#INF536 – A Final Reflection

Participation in “Designing Learning Spaces”, #INF536, has positively impacted on my work as a professional in a positive way by deepening my understanding about the relationship between ‘design’, ‘learning’ and ‘space’, both digital and physical.

My practices as an educator, more specifically as a principal, influence the development of digital and physical spaces. I have long engaged with ‘learning’ and learning theory; however, it very quickly became obvious I knew little about ‘design’ and ‘space’.

‘Design’ and design thinking is an iterative process which is ongoing and supports long term possibilities of discovering the ‘unknown’. As a part of design thinking, it is useful to stop and observe the space. The Observation of Space Task re-inforced the need to stop, observe and reflect about the use of space. We need to do this far more often in education so space can align with purpose of learning and support the needs of future users.

I appreciated being introduced to design processes such as the Alpha Schools design scaffold (Figure 1) or the Stanford Institute of Design’s design thinking framework (Figure 2). Both enlightened me to the extensive and sustained requirements of leading effective design processes for digital and physical learning spaces.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

Furthermore, Ewan McIntosh’s Seven Spaces of Learning along with Rinquist’s Learning environments (Figure 3) affirmed the well-founded argument that the purpose of ‘space’, digital and physical, has to be known and understood for it to be effective in supporting student learning. 

Figure 3

Figure 3

By engaging with, and immersing myself in, the literature, I am more knowledgeable about thinking and processes which will align the learning needs of future users with the purpose of a space. Designers have been moving increasingly closer to the future users of what they design (Sanders and Stappers 2008) and there is enthusiasm within both education and architecture for the inclusion of students and other users of the school building in the design process (Woolner 2009). I engaged students and parents when hosting my Creative Afternoon Tea .

It is interesting to note this course has already impacted on my practice. As part of my learning in this course, I reflected on the process of developing a physical space, “G1” some ten months previously. It was a process lacking in design thinking with no user-centred, creative approaches to the conversion of “G1”. Concerns about That Problem Space became very clear, very quickly and can be explained by the rushed nature of the process. However, it is pleasing to report that at the time of writing, a review of the “G1” space has resulted in a new process which has adopted user-centred prototyping approaches involving students, teachers and parents, which seek creative ways to re-imagine the space.  I am confident the refurbishment of the space will be useful for student learning after a process which is characterised with design thinking principles.

“Thank you” Ewan for your input and “thank you” #INF536 colleagues. I have enjoyed learning that has come with this course.



Sanders, E. B.-N. and P. J. Stappers (2008). “Co-creation and the new landscapes of design.” Co-design 4(1): 5-18.

Woolner, P. (2009). Building Schools for the Future through a participatory design process: exploring the issues and investigating ways forward. BERA Manchester.





A Design Brief


The objective of this Design Brief is to provide the “inspiration,” and commence the “ideation” as part of Browne’s (2009) three phases for design thinking for the identified space known as Alex and Michelle’s Coffee Shop, Kooringal Mall, Wagga Wagga, NSW Australia.

With the understanding that it is best to continually make observations (Brown & Katz, 2011), this Design Brief was developed after two observations which took place on during the week commencing Monday 4 August. This immersion in the problem space allowed me to develop a deep understanding of the challenges associated with the space in alignment with the ‘Empathise Stage’ as per the Design Thinking Framework developed by Stanford Institute of Design.

Stanford Design Process http://www.blendmylearning.com/2014/05/28/using-design-thinking-to-develop-personalized-learning-pilots/

Defining the Problem From the observations, the following problems were identified:

  • over-crowding which can occur when take away customers are waiting for their coffees.
  • cramped conditions for employees working behind the counter.
  • the ‘disconnect’ between the indoor space and the outdoor space, further emphasized by extremes of weather.

Therefore, the problem I want to solve is framed as a question….. “How can Alex and Michelle’s Café be designed so that it is not crowded for patrons nor cramped for employees?”

Constraints “The introduction of constraints effectively pushed the solutions groups generated outside of the box” (Eden, Elliot et al. 2012). Therefore, with that in mind, I offer the following constraints:

  • Extensions of the space are not possible due to common space restrictions
  • Connecting the indoor and outdoor spaces is not permissible under the community space restrictions  as per shopping centre

Known Considerations:

  • cannot expand or extend the space due to restrictions of shopping precinct shared community space.
  • entrance to the café gets crowded during the early morning rush.

