My Way or the Highway?

In a recent episode of the Design and Play podcast, Dean Pearman and Steve Brophy spoke about the importance of sticking to their core beliefs and values. This means moving on when conflicted. Although this stance is to be applauded, I was left wondering if it were a luxury to actually be able to move on at will? It also had me wondering if perpetuating such a message is missing a trick?

I remember being told by a boss once ‘if you don’t like it here then you can leave’. I respect that, it was his choice and in the end I did leave. My concern though was not necessarily the location, but rather the leadership, the ‘my way or the highway’ mindset.

Maybe I am idealistic or just naive, but a leader cannot directly do the work of change and learning. Instead, they create the conditions for others to prosper. For some, this is putting ticks and balances in place to make sure that everyone is performing. For others it involves the distribution of leadership, development and collective capacity building.

I am always reminded of the story of Geelong Grammar’s adoption of Positive Psychology. It did not involve a few sessions with staff and students, rather it involved all members of school, including those working in administration and maintenance. This was about creating an environment where everyone can flourish.

Another similar program is Leading Teams. At the heart of this is an organisation leading change from the ground on up. This is not because someone above said so, but rather because it was a trademark agreed upon by the people on the ground. This involves trust. I remember Ray McLean recounting early stories of failure required to achieve collective success. However, too often such goal setting sessions become token, ticked off as something done, with people towing the party line, rather than sharing what they truly believe. Here I am reminded of David Culberhouse’s discussion of ‘positive deviance’, where the focus is on identifying the bright spots within an organisation and using their stories and strategies to help drive change.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone leaves in the end. However, wouldn’t it be better if such decisions happened to further opportunity, rather than fix our values? For in the end, it takes a village and surely that involves compromise. As always, comments welcome.


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Obstacles Associated with Blogging

Kathleen Morris recently put out a poll investigating the obstacles associated with blogging. Although I added my vote for time, I felt it was worth following up with some of the challenges and the reasons associated with each. To begin with, I will focus on personal blogging.

Personal Obstacles

  • Time and Motivation: I agree with Seth Godin that the question of time is often about priority, but I also think that it can come down to motivation. When I look at twenty plus ideas that I have waiting to be developed. I wonder if what I am saying needs to be.
  • Perception: A part of working out what to say is considering how what I write may be perceived. Some speak of branding, but I think that it is about trust. I remember being told about a teacher who had to have everything that they posted vetted by their organisation. Clearly that is an extreme, but it is something to be mindful of and the ramifications that it may have.
  • What to Say: Some like Godin argue that it is important to ‘just ship‘. However, rich ideas take time and effort. Like Tom Waits, I often prefer to leave my posts ‘in the shed’, starting them and letting them progressively grow and mature. Interestingly, I listened to a podcast recently featuring Clive Thompson where he spoke about taking at least three months to craft a long form essay. I think that there is something worth celebrating with this and it may be better considered as a personal preference, rather than an obstacle.

Obstacles in the Classroom

As I have reflected elsewhere, I think blogging in the classroom provokes a different set of obstacles to personal blogging:

  • Developing a Habit: Many teachers turn to blogs (and other such spaces) expecting instant change. The problem is that there are often habits that need to be developed, such as regular reflection or sharing with a wider audience. For example, it may be useful to start with a physical journal or portfolio before turning to the digital solution.
  • Another Thing: In addition to developing habits, blogs risk being treated as ‘another thing’ to consider within an already crowded curriculum. The challenge is to see blogging as a development on what is often a part of every classroom, that is sharing and critiquing information and ideas. Rather than handing work into a teacher, publishing it on a blogger opens a learner up to the potential of a wider audience.
  • Fear: One of the problems associated with publishing work is the fear that sharing something publicly risks it being misconstrued. Clive Thompson argues that going from an audience of zero to an audience of ten is so big that it’s huger than going from ten to ten million. To alleviate this concern, I recommend starting within a closed community, such as all the students within a class or a year level and building from there.

In the end, when investigating obstacles, each platform will have their own set of solutions, with some being more obvious than others. So what about you? What are your obstacles? As always, comments welcome.


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Getting Critical about Collaboration

I recently came across the following statement from Martin McGuran:

Technology allows global classroom connections and collaboration BUT the majority of teachers are not taking the plunge. Why? They don’t know how to.

