"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Friday, 24 March 2017

Feedback makes all the difference

Have you ever completed a test or a task and you can't wait to hear some feedback? I know I have completed a few courses or tried to cook something fancy and the feedback it almost as important as the work you have completed. For most learners they want to know they are on the right track. 

In blended learning environments teachers can provide face to face or online feedback. More and more students expect feedback as soon as possible. Online quizzes are great for providing feedback instantly however they can also be disheartening and impersonal if you keep getting things wrong. 
Whilst there is much evidence that online quizzes and tests can be beneficial for some learners this can be more of a hindrance than a help. For some trade students they have little access or desire to use technology apart from their mobile phones. Many dislike using their laptops and tablets because they are slow to use them and often get frustrated when things don’t work out. However this is not always the case. Two weeks ago a build a blended course for Carpentry students to practice their measurements and calculations. Many found this very helpful and the instant feedback certainly made a huge impact on them.

Blended environments means assessments can be flexible

In the past students have completed their written assessments via a Moodle quiz. More often than not
there have been issues with the connection to the internet and trade students like to work their calculations out with their hands (pen and paper). They are kinaesthetic learners and so sometimes an online assessment has to be redone because they failed only to pass when they were given a written assessment. In recent times I have used Google Forms to create online quizzes and then used Flubaroo to grade them. The students and teachers love it however they have not yet used this method for formal assessments.

Whilst rubrics can be helpful when marking assessments and providing feedback it ultimately seeks a judgement that is not always helpful. For the most part students near clear guidelines for what is expected however students are very much looking at outcomes in new ways than in more traditional ways. Entrepreneurial assessments may have broader assessment outcomes than say a spelling test. Modern learners have much more access to learning networks and learning that allows autonomy can more greatly beneficial to building confidence in learning that can’t always be measured on a rubric.

Use plain English please

Education jargon can be a stumbling block for learners. When providing feedback it is important that the feedback in plain English so that the reader doesn’t have to try and work their way through complex educational terms that don’t really tell them what they need to know. Giving video feedback and aural feedback can also help learners who don’t like to read.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Connected learning environments

Teachers have forever been Instructional Designers. As teachers we know that the learning space influences so many things about learning. The design of the room, learning material, assessment items, feedback etc. greatly influence how the learner might feel about the subject that is taught or whether or not their curiosity might be stirred. McIntosh (2010) suggests that there needs to be real synergistic design with classroom and blended spaces so that learning moves freely between the two spaces.


Collaboration is a skill that can be developed in face to face learning and in virtual or blended environments. Communication is at the heart of learning. There can be no doubt that collaborative environments will not work for everyone but in an information society it will be so important for our students to understand that the traditional frameworks of our societies have been changed because of social media and knowledge networking have given access to more information, experts and groups of people than any other time in history. Reingold (2008) saw that the internet has disrupted the way we connect and communicate and our students are part of a connected world and connected communities.

Students in a modern learning environment need to be ‘participatory learners’ much like Sieman's view of the concierge, deeply involved in the process and virtual classrooms begins to address this concept but also aligns with Rheingold’s view that human interaction is still an important part of learning. It seems as though some learners are happy to be in a space where the connection is somewhat distant (blog, social media, texting) from an actual face to face interaction with a physical human however technology is really pushing for meaningful connectedness and virtual or holographic learning may be a norm in the future.

Students as innovators 
In designing and developing blended learning courses Blooms Taxonomy can be so useful. It's important in face to face and blended learning to develop all thinking skills. It's easy to get excited by shiny apps and fun games but students need to explore ideas not just in creative ways but really develop critical thinking skills that include thinking outside the box. George Couros's (2015) book 'The Innovator's Mindset' really helps to see that if you aren't an innovative teacher than how can you expect your students to be innovative. Syliva Duckworth's image is on my wall above my computer and is a daily reminder to be the best that I can be. 

