Month: October 2016

Network literacy evaluative report: The INF532 Travelator


Image Attribution: Londoners in transit by Sacha Fernandez. Retrieved from Flickr. Creative Commons licence.

With recent travel experiences fresh in my mind, the analogy of the airport travelator echoes my INF532 journey. Sometimes the travelator moves you along at the same pace as the traditional walk, other times it takes you further with less effort and other times, when you move yourself along as well, the travelator takes you much further down the pathway than the walk might have done.

Commencing my sixth unit of the Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation Masters, I had made a considerable start to my connected educator journey. Prior to INF532, I was engaging with a personal learning network (PLN) on Twitter, making effective use of social media and practicing a do-it-yourself learning mentality (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012, Skip Via, 2010, Alex Couros, 2010). I had explored a range of curation tools and selected those I found most useful (Plenty, 2016a), and made a commitment to seek opportunities for global education connections. In some respects, I have continued learning as I would otherwise; in others INF532 has given me the motivation and means to expedite my learning progress and move further along.

My most significant learning and progress over the course of my INF532 study include:

  • Consolidation of my PLN through social media
  • Recognition of the power and importance of blogging
  • The process and production of the artefact
  • Connections with experts for learning
  • Development of my understanding of instructional design
  • Improved information management and use of curation tools

Collaboration, Twitter and PLN

Jennifer Gonzales ideas about open-door classrooms and the facilitation of observation through the physical environment resonate with my experience (Plenty, 2016b). Having recently worked in three diverse school environments (Plenty, 2016j), I see the physical limitations imposed on school-based connections by the structure of school buildings. Leadership may actively address this through ongoing planning for architecture and infrastructure but also through the encouragement of other modes of connection. Despite diversity in the roles, I have been fortunate in my two most recent jobs to have the scope to connect with my colleagues, previously in a school where team teaching was an emphasis and now as a technology coach, working with others to support their technology integration (Plenty, 2016b). Both of these positions have been unique opportunities to learn from and with colleagues.

Whilst observation and connection with one’s colleagues (Couros, A., 2010) are vital ingredients for growth, external connections are necessary to really cross-pollinate perspectives, develop creative approaches and avoid stagnation (Jarche, 2013). Steve Wyborney (2016) and Todd Nesloney (2013) both discuss the revolutionary impact of Twitter on their practice and their findings align with my recent experience. Since commencing ETL523 (the first of two units studied under Julie Lindsay this year) in Session One, I have been encouraged to foster my online PLN, and since commencing INF532, my efforts to become more of a participant have resulted in some significant learning growth through my Twitter connections. However, as Rheingold (2010) notes, discernment skills in who to follow and how to refine PLN connections are also necessary. Action in this regard has tailored my feed, making it relevant and packed with potential for learning. I have had to find balance using Twitter as a flow, the more people I follow, the more I miss. Finding the balance to check the ‘rolling present’ (Rheingold & Weeks, 2012) regularly, subscribing to the blogs of those I do not want to miss and recognising the need not to overload and induce “edu PLN fatigue” (McGilvray, 2016) have been essential new skills.

Since starting INF532, I have regularly participated in Twitter chats. Involvement in organised chats such as #AussieED, #DigitalEDchat and #MSFTEDUchat has provided opportunity to connect more closely with others to share ideas (Lindsay, 2016) and subsequently engage in ongoing conversations, moving my interaction more into a networked community of practice (Wenger, 2012). Such chat opportunities test my thinking, provide new or divergent perspectives and refine my knowledge (Archer, 2009).

The learning potential of a tailored PLN has been evident for me during INF532 with learning that I have sought, but also learning acquired directly. I needed to know more about flipped learning and creating video resources, I connected with Joel Speranza. I needed ideas about creating animation for my artefact – I happened upon Richard Wells Keynote tutorial tweet. Planning ideas for staff PL, I connected with Craig Kemp about his Techie Brekkies. Planning to commence a school-based student tech team, I was contacted by Larry Baker in the US who is building a resource and making connections regarding that process.













