Musings on the artefacts of others

The recently submitted artefact assessment for INF532 has not surprisingly encouraged a considerable range of responses, employing a diverse range of tools and processes to encourage resource users to become more connected. I have included below some ideas about some of the resources that were most different in context and concept to my own artefact.

Jacques Du Toit designed an instructional ten step process for educators to connect. The artefact includes depth of resources, ideas and instructions to make the project achievable, whist all the while connecting via the hashtag, #connected10, to share the journey. The range of tools recommended are scaffolded for those new to their use with instructions and achievable steps. The concepts of connection and exploring new tools is reinforced through the variety of means, via which elements within the artefact have been created. Instructional design is evident through the careful sequencing of activities, building connectedness through potentially passive social media contexts right through to the reflection, sharing and participation of blogging.

Sean Bint’s connected educator app is a little like the Swiss army knife of connected educator resources. It shows considerable thought about the functionality and resources one might need to connect, providing inbuilt access to social media and other relevant links, as well as functioning as a curation tool. It is a concept I could see streamlining the challenge of managing information overload by providing a one-stop tool that incorporates the essential needs of the connected educator/learner.

My own approach focused on developing connections for educators, but others including Cameron Innes focused on connected education and PLN development for students; an important consideration given that they are the next workforce for whom the skills in connection will be such an imperative. Cameron draws together an analysis of concepts for students that provide the chance to consider more about themselves as learners in the digital learning environment; not assuming his students to be digital natives, but acknolwedging and encouraging their learning in the many ways it may occur.

Yvette Drager contextualises the concept of the PLN in the familiar story of the three little pigs. The appropriation of this story to the context of building a PLN uses a light-hearted approach to encourage action. Amidst humour and fun, Yvette provides encouragement and recommendations to create and maintain networks, curate and manage information and to share and collaborate in order to learn and support the learning of others.

The INF532 PLN have provided each other and their own extended networks with some amazingly deep and useful resources.

Distance vs online – a changing perspective on university study.



Image attribution: Distance by Daniel Horacio Agostini, Retrieved from Flickr, Creative Commons licence.

As a student undertaking the study of a Masters by ‘distance’, Todhunter’s report made me question my own assumptions about the mode of study with which I am engaged.

The semantics involved in the difference between distance education and online education are quite significant. Distance education by its linguistic meaning infers there is physical distance, which for most participants is true; but if we put on our global educator hats, our new context would suggest that the power of online connection (through the forums, blogs, Twitter chats, online meetings, hangouts, shared documents and other modes of online study connection) is anything but distant and in fact quite connected.

At no point have I felt unable to connect with my peers and lecturers despite their presence (at times) on the other side of the globe. With a little thinking around time zones, the online environment has minimised the sense of distance.

Todhunter discusses the perspective that the prospect of online study may be disparate to some learners’ views of a suitable learning environment. On the contrary, my current work and home life prohibit me from studying in any format other than online, so I see the choice to be able to study off campus as an inclusive alternative. The author posits that the mode of study must:

  • Be compatible with the student’s situation
  • Provide valuable learning experiences
  • Provide an accessible support process

I would argue that these aspects have all been present in my current degree and infact, in many ways, more so than in my undergraduate, on campus mode of study; for example, contacting lecturers via email/forums is often a quicker means of achieving an answer than my past days of tracking down the person during their work day.

I would be interested in the comparative analysis of under and post graduate study, as perhaps for those new to university level, the more independent nature of fully online study is not so compatible. As Todhunter implies, the informal social connections and impromptu learning scenarios are important and may make more of difference in the undergraduate context.

The various modes of study discussed will each appeal to different people due to their differing needs and lifestyles, and, as we might suggest for our own students, providing students with options about how, where and when they learn in the university context is more likely to meet the diverse needs of the student body. For me, online study is definitely a challenging road, but it is no longer a lonely journey.


