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Good learning is technology-agnostic

June 8, 2015 by meghastie   

I said at the beginning of this course that it was like jumping off a cliff and it has been – into a sea of new ideas, new knowledge and new ways of learning.  Coming from an English teaching background, beyond the pedagogical discussions, most of the readings around information and knowledge building were all new to me.

It’s been intense…

With the constant rush of new information in this course, I found it refreshing to read Ford’s summation (2008) of a range of educational philosophies and pedagogical frameworks that underpin – although sometimes contradict – our process of learning design.  What was particularly helpful was to reflect on my own philosophy. Like most of us in the post-post-modern world, I would say I’m a happy mishmash of progressive humanist radicalism.  In that I strongly believe in the role of learning to empower and free individuals, groups and societies, and to drive important change. I also equally believe in the power of education to enhance the lives of individuals and to help us grow in our understanding of ourselves and our world around us. I have previoulsy noted that many of these ideas have been around since the time of Dewey – they are not really new; however the digital world has completely changed what that might look like in the classroom.  A significant aspect from this was the discussion around supplementing metacognitive strategies with metacognitive self-regulation through the ideas of versatility and autonomy – students knowing which intervention to apply according to the specific context.

Having said that, I am challenged by what Siemens and Downes have to say about the role that technology has played in shifting the way we learn, the way we interact with knowledge and the way we communicate – ultimately the way we live.  Certainly if we are middle class and live in a “connected” country. The research around the emerging fields of education informatics and information seeking behaviours was significant (Bawden 2012).  The role that digital media has played in democratising information access, has created an even greater need for students to be carefully taught how to navigate through this world and build deep knowledge.  This again tapped into popular fears around the concept of googlisation and students become more superficial in their researching processes.  Interestingly, JISC (2008) noted that it is not just students- it’s adults as well.  That age is not a determinant factor in how effectively people research. Many of the popular misnomers such as “digital natives” have been eroded during this course, once challenged.  I have certainly come out of the course with a deeper appreciation of the way digital world has changed the way students approach learning, but equally a more nuanced understanding of the complexity of learning across all ages and social groups, and educational paradigms.

The false dichotomies of education (from Barber et al 2012)


Having said that, a growing body of research such as New pedagogies for deep learning and Connected learning as well as Education 3.0 seek to address these concerns regarding the trend towards superficial and unquestioning adoption of information.  All advocate a coherent pedagogical paradigm that promotes deep learning, and the centrality of collaborative processes, creative and critical thinking, digital literacy or transliteracies as a central tenet of futures-focussed learning.  at the hear of each is a critical understanding of the crucial role of teacher as activator, as defined by Hattie (2008, 2011).

Possibly my most significant revelation was about the way that digital media opens up a world of social and participatory learning (Conole 2010, Ito et al 2010,).  The capacity to now dynamically rethink assessment is the big challenge facing schools.  The Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills project (ATC21S) has made some  significant inroads into this process, but until systems seriously engage with the sustained effort and cost needed for the transformation into education 3.0, then we are condemned to simply continue to move forward in a piecemeal manner.

The two areas that I returned to again and again was just that – how do we make the leap forward. Both my first scholarly book review and my final assignment tackled various aspects of the question – the first from a systemic angle, the second focussed on the role of teachers as agents of change.

Undoubtedly my final response is that innovation is needed on the macro and the micro level simulataneously.  For change to be truly embedded it needs to happen when that teacher is working with the learner on a daily basis, but across a whole system and ultimately globally.  It’s what GELP called the “split-screen” model of innovation – the daily development of schools and lessons alongside the overhaul of the global education frameworks. The text Redesigning education (GELP 2013) also opened up a much more diverse world of how education can be done, through introducing me the work of Leadbeater (2010, 2012) and the various papers produced out the OECD (2011, 2013). The need to step out from under the controlling of the policy makers and to be creative, to seek out new relationships outside the traditional education frameworks to open up creative opportunities for learning.


My next step is to venture further into this area, exploring new ways of engaging with creativity, with being creative to make learning.  I also want to take advantage of my new understanding of the open social and participatory nature of knowledge, that I relaly didn’t grasp during the course.  My own engagement in blogging and sharing on forums etc was somewhat limited because of my own time limitations, and also a misunderstanding of the purpose – a “polished product” approach kept me from getting involved.   Although I am having a semester off as I’m starting a new job (ably assisted in my application by the new knowledge and understandings gained from this course!), I will come back next year with a clearer understanding of how to engage in this open and networked world of learning.