Unknown Considerations:

  • unclear budget
  • what has already been tried to address
    • the over-crowing for take away customers
    • the cramped conditions for employees

With the understanding that the user experience is crucial to resolving the identified problem (Pilloton 2010; Eden, Elliot et al. 2012) the following actions are required:

  1. Conduct surveys of patrons to obtain feedback regarding their ‘experience’ of the café space.
  2. Conduct Interviews with employees of the café
  3. Interview the owner/manager of the shopping precinct to establish clarify the parameters for possible refurbishment options.
  4. Introduce the problem to experts not familiar with the problem space and engage them in conversations about possible solutions.

Future Considerations

From these actions, there could be the use of  the How Might We (HWE) approach (D.School, Stanford) adopted by the Alpha Schools Project (Eden, Elliot et al. 2012) to prompt the “ideate” phase some alternative thinking: How Might We?????

  • create a more inviting space for people to wait for their coffee?
  • more effectively connect the indoor and outdoor spaces of the café?
  • reconfigure current or new furniture to create more space for customers and employees?
  • create a café experience which is for “local community purpose” (Pilloton 2010)?



Brown, T, & Katz, B. (2011). Change by design . Journal of Product Innovation Management, 28(3), 381-383. doi:10.1111

D.school, Stanford University, How might we?… Method Card:http://dschool.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/HMW-METHODCARD.pdf Accessed 13 August, 2014.

Eden, W., Elliot, A., et al. (2012). School Design with Design Thinking. San Jose, California.

Pilloton, E. (2010). Teaching Design for Change www.ted.com, Youtube. http://www.ted.com/talks/emily_pilloton_teaching_design_for_change



I have commented on the following blogs…..

Rochelle’s Blog at….. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/rmasaoka/2014/08/16/c-k-theory/#comment-21

Deb’s Blog at…… http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/galloised/2014/08/15/175/#comment-27

Heather’s Blog at…. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/jesoods5/2014/08/14/design-brief-blog-task-3/#comment-21

Observation of Space

Most mornings on the way to work I drop into the local coffee shop to get a take away large cappuccino, no sugar, and that’s because…… I’m sweet enough as it is! I repeat this action each and every Saturday morning whilst also getting a copy of the Sydney Morning Herald and a second coffee for my wife. Therefore, my observation is in two parts. Firstly, I recall my observations as part of the weekly 5 minute ‘drop in’ to collect my coffee before going back on a Saturday morning to sit in the coffee shop to engage in a 30 minute observation.

Morning ‘Drop in’

I walk from the car park and feel all of the three degrees weather at 7:45am. I walk past some shops that are located in the shopping precinct in which the cafe is located. As soon as I walk into the cafe the welcome feeling of warmth envelops me. I join a queue of 4 people waiting for take away coffee. As I make my order I am greeted by the owner, Alex. He is the only person working at this time. A few more people join the queue and we look for space between the tables and chairs located in the cafe. No-one is seated. All orders are ‘take-aways’. All people waiting (except for me because I am observing) get out their mobiles and look at them, occasionally using the key pad on their phone. One customer walks outside to take a call. I feel the rush of the cold air come through the door. Within a few moments Alex gives me my coffee and I leave enjoying the first few tastes in the cold air before getting to the car.

Saturday Morning Observation.

As I walk from the car park to the Cafe at 8:30am, I feel the cool air and immediately notice there are more people around than is the case during the week. As soon as I walk into the cafe the welcome feeling of warmth hits me. I am warmly greeted by two young ladies who are ex-students of the College. I order my breakfast and am asked where I am sitting, to which I respond accordingly. I notice the staff member ‘squeezing’ between the till, and coffee machine to write down the order. Located adjacent to till on the left is a display case with assosrted ‘delights’ such as croissants, cakes and buns.  On the right there is a standing fridge with various juices, sandwiches and wraps. Behind the counter the barista is placed immediately behind the person taking the order. They are located quite closely together and therefore the space behind the counter near the til, is limited and cramped.