Twitter messages used with permission (2016)

Tweet – example of professional learning through Twitter

The Power of Blogging

Documenting an ongoing record of my thinking is proving a useful reflective process; as articulated by Joel Speranza, it is a chance to sort and consolidate ideas, share thinking that may unexpectedly be significant for a reader, and connect with a larger PLN when shared through social media. As “one of the people formerly known as the audience” (Shirky, 2010, p.64), I am motivated by the fact that networks amplify my voice, allow me to connect with experts and potentially allow me to support the learning of others.

Examples of Twitter interactions

The requirement to review the blogs of others has empowered my learning; for example, Kathryn MacGilvray’s ideas added a different perspective to my own. Connecting with one another through our blogs has helped to consolidate learning and fill knowledge gaps (Siemens, 2013). Reviewing the artefacts of others was also a rich professional learning experience (Plenty, 2016f).

INF532 has required a more extensive investment in the blogging process than other units (Plenty, 2016c). This has helped me recognise the importance and potential for professional growth available through the process. Despite the time I often take to blog (Plenty, 2016d), the visible learning value of reflection (Muncher and Ellickson, 2012) and my own curated ideas (Press, 2016) is an aspect I have come to value more during this session, motivating me to continue the blogging process. From here I intend to keep working between curation, Twitter and my blog to synthesise my learning (Weisgerber 2011) and to continue developing my personal information style (Bawden, 2009).

Artefact Learnings

Wanting to make something authentic, I was challenged to assess the needs of my new workplace (Plenty, 2016e).  Inspired by the timely connection with Joel Speranza through the AussieED network on Twitter, I decided to make video elements that could be used in my school alongside their inclusion in the artefact. Speranza’s “Tech Tip Tuesdays” and flipped classroom videos have helped to formulate my perspective and inform direction for progress in my work.















Twitter messages used with permission.

Twitter – #AussieED chat response.

Instructional design

Already aiming to generate more connections, the investigation of instructional design raised my awareness of design to maximise learning. The exploration of distance learning and instructional design flowed on from Rosenthal Tolisano’s blog posts (2011-14) where I was impressed by the care taken to structure effective learning experiences. Extending from this investigation, a highlight of my progress in this session was the opportunity to connect students with experts for project-based learning (Plenty, 2016g), and rather than a sole focus on the connection itself, I prepared these opportunities carefully with students so a holistic learning experience was possible.

The investigation of instructional design was also applicable for staff professional learning. Considering Wenger, McDermott and Snyder’s (2002) findings that communities of practice need diverse modes for connection, I have carefully considered how to prepare learning opportunities for staff that are meaningful, necessary and varied and this inspired the variety of inclusions in my artefact (Plenty, 2016).

Curation tools and information management

The requirement to investigate curation tools is an aspect of INF532 that I could have explored in more depth; however, at this point in my study, I have already explored a range and whilst not closed to new possibilities, I have processes in place for curating and connecting that work for me. I am wary of diluting my information management by including too many things (Plenty, 2016h). However, as Jacques Du Toit noted (2016), a working system for curation can lose its structure and I have now started using Peartrees (Plenty, 2016c) to invest in a more visually oriented curation method.

Where to from here?

Richardson and Mancabelli define four steps for networked learning (2011, p.12):

  1. Understanding the power of PLNs
  2. Becoming a networked learner
  3. Implementing a networked classroom
  4. Becoming a networked school

My study and experience through INF532, indicate a developing understanding of the power of PLNs. I now recognise that my own knowledge is best constructed through interaction with others – primarily through Twitter, university studies and with my work colleagues (Mundker and Ellickson, 2012). Knowledge is no longer static and I can make use of my networks to test the currency and validity of my own position (Jarche). I have become a networked learner and have forged connections beyond my real world.

Siemens advocates the need to develop an eye for networks (2008); this increased awareness will not happen without an effort. My study has shown me that networking is a deliberate choice, requiring a cultivated attitude to learning (Rajagopal, Joosten-ten Brinke, Van Bruggen, & Sloep, 2011) and an ongoing effort to curate and keep the network alive. It is necessary that I maintain a sustained involvement, not dropping the connections between units of study, but rather keeping the connections and blog active and ongoing.