I came into this course thinking I was going to walk out with a whole bunch of digital tools to use on the classroom.  Well, I have.  I have tried, especially through my final assignment to take a risk and do something a little different.  But more significantly – and more importantly as those tools come and go – it is the concepts and practices that the course is named after that have reshaped my understanding of what it means to be a teacher, and a leader of teachers.  This course has not romanticised the role and capacity of digital technologies.  There have been plenty of opportunities to question challenge and interrogate their efficacy in education.  I have come away strengthened in the understanding that good teaching is what changes learners’ lives.  Good learning design, challenging activating of students’ powers (Hattie 2008, 2011) is what makes the difference. An engaged, passionate, creative, humble and knowledgable teacher is the heart of the student learning.


I learn. What’s your SuperPower? by venspired, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  venspired 

good learning is technology-agnostic



Not a bibliography

The texts across the course that have informed me…

Auld, Glenn, Holkner, Bernard, Fernando, Anthony, Henderson, Michael, Romeo, Geoff Russell, Glenn Seah, Wee Tiong Edwards, Suzy (2008) Exemplar schools using innovative learning technologies, Centre for Educational Multimedia (CEMM),


Barber, Michael Donnelly Katelyn and Rizvi Saad (2012) Oceans of Innovation: The Atlantic, the Pacific, global leadership and the future of education, Institute for Public Policy Research


Cuban, L. (2001). Oversold and underused: Computers in the classroom. Cambridge, MA:

Harvard University Press.


Cuban, Larry (2013) Inside the black box of classroom practice: Change without reform in American education, Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press,  [Kindle Digital Version] from

Davies, A., Fidler, D., & Gorbis. M. (2011). Future work skills 2020. Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute: California


De Freitas, Sara & Conole, Granine (2010) The influence of pervasive and integrative tools on Learners’ experiences and expectations of study in Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences (eds Sharpe, Rhona, Beetham, Helen and de Freitas Sara), (2010) New York, Taylor& Francis elibrary edition [Kindle Digital Version] from


Dumont, Hanna, Istance, David and Benavides, Francisco (eds.) (2010) The Nature of Learning: Using research to inspire practice, OECD Publications,


Ford, N. (2008). Education. In Web-based learning through educational informatics: Information science meets educational computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Retrieved from:


Ertmer, Peggy A. (2005) Teacher Pedagogical Beliefs: The Final Frontier in Our Quest for Technology Integration? Educational technology research and development, Vol. 53, No. 4, 2005, pp. 25–39


Fullan, Michael (1992) Successful School Improvement: The Implementation Perspective and Beyond, Milton Keynes: Open University Press

Fullan, Michael (2011) Choosing the wrong drivers for whole system reform, Centre for Strategic Education Seminar Series Paper No. 204, May 2011, accessed


Fullan, Michael (2013a) Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy and change knowledge, Toronto: Pearson,


Fullan, Michael (2013b) The Principal: Three keys to maximising impact, San Francisco: John Wiley &Sons,


Fullan, Michael, Hill, Peter & Crévola, Carmel (2011) Breakthrough, Moorabbin: Hawker Brownlow Education,


Fullan, Michael (2013a) Stratosphere: Integrating technology, pedagogy and change knowledge, Toronto: Pearson,


Fullan, Michael (2013b) The Principal: Three keys to maximising impact, San Francisco: John Wiley &Sons,


Fullan, Michael & Langworthy, Maria (2013), Towards a New End: New Pedagogies For Deep Learning, Collaborative Impact Seattle,

Hall, Gene E. (2013),Evaluating change processes, Journal of Educational dministration, 51, 264 – 289,

Gerstein, Jackie (2013) Schools are doing Education 1.0; talking about doing Education 2.0; when they should be planning Education 3.0

From <>   accessed 17th April 2015


The Global Education Leaders’ Program Innovation unit (2013) Redesigning education:Shaping learning systems around the globe, Booktrope editions[Kindle Digital Version] from


Hannon, Valerie, Gillinson Sarah, Shanksm Leonie and Reza (2012) , Learning a Living: Radical Innovation in Education for Work , London: Bloomsbury Academic



Hattie, J. (2008) Visible learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement London Routledge

Hattie, J. (2011). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. London:Routledge.

