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 http://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html


Connected Education: INF532 Artefact and Exegesis


Artefact URL: ‪adobe.ly/2ctBmr8 ‪   

The artefact, “Connected Education”, is designed to convince time-poor educators that Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) are worth their time and to encourage steps to develop and leverage networks to expedite learning. The artefact website hosts videos and links to supporting resources; it includes a pathway from definition and rationale, to forging local connections and finally to building an online PLN. Other site elements are designed to visually engage, showcase the creation tools and consolidate an understanding of the merits of networks for learning.

The artefact has been designed as a beginner’s guide to building networks. It aims to tackle challenges and support the needs of a specific workplace; however, these are circumstances common to many schools. In this context, it is evident that many are overwhelmed with new learning and an array of systemic changes, therefore an acknowledgement of infowhelm is included, whilst prompting the thinking that connection might ultimately be beneficial. In this context, voluntary professional learning sessions have been poorly attended and compulsory professional learning may be without recognition of diverse needs and occurs at times when the learning need is distant; therefore, the artefact aims to offer accessible, relevant professional learning, that teachers may access in their own time.

The central elements are designed to be instructional guides for teachers, but double as examples of a creation tools or processes they might use with students. The artefact makes use of Spark (website and videos), Keynote (animated video), Canva (design), Sway (Microsoft presentation tool), QuickTime (for screen recording) and Twitter. Whilst as a design, a more cohesive use of tools may appear more unified, the included examples are intentionally broad, showcasing a diverse range to prompt creative learning and collegial conversation. The artefact includes sample tips, however the recommendation is made that others might contribute, adding to the peer learning over time. Interaction on Twitter has been instrumental in the development of ideas and use of tools for the artefact; it therefore seemed a logical culmination to promote the social networking tool for other educators.

The artefact is located online as a site using Adobe Spark, it links to other content housed online through Spark, Microsoft Sway and YouTube. In line with the shift from ‘broadcast technologies’ to ‘everyday technologies’ defined by Thompson (2013), the artefact uses freely available tools that, unlike sophisticated design products, are simple and intuitive, making them ideal creation tools for teachers and students alike. Creation enables learners to make a personal connection to information (Couros, 2015) and become a producer, rather than simply consumer, of information (Nussbaum-Beach, 2012). Presenting work to an online audience reinforces the need for quality (Couros, 2015). It is hoped that these artefact inclusions will scaffold implementation of rich learning experiences.

Rather than philosophical objections, a significant component of teacher reluctance to adapt practice is based in fear of the unknown and many are immobilised by lack of exposure (Rachardson & Mancabelli, 2011). Consequently, there is a resulting need for professional learning exploring new pedagogy and tools, without which schools are unable to maintain relevance and support their students’ needs. John Dewey’s famous 1915 quote is a somewhat ironic reminder of the need for teachers to reconsider practice for a post-industrial, digital world. Today’s employers are looking for digitally literate employees, adept in communicating, problem-solving and creative thinking (Miller, 2015; Wagner & Dintersmith, 2015); Miller identifies a disconnect between the workforce and education system where educators continue to apply an industrial model (2015). However, where students see teachers modeling their own self-guided approach to lifelong learning, they may develop their own metalearning (Couros, 2015).  It is necessary that educators progress their practice, foster network literacy, incorporate a mindset where everyone is a learner (Couros, 2015) and design pedagogically-sound learning experiences to meet future societal needs (Pegrum, 2010).

An immersive, available, contextual approach to professional learning within a PLN may make learning for educators more meaningful. Embracing web 2.0 technologies to facilitate learning accelerates the process and reinforces the immersion. As Tolisano notes, learning should not occur in isolation, it needs context and purpose (2011); professional learning delivered without context does not always enable connection with prior learning and a trajectory for future application. George Siemens’ connectivist position that learning happens through connection (2004) can have two-fold relevance. Connecting new information with existing understanding is strengthened by learning alongside a PLN to contextualise and consolidate understanding. Nussbaum-Beach asserts that people learn best from each other, as they are not limited by the constraints of independent thinking (2012) and fill gaps in each other’s knowledge through individual approaches and perspectives (Siemens, 2013). Small steps together can allow educators to punch their fears in the face (Miller, 2015) and incrementally shift their practice. The cycle of information from the individual connecting their understanding within the organisational network or PLN allows educators to retain currency amongst constant change (Siemens, 2004).

Whilst without the captive audience of a formal professional learning experience, the opportunity to learn through PLNs may empower individuals; formal learning is no longer the dominant model of learning with digital technologies enabling rich, informal learning experiences (Siemens, 2004). Ritchart identifies that when network members are motivated by interest and shared vision, deeper cultures of thinking emerge. Furthermore, George Couros notes that empowering just one person may be enough to push an entire group and therefore, pockets of networked learning may flow-on to stimulate change in the broader school community without expensive, ill-timed, one-size-fits-all professional learning (2015). Michael Wesch’ “litle bird who saved the world” analogy, where small steps of a few inspire a larger impact, is applicable through use of this artefact (2010). George Couros articulates the important idea that teachers do not need to be on identical learning trajectories. Using empathy to acknowledge differing needs and offering choice and scaffolds within professional learning can empower educators to pace their own meaningful learning (Couros, 2015).

The artefact elements focus on learning by doing. Wagner and Dintersmith (2015) note that the greatest contributors in history honed their craft through apprenticeship, not notetaking; thus immersing oneself in the process is likely to illicit more powerful learning. The experience of self-guided, self-paced, collaborative learning that is modelled and recommended through the artefact may enable educators to visualise parallel contexts for students. Such opportunities are aligned with Miller’s description of relevance in contemporary schooling; where students may be guided to ask the right questions, learn to seek answers and be adaptable (Miller, 2015); knowledge-able rather than knowledgeable (Wesch, 2010).

As the needs in this large college context are varied and multidimensional, it was considered important to make the resource accessible to teachers in multiple ways. The overall Adobe Spark site hosts the other artefact elements, providing some level of cohesion around the range of included tools.

Whilst a layered scaffold for this artefact was desired, the range of inclusions may risk overwhelming reluctant users rather than empowering them (Brown & Duguid, 2002). For these reasons and inspired by Couros’ (2015) suggestion to take small steps, ‘how to use this site’ tips were included to highlight differentiated options for use.

Whilst initially one component, the two Spark videos were split to break up the presentation of key ideas, allowing a mental pause to digest the concept of connected education prior to the significant investment in considering its worth. Many educators will not have a context for the terminology, thus the basics have been outlined to frame the artefact and a series of quotes and statements created using Canva, visually communicate key concepts as part of the persuasion process. Frequently-sited educator concerns in this context about time, pressure, purpose and challenge informed the decision to conceptually weigh challenge against need; thus the remainder of the artefact is designed to promote small changes that may contribute to a big difference over time.

The ‘Local Connections’ section of the site includes suggestions for activities within an internal Community of Practice (CoP); such groupings allow structured communication to drive strategy, implement new ideas, solve problems and develop skills (Archer, 2009). The button links were initially embedded content; however, it was decided that the weight of these amongst the other elements was too great and therefore they were de-emphasised to form a secondary layer that might be explored over time. Inspired by Joel Speranza’s (2016) flipped classroom approach, the instructional links provide short, accessible snippets of learning rather than a full session or overload of ideas. Microsoft Sway is featured on the first link, exposing artefact users to a presentation tool that allows collaboration in real time, creative commons learning and an online audience. The Canva tutorial features the online design tool to support learning through reflection. There are various ways that this this sharing could be circulated, however the chosen elements aim to promote anytime, anywhere access, allowing and modelling differentiation through user selection and self-regulated learning.

Internal CoPs can promote connection and growth, however they can also stagnate with myopic thinking (Jarche, 2013). Pegrum sites a shift in information seeking to social networks rather than search engines (2010). Citing Siemens and Tittenberger, Pegrum notes that PLNs will increasingly enable members to filter information and cope with overload. Aligned with this beneficial feature of PLNs in a web 2.0 context, the practice of many connected educators has turned to Twitter, with considerable scope for meaningful digital connection and learning with a global PLN (Lindsay, 2016).

screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-8-36-12-pmThe diverse PLN opportunity provided through global networking enables what Justesen (2004) refers to as ‘Innoversity’ – the intersection of innovation and diversity – allowing for unique ideas through the merge of divergent thinking. At a glance through the Twitter flow in a carefully-pruned network, one can access ideas, links and insights for significant learning; this may be amplified with extended use of Twitter through organised chats or other networked events. Explored synchronously whilst in progress, and/or asynchronously through archives after the event, such networking again allows differentiation for the learner. This final inclusion makes use of Keynote animation processes, fortuitously learnt through interaction on Twitter. This also connects the idea that is featured throughout, that learning can best happen in our own time through the PLN with the support of digital tools. This potentially inexpert teaching and learning experience may well be mirrored in our classrooms where our paradigm shift from content expert to facilitator and mentor, is becoming ever more prevalent and necessary.

The artefact does not include suggestions for global collaborative projects or networks beyond a beginner level, allowing potential users to benefit from a steady start to build their skills and comfort (Via, 2010). From this starting point, teachers new to networking could extend to more connected processes with students, using their online network to foster new globally connected possibilities (Lindsay, 2016).

The artefact, Connected Education, is designed for a large, traditional school context, where the needs of the community are diverse and professional learning can be seen as a challenging add-on. The artefact offers instructional guidance, nurturing both a mindset and behaviours that will encourage PLN involvement (locally and digitally) for learning. It uses multiple design and presentation tools to articulate concepts and showcase digital tools. It is scaffolded to introduce those reluctant to shifting their practice to the concepts of networking and offers examples of pathways through which educators might connect and go about building and developing their professional learning network.


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

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. Retrieved from http://jis.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/35/2/180.full.pdf+html

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.

Couros, G. (2015). The innovator’s mindset: empower learning, unleash talent and lead a culture of creativity. Dave Burgess Consulting. San Diego.

Jarche, H. (2013). PKM in 2013 [Blog post]. Life in perpetual beta. Retrieved from http://www.jarche.com/2013/01/pkm-in-2013/

Justesen, S. (2004). Innoversity in communities of practice. In, P. Hildreth, & C. Kimble (eds.) Knowledge networks: Innovation through communities of practice (pp. 79-95). Hershey, PA.

Lindsay, J. (2016). The global educator. Hawker Brownlow. Moorabbin, Victoria.

Miller, M. (2015). Ditch that textbook. Dave Burgess Consulting. San Diego.

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). Solution tree press. Bloomington, IN.

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.

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 them. First Monday, 17(1).

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

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). Solution tree press. Bloomington, IN.

Ritchart, R. (2015). Creating cultures of thinking. Jossey Bass. San Francisco.

Rosenthal Tolisano, S. (2011). Langwitches blog. Framing a skype learning experience. Retrieved from http://langwitches.org/blog/2011/02/06/framing-a-skype-learning-experience/.

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

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Siemens, G. (2013). Connecting learners: technology, change and higher education. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PoGg-O4vLIo&feature=youtu.be&t=12m20s

Speranza, J. (2016) Joel speranza [blog site]. Retrieved from http://joelsperanza.com

Thompson, C. (2013). The new literacies. Retrieved from http://library.fora.tv/2013/09/22/the_new_literacies

Via, S. (2010). Personal learning networks for educators. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/q6WVEFE-oZA

Wagner, T & Dintersmith, T. (2015). Most likely to succeed. Scribner. New York.

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 https://www.csu.edu.au/division/library/ereserve/pdf/wenger-e.pdf

Wesch, M. (2010). From knowledgeable to knowledge-able. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/LeaAHv4UTI8

To Diigo or not to Diigo



Image attribution: Lock, by Toni Verdu Carbo. Retrieved from FlickrCreative Commons Licence

OK Diigo, I tried you out again, and I’m not a fan! Perhaps I am not a skilled operator and others will testify to your worth, but I personally have found you an underwhelming curation space 😉

I think I signed up to Diigo two years ago when I started my masters, made a couple of obligatory entries and then had not opened it until the Module 5 requirement to add case study examples. I can see why I had not returned!! Bookmark vs Topic? I couldn’t decide, but the fact I could not (seem to) add a link within topic left me bookmarking. I added my information, but wanted within one post to present further relevant linked resources. If it is possible, it was not immediately obvious to me. As it doesn’t (seem to) have the level of functionality I would like, I can’t see myself continuing to use it.

On the upside, I can see worth in collating a shared curation of tools and resources and my recent interaction has made me actually notice the regular Diigo alert emails I receive to indicate updated input from others on the Knowledge Networks group. Will I maintain awareness? Perhaps a little more than I did … maybe.

Schools and computers: are we innovating?

