INF541 Assessment 3 Critical Review

Arnab, S., Berta, R., Earp, J., De Freitas, S., Popescu, M., Romero, M., … & Usart, M. (2012). Framing the adoption of serious games in formal education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2), 159-171.

Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge, S., … Zagami, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(6), 569–581. doi:10.2304/elea.2014.11.6.569

Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, (20), 16-18.

The following critical review will analyse and evaluate three articles that discuss trends in game based learning (GBL). The review will seek to outline each article’s purpose as well as their major strengths and weaknesses before synthesising the major themes present within the work.


At it’s core, Arnab et al.’s (2012) article ‘Framing the adoption of serious games in formal education’ aims to raise awareness of game based learning so that more educators adopt this practice in a formal learning environment. The work, derived from eight different authors, recommends that educators embrace a “multifaceted view” on the subject in order to attain a  “deeper understanding” (Arnab et al., 2012, p. 168) and thereby move beyond inhibitors to adopting this approach. Through crystallizing the role of the educator and implementation strategies, Arnab et al. cover a range of topics including pedagogical approaches and applications to formal settings.


The discussion centering on the nature of games and their pedagogical underpinnings was particularly effective. Drawing from Kebritchi and Hirumi (2008), the authors were able to establish the pedagogical classifications that were at the crux of game design and therefore position educators to see the value in games. The authors reinforce this by noting that the study is a, “useful reference point” for those seeking to research further (Arnab et al., 2012, p. 161).


Although not completely tainting the article, Arnab et al.’s (2012) decision to include the flawed, “digital native” narrative in the abstract, casted doubt on the authors and punctuated several other shortcomings of this piece. Claiming that Serious Games (SG) “offer the chance to ‘hook’ today’s (largely) digital native generation of learners” (p. 159) implied that the loud and generally accepted criticism of Prensky (2001) by Bennett, Maton and Kervin (2008), Guo, Dobson and Petrina (2008), and Helpsper and Eynon (2010) were largely ignored by Arnab et al. This initial blunder offsets the reader, causing them to view the remainder of the article through a critical lense.


More concerning is the article’s failure to emphasise the socio-cultural context which plays a pivotal role in the success or failure of the learning. Admittedly, Arnab et al. (2012) barely address it through the inclusion of Four Dimension Model under the heading of “learner specifications” (p. 162). When this is explained further, the discussion merely notes that it involves the “elicitation of the characteristics defining learner populations” (p. 162). Here, a more robust discussion would benefit educators as it is necessary for them to be aware that factors such as a “shared cultural background” (Montola, 2012, p. 314) or gender and class (Beavis et al., 2014, p. 577; Beavis & Charles, 2007) can directly impact the outcome of the GBL trial.


The implementation strategies suggested by Arnab et al. unfortunately falls short for many in the K-12 education setting. Their decision to focus on 21st century skills (ex. collaboration) as a primary implementation strategy leaves out the content knowledge required by the curriculum. This approach endorsed by Gee (2007) has students immersed in the game context and developing new literacy skills. A more favorable approach, heralded by Squire (2011), yields content knowledge as well as skill (p. 15). Though it’s acknowledged that Arnab et al. (2012) believe that “considerable benefit would be gained from aligning with games with the curriculum” (p. 163), it’s disappointing that one of the suggested strategies didn’t focus on it. This may reflect the difficulties educators have when trying to incorporate both (Jan, 2013, para. 23).


The article “Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms” seeks to address the “uncritical stance”, in some literature regarding “the role of context and the ways in which teachers impact upon what games achieve in school” (Beavis et al., 2014, p. 570). Beavis et al.’s (2014) central argument addresses the importance of teachers’ mindset when adopting game based learning into their classroom as its success or failure is “closely tied to the way teachers think about games including what they believe can or cannot be achieved with games and how they believe games should or should not be used” (p. 570). The nine authors’ exploration of the study ‘Serious Play: digital games, learning and literacy for twenty first century schooling’ which examined a range of students and teachers of primary and secondary schools (p. 571), revealed that the teachers surveyed “were overwhelmingly positive about the potential for games to impact positively upon learning environments” (p. 576) citing students’ ability to use them to build new skills and knowledge (p. 576).


While this cross section of teachers’ mindsets remained primarily positive, the study raised concerns about teachers’ naivety about the importance of their involvement within the learning process. Beavis et al. (2014) drew upon this overtly positive belief in the “almost magical properties of games to engage, inspire and teach students” (p. 577) as justification for their argument to call for effective professional development and attention to the pedagogical strategies that are drawn from when determining how games are used (p. 577). This suggestion would also relate to the teachers whose discussion revealed that they were more focused on game use to improve skill rather than content. Beavis et al. (2014) notes that “widespread agreement that every curriculum area could find a way to work with digital games” (p. 577) and therefore should also be a focus.