In a knowledge society it is imperative to discern, filter and manage the overload (Bawden & Robinson, 2009) so that information empowers, not overwhelms (Brown & Dugoid 2002), whilst acknowledging that the an industrial model of education is no longer relevant for students needing preparation for new models of work in the 21st century (Plenty, 2016k; Adams Becker, Freeman, Giesinger Hall, Cummins, and Yuhnke, 2016). These are important considerations in planning meaningful learning for other educators to support them in their own paradigm shift whilst avoiding learning fatigue (Bawden & Robinson, 2009).

As a staff member with responsibility to prepare and deliver professional learning opportunities for colleagues, the investigation of instructional design has provided considerable direction. Care to plan, design, implement and evaluate learning opportunities is vital for the sustained success of professional learning (Merrill, 2002). Kunkle highlights the ADDIE model, where design thinking gives structure to the process. This is an area for investment to ensure important learning opportunities do not miss their mark.


(Kunkle 2011, slide 4) 

Motivated by my artefact process including PLN inspiration (Plenty, 2016i) and with consideration of the need to provide diverse learning opportunities (Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002; Jisc, 2013), I have started creating video tech tips; but will structure their delivery, considering timing, need and a sequence with care. Moving forward, I plan to share more of my learning through Twitter, as the quick tips of educators like Richard Wells have inspired my learning. As my own following has grown with my participation, I am increasingly aware of the importance for me to ensure my own PLN contributions are worthwhile and of benefit to others (Rheingold, 2010) and therefore the responsibility to create and share quality content is an imperative for my ongoing participatory practice.

Effective new models of leadership and support networks have been identified as significant needs in a contemporary context to progress educational paradigms into a networked future (Adams, 2016); with this in mind, it is the last two of Richardson and Mancabelli’s points where my efforts now need to concentrate. Through my work and online networks, I have the scope to work with others to support development of networked classrooms and will now use the momentum of my study to guide and inspire increased global connections for a more networked school. Despite the many challenges, small steps are progress and I am motivated to create and extend connections as we travel towards an increasingly networked future.



Adams Becker, S., Freeman, A., Giesinger Hall, C., Cummins, M., and Yuhnke, B. (2016). NMC/CoSN horizon report: 2016 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Archer, N. (2009). Classification of communities of practice. In N. Kock (Ed.), E-collaboration: Concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (67-77). Hershey, PA

Baker, L. (2016). Student tech team hub [website]. Retrieved from

Bawden, D., & Robinson, L. (2009). The dark side of information: overload, anxiety and other paradoxes and pathologies. Journal of Information Science, 35(2), 180–191.

Brazil, J. (2011). P2PU: Learning for everyone, by everyone, about almost anything. Dmlcentral – Digital media + Learning: The power of participation. Retrieved

Brown, J. S., & Duguid, P. (2002). Limits to information. In the social life of information (pp. 11-34). Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Couros, A. (2010). Developing personal learning networks for open and social learning. In Veletsianos, G. (Ed.), Emerging technologies in distance education (109–128). Athabasca University: AU Press.

Jarche, H. (2013). PKM in 2013 [Blog post]. Life in perpetual beta. Retrieved March 8, 2014, from

Jisc. (2013). Enhancing curriculum design with technology: outcomes from the jisc institutional approaches to curriculum design programme. Retrieved from

Kemp, C. (2013). What is a techie brekkie [blogpost]. Retrieved from

Kunkle, M. 2011. Basic instructional design principles – a primer. Retrieved from

Lindsay, J. 2016.  The global educator: leveraging technology for collaborative learning and teaching. Hawker Brownlow Education. Moorabbin, Victoria.

McGilvray, K. (2016, October 9). The power of feedback. Retrieved from

Meiser, E. 2016. A 30 second strategy for improving student and instructor productivity. Retrieved from

Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 50 (3), 43-59. Retrieved from

Mundkur, A. & Ellickson, C. (2012). Bringing the real world in: reflection on building a virtual learning environmentJournal of Geography in Higher Education, 36:3, 369-384.

Nesloney, T. (2013, September 23). My PLN saved my career. Nesloney’s adventures: Thoughts from an elementary teacher . Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Oliver, R. (2000). When teaching meets learning: design principles and strategies for web-based learning environments that support knowledge construction. Retrieved from

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354.

