according to those in the know and those who write and think about these things – “claiming one’s name” and all that.


In contrast, my experience of FaceBook is substantial positive “impression management” (Krämer & Winter, 2008), intersperced with passing on pre-digested and edited pieces written by successful professionals. What it misses is the observable struggle and growth of the individual in getting from point novice to point successful professional – something that blogs did. As a learning network, the FB groups I am in, are excellent for asking quick questions and getting convergent answers – top graphic novels, best tools for citation, what to wear to a job interview, what questions to expect etc. And answers tend to converge if the network is big enough. It’s also great for moral outrage – what unforgivable ones’ boss or lecturer or client or political opponent did now… There is little sign of vulnerability or deep questioning.


Twitter. Hmm. Does anyone else get tired of the chest beating alpha-monkey behaviour of the twitterati or is it just me? Again it’s about triumph and trumpeting. It’s not about the daily confrontation of things you’d like to see different that you’re trying to change and the barriers that are erected along the way. And when something really interesting comes up – like a whole blow-up about twitter plagiarism by a professor (of course I can’t find a reference to this as it happened last year on twitter …) it is difficult to unravel the threads or work out who is referring to what or when and in which order. On the positive side, educators do appreciate the professional development opportunities of Twitter and Twitter Chats as a way to keep up with developments in the profession as well as the ability to connect with other educators globally (Carpenter & Krutka, 2015; Trust, Krutka, & Carpenter, 2016).


Like everyone on this course, I too read prolifically and from a variety of sources, including social media originated, popular press, journals, books etc. The most infuriating part of social media is the difficulty of finding something back days or months later if you haven’t carefully diigo’d it or saved it to Flipboard or Evernote or the like.


And finally what is great about blogging? Well it gives you writing experience. Lots of it. And the more you write and the more you get feedback on your writing, the better you get at it. And right now I can just feel how out of touch I am with writing after the last 4 months of not doing so! Onwards and upwards.


Carpenter, J. P., & Krutka, D. G. (2015). Engagement through microblogging: educator professional development via Twitter. Professional Development in Education, 41(4), 707–728. http://doi.org/10.1080/19415257.2014.939294

Krämer, N. C., & Winter, S. (2008). Impression management 2.0: The relationship of self-esteem, extraversion, self-eficacy, and self-presentation within social networking sites. Journal of Media Psychology, 20(3), 106–116. http://doi.org/10.1027/1864-1105.20.3.106

Luehmann, A. L. (2008). Using blogging in support of teacher professional identity development: A case study. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 17(3), 287–337. http://doi.org/10.1080/10508400802192706

Trust, T., Krutka, D. G., & Carpenter, J. P. (2016). ‘Together we are better’: Professional learning networks for teachers. Computers & Education, 102, 15–34. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2016.06.007




ETL402 Critical Reflection

Reading Haven (2007) was a great way to set the scene for this course. Even if we were not all literature “converts” before starting the course, understanding the research behind the power of stories would make us so. Of all the themes I think the second module – concerning diversity – was the one that engaged me most passionately and emotionally. Smolen and Oswalds’ (2011) book was instrumental in expanding my knowledge on this topic.


Reviewing my blog posts The Best of Times, the Worst of Times; if you name it will it come; Conversations and thoughts about diversity in literature; It can’t get any worse … can it? and The right to write as well as my first assessment The Power and Potential of Multicultural Diverse Literature I realise they all concerned themselves with this topic. In practise, despite best intentions and efforts, large international communities of practise, the so called “global librarian networks” it is still difficult to source and purchase diverse literature of the quality and quantity necessary.


Looking at the collection, the teacher librarian (TL) walks several tightropes simultaneously – balancing curriculum needs with literacy needs with pleasure “fast food” reading needs as well as parental and societal expectations and biases makes for interesting tension. All while ensuring that literature can fulfil its destiny without losing a generation of potential readers. Personal observations reinforced the need for positive role models and personal – particularly peer –recommendations (Marcoux & Loertscher, 2009). Attempts to transform a physical library space were documented in a number of blog posts summarised here. Both Travers and Travers (2008) and Elizabeth and Selman (2012) cast an important biopsychosocial developmental lens on the subject of literature in schools.


With respect to the digital experience, as a colleague remarked to me “we are the first generation of teacher librarians and parents dealing with the internet, and we don’t know what we’re doing or what the long term effects will be”. Of course there are more than enough naysayers (Carr, 2013; Mangen, Walgermo, & Brønnick, 2013) and cheerleaders (Cornis-Pope & Woodlief, 2000) to balance each other out and the jury is out on the matter. At the end of the day it is important to meet the students where they are – whether that is in the land of text, live or digital and embrace the benefits of interaction, self-directed learning with creative opportunities (Anstey & Bull, 2006).


Finally, as they say – the proof of the pudding is in the eating – or in this instance, the proof of the learning is in how it can be applied in the teaching and promotion of literature in schools. Changing the culture in any learning environment is a slow process, where one has to learn to trust one’s instincts and trust the students, alternate between catching one’s breath in horror and outrage at the utterances of some teachers and parents while being in awe of the skill and depth of understanding and good practice of others, all moments from each other. It’s quite a ride.




Anstey, M., & Bull, G. (2006). Defining multiliteracies. In Teaching and learning multiliteracies : changing times, changing literacies (pp. 19–55). Newark, Del: International Reading Association.

Carr, N. (2013, January 5). Don’t burn your books—print Is here to stay [WSJ.com]. Retrieved 22 May 2014, from http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323874204578219563353697002

Cornis-Pope, M., & Woodlief, A. (2000, Fall). The rereading/rewriting process: Theory and collaborative, on-line pedagogy. Retrieved 17 January 2016, from http://www.vcu.edu/engweb/ReReadingTheorychapter.htm

Elizabeth, T., & Selman, R. L. (2012). The role of social development in elementary school curricula: Past, present, and future. Saperstein Associates. Retrieved from http://www.sapersteinassociates.com/downloads/2012_Elizabeth_and_Selman_SD_Whitepaper.pdf

Haven, K. F. (2007). Story proof: the science behind the startling power of story. Westport, Conn: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library

Mangen, A., Walgermo, B. R., & Brønnick, K. (2013). Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. International Journal of Educational Research, 58, 61–68. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2012.12.002

Marcoux, E., & Loertscher, D. V. (2009). The role of a school library in a school’s reading program. Teacher Librarian, 37(1), 8–14,84.

Smolen, L. A., & Oswald, R. A. (Eds.). (2011). Multicultural literature and response: Affirming diverse voices. Santa Barbara, California: Libraries Unlimited. Retrieved from EBook Library

Travers, B. E., & Travers, J. F. (2008). Children, literature and development: Interactions and insights. In Children’s literature: a developmental perspective (pp. 2–17). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.