Rheingold, H., (2017, January) The new power of collaboration. [Videofile] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA9a4rEcpCY 
Siemens, G. (2007). 10 minute lecture – curatorial teaching. Retrieved from http://learnonline.wordpress.com/2007/09/20/10-minute-lecture-george-siemens-curatorial-teaching

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Make it a nice blend, not a technology smash up

  1. It seems for some that there is no doubt that blended technology is working. 
  2. U.S. Department of Education’s (2010) “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies,” “Students in online conditions performed modestly better, on average, than those learning the same material through traditional face-to-face instruction” (p. xiv) and, notably, “Instruction combining online and face-to-face elements had a larger advantage relative to purely face-to-face instruction than did purely online instruction” (p. xv).
  3. However in the Vocation and training sector in NSW, Australia this is by far the same case. In some cases as little as 7% of students complete online courses and there are few skilled teachers with experience to use blended technology well. Below is an except from a piece I wrote a few years ago addressing the complexities of online learning
  4. I don’t know about you but I have come to realise that I take the internet for granted. I get all excited by new technology and gadgets and this might stem from a fascination in Star Trek over the last twenty years. Star Trek looked to a future when information, communication, education and life where all intertwined and lived in harmony with each other. Trends in educational developments can’t only been seen in the hardware or software that will be developed but in education theory that drives change and understanding about how and why we learn. 
    Pedagogy in a digital age

    There was a shift in the 1990s from the internet being a suppository of knowledge to a place where crowd wisdom could be harnessed and used for work, learning or pleasure. (SurowieckiCanole, G., 2012.p.49) Once technology afforded new ways of accessing knowledge and information it was a game changer for education. 

    “We are now at a point where we must educate our children in what no one knew yesterday, and prepare our schools for what no one knows yet.” Margaret Mead(1980)
     There are many beliefs that currently underpin education pedagogy that predate the digital age, (Heppell,1999,p.20) so the challenge for education specialists is to consider how fixed knowledge can be included in a learning environment where new networks,collaborations, connections and innovation are driving learning experiences that are afforded to students in the new digital environment. (Brown ,S.,2012)When creating learning experiences pedagogy and assessment cannot remain fixed on information gathering and regurgitation of knowledge based on fixed predetermined tests but rather to the broader experience where learning is relevant and meaningful. Starkey suggests that we are moving from ‘knowledge based’ learning to ‘critical thinking’ based learning and this shift will allow for more connectedness when it comes to the learning environment. (2011, p.19)Students will seek to gain autonomy and the ability to be masters of their own learning through experimentation and meaningful dialogue. (Ravenscroft, 2011,p.46,Haesler, 2015)These learning experiences come about through networks, connections and collaboration.(Bereiter,2002, Gilbert 2005, Simens, 2004), p.21, Ford, 2008,p.77)

    Whilst these new learning opportunities may be useful Ken Robinson (2012) goes as far as suggesting that passion and desire to learn are fundamental when we are learning and Dillon adds that curiosity is key to engage in learning. (Dillon, 2012)
    Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution!

    Ford suggests three ways in which teachers can develop different pedagogy modes in order to engage with students in the learning environment. (2008, p.77)A cognitive view of learning considers that learners construct and build upon their own internal knowledge structures and representation to engage with new learning opportunities. In contrast he also suggests a humanistic view where the goal of learning is self-actualisation and fulfillment in the learning experience comes from both cognitive and affective levels. Lastly he considers a socially/situated perspective where learning becomes interactive and is between people and real world contexts. When the possibility of these theories are combined with positive learning experiences through structured experimental learning then these theories are useful in supporting the development of learners’ process capabilities. (Levy, 2003, p.303.)Knowledge gathering and use therefore becomes intrinsically woven into the students learning experience.

    Ford’s theories may align with modern pedagogies about the changing nature of knowledge gathering and interaction however Doring adds that the learning experiences afforded in the process speaks to one of the core values of teaching which have not changed , “Education is a fundamentally conversational business.”(1999, 18%) Once knowledge is acquired (in whatever mode it has originated) it then transcends into further application or concept understanding by the learner that may lead to a connection with others and engagement beyond the knowledge itself. (Doring, 1999).Whilst constructivist theory may align with modern approaches to learning it is not new and whilst the use of technology can be incorporated into this view it is by no means only dependent on the use of technology for this engagement to occur. (Imel, 2001,18%) Quality teaching engages knowledge and dialogue in such a way that the teacher and the learner feel safe in the learning environment and they curiously explore knowledge and critically evaluate and reflect on this information to achieve mastery of a skill or concept. (Mayes, 2000, 18%)

    Blended Learning
    With new developments in pedagogy come new opportunities for delivery, engagement, assessment and skill development. Understanding the digital environment is vital to understanding learning in a digital age. There is an expectation by digital natives that technology will be woven into all aspects of their lives and that includes learning and education. (Bauman, 2005, p.30)

    Therefore in the face to face learning environment there is an expectation that blended learning will be part of the learning experience. (van de Ven, 2014) Blended learning might simply supplement course work and reading of online articles however it can also include simulations and collaborative experiences that may occur in more than one place. (Bonk, Kim andZeng. 2006, p.92) Technology enabled learning is only as good as the learning principles that underpin it so planning and preparation are key before implementation.(GlobalEducation Leader’s Program, 2013,29%) With the opportunity for learners to access the internet learning becomes an everywhere and anytime activity and global connectivity soon draws learners from a know-how and know-what activity to one that is supplemented by know-where. (Siemens, 2004.)Learner engagement is at the forefront of curriculum development and including blended learning opportunities will be essentially important to building confidence in learners who are living in a digital age. These opportunities will allow learners to be more creative and innovative than ever before and Craft concludes that learners can “extend ideas or hypothesise using imagination in order to achieve alternative and innovative outcomes.”(2003,p. 115) 

    “Blended learning is both simple and complex. At its simplest blended learning is the thoughtful integration of classroom face to face learning experiences with online learning experiences.”(Kanuta, Heater og Garrison, Randy, D. 2004.) Without teachers who are skilled in blended environments classrooms will continue to use technology as an information repository. Failing to give students collaborative tools and confidence using technology will not equip them to live in an information society of the future and much needs to be done in the area of critical thinking in relation to how students are engaging with technology for learning. 

    ACARA. (2012) TheShape of the Australian Curriculum: Technologies. Retrieved from http://www.acara.edu.au/verve/_resources/Shape_of_the_Australian_Curriculum_-_Technologies_-_August_2012.pdf

    Banks, K. (2014) In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How TechnologyWill Impact Our Future[Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB

    Bauman. 2005. In Selwyn, N. 2011. Schools and Schooling in theDigital Age. Routledge: New York

    Becker,K. (2010). Distinctionsbetween games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002

    Bentley, (2000). In Selwyn, N. 2011. Schools and Schooling in theDigital Age. Routledge: New York

    Bereiter 2002, Gilbert, 2005 and Siemens, 2004. In Starkey,L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learningmatrix, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39, DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    Bonk, Kim and Zeng, (2006) In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning throughEducational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Brown, S.(2012) The Global One Room Schoolhouse: John Seely Brown(Highlights from JSB's Keynote at DML2012) [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiGabUBQEnM&list=FLFm4UviNRnYIGksLNvidwNw&index=8
    Craft,A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(2), 113-127.Retrieved from http://web.nsboro.k12.ma.us/algonquin/faculty/socialstudiesteachers/smith/documents/thelimitsofcreativityineducationarticle.pdf

    Conole,G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer. 
    Doring,(1999). In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)

    Ford, N. (2008). Education. In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning throughEducational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Fahlvik, M, (2014). Teacherrole in the blended classroom. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/fahlvik/teacher-role-in-the-blended-classroom-itslearning-user-conference-the-netherlands?from_action=save

    GlobalLeader’s Education Program.(2013) RedesigningEducation: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe. [Kindle DX Version]Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118022246/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=freetechforte-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1118022246

    Google,(2007) Google Docs in Plain English.[Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRqUE6IHTEA
    Haesler, D., (2015) TM Central Coast 15. [Video file] Retreived from https://youtu.be/ixaRpqIHEc0?list=FLFm4UviNRnYIGksLNvidwNw 

    Heppel,1999. In Starkey, L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: adigital age learning matrix, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39,DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    Highfill, L., (2015). Edu on Air:Extreme pedagogy makeover using Multimedia Text Sets & HyperDocs. [Video file]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWu6h1a-N_w&list=PLlAjDBz2XjkPdBgh1c4wtYoALpZcn28pk&index=2

