Challenges regarding the nature of information

The following is an edited version of a discussion forum post for Module 1.2

Based on your reading of Floridi, and Brown & Duguid, identify three (3) challenges regarding the nature of information that are of particular concern to you as a member of our information society. How do you propose to address these?

1.  The information explosion

Human knowledge is expanding at an exponential rate. From doubling approximately every century a hundred years ago, to doubling every twelve months now (and predicted to double every twelve hours with the expansion of the Internet of Things), individuals can only hope to be “experts” in narrower and narrower areas – there can be no “font of all knowledge” – so how do we know what or who to trust and how can we possibly keep up? We need to be creative and thoughtful about what actually is “the problem” and not always treat symptomatically. At a personal level I do my best to manage the flow of information coming at me by using a variety of digital tools: Diigo to tag and save links; Evernote to store, take notes and organise; Feedly to keep up with blogs I wish to read; Pocket to save for later articles of possible interest that I come across via Twitter but don’t have time to do anything with immediately.

2.  Environmental effects

“Paperless” might seem environmentally friendly but data centres don’t run on air – they consumed 1% of worlds electricity at the time Floridi wrote (p. 155), perhaps more now. (estimates suggest that the carbon footprint of data will outstrip that of aviation by 2020). Can the use of ICT provide benefits to other industries so as to balance out this environmental impact? I hope my largely paperless approach to work and study isn’t stymied by the energy required to power my personal devices and the cloud that supports them.

3.  The rise of the mega-university and online learning

This is already happening at tertiary level but will it filter down to secondary or even primary education? Mega universities can teach numbers of students unthinkable on a physical campus – is it possible that in the future we will have similar mega-schools? In my experience Distance/online learning requires a high level of intrinsic motivation while a physical school/teacher in the room provides for more extrinsic motivation – would children be sufficiently motivated – I don’t think so if the form of the online learning is merely replicating what happens in physical classrooms. I want to know how, as an information professional (ie teacher librarian) I can best support and remain relevant in any move to online learning.


Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2002). Limits to information. In The social life of information (pp. 11-34). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Floridi, L. (2009). The Information Society and its philosophy: Introduction to the special issue on “The philosophy of information, its nature, and future developments”. Information Society, 25(3), 153-158. DOI: 10.1080/01972240902848583

The future – digital learning tools and strategies

End arrow

INF532 is almost at an end. The final forum thread asks us to share six strategies and tools I will take with me in the future. I thought them worth sharing here as well as on the forum.

Flipping teacher professional learning: with my newly acquired and/or enhanced skills in creating videos using tools such as Powtoon, Screencastify and Audacity I will provide further support and resources for the teacher professional learning workshops I regularly present at my school. Taking advice from Flip your PD for Extra Flexibility and Support I will create videos which give explanations and step by step instructions which teachers will be able to view beforehand thus minimizing the time needed for direct instruction in the workshop, freeing up time for hands-on activities and personalised support for individuals. Indiana Jen (author of the post) suggests that teachers often don’t find time to flip (ie view) before the lesson/workshop so the videos could also be provided in addition to direct instruction, allowing those slower to learn to revisit the instruction without holding back those who are ready to move forward and apply their new skills. The best “Flipping in advance” for teachers, suggests Jen is to have them ensure they can access and login to any tool you are using, prior to the session, by providing written or video instruction to assist – this can be a great time-saver, I’m sure we’ve all met teachers who need their hand held at every stage and who can dominate proceedings when things don’t work perfectly for them first time. The videos will also allow “flipping after the fact” enabling teachers to revisit the instruction as and when needed, or for a catch-up for those who missed out.

Blended Learning is a strategy that I would like to support our staff in exploring with their students. My school is working toward a BYO device model for years 6-12, with sets of iPads and Chromebooks for years P-5. Currently in the senior school (9-12) BYOD is on an ad hoc basis. There is a computer lab, 12 desktop PCs in the library, and several trolleys of aging laptops available. In the middle school (3-8) there is a set of iPads exclusively used by years 3-5, enough desktop PCs for one class in the library and three sets of Chromebooks. There is a strong focus on extension for capable students alongside significant learning support for those with difficulties. Most (if not all) students have adequate access to internet-connected devices at home.

Blended learning will best suit this audience, and their teachers, particularly as the availability of technology in the classroom increases. Using online environments such as Google Classroom already enable some teachers to provide opportunities for socially constructed learning through discussions and collaborative projects. Teachers are keen to provide enrichment for the capable and more support for those who need it; well-constructed online environments, in conjunction with face to face teaching, can support both.

Pearltrees has been a revelation in terms of new tools explored in this session. Curating is a big part of what I do both for my personal learning needs and for students and teachers through the library. Pearltrees is very flexible and easy to use, I’m absolutely loving the way any link I tweet is waiting in my “in tray” ready to be organised into a collection the next time I visit. I also appreciate the ability to organise material into sections within collections and being able to customise the background image and editorial header text for each collection. Starting new collections and saving links couldn’t be easier either, as is creating embeddable widgets to display collections on other sites which I will use extensively as our LibGuides site develops. I’m even on the verge of upgrading to a paid subscription so that I can add annotations to individual items. Love, love, love it! Check out my growing collection of Pearls:


Arrow image: Free for commercial use / No attribution required from Pixabay 

Supporting connected learners

Module 5.2 Skype and Twitter

I like Silvia Tolisano’s early assertion that there is a difference between a Skype call and a Learning call. As we are so often reminded, it is not the technology that is important but the learning that is enhanced by it. And of course, Skype isn’t the only video conferencing tool that the learning activities described could have utilised. Everything Tolisano describes has soundly constructed learning design as its foundation. From the activation of prior learning – the subject of the calls, the tools to be used, to what is to be done with the tools (tweeting, photographing, videoing), to feedback and reflection. Assigning the various roles made for a truly collaborative activity, not just a group project. The activities were scaffolded for the students – for example rehearsing asking questions by recording them was a great way to build confidence.

The post about upgrading assessment forms raises important points. As Tolisano says

If working (and communicating beyond face to face interaction) on a global team is/will be a crucial skill for our students to posses, how can we assess the skills, support, coach and guide students?

Read more at:

One of the biggest barriers to connected learning (for some teachers) is the “stickiness” of traditional assessment forms. Tolisano is bang on the money saying that new assessment forms cannot be additional, they must be upgrades or preferably replacements.

This has lead to the creation of the Taxonomy of a Skype Conversation, a valuable tool for reflection and perhaps aspiration – What sort of conversation do you want to have? What sort of conversation is the best to listen to? etc.

It is difficult for me to imagine how the teacher-learner interactions needed to guide the learners in these examples could take place digitally for such young learners. Yes, they learn a great deal from the person they Skype, but they are learning much more from the scaffolded activities taking place within the physical classroom (and online) with a teacher able to guide, instruct, coach and cajole. Could this happen with a distributed online classroom of third-graders? I don’t think so. Miller’s reflections included examples of online conversations leading to hands-on art and craft activities. The digital and physical work together for formal and informal learning activities.

Tolisano and Miller both use their online connections to support and inspire what goes on in their physical classroom and library. A fourth-grade teacher was persuaded to post her student’s book-trailer on a blog which led to it being viewed by the author herself and the subsequent Skype activity. Knowledge networking made it happen.


McClintock Miller, Shannon (2013/2014). Van Meter Library Voice. [blog]

Rosenthal Tolisano, S. (2011-2014). Langwitches Blog


Designed for a purpose


On one day this week, spend 30 minutes on your way to work, at the gym or in a restaurant, taking care to observe, and note in a sketchpad, everything that you think has been designed for a purpose, without which the journey, gym or restaurant experience would be more difficult, or less pleasant. Has anything been designed for one purpose but harnessed for another?

On Wednesday I left home 20 minutes earlier than usual so I would have time to observe the waiting area at my local station. I might add it was dark, foggy and 4 degrees at the time, although that wouldn’t have been much different 20 minutes later.

Macleod station is an entirely utilitarian space, all hard surfaces which could probably be hosed down if necessary. Items in the space include:

  • Three different machines related to ticketing – one for topping-up, one for balance check and two for swiping on and off
  • Snack and drink vending machines
  • Plastic modular seating in groups of two or more, each seat bolted to the floor with a central pole
  • A kiosk with a coffee machine selling snacks, newspapers and magazines as well as coffee
  • Rubbish bins
  • Two display stands, one holding various brochures, the other with lots of “cheerful” messages from the authorities
  • A customer service window (but don’t hold your breath waiting for “service”)
  • A raised, textured walkway for guiding people who are vision impaired
  • Automatic doors at the entry and exit to the platform

People using the space frequently craned their neck as they entered to see the display indicating when the next train is due. This display is outside the space, on the platform.

As people entered they either went to the kiosk, the Myki top-up machine, took a seat, or went straight through to the platform.