This comment left me wondering, what is it that teachers ‘don’t know’ how to do? Is there something different about collaborating with students as opposed to other educators? What does it mean to collaborate? Is it about tools? Is it about space and environment? Is it about perspectives? Or is it about pedagogy?

Using Doug Belshaw’s eight elements of digital literacies as a guide, it feels McGuran’s focus is on the cognitive, the tools and the processes involved. What feels overlooked is a critical discussion around the conditions required when collaborating. Here then are three other aspects to be considered in regards to communication and collaboration.

Can Everyone Collaborate

It can be easy to encourage everyone to get connect online and complete the circle. However, this overlooks the reality that not everyone is able to openly engage online. This is a point that Chris Wejr makes in regards to educators who for a range of reasons cannot share who they are online. Coming from the perspective of culture, Bali touches on the ignorance of culture and difference online, while danah boyd discusses the challenges associated with gender in regards to all things EdTech. For Graham Martin-Brown one of the problems is that different perspectives are often stymied. Although those like Michael Fullen preach the positives of collective efficacy and professional capital, this is often countered or corrupted by an inadvertent culture of competition produced by a grab for students and results, especially amongst secondary schools. On top of all this, Bill Fitzgerald touches on the inadvertent data and information captured as a part of being online.

Appropriate Attribution

The global collaboration McGuran touches upon is often built upon a culture of sharing. Whether it be sourcing images via Flickr or building upon a project posted on GitHub, there are many spaces dedicated to building on the ideas of others. The problem is that such generosity can come at a cost. Although Alan Levine encourages attribution by default, Maha Bali highlights that this is not always enough. Deb Netolicky in her own reflection wonders if using work without attribution is morally corrupt. Whatever the point of view, there is always a risk to hospitality.

Purpose or Process

David Weinberger argues that the smartest person in the room is the room. The problem is that simply being in the room is not enough. Sometimes the purpose and intent is not always clear. Other times, as Gary Stager highlights, there simply is no need. As Mike Caulfield points, the key is not the technology, but how it is used. An example of this is the DigiPo project. When I think about my collaboration with Steve Brophy, we started with a why. Although it could have been done individually, together we refined our thinking and created something unique.


I recognise that technology has a part to play in regards to communication and collaboration. Surely though this is only one part?

So what about you? Have you had any experiences of collaboration? As always, comments welcome.


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Daily Habits

Steve Brophy has been digging into the art of deliberate habits lately, whether it be having a clear morning routine, 750 word and setting up his workspace to nullify distraction. During the recent episode of Design and Play he posed the question:

What are the daily habits that you do as a learner?

This got me thinking. I have spoken about the process involved in learning and the tools I depend upon, but never thought about the daily activities which help me as a learner.

Combing the Curation

A few years ago, Doug Belshaw wrote a post, ‘Curate or be Curated‘. In it he reflected on the rise of algorithms in curtailing and constraining the content that we consume. Although I do not subscribe to several newspaper subscriptions, I use Feedly which captures posts from over two hundred blogs (see my list here). I will be honest, I used to read everything, now I skim first then check out those pieces that catch my interest – I am human. If the posts are too long I send them to Pocket. I then either save them to Diigo or capture specific aspects in a Wikity card. In addition to this, I have a number of newsletters and summaries that are sent to me via email (this is something I have reflected on elsewhere).

Lurking and Listening

Another habit that I do every day is be actively open to interesting ideas. Curiosity breeds curiosity. In part I pick up some of this perspective from the blogs I read, but I think that it also comes from engaging in the world around. David Culberhouse describes this as spending time at the idea well. This might involve chatting with people at lunch or asking clarifying questions of others. I think that this is why I love professional development sessions and conferences so much. It isn’t always the intended learning opportunities, but the often ‘hidden’ incidental learning at the periphery.

Thoughtfully Thinking

Michael Harris talks about the theory of loose parts, which focuses on the importance of changing environment to foster independent thinking.

Nature is an infinite source of loose parts, whereas the office or the living room, being made by people, is limited.

Where possible I try and to make sure that I get some sort of thinking time each day. A few moments where I stop doing what I am doing and do something different. This might involve going for a walk or listening to music. Warren Berger describes this as ‘Time Out’ in his book A More Beautiful Question. This is something that Pearman and Brophy also touch upon in the podcast. What is important is disrupting the flow of things.


So they are some of habits that I keep. I am not sure that I am as deliberate as Brophy, however they work for me. What it does leave me thinking is how this compares with the learning environment in school? So what about you? What are your habits? As always, comments welcome.


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Starting the Learning Before the Conference

I was recently involved in conversation online in regards to re-imagining the conference experience. There were so many points made, such as:

  • Provide multiple opportunities to practice and experience new skills.
  • Focus on practical techniques and take-aways.
  • Create conditions for collaboration and relationship building.
  • Accelerate ongoing learning and professional dialogue
  • Allow teachers to engage in different elements of choice, action and design.
  • Centre around a transformative statement.

All in all, the focus was on the conference and the time afterwards, yet it left me wondering about the time before and what can be done to start the conversation beforehand?

When I think about sessions I have run, I usually start by doing a temperature check of those in the room. This provides attendees with an opportunity to think about their own context and provides me with an insight.

Even though I consider myself flexible, personalising my presentation dependent on the needs in the room, too often the overall structure is set.

I wonder then if there is a possibility to engage people before the day? Peter DeWitt talks about flipping staff meetings, is there a potential to flip the conference experience? Some conferences encourage presenters to create short videos to fit the constraints of various social media platforms. For example, I made this short video for Digicon last year:

Another alternative to providing people with a taste of what to expect is via a podcast. This is something that both Domains17 and Digicon have done lately. Recording interviews with various keynotes and guest presenters. However, these creations usually focus on promotion. (Although I must say, the interviews for Domains17 were quite informative.)

Based on the fact that conferences usually have a cut-off date to accepting people, what if attendees were sent some sort of correspondence containing some sort of provocation, such as a video or a short podcast, as well as a questionnaire to start the dialogue?

Fine we plan with a problem in mind, but to truly develop any understanding of the ‘archetypal customer’ there needs to be some sort of data and feedback. I recognise that this would be a change from the way things are done now, that not everyone will respond, but wouldn’t a few responses be better than we have now, which is no response at all?

Building on Ewan McIntosh’s idea of a pre-mortem,

A period of safe reflection to consider all the potential causes for the future death of our idea and give us a chance to take some preventative measures to alter our ideas, and make them more likely to thrive in the real world.

Asking questions before the conference allows a kind of pretotyping, where the focus can be on the right ‘it’.

In regards to those conferences where attendees vote with their feet, then this dialogue could simply be around a transformational statement that drives the conference. A summary of this information could then be provided to the presenters.

In Thomas Guskey’s evaluation of professional development, he provides five critical levels:

  1. Participants’ Reaction
  2. Participants’ Learning
  3. Organisation Support and Change
  4. Participants Use of New Knowledge and Skills
  5. Student Learning Outcomes

Starting the conversation earlier provides an opportunity for participants to identify their own desired outcomes beforehand. In many respects, this process can go beyond conferences and has the potential to develop professional development at all levels. See for example the way in which the #educoachOC chat team provide a post before each chat as a means of starting the conversation before the chat.

So what about you? What strategies have you used to engage learners early to help guide the process? Where do you see this process being a problem? As always, comments welcome.


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REVIEW: The Global Education Race

I remember when I was studying my Bachelor of Arts I would often start a deep dive into new and unfamiliar subjects with one of Oxford’s A Very Short Introduction books. Short texts, they are often designed to provide a start to much more complicated topics. They offer a foundation for further investigation. This is what is provided by Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski in their book, The Global Education Race, Taking the Measure of PISA and International Testing.
Designed to generate a wider conversation around OECD’s , The Global Education Race is about a better tomorrow. Neither an anti-testing manifesto, nor a champion of standardised testing as a solution to all of education’s perceived failure, the authors argue for a critical engagement with testing that aims to:

 (1) help improve the quality of data generated about education systems and
(2) support the use of data in valid ways that may improve educational outcomes for all students.

The book covers the media myth making machine, how rankings work, the way the test is administered, the problems with causation and correlation, the idea of validating claims and the politics of science and data.

The Global Education Race is a book every educator should read. In a time when education funding and support is so hotly debated, the book helps build the capacity for the wider public to engage in one of the most popular data sets used when developing policy. For unless we appreciate the context and intent associated with PISA, we risk being sucked in by the hype and headlines … Or better yet, an invalidated edu-holiday.


David Rutkowski has also been interviewed on the TER Podcast, providing a useful starting point.


