September 9, 2014

Learning from Successful Creative Organisations

WATERHOLE:  image by Heyheyuwb at en.wikipedia

WATERHOLE: image by Heyheyuwb at en.wikipedia

What are the key common features between most creative office spaces?

  • First and foremost, there is a shared understanding of the culture of the organisation
  • Diversity in design of spaces, to allow people choice & ownership of their workspace & flexibility to redesign workspace so that it best suits the type of work you are doing at the time;
  • Different kinds of spaces for collaboration, reflection, informal & formal meeting spaces, such as neighbourhood spaces & private spaces, fun spaces, rejuvenation spaces, “hanging out” spaces & working spaces.

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March 29, 2014

2.5 Thinking in Networks

Technology by itself will not empower learners. Innovative pedagogy is required.” Curtis J. Bonk.

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I like the title of this module – thinking in NETWORKS.  Technology helps us to create these networks, but it is the discourse that happens with the PEOPLE in these networks that empowers us as learners.  To be part of a thinking network, you have to appreciate that knowledge is not fixed, that is debatable.  Look at how previously undisputed facts have changed over the years, and how people who first started to question these undisputed facts were considered heretical, or mentally challenged.  We’ve often heard the best way to learn something well is to teach it to someone else, and connectivism – learning and thinking in networks – allows for this to happen.  Starkey noted that “if teachers are to empower students to graduate from school knowing how to create, critique and share knowledge, then they need to believe that this is an important aim of their teaching.”  This can’t happen if we don’t allow our students to CONNECT with other students in thinking and learning capacities, and if we don’t help them to CONNECT their learning by making relationships across KLAs.  It also won’t happen if teachers don’t recognise that ACCESS to technology is not enough to equip “…the upcoming generation to be active participants in a digitally enhanced society without understanding how to apply theories of learning that are relevant to a digital age into their practice.” (Starkey p. 2)

It is a challenge to find TIME within our teaching program to allow for CONNECTIVITY to happen, when most of our energies appear to be spent developing conceptual understanding, as mandated by our current outcome-based syllabus documents.  I don’t think our current syllabuses (syllabi??) truly reflect the impact that digital technologies can have on student learning, and consequently our teaching.  I think they are syllabuses still present technology as tools within the context of a traditional view of education, rather than seeing their use as a tool that has the potential to redefine education as a whole.  And that is why we still assess student learning with traditional achievement measures, even though they are not adequate enough to really measure learning gains made possible by students when they are connected and constructive learners.  The digital age may be changing learning, but not how we assess it.

I am excited by the DIGITAL AGE LEARNING MATRIX developed in Starkey, and would like to use it as a lens with my teaching colleagues when I meet with them early next term to collaboratively plan our units of work for Term 2, so we can think about how much TIME we are allocating to the HOTS part of the matrix – the critiquing & evaluating; the creating & sharing of knowledge BEYOND THE 4 WALLS OF THE CLASSROOM.  I think it could be a useful tool to help raise our awareness of where much of our teaching energies are spent, and how we are affecting the learning of our students as a result of this.

Connectivism in action?  Citizen Computing… bringing together over 2000 people in a virtual choir: SLEEP by Eric Whitacre

March 21, 2014

Blog Task #2 Connected Learning & Digital Literacy

It is a confronting thought to recognise that classrooms of today look and feel very much the same as they have for decades, whereas how we live, work and play has changed dramatically.  Has education become “stagnant” (Garcia, 2014, p.6)?  How relevant are current educational practises in preparing students for their future?  This is the context in which we consider the issues around connected learning and digital literacy.
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CONNECTED LEARNING is best summed up in the graphic above, but in summary it essentially is a model of learning that fuses a young person’s interests, friendships and academic achievement through hands-on, interest based learning experiences, supported by encouraging adults, and enhanced by technology.  The graphic above is messy and busy and interwoven – as connected learning should be.

DIGITAL LITERACY, as defined by Paul Gilster (1997, in Bawden, 2008, p.6), is NOT defined by a list of skills or competencies, but is rather “…an ability to understand and to use information from a variety of digital sources…”   It is more about having the right “mindset” about the use and potential of digital resources, rather than the right set of skills needed to be digitally literate.   While digital literacy is built on traditional literacy skills, it goes further to encompass an understanding of and a fluency in a variety of technological tools and systems.  Crocket, Jukes and Churches (2011) maintain that being literate is not enough – we need to aim for FLUENCY in the 21st century.  They argue that being literate means being able to communicate, but still having to consciously think about the processes needed to communicate; whereas fluency is when these processes become internalised and so automatic that we no longer need to be aware of them, so then THINKING can become the focus (rather than the reading, writing or talking etc).  To them, digital literacy is about five different fluencies – solution fluency, creativity fluency, information fluency, media fluency and collaboration fluency.  Whereas Gilster did allude to a set of skills and areas to be aware of in order to be digitally literate, Crocket et al. dedicate much of their book to a number of suggested teaching programs to help develop the various fluencies in students.  So I think it is fair to suggest that digital literacy is two-fold:  it assumes a particular mindset, AND competency with a range of skills that allow you to consume and produce digital content.  It is VITAL that our students are digitally literate in this age of INFOWHELM (Crocket et al., p.3) where everything either IS or CAN BECOME digitised.

The Connected Learning model draws on the “power of today’s technology” to “re-imagine the experience of education in the information age” (from graphic above), thus creating a learning environment where digital literacy can blossom.   Digital literacy competencies are implied both explicitly and implicitly throughout the model:


  • Possibilities made available by social media allow students to learn in a socially meaningful and knowledge rich ecology of participation
  • Online platforms link learning in school, home and community
  • Social media and web based platforms allow for cross-generational learning & community


  • Learning is most effective when it is reinforced and practised in multiple settings (both real and virtual)


  • Learning is most effective when it is ACTIVE – producing, creating, experimenting, designing
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My challenge?  I recognise elements of Connected Learning principles in my teaching practise, and also how these are developing digital literacy in my students – I am a strong believer in learning being ACTIVE and INTEREST BASED.  I am a strong believer in explicitly measuring ACADEMIC GROWTH (in terms of knowledge AND skills AND attitudes) both formatively and summatively throughout my teaching program, and ensuring children and teaching colleagues PARTICIPATE in this measurement process.  We learn in a technology-rich environment and have so for the past few years, so the focus can now be on the use of technology as a LEARNING TOOL, rather than focusing on the technology.  My weak link is PEER CULTURE, so I would like to incorporate more of the PEER CULTURE elements into my teaching practise to build that sense of Learning COMMUNITY, using online platforms and social media to support this.



Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from

Crockett, L., Jukes, I., & Churches, A. (2011).  Literacy is not enough: 21st-century fluencies for the digital age.  Kelowna, B.C. : 21st Century Fluency Project ; Thousand Oaks, Calif. : Corwin, c2011

Garcia, Antero, ed., 2014. Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom.  Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub