ETL523 Critical Reflection

I started ETL523 assuming I had a good understanding of digital citizenship; I am relatively fluent with technology, I model an appropriate digital reputation and I have written and delivered digital citizenship curriculum. However, much of my previous education for digital citizenship was related to fear and warnings, rather than a positive, participatory approach, using exploration and practice to learn. ETL523 has broadened my understanding and knowledge beyond the basics of good manners and online security, to include the global context and the collaborative, social and participatory nature of digital citizenship. It has reinforced the power of positive.

ETL523 has provided the learning space to investigate and consider connection. Through the first assessment task, I learnt to use a series of Web 2.0 tools to present my own work (Sway, Padlet, Snapchat); however, the initiative in which I have not yet invested is global connection in the classroom as advocated by Lindsay and Davis (2012). ETL523 has provided me with the awareness and impetus that this is the new paradigm towards which my own teaching needs to progress.

In a previous blog post (Plenty, 2015), I highlighted concerns about Michael Godsey’s article, The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher (2015), which on its release created quite a reaction from the educational community. Godsey is not alone in the perception that technology will diminish the role of educators; recently David Susskind released The Future of the Professions, where it is asserted technology is likely to displace teaching (Chessell, 2106). Hague and Payton contend also that many enthusiasts view technology as significantly more engaging than classroom teachers (2010). At various points of my ETL523 study, I have reflected on such predictions and the evolving role of the teacher and have consolidated my perspective that technology cannot transform learning – teachers can.

In a 2008 blogpost, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach reflected that, “teachers who know how to use technology effectively to help their students connect and collaborate together online will replace those who do not.” Her articulation clarifies that it is not sufficient to simply teach students to use computers; we must support students to develop the breadth of digital citizenship skills needed for their future (Ribble, 2015). It is a position of transformational power and importance and ETL523 has continued my learning pathway about leading this transition.

Through the final assessment, the investigation of digital citizenship in my own school highlighted some important needs. This real-world task to investigate meaningful and productive solutions will now provide my school with possible pathways for necessary progress. However, I have been challenged by one pivotal thought relating to Soraya Arteaga’s position, that ‘outlier’ teachers choose to remain in the classroom, rather than taking promotional roles (2012). As a middle manager in the midst of a multi-dimensional curriculum/welfare/teaching role, I wondered if facilitating and leading the digital citizenship education I now envision is somewhat unachievable in my current circumstances. This has led me to ponder what needs to change to improve my capacity. However, small steps are a good start and my study has provided scaffolded ideas to commence improvements.

ETL523 has provided the impetus to recharge my input and take initiative, work towards being a ‘teacherpreneur’ (Lindsay, 2013), further develop and engage with my PLN connections and to instigate a cohesive and holistic plan to improve my students’ and colleagues’ global digital citizenship skills alongside my own.


Arteaga, S. (2012). Self-directed and transforming outlier classroom teachers as global connectors in experiential learning. Walden university. Retrieved from

Chessell, J. (2016, May 18). Daniel susskind and the gradual demise of professional gatekeepers. Financial review. Retrieved from

Godsey, M. (2015, Mar 25). The deconstruction of the k-12 teacher. The atlantic.

Hague, C. and Payton, S. (2010). Digital literacy across the curriculum (futurelab handbook). Bristol: Futurelab. Retrieved from

Lindsay, J., & Davis, V. (2012). Chapter 5: Citizenship. In flattening classrooms, engaging minds: Move to global collaboration one step at a time. New York: Allyn and Bacon.

Lindsay, J. (2013, April 9). Leadership for a global future. Retrieved from e-learning journeys: Innovation, leadership, creativity, collaboration:

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2008). Letter to my colleagues [blogpost]. 21st century learning. Retrieved from

Plenty, L. (2015). INF530 critical reflection [blogpost]. Retrieved from

Ribble, M. (2015). Digital citizenship in schools: Nine elements all students should know. (Third ed.). Eugene, Oregon: International society for technology in education.