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New (Zealand) Experiences

Having just returned from the New Zealand, I was left with more questions than answers. Whether it be at Google Teacher Academy, Leading a Digital School conference or simply online, I have engaged with a number of New Zealand educators. I have been an avid reader of blogs from people such as Steve Mouldey, Juliet Revell, Richard Wells and Claire Amos, while Wells’ book provides a fantastic glimpse into some of the transformations that have occurred there. I was therefore intrigued to get a glimpse for myself. Here then are five thoughts I was left with based on my experiences:

  • AUTONOMY: The curriculum is built around a clear set of values, five key competencies and learning eight learning areas. Richard Wells captures this in a graphic. The support documents provide the ingredients, but leave schools to develop their own narrative. This freedom and flexibility provides a sense of autonomy for schools to respond to their own context and community. This means fluid learning communities, co-teaching and various inquiry-based pedagogies. Steve Mouldey provides a great insight into this, while Richard Wells has written a series of posts demonstrating ways of making learning more student centred.
  • COLLABORATION: Alongside choice, there is a focus on fostering the conditions to work collaboratively within clusters. For some this includes meeting between schools to moderate, while others provide connectivity to the community. These approaches are supported by initiatives and organisations such as, Mind Labs. CORE Education and the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning.
  • CULTURE: From the first step into Auckland Airport, the prominence of Maori culture is clear. As an outside, it feels as if Maori culture is at the heart of New Zealand culture. From a dedicated television station, dual signs and descriptions, various forms of customary greetings, and regular reference to art and tradition, the difference to Australian is noticeable. Where it stands out from an education point of view is the use of the Maori language to encapsulate values and attributes. I wonder if one aspect which makes this possible is the presence of a unified living language? Or if it all comes back to the Treaty of Waitangi? Although in Australia there is the Welcome to Country and attempt to recognise the local people of each region, this seems to fall short of the place that Maori culture has in New Zealand.
  • RESOURCES: One argument often made to why Finland is so successful is the amount of time teachers have out of the classroom to plan and prepare. For New Zealand it is the opposite. For example, primary teachers only get ten hours release a term and for some this includes a whole day release which often chews up half of this time. This reminds me of a point that George Couros makes in the Innovator’s Mindset around creative budgeting. Couros talks about the way in which Brad Gustafson makes a line intone budget for innovative projects. A side note to resourcing is the place of community partnerships. I stayed in one town where the local public school had all of the companies that support the school listed on the fence. There seems to be a different relationship between outside organisations and schools, although it was not clear as to how far this went.
  • TRANSFORMATION: It can be easy to read an account or watch a an example from a few years ago and think that is the way it has always been and continues to be. However, what worked yesterday may not be what works today. Some of the New Zealand schools which had been been held up as showcases, demonstrating fluid and visible practices, have continued to evolve and iterate. They take what works and refine what could be better. Interestingly, this is similar to the Finnish story. It can be easy to read Pasi Sahlberg’s account and think that is the way things are. However, even Finland – seemingly at the top of the world – knows that to stand still is to go backwards.

At the start I said I was left with more questions, than answers. Some of the things that I was left wondering was what the future had to offer? The government is looking to increase funding for independent schools. Some schools still choosing to reinstate rather than redefine the status quo. Teachers supported but not necessarily in regards to time. The world is becoming more and more multinational/multicultural. It will be interesting to see where this all goes. For some this makes it an incredibly hard time to be involved with education, but I would argue that it simply makes it even more important to continue to fight for what Gert Biesta describes as a ‘good education’.

Thanks must be given to me wife who supported writing this by adding her thoughts and perspectives. If you have something else to add, as always comments welcome.


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Towards Collective Innovation

As I sat listening to Jamie Casep field questions at Auckland Summit about the Google Certified Innovator program I felt challenged. Here was me, a supposed ‘innovator’, how was I still pushing to the moon? Where was I at?

I received an email a few months ago notifying me that to maintain my status I would need to update a registry about where I was at. As I looked back at my moonshot from GTASYD14, I felt like an abject failure.

How Might We ENGAGE PARENTS in a CULTURAL SHIFT to make RELATIONSHIPS and CONNECTIONS the focus of learning?

I had dreamed of involving parents in learning, yet beyond creating a school blog (eBox) and taking a keen interest in (parent) data, I had not really gotten anywhere. In addition to this, I had since moved positions and felt even further away from success.

I asked a few other GCI’s and they too were a bit stuck about what I might legitimately put down as my current project. One mentioned my newsletter, however I felt that focused too much on the tool and not enough on the change. Another discussed my role in regards to developing communities of practice. Again that was useful, but not necessarily concrete. I was also asked about my latest creation in starting a Wikity site. This led me to wonder what it was that each of these things maybe trying to get at?