Todhunter, B. (2013). LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education, 34(2), p.232-252

Connections for Learning Part 2

I posted recently about my plans to connect Year 6 PYP students with experts relevant to their lines of inquiry. This week’s exhibition brought together a notable result of connecting these learners with an amazing person. This particular group were inquiring into access issues for people with a disability and I was able to arrange a meeting with a man who both has a disability and whose engineering pathway has led him to start an incredible company who advocate and foster design and awareness for disability access in Australia and through parts of Asia. He was the Young Australian of the Year for the ACT in 2014 and has a string of awards and notable achievements.

The young students were able to ask important questions of their guest, hearing his stories first hand and with a chance to consider what it means to design for access and meet needs for all people through a design-thinking process.

Following the meeting, the students were inspired to plan the remainder of their exhibition presentation with their new perspective in mind, developing a concept that emphasised an experience of empathy, which paralleled the processes our guest uses with his own colleagues and university students to improve design outcomes, equality and access.

Without the chance to meet in person and ask their questions, the students may not have gained the insight that they were subsequently able to incorporate into their final presentation.


To Diigo or not to Diigo



Image attribution: Lock, by Toni Verdu Carbo. Retrieved from FlickrCreative Commons Licence

OK Diigo, I tried you out again, and I’m not a fan! Perhaps I am not a skilled operator and others will testify to your worth, but I personally have found you an underwhelming curation space 😉

I think I signed up to Diigo two years ago when I started my masters, made a couple of obligatory entries and then had not opened it until the Module 5 requirement to add case study examples. I can see why I had not returned!! Bookmark vs Topic? I couldn’t decide, but the fact I could not (seem to) add a link within topic left me bookmarking. I added my information, but wanted within one post to present further relevant linked resources. If it is possible, it was not immediately obvious to me. As it doesn’t (seem to) have the level of functionality I would like, I can’t see myself continuing to use it.

On the upside, I can see worth in collating a shared curation of tools and resources and my recent interaction has made me actually notice the regular Diigo alert emails I receive to indicate updated input from others on the Knowledge Networks group. Will I maintain awareness? Perhaps a little more than I did … maybe.

Not Drowning, Waving! … I think!


Image attribution: Sinking Meeting Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig. Retrieved from FlickrCreative Commons Licence.

So, one week to go before Assignment One submission time and not going to lie, I feel a bit overwhelmed. Procrastinating by blog writing? How did you guess! I am nearly finished the creation process for my artefact, but feeling pretty uncertain about its value at present. My goal has been to create a convincing resource for reluctant teachers to assist them in the process of improving their connectedness, both within their local space and beyond via Twitter. It has been challenging to know how to approach this task, as my desire has been to create something that is useful for my workplace, where having only started there this term, I am still working out the needs and logistics of what strategies will work.

I think that in order to kickstart motivation to connect, I need to formally acknowledge the challenges that become the barriers to teacher self-improvement: time, motivation, needing to see the worth before the investment. I feel as though in my workplace, there are many who are at the beginning of their connected educator journey, whilst others have made progress and are ready for extension.

For these reasons, I have created (or at least started) quite an array of examples in various tools, slowly working out in the process what to actually incorporate. Wanting my resource to have value for most has lead me to the creation of an artefact with multiple components, some of which I probably still need to eliminate.

So now, time to step back and write my exegesis (“exe-what?” was my first reaction!). Let’s hope I don’t get too carried away there too and have to spend all of next weekend deciding which precious words to cull (yes, word reduction is my usual enemy in the days before submission!) alongside the elimination process for the artefact itself.

OK – back to it!

Connections for Learning

Last week I wrote the following in our subject forum when thinking about how I might incorporate some learning from experts via Skype:

Forum Post

I found Silvia Tolisano’s blog posts really inspiring. I think I could get easily carried away with the exciting event of a Skype expert visit without developing the learning design around it. Tolisano’s setting of context and the diversity of learning experiences she describes are rich and important. Her students learnt not only from the information their guest shared, but also how to pose questions, conduct themselves in different roles, converse politely with an adult expert, use social media conventions and to document and reflect on their learning. Her statement that “No lesson, no event and no learning should stand alone” is a great mantra that may be used to ensure learning is contextualised and meaningful.

