Reflecting on Learning Artefacts

Having reviewed the learning artefacts of my fellow INF532 students I think it is amazing how technology has improved the ease and quality of digital interactions for networked learners.

Artefacts that were once the preserve of professional production companies are now being created by university students with the use of tools like:

Ease of use and professional templates make it possible for people to make good quality artefacts, reasonably quickly.

There are still some barriers for networked learners.

One barrier is hardware. Chris’s great podcast with Greg Miller has beautiful sound quality but as you can see from the photo, sound quality requires a good microphone:

I certainly noticed the sound quality in my own learning artefact wasn’t great. I think if I am going to commit to creating more multi-media content I will need to invest in good equipment.

Another barrier is the required investment in services. PowToon requires you to pay a subscription fee as do most of the more polished tools out there. These better tools are often easier to use than the free alternatives. Claire reflected on the difficulties of using QuickTime in her artefact. I have experienced the same difficulty and switched to Camtasia but the full product cost more money than I could justify spending and so I ended up spending a lot of extra hours getting other tools to do the same thing.

Keeping up to date with trends and services is a barrier that Claire identified with her presentation on Google+ communities. As soon as the design of the site changes, the currency of the ‘walk through’ artefact diminishes. I think a challenge for networked learners is not just ensuring they stay up to date with the services but also the type of content on those services. In a earlier post Claire describes this issue perfectly using the example of expectations of what a YouTube video should contain. Kelly’s use of student feedback to identify how the content in her video could be more engaging was an important lesson for me in ensuring that I talk to my audience to get feedback and to iterate on the content I create.

In conclusion, my takeaways from reviewing the learning artefacts and exrgesises (if that is the plural) of my fellow learners are:

  • Tools can be costly but once you find the ones that are right for you, it is worth investing in them as they will save a lot of time and increase quality.
  • Don’t over-commit your time to ‘walk throughs’ where small changes in layout might make your artefact obsolete.
  • Feedback from your audience can help ensure you are meeting their expectations from the medium.
  • Spend time finding out what tools and techniques others used to create their artefact (I learned lots of new tools by reading through the exergesises)

List of INF532 Learning Artefacts (sorry if I missed anyone):

  • Claire
  • Chris – I did not find the final artefact but know that this podcast formed part of it
  • Kelly
  • Emma

Revisiting: How many people does it take to make a community of practice?

Last month I blogged about how I felt that I am often just a curator for a group of people rather than being in a community of practice. Having trialed a few different approaches I have seen an uptick in participation in the contributions to the community I manage.

INF532 has encouraged me to think about different ways that I might engage people to help develop a work-based learning network. A few techniques I have trialled:

  • changed up the tone of my posts focusing more on a narrative-based approach
  • tried to relate my posts to universal issues people face (not just work issues)
  • directly asked people if they can write about a topic
  • written posts of varying length
  • used a variety of mediums to engage people
  • Asked questions rather than just writing solutions

I am starting to get a lot more participation recently (4-5 responding people versus the normal 0-1). This is a positive improvement on people telling me that they “enjoy reading my posts”.

I have enjoyed trialing a variety of different approaches and although I am yet to get anywhere near the critical mass to call it a community of practice it is certainly evolving past simple curation.

The next step will be to try and move to more multi-media content such as microcontent, videos and potentially podcasts but this will require an investment from my work in the tools required. This could be a stumbling block as I wait for approvals but if I can implement these tools then potentially others can use them to create content as well.

INF532: Flexible Learning is Awesome

I have realised that my blogs have been a bit negative in tone and so I wanted to write one that was positive about the course and some of the things I have learned so far.

CSU’s uImagine page on flexible and adaptive learning really resonated with me in its goal to help learners prosper on their own path. I have a background in sport and to me this spoke of the ‘coaching’ approach I have grown up used to, where the coach was there to help you achieve your goals in a symbiotic relationship.

I think this is different to the more reactive approach I have taken to teaching previously where I was very willing and happy to assist students but only reactively when they asked for help. I am personally never likely to ask for help and so through my approach, I am ignoring students like me.

coach has water poured over him by happy players
A coach celebrating with his team following their success


So how do I tackle being more proactive? I think there is a level of extra engagement required with your students in reaching out to help understand their experience so that you can activate that existing knowledge base. This is one of the ‘First Principles’ of instruction discussed by Merrill (2002). The next step is demonstrating the knowledge in ways that activate different parts of the brain. This course has exposed me to a raft of new tools for me to do this and the things you need to focus on to ensure the tools you use actually achieve you goals. Claire has a great blog about the need to invest in pre-production to improve the quality and effectiveness of your multi-media resources.

I am going to be a better teacher as a consequence of this course and the interactions I have had within it 🙂


Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology, Research and Development; New York, 50(3), 43.

Is the flexible learning utopia within reach for work-based learning?

There are some wonderful resources that describe the benefits of different learning approaches such as flipped or blended learning.

Souto (2014) discusses how immersive and authentic learning environments, such as simulations, visualizations, and augmented reality can engage and motivate the students.

