It Takes a Village …

creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by mrkrndvs: http://flickr.com/photos/aaron_davis/16604532555

The question was posed ‘what is connected learning’ as a part of the #youredustory challenge. This is a topic that I am really passionate about and have therefore written quite a few posts on it before, such as:

I therefore decided that instead of trying to say something new, I would instead show it in the form of comments to my blog. Here then are a collection of responses that I have been lucky enough to recieve since starting my blog nearly two years ago:

“It is much more difficult to run reciprocal reading and independent reading/conferencing plus include a whole class novel (which I think is incredibly important in order to model comprehension skills). It is definitely a balancing act. Something that I found to work with my class, though, is to teach them reading skills and strategies that I actually use myself.” Rebecca Davies in response to Reading Conferences, Whose Problem is it Anyway?

“I used the word complex (in reference to poverty) because I feel like the deeper we get into them the more complex they are because of all the sides trying to “fix” them and not doing a very good job doing it.” Peter DeWitt in response to The River – A Complicated Metaphor for Education

“I also suspect that the people who successfully use SMART goals are the organised, goal-driven types who don’t really need them! I’m in favour of planning, breaking a goal down into steps and weekly monitoring of progress – the writing of the goal itself is a bit of a red herring.” Deb Joffe in response to Are SMART Goals Always That Smart?

“The idea of being able to tell a story is so important and having a belief and passion makes it so much easier.” Tony Richards in response to Takes More Than An App to Make a Good Presentation

“If we want students to show say,  that they understand the underying factors which led to the Great War,  do they have to do that in essay format? Or can we be more liberal in the format we accept?” Ian Guest in response to Supporting the Tool Without Teaching the Tool

“I think education still has a lot to learn not only about digital technologies, but also what we teach about them and how we utilise them also. How can we preach to our students the ideals of digital citizenship in a context that is not what they experience outside of a classroom. We say all these things but don’t show them the practice of it, and we are in a system that wouldn’t allow us to even if we wanted to.” Rebecca Jameson in response to A Meditation on the Taboos Associated with Being Connected

“Love Rockwells list. My favorite is ‘teach others your skills’. Maybe some people feel insecure of doing this as this empowers others and can be seen as a threat. I think true leaders do this and arent afraid of not being in ‘control’ of people.” Jason Graham in response to Can Everyone Really Be a Meaningful Leader

“‘Getting connected’ has made the biggest changes to my practice in the last 4 years. It has provided me with support, inspiration, goals to work towards and challenges from others that have all helped me grow and develop.” Gillian Light in response to Moving From the Ultranet to 21st Century Learning

“It is not the one liners that cause the problems – it is what one does with them as we both have said. They are excellent starters for deep discussion as we can spend time unpacking them with colleagues. We can look at the ‘intention’ that brought them to be ‘one liners’ and we can examine the complexities that reside in what seems to be a simple statement. Then we can have a look at dangers and opportunities in perpetuating these one liners.” Peter Skillen in response to Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-Line?

“I hear too many teachers complaining when there is no curriculum for them to use. I also hear them saying, not usually directly, that they can’t facilitate student learning in any area they don’t have the expertise to control the learning. Bottom line, they control the process (much more than “providing structure”) of learning, thereby stunting that learning. Teachers need to tinker and play with things and ideas WITH other teachers (sharing helps everyone involved), making mistakes, learning from them. And this is not just for STEM / STEAM topics either.” John Bennett in response to Tinkering, Passion and the Wildfire that is Learning

“I thought the main issue that some may or may not have had with some of the responses to The Age article was about whether they were playing the woman or the ball? That said, just as the original article stays on the web so do the tweets (and other comments) of disapproval. History is the ultimate judge of us all!” Richard Olsen in response to Tribes Are Good, But Do They Really Evolve the Conversation?

“You’ve hit on a topic that I think is probably one of the biggest issues facing Australian schools (and probably schools worldwide) at the moment. We continue to educate and assess students in a way that seems to assume literacy, and what it means to be ‘literate’ hasn’t changed in 50 years. Worse, our teachers are hopelessly ill equipped to teach digital literacy skills primarily because the vast majority of them don’t have those skills themselves.” Richard Lambert in response to What’s So Digital About Literacy Anyway?

“When I hear people frustrated about connecting to learn and that they don’t have the time and that they get nothing out of it, almost always it’s because they didn’t commit to forming relationships or contributing to the communities. I agree it’s a way of existence, a way of doing things. And to explain it to someone who hasn’t experienced it is a very difficult thing” Lyn Hilt in response to PLN, a Verb or a Noun?

“I am increasingly feeling that maybe “independence” is not the right word, and maybe “responsibility” or ownership of one’s learning are better, as they allow still for community or expert support, but having the learner lead their own goals and maybe assessment criteria as well as pathways to learn. This, in formal learning situations might mean there are some enforced common goals (learning outcomes) but individual goals also have space. How both types of goals are assessed can be partlycommunal (community created rubrics) and individual (i sometimes let my students choose a couple of criteria they want their projects assessed upon – it highlights what they intended to achieve).” Maha Bali in response to Grades and Limits It Just Ain’t Life-Long Learning

“My experience is that even very young children can plan their own curriculum. Nursery age children can plan their own day and I once had the experience of starting off a term with 6 and 7 year old children with a couple of days collaborative planning of what we would cover in the next 6 weeks. The plan/curriculum map was posted on the wall so that we could keep a track of what we had agreed and how we were progressing. At the time it was a real surprise to me that such young children could competently plan a whole half-term’s work.” Jenny Mackness in response to Some Reflections on Uncertainty

“Leadership have shown over the years I’ve been a teacher to be inconsistent in the way they offer and show appreciations to staff.  What is the point of not planning it as you say and just putting someone on the spot in a meeting and (to a degree) alienating the rest of the staff?” Rick Kayler-Thomson in response to When Encouragement Isn’t So Encouraging

“Whilst I think that the scope and mechanics of how we run our associations is changing, the fundamental yearning for inspiration and a meaningful relationships with colleagues has not and probably will not change. Whilst we can amplify much of what we do with online tools, we still seem to require some measure of face-to-face interaction to kick-start or catalyse the process.” Roland Gesthuizen in response to In the Association We Trust

“Indeed a curriculum is a compromise. Many different “forces” have influence on a curriculum and there’s only so much time per year and there are only so many year in a school. I just learned from a politicologist that in politicology they call it “fighting the last war”.
Decisions are mostly based on the last war fought.” Ronald L in response to Curriculum as a Verb

“As educators, we’re really not very good at following our own advice are we? We do our best to promote the capability for independent problem solving in our students using techniques such as 3B4Me … but do we model that good practice as learners ourselves?” Ian Guest in response to Change the Mindset, Don’t Change the Program

“It is always good to reflect on the developments we make even if it does not appear like much has happened. I like the idea of plans and setting goals because it helps us track whee we are at and makes us (teachers) and leadership accountable. These plans don’t need to be war and peace but they do need to describe what we want learning to look like with the support of ICT as a tool. The best place to start is where we have been.” Tony RIchards in response to Looking Back to Look Forward

“Denial is pervasive, we would rather hide our heads and assume things will be ok if we do it one way, than take a risk, or face the facts and work with what we have.” Pernille Ripp in response to Denial Never Worked for No-One

“No ‘approach’ or ‘framework’ is best but being well informed about different iterations of student centred learning (and even more didactic approaches) allows us to, as you so beautifully put it, mix the right cocktail for and with the learner (hmmm that doesn’t sound quite right does it!!).” Kath Murdoch in response to So Which Pedagogical Cocktails Are You Drinking Today?

“Often, in discussions about teaching, I find people tend to take very fixed positions. Depending upon whom you speak to, textbooks, worksheets and even desks are evidence of bad pedagogy, while bean bags, collaboration and creativity are evidence of good pedagogy. I think teaching is far more complex than that. We need to look far deeper and consider what our current group of students require to learn –  and in some contexts,  that may well be a didactic appropach.” Corinne Campbell in response to So Which Pedagogical Cocktail Are You Drinking Today?

“I found that when we moved it from the digital portfolio to this passion based blog the program took off – kids just loved it and the notion of writing for authentic audiences etc became a reality. Prior to that it was really hard for the kids to get any external interest in their blogs which would lead to all those great things like increased feedback cycles etc. The main reason was because no one is really interested in your digital portfolio.” Kynan Robinson in response to Sharing the Load of Blogging In and Out of School

“I think that ultimately, communities are defined by their sharing. The notion of ‘culture’ for example, can be described as ‘shared symbolism and interaction’.  If we don’t share our ideas, thoughts and knowledge, how will we know each other?” Steve Wheeler in response to Are You Really Connecting If You Are Not Giving Back?

“I like the “pencil lab” point, but in reality, computers don’t cost 10 cents. Even though fear is an issue, money is still the biggest issue with tech.” Mark Barnes in response to Repositioning the Use of Technology in Schools

“There was a quote doing the rounds on social media recently stating that ‘technology should be hidden in classrooms’. I think this statement to be very true. The devices your school choose to use should be in the classroom but not be the focus, they are simply there to support students learning.” Corey Aylen in response to What Digital Revolution?

“The supposed waste of money and time spent on technology over the last few years pales in comparison to the waste of time, money and opportunities where largely uninterested teachers take largely uninterested kids through a largely outdated textbook… not to mention all the other woeful things schools subject their students to.” Richard Olsen in response to What Digital Revolution?

“Confident and well planned empowerment is the key for me but empowerment of students with technology is so important to many schools to influence the changes in terms of tech integration but more importantly, in terms of pedagogical changes, moving the teacher from being the ‘information dictator’ in the classroom.” Nick Jackson in response to What Digital Revolution?

“Ultimately, students are assessed in VCE exams which test how much content a student can remember. As long as this remains the case, the full engagement of schools in 21st century skills will be slow.” Paul Tozer in response to What Digital Revolution?

“It’s very important to have an online presence and great digital footprint. I am worried when I google someone and find nothing. No evidence of existence online. Warning bells ring. So it’s a must for all our students to realise its. Not an extra identity but part of your identity. Your real identity.” Jenny Ashby in response to Take the Power Back – Steps in Taking Ownership of Our Online Identity

“I have commenced a new practice whereby with every class I teach, for the last lesson of every term, I provide a brief reading as a prompt and then we spend the entire lesson discussing learning and teaching. The conversation can move from reflecting on expert opinions about learning to the more gritty aspects of how I teach, how they learn, and how we are learning as a group.” Cameron Paterson in response to Sharing Includes Students Too

“As connected learners we are not just curating ideas and resources, we are creating relationships, some are just ‘weak ties’ but others are very meaning, rich and strong. I don’t just read Dean, I hear his voice, I connect to previous things he has said, and I pause just a little longer if he says something I disagree with.” David Truss in response to Learning in a Connected World

“I agree with the point regarding consultation, this is key, particularly with the education board and the parent community as they need to have a voice and input into anything as drastic as 1:1 or BYO technology.” Anthony Speranza in response to 1:1 Devices in School

“Probably my biggest step in becoming connected was when I volunteered my school at the time, to host the first Melbourne Teachmeet. I had been lurking on Twitter for some time, and happened to see a tweet from @MrMitchHughes asking for someone to host a teachmeet. I was intrigued by the idea, however not been one to step easily out of my comfort zone, I decided the only way I would be brave enough to attend was if I volunteered my school.” Margo Edgar in response to How Far We’ve Come

“Never before I think have we been staring at the complexity and mess of learning and the failure of the one-size-fits-all approach to it.” Clarissa Bezerra in response to The Tree – A Metaphor for Learning

“Being abusive, being a troll, that is radical ie extreme. Engaging in a spirited, respectful, rigorous dialogue – that just hones your skills, firms up your views and improves your ability to articulate and justify (or modify) your position.” Alan Thwaites in response to Do You Have To Be Radical To Be A Connected Educator?

“I think the important thing is remembering that we’re all in this to help our students. So we’re all on the same team even when we disagree about the strategies we’re using to achieve what we want. So everything I read, whether it’s a tweet or a blog, I remember that the writer is coming from the same place as me.” Eric Jenson in response to Signals, Noises and Relationships

“You cannot ‘create’ a community but rather, you create the environment in which a community can grow and flourish. This is the value of f2f communication afforded by a physical conference that is supported by the online conversation.” Camilla Elliott in response to Presentations Don’t Make a Conference, People Do

“I hadn’t really thought much about the commenting aspect but was elated, surprised and intrigued after I received my first comment from a teacher from Texas. It essentially awakened me to the possibility of learning with people across the globe. I was able to have conversations both on my blog and on others that interested me and it quickly became a place of learning and has remained the most important element of my professional learning life.” Dean Shareski in response to Being Connected, What is Your Story?