Getting ETL523 back on track


Day 82: Information by Janelle Creative Commons Licence

With an awareness that we are now eleven weeks in to study of ETL523, I am writing this blog post as a commitment to covering more aspects of the unit in the closing weeks than I have managed so far. Excuses? Yes, I have a few legitimate reasons for lagging behind! Term One has been particularly chaotic and challenging, teaching robotics and other unfamiliar content and preparing to leave my work role for others this term while I take time off to recover from surgery on both feet. So the term culminated in finalising my ETL523 assignment and surgery! I am now on the recovery path, literally with feet up and finally not so doped up on painkillers that I am asleep five minutes into commencing reading.

Amongst the chaos, my overall challenge in both my work and study is my management of information. I am not a TL and therefore I am not as fluent with information management as many of my study colleagues and so, I have found that I really benefit from learning from others in this learning community (see my INF530 post for examples, including Nadine Bailey‘s study management ideas).

At the start of this unit, I did not set myself up optimally to engage most effectively with the information flow. Whilst I organised my Evernote to take and organise notes from the modules, I really failed to set up the social component and engage with the blogs and forum posts. I have now set up my RSS (Feedly) to include the blogs of others and may finally get organised enough to read and comment. Whilst I am a reasonably effective Twitter user, I have now reestablished my Tweetdeck to include the ETL523 feed. Hopefully these refinements will help me manage these aspects of my study a little better. These are a couple of small tricks I have used and I encourage others to add comments below about other work process ideas that you find useful to keep sharing the learning.

There is a certain irony in educating today’s students about digital citizenship when many teachers are guilty of making their own faux pas in the digital learning environment. The information overload and the pressures of contemporary teaching often inhibit teachers from being good digital citizens themselves and this is an aspect I want to continue to develop and lead for myself and others. Finding efficient methods and tools to manage information is critical.

For my digital artefact in our recent assignment, I used the Microsoft product, Sway to create a resource evaluating Snapchat for educational use. Sway is a fantastic tool for creating presentations; it is visually appealing and publishable online. The program sources relevant images based on key terms in your text, with a default creative commons image search (which I refined to only search Flickr for its ease of licensing), and the licence is automatically incorporated as an attribution, saving time to manage this important aspect of good digital citizenship. Sway is one example of a Web 2.0 tool that simplifies the work process with inbuilt attributes to practice good digital citizenship. I consider myself a lifelong learner and part of that learning process is the ongoing evolution and refinement of my own processes to manage the information that bombards me and find ways to make the processes easy and streamlined. More to come!

The demon device or integral ICT?

Last week’s article in The Australian, “Computers in class ‘a scandalous waste‘”, has had considerable air time in the educational communities of which I am a part. These include my home, my workplace, my social media networks, as well as my university community, where my study revolves around innovation and creative use of technology in schools. It has given me considerable cause to think about the issues it raises and the aspects with which I reluctantly agree as well as those I vehemently oppose.

Dr Vallance’s comments may be valid in many school contexts. Most educators will be able to cite a classroom or a colleague where some level of babysitting with technology has been evident and devices are used with little planning and real integration. However, I would argue that it is not the norm and the inference that technology has introduced ‘slackness’ in teaching does an incredible disservice to the vast majority of teachers who are doing their utmost to adapt their pedagogy to suit the new world where technology and managing its efficient use is integral to life and work (Wheeler, 2015).

However, questioning the most effective use of technology should be an ongoing conversation in schools and homes. This evening, my teenage son told his father that he does not take a device to school as he prefers to use a pen and paper. He indicated that he does not trust himself to avoid distractions should he get bored with a device in his hand. In his BYOT school, and with a device available to him, my son has determined that at this point in time a laptop or tablet is not the best tool for his learning. An important consideration here is the fact that he has choice. According to Mal Lee (2015), students should have governance over how they learn and what technology it is that will best suit their learning needs. I appreciate that in my son’s learning community, he has the choice to learn with or without a device in hand as it is his learning. Technology is available should he need it but a device is not fundamental to every learning process.

Valuing the use of technology in education today does not mean we replace everything we once valued. In my own classroom in a relatively high tech school, I find it necessary to vary the skills and processes employed, a strategy likely to suit a range of learning styles and limit issues with screen overload. There is a need for balance and variety to sustain an engaging educational experience. The 21st Century fluencies outlined by Lee Crockett, including problem solving, creativity, analytical thinking, communication and collaboration skills are all possible without a device in hand; however, successful integration where technology is employed to enhance learning may provide considerable scope to extend the learning opportunities, bring in global and societal competencies and the capacity to apply these skills ethically and with accountability.