But you have to question if this is possible for large work organisations. I had a recent conversation where a group of people were really excited to move to online learning as it meant they didn’t need to find people to teach their course. They acknowledged that most online learning is just tick and flick and that they would need to invest to create interactive learning but they had no plan (or budget) to keep the resource up-to-date or follow up with students to find out how the learning could be improved.

In Todhunter’s (2013) article about the limitations of online learning, he suggests that the terms used for online learning meant that there was not enough uptake of it. Ironically, in my experience, the terms being used are causing too many people to turn towards online learning at the expense of student focused outcomes.

This observation is nothing new: pedagogy if misunderstood leads to fads in education. But the workplace is very different to schools and universities and the perverse outcomes of flexible learning so far appears to be that it allows workplaces the flexibility support quality teaching.


Souto, V. T. (2014). A Framework for Designing Interactive Digital Learning Environments for Young People. In K. Blashki, & P. Isaias (Eds.), Emerging Research and Trends in Interactivity and the Human-Computer Interface (pp. 429-447). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-4623-0.ch022

Todhunter, B (2013) LOL — limitations of online learning — are we selling the open and distance education message short? Distance Education34(2), pp. 232-252.

How many people does it take to make a community of practice?

Image comparing crowd size at Trump inaguration and Obama inaguration

What is the critical mass for a community of practice? That is the question that struck me when I read Not everything that connects is a network (Hearn and Mendizabal, 2001).

I try to foster a community of practice at work in an area that is important but not core business. The result is a lot of people being involved in the group but not many participating.

Hearn and Mendizabal argue that “networks are indigenous to any situation or environment; they exist before an initiative comes along and will exist after an initiative has closed down” and that:

networks are not panaceas and are not suitable in all situations. The suitability of a network strategy needs to be interrogated carefully before investments are made, particularly as a network could prove more expensive than an alternative strategy.

I find this an interesting perspective and I am possibly in more of a curation role than one of being in a community of practice. Having read Popova’s article on the role of curation, I know that this is an important role as well.

Over time I will attempt different strategies to try and gain critical mass in and reach a fully fledged community of practice.

INF532: Relfecting on Network Literacy

When I found out that network literacy was a descendant of the idea of six degrees of separation, things really started to click for me on what it was about (Pengrum, 2010). That networks get exponentially more complex and helpful as you add extra people.

Rheingold explains that it is Reid’s law is the network theory that accounts for the “[ice] hockey stick” growth of the value of networks that allow humans to create groups versus the incremental growth in the value of networks (such as telephone exchanges) that falls under Metcalf’s law.

A while ago, I was introduced to the following video as a metaphor for leadership, but in many ways it also is an example of Reid’s law in action. As people see their friends start to dance, they also start to dance, leading to an exponential growth in the crowd.

Rheingold does an excellent job in explaining why you need to understand the value of human groups versus that purely of technology and for me that is the fundamental difference between what I saw as McClure’s more ‘practical’ definition of network literacy – “the ability to identify, access, and use electronic information from the network”. Although McClure’s definition is helpful, it seems to remove the agency of the network, the very reason why network literacy can be so beneficial.

Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am’: Network literacy as a core digital literacy. In E-Learning and Digital Media7(4), 346-354.


I have been experimenting with a number of tools to help improve the productivity of my personal learning network (PLN).

The tools I have been looking at this week are:


What problem is it solving in my PLN?

To keep my PLN up to date, I have found that I need to join lots of new sites. 1Password is a password manager that allows me to remember which sites I have signed up for and the passwords. Allowing me to keep my logins convenient and secure.


What problem is it solving in my PLN?

To make the content I share with my PLN as engaging as possible, I found that graphics played an important part. Canva allows me to quickly and easily create graphics and infographics.


What problem is it solving in my PLN?

It is hard to read all of the interesting content I discover through Twitter and Feedly and so I use Pocket to keep content I want to read later.


INF532: Tools for establishing a productive PLN – Part 1

To help develop my Personal Learning Network (PLN) I am experimenting with new tools. The first three tools I am trialing are Hootsuite, Powtoon and Feedly:



Hootsuite is a tool to help you aggregate your social media accounts. From the dashboard you can view your normal social media feeds but also

What problem is it solving in my PLN?

Twitter is a great resource for sharing and collaborating but I find it tricky to keep up to date with the main hashtags of interest. Hootsuite allows you to break out your home feed as well as follow hashtags so that you can take everything in from one screen.



Powtoon is a tool that allows you to create animated videos without needing coding experience. It uses a PowerPoint style interface.

What problem is it solving in my PLN?

I find videos an incredibly useful learning tool. There is not always a video for the conept that I am learning about about and so I feel that Powtoon may enable me to create useful content that I can share to help contribute to my network, the process of making a video will also hopefully help solidify my understanding of the topic.



Feedly is a news aggregator that allows you to quickly and easily create “feeds” on topics of interest, drawing from a range of sources.

What problem is it solving in my PLN?

My main sources of news do not normally have a lot of Education related news. To stay up with the latest trends I wanted to create a list of education sites to follow. Feedly enabled me to do that and will mean that I only need to visit one site to view education news that interests me. It also has options to share stories I find of interest to my social media so I can share content even when I don’t have a lot of time.