“I’ve been wrestling with whether Twitter is an information stream or a stream of ideas and individuals that I want to learn alongside.  It’s clearly becoming an information stream — and there are pros and cons to that.” Bill Ferriter in response to Leveraging Twitter

“We need to look past the tools and focus on the pedagogy. To hone in on why we are using these tools and how can they improve our practice as educators and students meeting more learning outcomes, more often, with more purpose.” Corrie Barclay in response to Why I Put My Hand Up for #GTASYD and Why I’m Excited

“Teachers have to model themselves unfolding and expanding if they are to expect that of their students.  It’s really hard though as “we” have become so passive/complacent in our ways of approaching teaching/learning and yet at the same time driven to do so much for others.” Maureen Maher in response to Teachers Are Learner Too.

“Problems only make sense within a context. Without that, the scope could be too overwhelming and broad and the skills involved in problem solving would potential be lost.” Catherine Gatt in response to Adding Ambiguity into the Learning Mix

“I ask my students to share the ways they can present their work prior to starting the task. This provides them with the opportunity to try something new and seek assistance from ‘experts’ within the class, if they wish.” Michelle Meracis in response to Surely Presentations Are More Than Just a PowerPoint?

“The collaborative process allowed us to actually practice what we were preaching and that is to give voice to others. There were times were we had different views or takes on the situation but together we worked through to a greater vantage point.” Steve Brophy in response to Learning to Learn by Learning – A Reflection on a Collaborative Project

“I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, innovation will be a natural part of every teacher’s day to day practice.” Richard Olsen in response to Celebrating Innovation, Both Big and Small

“IMHO the lone nut who tightly holds onto the idea without sharing it or letting go is insecure. What if we helped create a more secure environment and a place where sharing ideas is the norm?” Andrea Stringer in response to Whose Idea Is It Anyway?

“Having links and contacts to educators in other parts of the world helps us to lift our minds out of cynicism and back onto why we became educators in the first place.” Dan Leighton in response to #GTASYD 2014 – Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds

“As AR gets better, we’ll have to become smarter at knowing when not to use it. ” Matt Esterman in response to Imaging and Imagining the Past

“We get so caught up in how and what and forget the why. Much of what we do comes down to people, relationships, and heart.” Lisa Meade in response to #WhyITeach and the Answer is Not Technology

“Really meaningful change requires both a collective understanding of purpose and values, and also requires leadership from the top of whatever structure you’re working in.” Cameron Malcher in response to Three Things Learnt from a Finnish Lesson

“I’d love to know if you see any downsides to going Google. I spend so much time thinking about the benefits that I really haven’t thought about the potential problems GAFE might raise. I’m not worried about privacy, but are there any other possible dark sides to GAFE?
What do you think?” Eric Jensen in response to Going GAFE from Scratch

“For the most part, I think that official leadership works best when it is largely invisible, when people just do their jobs well so that people in their organisation can do their jobs the best they can.” Mark O’Meara in response to Can Everyone Be a Meaningful Leader?

“you don’t always need the latest technology, and lots of it, to make a difference and provide great opportunities for students to be innovative and collaborative.” Pam Thomson in response to Looking for a Local Perspective on Blogging

“Too often we are eyes forward, moving at high speed and not often enough do we take the time to look back at our path and celebrate the highs and lows of the journey. Our collaboration was part of a really significant learning growth for us both and most excitingly the start of many more discussions, encounters and projects.” Steve Brophy in response to Uncanny Reflections on a Year Blogging

“Too often we are eyes forward, moving at high speed and not often enough do we take the time to look back at our path and celebrate the highs and lows of the journey. Our collaboration was part of a really significant learning growth for us both and most excitingly the start of many more discussions, encounters and projects.” Jen Moes in response to PLN, a Verb or a Noun?