The authors’ abilities to identify the void in the teachers’ knowledge and practice would also be seen in their evaluation of their students’ learning contexts. Variations in socio-economics as well as differences in gender, and cultural background can have “a profound impact upon how/when/why students would be engaged or motivated in working with specific games” (Beavis et al., 2014, p. 577). This ethos reflects the first of the core practices of ‘The Game School’ where it is acknowledged and valued that learner identity is complex (Salen, Torres, & Wolozin, 2008, p. 7).


There are three fundamental shortcomings with this piece. Firstly, while the data collected does come from a range of sources at differing levels of primary and secondary education, it fails to account for the actual impact of teachers’ mindset on game based learning because the study uses only “phase one” of the project (Beavis et al., 2014, p. 571). A more comprehensive approach may have examined the impacts of this grounded yet optimistic mindset on the units being studied. Secondly, the teachers that opted in to the ‘Serious Games’ study were already part of an organisation that felt favorably towards GBL. Therefore, the result of being ‘grounded and optimistic’ cannot be applied to the country, but only towards schools that already value GBL. It is also interesting to note that Beavis et al.’s (2014) results contrast to Bourgonjon et al.’s (2013) study that identified teachers’ perceptions that games couldn’t help their job performance (Bourgonjon et al., 2013, p. 31). Finally, the strong criticism centering on the assumptions about Prensky’s (2001) ‘digital natives’ that were directed towards Arnab et al. (2012) also applies to these authors as they make similar assumptions. All of these impact the usefulness of Beavis et. al’s analysis.


This objective article, ‘Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless’, written by Richard Van Eck (Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at the University of North Dakota), carefully relates the challenges and opportunities associated with Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) with application to formal education. The context of GBL in 2006 moved Van Eck to write the article, citing an ideal climate that was drawn from an increase in research, the growing popularity of games and problems associated with Digital Natives (p. 17). The author may be forgiven for his misplaced views on Digital Natives, something he later acknowledged, noting that they were “not necessarily the video game savants we assumed they would be” (Van Eck, 2015, p. 14).


Van Eck’s (2006) argument advocating DGBL centres around why it is effective and engaging, and how it can be leveraged, integrated and supported (p. 18). This piece draws its strength from its grounding in pedagogical discourse. The somewhat “skeptical” audience Van Eck (2006) was writing for still needed to be convinced of DGBL’s validity and base in the principles of learning (p. 18). Therefore, the author’s powerful discussion of situated cognition, assimilation, accommodation and cognitive disequilibrium effectively positioned the more critical educators to listen attentively to the entirety of his argument (p. 18-19).


Van Eck’s (206) balanced analysis of the ways educators can integrate DGBL into the learning process logically discussed the strengths and weakness of each method. While this may seem basic, his audience, who were realistically still early adopters to DGBL (Novak and Nackerud, 2011, p. 292), would benefit from this breakdown of sorts. Noting the problems of time restraint and quality around student designed games, Van Eck (2006) saw more potential in either a partnership between educators and designers to create the games, or the adoption of commercial, off the shelf games (COTS). This analysis remains accurate in the current discussion of DGBL (Van Eck, 2015. P. 18)


The real strength of Van Eck’s (2006) discussion was in his delineation of the considerations required for implementing COTS games into the classroom. Beginning with an acknowledgement of the wider factors outside the teacher’s control (harkening to an awareness of equity and socio-cultural influences), the author touched upon the choice of game, aligning with the curriculum and content, and designing and evaluating the game. The latter section was of particular note as its discussion centred on keeping students in a state of “flow” (p. 26). Current research confirms the value of such discussion as it has been maintained that DGBL moderately enhances flow experiences (Chaing, Liang, and Lin, 2017, p. 223; McGonigal, 2011) where learning is immersive (Van Eck, 2006, p. 26). Problems arise in COTS when fail to accurately address content (Van Eck, 2006, p. 26). Van Eck (2006) is aware of these potential gaps or errors and therefore encourages students to perform activities as the character that are “authentic to the goals of the game world” (p. 26) and addresses these inadequacies in game content. Developing budgets for characters (p. 26) and other tangible suggestions to aid students remaining in flow offered by Van Eck equips educators with sound tactics to employ COTS games in the classroom. This poignant advice builds confidence of those new to DGBL and makes a strong case for employing this practice.




Although not necessarily directed at the same audiences, when juxtaposed, the articles revealed commentary and analysis of similar themes within the field of GBL. The role of the teacher and the importance of pedagogical grounding, standout as predominant issues raised within the articles.