Cafe External

I turn around to find a parent of the College waiting in line. We have a quick chat and discover we both recently spent time in Singapore as part of longer overseas trips.

I sit at my table and also notice

– that almost all tables are filled with people in their sixties or more. The décor is relatively plain, white tables, black chairs, lino on the floor. Ornate decorations fill the walls above the 2 metre high windows on two sides of the cafe.

– There is a lot of natural light which fills the cafe. The glass windows allows patrons to looks out onto a central courtyard that serves as a communal space for the shopping complex. Part of the courtyard has tables and chairs for the use of café. No-one is sitting there (due to the cold morning?). Some of the tables are located in the shade.

Cafe Internal


– Deliveries of milk arrive and they come through the front entrance door. The gentleman spends ten minutes packing the produce into fridges located at one end of the café.

– For those ordering take away coffees, there is soon a queue which fills the empty space between tables and chairs between the entrance to the counter.

I complete my breakfast, which was enjoyable and say my goodbyes to Alex and the ladies who so warmly welcomed me into the cafe.

Cafe Sketch 2Cafe Courtyad







I have commented on the following blogs


Blog Post #2

Blog task 2


That “Problem Space”

“A well designed artefact is embraced by its audience where as bad design leaves the user confused on uninterested” Kuratko, D., Goldsworthy, M., & Hornsby, G. (2012). Feedback from users of the “problem space” are that they are confused, uninterested and enjoy their learning more in another space.

The “problem space” is 200 metres of (not quite) open learning space. Really, it is 4 x 50 metre square classrooms combining to become an open learning space. Specifically, this area has been targeted to assist the accelerated delivery of a HSC Subject from two years to one year, using a team of four teachers to deliver the course to approximately 80 students. Teaching strategies include whole group lectures, optional small group tutorials and access to ‘quite spaces’ within the larger space to engage students in independently learning. All content is accessible via an online learning management system.

Too Much LightLine of Sight 2

Essentially, through the redesign of a new course we have enabled students to sit the HSC one year earlier in one subject. The use of Moodle and Google Docs ensures an interactive, reliable and collaborative virtual space. However, only fleeting consideration was given to physical space. In Year 1, we delivered the new course in the Resource Centre. This year, we did a ‘bit-part’ conversion of the “problem space”.

The space would benefit from some thinking because, for 18 months now, there has been little thought given to how the space can best support this new and exciting learning initiative. However, teachers have expressed concerns with the “problem space”; some being, shape of the space, inflexible furniture and line of site to screens. This has resulted in teachers utilising another space in the school for two thirds of face to face delivery time. This clarifies for me that we need a design process to develop a space which will support the effective delivery of this subject.

20140911_110216Line of Sight

Therefore, the changes to this “problem space” are unknown. In order to create a better space, I am not thinking small and immediate, but I am thinking longer term. What I would like to do is engage the teachers and a sample of students in a design thinking process using some of the principles and readings encountered in this course. In a sense, I would be inviting people to work in a team because design is inherently human and done best with teams of people (Razzouk and Shute 2012). I would be encouraging the team to ‘design for education’, and have a shared ownership of the solutions so the teachers and students have both the incentive and desire to use the space (Pilloton 2010).

Tim Brown states, “Design thinking relies on our ability to be intuitive, to recognize patterns, to construct ideas that have emotional meaning as well as functionality, to express ourselves in media other than words or symbols” (2009). These are the capacities I would be seeking in team members engaging in the design thinking process. Along with these capacities I would introduce the team to the elements of deign thinking (Kuratko, Goldsworthy et al. 2012) including flexibility, focus, inspiration, proactivity, humility and the understanding that constraints are a part of the process. In the end, it may just be that by immersing the team in principles and elements of deign thinking that they end up doing amazing things and surprise themselves about just how innovative they really are (Kelley 2012).



Kelley, D. (2012). How to build your creative confidence, Youtube. 2014.

Kuratko, D., M. Goldsworthy, et al. (2012). “The design-thinking process in Innovation acceleration: transforming organizational thinking.” pp.103-123.

Pilloton, E. (2010). Teaching design for change. ted.com, Youtube.

Razzouk, R. and V. Shute (2012). “What is design thinking and why is it important?” Review of Educational Research 82(3): 330-348.


