Communities of Practice – an audio reflection

As part of Module 2 of INF537 we are invited to think about Communities of Practice (CoP)…. Here I share my “thoughts and experiences with ‘Communities of practice’ – theory and real life observations” in a podcast (since the 1:30 on flipgrid was way to short).

Communities of practice must be one of the oldest forms of social learning around. Etienne Wenger and his co-authors and associates provide us with a useful definition and framework with which to describe and investigate CoPs. In the podcast embedded below, I discuss my understanding of this form of social learning and investigate the extent to which a Facebook group for school librarians: Int’l Library Connection functions as a CoP.

Listen to my reflection here… This is my first attempt at creating a podcast, part of my personal challenge during INF537 to be a participatory learner and share my thoughts as a connected learner.


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


Creating my PLE for ETL523

I am having a meta-learning moment here at the beginning of ETL523, as I notice how I am preparing for my next formal learning experience…

I find myself consciously creating my Personal Learning Environment, or as Morrison calls it a “self-directed learning space”, as I:

  • Adjust my daily ISTE feed
  • Search twitter’s #tags to see where digital citizenship fits in (#digcit, #DigCitPLN, #digitalcitizenship, #DigitalWellbeing, #onlinesafgety, #digitaletiquette, #digitalfootprint, …)
  • Adjust tweetdeck
  • Add #digcit gurus & fanatics to those I follow on twitter (@DrKMattson)
  • Join a facebook group
  • Join the recommended Diigo group and brows resources
  • Add to feedly (Steve Wheeler, Lee Watanabe-Crockett & Andrew Churches, …)
  • Reaching out to my PLN, I sift through the contacts of past lecturers and fellow-students to see who they know and follow.

It is clear to me that somewhere in the past year, since I started my Med (KN & DI) studies, I have become a believer in the connectivist concept that knowledge resides in the network, or  that in the connected world we develop knowledge through a series of connections, as I have done as I spent time and energy developing connections with people, groups and organisations with common passions and interests.

  • I order a few books: Wheeler, Watanabe-Crockett & Churches, Greenhow, James, Mattson
  • I pull out a couple of old books: Mike Ribble, Jason Ohler

I create a new category in my Thinkspace blog with anticipation, because during the last module of study I learnt from Sylvia Tolisano that “Blogging is not an activity but a process” and Harold Jarche  challenges me as he finds blogging his “strongest form of learning”.

I consider and investigate new digital tools: Google keep and Tiki Toki timeline visualisation (and disregard both almost immediately). I lament the demise of Horizon Report and Wikispaces and wonder with @JulieLindsay about the cost of using “free tools”…

I reflect on how much further I start the journey this semester on the “Seven Degrees of Connectedness” (Lucier & Tolisano). Not only a lurker any longer I am keen to stretch myself and collaborate. I am ready to actively manage my learning environment, to learn, to connect, to share and to contribute to the creation of knowledge.

ETL523: Ready or not, here I come!


INF532 Assignment 2: Network literacy evaluative report

Evaluating my networked learning experiences

Knowledge Networking for Educators (INF532) is only the second module of my Master’s studies and already my conceptual understanding of fundamental concepts such as learning and knowledge, and the role networks are playing in the information age, has changed significantly (Wocke, 2017a, Wocke, 2017b, Wocke 2017c).

Siemens’ (2006) views on connectivism informed my emerging understanding of learning and knowledge: Knowledge is no longer only recorded in artefacts such as books and journals, nor is its creation and exchange exclusively the task of institutions such as schools, universities, and libraries – knowledge and information now also resides in vast and complex digital networks. We can learn from anyone, anywhere, at any time. Learning is now more than static personal knowledge acquisition, it also involves dynamic processes such as decision-making and connection-making – learning requires participating and creating in these networks of knowledge. Siemens says it well: “Instead of the individual having to evaluate and process every piece of information, she/he creates a personal network of trusted nodes: people and content, enhanced by technology.” (p.33).

I was not very well “connected” when I started this module, but quickly my INF532 studies convinced me of the need to engage in learning in these knowledge networks. The practice-based and experiential learning format of this course provided me with the opportunity to explore this networked environment. I developed the skills and competencies needed to choose who I will connect with, in which spaces I will learn, and which tools and new formats of information production I will use to manage and harness the continuous flow of resources and information. Some of my explorations were recorded in journal format on Exploring KN tools, a page on my blog (Wocke, 2017d).