My approach to the technologies used for my first assignment is consistent with the concerns raised by Chris Bigum in the chapter, “Schools and computers: tales of a digital romance”. I have simply considered an existing process – the demonstration and documentation of artwork development through a visual diary (traditionally a paper book), with a digital version of the same thing. Whilst it is a user friendly option, with many aspects that, in my opinion, improve the process and provide more options for students than the traditional model; it is not a leap into the use of technology in the classroom that will test new ideas and processes.
The concerns that Bigum raises resonate with my experience of technology in schools since the introduction of 1:1 in my school in 2010. Throughout that five years, I have seen teachers (myself regrettably included) and students do little other with technology that they were not already doing without. They have replaced book research with internet, handwriting with word processing, video/tv with projectors and whiteboards with electronic whiteboards. There is considerable convenience and certainly some improved efficiency in each of these aspects of technology use, but they are a long way from innovation.
Bigum raises ideas about popular technology and the likelihood it is banned at school. Fear of new technology, particularly in the hands of competent student users, often drives schools to ban and consider possibilities later. Later, as Bigum writes, maintains the position of school technology use as outdated.
As always in schools, time and competing demands impact significantly on the scope for development and progress. These are aspects that have led me to study a Masters qualification in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation, to provide a focused purpose for me to engage with new technology and investigate ways to improve learning with technology. Since starting six months ago, my study has enabled me to start processes to develop communities within the education sector in my area, to consider innovative use of technology in order that we may learn from each other and consider possibilities together. Professional Learning Communities are a proven approach to developing improved learning outcomes (Muhammad, 2009) and could be a successful way to share successes and ideas for integrating technology creatively, making it more our practice than an isolated entity.

Bigum, C. (2012). Schools and Computers: Tales of a Digital Romance. Transformative Approaches to New Technologies and Student Diversity in Futures Oriented Classrooms. L. Rowan and C. Bigum, Springer Netherlands: 15-28. Retrieved from http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/lib/csuau/docDetail.action?docID=10524693

Muhammad, A. (2009). Transforming School Culture: How to overcome staff division. Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Australia.

Native? Immigrant? Is there a box for Other?

Any stereotype will have at least an element of truth when considered across a population or community and in this way, Mark Prensky’s terminology certainly rings true for many people. My own children text and type faster than I can follow and I noted that a recently retired colleague had printed almost every email she had ever received! When stereotypes limit our views and expectations of ourselves and others is where problems arise.

In my earlier post, I wrote about students seeking offline activities and it must be noted that there is a current trend away from the digital connectedness we associate with young people. On the blogsite, Cyborgology, PJ Rey wrote in 2012 about the hipster movement and a  desire to actively move away from the complexitiies of contemporary technology. Alternately, some young people just don’t have the access to technology that we expect they will. Likewise, through work or interest many people of the ‘digital immigrant’ generations are adept technology users.

Where we expect and excuse our discomfort with all things new by claiming to be outside the spectrum of those who are naturally adept, we limit our potential. Likewise where we assume that young people are all skilled tech users, we potentially limit finding those who aren’t and who would benefit from further support and guidance.

As previously discussed, collaborative processes where teachers and students work and learn together, where no one is expected to have all of the knowledge but all are encouraged to try (and fail and try again) and where there is diversity of tools and techniques will produce the best learning outcomes.


Rey, P.J. 2012. Hipsters and Low Tech. Cyborgology retrieved from http://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2012/09/26/hipsters-and-low-tech/

Impact of Space

Doorley & Witthoft (2012 p.30) impress upon us that space is something that can create an impact on the way we learn, work and play immediately. So, starting with what you have, make a change. In your learning environment, is there an empty space? Find one, take it and transform it, quickly. You might consider making a pop-up learning space from scratch for a short period of time, or adapting an existing space in a small way with the goal of making a difference to learning. Share your ideas or inspiration in the Forum.

What did you change or transform quickly in your learning environment?

Following my reading and hunt for ideas for our tasks I am seeing my classroom spaces with new eyes and an awareness of where they are falling far short of functioning as they could.

We have just received a dedicated ceramics classroom back that had been commissioned as the school canteen during our recent renovation. When I arrived for my first class in this room this week I discovered that the planned projector has not been installed, there is no whiteboard, the Year 8 ceramics class have no devices for research and the classroom shelves had only some very dated periodicals. I used paper, a marker and my own laptop with gathered students to deliver what I had planned and then realised this was a good space to reconsider.

Display is probably art teacher 101, but this white and grey space really needed (and still needs) a lift. I chose some good books and magazines to display on mini easels (as it is a rare day that my students would actually look through an unengaging bookshelf), added some examples of ceramic work and displayed a series of relevant images on some very plain concrete pillars (which I had amazingly never noticed before). Additionally, I have asked my students to find some images that inspire them which we will print and add to our display in our next lesson. Images are in the Flickr group.


Just starting out

I’ve been immersing myself in the slightly overwhelming world of online study since I accepted my place yesterday. Not sure how ready I actually feel to jump into this deep pool but I’ll give it a go anyway. I’m starting my study with Designing Spaces for Learning and I am wishing that I had nothing else to do for about 48 hours in order to get a handle on things. Oh well, holidays start tomorrow afternoon and hopefully I will be able to jump in for a few good hours over the weekend.

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