All texts concur that the role of the teacher is pivotal within GBL. Beavis et al. (2014) sets up this argument by identifying a flawed common perspective that some games are considered “inherently appealing knowledge packages that will generate learning across all student cohorts” (p. 569) thereby limiting the role of the educator. Beavis et al. (2014) effectively disputes this noting that it “marginalises… the ways in which teachers impact upon what games achieve in school” (p. 570). Arnab et al.’s (2012) discussion focuses more on the increased responsibility within the role of a teacher’s explaining that it has changed from being that of a mere information provider to being required to often switch between the roles of “instructional designers, strong team players, critical self analysts, confident risk takers, and path finding innovators pedagogically open to new ways of approaching curriculum” (p. 165). Van Eck’s (2006) explanation of the teacher’s role outlines the design choices and implementation strategies that are ultimately left to teachers. While Beavis et al. (2014) places emphasis on the pre-instruction phases, Arnab et al (2012) and Van Eck’s (2006) discussion largely centers upon the co-instructional phase.


The authors undoubtedly agree on the importance of educators’ understanding that effective GBL is built on sound pedagogical principles. Arnab et al.’s (2012) discussion of game design and deployment (previously alluded to in the article analysis) was foundational as they solidified their readers’ understanding that games could be created using a general framework with learning outcomes in mind and later classified by their pedagogical underpinning to guide educators’ potential implementation (p. 161). Van Eck’s (2006) article does much to reify these understandings further as he methodically outlines the process of implementing DGBL using COTS and sound pedagogy. Echoing this line of thinking, Beavis et al. (2012) note “attention needs to be paid to the pedagogical strategies and views of learning that teachers draw upon to work with games” (p. 577). The collective readings of this review do much to give faith to GBL in terms of pedagogical grounding.



 It is easy to get seduced by the attractive features of GBL.  Beavis et al.’s (2012) article grounds readers to pertinent issues within the pre-instruction phase of the experience. Their focus on context and the elements missing from the mindset of educators looking to adopt GBL, make this piece an important starting point for adopters of all educational contexts.

Written using a causal tone, Van Eck’s (2006) article provides tangible (and still pertinent) advice for those looking to implement GBL in their classroom which make his article worth reading. Despite being targeted at those in higher education, the piece would also be applicable in the K-12 context.

Arnab et al.’s (2012) multifaceted examination of GBL was for the most part, on point in regard to making those interested in adopting GBL aware of some of the considerations that would have to be made. While more tangible implementation suggestions would have been an asset, this article does provide workable frameworks that are beneficial to anyone in a formal education setting.





Arnab, S., Berta, R., Earp, J., De Freitas, S., Popescu, M., Romero, M., … & Usart, M. (2012). Framing the adoption of serious games in formal education. Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 10(2), 159-171.

Beavis, C., Rowan, L., Dezuanni, M., McGillivray, C., O’Mara, J., Prestridge, S., … Zagami, J. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs about the possibilities and limitations of digital games in classrooms. E-Learning and Digital Media, 11(6), 569–581. doi:10.2304/elea.2014.11.6.569

Beavis, C. & Charles, C. (2007) Would the ‘Real’ Girl Gamer Please Stand Up? Gender, LAN Cafes and the Reformulation of the ‘Girl’ Gamer, Gender and Education, 19(6), 691-705.

Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The “Digital Natives” Debate: A Critical Review of the Evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775–786. Retrieved from

Bourgonjon, J., De Grove, F., De Smet, C., Van Looy, J., Soetaert, R., & Valcke, M. (2013). Acceptance of game-based learning by secondary school teachers. Computers & Education, 67, 21–35.

Chang, C.-C., Liang, C., Chou, P.-N., & Lin, G.-Y. (2017). Is game-based learning better in flow experience and various types of cognitive load than non-game-based learning? Perspective from multimedia and media richness. Computers in Human Behavior, 71, 218–227.

Gee, J. (2007). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Guo, R. X., Dobson, T., & Petrina, S. (2008). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: An Analysis of Age and ICT

Competency in Teacher Education. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 38(3), 235–254. Retrieved from

Helsper, E.J. and Eynon, R. (2010). Digital natives: where is the evidence?. British Educational ResearchJournal, 36:3, 503- 520. doi: 10.1080/01411920902989227

Jan, M. (2013). A Literature Review of Game-Based Learning. Retrieved from

McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World [Kindle Edition]. Vintage Digital

Montola, M. (2012). Social Constructionism and Ludology Implications for the Study of Games. Simulation & Gaming, 43(3), 300­320.

Novak, K., & Nackerud, R. (2011). Choosing a Serious Game for the Classroom: An Adoption Model for Educators. In M. Ma, A. Oikonomou, & L. C. Jain (Eds.), Serious Games and Edutainment Applications (pp. 291–308). Springer London. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the horizon, 9(5), 1­6.