My thoughts led me to something that Steve Brophy discussed in our collaboration a few years back, the idea of “being the connection that gives others a voice.” I was also moved by a recent post from Andrea Stringer on developing collective efficacy. With this in mind I revisited my How Might I question.

How Might We

“How Might We” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I wondered if instead of solely focusing on parents, whether my true intent was about extending ways of giving all involved in education a voice. Whether I already had done so or did it now, I pivoted, looked at my aims and reassessed. Eric Ries might describe it as zooming-out:

Sometimes a single feature is insufficient to support a whole product. In this type of pivot, what was considered the whole product becomes a single feature of a much larger product.

My first step was to list the different projects and activities that I do that came under this banner:

  • Create a monthly newsletter to provide a curated list of resources for educators
  • Lead the learning through my own open actions as a blogger
  • Explore innovative ways of giving voice, whether it be dual-post, engaging with various indie-web ideas, fostering communities of practice or developing an extensive blog roll.
  • Reflect on the features and affordances of various platforms and practices to help others develop a more informed decision around their online presence.
  • Support other ideas and action where applicable by encouraging connections, whether it be listening as a coach, providing a comment to extend a discussion or sharing a resource to generate conversation.

With this done, I set about assessing my statement. Rather than focusing solely on parents, my focus would be on all the voices within education, and rather than a particular focus on bringing teachers into the classroom my focus would be about supporting active voices in education. Maybe it would read like this:

How Might I SUPPORT ALL STAKEHOLDERS IN EDUCATION in HAVING A MORE ACTIVE VOICE with what is HAPPENING TODAY?

Not completely sure that is it, maybe you have a suggestion on the wording or the focus, but rather than sitting on it I am going to ship it, hoping that you might be able to help me by giving your perspective? As always, comments welcome.


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REVIEW: Any Given Team

Any Given Team documents Ray McLean’s journey from teacher, to air force instructor, to leadership consultant. Rather than provide an instruction manual, unpacking the art of leading a team step-by-step, McLean uses various stories to explain the origins and elaborations associated with Leading Teams. Besides being a more compelling means of capturing the full picture, it is also at the heart of the move from instruction to facilitation is at the heart of McLean’s work.

With origins in developing a team of leaders within an elite group in the air force to resurrecting a failing football club, McLean’s initial focus was on supporting teams to develop a trademark to stand by, what he labelled as the ‘Performance Improvement Program’. From these core values, behaviours are identified to drive development and regular group feedback is used to guide this. As he explains,

Take any given team, find out what kind of team it really wants to be, give them some work to do and then afterwards help them talk honestly in their own language about how one another’s behaviour matched up with that team they said they wanted to be; repeat the process, each time trying to do a little better than the last.

Although Leading Teams has become synonymous for its peer review sessions where the team members openly question each other, what is often overlooked is the dependence on an agreed sense of purpose. This focus on values soon expanded to supporting individual athletes in the personal art of leadership. This involved developing their communication skills and connecting them with various community programs to support their place as role models. In addition to this, PIP expanded into business and education.

An idea that comes up again and again is the importance of trust. Although setting rules may seem like an answer, it does not help for transforming actions and behaviours. A point made time and again by Alfie Kohn. This reminded me of Paul Browning’s work on trust and leadership. For McLean, the initial changes to any team is trust, honesty and accountability. The problem is that without this starting point, you only ever have a group of individuals. A key to this change is developing as many leaders across the team as possible, something that Alma Harris discusses in her own work on distributed leadership.

Another point pertinent to the whole program is the place of behaviours. For McLean, performance is a combination of attitudes, habits, beliefs and expectations. So often though the only measurement to go by are our actions. Whether it be our preparation, getting a task down or supporting a colleague, each of these actions are a measurement to a commitment to the agreed trademark and the team.

One of the odd things about the book is the seemingly inadvertent focus on men. Whether it be the air force, numerous sporting clubs or business, it always seems to involve men. This is interesting because my personal experience of Leading Teams was facilitated by a female consultant. I wonder if this is merely a reflection of society and the wider gender divide?