THREE OTHER COMMENTS – I have left a comment on

Margaret’s Blog at…. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2014/07/30/using-a-design-process-to-effect-a-change/#comment-42

Helen’s Blog at….. http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/ipractice/2014/07/29/does-design-matter/

Miriam’s Blog at…… http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/myreflectivejournal/2014/07/26/inf536post1/#comment-11



Wrestling with Hurricane Digital Age – #INF530 Critical Reflection

For a few years now I have aspired to be a Digital Leader by ‘Wrestling with Hurricane Digital Age’ at a local school community level. The rapid change that comes with new and emerging digital technologies is obvious with every click on a Twitter link, each reading of a professional blog, or the latest email from an educational organization. Each provides something more to think about. It really is mind blowing how much change is taking place. Because it is impossible to keep up, the challenge for teachers and principals willing to wrestle with the change, has been to know what is important.

Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age, #INF530, has introduced me to the latest thinking about education and schooling and further equipped me for the ongoing, relentless and continuous ‘Wrestle with Hurricane Digital Age’. There is much information out there for teachers regarding the latest trends in education; however, #INF530 has:

–          affirmed my push for creativity in classrooms;

–          confirmed the need for students to develop their learning networks; and,

–          introduced me to connectivism, the learning theory for a Digital Age.


The future of students lies in being able to communicate, share and use information to solve complex problems, in being able to adapt and innovate in response to new demands and changing circumstances (OECD 2006; Cisco Systems 2008; Partnerships for 21st Century Skills 2010). This will require students as adults to marshal and expand the power of technology to create new knowledge and expand human capacity and productivity (Binkley, Erstad et al. 2010).

It is pleasing this is recognised in Australia. As part of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum General Capability for Creative and Critical Thinking (ACARA 2010) students are required to explore and organise information to generate ideas and actions. #INF530 has confirmed that it is necessary for teachers to understand the creative learning process, which starts with student ideas and imagination which then leads to students ‘creating’, ‘making’ and ‘designing’ for their real world with the possibility of innovation being the end product.

Networked Learning

Mimi Ito’s Video – Connected Learning: Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime (2012) impressed me greatly. Her comment “anybody can help somebody else get better at something” means everybody has a part to play in the education of a learner, child or adult. It is now an essential skill for teachers as learners, and students as learners, to access expertise. This will require all learners to establish, develop and maintain learning networks and learning nodes that respond, update and regularly change .

Antero Garcia’s paper (2014) confirms youth expertise can be networked, amplified and accessed globally with new digital media tools. I see it as important that teachers, as facilitators of learning, harness this ever increasing opportunity for students to develop networks to assist them with their learning.


#INF530 formally introduced me to connectivism. Whilst I can identify the elements of connectivism, I now have a deeper understanding of it as a valid learning theory applicable to a Digital Age. The Learning Theory of Connectivism brings an academic rigour and substance to learning in a Digital Age. Connectivism literally “connects” and “joins the dots” of contemporary learning. I am obligated to introduce this to teachers within my school, teachers within my system and spread the theory among my global network. An academic approach striving for a scholarly understanding of the “Connectivism” as a Learning Theory, will bring credibility to the process of teachers and school leaders responding to the demands of a digital age.

Therefore, as an education professional in digital learning environments, I am obligated to

i)                    Maintain a commitment to the creative learning process;

ii)                  Encourage all learners to develop their learning networks; and,

iii)                Promote connectivism as a valid learning theory for a Digital Age.

Yes, it is challenging for teachers, principals and school systems to ‘wrestle with Hurricane Digital Age’; however, #INF530 has my ability to confront the challenge.



ACARA (2010). “Australian Curriculum.” Retrieved 24 April 2014, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/Critical-and-creative-thinking.

Binkley, M., O. Erstad, et al. (2010). Draft White Paper 1 Defining 21st century skills; A report to the Learning and Technology World Forum 2010 in London as part of the Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project created by Cisco, Intel and Microsoft. U. o. Melbourne. London.

Cisco Systems (2008). Equipping Every Learner for the 21st Century: A White Paper.