Salen, K., Torres, R., & Wolozin, L. (). The Game School Planning Document: Draft1.0. Retrieved from

Squire, K. (2011). Video games and learning: Teaching and participatory culture in the digital age. New York: Teachers College Press.


Van Eck, R. (2006). Digital game-based learning: It’s not just the digital natives who are restless. EDUCAUSE Review, (20), 16-18.


Online Reflective Journal Blog Task 2


For the most part, we live in a country of gamers. The Digital Australia Report (2016) identifies that both “68% of Australians play video games” and that “98% of homes with children have computer games”(p. 5). This data shouldn’t be perceived as isolated but a reflection of current global trends (Horizon Report, 2014, p.38). Educators have sought to capitalise on this boom and increasingly seeking ways to incorporate Game Based Learning (GBL) into their classrooms. The question remains,  are they fully aware of the implications and effects GBL?   


King, Delfabbro and Griffiths (2010) expand upon research that identified a link between the structural elements shared between gambling machines and video games. They modified a framework initiated by Wood et al. (2004) and “reorganis[ed] some features into new categories as well as suggest[ed] additional features in light of recent theory and research findings”(King, Delfabbro and Griffiths, 2010, p. 92). They include the following features social, manipulation and control, narration and identity, reward and punishment and presentation (King, Delfabbro and Griffiths, 2010, p. 92).


King et al., (2010) main line of argumentation calls researchers to understand the potential psychological effects that games can induce while highlighting both positive and negative reactions. Their framework hopes to aid further research in this area. The next section of this post will seek to highlight some of the positive impacts and hazards for teaching and learning.


In terms of teaching and learning, the social features of games mimic much of what building a personal learning network encapsulates. King asserts that a cooperative and competitive community of players can assist players in knowledge acquisition(p. 93).


The manipulation and control feature highlights the importance of self-management. While gamers can learn master the game they also need to be mindful of when it’s time to save and quit. King et al., (2010) note that excessive game players have difficulty stopping playing when their resources are low (p. 96) This is likened to when gambling addicts play too long and lose their money.


This extended play seems to be a reoccurring theme in terms of both positive impacts and hazards for teaching and learning. While with the narrative and identity features allow players to be immersed in their game’s story(p. 97), propelling students to greater depths understanding of the subjects’ themes and characters, the rewards and punishment features clearly link to gambling’s near misses and achievement points that excite players into continuing to play long past when they should quit (p. 100).

The noteworthy concerns raised by King et al., (2010) should be heeded by educators that are planning to explore GBL. Without giving careful consideration to the potential psychological impacts of the structural features of games, educators are making this important decision with a few cards short of a full hand.  



Brand, E, J. & Todhunter, S. (2016). “Digital Australia Report 2016”. Retrieved from

King, D., Delfabbro, P., & Griffiths, M. (2010). Video Game Structural Characteristics: A New Psychological Taxonomy. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, 8(1), 90–106.

NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition. (2015). Retrieved from

Wood, R. T. A., Griffiths, M. D., Chappell, D., & Davies, M. N. O. (2004). The structural characteristics of video games: A psycho-structural analysis. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7, 1–10. doi:10.1089/109493104322820057.

The Kids are Still Playing Games



Sitting in my ICTAG (Information Communications Technology Action Group) meeting this afternoon, I heard a complaint:

… but the kids are still playing games!

My school has been 1-1 with Macbooks for the last five or so years and teachers’ general perception is that games are a distraction or a reward for work finished early.


“Can’t games build critical thinking and collaboration skills? Isn’t this something that we should encourage?” I said.


My remark was taken purely as jest.


I think that says a lot about the state of Game-Based Learning (GBL) in my current educational context.   


It’s difficult for school leaders to put stock in something that’s relatively murky in terms of its research and application.


Dr. Catherine Beavis’ assertion that “schools still have a way to go before they can harness the full educational potential of video games” (Jennings, 2014, para. 5) resonates within this context.


I believe in its potential because I feel like I’ve learned from games. I’ve thought critically while building up my armies in Sid Meier’s Civilisation. I’ve communicated while playing diplomacy. Heck, I’ll even admit to collaborating and communicating to take out some zombies in Call of Duty…  But like Beavis, I don’t think games are currently being used to their potential within the educational context.


Once recognised as a tool to develop twenty-first century skills, GBL should be more adopted into the classroom. The YouTube video “How games prepare you for life – Education: 21st Century Skills” makes a solid point where it argues that it’ll be up to teachers to make knowledge and skills acquired from the games meaningful.


So what is the context for my learning?