Plenty, L. (2016j, July 13). New culture of learning. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016b, July 18). Moving towards connected education [blogpost]. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016k, August 2). Network literacy 3.1. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016g, August 31). Connections for learning. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016e, September 4). Not drowning, waving …I think. Retreived from

Plenty, L. (2016, September 18). Is your learning really personal [blog comment]. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016f, September 21). Musings on the artefacts of others. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016i, September 22). Connected education: INF532 artefact and exegesis. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016h, October 9). Forum 1.2 post (July 2016). Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016e, October 5). The ups and downs of writing for an online audience. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016c, October 9). Forum post – module 7 (october 2016) [blog post]. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016a, October 9). Forum 4.1 post (August 2016) [blog post]. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2016). Connected education: starting your collaborative journey. Retrieved from

Press, A. (2016, October 5). The ups and downs of writing for an online audience [blog comment]. Retreived from

Rajagopal, K., Joosten-ten Brinke, D., Van Bruggen, J., & Sloep, P. B. (2011). Understanding personal learning networks: Their structure, content and the networking skills needed to optimally use themFirst Monday, 17(1)

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention and other 21st-century social media literaciesEducause review, 45(5), 14.

Rheingold, H., & Weeks, A. (2012). Participation power. In Net smart: How to thrive online (pp. 111-145). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Online full-text available via CSU Library

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Introduction: The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Rosenthal Tolisano, S. (2011-2014). Framing a skype learning experience. Langwitches blog. Retrieved from

Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Netherlands: Springer Retrieved from

Shirky, C. (2010). Means. In Cognitive surplus: Creativity and generosity in a connected age. (pp. 31-64) New York: Penguin Press.

Siemens, G. (2013). Connecting learners: technology, change and higher education. Retrieved from>

Siemens, G. (2008, September 28). A brief history of networked learning. Retrieved from‎

Skip Via. 2010. Personal Learning Networks for Educators. Retrieved from

Speranza, (2016). Edtech Enthusiast – Youtube channel. Retrieved from

Speranza, J. (2016, October 5). I heart blog. How blogging changed my practice [blogpost]. Joel Speranza. Retrieved from

Weisgerber, C. (2011). Building thought leadership through content curation. Retrieved from:

Wenger, E. (2012). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64). Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Retrieved CSU ereserve

Wesch, M. (2010). From knowledgeable to knowledge-able. Retrieved from

Wells, R. (2016, September 3). Tweet. Retrieved from

Wyborney, S. (2016). Two years into twitter: transformed by the community of educators [blogpost]. Retrieved from

Forum Post – Module 7 (October 2016)

RE: Module 7: The future – digital learning tools and strategies

What tools and strategies will YOU be using in the future? Can you identify at least 6? Can you share ways that you may plan to adopt these and how you will be using them for your own professional workflow and/or for learning with students?

At the risk of committing myself to a few challenges, these are the areas that I would like to work on further:

Curation – Like Jacques, I am needing a better system for curation. I have been sending things to OneNote, but need from there to categorise and this has gone out the window. I have a Pearltrees account and was recently checking out Heather Bailie’s Pearltrees and think being a visual person, this might be the way forward for me.

Notes and workflow with colleagues – OneNote – we are using Office products quite intensively at my school and despite their limitations for Mac, I am finding OneNote to be my preferred note taking tool. Our team are documenting processes via OneNote and it is a great record of our work and a resource for the next time around. Great to be able to use it on my phone/tablet when I am out and about and I think of things to add.

LMS – At the moment we don’t have a specific LMS, but rather teachers upload assignments etc to an internal Sharepoint site. I am interested to see how Microsoft Classroom goes, as it is a likely next step.

Blogging – I am making a commitment right here that I am going to be a better blogger! This is the first unit since my first one (INF536) where regular blogging has been an assessment requirement and it has got me more in the mode of using this process. I am finding it really useful, to the point of recalling earlier experiences and wishing I had recorded posts about them, as I think much of my learning could be better consolidated by writing more often.

Global connections with students – This was a goal at the end of my last unit (ETL523) and I have made some progress, although now that I am not in the classroom, it is more a matter of helping and facilitating such experiences for others. Definitely a goal to work towards more.

Flipped classroom/instructional videos – motivated via my artefact, I have started making quite a few videos for my work. Noting Andrew Press’ Youtube channel set up I think I will set my channel up a bit more officially and upload my videos.

