Communities of Practice

  1. the actual application or use of an idea, belief, or method, as opposed to theories relating to it.
    “the principles and practice of teaching”

I have been asked to respond to the following two questions:

What are your thoughts and experiences with ‘Communities of practice’ – theory and real life observations?

How important is it to belong to and learn with a community (#such as INF537). Given a choice would you prefer to work/learn alone? Why?

Communities of practice are groups of people who share concerns or a passion for something they do – and very importantly learn how to do it better via regular interaction (Wenger, 2011). The following few Twitter interactions, taken from one of many from my previous week of online interactions,  demonstrate this idea very succinctly.

Earlier this week I reached out with a simple question:

I very quickly obtained a response that presented to me an ocean of ideas and possibilities that collided with mine, providing a rich learning experience.

My discussion also led to me bumping into the following tweet that provided an interesting viewpoint on digital pedagogies, which I have been exploring actively over the last few years.

Each of these chance interactions hints at a limitless exchange of ideas that can lead to very meaningful professional discovery.

Over the last six plus years of very active online participation, I have experienced first hand the networked contexts and encounters that I am currently exploring while being mindful of the digital futures of education and pedagogy. It is within these communities of practice where theories of digital learning become a reality. For example, it is where concepts such as connectivism (the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections), paragogy (Corneli & Danoff, 2011) and peeragogy (Rheingold, 2012) become part of my everyday practice and scholarship.

With the digital futures of education in mind, it is here that we need to take our peers and students to allow them to learn that good learning is social.


Corneli, J., & Danoff, C. J. (2011) Paragogy. In: Proceedings of the 6th Open Knowledge Conference, Berlin, Germany. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2012). Toward peeragogy. DML Central, 23 [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. (2011). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from


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Digital Scholarship – A Conversation

What are your thoughts on Digital Scholarship?
I am exploring ideas of #digped as part of a Master of Education programme (Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation) and the relevance of Digital Scholarship to the secondary sector.
In describing Digital Scholarship Martin Weller says people always get bogged down by definitions and so describes digital scholarship as shorthand for the following three things intersecting:
Digital content, distributed by networks, with open and associated practices and technologies.










The intersection of these three approaches provides fertile ground for the transformation of practice ( Weller, 2011) -which I am thinking also applies to teaching practice in the secondary sector.

Via a comment below, you are invited to leave your thoughts on the following questions.

What do YOU think digital scholarship is?

Is digital scholarship a useful and practical term?

Is it relevant to your sector? How?

Will this model of Digital Scholarship lead to traditional pedagogies being challenged?

Or else, post a question if you are not sure of the meaning of the above ideas.

If you came here via twitter please retweet my tweet.

Weller’s blog is here, if you are curious:


Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar: How technology is transforming scholarly practice. A&C Black.

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Innovation without change? (Again)

I recently participated in an online group colloquia led by Bruce Dixon from Modern Learners, who are doing great things in the education space. Amongst other things, we discussed whether we thought that the schools that we taught in were catering for the modern learners that inhabit our classrooms. The resounding opinion was that they were not. This is no surprise as emerging scholarly analysis shows this loud and clear. In fact, much effort is now directed towards building explanations of why teaching practice is not shifting in response to the changing contexts of teaching. See here my own small amount of research that provides a brief background on this work, with a focus on teacher beliefs about knowledge. In summary, the dominant pedagogies that we all rely on have not changed in any significant way. We embrace the ubiquity of technology and then return to the didactic pedagogy of transmission of knowledge (Wright & Parchoma, 2011).

To prompt discussion, Bruce provided the following idea to reflect on, as first advocated by Seymour Papert. Perhaps we have forgotten that students in our care come to school to learn how to learn.  What are your thoughts here?  What does it mean to learn?

Looking Back.

Why the lack of significant pedagogical change in our education system? I have written elsewhere on this blog about the paradox of innovation without change, which to be brutally honest, means there has been little innovation in teaching practice. It is time to be honest.

Within this context, it is worth giving time to the following ideas.

“Schools and schooling have a long history and practices that persist over time even after the origins of the practice are long forgotten” (Bigum, 2012). Drawing on Actor Network Theory, Bigum argues that past ways of doing things, play a role in not only what can be done but also on what can be imagined is significant. An online version of this paper is available below.

What tracks laid down long ago do you think continue to frame and shape present day pedagogies, so that predominantly transmissionist pedagogies persist in our classrooms?

Please gift me with your thoughts.


Bigum, C. (2012). Edges, exponentials & education: disenthralling the digital. In L. Rowan (Ed.), Transformative approaches to new technologies and student diversity in futures oriented classrooms: Future Proofing Education (pp. 29-43). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. Retrieved from

Wright, S., & Parchoma, G. (2011). Technologies for learning? An actor-network theory critique of ‘affordances’ in research on mobile learning. Research in Learning Technology, 19(3), 247-258.

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Digital Futures – The Threat of Technology

And so here I am, nearly at the end of a Charles Sturt University, Master of Education – specialising in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation.  To finish this learning journey, we (myself and study peers) have been asked to navigate a unit on Digital Futures, designed to open debate and scholarship.

Is technology a threat to education?  This provocation has been offered to us within an educational context where learning scholars acknowledge that technology is an integral element of contemporary education. And yet, while much of the education sector is now dripping in technology, there is little evidence to show that learning outcomes, as we currently measure them, have been improved by this technology.

What do you think the digital future of education entails?

Keep in mind that the rhetoric that surrounds educational technology does not match the messy reality – where many argue, little transformation of teaching and learning has taken place.

You might enjoy the following simple prompt:

I look forward to you joining in on this debate by posting here.


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