Heppell, Stephen,  Chapman Carole, Millwood, Richard, Constable Mark ,Furness, Jonathan, (2004), Building learning futures…a research project at Ultralab, available at

Ito, Mizuko, Gutiérrez, , Livingstone, Sonia, Penuel, Bill, Rhodes, Jean Salen, Katie, Schor, Juliet, Sefton-Green, Julian, Watkins S. Craig,. (2013). Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design. Digital Media and Learning Research Hub,

Ito, Mizuko, Antin, Judd, Finn, Megan,  Law, Arthur  Manion, Annie, Mitnick, Sarai Schlossberg, David Yardi Sarita (2013) Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media  John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning Cambridge Mass: MIT Press

Jenkins, Lee, (2013) Permission to forget: And nine other root causes of America’s frustration  with education (10th anniversary edition) Milwaukee: American Society for Quality Press [Kindle Digital Version] from


Jensen, B and Reichl, J (2011) Better Teacher Appraisal and Feedback: Improving Performance, Grattan Institute, Melbourne.


Leadbeater, C. (2012). Innovation in Education: Lessons from Pioneers around the World. WISE.


Levy, P., Ford, N., Foster, J., Madden, A., Miller, D., Nunes, M. B., McPherson, M, & Webber, S. (2003). Educational informatics: An emerging research agenda. Journal of Information Science, 29(4), 298-310. Retrieved


Mourshed, M, Chinezi, C and Barber, M (2010) How the World’s Most Improved School Systems Keep Getting Better,  London: McKinsey and Company



National Research Council (2012) Education for Life and Work Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century,



Oblinger Diana G &. Oblinger, James L (Eds) (2005) Educating the Net Generation EDUCAUSE. Available electronically at


OECD (2011) Building a High-quality Teaching Profession: Lessons from Around the World, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Paris.


OECD (2013), Innovative Learning Environments, Educational Research and Innovation, OECD Publishing.

Sharpe, Rhona, Beetham, Helen  Benfield, Greg, de Cicco, Eta &  Lessner, Ellen (2009) Learners Experiences of e­learning Synthesis Report: Explaining Learner Differences JISC,



Ritchart, Ron, Church, Mark & Morrison, Karin (2011) Making Thinking Visible: How to Promote Engagement, Understanding, and Independence for All Learners, Jossey-Bass Teacher, Chichester


Sharpe, Rhona, Beetham, Helen and de Freitas Sara (eds), (2010) Rethinking learning for a digital age: How learners are shaping their own experiences New York, Taylor& Francis elibrary edition [Kindle Digital Version] from

Strong-Wilson, Teresa (ed.) (2012) Envisioning New Technologies in Teacher Practice

Moving Forward, Circling Back using a Teacher Action Research Approach,  Series: New Literacies and Digital Epistemologies – Volume 47 New York


Sheninger, Eric, (2014) Digital Leadership: Changing paradigms for changing times, Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press [Kindle Digital Version] from



Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing knowledge. Lulu. com.


Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrixTechnology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.


Strong-Wilson, Teresa, Pasinato, Manuela, Ryan, Kelly, Thomas, Bob, Mongrain, Nicole, Harju, Maija-Liisa & Doucet, Richard (2007) Line Up Your Ducks! Teachers First!: Teachers and Students Learning With Laptops in a Teacher Action Research Project, Learning Landscapes 1(1), 2007 199-220


Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change, Lexington: CreateSpace.


Van Der Ark, Tom & Schneider, Carri (2012) How Digital Learning Contributes to Deeper Learning


Willms, J. D., Friesen, S. & Milton, P. (2009). What did you do in school today? Transforming classrooms through social, academic, and intellectual engagement. (First National Report) Toronto: Canadian Education Association,


World Economic Forum Global Education Initiative, (2009), Educating the next wave of entrepreneurs: Unlocking entrepreneurial capabilities to meet the global challenges of the 21st Century, Switzerland,

Wagner, Tony, (2010) The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need – And What We Can Do About it New York:Basic Books,


Wagner, Tony (2014) Creating Innovators: The Making of Young People Who Will Change the World, New York: Scribner


Zhao, Yong (2013) World Class Learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students, Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press [Kindle Digital Version] from




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