Forum 4.4 Post (August 2016)

I have added this forum post to my blog so that it may be referenced for my current INF532 assignment.

You’ll be wanting to explore and use a range of curation tools. Try investigating tools that are new to you. Think about the techniques and workflow. If you already use some curation tools, you may like to try something else for comparison.

Record some of your discoveries, experiences and/or evaluations on your blog.

Through either my study or work, I think I have tested out a significant range of content curation products. I have pruned my use over time and now regularly use Twitter, Tweetdeck, Facebook (the ‘save link’ function is really useful), Instagram, Padlet, Pocket, Goodreads, Feedly, Flipboard, Pinterest, Evernote and OneNote. I am finding the “share to OneNote” a really useful function when I find resources, articles etc on Twitter, saving them to my OneNote for future reference and have probably now replaced my use of Pocket with OneNote.  I started an assignment in Storify last year (which regrettably I only remembered when I tried to set up a new account recently!!) and switched to Tackk.

Things I will investigate more …. I would like to investigate Storify more and I am also interested in IFTTT but have not got further than signing up. Symbaloo also looks useful.

Forum 3.4 Post (August 2016)

I have added this forum post to my blog so that it may be referenced for my current INF532 assignment.
RE: Module 3.4: Networked peer learning
Based on readings on learning infrastructures, identify three (3) principles or strategies your education community could draw upon to develop a networked peer learning approach as part of the curriculum. Reflect upon how your educational community could achieve this.

I got quite inspired by Wenger, McDermott and Snyder’s recommendations for cultivating communities of practice and have decided to focus my assignment around building CoPs and networks.

I could see the importance of planning and design (content, structure, roles) in order to set up something that can evolve and is vital and lasting; balance of new and familiar (voices, spaces, content), to ensure progress that is not overwhelming; maintain a pulse (of events, communication, interaction) so that involvement is motivating and at the right pace.

Being only 3 weeks into a new position, at the moment I don’t quite have answers about how this might successfully be implemented in my educational community. I hope to consolidate a few ideas before the assignment due date.


Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. M. (2002). Seven principles for cultivating communities of practice. In Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge (pp. 49-64). Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Retrieved CSU ereserve


Forum 2.2/2.4 Posts (August 2016)

I have added these forum posts to my blog so that it may be referenced for my current INF532 assignment.

Module 2.2: Based on your reading, identify three (3) principles of participation and engagement that you can apply to enhance the development, refinement, or expansion of your PLN.Provide a brief explanation of how you can turn each of these principles into action.

As Kathryn [McGilvray] indicated, I also find my PLN to be a rich source of ideas and learning. Three key points I picked up from this module’s readings are:

1. Optimal participation requires contribution. As Rheingold and Weeks suggest, it is possible to start small with tags and shares etc and grow confidence in contributing. Nesloney’s experience resonated with mine – I have been surprised and affirmed when I have connected through my PLN with those I consider experts. Online PLNs do flatten the conversation and “small” voices can be heard, leading to empowerment and connection.

2. Create and maintain a reliable online identity. Rheinhold discusses maintaining an up to-date-profile, diluting any bad or regrettable content with good. The development of “crap detection” skills are a must here to promote a reliable voice and generate trust with others in a PLN.

3. Find a balance. The idea of Twitter as a “flow” is an important one. There is no way I can keep up with the contributions of my PLN – so I do sample the feed and try to check in with the most relevant/reliable contributors I follow. Kathryn, I love your term “edu PLN fatigue” and I agree, if the PLN is no longer energising it might be time for a break or a little PLN pruning.


Module 2.4: How important is connected learning to you? How do you blend the ‘social’ with the ‘educational’? Share, discuss, question, inquire, refer to additional resources….let’s get to the heart of the matter in this forum!

My networks have been greatly influential in helping me learn over recent years. Without these connections I would miss so many (more) valuable resources, ideas and different ways of thinking. I have largely categorised my use of social media, for example using Facebook for social interaction, Instagram for art, Pinterest for collecting artwork ideas and Twitter for work/study related professional learning and connections. Although there are a few cross overs, I find having some delineation helpful.

Forum 1.2 Post (July 2016)

I have added this forum post to my blog so that it may be referenced for my current INF532 assignment.

