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

Going Deeper


I’ve been meaning to blog about this for the past two weeks but it’s seemed to escape me until now.

For some time, I’ve considered myself a ‘connected educator’. I share my education opinions on social media and I look to connect with and learn from others as a means of improving my professional practice.

Often, these ‘connections’ to different nodes in my network can seem impersonal. You get a resource here… read an article there… you like or + someone’s tweet or post. At the end of the day, a lot of this communication doesn’t feel as personal as it could or should.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was lucky enough to have some time up my sleeve and happened to stumble upon a post from Julie asking for people to provide an authentic audience for some students. Without really thinking about it, I clicked on the link, expecting to be in a username on a list of hundreds watching some sort of live presentation. Imagine my surprise to find myself one of two people in a fuze meeting space with some very passionate students from Helensvale State High School. They skillfully presented a social justice initiative and took time to respond to my questions. The students then asked about what social justice issues students at my school were interested in or currently addressing and wanted to know if they could contact them to talk about their passions. How about that?…

Reflecting back, maybe I haven’t been as connected as I possibly could be. Could I be working harder to establishing stronger, more meaningful collaborations? Surely these learning opportunities and connections would provide greater learning avenues for my students.

My challenge now is to dig through the curriculum and see where it makes sense to collaborate with other groups and to strengthen the relationships that already exist within my PLN.
Oh and here’s the link to students’ GoFundMe page:

Exploring the Concept of a Connected Educator

This blog post will explore prompts from Nussbaum-Beach and Hall’s (2012) chapter ‘Defining the Connected Educator’

Have you moved beyond cooperation? What role is collaboration playing in your professional learning and practice? What’s new about collaboration for 21st Cent learners.

Nussbaum-Beach and Hall’s (2012) chapter ‘Defining the Connected Educator’ defines some of the characteristics of a connected educator. Of them, the pair highlight collaboration as a skill required by connected educations and argue that it goes beyond simple cooperation in that the contributions of individual members are valued more as they are irreplaceable on account of a unique skillset, knowledge or ability (p.12).  


Looking critically at the role of classroom teacher, it’s difficult to say how much of a shift towards Nussbaum-Beach and Hall’s version of collaboration has been made. Schools that value cross-curricular opportunities for their students would require this collaboration amongst staff whereas those that only utilise curriculum planning within domains would rely on cooperation.


In terms of my own professional practice, I feel that my professional learning network and further university study has strengthened the teams that I operate within. By developing a unique skillset within knowledge networking and digital innovation field, I feel that my contributions are harder to replace in my current work environment. This leads me to believe that much of how I interact within teams is collaborative.


As for twenty-first century learners, collaboration has been amplified on account of technology. It’s “transformed how people find each other, interact, and collaborate to create knowledge” (ibid, p. 13). Social media platforms and abundant web-based resources exemplify this.


Are you multiliterate? Of these literacies, which is the most surprising to you? Which do you find the least most challenging?

After taking the self-evaluation rubric for new literacies of the 21st Century, I’m happy to report that I’m officially multiliterate. My strongest section was ‘model digital age work and learning.’ I feel as though I can effectively contribute, collaborate and communicate in digital forms. I use every opportunity to explore and utilise digital tools that enhance student achievement.

At times it is difficult to utilise and implement the data collected to inform learning and teaching that further enables personalisation. Teaching is a profession that is generally time poor. Greater time release/allowance would enable more effective targeting of this outcome.   



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.

New Culture of Learning Reflection

Thomas and Brown’s (2011) ‘new culture of learning’ reflects “a growing digital and networked infrastructure [that] is amplifying our ability to access and use nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting to one another at the same time”(p. 17-18, 2011). They highlight “play, questioning and imagination” (p. 19) as the base of this approach to learning.


This culture of learning is something that’s resonated with me and reflecting back to recent years, has encapsulated some of my evolution as an educator. I’ve been able to take my learning online and grow and connect with other educators by sharing resources, opinions and classroom experience. Questioning has been the driving force behind this journey of professional improvement and it’s been successful as a result of exploration or ‘play’ on networked environments.


Thomas and Brown (2011) posits: “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). Herein lies the difficulty when attempting to change school culture to enable a focus on modern education. Many educators are not yet ready to make that shift despite the technological change that’s already happened. Without this acceptance, many will continue to use the ‘old culture of learning.’



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.

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