INF532 – The Connected Educator

In Module two we were prompted to think about two topics:

1. Have you moved beyond cooperation? What role is collaboration playing in your professional learning and your practice? What’s new and different about collaboration for 21st century learners?

I have two distinct experiences with collaboration. One working with teams where collaboration was fundamental to getting the job done and to help improve people’s skills, where there was collaboration not only internally but with groups externally. The other experience is where people are asked to collaborate but the students don’t really see any benefit in doing so and are not very invested in the outcome and they don’t have a passion for collaboration (this is often on training courses where attendance is mandatory). How you inspire collaboration in this second group is a challenge that I face when conducting courses and trying to provide space for ongoing learning and collaboration.

I think the difference for 21st Century learners is the plethora of tools available to collaborate and the examples of people collaborating that demonstrate the benefit and the etiquette of collaboration.

2. Are you multiliterate? Of these literacies, which is most surprising to you? Which do you find least and most challenging?

Following on from point 1, I find advocating for students to collaborate and providing tools for that to happen one of the easier aspects. The harder challenge for me is fostering a community of collaboration and a community of learning in a job that is not centered around teaching and learning. I believe that I will have to establish those connections externally and then hopefully find answers from people who have tackled this issue previously.

INF530: Critical Reflection

In my journey through INF530 I have learned a great deal. The course has particularly helped me to develop my understanding of:

Digital literacy

Early in the course I was challenged by the concept of digital literacy. I came to an initial view of what digital literacy meant to me but that was just a starting point. As the course evolved, so did my understanding of the term. My new understanding added in concepts of digital security and Steve Wheeler’s description of “digital residency” that I found thanks to June’s tweet:

Digital residency, meaning someone who uses an app in their daily life, is a better and fairer description for what I had labelled “active digital literacy”. I have realised how important it is for the education professional to have an understanding of digital literacy so that it can inform their interaction with students.

Connected learning

The discussion on my blog post around connected learning helped me to think about how connected learning could be promoted at different stages of education. Connected learning was a new concept to me but in my work context, the need for us to be able to promote and acknowledge connected learning resonated with me. Claire challenged me to think about how this promotion of connected learning would differ for various age groups:

EdTech Revisited

The course has helped me to appreciate that educational technology (EdTech) is a diverse field. I have usually had poor experiences with EdTech and previously felt it was too heavily focused on behaviouristic principles but others within the course helped to highlight examples where it was making a positive difference:

I came to the understanding that digital learning is not just a extension of behaviourism but can provide a much more nuanced approach to education. The Communities of Enquiry championed by Garrison (2016) show what an important role digital environments can play in helping to promote digital learning. The work by Kara and Sevim forced me to reconsider my beliefs that adaptive learning was a simplistic tool that had limited benefit to education professionals in helping to develop the skills needed by the jobs of the future (Kara & Sevim, 2013). However, Audrey Watter’s presentation holds the sobering view that the EdTech industry champions the benefits of digital learning based on the benefits to an “imagined ideal student… unconstrained by materiality, by the body, by place – by race, gender, geography”. The benefits of EdTech is still a complicated topic for me, but I now understand the potential benefits and have a wider understanding of the potential disadvantages.

Ethics of EdTech

Reviewing the ethical considerations of the storage and use of data within education gave me a new appreciation for the expanded role that education professionals have in digital environments. The difficulty that students and their parents have in fully understanding the systems being implemented means that the education professional now have a role in ensuring the privacy of their students is protected (Boyd & Crawford, 2012). The role of privacy advocate is a challenging one as technology rapidly evolves and education professionals do not always get a say in what systems are being implemented. Having read about Cambridge Analytica and recent reports about ClassDojo sharing data, I wrote a blog where I questioned what would change the attitude to data retention within education coming to the conclusion that:

It may not be until schools or the workplace experience their own Cambridge Analytica moment that things will change.


INF530 has been particularly useful in exposing me to a range of perspectives from education professionals in a range of fields. I have been challenged to rethink my belief that there was only one dimension to education technology. The result has been a discovery of a complex and nuanced environment that provides opportunities and challenges that I will need to grapple with for many years to come.


Boyd, D., & Crawford, K. (2012). Critical Questions for Big Data: Provocations for a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon. Information, Communication & Society, 15(5), 662–679.

Garrison, D. R. (2016). Thinking collaboratively: learning in a community of inquiry. New York ; London: Routledge.

Kara, N., & Sevim, N. (2013). Adaptive Learning Systems: Beyond Teaching Machines. Contemporary Educational Technology, 4(2), 108–120.

INF530: Blog Task 2 – Connected learning and digital literacy


Looking back at my initial notes on “connected learning” I have scrawled “What is this? There are no decent succinct definitions!”. This is not a criticism of the course content, it is my usual reaction when confronted by theoretical constructs. However, my reaction is a good bellwether. I do not work in an education institution and if I don’t understand a concept, then it usually follows that others within my organisation will struggle as well. This means that it is worth me documenting not only an understandable explanation (when I find it) but also the process of how I got to that understanding so that I can (hopefully) bring others on the journey.

It was watching the following video a couple of times that helped me to come to grips with what “connected learning” meant.

After watching the above video, I revisited other resources on connected learning, such as this infographic and things made a lot more sense. For my I benefit I came up with the following definition of connected learning:

Learning opportunities are everywhere and people can learn anywhere. Digital enables this as it connects people with resources and communities.

I believe the challenge for students will be the same struggle I myself had with the concept of connected learning. Can they identify what connected learning is and how they can benefit from it? Do they have the skills to think critically about their learning experiences and apply what they learned in one arena to different contexts? I believe an important role that I can take is in helping to curate other possible learning experiences for students/colleagues but also to highlight that people are already having “connected learning” experiences, just in many cases, people don’t realise.

I have been thinking how I can curate resources but also help validate learning that is already occurring. Source: British National Gallery

At the same time as helping colleagues with the concept of “connected learning” there is the need to challenge supervisors and managers within the organisation to accept learning experiences acquired outside of formal learning channels.

For me, connected learning requires digital literacy. Bawden (2008), helped me to come to an understanding of “digital literacy”. My own definition would be:

Where a person actively knows the norms and conventions of a platform (i.e. Could tell you what they are), can use the advanced features of a platform to interrogate the data available, and can think critically about the information they find.

I often feel I have a lack of digital literacy when it comes to some digital platforms.

This differentiates from what I see a lot in my own organisation that I think of as “passive digital literacy”, where a person understands how to use a particular platform to get information but could not explain to you how they would use the platform.

I can see the requirement for metacognition about a digital platform as being vital to students getting the most from connected learning and so I have started to consider how I can help students/colleagues develop this deeper form of digital literacy (and whether I have this type of digital literacy on the platforms I use).



Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and Concepts Of Digital Literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from
DMLResearchHub. (2015). Connected Learning: The power of making learning relevant. Retrieved from