I contend that schools or classrooms where technology is not being used effectively reflect Wheeler’s assertion (2015); it is no longer effective to use 1.0 pedagogies to teach students in a 2.0 world. The use of technology in education must not simply replace traditional processes, but rather integrate the very social and collaborative skills Vallance indicates are essential through the carefully planned and integrated use of Web 2.0 technologies. As Lee (2015) recommends, the successful integration of technology requires schools to change and educational leaders to adopt a new mindset, support change, take risks and support the school community to continuously evolve and develop.


Bita, N. (2016). Computers in class ‘a waste’ Retrieved 4 April 2016, from

Crockett, L. (2013).Literacy is NOT Enough: 21st Century Fluencies for the Digital Age. YouTube. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from

Lee, M. (2015). The importance of BYOTTeacher Magazine – ACER. Retrieved 4 April 2016, from

Wheeler, S. (2015). Learning with ‘e’s: Educational theory and practice in the digital age. United Kingdom: Crown House Pub Ltd.

First ETL523 Post

The following is my brainstormed list of ideas to answer the three questions posed for Module 1.0

What is your definition of a ‘Digital Learning Environment’? 

In stark contrast to when I started teaching some years back, the digital world encompasses both my work life and home life and has integrated the two together like never before. For this reason, the Digital Learning Environment is all encompassing and difficult to separate from the real world. My digital world is available to me 24/7, anywhere I go and is incredibly convenient although it can limit my down-time and separation from work. I am dependent on my digital world; I rely on my personalised social network to tell me if there is a delay to work, to do my groceries and other shopping, to guide my attendance at events in my area, to alert me to activities in my children’s schools and sporting clubs, to find information, check facts, help with homework, find a recipe, book tickets and appointments as well as to communicate with family and friends and share the events and activities of our lives.
In my work context, my students all have and use at least one device, and I work between 3 of my own and have had to become literate and skilled in media that I had not imagined only a few years ago. Our school has no library (I know, you may take a sharp inhale!), we have no textbooks, our resources are housed almost exclusively online, our students access their study information (as we have for this university unit) from online repositories, more often than not, they upload assignments to an online dropbox and (thankfully) gone are the environmentally unfriendly days of printing handouts and assessment rubrics to be glued into the paper pages of an exercise book!
I learn both formally through my study in an online Masters degree and informally through the resources and information I source for myself, often tailored to my interests through my social media settings, locality and the choices of who I follow. The DLE is immersive and inseparable from all aspects of my life and I now can’t imagine going back to a time where it did not exist.
What are some of the changes created by our digital lifestyle that you need to be aware of as an educator?
Some important changes and considerations include:
  • Awareness of access and equity
  • Educating about digital footprint and citizenship
  • Protecting online safety, identity and security
  • Reading from digital devices vs print
  • Multimedia content and transliteracy – requires new skills for use and interpretation
  • Content creation – capacity to create online content, interact with a broad audience and send/receive critique on content
  • Effect on handwriting – students often have poor skills in handwriting and when it comes to the event of a handwritten exam, today’s students are often compromised by their hand and wrist muscles; it doesn’t take long before they are flexing and stretching sore hands
  • Difficult for teachers to stay on top of change and evolution of devices, the online world and changing content
  • Educators must not assume digital competency amongst students
  • Skills/knowledge requirements are different – memorised facts are not as important; arguably creativity is now essential to future vitality
  • Change from the content expert to the facilitator – learning together
  • Cloud storage has resolved issues in access and content loss
  • Concerns about overuse, screen time, poor posture

Created by @bryanMMathers See full post at


What has been the impact of social networking on teaching and learning?
Some challenges:
  • Ever-changing – very hard to keep abreast
  • Students often lack trust in teachers as educators for digital environment
  • Education for risks in social media use is necessary
but many benefits include:
  • Social network can allow content sharing for students and teachers
  • Allows students to connect with learning outside of the formal school context
  • Increased informal learning and peer-to-peer learning
  • Opportunities for collaboration – e.g. Google docs or Office 365 – live sharing of content and collaborative tools
  • Allows opportunities for choice and content selection that can be incorporated into the formal learning context
  • Array of free resources and content available online to use or adapt
  • Social media allows educators to connect with each other and to form digital PLNs
  • Anywhere, anytime
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