    IGN, (2013). Project Spark Demo - E3 2013 Microsoft Conference. [Videofile]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m37sVEgJrOA

    IGN, (2015). Microsoft HoloLensDemonstration Shows off Holographic Minecraft, Apps, and More. [Video file]Retreived from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRQv74J7oSk

    Imel, 2001. In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)
    Jenkins, (2006) In Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

    Kafai,(2006). In Becker, K. (2010). Distinctionsbetween games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002

    Kanuta, Heater og Garrison, Randy, D. (2004)In Fahlvik, M, (2014). Teacherrole in the blended classroom. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/fahlvik/teacher-role-in-the-blended-classroom-itslearning-user-conference-the-netherlands?from_action=save

    Kramer, M.(2014) In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How Technology Will Impact Our Future [Kindle DX version].Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB
    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 from http://jis.sagepub.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/content/29/4/298.full.pdf+html

    Mayes, 2000. In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New York (KindleEdition)
    McGonigal,J. (2010). Gaming can make a better world.[Video file]Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE1DuBesGYM

    Mead,M. (1980) In Global Leader’s Education Program.(2013) Redesigning Education: Shaping Learning Systems Around the Globe. [KindleDX Version] Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1118022246/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=freetechforte-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399373&creativeASIN=1118022246

    Merrill. 2002. Ford, N. (2008). Education. Ford, N. (2008).Education. In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-BasedLearning through Educational Informatics: Information Science Meets EducationalComputing (pp. 75-109).Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    NVELS Australia, (2013). Virtuallyhyper-connected. [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3JbMKw3QU8

    Neidhardt, H. (2014) In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How Technology Will Impact OurFuture [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB

    Newman,et.al. (2011) In Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

    O’Connell,J. (2012). So you think they can learn? Scan, Vol 31.May, 5-11.Retrieved from https://heyjude.files.wordpress.com/2006/06/joc_scan_may-2012.pdf

    Presnsky,M. (2001.) In Selwyn, N. (2013) Global Perspectives on Education andTechnology. New York: Routledge

    Ravenscroft, A., Wegerif, R., & Hartley, R. (2007). Reclaiming thinking: dialectic, dialogic and learning in thedigital age. Retrieved from https://www.dropbox.com/s/qauprstbwtf5ce0/Reclaiming%20thinking%20Dialectic%2C%20dialogic%20and%20learning%20in%20a%20digital%20age.pdf?dl=0BJEP MonographSeries II, Number 5-Learning through Digital Technologies, 1(1),39-57

    Selwyn, N. (2011) Schoolsand Schooling in the Digital Age. New York: Routledge

    Selwyn, N. (2013) GlobalPerspectives on Education and Technology. New York: Routledge

    Siemens, G. (2004) In Downes, S. (2012) Connectivism: a learning theory for the digital age. Retrieved fromhttp://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

    Starkey, L (2011) Evaluating learning in the 21st century: adigital age learning matrix, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20:1, 19-39,DOI: 10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

    Surowiecki (2004) In Conole, G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing forlearning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer.

    Trigwell, Oliver, (2008) In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning throughEducational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Van den Ven, A., (2014). In De Waele, R. (2014). Shift 2020 How Technology Will Impact Our Future [Kindle DX version].Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HQ5U53E/ref=wl_it_dp_v_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=37FSRQBVI5C5W&coliid=I3TVX8OTAODSWB

    Wenmoth, D. 2010. Globalised Learning. [Video file]Retrievedfrom https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=20&v=porLT0xIkR4

    Wesch, M. (2010) TEDxNYED. [Video file] Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=618&v=DwyCAtyNYHw
    Futch, L.,  and Chen, B., (2017) Understanding Blended Learning. Retrieved from  https://blended.online.ucf.edu/blendkit-course-blendkit-reader-chapter-1/ 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

What a great time to be a teacher!!

Starting a new year often allows time for reflection but also a chance to think in new ways about old challenges and new ones that might happen this year. Having been working on my Masters of Education and participating on the conference junkit for the last few years I have stretched my professional learning far more than I would have ever imagined. The last few years have been rich with sharing, pondering and experimentation and it's not going to end anytime soon.

