Critical reflection: Putting the INF [530] into INFinite INFormation

#INF530 has been invigorating, exciting, lots of hard work, overwhelming at times, but above all fun. A few weeks ago faced with tackling my digital essay and thinking about all the material in the modules that I hadn’t gotten to I was feeling very overwhelmed, and more than a little despondent. Part of my problem was that I was stuck on a potential topic for the digital essay that was way too big. This is what I posted in the forum:

Having come across Tom Whitby’s recent blog post Educators will never be 100% connected and thinking about it as it relates to content of INF530 – Connected Learning; Open, social and participatory media; Computational thinking, and Education Informatics, I’m thinking something along the lines of “Enablers and barriers to teachers embracing digital literacy as the third essential field of mastery”. The first two fields, according to Whitby are content knowledge and education/pedagogy.

Fortunately I was reminded that the module material is there for us to dip in and out of as needs, interests and time allow. I know I’ve not done justice to some of the modules…yet. I will be saving the content to Evernote to revisit, particularly in this coming break. Even better, in a flash of inspiration I came up with a more manageable essay topic that I was immediately able to map out a plan of attack for. Having some certainty and knowing where to start made me feel instantly better.

But I am still very interested in that initial topic idea. If nothing else, INF530 has convinced me even more of the need for all teachers to become digitally literate, connected educators. It’s no longer good enough to make excuses about being a digital immigrant (and there are more than a few questions about the validity of dubbing all young people “digital natives” so claiming special treatment for immigrant status should be equally questionable). It isn’t now, and never was, just about the technology, it’s about utilising what is available to change the pedagogy so that students are empowered as digitally literate adults who can function capably in the networked environment that is the 21st century.

But better than preaching to the converted, my engagement with the modules, readings, and connections with the cohort have given me more ammunition to use in the battle to win over the nay-sayers. I still may not succeed but at least my attempts will be grounded in research. Perhaps as a starting point I’ll encourage teachers to read Bec’s essay.

In my first post on this blog I wrote about what I hope to get from the course:

  1. A way of formalising/legitimising the reading, connecting, curating, commenting, learning I already do.
  2. Skills in interrogating and articulating my thoughts about the mass of information I come in contact with each day.
  3. More and better connection with outstanding educators.

Big ticks already to 1 and 3 but I still struggle with articulating my thoughts, I hope my blog posts and assessed work do show evidence of some improvement. 

I feel I’m on top of things like searching in Primo and I’ve had occasion to use some workarounds so as to get to the information I need. I’ve now got a reasonable handle on Zotero and a much better workflow setup for producing a bibliography although nothing comes close to Evernote for working with sources. My appreciation for and application of tagging has reached new heights.

I have loved connecting with the cohort, it’s been amazing. People have said to me “isn’t online study very impersonal and isolating” but I couldn’t disagree more. I feel infinitely more connected with my classmates than I ever did while studying in the traditional way over twenty years ago. That said though, the personal interactions, particularly with Simon and Bec, have been invaluable. I loved that conversation I had with Simon just before the book review was due that I wrote about here.

So thank you Judy, and thank you to all the other students. What a fabulous beginning, I’m very excited about what is to come.

Blog task 4: The three R’s: Resources, Research and Reflection

creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by gcouros

Since the dust has settled on the scholarly book review I have thought of little else beyond my digital essay but don’t think for a moment that that means my thinking, reading and engaging have narrowed – far from it.

My topic for the digital essay is “Curation as a tool for teaching and learning”. Starting with the resources in the module I have been gradually extending my horizons and have been rewarded with a wealth of resources. What started as something I thought a neat and contained topic, well suited to the 1800 words or so we are allowed, has broadened and deepened and I’m starting to be concerned about giving all the important stuff the attention it deserves. Just today I learned about metaliteracy, a term that I don’t think has been used in the modules (but I’m happy to stand corrected on that if I’m wrong).

Accessing information can still have its challenges. I had an interesting time getting to that particular article – it’s a nice example of the research process I’ve been following.

Last week I set up a Google Scholar alert for my topic. Yesterday an alert email came through with this link Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action.  It looked really interesting and relevant but there wasn’t any access to the full text there (and the fact it was labelled “EarlyCite” made me wonder if it was in fact published and available). Next I searched the article title and authors through Primo but didn’t have any luck. I then successfully searched for the journal title in Primo and was able, through the journal’s site, to navigate to a page where I could access the article in a PDF. As suspected this article is not officially published yet and the PDF lacks tables, illustrations and page numbers.