Another question I was left with is where culture starts and stops? Reading the discussions about the St. Kilda Football Club I was reminded of the incident a few years back involving Stephen Milne and Leigh Montagna. It leaves me wondering where that sat with the club trademark and culture. Would this happen at a club like Sydney where ‘the bloods’ permeates all aspects of the team, on and off the field? Is there a line you step over which belongs outside of the club? How much should individuals be expected to adapt their lives to fit the team? Milne and Montagna’s actions would have impacted the culture of the club at the time?

My two personal takeaways from the book are: leaderships begins with knowing yourself and having some agreed ‘trademark’ is essential for any team to work together. McLean suggests that, “the best that we can do is manage ourselves properly”. This reminds me of a comment by Voltaire that “common sense is not common.” Managing ourselves ‘properly’ then is something that takes considerable time and effort. Curt Rees’ starting point is auto-ethnography and knowing who we are. While the idea of a trademark reminds me of Simon Sinek’s argument to always ‘Start with Why’. For Sinek, the why always influences what you do and how you go about it. It is for this reason that McLean asserts,

If we can develop an environment where each player has a vested interest in the development of his teammates, and people are driving themselves individually and collectively towards the team they want to be, the team’s performance will improve and continue to improve.

Brad Gustafson also discusses the importance of values and having a trademark in his book Renegade Leadership. His strategy is to pin his school’s transformational tenets near his phone and workstation so that any time he is on the phone to somebody or writing an email he is reminded of these values.

So what about you? What experiences have you had regarding leadership within team situations? As always, comments welcome.


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More Reflections on the Voices in the Village

Bill Ferriter recently wrote about a return to commenting. I have written a bit about commenting before, both the way the difference nuances, as well as the possibility that not everyone needs to comment. One activity that I have done over the last few years is look back on the year in regards to the comments and the perspectives that is brought to my work. It can be uncanny looking back at the year that was and provides a different form of reflection.

Below then is a summary of the comments that I received in 2016. For those whose words they are, thank you. For those that I may have missed, sorry.


While Reggio helps us to “reimagine questioning, thinking, and learning in the classroom”, it also helps us to reimagine approaches to student assessment, teacher professional learning, and relationships in the classroom. “Listening must be the basis of the learning relationship that teachers seek to form with students” (Ritchhart et al, Making Thinking Visible)

Cameron Paterson in response to Balancing Between Inspiration and Achievement in the Search for New Ideas


I certainly don’t see the “alternative” to inspiration being purposeful. In fact, in being inspired, aren’t we often spurred into purposeful action to achieving a meaningful outcome? Inspiration which is fleeting and withers on the vine perhaps wasn’t inspiration at all.

Ian Guest in response to Balancing Between Inspiration and Achievement in the Search for New Ideas


That constraint — having almost nothing in terms of functional technology at my disposal — has made me MORE careful and selective and reflective about every tool that I embrace and every project that we tackle. That means much of the #edtech work that I’ve done has been quality stuff with a strong instructional purpose. That’s not because I’m a better teacher — it’s because I’m a teacher who HAS to think carefully about what we are doing with digital tools because accessing digital tools has always required a small miracle and tons of advanced planning.

Bill Ferriter in response to Going Beyond 1:1 Devices


If you’re developing your online profile to connect with others than my belief is you should use a photo of yourself rather than an avatar and if possible your name. Your personal learning networks wants to connect with you as a person. The more able they are to easily visualize who you are the easier it is for them to connect.

Sue Waters in response to #WalkMyWorld #LE1 – Where I Begin


Selfishly speaking, I would like to be able to see the “real” you. Conversely, I’m able to spot your avatar quickly and easily. I might skim right past your tweets if they were garnered with something other than the bearded, colorful face.

Robert Schuetz in response to #WalkMyWorld #LE1 – Where I Begin


How does anyone refocus their attention on pedagogy? I’d suggest the best way is just getting in there and doing it. I very much doubt any educator that isn’t trying to bring code to their students will discover (presumably purely intellectually) that pedagogically it is the best thing to do.

Richard Olsen in response to Coding


Maybe the bland overused word ‘effective’ teacher is actually more representative of a ‘great’ teacher. Empathy, connection, acceptance and focus on the individual in a supported community of teachers and learners. A teacher need not to ‘be great’ to recognise and support and inspire ‘greatness’ in others.

Julie Stark in response to Are Great Teachers Bad Teachers?


In our modern, web connected world, teachers with authentic expertise are just a click away. Greatness then, is in the eye of the learner. It is through investigation, and analysis that we identify quality, or greatness. Maybe it’s time to create a new word since “greatness” tends to get thrown around easily these days.

