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.

Not Drowning, Waving! … I think!


Image attribution: Sinking Meeting Illustration by Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig. Retrieved from FlickrCreative Commons Licence.

So, one week to go before Assignment One submission time and not going to lie, I feel a bit overwhelmed. Procrastinating by blog writing? How did you guess! I am nearly finished the creation process for my artefact, but feeling pretty uncertain about its value at present. My goal has been to create a convincing resource for reluctant teachers to assist them in the process of improving their connectedness, both within their local space and beyond via Twitter. It has been challenging to know how to approach this task, as my desire has been to create something that is useful for my workplace, where having only started there this term, I am still working out the needs and logistics of what strategies will work.

I think that in order to kickstart motivation to connect, I need to formally acknowledge the challenges that become the barriers to teacher self-improvement: time, motivation, needing to see the worth before the investment. I feel as though in my workplace, there are many who are at the beginning of their connected educator journey, whilst others have made progress and are ready for extension.

For these reasons, I have created (or at least started) quite an array of examples in various tools, slowly working out in the process what to actually incorporate. Wanting my resource to have value for most has lead me to the creation of an artefact with multiple components, some of which I probably still need to eliminate.

So now, time to step back and write my exegesis (“exe-what?” was my first reaction!). Let’s hope I don’t get too carried away there too and have to spend all of next weekend deciding which precious words to cull (yes, word reduction is my usual enemy in the days before submission!) alongside the elimination process for the artefact itself.

OK – back to it!

Connections for Learning

Last week I wrote the following in our subject forum when thinking about how I might incorporate some learning from experts via Skype:

Forum Post

I found Silvia Tolisano’s blog posts really inspiring. I think I could get easily carried away with the exciting event of a Skype expert visit without developing the learning design around it. Tolisano’s setting of context and the diversity of learning experiences she describes are rich and important. Her students learnt not only from the information their guest shared, but also how to pose questions, conduct themselves in different roles, converse politely with an adult expert, use social media conventions and to document and reflect on their learning. Her statement that “No lesson, no event and no learning should stand alone” is a great mantra that may be used to ensure learning is contextualised and meaningful.

Year 6 students at my school are preparing their final PYP exhibition and as a mentor, it has given me the chance to consider experts who might assist students in their preparation for their presentations. I am hoping to set up two interviews with people relevant to topic areas students are investigating. My challenge at the moment is making the connection happen with busy competing schedules. Fingers crossed it is something I can manage. Having not done this before it is an exciting prospect.

Following this post I have since conducted a Skype interview with one group of students with an athlete and Exercise Physiology university student relevant to their study of technology in sport. We prepared questions, considering ideas that might not be Googleable responses, so the students’ questions illicited answers about personal experience and educated opinion that they would not have found in traditional searches for information. We recorded the interview for students to use to inform their process as well as to potentially use sections for multimedia aspects of their exhibition presentation.

The second expert opportunity has even more exciting promise, with the expert offering to visit next week while in the local community and with the possibility of further interaction with the school to workshop innovative design for people with disability. This is an exciting prospect and I’d have to say these events are really energising for me as a teacher to see the potential for learning that such interactions with connections in the broader community might have for students.


Tolisano, S. 2011. Lang witches blog post: Framing a Skype learning experience. Retrieved from…/framing-a-skype-learning-experience

Network Literacy – Module 3.1


Image attribution: Gerd Altmann. Retrieved from Pixabay

How do McClure and Rheingold’s views on network literacy differ?

What do you see as having changed between these authors’ definitions of being ‘network literate’?

McClure’s 2004 network literacy focus was on information and being able to interpret and manage information in its connected digital context. In 2009, Rheingold emphasised the power of the human aspect of the networks, being able to connect with others to make an impact on the world through a global digital context.

The essential element of change that would seemingly impact the difference in these two researcher’s perspectives is the advancement of the internet from an entity based on a one-way flow of information, to a two-way interactive network providing scope within web 2.0 for users to interact with and impact the flow of information. Now, even more so than in 2009, the internet has evolved further to fully integrate an online life into our real world existence.

Although an integrated digital life has become the norm for many, others still engage in daily lives quite effectively without tapping in to the rich network of information and connection that is now at our fingertips and would argue that there is little reason for them to do things differently. However, there are very few jobs of the future that will exist without the necessity for people to be flexible, adaptive, connected, creative problem solvers and those reluctant to adapt may limit their options and find themselves without the skills to reinvent themselves amongst ongoing change. Educators who do not adapt their pedagogy to include some level of networking for learning, perhaps risk hindering their students’ preparation for continual societal change.