This same process has worked in other cases too and I’ve felt quite proud of myself when I’ve been successful in tracking down articles that at first try weren’t showing up. I guess the databases aren’t always up-to-date or complete.

I have been saving what I find to Evernote and highlighting and making notes for each article or site as I go. I was very excited to discover recently that the Table of Contents function is now available in Evernote for PC. My next step will be to start making sense of all the information I have by using table of contents notes to organise the information into sections and make linking annotations. The TOC function isn’t perfect – the links appear in the order they appear in the notebook and there’s no easy way to sort them differently – but the good thing is you can make them whenever you like, add text or delete links and rearrange everything manually.

As I’ve been researching and reading I’ve identified more and more links between my topic and other modules of Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age. In fact, as I flick back through the modules I’m viewing them differently to first time around. In particular topics like digital literacy; connected learning; information behaviour; thinking in networks; connectivism; open, social and participatory media; organising information, and narrative technology all demand another think when considered in relation to curation.

Some of the more interesting aspects of curation I’ve been reading about include: curation as a means of nurturing inclusiveness in online communities; teacher professional development through curation; how content curation is different to content marketing; the role of curation in developing digital literacy capacity, and teacher curated textbooks.

It’s a fascinating topic. I’m looking forward to learning even more over the next two weeks and I hope I can do it justice.


Witek, D. and Grettano, T. (2014) “Teaching metaliteracy: a new paradigm in action”, Reference Services Review, Vol. 42 Iss: 2

Credit where credit’s due

I was on the train on my way to Teachmeet yesterday when the news came through that our Scholarly Book Reviews had been marked and would soon be ready for collection. As I read Judy’s “examiner’s report” on the work of the cohort I started to worry that perhaps I hadn’t done as well as I thought. It was a nerve-racking few minutes battling intermittent connectivity (damn those tunnels) and navigating the not yet familiar EASTS facility before I found my result.

One of the things that has impressed me with this course is how well scaffolded and supported we are in preparing for and submitting assessment items. The rubric for the scholarly book review made things very clear and I don’t think anyone who read it carefully would be surprised at their result. Reading my essay with careful reference to the rubric I had decided that, as much as I might like a distinction, I would be happy with a credit.

But strangely, or not, I was (briefly) disappointed when I got what I knew I deserved. Guess I’m only human!

Today Bec Spink has posted her essay on her blog. As soon as I started reading it I understood why her work earned a distinction, the difference was obvious.

In recent years at my previous school there has been a strong focus on improving VCE results. The practices of teachers who consistently achieve results above expectation have been analysed and all VCE teachers have been trained and supported to change their practice, with some outstanding results. One of the strategies is to provide examples of excellent work for all assessment tasks. So perhaps the only thing we INF530 students lack for is predecessors who have shared their work like Bec has done. It’s the downside of being the first cohort in a new degree I guess.

So, if you want to see what a distinction looks like read Bec’s post. If you want to see what a credit looks like you can read mine. I’d love it if someone with a High Distinction would share theirs – is that you?

Digital essay proposal

Proposal topic

Curation as a tool for teaching and learning


As a teacher-librarian I have been curating information through the informed selection of resources for the collection since pre-digital times, although back then I would have called it “collection development” or simply “selection”. Fast forward to the development of the world wide web and the information explosion of web 2.0, and in an attempt to continue to use my selection skills to resource the curriculum I have switched my focus to the selection and sharing of online resources through a variety of curation platforms.

I’d like to develop my knowledge and understanding of the research around curation and it’s place in the development and embodiment of information and digital literacy. I want to explore how curation can be used as both a teaching tool and learning tool for students and teachers alike.

Proposed digital tools and/or spaces to be used

As this is an essay about curation I am very tempted by the aptness of using a curation platform such as or Storify to present this essay. I plan to prepare the content before making a final decision as I think the appropriate platform will become clear when I better understand what is to be presented. If a curation platform turns out to be unsuitable I will use Weebly to create a website.

250 word rationale for topic focus for the multi-modal essay

“The importance of the teacher librarian is intrinsically linked to effective and responsive information curation and dissemination in distributed environments within and beyond the school.” O’Connell (2011)

“Curation, as an approach to bringing digital and media literacy competencies into the classroom, can help build meaningful teaching and learning approaches for today’s participatory media landscape.” Mihailidis, P., & Cohen, J. N. (2013) p.15.