Using Twitter, the social networking and microblogging service, was my first intentional step to connect with the global network of educators. This is where I read the “headlines” of what is happening in the world of education and daily receive DIY-professional development, presented by people I choose to listen to and learn from.


Direct contact with great educators who can and will respond to me thrills and inspires me! I learnt to curate this flow of information with Tweetdeck and Twitter lists. Together with the “#INF532”-cohort I explored a Tweet chat, a format I did not find very effective, more meaningful conversations happened in spontaneous twitter messages with other students. This is a clear illustration to me that tools must be carefully evaluated and chosen for personal use, as I wrote in the second part of this contribution to the discussion forum (Wocke, 2017e).

Communication, cooperation and collaboration with members of my INF532 cohort convinced me of the value of peer-learning in networked communities. The INF532 “ecosystem”, or knowledge network, acted as the catalyst through which new knowledge could emerge (Cormier, 2010), it is regrettable that more exchange and development of ideas did not take place in the discussion forums and that few students blogged during the study session. Links made during online meetings and in the discussion forums led to a fun collaboration experiment that one of my classmates blogged about (GWTeaches, 2017a; Gillingham, 2017). We both learnt and were inspired by the experience. While I had previously blogged about Lucier (2012)and Tolisano’s (2012) “Seven degrees of connectedness”, I was not convinced that mere connectedness would lead to friendship – this collaborative experience convinced me: I am now connected with an Australian teacher librarian who will be a friend, as well as a valuable member of my personal learning network (PLN), for a long time (Wocke, 2017f)!

I continued to build my PLN and social learning environment by joining various wikis, Facebook and WhatsApp groups for librarians. These communities act as knowledge networks where I can ask questions, volunteer answers and suggestions, and share good practice. I wrote about one such experience here (Wocke, 2017g). My “learning” has now moved out into digital spaces and platforms, taking on a social form, it happens on-demand and is completely self-directed and personalised. Learning is no longer something formally planned, but happens informally and spontaneously all the time. I am convinced that this is what learning should be and am committed to further explore alternative flexible technology-based learning environments and approaches, such as flipped, blended- and flat learning, to create authentic student learning experiences, which are teacher-crafted, but student-directed (Wocke, 2017h).

As I found it almost impossible to keep track of all the great resources I was exposed to in this world of information overload, I experimented with a number of tools until I settled on feedly, as news aggregator and diigo as social bookmarking tool. Diigo groups now form part of my knowledge networking web. I find tagging and commenting valuable knowledge networking practices, with which I curate and contribute value to my PLN (Wocke, 2017e).

For production of the required INF532 artefact, I explored many tools (see Exploring KN tools), created and narrated a presentation, uploaded the resulting video to YouTube and posted on social media for feedback – all unchartered and terrifying territory (GWTeaches, 2017b; Wocke 2017d; Wocke 2017i)!

The comments from a critiquing fellow-student provided valuable perspective on my artefact and I learnt much about design and presentation principles from viewing and critiquing the artefacts produced by my cohort (Mifsud, 2017; Wocke, 2017j). My investigations into instructional design, as part of creating the artefact led to the conviction that well-designed knowledge network artefacts makes learning more efficient and engaging and leaves the teacher free to focus on supporting student learning (Reeves, 2011).

Blogging started as a requirement for my studies. On a theoretical level, I understood that blogs are powerful platforms that encourage reflective learning; it was only after reading some of my recent posts that I realised that I had stopped creating mini-essays and am now truly reflecting on my learning (Wocke, 2017k). Reading the blogs of my cohort, and educators that I value, is contributing to my understanding of their thinking and helping me develop the use of this new mode of information production (Wocke, 2017l; De Saules, 2012, 14). Blogging is not only about publishing, but about connecting (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p. 34). Jarche (2016) finds blogging his strongest form of learning, the keystone of his sense-making, but acknowledges that for him it also took time and practice to develop routines of critical thinking, processing knowledge, and creating something new (Jarche, 2010). Tolisano (@langwitches) recently tweeted: “Blogging is NOT and activity, but a process” (2017).