Garcia, Antero, ed., 2014. Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

Ito, M. (2012). “Connected Learning: Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime.” Retrieved 12 March 2014, 2014, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=viHbdTC8a90.

OECD (2006). Think Scenarios, Rethink Education.

Partnerships for 21st Century Skills (2010). “Framework for 21st Century Learning.” from www.P21.org.



Rethink Collective Practice or Rethink Schooling?

Early on in Module 3 #INF530 students are asked ….. Can we simply “update” things as we go, or is it time for rethinking of our collective practice?

Well, the answer is a resounding “YES! We need to rethink practice.” In the Video – Connected Learning: Everyone, Everywhere, Anytime Mimi Ito, informs us that expertise is widely distributed and “anybody can help somebody else get better at something.” This means anybody and everybody can play a part to play in the of education of a student. Now that everybody has a part to play, classrooms cannot deliver teacher centred lessons.

In Antero Garcia’s paper we read that learning is centered around youth interests in many out-of-school contexts and whilst this may not be new, what is new, are the ways youth expertise can be networked, accessed and even published globally with new digital media tools. Therefore, as part of our rethinking around practice, it needs to be acknowledged that each student has access to expertise and assistance way beyond what a teacher can offer within a one classroom.

With exponential increase of, and accessibility to information via mobile technologies comes the need to educate students to develop information literacy skills. Increasingly students need to become discerning about the sources of information and then appropriately use digital tools to gather, evaluate and use information. Thankfully, digital information literacy processes have been offered to teachers as early as 2007 via the ISTE standards (ISTE 2007). Recently, in Australia as part of the implementation of the Australian Curriculum General Capability for Creative and Critical Thinking (ACARA 2010) students are required to explore and organise information to generate ideas and actions. Furthermore, they are required to reflect by analysing, synthesising and evaluating learning processes.

The Guided Inquiry learning process (Kuhlthau and Maniotes 2012) is one that lends itself to promoting information literacy skills and offers a new way of practice which acknowledges the student as a co-creator of knowledge by framing their own questions. It is a process which has assisted teachers @materdeiwagga to engage in pedagogy which acknowledges the changed paradigm of learning offered by this new digital age. I can firmly recommend it.Guided-Inquiry-Poster-ymb3r2.jpg

According to aitsl’s 21st Century Education video (AITSL 2012) there is change to collective practice taking place around the world. For example in South Korea, digital textbooks are being mass produced to support anywhere anytime learning. In Denmark, students are able to use the Internet when taking exams; could you imagine that for the HSC? In the USA some schools are adopting personalised learning approaches which allows students to develop their own timetables with teacher time freed up to mentor and advise students. Is it time then to rethink schools? If students can learn anywhere, anytime, why can’t we afford them, in senior years at least, more time at home where online hours are registered as school attendance? Why can’t we give them the choice to use school travel hours as learning time at home? Whilst the students are at home, teachers could be at schools, working in teams, to design learning experiences that increasingly acknowledge the possibilities of a digital age.

Is it time to just rethink collective practice or is it also about rethinking schooling?

I would appreciate your thoughts.




Garcia, Antero, ed., (2014). Teaching in the connected Learning Classroom. Irvine, CA: Digital Media and Learning Research Hub.

ACARA (2010). “Australian Curriculum.” Retrieved 24 April 2014, from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/GeneralCapabilities/Pdf/Critical-and-creative-thinking.

AITSL (2012). 21st Century Education. Australia, YouTube.

ISTE (2007). “ISTE Website.” Retrieved 22 April 2014, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards-for-students/nets-student-standards-2007.

Kuhlthau, C. C. and L. K. Maniotes (2012). Guided inquiry design: a framework for inquiry in your school, ABC-CLIO.

Digital Learning, Connectivism and the Role of the Teacher.

Material authored by Louise Starkey (Starkey 2011), and the YouTube Interview with George Siemens (Siemens 2013), reinforces the obvious; that is, access to the World Wide Web has greatly increased the opportunities for students adopt multiple learning pathways when engaging with the curriculum. Learning is now an iterative process which requires moving back and forth across knowledge numerous digital networks including engagement with Google Groups, following a person on Twitter, viewing YouTube videos, accessing information via Flipboard and Zite, discovering forums on Pinterest, discussions via Online Forums and a multitude other knowledge nodes.