Moving beyond the library and the role of the teacher-librarian the essay will explore curation as a means of making sense of the information flow and how it is thus an important activity for all learners. It will explore curation in the context of information literacy, digital literacy, information fluency and open, social and participatory media, and examine activities such as peer critiquing, user-generated content, collective aggregation and community formation (Conole).

The essay will explore how curation tools and activities can be used to develop skills, competencies and dispositions outlined in documents such as The Open University Digital and Information Literacy Framework (n.d.), and examine their value for teachers and students alike. It will also examine a range of tools used for curation and compare features looking critically at their value in education.



Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. In G. Conole, Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

Digital and Information Literacy Framework. (n.d.). Retrieved May 08, 2014, from

Mihailidis, P., & Cohen, J. N. (2013). Exploring curation as a core competency in digital and media literacy education. Journal of Interactive Media in Education. Retrieved 24 March 2014 from

O’Connell, J. (2011, October 27) Teacher librarians are important. [Web log post] Retrieved May 08, 2014, from

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


Stigmergy, deep reading, and John “Pigsarse” Elliott

Over the past week or so of all-consuming work on my scholarly book review a few interesting thoughts and ideas came up that did not fit into the framework of such a writing task (or the word limit) but I thought I’d like to share them here.

My book was Mind amplifier: Can our digital tools make us smarter by Howard Rheingold. As part of background research I came across Wolf’s article (2010) where she poses the question “Will we lose the deep reading brain in a digital culture?” ALL the reading I did for the book review was online, mostly on PC or iPad but occasionally on my phone too. I don’t think I’ve read so deeply or thoughtfully in years. I found the highlighting, note-taking and search capacities in Kindle and Evernote enormously helpful for constructing and consolidating my thinking about the text. In fact, I suspect I would have found the task significantly more difficult without the affordances of of my digital tools. It was something of a relief to find that Wolf has now found it is possible to train the brain for deep reading of both digital and print texts, something she calls “bi-literacy”  Serious reading takes a hit from online scanning and skimming, researchers say. Even more interesting for me at the time was that I was alerted to this article by a series of tweets from Rheingold himself:



As it happens I have been following “my author” for nearly as long as I’ve been on Twitter (over five years), it was one of the reasons I was drawn to his book. When I had a question that no amount of search seemed to be able to answer (who first called Rheingold “The first citizen of the internet” as the Amazon blurb for an earlier work proclaims?) the obvious next step was to tweet and ask him. Which I did and got an answer straight away!


A further tweet revealed the source: The Citizen.

Stigmergy is my new favourite word! Referring to a process where intelligence resides in group but not the individual (think about how ants find their way to a food source by leaving a trail of pheremones that other ants then follow) or where something is created without a central control. Mark Elliott (from Melbourne!) wrote his doctoral thesis about Stigmergic collaboration, specifically in wikis like Wikipedia. Reading about this reminded me of the Emergency 2.0 wiki which I learned about as part of the work I did with Red Cross last year; which then led me to some other emergency services related content that was relevant to my book. I never expected that to happen! And as an aside I edited Howard Rheingold’s Wikipedia entry to add Mind amplifier to his publications list.

John Elliott has more relevance than I thought. In my previous post I pondered on John Elliott’s attitude to the internet – “It’s secretary’s work”. Mind amplifier explains how important it is for the individual to be able to use a given tool so that he is enabled with the mind expanding abilities it provides. The power of word processing is in its ability to allow the writer room to think instead of having to type and re-type drafts (or have his secretary do so) – thus to fully take advantage the writer must have the capacity to use the tool, not just direct someone else to do so. Just in case you don’t know who John Elliott is:

Finally, the support and encouragement of others in the cohort, most notably Simon @aus_teach and Bec @MissB6_2, is outstanding. Simon and I read and commented on each others book reviews via Google docs, just one example of what is so good about this course, knowledge networks, digital technology…the whole thing! I had a fantastic catch-up with Simon at the State Library (most appropriately) on Thursday. It was terrific to have the chance to talk face to face and mull over some of the issues and ideas we’ve been learning about. I’ve begun to realise that I’m very interested in computational thinking, we found links to stigmergy in what Simon is doing in another subject, we agreed on how wrong we think exams are as useful assessment tools and wondered how on earth something like the book review could be done under exam conditions. The whole “everybody has to be treated identically” attitude drives me bonkers in lots of contexts but the idea that a three hour exam is the only fair way to assess a year’s learning is the worst. And of course it’s only natural that a certain amount of “teaching to the test” ends up going on… All too big for one coffee session but fantastic to have the opportunity for the discussion in real life.