Google for Education Certified Trainer

Like many teachers in the break you get to do some serious thinking and learning without all the other usual distractions. I am so pleased to have been accepted as a Google for Education Certified Trainer. This means that I will be sharing much more about Google for Education this year.

You have heard it first from me that this year I will be providing FREE training for those wishing to learn about Google for Education. If you are on the Central Coast in NSW, Australia then you can stop on by. Stop by for some afternoon tea, networking and learning. You can check out the dates on the calendar for the group that might suit you. Tech and Tea will provide you with hands on training that suits your learning group.

Virtual Reality

Just for fun in the holidays my 14 year old son and I decided to try and nut out how we could do some serious virtual reality apps for carpentry students. We both love the Microsoft Hololens and even though we don't have one we thought we might be able to code for it. Here is the video of our project and we are hoping to use it soon.


I would like to make a shout out to a colleague of mine Shane Johnson, a carpentry teacher in the North Coast region. He shared some of his ideas about how we could use augmented reality for carpentry students and boy were my fellow carpentry teachers at work excited. This is a great app for 3D modelling and one we will be using this year.

I guess in terms of virtual reality I will be closely watching how drones can be used to capture construction pics and video we can use for teaching and learning as well as new virtual reality goggles and apps that will be rolled out in mass over the next few years. It is such an exciting time to be a teacher. There is a real technology revolution that is exploding and it's fun to be part of.

Hope all my teaching friends have a great year!

Until next time,

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

i On The Future

I had a great weekend at this amazing conference. A few weeks ago I attended the EdtechSA conference and presented on the Crisis of the Introvert. I'll need a whole blog post for that one. Anyway there were some strong messages that came out of this conference. As a secondary and TAFE teacher it is interesting attending conferences where the majority of the teachers are primary based. They definitely have a different way of looking at things and I am finding this quite refreshing.

For most of this year I have been designing online resources for trade courses. Whilst I love working with the tradies to develop these courses I am missing the classroom. So I need to prioritise working on a balance. I love to work with the teachers to mentor blended learning and student engagement as well as my online work. This was one of the big take-a-ways from both conferences.


There is always a lot of emphasis on assessment in teaching. Obviously. We want to see how are students are developing in their skills and understanding. Once again Eric Mazur (@ericmazur) reminded me the importance of Blooms Taxonomy in developing skills.
It's important at times to teach new information or demonstrate a new skill but it's all the more important for students to then be able to create and apply these skills. Without the time to use these higher order thinking skills they will never have confidence to do the task well or be able to demonstrate real quality with their work.

My two favorite quotes from Eric are,
"Perfect is the enemy of done" 
"Teaching is non evasive brain surgery"

Too often students think that 90% will do. "Perfect, I'm done." There can always be improvement and reflection.

Learners need to be connected to learning

Dean Shareski (@shareski) reminded us that joy is a key component in teaching and learning. Emotionally connecting helps cement memories much more strongly than when students are empty vessels filling their brains with content.

Kevin Honeycutt (@kevinhoneycutt) inspired us with some of his projects where students have the opportunities to be entrepreneurs and make a difference. Check out the amazing GoDium project.

I love this quote from Kevin

Dan Haesler (@danhaesler) at the EdtechSA conference also highlighted the need to have learning that is going to stretch students and give them real world experiences. I love the idea of students writing proposals for real work and encouraging entrepreneurship. Freelancer is a great site where students can solve real problems and get paid to do it!

There were great conversations and many more inspiring messages however they will have to wait for another blog post. 

Until next time,


Saturday, 12 March 2016

Why do students hate Moodle?

Hello my blog, old friend. It has been quite some time since I paid you any attention. However the is all going to to change. I'm sick of all these ideas and thoughts rolling around in my head and the best therapy for lots of ideas is to get them down. So over the next few weeks I shall try to jot down some of my thoughts over the last few months in a series of blog posts.

In the last few weeks I have conversations with a range of teachers from both the public, private and VET sectors about Moodle. Why is it that students don't like it?

When Moodle started it was a revolutionary way to share all your class work with your students and have them interact with you and each other and also it took away the anxiety and worry about notes being lost or crushed in school bags. Teachers have long held the idea that knowledge is the gateway to success, enlightenment and understanding so just as the humble photocopier revolutionised access to the knowledge of teacher's via their notes Moodle was able to give students access to knowledge through the new culture of technology and content curation.