The only item I observed being used for a purpose other than its original design was one seat pole had been harnessed as an anchor point for a chain to secure a display stand (the one with all the messages about law and order!).

Macleod Station

Impact of space

Doorley & Witthoft (2012 p.30) impress upon us that space is something that can create an impact on the way we learn, work and play immediately. So, starting with what you have, make a change. In your learning environment, is there an empty space? Find one, take it and transform it, quickly. You might consider making a pop-up learning space from scratch for a short period of time, or adapting an existing space in a small way with the goal of making a difference to learning. Share your ideas or inspiration in the Forum.

What did you change or transform quickly in your learning environment?

The top of a set of plan drawers had become a dumping ground for e-waste and rubbish. Located next to the television in the viewing area of the library it was a mess of old videotapes (redundant as we no longer have a player), the no longer functional video player, various outdated cables; old signs, bits of fabric from old displays and other rubbish. The globe is so old it even shows the USSR!
The unexpected arrival of a 3D printer to be housed and supervised by the library was an opportunity and impetus to turn this space into a 21st century creation station.
The space was cleared and the printer installed.
Next step, add signage and information.
The space in use:
It’s too early judge the impact of this change, the printer only arrived last week and the posters and signage went up today. However, the students have been showing a great deal of interest. They particularly like picking up and playing with the few sample printed items we have provided and I’m sure having something in their hand is helping spark their imagination about what they might be able to produce.

Module 2.7 Education Informatics

I enjoyed learning about Education Informatics because what I’d thought might be a scary and complicated concept turned out to be something quite simple – putting people (teachers and learners) at the centre of discussions about information technology and education. Obviously it is not so simple when you start to delve but at least the concept is understandable and should be accessible to anyone involved in education. Levy and others (2003) more formal definition “the study of the application of digital technologies and techniques to the use and communication of information in learning and education” sums it up nicely in more formal language. I’m interested in the distinction between learning and education in this definition. I think it is important, as is separating the “people” into “teachers” and “learners” even though the two groups can and should overlap.

As I read it occurred to me that much of what we have covered so far in this subject can be considered part of education informatics…and then that was stated as part of the forum topic.

I think I fall in the Liberal and Humanistic schools of thought about what learning is for. The various purposes of education and how they impact the design of learning and teaching seem to have crossovers with some of the things we have looked at. Humanistic, being driven by individual’s intrinsic motivation fits with the Connected Learning movement while the Social/Situated where it’s about interaction between people and real-world contexts seems to me to be what Connectivist learning is about.

As an educator I try to take account of my student’s existing knowledge and experiences and I want to enable authentic learning opportunities where the students can make connections with their real-life experiences. My recent move from a large, multi-cultural, lower socio-economic state school to a small, Jewish, private school has required significant adaptation on my behalf. Expectations are different (parents and students particularly, less so from other teachers) but other things are not so different. Kids are kids by and large. The biggest difference is that the new school does not have the range of extremes. In one class I taught I had a brilliant student who topped the state in VET Lab Skills as a year 10 student and got 50 in two VCE Unit 3&4 subjects when in year 11 (I can’t wait to see how she does this year when she’s actually in year 12). Contrast her with another student in the same class – a recent arrival from Somalia with a highly dysfunctional family. I can only imagine the horrors he had experienced in his short life but in my classroom it manifested itself as complete disengagement from learning, a law unto himself, coming and going as he pleased, and unable to string two words together unless one of them was f@#$. At my new school the worst behaviour I have come across is from the highly intelligent “bush lawyer” type who will argue that black is white, just because he can do so so eloquently.

Training, instruction and education are all aspects of learning as a whole. As a teacher and particularly as a teacher-librarian I find myself doing quite a bit of training and instructing on a day-to-day basis. Hopefully I get some educating in from time to time. Crosby’s (2002, referenced in Ford, 2008) safety analogy was a clear demonstration of the differences. It reminded me of a curriculum day speaker (whose name I’ve sadly forgotten) who spoke of the differences between amateurs, para-professionals and professionals; and then spoke of artisans who lifted teaching into a whole other dimension.

Around two years ago at my old school we spent a great deal of professional learning time working on “The Mill Park Instructional Model”. I was fascinated to find that what we came up with almost exactly followed Gagné, Briggs, and Wager (1992) (referenced in Ford, 2008 p. 82-83) nine instructional events for providing the right conditions for learning to occur.