Simon, Bec and I will be speaking about our experiences, so far, of doing this course at the next Melbourne TeachMeet on May 10 – if you’re in the area you might like to come along. Sign up here, including for the subsequent TeachEats if you can.


Rheingold, H. (2012a). Mind amplifier: Can our digital tools make us smarter? New York, NY: TED Books.

WOLF, M. (2010). Our ‘Deep Reading’ Brain: Its Digital Evolution Poses Questions. Nieman Reports64(2), 7-8.

Blog task #2: Connected Learning and Digital Literacy

Learning is messy guys. #madscientist #i by brueckj23, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  brueckj23  Learning is messy guys


Discussions about what digital literacy is range from the complex to the simple. Bawden (2008) examines the background of the term through a literature review and comes up with “four generally agreed components”: underpinnings such as “literacy per se”; background knowledge of the world of information and the nature of information resources; six central competencies including information literacy and media literacy; and, attitudes and perspectives, which together make up digital literacy. Chase and Laufenberg (2011) on the other hand ask us to “accept digital literacy as a genre, a format and tool to be found within the domain of standard literacy”.

Stephen Heppell in The future of learning video suggests that our definition of literacy is too narrow and should include media literacy and digital literacy; that literacy is being able to tell a story through a range of mediums and using different tools.

I like the notion from Paul Gilster that “digital literacy is about mastering ideas, not keystrokes” (Bawden, 2008 p.18) and he is closer to Chase and Laufenberg (2011) in suggesting digital literacy is simply literacy in the digital age.

This illustration from Futurelab showing an overlapping array of skills, attributes and behaviours with digital literacy at their centre covers Bawden’s four components and to me sums up the most important elements. It is interesting that e-safety is the only element exclusive to the online world.

Hague, C., & Payton, S. (2010) Digital Literacy Across the Curriculum, p19.

To me what is key in education is considering what you can do with the tools available to you rather than teaching the tools themselves. A digitally literate individual can apply those skills, capacities and behaviours to whatever tool is at hand. Marc Prensky’s discussion on verbs and nouns supports this “Verbs are the skills that students need to learn, practice, and master.” while nouns “are the tools students use to learn to do, or practice the verbs”. (Prensky, n.d.) Prensky urges teachers to focus on the verbs while using the most up-to-date nouns possible.

I believe the key thing that distinguishes digital literacy from literacy is the inherent ability to harness the possibilities that technology provides to communicate with a potentially global audience. In the past a person considered highly literate may never have had a word he or she wrote read by anyone other than the specific intended audience such as a teacher, nor would they have considered its possibility.

Chase and Laufenberg (2011) demonstrate that “access to technology enables students to engage in discovery, judge relevancy and appropriateness” (p.3) and allow the teacher to be a knowledge node instead of knowledge font, bringing us to connected learning. Prior to this course I did not know of Connected Learning as a documented learning model (Connected Learning Principles | Connected Learning, n.d.) and would have explained it as education conducted within a connected environment using the power of online publishing and interaction for authentic learning experiences. According to Ito and others (2013)

Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement” (p.4)

The principles of connected learning weren’t born in the digital age, but they are extraordinarily well-suited to it – because digital technology has the capacity to engage the widest range of young people in learning experiences previously available to a select few.  (Frequently Asked Questions | Connected Learning. n.d.)

It is clear the skills, capacities and behaviours that make up digital literacy are at the centre of connected learning.

Issues I see facing the development of students’ digital literacy and the adoption of connected learning in secondary schools are similar. Rigidity (real or interpreted) in the curriculum, particularly in the later years, and opposition from teachers who wish to continue teaching subjects (not children) as they always have. Managing ambiguity, one of Helen Haste’s key competences, requires acceptance of the notion that there is no single, linear solution. For teachers this means embracing the messiness of connected learning and that is a real challenge for many.


Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from

Chase, Z., & Laufenberg, D. (2011). Digital Literacies: Embracing the Squishiness of Digital Literacy. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 54(7), 535–537.

Connected Learning Principles | Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from

Frequently Asked Questions | Connected Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2014, from

Hague, C., & Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum. Bristol: Futurelab.

Ito, M., Gutierrez, K., Livingstone,, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Salen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and  Design. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub. Retrieved from

Prensky, Marc (n.d.). Verbs and Nouns. Marc Prensky. Retrieved March 30, 2014, from


Some thoughts from week three

Bluebells at Dockey Wood (Explored)
Photo Credit: Brian Smithson via Compfight

So I’ve made it nearly to the end of week three and I think I’m still on track, if not the “right” one as such as there seems to be so many options. Compulsory blog task 1 was posted early and has been positively received.

I feel I should be doing more reflecting through non-compulsory blog posts like this but it doesn’t come easily to me. I do think about what I read and view but often it feels like they are such short unrelated snippets it would be too daunting to turn them into a cohesive whole. I have scraps of paper, notes in Evernote, Diigo saves with annotations and so many thoughts swirling through my mind…where to start?

Ok, here are some random jottings:

About search engines, the algorithms they use and how personal information is used

Lately have seen more and more evidence of search engines (Google) using previous searches and geographical location to target me. For example I recently searched for a book on the Bookdepository. For days later I kept seeing ads for that book on other sites. There is something in Facebook (which I’ve turned off) where your avatar will appear with an ad on your friends home page when you’ve liked a page giving an implicit personal recommendation which I certainly don’t want to bother my friends with.

I feel that Google has improved generally – I more quickly get what I’m after for SIMPLE queries. The knowledge graph information is often all that is needed to answer a quick question. I remember how good the search engine Ixquick was years ago, before Google became a verb. It described itself as meta-search engine because it collated the results of multiple search engines to find the best results and this was revolutionary to me at the time. I vaguely remember it claiming to be private but back then I had no idea what that really meant. I think it would be worth doing parallel searches on Google and Ixquick to see the differences in results.

I might be very naive but I’m not particularly concerned about my search history being saved. I don’t think I search for anything that anyone other than advertisers might find remotely interesting (certainly not anything incriminating) and I’m very skilled at tuning out from advertising. As for favouring results geographically close to me – well, by and large that is a good thing, especially when I’m out and about or travelling. In a different political environment of course this could be very different. I do like knowing that search engines like Duck duck go and ixquick are available.

Technology and youth: 5 competencies

I’m interested in the 5 competencies listed by Helen Haste that she says all students need and teachers should be teaching. I’d love to chat with teachers about how competent they think they are for each. If teachers can’t model the competencies themselves then teaching them is a challenge.

It would be good to see some sort of self-assessment tool for teachers. For example I think I’m fairly competent in Agency and Responsibility; Finding and Sustaining Community, and Managing Technological Change, but only ok with Managing Ambiguity and Managing Emotion. Maybe something like the ePotential survey Victorian government teachers complete each year (when not engaged in union bans over a pay dispute) to place you on a continuum and guide you to resources to help you further develop.

Connected learning

This infographic is a terrific summary of what Connected Learning can and should be. I think it would be great to stick up in the staffroom as a conversation starter.

Connected Learning

Connected Learning Infographic

Google Glass

The interview with Margaret Power was interesting. Google Glass is still not available to buy here in Australia but I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting to get my hands on some glass! I found it interesting that while she uses the glass extensively within her classroom for global collaboration and communicating with parents, she doesn’t see so much potential for it as a tool for use by students. I wonder also at the interviewer’s comment (quoting another interviewee) that he didn’t think Glass would change humanity, that in a few years it would be completely normal for everyone to be wearing it. Seemed like a bit of a contradiction to me.

On a personal note, Google Glass is one of the few recent technological development that my husband has shown interest in. He’s not exactly a Luddite but he’s a long way from an early adopter and really does not get my excitement over shiny things. However, as a powered parachute pilot, he can see immediate value in wearable technology that can incorporate a GPS, altimeter and camera.

Scholarly book review

I’m starting to feel more confident about the book review. I think I’ve settled on a book and have edited the Google doc to that effect although I have a second title in reserve. What’s been gratifying is that since starting to read it I’ve come across quite a few articles and sites that have relevance to the issues raised. These have come up in the module one readings as well as more generally through links on Twitter, blog posts accessed through Feedly and links from various Diigo groups. I’ve started collecting them in a not too haphazard style and hopefully they’ll serve me well when the time comes (not too far away!).

