New tool no. 3 – eduCanon

The latest tool I have evaluated links closely with module 5.3, Flipped Classrooms, as it is a tool that could be used to create lessons in a flipped classroom environment.

eduCanon is an online tool for creating and sharing interactive video lessons. Start with a clip from a video platform (YouTube, TeacherTube, Vimeo, Khan Academy, TedEd and more), crop to just the selection you wish to show, add questions at the time you wish them answered, save and share. You can register your students so that you know who has viewed and whether their answers were correct or share anonymously. The completed video lessons (known as bulbs) can also be embedded in any website or LMS.

Like similar websites and tools, this is a commercial enterprise so the free version has limitations. With it you can:

  • have up to 8 classes
  • monitor an unlimited number of students
  • create unlimited lessons
  • share with colleagues

but your question types are limited to multiple choice, check all that apply and reflective pause.

Upgrading to premium (US$89 per year) gives you

  • fill in the blank and free response question types
  • ability to skip to a time point in the video
  • autograding
  • copying and editing public lessons
  • ability for your students to create lessons
  • worksheet printing
  • downloadable grades

There is also a “Blended school” version with even more functions starting at US$990 per year.

Free accounts offer three ways to share:

  1. With students – ie those you have registered. This will record their responses
  2. Share unique list code – students don’t have to be registered. Responses will be recorded but not linked to an individual
  3. Share with colleagues – for teachers to copy. No login needed to view but no tracking.

Each version includes a different link and embed code.

I have used the embed code from Unique list code to share a bulb I created for a lesson I created about one of my pet hates. You might not show this one to students but it’s a bit of fun:

This the Unique List code link – if you use it you are asked to enter your name and email address before being taken to the video.

I haven’t yet used this with students so it’s difficult to comment on how well eduCanon is works from their perspective but even the simple facility to easily crop a video to just the section you wish to show and share the link or embed is appealing. I can see applications for this not just in the Flipped Learning environment but also in situations where you want students to be able to view and answer questions at their own pace.

Word of warning: when this was demonstrated to me by our media studies teacher he was using a clip from a movie that his students were studying. There were some inappropriate ads showing at the bottom of the screen. Today I turned off my Adblock Plus and Adblock for YouTube extensions but didn’t see any ads appear at all. I’m not sure when or why advertising will appear, whether it is related to the video being shown or something from eduCanon itself (I certainly hope not!) but it’s something to be aware of.

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


A new culture of learning

Thomas and Brown’s (2011) new culture of learning resonates strongly with me as an educator, but even more so as a learner. Since 2008 when I first embarked on a “23 things” learning experience I have been exploring, engaging, following interests, connecting and learning using the fabulously vast resources of the online world. I came into this Masters course not so much for the specific qualification but to find structure and direction to focus my explorations. In the end I hope to find some new career options; whether or not I take them up is moot as I will be equally happy to find new direction within my existing career.

In all subjects so far (INF530, INF536, INF506) I have learned just as much with and from my fellow students as from exploring the course materials. Distance education has been an eye-opener and a fabulous surprise in how rich and rewarding the engagement has been. Many years ago I started on-campus Masters studies and never once felt anything like this level of engagement with other students. We sat in the same room for 2-3 hours a week and nothing more (or since). In this past year of study I’ve had many interactions with my fellow students which continue despite the subject/s being complete. My PLN continues to grow.

Just as it is for Allen (Thomas & Brown, p. 26), Google is the first port of call for many people faced with an error or problem these days and I’m certainly one of them. Whether it’s battling Apple’s Configurator for our class set of iPads, finding the best app for a purpose or trouble-shooting computer errors I can almost always find and answer or a forum where similar experiences are being discussed and learn from them.