Year 6 students at my school are preparing their final PYP exhibition and as a mentor, it has given me the chance to consider experts who might assist students in their preparation for their presentations. I am hoping to set up two interviews with people relevant to topic areas students are investigating. My challenge at the moment is making the connection happen with busy competing schedules. Fingers crossed it is something I can manage. Having not done this before it is an exciting prospect.

Following this post I have since conducted a Skype interview with one group of students with an athlete and Exercise Physiology university student relevant to their study of technology in sport. We prepared questions, considering ideas that might not be Googleable responses, so the students’ questions illicited answers about personal experience and educated opinion that they would not have found in traditional searches for information. We recorded the interview for students to use to inform their process as well as to potentially use sections for multimedia aspects of their exhibition presentation.

The second expert opportunity has even more exciting promise, with the expert offering to visit next week while in the local community and with the possibility of further interaction with the school to workshop innovative design for people with disability. This is an exciting prospect and I’d have to say these events are really energising for me as a teacher to see the potential for learning that such interactions with connections in the broader community might have for students.


Tolisano, S. 2011. Lang witches blog post: Framing a Skype learning experience. Retrieved from…/framing-a-skype-learning-experience

Network Literacy – Module 3.1


Image attribution: Gerd Altmann. Retrieved from Pixabay

How do McClure and Rheingold’s views on network literacy differ?

What do you see as having changed between these authors’ definitions of being ‘network literate’?

McClure’s 2004 network literacy focus was on information and being able to interpret and manage information in its connected digital context. In 2009, Rheingold emphasised the power of the human aspect of the networks, being able to connect with others to make an impact on the world through a global digital context.

The essential element of change that would seemingly impact the difference in these two researcher’s perspectives is the advancement of the internet from an entity based on a one-way flow of information, to a two-way interactive network providing scope within web 2.0 for users to interact with and impact the flow of information. Now, even more so than in 2009, the internet has evolved further to fully integrate an online life into our real world existence.

Although an integrated digital life has become the norm for many, others still engage in daily lives quite effectively without tapping in to the rich network of information and connection that is now at our fingertips and would argue that there is little reason for them to do things differently. However, there are very few jobs of the future that will exist without the necessity for people to be flexible, adaptive, connected, creative problem solvers and those reluctant to adapt may limit their options and find themselves without the skills to reinvent themselves amongst ongoing change. Educators who do not adapt their pedagogy to include some level of networking for learning, perhaps risk hindering their students’ preparation for continual societal change.

Lifelong learning is tiring! It is certainly not easy to try and remain vital in a world that won’t stop still; however, personal networks that support each individuals’ needs are likely to ease the burden, create social connection for learning together and provide networkers with time-saving resources and connections from whom answers and advice can readily be sought.


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

Rheingold, H. (2009).  Network literacy part one: The internet’s architecture of    freedom. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2009). Network literacy part two: Sarnoff, Metcalfe, Reed’s    Laws. Retrieved from


Moving Towards Connected Education


Image attribution: “Connection” by Jerzy Durczak, Flickr. Creative Commons License

A response to The Connected Educator – Chapter One

Moving beyond cooperation to collaboration ….

Jennifer Gonzales wrote about the challenges vs the impetus for open door classrooms and provides a measured and convincing perspective here on her blog. I have been lucky in my work and study to have significant opportunities to truly collaborate with my colleagues and peers and experience structures that have required me to press outside of my comfort zone and play an active role teaching and learning with others, often without the option to shut the door and teach by myself.

My recent school has a team teaching structure, within which teachers worked in collaborative teams to prepare learning experiences for students, facilitate lessons, assess students and evaluate the whole experience. Classroom spaces are open and looking up to find the room filled with visitors is not uncommon.