Robert Schuetz in response to Are Great Teachers Bad Teachers?


We ask families to pay a significant amount for devices while there is still considerable debate about whether or not they have any appreciable impact. I believe that we shouldn’t ask students to do meaningful tasks, do good research, high level analysis and accurate simulations without giving them the tools to do this. Imagine trying to analyse the PISA data, for example, without using a computer. However, I also know it’s not enough to just say “I believe”. We need more than that to justify the cost to families of 1:1.

Eric Jensen in response to Know Thy Digital Impact – A Reflection on Digital Research


My processes are far from perfect and always evolving. Transparency is the most important aspect of all this; sharing resources and making my learning visible. People who visit my blog can also follow my digital footprints

Robert Schuetz in response to Three Lessons Learnt from Using Social Bookmarking


You are suggesting a far more edgy approach to education, one which caters for students by listening to them and working with business in a way which prepares our students for the real world which awaits them. It will be great when mainstream schooling value prototyping more than NAPLAN.

Greg Miller in response to A Lean Education


I see comments as a way to show appreciation, to ask questions, and to dive deeper into the topic. In school, I’ve helped students write constructive, contributing comments. An amazing transformation takes place as they become more civil and conscientious with their face-to-face interactions.

Robert Schuetz in response to What Makes a Comment?


I think that I have become pickier with the posts that I read. Some are too long, some are the same old chestnut expressed slightly differently. I like posts that make me think again, learn something new like this one or that help me understand someone else’s world view. There are some blogs that I no longer bother to read right through if the first paragraph doesn’t interest me. Is this laziness or discernment?

Anna Del Conte in response to What Makes a Comment?


I used to try and play around with themes and plugins but seeing most of my very few readers probably get my infrequent posts via RSS, the blog is just an occasional use venue for me. It is still nice to have an online space of one’s own – Twitter is more like going to the pub these days.

Graham Wegner in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches


Tools will come and go, what occupies my thinking is every learner having their own web domain to share learning transparently. Also, how does the audience effect impact our learning? What innovative strategies can be employed on a blogging platform; documenting competencies, reflection journal, professional portfolio?

Robert Schuetz in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches


I used to have a Posterous blog, and it was so easy that i didn’t even realise I was blogging. I really miss that platform and have yet to find anything to replace it.

Eric Jensen in response to A Guide to Blogging Platforms and their Niches


I have bits of me all over the interwebs and, for a while, I tried to keep it all together and was trying to force it to fit in one space. I really don’t need to – the different bits live wherever they do for a reason and can continue to live there quite happily. I also like the fact that, although I have links to my ‘other selves’ on each of the blogs/websites/spaces I have, I still have very different audiences who aren’t really interested in the other bits, just the one they went to originally. I’ve seen some blogs that try to be everything at once and I find they are too much for me to deal with so I try to emulate what I would want to read.

Gill Light in response to A Blog For All Seasons


Don’t be afraid to push against the norm – just because some document says it should be done that way (or always has), it doesn’t mean that is the best way forward and one voice can be enough to start that change. It took me years to learn that – that questioning the status quo and asking ‘why’ doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being difficult but it can start a worthwhile conversation.

Gill Light in response to Letter from the Future


One characteristic of blogging is semi-regular blogging about blogging. One pillar for me that is old but I came across more recently it Dave Winer’s description of blogging as the unedited voice of a person. The other has always been Cory Doctorow’s My Blog My Outboard Brain (2002!). Also from a recent blog conversation with Laura Gogia on the concept of audience, but also, she makes a great case for writing in public.

Alan Levine in response to Developing a Blog


The evolution I have seen in your blogs has prompted my evolution. I try to add substance through quotes and research data. I have become better about applying attribution to media. I have toned down the visual as to not drown out the words. I am writing more, but publishing less, often combining ideas into single posts.

Robert Schuetz in response to Developing a Blog


I hook up pinboard to twitter as a way of harvesting links from my tweets, retweets and likes. Tidy up on pinboard later. Like you I’ve only occasionally dipped into hashtag chats, I am not sure twitter is the best medium for this or long chains, there tends to be a lot of circularity & repetition.

John Johnson in response to A Personal Twitter Tour


Possibly the reason why people do not share is that they are a bit over being used by conferences. They are happy enough to share their work, but hate conferences making money out of their hard work. Then some like Digicon actually charge you to attend when you are presenting. That is a bit harsh. Without the presenters, conference would be boring, but do they get enough in return? They may just feel that they need to keep their material theirs to use in a printed publication where they may pick up $50 or on their own blog where they get a bit of credit for it.