Technology issues

Finally, as I posted on Twitter this afternoon, I’m continuing to be frustrated by various technological failings and I can’t figure out whether it’s to do with my browser, my PC or if it’s just personal. In the first week I couldn’t post to the forum but that has fixed itself up. Last week when on the subject site each time I tried to navigate to a new page I’d get this message:

Failed to load

but when I reloaded the page loaded without problem, again this issue has sorted itself out. But now today I can’t access any of the Thinkspace blog sites directly although I can view the posts through Feedly on Chrome or directly on Internet Explorer. However I can’t log in to my dashboard through either browser. Which means this blog post isn’t going to get posted at all (right now I’m typing in Evernote). Perhaps I’ll try my iPad.


So I did try my iPad but it isn’t the best for using the blog editing tools. I assume I could use the Edublogs app (which I’ve successfully done before on another blog) but the downside of that is that drafts are not synced. So what has happened is that I finally got the 15 year old off the PC and after trying again to access Thinkspace, including installing another browser, I did what I probably should have done at the beginning – restarted the computer! Yes the good old Spiteri theory (named for an IT Technician at my previous school) has proved it’s value once again! I guess it’s no coincidence that at my new school the IT Technician’s office door has a huge sign saying “Have you turned it off and on again?”

Retrieved from 

So there you have it, some random, rambling thoughts. I hope I get better at this.

Blog Task #1

The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown (Highlights from JSB’s Keynote at DML2012). Retrieved from

I didn’t know it till this week but it seems I’m an entrepreneurial learner. I look for new ways to do things, seek new resources, re-evaluate, re-assess, tweak, try, and reflect. I’m not happy doing the same thing in the same way unless I know there isn’t a better way (and that’s rare). So John Seely Brown’s words right at the start of the video struck me straightaway. That’s it! That’s my passion! I want other teachers to be entrepreneurial learners too.

I want to find new and better ways to inspire and motivate teachers to have a go in the networked learning environment, to become “connected educators” – what Tom Whitby defines as “teachers who are comfortable with collaborative learning, social media, and sharing their ideas online.” I share his concern of a “huge gulf now developing between connected and unconnected educators.” (Digital trends shifting the role of teachers)

I want to be able to use the right language to convey my passion, to be able to articulate in pedagogical terms why it is important to keep up and to back up what I say with compelling examples from research. I read widely and find myself nodding my head in agreement or protesting “no” at an outrageous assertion but lack the skills to articulate why I respond that way. I need to “level up” my academic prowess. This is key in my motivation for study and I’m already being rewarded by the range of information being shared formally through the module and the new eye with which I’m viewing information shared informally.

Teachers I work with get bogged down in real and imagined barriers relating to workload, red tape and previous bad experiences, using them as excuses not to try. I love seeing the lightbulb go on when someone realises that a particular tool can actually make them more efficient (seen recently with a new Evernote convert) but often teachers lack motivation or are scared of breaking something or admitting they don’t know. I want teachers to find the same joy I do in play. As Seely Brown says “a key aspect of play is…permission to fail. Fail, fail, fail, then get it right”.

I want teachers to see that the technology itself is irrelevant. Just yesterday a primary teacher bemoaned the fact that her students struggled with using a mouse because they were so used to touch devices. Does it really matter? I can see a day in the not too distant future when the computer mouse will be viewed like the fountain pen, a quaint relic. We already have voice and gesture recognition and eye control is being developed. The mouse should be seen for what it is – an input device, nothing more, nothing less. This tweet from Marc Prensky sums it up beautifully:

I want teachers to see the need to transform learning tasks, that simply digitising an existing task and teaching it in the same old way will not develop 21st century skills.  Future work skills 2020 articulates skills that will be required in the workplace of the future but traditional teaching methods will not serve these needs. Consider Ruben R. Puentedura‘s SAMR model:

Image the creation of Dr. Ruben Puentedura, Ph.D.
Retrieved from 13 March, 2014

SAMR can be applied equally by teachers thinking about how they teach and how they themselves learn. I want to be an agent of redefinition.

Finally, I need to become a better teacher-librarian by sharpening up my own search and research skills. Already I am enjoying the challenges this poses.

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!