Siemens’ interview had most impact on me. He acknowledged that education can be personalized “but learning comes through discourse and conversation with peers”, highlighting the importance of collaboration. Furthermore, he affirms the constructionist approach to “generate knowledge through playing with it” which then allows for “different uses of that knowledge.” 

For me, the above supports my strong affection for student-centred learning where students are active agents who are engaged in collaborative projects that are relevant to their real word, or where they are involved with sustained investigations that generate new ideas by extending upon the ideas of others. However, for this to become a reality, teachers need to see themselves as a facilitator of learning with the approach of a coach (Wang 2006).

I am the first to acknowledge that one constraint of the mandated curriculum is that it limits the potential for teachers to adopt the role of facilitator. However, a shift in the teacher role to that of a facilitator assists with the development of contemporary skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving; all skills required for the 21st century learning (Fullan and Smith 2000; BECTA 2004; Lyons 2007). To do this, the teacher “supports the students in their search and supply of relevant material, coordinates the students’ presentations of individual milestones of their projects, moderates discussions, consults in all kinds of problem-solving and seeking for solutions, lectures on topics that are selected in plenary discussions with the students and conforms to the curriculum” (Motschnig-Pitrik and Holzinger 2002).

With this in mind, and after my engagement with the above-mentioned authors, it is not enough for teachers to become facilitators. Facilitators must now understand that ‘connectivism’ is an essential part of contemporary pedagogy. For me, connectivism in a digital world is when a learner accesses information through a number of connections and uses that information to construct knowledge, often through those same networks.

I am fortunate to work in a learning community where teachers understand, respect and capitlaise upon the relative advantages of connectivism in a digital world. Through them I witness students utilising a range of digital technologies to access information and share that information through various learning platforms. I then see students connecting and collaborating with each other in a seamless manner where they then demonstrate their learning with the use of new ‘apps’ that they (more than likely) have discovered through their virtual learning network.

The willingness of teachers to engage with the connectivism of digital technology assists students to create knowledge and understand concepts through their participation of the digitally enhanced learning environment they access each and every day.



BECTA (2004). A Review on the Research Literature on the Barriers to the take up of ICT by Teachers: 29.

Fullan, M. and G. Smith (2000). “Technology and the problem of change.” Curriculum Matters: 2-5.

Lyons, T. (2007). “The Professional Development, Resource and Support Needs of Rural and Urban ICT Teachers.” Australian Educational Computing 22(2) , p. 22-31.

Motschnig-Pitrik, R. and A. Holzinger (2002). “Student-centered teaching meets new media: Concept and case study. .” Educational Technology & Society 5(4): 160-172.

Siemens, G. (2013). “Changing Schools, Changing Knowledge.” The Agenda with Steve Paiken. Retrieved 30/03/2014, from http://youtu.be/JR_ziHA_8LY.

Starkey, L. (2011). “Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix.” Technology, Pedagogy and Education 20(1): 19-39.

Wang, Y. (2006). “Technology projects as a vehicle to empower students.” Educational Media International 43(4): 315-330.


A Great Forum on Twitter

Yesterday, I received an invite from Jon Andrews @jca_1975 to participate in the #learningfrontiers forum on Twitter. Through @aitsl , Jon arranged an ‘active forum’ for one hour between 8 & 9 pm on Wednesday 19 March 2014. At around 8 pm educators from around Australia jumped onto Twitter, entered #learningfrontiers in the search tool and PRESTO, we were instantly connected in a virtual discussion room for the next hour.

Jon was invited by @aitsl to lead the forum by posing questions. As host, host Jon types in thw question starting with “Q1” and concluded his 140 character tweet with the hashtag #learningfrontiers.  When responding, people led with “A1” and also included #learningfrontiers in the response.

Jon’s first question was…. “Engagement is a community priority. Give E.G’s of HOW Sch L’drs & community partners create conditions for engagement?” The next 3 questions can be seen in the picture below.

Questions for #learningfrontiers 19 March 2014

The hour long forum was frenetic, inspiring, affirming, enriching, challenging and engaging – all in one! In that time I offered responses to questions, had some of my tweets retweeted, retweeted the tweets of others, answered one tro one questions put to me by forum participants, and also had my tweets favourited.

