INF532 Defining the connected educator – Reflections

abstract coloured lines and connectors

© 2016


Think about – Cooperation and collaboration

Professional practice

Nussbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) define the difference between cooperation and collaboration as connected educators and learners. Cooperation is an individual activity where I contribute a piece of knowledge or information to a group. Collaboration is where I as a learner and professional am connected in a community relying on the unique skills and experiences of each member to realise a goal (p.12).

As a learning designer collaboration is critical to achieving success in the projects that are part of my remit. Project teams are made up of professionals each bringing unique skills, knowledge and practice to the project. Learning designers, academics, teaching assistants, instructional multimedia developers, editors, platform partners and external testers work together to design and build courses for fully online asynchronous delivery. Each contribute their uniques skills and talents and each learn from each other.

In the current project that I am a lead designer on, I have collaborated with a teaching team comprised of academics from Austria, the Ukraine, Germany and Australia to draft, revise and storyboard content for delivery on the FutureLearn MOOC platform. Content is emailed or dropped into folders in cloud-based services for editing. Googledrive and Dropbox facilitate the sharing of key documents and assets such as storyboards, raw video footage and graphic assets and change logs. Email plays an important role in maintaining connection, updating project deliverables and sending reminders and status reports. YouTube hosts draft videos for review and is also the final platform where videos are uploaded. This means reviewing and critiquing can be carried out from across the globe using online services and platforms to connect and network to share expertise and advice.

Professional learning

Professional learning collaborations span a range of activities from connecting with other students in my Masters course at Charles Sturt to reading blogs I follow for personal and professional interest, sharing, liking and following on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Last semester in the subject INF506  Networking for Information Professionals I participated in a private Facebook group created by the lecturer. This group exemplified the collaborative and connected practices of a PLN mentioned by Nussbaum-Beach and Hall (2012, p.31). The group were committed collaborators freely sharing their unique skills to the community by sharing knowledge and supporting each other to solve problems and connect to valuable information as needed. An example of this was when I couldn’t figure out how to perform an action on SecondLife. I posted a cry for help to Facebook and within a couple of minutes one of the other students joined me on Second Life and showed me how to “touch” a computer at the Charles Sturt SL site.

Think about – Multiliteracies

As a learning designer, I was not surprised by these literacies as they are essential to the work and pedagogical practices that inform my designing; developing asynchronous, fully online courses. However, recently at the 2016 HERDSA conference in Fremantle I attended a session which discussed the importance of extending the skill set of learners from not only being digital literate to being digitally fluent (Oughtred & Rawson, 2016). Digital fluency is the skill of being able to appropriately express and present yourself online across various platforms. Probably the most common example where learners need upskilling are social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where reputations are broadcast on a global platform. The presenters discussed a project that they ran educating student teachers on how to create and maintain a professional presence online using a variety of digital tools and platforms.

Think about – Understandings of being a connected educator

Like the example of the connected educator Susan, my work day is very similar. Once I get to work I check my Twitter and LinkedIn notifications and messages. Email is essential to check for updates, status reports and links to resources and assets from the international project team. I log onto the FutureLearn MOOC platform to monitor participation on the discussion forums and help the teaching assistants if they need advice. At lunch time I share any resources I have found on Twitter and retweet any relevant posts. I also read my personal gmail account for updates and notifications from artists, photographers and writers I follow online and the lecturers in my Masters course. I check Facebook and Twitter on the bus trip home and I end my evening either browsing Pinterest for graphic design, photography or interior design inspiration or watch a YouTube video on mixed media techniques before I fall asleep.

Putting it into practice

Reading Nussbaum-Beach and Hall (2012) I am inspired to continue to build and contribute to the connections in the personal learning networks that I have chosen to extend my personal and professional learning. As Siemens predicted its the connections that are critical to learning in the 21st century. While I scored highly on the Self-evaluation rubric for new literacies of the 21st century (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012, pp.14-17) my lower scores were for category 5 Engage in professional growth and leadership. I need to continue to develop my skills in exhibiting leadership by contributing to the development of digital skills in others by regular contributions to the networks and groups that I am a member.


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

Oughtred, C. & Rawson, C. (2016, July). Developing student capabilities in becoming sophisticated consumers and producers of information. Paper presented at the HERDSA 2016 Conference The Shape of Higher Education, The Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle, Australia.

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 2(1), 3-10.

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