Gagné, Briggs, and Wager’s nine instructional events The Mill Park model
Gain the learner’s attention (reception) Orderly classrooms

Developing clear and consistent routines and cues for students to follow

Make the learner aware of the objective of the learning activity (expectancy) Learning intentions and success criteria:

Ensure that expectations for learning are set at a challenging but achievable level for all students

  • Clearly identifying and displaying the learning intentions for each lesson that are linked to the relevant standards and build on student prior learning
  • Ascertaining student levels of knowledge as well as other needs that impact on their learning
  • Providing students with a range of ways to access the learning and demonstrate success
  • Clearly articulating and displaying the success criteria for learning so that students will know if they have met the learning outcomes
Stimulate recall of the learner’s relevant prior learning (retrieval) Teacher input: Design learning experiences that are engaging and encourage student curiosity and achievement. We do this by

  • Linking learning to student experience
  • Reviewing previous learning
Present the learning stimulus (selective perception)
  • Using ‘hooks’ to generate student interest in learning
  • Ensuring that the ‘Pace ‘ of the lesson is appropriate to maximise student engagement and learning
Provide the learner with appropriate guidance (semantic encoding)
  • Differentiating the learning experience to cater for a range of student interests, skill levels and learning styles
  • Using activities that are clearly and explicitly linked to the learning outcomes
  • Encouraging collaborative learning through use of grouping strategies and peer coaching
  • Using and encouraging higher order questioning techniques
  • Providing a range of activities to maximise student learning and provide access to the learning for all students
Elicit performance on the part of the learner (responding)
  • Using ICT to engage students and to enable students to demonstrate their learning in flexible ways

Activating student learning: Provide opportunities for students to actively engage in learning and to demonstrate this learning

  • Ensuring that students practise skills being taught using a range of scaffolding devices
  • Ensuring that all students have access to appropriately pitched curriculum materials and support so that all student learning needs are well met
  • Providing opportunities for students to apply concepts taught in a range of ways that link to the learning intentions, to prior and possible future learning
  • Clearly referencing the success criteria outlined at the beginning of the lesson to guide students in the development of their knowledge and demonstration of their learning
Give the learner feedback (reinforcement) Feedback: Seek and provide feedback to maximise student learning by:

  • Coaching and correcting student performance to provide feedback to students as they progress
  • Tie feedback to the specific learning intentions
  • Provide information that students can use to improve their performance
  • Deliver feedback on student work in a timely manner
  • Provide opportunities for students to participate in generating feedback rather than always acting as passive receivers
Assess the learner’s performance (retrieval)
  • Use a range of formative assessment strategies to determine which aspects of the lesson have been learnt well and which aspects may require reteaching
Enhance the learner’s retention and transfer of what is learned (generalization). Review: Wrap up and review what has been learnt and reinforce expectations for students

  • Explicitly revisiting the learning intentions and success criteria
  • Identifying which students have mastered the learning and which are yet to do so using a range of strategies
  • Summarising the key learning using student input where possible
  • Outlining the next steps for future learning including possible review and revision for students who have not yet reached the target learning

I have and will continue to use the Mill Park model for planning learning activities because it is a really comprehensive and useful document and  I now know it is grounded in research! (and my new school doesn’t have a similar document).


Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from:

Levy, P., Ford, N., Foster, J., Madden, A., Miller, D., Nunes, M. B., McPherson, M, & Webber, S. (2003). Educational informatics: An emerging research agenda. Journal of Information Science, 29(4), 298-310. Retrieved


Digital repositories forum post

I hadn’t planned to post my INF530 Forum responses to this blog but for some reason each time I try to post I get “No data received” and when I reload my post isn’t there. Clicking the back button gave me back what I’d typed but hitting “submit” set off the same cycle again. I will persist but in the meantime I don’t think it’s such a bad idea to put my forum posts here as well…might increase their chances of surviving any Digital Dark Age that occurs!

What do you know or have been able to research about digital repositories e.g. Google Books, Europeana, The Internet Archive?
What steps are taken in your school or institution to work with or manage digital depositories internally or beyond?

I used the Wayback machine (part of the Internet Archive) back in 2010 to find a snapshot of the Hotmail login page from 1998 which was when I first signed up. It was to illustrate a blogpost about how I’d “separated” from Hotmail after an incident where my account was hacked, everyone in my address book sent a dodgy link in an email and my entire address book deleted. Going back to that post today has (ironically) uncovered an example of digital items disappearing as I discovered the illustration no longer showed on the post. Back in 2010 I used Posterous to autopost to my blog via email and guess what? Posterous disappeared in about April last year and my picture with it.
But there’s the beauty of the Wayback machine – I can still access that original snapshot!