Beyond a depressingly unsuccessful go at learning about Minecraft (at a full day workshop) and an uninspiring exploration of Second Life for INF506 I’ve not ventured into the world of massively multiplayer online games. Perhaps the closest I come to it is managing the family footy-tipping contest at Footytips. When we first started (about 7 years ago) my brother and his family were heading overseas for an exchange year and I thought it would be a good way to keep in touch. It was and is, but really it’s a very insignificant part of how we connect as a family.

It is clear to me that allowing students the freedom to explore their own interests and passions will facilitate the learning of concepts and skills beyond the topic – like Sam who learned valuable citizenship habits through the Scratch community (Thomas & Brown, p.21). In my school, as a teacher librarian, I promote project-based/challenge-based/inquiry-based learning by engaging with teachers and supporting them in myriad ways. We are a mixed-ability staff and some are much more ready to give up teaching to start enabling (as Thomas did (Thomas & Brown, p.25))  than others but there is recognition that old ways need to change and some commitment to giving it a go.


Thomas, D., Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

#INF536 Critical Reflection

I have found this subject very challenging. Whilst comfortable working as an educator in both digital and physical environments my knowledge and understanding of how those spaces are constructed and the impact of design (good or bad) upon them was minimal. Sure, I could recognise when something didn’t work, possibly due to bad design, but I would have been hard-pressed to articulate why or even come up with an alternative. I hadn’t really considered how the design of space actually impacted on learning.

Through the activities, readings and tasks I have developed new capacities in observation, ideation, constructing and deconstructing knowledge, and new confidence in my own opinions. The task to make a small change to a learning space has inspired me to keep seeking and acting upon opportunities for other small changes. I had been content to wait till we move to our new spaces over the next 1-2 years but these are learning spaces now! If they can be improved now then they should be. The idea of library as Fab Lab (Belbin & Newcombe, 2013) or Makerspace is something I will be exploring further.

One of the most challenging readings was Hatchuel, Le Masson and Weil (2004). It literally made me cry as I started doubting my capacity to make sense of the written word. Strangely it was the anti-depressive toothbrush  that helped me turn the corner on this one and I was quite pleased I was able to reference C-K theory in my case report.

Being taken through a design thinking process observing, empathising and developing a design brief for my local station was a revelation to me and excellent preparation for the Google Teacher Academy I was fortunate enough to attend recently (facilitated by Ewan’s NoTosh colleagues Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry). From this experience I now add “It’s not right that…” as an excellent prompt when struggling with framing “How might we…?” questions.How might we?

I learned that a design brief is not a list of demands and now wish I could persuade the powers that be at my school that developing a document like Dear Architect (Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College, n.d.) for our major consolidation and rebuilding project could have enormous benefits for the school in the long term. Unfortunately it is too late for that. The architects have visited for “consultation” bringing with them their already drawn-up plans. At least I now have some solid research behind me when I start ranting to whoever will listen about what a disaster having the year 8 lockers in the middle of the library will be.

I have discovered the value of a war room and sticky notes. Last semester I prided myself on not printing anything; this semester not only have I printed, I’ve cut up, re-arranged, stuck back together and (cue drum roll) hand written.

Sticky notes

Scissors and sticky-tape

Attending Simon and Graham’s creative coffee morning revealed the value of semi-structured conversation between people of different backgrounds but common interests.

Participants at the TeachMeet Bec and I hijacked as a pseudo creative coffee morning appreciated the opportunity for focused discussion as an alternative to the usual presentations.

Once again the support of this network (the class) has been phenomenal – I can’t imagine what it’d be like without the forums, tweets and hangouts. Thanks everyone, it’s been one helluva ride!



Belbin, N., & Newcombe, P. (2013). Fab Labs at the Library. Education Digest78(7), 65-68.

Engine Service Design & Walker Technology College. (n.d.). Dear Architect: A Vision Of Our Future School: Walker Technology College.

Hatchuel, A., Le Masson, P., & Weil, B. (2004). CK theory in practice: lessons from industrial applications. In DS 32: Proceedings of DESIGN 2004, the 8th International Design Conference, Dubrovnik, Croatia.



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.