Modern Learning


After two and a half years studying seven diverse subjects I have reached the capstone subject INF537 – Digital Futures Colloquium.


I am sharing this subject with some familiar people who I have interacted with in online meetings, forums and Twitter, and collaborated with using wikis, shared documents and Google hangouts. I have enjoyed the participatory aspects of my studies immensely and have learned so much from my peers as well as the subject coordinators. Feeling isolated is a common complaint about online learning but I believe my decision to make myself visible, contribute in the forums and reflect openly on my blog and Twitter has mitigated this feeling, and instead I have felt connected to people who I have never even met in real life. Does this make me a modern learner?

The first guest colloquium with Bruce Dixon founder of Anywhere, Anytime Learning Foundation and Modern Learners discussed what it is to be a modern learner today and whether schools are meeting the needs of modern learners. Along with Will Richardson he has produced a white paper 10 principles for schools of modern learning to help school leaders reimagine, redefine and transform student learning in schools. The general consensus amongst participants was that the current Australian school system and some international systems are too dependent on testing and assessment to truly meet the needs of modern learners. Bruce advocates change in the current model of schooling so that schools can develop students who are “deep, powerful, curious, agile learners” (Richardson & Dixon, 2017). In the colloquium he elaborated that modern learners are inquiry-based, social learners (connected) and self-directed. I think that according to the aforementioned quote, I possess the attributes of a modern learner. During the colloquium Bruce suggested that we learn best when learning is relevant to our context and and I have appreciated that I have been given agency to direct some of my own learning experiences during this course.

I am excited that I have been given an optional extra opportunity (along with INF532) to connect with a class at Rutgers University in the USA. Although this commitment places additional demands on my time, I believe this online global interaction will be very worthwhile. It will put network learning into practice for me, expose me to new tools, ideas and people.

Google Hangout for CSU/Rutgers University Online Global Interaction

The depth of discussion that has already taken place in the INF537 forums and during the colloquium has been a bit overwhelming but I am doing my best to keep up and contribute. The subject I did last session was not as interactive and participatory so I am grateful that this cohort of modern learners is so giving and dynamic because discussion really helps my understanding.



Richardson, W., & Dixon, B. (2017). 10 principles for schools of modern learning. Retrieved from

8 Comments on Modern Learning

  1. Amanda
    July 23, 2017 at 9:01 am (4 years ago)

    Hey Karen,

    Like on Heather’s blog I too have expressed the thought that I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment. Funny hey, given we are on our last subject for our masters that we still feel like we are unsure about what we are doing/saying. I guess that is all part and parcel of being a life long learner.

    In my blog I also discussed teaching to the test and not allowing our students to create their own understanding. I think the curriculum has a lot to answer for with this regard. It is so heavily packed with content it does not really allow a teacher scope to allow their students to go off in other directions and follow their interest. Perhaps this is changing as all the new senior science syllabus in NSW coming into effect next year have depth studies embedded. Hopefully, these will allow students to follow an idea through to a greater understanding and encourage a budding interest.

    I too feel I am a Modern Learner and a look forward to continuing this journey with you.


      July 23, 2017 at 10:53 am (4 years ago)

      It does make me feel better when I see that others have the same anxious feelings as me when starting a new subject. I think you are right that it is part of being a life-long learner that we sometimes feel uncomfortable. I have commented on your blog post about the constraints of the ATAR system on schools and how we could reimagine learning without it. Cheers to being a modern learner and modelling it to our colleagues and students.

  2. Lisa
    July 23, 2017 at 10:21 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Karen,
    Nice to study with you again!

    I agree that the social networking, forums and blogs have really helped to break down isolation as a distance education student and I too feel like I might have become a modern learner through this connected process.

    I found Bruce’s colloquia thought provoking and challenging and for me it might have raised more questions than answers, so lots to continue thinking about and processing over the coming weeks.


    July 23, 2017 at 10:57 am (4 years ago)

    Hi Lisa
    Wow, our last subject together! I agree that Bruce raised lots of questions that will guide our thinking over the coming weeks. The guest colloquium was a great way to start the subject and has already provided plenty of discussion.

  4. lnash
    July 23, 2017 at 11:47 am (4 years ago)

    I agree whole heartedly, I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the depth of the discussion too. However I feel that slowly I am beginning to find my voice and understand that my ideas are as valid and that we each bring something to the discussion. I like that point you made Karen about making yourself visible. I think that is the key, as it creates those connections and discussions and we really start to not only feel part of the learning but we empower that meta-cognition around our own learning.

      July 25, 2017 at 7:12 am (4 years ago)

      Understanding your ideas are valid is a great point Lisa and leads to further discussion with others. Thanks for the comment.

  5. Heather
    July 24, 2017 at 9:36 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi Karen,
    I can only add my agreement, the level of discussion going on already is fantastic even if intimidating at times, but it’s so much better than those subjects where it didn’t happen much at all. Even in my WISE subject where discussion contributions were assessed it still didn’t have the exciting interactive feel of INF537 so far. I set up twitter notifications for new posts and had to laugh, every time an assessed discussion was coming to an end, at the number of notifications coming through in the final hour or so. So much for “discussion”, these were people posting for the first time and making the obligatory response to someone.
    Anyway, I feel we are very lucky to be sharing this experience with this cohort, and I keep reminding myself that if it was easy I wouldn’t value it nearly so much.

    July 25, 2017 at 7:16 am (4 years ago)

    Thanks for the feedback on the WISE subject and the kinds of behaviours assessment caused. Not too surprising if people are not invested in participation and collaboration.Very pleased that this cohort like to thrash things out in the forum, even if I feel a little intimidated like you.