In a regional Victorian setting, I’m the curriculum head of Humanities and Technology at my secondary school and I feel as though I’m often at the forefront adopting technology into the classroom.


This is my third last subject for this Masters of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and on account of that, I’m bringing knowledge of twenty-first century pedagogy and it’s importance in today’s classroom.


How do I see games fitting into my practice?


I’ve already incorporated games into my classroom over the years with varying degrees of success. Admittedly, at times it seemed to be a more willy-nilly application than calculated, planned usage. It was more used as a tool of engagement rather than consciously building twenty-first century skills. The latter is something that I’m obviously hoping to improve upon.


What are my personal aims in this subject


I’m hoping this subject serves as a launching pad into more considered use of games in the classroom. I wish to engage with the research that supports this type of learning and thereby equips me with the data to justify a more widespread promotion/adoption of GBL at my school.


I’m also looking to explore different games and their platforms.  


What challenges are you hoping to meet for yourself?


Successfully completing a Masters’ subject while working full time and juggling a busy family schedule is always a great starting point for semester goals. In addition, I wish to

  • Challenge myself to be fully immersed within this subject; allotting time to experiment and play with games
  • Conduct action research within my setting that will add to the professional dialogue surrounding GBL
  • Expand my professional learning network to include GBL innovators and practitioners



Extra Credits. (2014). Extra Credits – How Games Prepare You for Life – Education: 21st Century Skills. Retrieved from


Jennings, J. (2014, November 20). ‘Teachers re-evaluate value of video games’ [Digital Newspaper Article], The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from:

Evaluative Report






Harking back to my undergraduate degree (History at the University of Ottawa), I can see myself spending hours in the library, isolated with only my stack of books and dusty microfiche to keep me company. Although twelve years ago, it makes for a clear juxtaposition to my current study: INF532 Knowledge Networking for Educations.


The following evaluative and reflective statements will make up a report that will document my journey to becoming a more connected educator.


Part A: Evaluative Statement:


I am able to build on knowledge networking to strengthen school-based classroom engagement and learning through intentional and reflective online instructional design;


The ubiquity of devices and access to knowledge has enabled a shift to a more participatory culture (Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, & Robison, 2008). As educators, it’s no longer an option to be connected (Couros, 2011), we must participate by building knowledge through online collaboration, curation, creation, and communication. Furthermore, it’s the educational leaders’ responsibility to “demonstrate and model collaborative practices to support pedagogical change” (Lindsay, 2016, slide 49).  From its onset, this subject has demonstrated the importance of becoming a networked learner (Rheingold & Weeks, 2012; Richardson & Mancabelli, 2011).

It’s only been through “living the story” (Lindsay & Davis, 2012, p. 102) that I’ve continued to grow as a connected educator. Often when faced with difficult questions, I turn to my Personal Learning Network (PLN) as a means of getting quality information back.



This prompted several retweets which pushed the original message further and as a result, I was directed to this superb resource from the New Zealand government. This reflects Lindsay’s (2016) sentiment: “in a flat learning environment it’s who you know not what you know” (slide 54). The use of my PLN enabled me to strengthen my school’s direction in terms of a strategic plan and by doing so enrich the learning of both staff and students.  

I recently blogged about an experience where I participated in an online presentation where some passionate secondary students were raising awareness and funds for a social justice cause. Not only did I establish connections which has resulted in these students now intending to interact with my own class, but also, by using this approach paired with the Fuze platform, I brought the idea of going global to our own social justice fund raising projects (Grant, 2016a, para. 4). Here, the use of my PLN can be seen helping me generate potential engagement as well as provide ideas on the design of future learning opportunities.  


I can use a suite of new media tools for information management, content creation, content curation, collaborative work, and connecting social networks and communities of practice within and beyond the school. I can design, develop and deploy products, tools or strategies that show an understanding of education informatics;


Information is growing at a rapid rate and as a result, there’s been a shift to an era of information abundance (De Saulles, 2012, p. 15). Pegrum (2010) hones in on one aspect of this and identifies that “navigating overlapping personal, social and professional networks – all linked together technologically by the internet – requires a level of network literacy which is not as widespread as is often assumed”(p. 347). My digital artefact sought to upskill students in networked literacy and help them transform into connected learners. Through it, I was able to showcase my growing ability to incorporate new media tools. I created the YouTube video “The What and Why of Connected Learning,” utilised Padlet and Google Docs to foster collaboration skills, curated pertinent resources for participants and created the website using Google Sites. Of the design considerations, I wanted to ensure that the participants were active learners. This was also reflected in the media tools and curated resources selected as it was important that students became actively involved in the learning process (Bonwell and Eison, 1991, p.2).