Through the learning experiences discussed above, I have become convinced that in our digital environment – where the Internet mediates connections – educators must utilise the affordances of the world-wide-web to connect with, learn from, and be inspired by other educators (Warlick, 2009, p. 13). By developing PLNs to learn through and from, educators can be  “connected” and harness these digital networked learning environments, not only for their own professional learning, but to facilitate authentic and meaningful learning experiences for their students.


Reflecting on my development as connected educator

Through my studies of INF532 my understanding of what it means to be a connected educator in the 21st century has developed, here is what I learnt:

  • A connected educator is a life-long and connected learner. A learner who consciously and intentionally develops a personalised learning network of experts, mentors and peers to learn with and from (EdTechReview, 2014; Meador, 2016).
  • A connected educator cultivates this network through social media networks and in online communities of practice, utilising this network as a resource and curation mechanism (Bumgardner & Knestis, 2011; Wenger, 2011; Cisnero, 2014).
  • A connected educator contributes to and leads collective intelligence practices through the transparent sharing of experiences, practice, and content (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, p. 48).
  • A connected educator is a leader who brings what is learnt in these collective online experiences and communities back to his/her own institution. S/he leads educational reform by introducing innovative approaches to learning and instruction, that leverages the affordances of technology. S/he integrates creatively and intentionally designed knowledge products, creating authentic learning experiences that fosters student-driven learning and engagement (Groff, 2013, p. 9; Revington, n.d.).
  • A connected educator is a leader who contributes to and facilitate the professional development of colleagues, by modelling his/her own networked life-long-learning practices and leading peers in knowledge networking practices (Edudemic, 2015).

Here is my reflection on my journey to become a connected educator (this far) and how I see the path ahead:

The connected educator is firstly a connected learner”, I wrote early in my INF532 journey (Wocke, 2017f). I agree with the views of Nussbaum-Beach & Hall (2012, p. 18) and Richardson and Mancabelli (2011, p. 42) that connected learning is about participation, about learning in relationships, engaging in self-directed, interest-based learning, while connecting and collaborating online. As I started to participate in online communities and building my personal network, I realised that learning is social, continuous and fluid, not only formal, but also informal and spontaneous and unstructured. I became convinced of the need for “the new culture of learning” that Thomas and Brown (2011)  proposes and I wrote about it here (Wocke, 2017m).

Once committed to developing my PLN I found myself constantly reading, favourite-ing, tagging, commenting, subscribing, sharing. I now have a healthy and developing PLN of experts, mentors and peers that I utilise to enhance my professional and academic growth, to motivate and to inspire me. When I evaluate my online participation according to White and Le Corno’s model (2011) of online behaviour (that I wrote about in Visitor or Resident in the online world? (Wocke, 2017n), I note an interesting progression:

My online participation and connectedness has increased and shifted from personal to professional, due to the active engagement with knowledge networking environments and innovative social networking tools and content curation platforms exposed to through INF532.  Reflecting on the crowded state of the professional side of my diagram, it is obvious that carefully direction of my online activities, focus and organization is needed to ensure a healthy work-life balance (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011, p.36). Kanter’s (2012) adaptation of Jarche’s (2011) Personal Knowledge Mastery model, is a good starting point. “Seeking” information and resources, must be streamlined through the use of appropriate tools, services and aggregators; making “sense” happens by thoughtfully and reflectively annotating, tagging, blogging, and adding value; and “sharing” – giving the worthwhile back to your network in enhanced, or distilled format.

With a solid PLN now in place, exploring combinations of online tools,  and spaces, engaging in connected learning environments, I am aware that I am still primarily a consumer (even an “active consumer”, according to Danah Boyd (2005)), but not often bold enough to be producer and creator. Mayfield challenges me when he says: “To Refactor, Collaborate, Moderate and Lead requires a different level of engagement – which makes up the core of a community.” I contribute, cooperate, but do not yet truly collaborate or lead. The next steps in my connected educator journey are clear:

  • I must implement lessons learnt through the case studies we evaluated in INF532 that clearly illustrate the way to construct authentic global learning experiences by seeking and facilitating collaboration opportunities for my students to become participating global citizens.
  • I must boldly and transparently publish and share my knowledge products and clearly and deliberately develop my online identity, reputation and brand (Lindsay, 2016, p. 14). I must continue to blog. I must develop my identity and brand on Google+.