Lifelong learning is tiring! It is certainly not easy to try and remain vital in a world that won’t stop still; however, personal networks that support each individuals’ needs are likely to ease the burden, create social connection for learning together and provide networkers with time-saving resources and connections from whom answers and advice can readily be sought.


McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology    and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.

Rheingold, H. (2009).  Network literacy part one: The internet’s architecture of    freedom. Retrieved from

Rheingold, H. (2009). Network literacy part two: Sarnoff, Metcalfe, Reed’s    Laws. Retrieved from


Moving Towards Connected Education


Image attribution: “Connection” by Jerzy Durczak, Flickr. Creative Commons License

A response to The Connected Educator – Chapter One

Moving beyond cooperation to collaboration ….

Jennifer Gonzales wrote about the challenges vs the impetus for open door classrooms and provides a measured and convincing perspective here on her blog. I have been lucky in my work and study to have significant opportunities to truly collaborate with my colleagues and peers and experience structures that have required me to press outside of my comfort zone and play an active role teaching and learning with others, often without the option to shut the door and teach by myself.

My recent school has a team teaching structure, within which teachers worked in collaborative teams to prepare learning experiences for students, facilitate lessons, assess students and evaluate the whole experience. Classroom spaces are open and looking up to find the room filled with visitors is not uncommon.

It is a unique school where these structures are quite new to all involved, and is therefore not without challenges; but in the time I worked in this environment, I found the structure enabled me to learn constantly with and from my colleagues, to develop and refine ideas where discussion and planning invariably led to more interesting learning experiences than I would have planned on my own and genuine, honest evaluation where successes and failures were acknowledged and plans were made for improved future learning experiences.

Last session, the unit Digital Citizenship in Schools (ETL523) included a collaborative group task. Whilst again not without challenges, this assignment gave me a unique opportunity to see the power of multiple perspectives coming together in a digital space to develop and refine meaningful content.

These examples have been invaluable in developing my skills in a post closed door classroom environment, to feel comfortable working alongside my peers in robust processes that are focused on successful learning outcomes.

Collaboration in professional learning and practice ….

This week I have commenced a role as a Technology Coach, where I will be involved in supporting colleagues through the successful integration of technology in their classes. Whilst again, I anticipate there will be challenges, it is exciting to have opportunities to share knowledge, skills and learning to improve learning outcomes.

In a digital context, I have involved myself in a few different educational chats on Twitter, connecting with others from many different backgrounds and sharing resources and ideas. I have found these to be the kind of collaborative conversations that Nussbaum-Beach encourages (2012) – focused on topics of practice, solution-focused, rather than the complaints and negativity that are often too readily shared in many educational circles where teachers are overwhelmed and uncertain of how to move forward.

What’s new and different about learning for 21st century learners?

Learning no longer needs to be focused on remembering existing information, this can be found at the click of a button. More important today are developing skills to think creatively; critical thinking for problem solving; effective, collaborative relationship skills and multiliteracy – the capacity to interpret and apply information from a range of different sources and in various forms. However, learning in a more contemporary style does not just happen and these new focus areas need to be fostered. For example, creativity emerges in the intersections of existing and new knowledge. This intersection may be more readily found when communicating with a less homogeneous group than one’s real world connections. Thus a broad online PLN has the potential to help educators develop creative approaches in their classroom.

Multiliteracy and me ….

I like to believe that I am fostering my own multiliteracy skills through my work, study and professional use of social media. Although I can see that many others are doing an inspirationally better job than I am, my investment in this regard has greatly changed who I am as an educator over recent years. My visual brain enjoys the graphic version of Nussbaum-Beach’s “Day in the Life…” that can be found here.


Gonzalez, J. (2013). Open your door: Why we need to see each other teach. Cult of pedagogy

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.

Powerful learning practice. (2012). A day in the life of a connected educator – Using social media in 21st century classrooms – infographic. Retrieved from

New Culture of Learning

info tsunami
Image attribution: Mark  Smiciklas, “Social Media Information Overload” Flickr Creative Commons Licence

In recent years, I have worked in one school where change was resisted by many and another where a ‘new culture of learning’ (Thomas and Brown, 2011) was more evident. The earlier example is a school where the students are generally compliant and many want to simply achieve results to get an ATAR, hence there are minimal behavioural issues and students ‘look’ involved in their work.  Sometimes challenge in the classroom can create an impetus for a creative, new response; here however, the perception of successful student engagement and learning was clouded by cooperative obedience.

Leadership began to see the need for progress and conducted a ‘visible learning’ investigation (based around John Hattie’s research); the results of which indicted that many students could not identify the specifics of what they were learning and could not see value in their learning experiences. This has given evidence for the school to build upon, convincing the more reluctant individuals to consider what will make learning more meaningful, relevant and necessary. It was great to see this momentum get started.