“Everything is an assessment. Everything the students say (and don’t say), write or do… every question, thought, response or misconception that they express tells us something about where their learning is at. Our role is to watch, listen and observe the learning (more data!) so that we know where to go next to support each learner. (By the time you get to a summative assessment, it’s too late to do anything about it.)” Edna Sackson in response to Goals, Growth and Getting Going in 2015

“There must be a deliberate, well thought out intent and purpose for using this equipment and that links with making the learning meaningful and relevant. Its a bonus when technology is working well and allows us to get to this point more quickly.” Anne van der Graaf in response to 21st Century is More Than Just Technology, But It’s a Big Part of It

“It’s great to know that not only people occasionally take the time to read what I write, but that it also – on occasion – resonates!” Dan Haesler in response to Looking for a Local Perspective on Blogging

“I think that whilst Twitter has so many fantastic benefits, it may not be to everyone’s liking. Me personally, I use Twitter, Google+ and Feedly. However, I find the Melbourne TeachMeets to be most valuable.” Michelle Wong in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I get so much value from reading other people’s work – I try to comment on at least one post each day. The conversations that spring from blog posts and comments are fantastic relationship and connection builders!” Robert Schuetz in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I’m just scratching the surface of heutagogy as a framework (swimming in the wake of Jon’s progress) but it should be an aim of K-12 schooling to have students equipped to be independent and confident learners (most would have it in their school policies somewhere).” Matt Esterman in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Professional development is by it’s nature individual. So choices should be made. Lots of colleagues do not feel comfortable online. I find that colleagues that become friends lead to links on Facebook, meet at Teachmeets and other education events or face to face meetings.” Andy Knill in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“I have a Twitter list called “Face-to-face” for the exact reason that those Tweets somehow mean more to me. It’s funny that this list includes people I have only recorded Google Hangouts with!” Richard Wells in response to Should Every Teacher Really Be On Twitter?

“Why do I blog? I blog because it’s fun, because it’s encouraging that other people find it amusing, and because it’s a great way to connect professionally with people locally and globally. But the real reason I blog? Like my friend @acampbell99 says, it’s strictly selfish.” Royan Lee in response to Blogging Starts with Why

“Many teachers are amazed when they see learners actually take control of their learning — an ability that some would dismiss as not a reasonable expectation to have for young learners. Jon’s experiences at St. Paul’s School in Queensland, Australia are a fabulous example of what can be achieved in the K-12 sector.” Lisa Marie Blaschke in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“We are not there 100% by any stretch. But we are inspired and will keep chipping away at it. One teacher said to me recently – in my new role, I walk a blurry line between feeling I am ‘working hard and hardly working!’” Jon Andrews in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Can I be cheeky and say the I learned you can write wonderfully in less than 100 words?” Celia Coffa in response to Learning Is …

“Those who lead through relationship seek to enrich both their own lives and the lives of their followers, and if they happen to be very skillful manipulators, then they can help us all make great things happen. Skillful manipulation is not a bad thing except when it is devoid of meaningful relationship. Then it can be, and usually is, awful.” Keith Hamon in response to What is Your Why?

“I think it is important not to limit our “guides” only to the people we admire. People who achieve significant things, whether those things are something good or even if they were something evil, did so by using certain skills, thinking, determination, communication methods and so on.” Alan Thwaites in response to What Would You Do? – A Reflection on Questioning

“Why is is that schools deliver 560 hours of English, or 480 hours of Maths, or 520 hours of Science across Years 7 to 10 when only 400 hours is required for each? Maybe even a reframing of terms such as ‘teaching time’ and ‘mandated hours’ to ‘learning time’ and ‘student agency’ could be a great start.” Greg Miller in response to Electives, What is Your Choice?


Often we try to capture or count those in our PLN. However, sometimes it is best to simply reflect on our interactions and go from there. What is amazing is that comments is only one place of connection and I wouldn’t even know where to start with Twitter.

What about you? What is your connected story? What great conversations have you had in the margins of your writing? Feel free to share.


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Aaron Davis

I am an Australian educator supporting schools with the integration of technology and pedagogical innovation. I have an interest in how together we can work to make a better world.

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<span class='p-name'>It Takes a Village …</span> by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

3 thoughts on “It Takes a Village …

  1. Another great read Aaron.
    The evolution of me as a connected teacher is easily seen and rapid.
    I have changed the way I connect as I have become more confident in my digital identity. I have found my PLN as sociologically interesting as educationally valuable.
    As a historically ‘PD critic’ I have found that twitter and similar platforms have taught me to take the bits I like and forget the rest. It has empowered me in face to face PD as well as my PLN.
    Cheers.

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