As teacher librarian, I have the opportunity to co-create knowledge artefacts, to collaborate, introduce online tools and spaces for creative knowledge production, to implement flexible technology-based learning environments (Wocke, 2017h).

I have started to take a more active leadership role in my school, presenting at professional development opportunities, as with this presentation/turned knowledge creating artefact , (which I documented here) (GWTeaches, 2017b, Wocke, 2017o). It was such a motivation when our principal tweeted and blogged as a result (Butterworth, 2017)!

Lambert (1998) writes that the core of leadership is about learning together and constructing meaning and knowledge collectively and collaboratively (p.5). This is the journey I am on – to be a connected educator, learning through and with – and contributing to – my PLN; bringing back to my school innovative ideas and sound practice, leading by example.





Boyd, D. (2005, October 8). Remix is active consumption not production [Blog post]. Retrieved from Apophenia website:

Bumgardner, S., & Knestis, K. (2011, May 1). Social networking as a tool for student and teacher learning. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from

Butterworth, R. (2017, August 13). @GrethaWocke inspired me in her presentation at to share my blog [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Cisnero, K. (n.d.). A beginner’s guide to content curation [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Cormier, D. (2010, December 8). What is a MOOC? [Video file]. Retrieved from

De Saulles, M. (2012). New models of information production. In Information 2.0: New models of information production, distribution and consumption (pp. 13-35). Retrieved from

Gillingham, A. (2017, July 28). Collaboration in action [Blog post]. Retrieved from Creating our future website:

Groff, J. (2013, February). Technology-rich innovative learning environments. Retrieved from

GWTeaches. (2017, July 28). TweetstoBlog [Video file]. Retrieved from

GWTeaches. (2017, August 12). ICSZ personal learning networks [Video file]. Retrieved from

Jarche, H. (2010, March 30). Critical thinking in the organization [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Jarche, H. (2011, July 12). Personal knowledge mastery [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Jarche, H. (2016, March 22). Sense-making with social media [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Kanter, B. (2012, October 4). Content curation primer [Blog post]. Retrieved from Beth’s Blog:

Lambert, L. (1998). Building leadership capacity in schools. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Lifelong learning is a crucial educational mindset. (2015, January 5). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from Edudemic website:

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator: Leveraging technology for collaborative learning & teaching. International Society of Technology in Education.

Lucier, R. (2012, June 5). Seven degrees of connectedness [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Mayfield, R. (2006, April 27). Power law of participation [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Meador, D. (2016, August 22). Building a Personal Learning Network Will Make You a Better Teacher. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from ThoughtCo. website: http://Building a Personal Learning Network Will Make You a Better Teacher

Mifsud, K. (2017, September 17). Knowledge networking artefact review [Blog post]. Retrieved from Head full of books website:

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Reeves, A. R. (2011). Where great teaching begins: Planning for student thinking and learning. Retrieved from

Revington, S. (n.d.). Authentic learning. Retrieved from

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowlegde. Retrieved from

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. (2012, June 7). Seven degrees of connectedness (The infographic) [Blog post]. Retrieved from

Tolisano, S. (2017, September 29). Blogging is NOT an activity, but a process! #blogging #learning #metagognition [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Warlick, D. (2009, March/April). Grow your personal learning network. Learning & Leading With Technology, 12-16. Retrieved from

Wenger, E. (2011, December 28). What is a community of practice? Retrieved October 2, 2017, from

What is a connected learner? (2014, January 31). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from EdTechReview website:

White, D., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new topology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2017l, July 11). New models of information production – characteristics and challenges [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017m, July 19). Adapting to “a new culture of learning” [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017f, July 23). Becoming a connected educator [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017c, July 27). The need for network literacy [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017n, July 27). Visitor or resident in the online world? [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017o, September 9). KN Artefact: Introduction to developing an online PLN [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017i, September 9). KNArtefact post [Tweet]. Retrieved from

Wocke, G. (2017b, September 11). Knowledge changed, and so must I [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017g, September 16). Knowledge network effectiveness, a facebook group as example [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017h, September 17). Facilitating flexible learning environments [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017j, September 17). Introduced to Google+ [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017k, September 19). Bloggin’ away [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017d, September 20). Exploring KN tools [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017a, September 23). Learning – knowing where [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:

Wocke, G. (2017e, September 24). Module 2.2 discussion forum post [Blog post]. Retrieved from Gretha Reflecting website:



Module 2.2 Discussion forum post

This text is from the INF532 discussion forum


Developing your personal learning network

Based on your reading, identify three (3) principles of participation and engagement that you can apply to enhance the development, refinement, or expansion of your PLN.
Provide a brief explanation of how you can turn each of these principles into action.

