People and Pedagogy

The DLTV annual DiGiCon Conference 2016, held at the Swinburne University Hawthorn Campus was a professionally invigorating experience. The conference reminded me that still, in the 21st century, education is all about people and the relationships they forge. Typically, our classrooms are now rich in technology but this technology is inconsequential without engaged learners and effective educators.

The DLTV annual DiGiCon Conference 2016, held at Swinburne University Hawthorn Campus was a professionally invigorating experience. The conference reminded me that that still, in the 21st Century, education is all about people and the relationships they forge. Typically, our classrooms are now rich in technology but this technology is inconsequential without engaged learners and effective educators.

I had not been to DiGiCon for a few years as, apart from being swamped by new employment responsibilities, quite ironically, I found this conference and others like it had become very tool focussed whereas discussions on people and pedagogy had been largely forgotten. But this year the DiGiCon meeting reflected a shift or growth in our teaching community, as demonstrated by keynote speakers and workshops that focussed on people, learning and relationships. This focus on pedagogy is also a reflection on the key organisers of this conference who network relentlessly and collaboratively to build education in Victoria.

The three keynote addresses that I attended (I did miss one) were very people centric. Jenine Beekhuyzen founder of the Tech Girls Movement spoke of empowering young girls. Rosie and Lucy Thomas spoke with passion about tackling issues of bullying in school communities via Project Rockit; their goal is to create real social change. Steve Brophy communicated with emotion the need to live a life of passion and “walking on to new opportunities and challenges.” These three presentations juxtaposed together, served as a beautiful reminder of the importance of people and what can be achieved when they learn from each other.

Social Networks in Digital Learning Environments

During each keynote presentation, my mind kept wandering to Charles Kadushin’s work on Understanding Social Networks (Kadushin, 2012) as each  presenter demonstrated that they had made powerful use of social networks to effect change. I do laugh at my thought process here, as this writing of Kadushin’s, which I have read as part of my M.Ed journey, is a hard, hard read but as I have discovered, provides good knowledge of how social networks function. During the DiGiCon16 key notes I tweeted:

Networks are also about community & social support (Kadushin). @projectrockit is demonstrating this idea loud and clear at #DigiCon16

— Simon Keily (@aus_teach) July 19, 2016


Networks can be used to break the status quo via interactions and connection. @SteveBrophy3 …nice talk. #thanks

— Simon Keily (@aus_teach) July 20, 2016

The history of civilization is the story of diffusion through networks (Kadushin, 2012). What elements can move through networks? Disease, ideas, opinions, values, traits, physical objects, practises and innovation. The 21st century educator is becoming more adept at acting as a conduit, to facilitate the diffusion of these elements amongst our teaching peers and very importantly into our classrooms, which otherwise act as “networks in a box” or socio-centric networks (Kadushin, 2012). We want to break down the functioning of old classrooms and inject into them new ideas, opinions and practices. It is invigorating to know that as modern networked educators, we have the power to use our social networks to bring a plethora of new ideas and activities into our classrooms and to change how our learning communities engage with knowledge. The enabler of this change is not just technology but also the people we meet while networking at various meets, or while learning and exploring online.

Thanks for reading. Please gift me with your reactions or feedback.



Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: Theories, concepts, and findings. Oxford University Press, USA

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I am a 21st century learner

A few solid months back I began this M.Ed learning journey by writing:

A professional goal is to solidify and expand my knowledge of digital teaching and learning

I dove into this subject head on and wrote early on:

I thought I would scan through Starkey, L. (2011) but a while later I was still reading. A huge Qs is how to get educators and indeed the education system to make the shift in pedagogy that is suggested.

In  a small collection of my notes, housed in Evernote, my reaction to this reading was documented as follows: 

Screen Shot 2014-06-02 at 8.20.45 pm

Such an enthralling concept…Innovative!

Within the context of INF530 the digital age students have been myself and colleagues such as Graham, Bec, Heather and The Other Simon. We have learnt from each other via our digital connections and created new knowledge and developed new understandings. We have participated fully and thus internalised the above ideal. Perhaps we have experienced Peeragogy?