Some teachers saw Moodle as a product that would revolutionise Education and to a certain degree it
Image by presentermedia.com
did however for the less tech savvy teachers it was clunky, unyielding, time consuming and overly complicated. The students on the other hand initially were enthusiastic but as time has worn on the appearance and drudgery of using Moodle for assignments became a burden and not such a cool use of technology. Many teachers hadn't realised the real capability of the program nor did they have the time, energy or skills level to use it. It became the knowledge repository of the classroom which was accessed only when you needed to check when an assignment was due or when it needed to be uploaded. Sad really, as many Institutions did put it to good use and it became a global sensation to those who used it well.  

So what's changed?

I think there are three things that have changed in the mind of the user and they have an appetite for something different.

1. Students expect the technology that they use to be user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. They want the online experience to have easy navigation and yet it be presented in a way that is still challenging and they can chat about these things with their peers. It must have social capability that is similar to other ways they interact socially online.

2. It needs to be accessed and viewed easily over multiple devices. Sometime companies say that it is mobile friendly but when you go to use it on your mobile it's so different to the computer experience that you can't find anything you need.

3. There needs to be points of emotional connection. Whether or not teachers are producing elearning content or flip teaching students need praise when they get something right and guidance if they are heading in the wrong direction. There has to be the opportunity for a human connection. The problem with Moodle quizzes is that there is always the predicted right answer unless the quiz is set up for short writing pieces that are not self marking. You can't ask for clarification. This can be frustrating. In some cases you probably know the answer it's just the question is not clear and you doubt what they are really asking. If a student is working on an online quiz there needs to be the option to talk to a real human because teaching for thousands of years has been a conversational business. (Doring, 1999)

Image @ bigstockphotos.com

If our students are playing online games at home with their friends and they are working through the challenges and levels of a game and get stuck they with will always default to the online chat to find a work around. So why do we allow this kind of learning in a game but not in our online programming of learning activities as a whole? Obviously I am grossly generalising as I know there are some programs and teachers who do this but I find in much of the conversation I have with teachers and students the real lack of connection about how young people want to learn and think in a digital age. There is still a mindset at times that it is the pursuit of knowledge is key but what has changed it that it is the skill in accessing knowledge is becoming far more useful.

I had the absolute privilege in the last few weeks to test run an eCoach learning system by Futura. I would encourage you to have a look. I have no financial connection to this it's just another tool I have come across and I love it! If you are a teacher that loves flip teaching then I would encourage you to check it out. It does plug into Moodle so if your school or organisation is a Moodle fun place then it is certainly one to consider.

Conference Loop from Futura Group on Vimeo.

Students want a more polished, meaningful and aesthetically pleasing interactive elearning experience. I would encourage you to think outside the box.

Until next time,


    Conole,G. (2012). Open, social and participatory media, Chapter 4. Designing for learning in an open world. New York, NY: Springer. 

    Craft,A. (2003). The limits to creativity in education: Dilemmas for the educator. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51(2), 113-127.Retrieved fromhttp://web.nsboro.k12.ma.us/algonquin/faculty/socialstudiesteachers/smith/documents/thelimitsofcreativityineducationarticle.pdf

    Doring,(1999). In Selwyn, N., Gorard, S. and Furlong, J, 2006. Adult learning in a digital age. Routledge: New             York (KindleEdition)

    Ford, N. (2008). Education. In N. Ford (Ed.), Web-Based Learning through Educational Informatics: Information Science Meets Educational Computing (pp. 75-109). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-59904-741-6.ch003

    Kafai,(2006). In Becker, K. (2010). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education.In R. Van Eck (Ed.), Gaming and cognition: Theories and practice from the learning sciences (pp. 22-54). Hershey, PA: .doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-717-6.ch002

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

A Global Perspective

This year my poor blog has suffered from lack of attention. I started my Masters of Education earlier in the year and had to keep a blog for that course so I haven't really been able to maintain two blogs. However I am taking a break from my Masters until next year so I return. Once again I feel like I am returning to an old friend. So what have I been up to.....