It is a unique school where these structures are quite new to all involved, and is therefore not without challenges; but in the time I worked in this environment, I found the structure enabled me to learn constantly with and from my colleagues, to develop and refine ideas where discussion and planning invariably led to more interesting learning experiences than I would have planned on my own and genuine, honest evaluation where successes and failures were acknowledged and plans were made for improved future learning experiences.

Last session, the unit Digital Citizenship in Schools (ETL523) included a collaborative group task. Whilst again not without challenges, this assignment gave me a unique opportunity to see the power of multiple perspectives coming together in a digital space to develop and refine meaningful content.

These examples have been invaluable in developing my skills in a post closed door classroom environment, to feel comfortable working alongside my peers in robust processes that are focused on successful learning outcomes.

Collaboration in professional learning and practice ….

This week I have commenced a role as a Technology Coach, where I will be involved in supporting colleagues through the successful integration of technology in their classes. Whilst again, I anticipate there will be challenges, it is exciting to have opportunities to share knowledge, skills and learning to improve learning outcomes.

In a digital context, I have involved myself in a few different educational chats on Twitter, connecting with others from many different backgrounds and sharing resources and ideas. I have found these to be the kind of collaborative conversations that Nussbaum-Beach encourages (2012) – focused on topics of practice, solution-focused, rather than the complaints and negativity that are often too readily shared in many educational circles where teachers are overwhelmed and uncertain of how to move forward.

What’s new and different about learning for 21st century learners?

Learning no longer needs to be focused on remembering existing information, this can be found at the click of a button. More important today are developing skills to think creatively; critical thinking for problem solving; effective, collaborative relationship skills and multiliteracy – the capacity to interpret and apply information from a range of different sources and in various forms. However, learning in a more contemporary style does not just happen and these new focus areas need to be fostered. For example, creativity emerges in the intersections of existing and new knowledge. This intersection may be more readily found when communicating with a less homogeneous group than one’s real world connections. Thus a broad online PLN has the potential to help educators develop creative approaches in their classroom.

Multiliteracy and me ….

I like to believe that I am fostering my own multiliteracy skills through my work, study and professional use of social media. Although I can see that many others are doing an inspirationally better job than I am, my investment in this regard has greatly changed who I am as an educator over recent years. My visual brain enjoys the graphic version of Nussbaum-Beach’s “Day in the Life…” that can be found here.


Gonzalez, J. (2013). Open your door: Why we need to see each other teach. Cult of pedagogy

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.

Powerful learning practice. (2012). A day in the life of a connected educator – Using social media in 21st century classrooms – infographic. Retrieved from

New Culture of Learning

info tsunami
Image attribution: Mark  Smiciklas, “Social Media Information Overload” Flickr Creative Commons Licence

In recent years, I have worked in one school where change was resisted by many and another where a ‘new culture of learning’ (Thomas and Brown, 2011) was more evident. The earlier example is a school where the students are generally compliant and many want to simply achieve results to get an ATAR, hence there are minimal behavioural issues and students ‘look’ involved in their work.  Sometimes challenge in the classroom can create an impetus for a creative, new response; here however, the perception of successful student engagement and learning was clouded by cooperative obedience.

Leadership began to see the need for progress and conducted a ‘visible learning’ investigation (based around John Hattie’s research); the results of which indicted that many students could not identify the specifics of what they were learning and could not see value in their learning experiences. This has given evidence for the school to build upon, convincing the more reluctant individuals to consider what will make learning more meaningful, relevant and necessary. It was great to see this momentum get started.

The more recent example is a school that embraces a ‘new culture of learning’ resembling that described by Thomas and Brown. In this context I have seen many exciting examples of teachers implementing a cultural shift from traditional methods to incorporate more examples of play, authentic learning, collaboration and creativity. The results of this have spoken for themselves; the more creative and enjoyable the task, the more students have engaged; and in a school system where non-submission is often an issue, some tasks have achieved 100% submission rates on the due date. Students were excited about their learning and wanted to share this with their teachers and peers.