I also thought it was important for me to try out an abridged version of my artefact. As the resource was directed towards senior secondary students (mine currently getting ready to sit their VCE exams), I decided to target my Year Nine English class and get them blogging. My post, ‘Little Wins’ outlines this ongoing learning journey with them. Highlighted in my post on “NetworkPeer Learning” was Wenger, McDermott’s and Snyder’s (2010) seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. Right now, I’m building their confidence and developing a shared community space where they can interact and develop skill before venturing into a more public realm (p. 58). In addition, I believe this group needs to see the value of blogging as otherwise “members would be reluctant to participate” (Grant, 2016b). The use of these blogs will enable them to create content, build a community of practice and lead to exploring learning experiences outside of school.   


I can utilise a personal learning network to enhance professional growth, personal knowledge management and collective intelligence practices.


This subject has allowed me to showcase much of what Nassbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) define a connected learner;  “learners who collaborate online; learners who use social media to connect with others around the globe; learners who engage in conversations in safe online spaces; learners who bring what they learn online back to their classrooms, schools and districts” (p. 3-4).

By publishing my digital artefact online, I was able to receive feedback from a global range of people that caused me the reflect upon and improve on my product.






This discussion definitely helped me grow.

Contributing is also instrumental when becoming a connected educator. Throughout this subject I have contributed others learning by providing feedback on artefact, and sharing resources and opinions. The following tweets highlight some of my contributions that build collective intelligence.





When reflecting on his own PLN, Eric Sheninger accurately articulates my sentiment “The resources, ideas, strategies, different points of view, support, and feedback that I received from people across the globe… pushed me to pursue transformative change” (2016, para. 3). By having access to these online networks my knowledge and professional practice improves.


Part B: Reflective Statement:


My digital artifact notes: “Remember. People don’t normally develop effective networks overnight. This will be a timely process that requires continual work” (Grant, 2016c). For me, this statement also rings true in regards to how your PLN is in a continuous state of development. Newer nodes are frequently being added and then strengthened while others fade and become less important. This subject was a chance to continue the process of building connections, maintaining connections and activating connections (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen & Sloep, 2011, para. 7). As a result of this process of building, maintaining and activating, I’ve taken part in robust discussions and expanded my knowledge as well as my network. The example below is a small snapshot of what was previously discussed.  


This course challenged me to express my voice in a form that I’ve never been comfortable with; the blog. As one of the tools of the connected educator, it’s important that I look to build on my blogging skills. As the course has progressed, I felt that my blogs have gotten a lot better and they’re moving in the direction of what Will Richardson (n.d.) defines as ‘real blogging’ where it “links with analysis and synthesis that articulates a deeper understanding or relationship to the content being linked and written with potential audience response in mind” (para. 11). My blogs “Little Wins” and “Sunday Morning MOOC” best exemplify this. These blogs as well as the others, mark a portion of my contribution to the subject and the wider body of educational work that exists online. As students contributing to this knowledge network, we are “rewarded with potentially rich opportunities for student learning, connections to individual knowledge and expertise, and tremendous insight into emerging areas of research” (Couros, 2010, p. 127). This process has continued to develop me into a more connected educator.


My School

Being a connected leader allows me to be informed about the latest trends in education. This provides me with the opportunity to encourage growth within my staff. Recently, this manifests in the ‘Tekkie Brekkie’ initiative that I’ve been leading at my school. This is a bi-weekly meet up where staff come together and share ideas involving education technology. Godin (2008) explores the idea of the importance of empowering ‘tribes’ to communicate (p. 20). Through this increased communication, colleagues are being exposed to tools that can be implemented within their classrooms and thereby potentially improve their professional practice. In the future, I’ll continue to draw from sources such as Willemse & Freedman (2013) to stimulate this discussion.   

In a recent interview for a leadership position within my school, I was asked  “what are your strengths as a leader?”.

Of the qualities that I stammered off, I made a point to say that I was a ‘connected educator’.

“What’s that?” asked a deputy principal from another school…

Within our INF532 bubble; an extension of MEd (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) and a further extension from my own PLN composed of educators that clearly place some value on connected education… it’s sometimes easy to forget how so many of our colleagues have yet to take advantage of connected learning principles. Within this role, I’d like to continue to empower teachers within my school community to become more connected.

As a starting point, I’ve recently explored the resource ‘The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’ and believe it could “jumpstart teachers on their journey to becoming connected”(Grant, 2016d).



As you can see, my journey to becoming a connected educator began in 2009 when my principal at the time introduced me to Twitter. Immediately, I was amazed at not only the amount of educators that were on the platform but the amount of resource sharing that was happening.