As part of this forum, I also engaged in ‘side conversations’. At one point I was offering colleagues a copy of our Pedagogy Leader Role Description. At another point, I shared a link to a video clip with @danhaesler & @stringer_andrea about teachers as coaches. From that conversation I was introduced to a blog which, in turn, saw me send the following email to @materdeiwagga teachers…..

Hello All,

Following on from our metaphor for this year ‘TEACHER AS COACH”, I found this when participating in the most recent #learningfrontiers forum on Twitter.
In the spirit of Professional Learning, it would be great if you responded to this blog. However, just reading the blog for 30 seconds or less would be great.

As part of the Forum, I was introduced to some excellent initiatives occurring in schools across the country. One of them included a school where teachers invited students to the Department Meetings. So, with a title of “Random Idea”, I sent this email to teachers…..

Hello All,

What about inviting students to the KLA Meetings next week?
Leave it with you.

No doubt I will get some interesting looks from teachers when I get up to speak at briefing in the morning.

In conclusion, #learningfrontiers reaffirmed my strong belief that Twitter offers an excellent professional learning network for anyone who wishes to participate in this virtual learning community. People are encouraging and supportive but also ask questions which challenge and occasional disturb me, in a good way!



Part of the Learning Journey

I am principal of a regional Catholic co-educational secondary school for 750 Year 7 to 12 students in regional New South Wales. I was appointed fort the start of the 2008 school year, the year of the Digital Education Revolution (DER) as introduced by the Rudd Federal Government. Since then my professional learning has been focused on leading teachers to explore the potential of digital technology to enrich student learning.

Very quickly, principals were required to be digital leaders. In May 2011 I engaged Delphian Learning to conduct an audit of infrastructure and digital learning. In September 2011, and after interviewing and surveying teachers, students and parents, an eLearning Plan was developed. The aim of the eLearning Plan was, and still is, ”for students to become ‘self-directed learners’ through the provision of learning opportunities which provide students with greater choice of subject matter, learning methods and pace of study.” The willingness of a majority of teachers to rigorously pursue this aim has resulted in students being more involved in decision‐making processes, extensively using digital technologies and increasingly ‘learn by doing’ with relevance to the real world. This is evidenced by:

  • 1:1 laptops for all students, including Year 7 & 8;
  • extensive fibre optic and wireless infrastructure which is reliable;
  • the Year 7 TED Program in an agile flexible learning space containing portable furniture without a teacher’s desk;
  • an online,  school developed Studies of Religion course using blended learning principles which compresses a two year course into one;
  • a school developed, game-based program for Year 8 French;
  • adoption of Moodle and extensive use of Google Drive for teacher and student collaboration;
  • team teaching approaches to Religion, English and HSIE courses in Year 8 for 146 students; and,
  • teachers globally connecting through Twitter and publicly reflecting through blogs. I was obligated to engage in this and that is how http://gregmiller68.com/ and  https://twitter.com/gregmiller68 came about.

Along the way there have been challenges; one of them being the apparent conflict between the HSC and Inquiry Learning; the other being the delicate balance between pursuing aim whilst responding to the government agenda of Australian Curriculum, NAPLAN and MySchools. INF530 provides an opportunity to address these challenges as the lead learner in one school community. INF530 will challenge me to reflect on my role as a ‘digital leader’; where I/we have been, and where I/we are going. Viewing Tim Burness Lee in The next Web of open, linked data reaffirms the need for students to develop the skills to use information to collaborate and solve real world problems (Rogers, 2002) as emphasised in the The Re-Working of Work, 2011.

As a principal, being immersed in the professional dialogue of INF530 will enable me to hear from thought leaders, develop leadership thoughts and express them via this blog. Reading further about Trends in Technology Environments will assist me in responding to the inevitable reorganisation of schooling that John Seely Brown discusses in The Global One School House. Seely Brown contests we need to completely rethink the learning landscape and that working as individuals is not enough. Knowing that is one thing, leading change in a school context is a complex challenge. That is why I have requested to read Eric Sheninger’s, Digital Leadership: Changing Technology for Change-Savvy School Leaders.