While accessing knowledge networks, I have experienced the participatory culture that is at the foundation of 21st century learning.

I have also begun to develop a deeper understanding of connectivism, in a way that cannot be learnt by the reading of a blog post or listening to a video.  Consequently, I discovered the answer to a question that I posed a few months back:

What does this statement mean? “the connections that enable us to learn more are more important than our current state of knowing” taken from Starkey (2011) and your subject page.

It is vital that we expose our students to this concept to our students and explore with them the connectivist idea that learning can be distributed outside of the learner.

Recently,  I read a post by Steve Wheeler, where he discusses using technology as a mind tool to extend cognitive abilities.

Via experiencing online, participatory learning, I have also learnt that technology, if used appropriately, can extend cognitive abilities (thank you Evernote). I have also become more adept at dipping into the flow of knowledge using tools such as Twitter. These insights have changed my views of 21st century tools that allow digitised knowledge to flow, from node to node, through the social networks that we are a part of.

I have developed strong network awareness, a vital 21st century literacy, by focussing on readings authored b Charles Kadushin, once of the founders of the social network field.

My views and understandings of an educational professional in digital environments have been matured by these studies and the social interactions that have taken place around this learning journey.

Learning anywhere, anytime is a reality for me:

And thus education is at a cross-roads, being disrupted by a ubiquitous spread of digital technologies.  The challenge is to now develop 21st century pedagogies that accept the reality of knowledge networks. The goal of 21st century educators should be to empower students by placing them at the epicentre of their learning: researching, curating, creating and publishing their learning, therebye contributing to the global narrative and in the process constructing their own knowledge.

Take the technology for granted, let it fade into the background and focus on and develop new pedagogies that match the realities of a 21st century classroom.

I wrote in a previous post the following words:

the paradox of innovation without change

The paradox would be to have digital innovations flow into our lives without any real change to the design of classrooms and also the pedagogies that make them places of learning.  Our students demand more than digital textbooks. They want to participate and they do want to learn.

This is the responsibility of an educator in the 21st century.

I must end by acknowledging the professional support of Judy O’Connell, a true 21st century educator and learner.

Thanks to you too Mr. Moodle for your support.

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Information Fluency

‘Information can only be power if you have the skills to use it to develop your journey and turn facts into knowledge. Knowledge is only powerful if it is important to you and your context.’ Richard Gerver.

The world of the 21st century learner is illustrated clearly in the following Youtube clip.

Where do you and I fit into this world?

I am an educator but firstly I am a learner.

I am living through an education revolution. My learning is now mostly in a digital format.

The pace of change I am faced with is staggering.

The world in which I live is so full of knowledge it’s hard to grasp.

I am a connected learner. I communicate with a plethora of people via social networking tools such as Facebook. Some of these Facebook connections are international and although I have met them all, some of our relationships are now purely digital.  I also share knowledge with hundreds of people via Twitter and Google+. My Professional Learning Network continues to grow and grow.

I sense the hyper-connected world in which I live.

I am just a node amongst nodes.

I am developing strong network awareness, which is viewed as an important element of web literacy (Rheingold 2010).

I am also consuming, producing and communicating information like never before.  Therefore, you will find me on Flickr, Soundcloud, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress and more.

I truly am a participant in the globalized world.

And where am I heading? According to the above video, into a world with more people and fewer resources. A busy and competitive world. Perhaps engaging with the Internet of things. On that note. I would love to get my hands on Google glass! I suspect my students would enjoy this technology as well.  😉

In this increasingly digital world I am trying to decide what is more important: the acquisition of knowledge or the development of skills? Reading the blog post Knowing and Doing is helping me to clarify my ideas on his issue. I do know that my students like to learn how to do things in preference to simply learning about things.

I am realising that so far in this M.Ed journey, apart from the knowledge that I have engaged with, it is the skills I have begun to developed that will carry me forward as a 21st century learner. I sense I am developing strong information fluency which is the the capacity to search for, use, and respond to information.

My administrative tool of choice has been Evernote and I am so pleased that I have diligently and patiently collected, curated, tagged and filed digital information in a way to render it easily accessible and searchable.