Since then, I’ve been expanding my PLN and looking for ways to have meaningful conversations about education. In 2014, I was selected to be part of the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney. This was a profound experience for me as it put me in a room with like minded educators and allowed us to form a new network of ambassadors for change. Reflecting back, it was this event that helped me develop as a connected leader.

Over the last two years, I’ve contributed as a connected leader by presenting at the Google Apps for Education Summits in both New Zealand and Australia and at state and national level history conferences.

My final reflection for this subject is that a connected learner/leaders’ work is never done. While my undergraduate studies reflected a learner that was completing assessments then moving onto the next topic, a connected learner is constantly consuming and producing (Couros, 2010) and invested in the content. Their links to resources and people remain as long as they are maintaining the connections.

Thomas and Brown (2011) ask “what happens to learning when we move from the stable infrastructure of the twentieth century to the fluid infrastructure of the twenty-first century, where technology is constantly creating and responding to change” (p. 17). The answer is #INF532 and CSU’s MEd (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation).



Bonwell, C.; Eison, J. (1991). Active Learning: Creating Excitement in the Classroom AEHE-ERIC Higher Education Report No. 1. Washington, D.C.: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 1-878380-08-7. I Retreived from

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. Emerging Technologies in Distance Education, 109–128. Retrieved from

Couros, G. (2011, July 10). This is not optional anymore… [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

De Saulles, M. (2012). Information 2.0: new models of information production, distribution and consumption. Facet Publishing

Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We Need You To Lead Us [Kindle Edition]. London, UK: Piatkus

Grant, J. (2016a). Going Deeper [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Grant, J. (2016b). Network Peer Learning [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Grant, J. (2016c). Get Connected. Retrieved from

Grant, J. (2016d). Artefact Review [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Jenkins, H., Purushotma, R., Weigel, M., Clinton, K., & Robison, A. J. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Mit Press Retrieved from

Lindsay, Julie. (2016, June 8). The Digital Imperative: Connect Learning With The World  [Slideshow]. Retrieved from

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time. New York: Allyn and Bacon

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press

Pegrum, M. (2010). “I Link, Therefore I Am”: Network Literacy as a Core Digital Literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346–354.

Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & Sloep, P. B. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use them. First Monday, 17(1). Retrieved from

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

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Introduction: The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Richardson, W. (n.d.). Will Richardson’s Wiki – Connective Writing. Retrieved from

Sheninger, E. (2016, October 2). A Principal’s Reflections: What’s Hidden in You? [Blog Post]. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-life learning. In a new culture of learning : cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, Ky. : CreateSpace

Wenger, E. McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2012). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice: a guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64). Retrieved from

Willemse, A., & Freedman, K. (2013). ANZ 23 mobile things [Blog Post]. Retrieved from


Artefact Review

As a teacher, there’s not much better than finding a resource that encompasses everything you’re after. Jacques du Toit’s digital artefact that aims to jumpstart teachers on their journey to becoming connected is one of those resources.


‘The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’ is separated into sections that explore digital tools that increase a teacher’s’ connectivity as well as firmly establish a connected mindset (du Toit, 2016, para. 1). They include:


  1. What is a connected educator?
  2. What is Twitter
  3. Getting started with Twitter
  4. Google+
  5. YouTube
  6. Podcasts
  7. Facebook
  8. LinkedIN
  9. TeachMeets
  10. Blogging


Seemingly influenced by Simon Sinek’s ‘Starting With the Why’, Jaques first resource makes a strong case for connected learning by embedding high-quality YouTube videos and linking to articles and blogs that convincingly provide the call to arms that some educators may need when initially investigating a topic.


Jacques’ use of active learning principles ensures his learners aren’t bored or consumed by the information. They get to explore, create and play. Another strong design choice was his inclusion of a clear summative checklist after each section. This allows teachers to accurately monitor their progress verse the ‘Challenge Checklist’.’


The scope of this resource is really impressive. Each of the ten sections are composed of solid resources that empower teachers to become connected.
While structurally the web page is a little long when scrolling through, this design decision doesn’t detract from that usefulness of the site. I’ll be using it in the future.

Little Wins

I’ve been having a bit of a battle with my Year 9 English class about blogging. Almost a month ago (in our subject twitter chat), I shared with the group that: 




Their argument centred on the fact that it was “their” work it should be up to them if that was shared. Julie noted: 


That’s a tough argument  to make to an emotional teenager.

Nowadays, the reality of our online lives is that we’re not 100% in control of what is said or posted about us and I think that’s what Julie was referring to in the stirring tweet above. 

Darren Kay and I expressed similar views in regard to Julie’s comment







So now to get you caught up. Keep in mind that we’ve had holidays so we’re not too far down the track!!!! 