I struggled to formulate my answer to this discussion topic, until I asked myself this question: “What is the goal with developing my PLN?” From my answer, my principles of participation emerged.

ENGAGE in active participation in online networks, to grow and develop as a connected educator (or “take it to the next level”)

Seek and develop opportunities to engage in conversations and projects, and build relationships, that will connect me as an educator to others in my profession. Do this by purposefully progressing along the continuum of participation.

NEXT ACTIONS: For me this means to move beyond lurking in corridors (reading/watching/listening) to entering and taking part in more conversations (share, comment, ask questions, create dialogue) and eventually be bold enough to seek cooperation and collaboration.

Develop efficient work habits, literacies and competencies to participate in the connected world (or “choose and use your tools”)

Being a connected learner requires having the knowledge, skills and competencies to navigate the networked, digital world. A connected educator is familiar with, and competent in, using a palette of online tools with which to participate and engage in knowledge creation. A connected educator is also an effective curator of information sources and tools for own knowledge building and sharing.

NEXT ACTIONS: I need to improve my skills to produce multimedia artefacts – videos, screencasts and podcasts. I need to sort my use of Diigo out, pronto.

Set goals for development of my PLN and reflect on progress (or “how’s the plan going?”)

Connected educators are life-long learners who take control and actively plan for and manage their own learning. Development of a PLN is about improving as a connected educator and librarian. I need to plan next steps and engagements in the participation continuum, implement them and reflect on what was learnt – successes, failures and surprises.

NEXT ACTIONS: I need to write and reflect on my learning more often – this probably means a blog. I am not a blogger yet and reflecting is not a natural practice for me.


Visitor or Resident in the online world?

In 2001, Prenski helped us make sense of our emerging digital behaviour when he coined the phrase “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants”. With time, our online behaviour has changed so significantly – because of the growth of information networks, online tools and mobile connectivity – that this classification is no longer enough or even completely true.

A decade later David White, in collaboration with JISK and others, came up with a different, and insightful, way of looking at our online behaviour: They argue that our engagement lies on a continuum between being a visitor and a resident to the online world. Visitors, use the internet as a tool with which to fulfil an information task, and do not intentionally leave evidence of their online presence. Residents, see the internet as a place or a space where they choose to spend a part of their lives, creating an intentional social presence and identity (White & Le Corno, 2011). Most of us do at least a bit of both.

In the video, embedded above, White reasons that being a “digital native” is not”a foundation for using the web effectively for study, for critically evaluating digital resources, or even having the capability to formulate and express cogent arguments online. These are examples of learning literacies which don’t come for free online.” This is very important in our understanding of the importance for our students to develop the “new”  literacies (digital, media, information, etc.) for 21st century learning.

White added another continuum – from personal to institutional (or professional) engagement – to this topology, forming a quadrant on which to chart our online interactions.

David White maps personal and institutional online engagement in terms of intentional behaviour as “visitors” or “residents”.

By mapping the online use of different tools one gets a picture of your online behaviour. This can be quite useful for personal reflection, management of your own information behaviour, or in actively developing your personal learning network (PLN). This can also be a valuable activity in helping students visualise their own online behaviour and in aiding the management and development of their digital identities.

What does your online engagement look like? JISK and OCLC Research developed a Digital Visitors and Residents mapping app that you can try.

Here is a representation of my online engagement –  now, in July 2017. I predict that my view of it will change before I complete this unit of study.

I will report back.

A final thought:

The other two short videos in this Jisk Netskills series are also excellent.

Visitors and Residents: Credibility

Visitors and Residents: Open Practice 

I will blog about this is another post.



jisknetskills. (2014, March 10). Visitors and residents [Video file]. Retrieved from

OCLC. (n.d.). Visitors and residents. Retrieved from OCLC Research website:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

White, D. S., & Le Corno, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new topology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). Retrieved from