Quite a few years ago I did my BSc (Hon) thesis. The opening pages of my published thesis contain the following words:

“Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore get wisdom and with all thy getting, get understanding.  Proverbs 4:7

Even ancient writers and thinkers were pondering over what constitutes good learning.


Rheingold (2012) Knowing and doing. Accessed via

Rheingold, Howard. (2010). Attention and other 21st century social media literacies. EDUCAUSE Review 45(5).


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Blogging and photography.

I  began writing this post sitting in the State Library of Victoria. I am now finishing it two days later sitting in my lounge room, feet up, TV on low volume and me still thinking about a “Conversation with Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist” (Rheingold 2014). Embedded in this article is a vimeo recording of Alan Levine (@cogdog) discussing many issues, led in different directions by Rheingold.

I like the way Alan Levine thinks.  He also takes pictures. And of course he blogs.

In my mind, there is a deep connection between blogging and photography. I am new to blogging but one of my long standing passions is photography. It is something I have indulged in for twenty or more years. Never professionally but as a pure escape. Photography is a very mindful activity. I don’t do it all the time but I always come back to my camera to indulge. Photography (not taking snapshots) forces me to slow down and be creative. It also drives my kids nuts.

I am  learning that blogging takes me to the same space as my camera. It demands me to stop, reflect and create. To be reflective.

It’s interesting that Levine and Rheingold ponder if blogging has had its hey day. They chew over the idea that more people are now participating on the web but perhaps are not creating as much as they used to. Levine ponders the idea that people are putting more stuff online but there is a lot of activity involving re-tweeting, re-blogging and the sharing of resources. Which, Levine says is  “Perhaps not as reflective and comprehensive as the idea about doing it in that space that you manage or you own.” i.e a blogging space.

It’s not easy being reflective in a busy place. There is so much to soak up and consume. Sometimes we underestimate ourselves.  We too can create new digital artefacts.  Also, what we have to contribute is unique and important, especially if it makes our thinking visible. A bit like photography.

The ability to stop and ponder is also a skill to teach our young  21st century learners. They do not just have to consume knowledge, they can slow down too and be creative in this participatory culture. Of course curriculum will try to force them otherwise…a little bit like fast moving twitter streams.

There is lots of great photography out in the blogosphere but here is one of my pics for you to stop and ponder.

blog pic

Beneath the Milky Way










Ps: Don’t you just love the term “Pedagogical Technologist” used by Rheingold.


Rheingold, H. (2014) Conversation with Alan Levine, Pedagogical Technologist. Retrieved from

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Learning happens

I thoroughly enjoyed the post by @hbailie titled
Stigmergy, deep reading, and John “Pigsarse” Elliott

I find myself also asking what Rheingold and @hbailie have questioned “Can our digital tools make us smarter?” I too, have undertaken so much deep reading over the last month that my head is about to burst with ideas and questions. I too am being helped along tremendously by a number of digital tools and the network of knowledge that I am plugged into.

The concept of “knowledge in networks” is becoming much clearer to me.

Let me digress (my mind doesn’t sit still for long): I have come to the conclusion, rightly or wrongly, that many of the concepts that we are exploring in this M.Ed journey have strong roots in social network perspectives, such as those presented by Kadushin (2012) and Carolan (2014). In his book “Understanding Social Networks: Theories, Concepts, and Findings” Charles Kadushin reminds us that:

Social networks… have been at the core of human society since we were hunters and gatherers. People were tied together through their relations with one another and their dependence on one another.

(Kadushin 2012)

These observations link in extremely well with the concepts explored by @hbailie in the above post. The ideas of stigmergy and collaborative stigmergy sit well with the concept of people being intimately connected. These thoughts all hint at the need to collaborate and learn together. We are social beings and current shifts in education are reminding us of these connections and how they need prioritising in 21st century pedagogy.

Chatting with @hbailiee at the State Library of Victoria and her subsequent blog post also led me to mull over the writings of Carolan (2014) who presents a social network view of education saying simply that “relationships do matter” and “relational ties between individuals are opportunities for transmission of resources;” (p. 21). This unit of study (Concepts & Practices for a Digital Age) is introducing and reinforcing ideas of connected learning that I have no doubt will transform my professional practice as an educator.