Based on your reading of Floridi, and Brown & Duguid, identify three (3) challenges regarding the nature of information that are of particular concern to you as a member of our information society. How do you propose to address these?

I found Floridi’s discussion of the shift from material to abstract an interesting concept. I think I am immersed as an information user and had not really considered the philosophical and sociological perspectives so much, so it was interesting food for thought. I pondered the nature of digital interaction, considering the more tangible connection to others in a potentially broad geographical context that web 2.0 enables and whether it is actually that abstract when humans are connected by a two way dialogue. From my perspective, the interaction connects the “physis” and “techne” quite well.

In terms of challenges, the sheer volume and omnipotence of information (the good, bad and ugly) is an important one for me to address both for myself and for my students. Whilst I know how to discern the value of information, where I do struggle is managing its documentation. “Where did I see that” is a familiar headspace and trawling the breadth of my history on multiple devices to go back and source useful information can be a big challenge.

A second challenge is the evolution of my information practice. Over the past few years, I have used various methods of documenting, saving and storing. For example, I have been using Evernote for my last three units of study and for INF532 have set up Onenote instead as it aligns with my workplace practice; however, switching platforms may break down my information continuum.  I have at various points experimented with the array of social bookmarking applications – Pinterest, Diigo, Pocket, Pearltrees as well as trying to maintain a relevant RSS feed. The breadth of my exploration may dilute my management of information making it seriously difficult to go back and find resources down the track. It can be even harder to keep up and maintain previous content if an application fails or folds, or is superseded by an improved alternative.

My third significant challenge would be helping students learn to use information resources skilfully. I found the Thomas and Brown analogy of  ‘cultivation’ very useful in visualising the role of teachers for guided information management. It does need to be explicitly taught, guided, modelled and reiterated for students to  improve their own information management processes. What we teach might also allow some choice, as each person will have different preferences for their information management.

To combat these challenges, I am doing the following (but will also welcome the ideas of my fellow learners):

  • Using Onenote to take notes and to save resources. Here I am able to gather information in one space, clearly categorise information and share when approriate.
  • Carefully investigating and comparing tools for information management; using a limited range and sticking with them.
  • Modelling and facilitating learning experiences for students to improve their information skills – a good example is discussed here, using a quick strategy to consolidate important information and learning from a given lesson.


The ups and downs of writing for an online audience 


Image attribution – George Couros Blog Post. Retrieved from

Recently George Couros posted the article, “Would you read what your students write if you weren’t paid to do so?” Couros quotes Rushton Hurley’s idea that when posting online, students want their work to be good, but when just presenting to a teacher, they want it to be “good enough”. This post led me to reflect not just on how to teach students to write for a diverse online audience, but also about my own process of writing, blogging and creating as part of my work and university studies. With my own experience in mind, I wholeheartedly agree that students will brush up the quality of their own work when they are uploading to a potentially global audience as this is precisely what I do. However, for me this process of digital publication has its ups and downs.

There is a significant catch-22 in my education blog world; despite the knowledge that my readership is relatively small, I have a bit of stage fright about the potential size and standard of the audience. The potential for a broad and unknown audience makes me especially careful about what I am writing. I review every sentence many times, checking for typos, checking for anything that may be insensitive to a potential reader, checking that I reflect my employment appropriately, checking that I am maintaining a squeaky clean digital footprint … checking, checking, checking … The downside of this care to ensure my writing is professional, is the (sometimes excessive) time it takes me to write, refine, edit and proof my posts. Am I being overly cautious? Perhaps, but for me personally the importance of these considerations is considerable. However, over the past two years, I have become more comfortable with the process of uploading my work online and having others comment and critique my ideas. Despite the nerves that come along with putting my ideas out there, I have only experienced positive outcomes from the process, often engaging in further dialogue with my university colleagues.


NB the revisions on this blog post prior to publication.

On a related line of thought, my study colleague Andrew Press, created his INF532 artefact on the set up of a blog. In his own post about his work, he noted ideas about quality production and his hope that his video/graphic skills have impacted the quality. Undeniably, his added design details and production skills have polished his work, creating an artefact with a professional edge. Here in lies a challenge that I have been working through in the production of instructional videos for my own work. If they are too polished, it may be a deterrent to colleagues who I may otherwise encourage to flip lessons for their own students, but if not polished enough they might seem amateur and unreliable. It’s a fine line.