After getting students to fill out a Google form to collate their blog addresses, I asked them if I could share their blogs with the class. As expected, there were a handful of students that needed a bit of extra motivation to share their work with their classmates but after a bit of convincing, I managed to get 95% on board.

Of the concerns raised, some new ones appeared… “My work isn’t up to scratch,” “why would someone want to read what I think,” or “I’m a terrible writer.”   

I think this is normal. The journey to becoming a connected learner happens at different paces for different students. I’ll continue to build trust and confidence, and the students will respond. Another member of my PLN had a similar experience  



I’ll keep you posted on more little wins. 

Sunday Morning MOOC

Sunday mornings generally mean an early rise with my young kids, a cooked breakfast, a bottomless cup of some fine percolated coffee, and trawling my Twitter feed to catch up on the ‘likes’ that I didn’t have time to read throughout the week.

A couple weeks ago, I added a new thing to my Sunday morning ritual. Tuning into George Couros and Katie Martin lead the Innovator’s Mindset MOOC or #IMMOC weekly Hangout. Thus far they’ve had some really interesting discussions and a solid lineup of special guests. Last week, Kaleb Rashad really struck a chord when he talked about the importance and power of human centred design in education. Feel free to check it out here.   

Our post material for module 4.2 asked “how would you establish a knowledge network?” Before I respond to that, I began thinking about how Couros created such a following for his network? I suppose fairly easily (if you don’t include writing the book)…  As he’s a prolific blogger and sharer over social media; with a firmly established PLN, the organisation of his Innovator’s Mindset network might not be as difficult.

So what about your average connected educator? Would their process be much different?

Thoughts about the platform would need to be considered. What’s best for sharing ideas? Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder’s (2002) seven principles for cultivating communities of practice also comes to mind and is also something that should be considered. In particular, the first principle, design for evolution. While Couros’ hashtag provides a searchable backchannel for those interested in monitoring the discussion, I really like how he’s chosen to have participants upload brief YouTube reflections. This reflects the design for evolution principle whereby they “combine design elements in a way that catalyzes community development”(p. 53).

But I digress… Couros isn’t your average educator.

If I was to have an active role in creating an education-based knowledge network, I’d promote using Twitter, tagging people within my PLN that I’d think would value participating in it. This would expand to experts within the field, hoping they may retweet the post in order for the network to gain traction.   


Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice : a guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64). Boston : Harvard Business School Press.

Digital Artefact

Even though I posted my artefact in the discussion forum, I thought I’d better post it here.

It targets senior secondary students.

Website: Get Connected

I also created this video that’s embedded within the site.


I’d love to hear your feedback.

Network Peer Learning

Based on the readings this week, this post will briefly tease out some of my thoughts regarding networked peer learning (NPL).

Wenger, McDermott’s and Snyder’s Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice as they address core concepts with NPL. Of the seven, I feel the focus on value as vital. Without this meeting its goal, members would be reluctant to participate.


Prensky’s guidelines for students and teachers provides an important checklist in the establishment of a NPL environment. With regard to his suggestions for teachers, I may have added ensuring you’re using the right platform. Corneli, Danoff, Pierce, Ricuarte, Snow MacDonald also emphasise this with their discussion of Co-Learning Platforms.



Corneli, J., Danoff, C.J., Pierce, C., Ricuarte, P., and Snow MacDonald, L., (eds.) (2016). The peeragogy handbook. 3rd ed. Chicago, IL./Somerville, MA.: PubDomEd/Pierce Press. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2010). Partnering : a pedagogy for the new educational landscape. In Teaching digital natives : partnering for real learning (pp. 9-30). Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin Press.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice : a guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64). Boston : Harvard Business School Press.


Network Literacy

As one would assume, the notion of network literacy has evolved since the conception of the internet.

An early perspective, McClure (1994) defines it as “the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network” (p. 115).

Pegrum’s (2010) definition incorporates much of what McClure had mentioned in terms of the identification and access to information but builds upon the knowledge of the innovation of social media networks.  He notes that individuals access “networks of expertise – identifying, and following or friending, appropriate individuals and groups – to gain access to informed perspectives and specialized information” (p. 348)

Rheingold (2011) expands upon this and explains that “the structure and dynamics of networks influences political freedom, economic wealth creation, and participation in the creation of culture… [and] supports the freedom of network users to innovate.” Here, Rheingold correctly identifies the far-reaching effects of networks.

All agree on its importance as current and future skill.

Like McClure, Pegrum and Rheingold, I believe that network literacy is skill that needs to be addressed. Learners need experience navigating these environments in order to see how fruitful these connections can be.


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

Pegrum, M. (2010). “I Link, Therefore I Am”: Network Literacy as a Core Digital Literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346–354.

Rheingold, H. (2011). Network Literacy Part One. Retrieved from

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