I contrast these meanderings with how dominant views of education isolate learners in the classroom, even attempting to isolate individual actors (in this case students) from one another, even within the classroom setting. Carolan (2014) talks about removing the actor from his/her social context. This is something that I have always struggled with as an educator because the focus of any classroom then is not the students but outcomes. This is stated so eloquently by Connie Yowell in the recording “Connected learning” (DMLResearchHub 2012). Yowell declares that we start with the wrong questions and must move towards a core question that asks “Is the kid engaged?”

So, here we are learning about knowledge networks, stigmergic collaboration, social networks and even connectivism as a learning theory (Siemens 2004). The question that I must answer is; how will my students learn from me next week, the week after…in six months time? Hopefully, slightly (radically) differently.  The trick will be to show these young learners explicitly that they can learn from their classroom networks as well as the extended knowledge networks that they are already connected to, now and in the future.

Let me leave one final quote that hopefully speaks to others within their context of teaching and learning:

Educational research treats learning as an individual outcome, ignoring the messy relational processes through which you form an opinion or an understanding on a topic of interest. Social networks obviously play a central role in the sharing of information and formation of opinions.

These words also spoke to me loudly as I collaboratively built a wiki relating to digital citizenship. The process was collaborative but messy and relational …but that’s another story.


Carolan, B. (2014). Social network analysis and education: theory, methods and applications. California. SAGE Publications

DMLResearchHub. (2012, September 19) Connected Learning: Interest, Peer Culture, Academics. Retrieved April 25, 2014, from

Kadushin, C. (2012). Understanding social networks: Theories, concepts and findings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved November 30, 2009, from

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Bloom, Fink and going SOLO in a BYOD world

Taxonomy of learning in knowledge networks

inmap (1)

A map of my LinkedIn Professional Learning Network


I am science trained and know that in the study of the sciences, taxonomies are not set in stone. The way we classify organisms  has changed since I was a Biology student. Back then we also had nine planets in our Solar System, whereas now we have eight because the way we categorise planets has changed. These changes are a great lesson in how knowledge changes over time. Our world views change.

I am keeping this in mind as I explore the learning taxonomies that have played a major role in education, including those shown below in Figure 1.

Are these taxonomies relevant in 21st Century classrooms?

What is a learning taxonomy anyway? According to O’Neill (2010): “Learning
 are commonly
 develop.” The following image (Figure 1) shows some Taxonomies along with their dates of publication.


Figure 1 : Educational Taxonomies : Sourced from O’Neill & Murphy (2010)

These taxonomies have assisted many educators in describing student learning. So whilst engaging with Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Anderson 2001) we learn to describe student learning in terms of listing, memorising, reciting, classifying, reading, rewriting, finding…to perhaps show they have stored prescribed knowledge in their heads. For your interest read Biggs and Collis (1982) to help develop an understanding of SOLO.

However, educators such as Steve Wheeler (2012) are now making sense of new world views where knowledge is more widely distributed and sits outside of the learner. As Weinberger (2011) says: “Our skulls and our institutions are simply not big enough to contain knowledge. Knowledge is now a property of the network….”

Should we, in light of the connected world we now live in and the knowledge networks that our students can draw on change the  ways we view and describe student behaviour and learning outcomes.  After all, we are now just a node amongst many. Things have changed. The information ecology that we now exist in has changed.

Just for interest, the social graph at the top of this post illustrates my LinkedIn network. This can be seen as a good example of a knowledge network.

Another observation is that these taxonomies describe the individual and do not reflect a connected digital world where learning is becoming “increasingly a networked phenomenon”. (O’Connell 2014)


Educators are now discussing connectivism (Siemens, 2004) which is proving to be a good lens through which to explore 21st Century Learning. Louise Starkey (2010) does this with clarity.  She argues that 21st century educators will be “limited in their ability to teach 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.”