June ISTE Conference

In June I flew to Philadephia, USA for the ISTE conference with 20 000 other teachers. It was huge to say the least. I spoke at the TeachMeet which was fantastic and I would say that the TeachMeet was a highlight event for me. I was able to connect with some other Aussie teachers who I know now will be life long friends.

Some of the key themes from ISTE:

  • gamification will drive learning in the future, 
  • students will learn more effectively when they are having fun,
  •  augmented reality is a developing area for education, 
  • there is tension around the use of Google products, social media and student privacy,
  • collaboration that is relevant and meaningful to students connects with them at a deeper level and develops long term communication skills
  • developing communication and problem solving skills for students is key to survival in an information society.

September Engage Conference
A month ago I also was able to attend the inaugural Engage conference for TAFE NSW. It was great to hear and see how are others are incorporating blended learning into their practice and how they are developing courses for online learning. There was great conversation about learning spaces and the integration of technology in these spaces. Mike Heppell was insightful in the direction that online learning needs to take and solid pedagogy must drive learning and much planning needs to take place before courses are delivered.

October Practical Pedagogies
Finally I have just returned from France where I presented at the Practical Pedagogies conference in Toulouse. I really enjoyed the rich conversation with a very European perspective and it was great to hear about the challenges and success of teachers in Europe.

There seems to be similar ways that teachers are using technology and blended learning in the classroom and there is a developing industry of educational technology consultants or instructional designers to support teachers as they develop blended learning resources. I must say that the USA is definitely leading the charge on this however Britain is really adopting this kind of support much more so than Australia.

Image at bigstockphotos.com
Once again at all three conferences I see that we are moving into a new phase of education technology. There is an acceptance that technology is here to stay and there has been some real experimentation in the best ways to deliver online and blended learning. We are now in the 'how' phase and it is interesting to see that there is a real need to map blended technology with curriculum and pedagogy as technology is not a fly by night trick. What has also come out of some good conversation is the need to consider the use of technology in the learning space so that students are comfortable and they have the capacity to collaborate and learn together.

Ewan McInsosh has much to say about virtual and physical learning spaces and I have found the 7 spaces for learning helpful to create a holistic approach to learning.

The Seven Spaces of Technology in School Environments from NoTosh on Vimeo.

Thornburg's Primordial Learning spaces also can be helpful in assisting students with critical thinking and problem solving skills.

Campfire, Watering hole and Cave.

Data Usage

 Another key trend is data usage. Now more than ever we can give students more feedback about their work and we can track areas for improvement like never before. Keeping data that can provide overall insight into how a student are going in specific learning areas will be helpful in the future to assist students with areas for development that can be picked up quickly and more precisely.


There is still concern over students rights and privacy in cyber space and there are many schools in Europe who are unsure about how Google is going about keeping the students data and what they are going to do with it. Is seems as though this is an area that is still developing and whilst many schools are using Google's Apps for Education there are still some who aren't convinced that this is the way to go.

Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

I must say that at all three conferences there was a greater emphasis on this point than I have seen
Image at bigstockphotos.com
over the last few conferences I have attended over the years. It seems to me that in an information society it will be key for people to have good problem solving skills and use critical thinking in the workplace and the level of competency in this area in particular is really growing. Teacher's will need to use collaboration in class activities but also provide students the ability to collaborate online and be creative in how they identify and solve problems.

Australia is a player

Lastly Australia is a player in the areas of education technology. This was clearly seen at all three conferences and through rich conversations I can see that Australia has been engaging in quality education practice as well. There were many teachers who felt that #AussieEdchat was an excellent place to find resources and that many of the Australian twitter chats are being followed around the world. Many conversations that I had included discussion about how Australia was being innovative and creative in the education technology space and the world is watching and taking note.

These last few months have been educational rich as I explored what was going on around the world in the area of education technology. What I found is a dedicated group of enthusiastic and passionate teachers like myself who strive everyday to care for their students and engage them in learning activities. I also have found a spirit of generosity to share and support fellow teachers and this global perspective makes the world very small as education communities are engaging with each other like never before.

This is but a small brain dump and I hope to blog more about my experiences over the coming weeks.

Until next time,