My own personal shift as an educator has also been dramatic. Taking a role in a new school inadvertently meant teaching in unfamiliar territory and I have had to reimagine my teaching strategies, no longer the content expert. Interestingly, I found that the investment I made to structure facilitated, digitally connected units of study, enabled some very effective learning experiences when compared with classes for which I was a content expert and reverted to more traditional techniques.

My own learning journey through CSU is my third experience of distance study.  Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation is thankfully a huge advance on my lonely earlier experiences of independent distance education, reliant on snail mail and inadequate local libraries. Through this degree, I have developed my skills as a connected learner, making the most of online tools to maintain my notes, research and course materials, connecting with the community through the forums and blogs (where I have learnt as much from others as from the module contents), developing and extending an ever-evolving online PLN to enable information to come directly to me through Twitter, RSS and other platforms. Starting this degree two years ago, the thought of sharing my ideas, research and knowledge in an online environment terrified me (admittedly, it is still quite intimidating) but I have come to realise that my inexpert opinions and insights can have value when shared with an online community; they have generated discussion and helpful feedback, leading to further learning through a broader PLN.

Modern life is complex and information overload can be quite overwhelming, however I would not want to go back to a pre-Web 2.0 world as the interactive, socially connected and creative digital world provides significant opportunities to learn with and from others, create and share content and to connect with experts in a unique and meaningful way; all of which enable me to augment my own learning journey with play, questioning and imagination, alongside that of students and educators with whom I work.


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. Routledge. New York & London.

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.

Change is Afoot


Image attribution: The Open Doors by ClaraDon. Source Flickr.  Creative Commons License.

The journey of my Masters study in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation has been eventful. I have completed 5/8 of the qualification since commencing in July 2014 and it has been an incredible journey of skill and knowledge acquisition, making connections, broadening my mind and evolving my career. My emerging qualification has now helped me change my career pathway for a second time, as I am soon to move schools and start a position as a Technology Coach, moving out of welfare and curriculum roles to establish myself more as a leader in digital learning. When I embarked on my study two years ago, I did not quite envision the speed with which my pathway might change and open opportunities. On the cusp of starting the unit, Knowledge Networking for Educators, I am excited to be undertaking a role in my work life that is now specifically relevant to my study, thus bringing together two enormous and previously disparate entities in my life.

Having been on leave after surgery in Term 2, I have enjoyed time where, whilst recovering, I have had the luxury to study unimpeded, create artwork, read novels and watch a myriad of TV series I would never normally be able. Amongst these activities,  I have been reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. I have highlighted an inordinate amount of Couros’ text as it resonates with me so strongly.

Couros reaffirms so much of what I believe about the changes needed to engage innovation and progress in today’s schools. Couros sites a colleague’s concept that our world is at a “printing press” moment in time (2015, Introduction). We are amidst change and it is necessary that educators embrace it, as the ostrich-sand approach is no longer an option. As a darkroom photography teacher of old, my teaching was perhaps thrust through change more forcefully with the advent of digital photography than many of my colleagues. Costs rose, technology created a simpler option, the darkroom was closed and I had to reinvent myself. Not many educators have such an impetus, however it is just as necessary for all educators to remain vital. Couros warns that without innovation, educational facilities (amongst other organisations) will cease to exist.

How to embrace this change? Couros advocates a range of possibilities with a few ideas key to my perspective summarised here:

  • People are essentially social, embrace relationships and connections first and foremost
  • Invest in professional learning for teachers. We need time and a leadership commitment to support transition
  • Build trust, empathise, allow risk, embrace failure
  • Harness technology with learning as the goal
  • Less is more – select areas for innovation, with a strategic plan and prioritisation
  • Build a culture that celebrates success, enables collaboration and is oriented in a growth mindset



Couros, G. (2015) The innovator’s mindset. Dave Burgess consulting. San Diego. CA.

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