As a simple activity, try Googling “Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy’ using Google images. The colourful search result that appears on my screen suggests that we are struggling to  fit an old tool to a new purpose. Maybe also, we are trying to fit new digital tools into old taxonomies. Steve Wheeler (2012 June 26) talks of “Bloom reheated”. What are your thoughts on this?

As explored by Bawden (2012) “technology does not change the ways of dealing with information” but information ecologies have changed particularly with the advent of social media technologies. In this new information ecology, should we continue to refer to Bloom’s (revised) taxonomy whilst reflecting on lesson plans and pedagogy. Or should we, you perhaps, refer to a new tool through which you would reflect on your teaching?

Computational thinking might provide new guiding language/taxonomies.

Starkey (2011) argues that the connections that a student makes are an  important part of learning in the digital age and “it is through these connections that knowledge is created and critiqued”. This is an extremely important concept that is well worth exploring, particularly if we want to taxonomise such learning while acknowledging collaboration, connections, creation of knowledge and the sharing of this knowledge.


Alongside a group of CSU students scattered through Australia and overseas, I am currently learning to:

  • think critically
  • learn through connections
  • create and share knowledge

Some of the knowledge we are aggregating, curating, tagging, creating and critiquing is shared knowledge as it is stored in and accessible via our knowledge networks. How would Bloom, Fink and Biggs have structured their learning taxonomies to describe the learning that I am participating in?


Bawden, D. & Robinson, l. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187 – 210). London: facet.

Biggs, J. B. and Collis, K. (1982) Evaluating the Quality of Learning: the SOLO taxonomy. New York, Academic Press

O’Neill, G. and Murphy, F. (2010) Guide to Taxonomies of Learning. Retrieved from UCD website

O’Connell, S. (2014) Knowledge Networks – Connected communities, open access, and connected learning [INF530 Module 3]. Retrieved March 29, 2014 from Charles Sturt University website:

Weinberger, D. (2011) Too Big To Know. New York. Basic Books

Wheeler, S. (2012 June 26) Bloom reheated. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from

Wheeler, S. (2012 Oct 26th) Theories for the digital age: Connectivism. [Web log] Steve Wheeler Blogspot. Retrieved from


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Clearing the clouds..

Is that almost Week 1 done and dusted!

I think I am only just beginning to acknowledge that I am actually ‘doing’ my Masters. I think I should say ‘engaging’ in learning. As I settle in, I can now see an enjoyable albeit challenging learning experience ahead. This Masters course is very relevant to my professional journey: –
a) classroom teaching – technology rich classrooms
b) education officer in the museum sector – where we regularly discuss learning in a digital age.

What have I achieved so far:

I am studying two subjects: Digital Citizenship in Schools (ETL523) and Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age (INF530)

Life will be busy! I have begun to engage in the copious amounts of reading and  YouTube videos while recording my personal notes and reflections into Evernote, for example see my raw notes on Digital Citizenship. I will come back and process these over time and add deeper reflections. Evernote will be my place to download my thoughts! I have also inserted a study timetable into Evernote that I can update as need be.

A Flipboard magazine titled “Digital Citizenship In Schools” has also been created.  I will use this to aggregate and share subject content that I have or am about to engage with. I learn by doing (participatory learning) and thus need to undertake these activities to promote my own personal engagement.

On a side note, Graham Clark has built a Flipboard magazine titled “Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age“. Graham has very smartly called his blog “Clouding Around“.

I have been busy on social media but that has been a part of my professional life for a few years now. However, the decision to engage in this course has provided direction to my readings and thoughts. I am already thankful for that. My challenge now is to freely share my thoughts and practices on digital education.

If interested please follow and contribute to both subject discussions on twitter via the following hashtags:

#INF530 :: Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age


#ETL523 :: Digital Citizenship in Schools

Highlights so far.

1) Digital Citizenship – A Global Perspective :: An online discussion about Digital Citizenship.

2) Organising and publishing this wiki :: I had to get it ‘just’ right and learnt a few technical things along the way.

Already I am thinking about the the concepts and practices offered by these two subjects as I go about my daily life either at school or at Scienceworks.

I am wondering what everyone else has been up to?  See you all in the forums or else on twitter.

Happy learning.


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