In another Couros article, “The Arrows Go Back and Forth“, the enormity of the blogoshere is discussed. Couros acknowledges the fact that quality writing is lost in the noise of the internet, but should one other educator glean an idea from reading a blog post then the impact may extend to students taught by that teacher – a potentially big impact indeed. Once again – the care to express ideas professionally is validated.

In a comment on Couros’ post, Adam Hill noted that no one benefits more from his own blogging process than he does himself. As Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano notes, being able to reflect is a “habit to develop”, and as she quotes John Dewey, “we don’t learn from experience, we learn from reflecting on the experience‘. The power of reflection and collating thoughts as I learn and develop myself as a connected educator is incredibly important as I am able to see evidence of my growth over time and I am starting to realise that blogging beyond my university studies will be an important ongoing element of my practice. I don’t need an extensive readership, if only I benefit and grow from reflecting then it is worthwhile.

Quality is important, as is the value of reflection; however I personally need to trust myself a little more and reduce my production time, particularly as it may be that I am writing just for my own benefit. Perhaps this is the case, but this last thought won’t save me from the careful polishing, just in case!


Couros, G. 2016. Would you read what your students write if you weren’t paid to do soRetrieved from

Couros, G. 2016. The Arrows Go Back and Forth. Retrieved from

Press, A. 2016. INF532 – Knowledge networking artefact. Retrieved from

Rosenthal Tolisano, S. 2016. Amplify Reflection. Retrieved from

Read more at:

Big Bang Data

Whilst in Singapore last weekend, my digital and real world lives and interests combined with a trip to the inspiring ArtScience Museum. That such an institution exists is testament to the progressive, futuristic cultural dynamic that is prevalent in Singapore, where creativity and technology blend in so many aspects of design and infrastructure. On exhibit were three incredible exhibitions aligning my interests in art and technology – Future World: Where Art Meets ScienceJourney to Infinity: Escher’s World of Wonder and Big Bang Data. It is on this last exhibition that I will focus this post.

Big Bang Data comprehensively covers a range of concepts fusing art, science, statistics, technology and history. The overwhelming nature of exponential progress is a focus throughout the exhibition, starting with the enormity of connection through cloud storage networks, undersea and overland cabling right through to Erik Kessels‘ visual representation of 24 hours on Flickr, where a large room has been filled with prints of the photos uploaded to Flickr over 24 hours in 2011. The visual presentation of this information provides a tangible representation of what can seem an abstract concept. What does a million photos look like in the real world? Well here it is:


Further to these bookends, the exhibition features investigations via artwork and installation in the history of data development, the intersection of private and public worlds through online vlogs, the fine line between the benefits of data use for convenience and danger of its use for identity theft and Big Brotheresque monitoring of our every move. Whist many people strive to protect their digital identity through care with their online information, elements of the exhibition explore the real world risks of being a member of a data society; with the Counterest exhibit (below) demonstrating the data representation possible through video surveillance – including gender, ethnicity and facial recognition.

bbd-surveillance   bbd-face-cage

Another by Zach Blas (above) features the construction of face masks designed to prevent identification through digital facial recognition. Heather Dewey-Hagborg‘s piece (below) demonstrates the emerging capacity to construct a facial identity from collected DNA evidence.

bbd-dna-face   bbd-dna

Amongst the awe and fear inducing elements of the curation, there is also the recognition of the important components of humanity that cannot be replicated by a digital data-oriented process. In the “What Data Can’t Tell” chapter is Johnathan Harris‘ artwork, “Data Will Help Us”.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-24-18-pmIt is a humanising reminder that amidst the power of data, humans have purpose and significance – our decision making skills along with our choices about how we use and respond to data to envision a better future are human processes where empathy, love and fallibility are features of the human condition and not (yet?) replicable with data.

As an artist, educator and student, navigating my own digital existence and striving to be digitally literate citizen of my data-oriented world, I found Big Bang Data to be one of the most fascinating exhibitions I have ever encountered.




ArtScience Museum [website]. (2016). Retreived from


Skip to toolbar