The more recent example is a school that embraces a ‘new culture of learning’ resembling that described by Thomas and Brown. In this context I have seen many exciting examples of teachers implementing a cultural shift from traditional methods to incorporate more examples of play, authentic learning, collaboration and creativity. The results of this have spoken for themselves; the more creative and enjoyable the task, the more students have engaged; and in a school system where non-submission is often an issue, some tasks have achieved 100% submission rates on the due date. Students were excited about their learning and wanted to share this with their teachers and peers.

My own personal shift as an educator has also been dramatic. Taking a role in a new school inadvertently meant teaching in unfamiliar territory and I have had to reimagine my teaching strategies, no longer the content expert. Interestingly, I found that the investment I made to structure facilitated, digitally connected units of study, enabled some very effective learning experiences when compared with classes for which I was a content expert and reverted to more traditional techniques.

My own learning journey through CSU is my third experience of distance study.  Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation is thankfully a huge advance on my lonely earlier experiences of independent distance education, reliant on snail mail and inadequate local libraries. Through this degree, I have developed my skills as a connected learner, making the most of online tools to maintain my notes, research and course materials, connecting with the community through the forums and blogs (where I have learnt as much from others as from the module contents), developing and extending an ever-evolving online PLN to enable information to come directly to me through Twitter, RSS and other platforms. Starting this degree two years ago, the thought of sharing my ideas, research and knowledge in an online environment terrified me (admittedly, it is still quite intimidating) but I have come to realise that my inexpert opinions and insights can have value when shared with an online community; they have generated discussion and helpful feedback, leading to further learning through a broader PLN.

Modern life is complex and information overload can be quite overwhelming, however I would not want to go back to a pre-Web 2.0 world as the interactive, socially connected and creative digital world provides significant opportunities to learn with and from others, create and share content and to connect with experts in a unique and meaningful way; all of which enable me to augment my own learning journey with play, questioning and imagination, alongside that of students and educators with whom I work.


Hattie, J. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. Routledge. New York & London.

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). Arc-of-Life learning. In A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change (pp. 17-33). Lexington, KY: CreateSpace.

Change is Afoot


Image attribution: The Open Doors by ClaraDon. Source Flickr.  Creative Commons License.

The journey of my Masters study in Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation has been eventful. I have completed 5/8 of the qualification since commencing in July 2014 and it has been an incredible journey of skill and knowledge acquisition, making connections, broadening my mind and evolving my career. My emerging qualification has now helped me change my career pathway for a second time, as I am soon to move schools and start a position as a Technology Coach, moving out of welfare and curriculum roles to establish myself more as a leader in digital learning. When I embarked on my study two years ago, I did not quite envision the speed with which my pathway might change and open opportunities. On the cusp of starting the unit, Knowledge Networking for Educators, I am excited to be undertaking a role in my work life that is now specifically relevant to my study, thus bringing together two enormous and previously disparate entities in my life.

Having been on leave after surgery in Term 2, I have enjoyed time where, whilst recovering, I have had the luxury to study unimpeded, create artwork, read novels and watch a myriad of TV series I would never normally be able. Amongst these activities,  I have been reading The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros. I have highlighted an inordinate amount of Couros’ text as it resonates with me so strongly.

Couros reaffirms so much of what I believe about the changes needed to engage innovation and progress in today’s schools. Couros sites a colleague’s concept that our world is at a “printing press” moment in time (2015, Introduction). We are amidst change and it is necessary that educators embrace it, as the ostrich-sand approach is no longer an option. As a darkroom photography teacher of old, my teaching was perhaps thrust through change more forcefully with the advent of digital photography than many of my colleagues. Costs rose, technology created a simpler option, the darkroom was closed and I had to reinvent myself. Not many educators have such an impetus, however it is just as necessary for all educators to remain vital. Couros warns that without innovation, educational facilities (amongst other organisations) will cease to exist.

How to embrace this change? Couros advocates a range of possibilities with a few ideas key to my perspective summarised here:

  • People are essentially social, embrace relationships and connections first and foremost
  • Invest in professional learning for teachers. We need time and a leadership commitment to support transition
  • Build trust, empathise, allow risk, embrace failure
  • Harness technology with learning as the goal
  • Less is more – select areas for innovation, with a strategic plan and prioritisation
  • Build a culture that celebrates success, enables collaboration and is oriented in a growth mindset



Couros, G. (2015) The innovator’s mindset. Dave Burgess consulting. San Diego. CA.

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.

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