Not Speaking at Digicon in response to Can You Share the Link, Please


So often when we talk about participation, we ARE consumed by tech. We need to make tech invisible.

Simon Keily in response to Read, Think, Participate


My 2 cents re: your questions – the issue of disclosure is that if you feel you “might” need to disclose something, then it’s probably something you should do.

Dan Haesler in response to How Are You Disclosing?


Probably a good idea for every student to get the opportunity to write code, but not sure we need to make it writing. I prefer thinking of it as part of making digital stuff and the main reason to do it could be for fun? I like the idea of ‘just making’ (it certainly give me a lot of fun).

John Johnson in response to Coding, Literacy and the 21st Century


I’d be interested to know if and how the learning design changes as learners transition from linking to lurking to …

Richard Olsen in response to Defining a Community of Practice


In my teaching, one watershed moment was the purchase of a book on BASIC programming by David Lien. It lead me to purchase a TRS-80 computer. That purchase was followed by getting some TRS-80s into my junior high…and eventually I was a computer geek instead of a science teacher. It lead to being secretary of the Massachusetts Computer Using Educators for 20 years. It lead to finding Linux and doing web pages and…watershed, indeed.

Algot Runeman in response to Watershed Moments of Learning


My watershed moment was at a George Couros workshop on learning how to Blog and Tweet. I now follow other educators blogs, and by connecting with them I have connected my students and up-skilled them in creating a positive online presence. This led to my next watershed moment in a collaboration with Ann Michaelsen. I am now in a leadership position and teach my colleagues how to set up their class blogs. An exciting journey that started with learning how to blog.

Ann Rooney in response to Watershed Moments of Learning


It seems to me that building trust depends heavily on the connections we already have and bring to these online learning experiences. Some people act as ‘gatekeepers’ between the conversations on different platforms, and if these ‘gatekeepers’ are not there, people might struggle to make sense of the different aspects of a topic under discussion, and might get lost (i.e. drop out / disconnect) in the end.

Martina Emke in response to Building Trust in Online Communities


  1. The operation of connections is a material as well a social matter – and algorithms may be influencing gatekeeper perceptions and practices.
  2. Gatekeepers can bring people in and (perhaps unknowingly) keep people out. Gatekeepers can be people and tech.

Frances Bell in response to Building Trust in Online Communities


I’ve been thinking a lot about the similarities and differences between these events recently (as Maha, Kevin and I were presenting at ALT-C this week). What stands out for me is how much I trust all of you – and maybe you’re right that it’s because we share so much of ourselves that is personal. Authenticity? Not sure how to characterise all of this but I do know that it’s the richest set of experiences I’ve ever had.

Sarah Honeychurch in response to Building Trust in Online Communities


Rather than designing in trust-building activities, perhaps it’s more appropriate to create an environment within which trust can develop, in whatever ways those who need it might benefit?

Ian Guest in response to Building Trust in Online Communities


Blogging deepens my learning, widens my perspective, and crystallizes my thinking through transparent reflection. Selfishly, blogging helps me be a better learner. Becoming a better learner – that’s why all educators should be connecting and sharing. Blogging is just one, albeit excellent, way of documenting and sharing our learning with others.

Robert Schuetz in response to So Everyone Has a Blog, Now What?


My favourite definition of a servant leader: “It’s not all about me”.

Paul Browning in response to Luke Beveridge and the Decisions of a Servant Leader


I was aware of the different leadership metaphors but hadn’t really engaged with the reality of their application much. My friends and colleagues at GCI have done a fair bit of work with Mark McKergow on Solutions Focus approaches to coaching, and more recently on Host Leadership. I think that this metaphor adds something really interesting and helpful to the conundrum of leadership style.

Chris Munro in response to Luke Beveridge and the Decisions of a Servant Leader


BreakoutEDU appeals to the active, collaborative learning many students, and adults, prefer. I agree that assessing the process through reflection is key to advancing learning. Another aspect of BreakoutEDU that consistently impresses me is escaping, or successfully arriving at a solution, always requires divergent perspectives. Critics can shoot holes in Gardner’s learning styles theory, but successful team members always comment about how different “styles” helped them overcome obstacles. I like to think BreakoutEDU mirrors “real-life” challenges that divergent global perspectives can solve.

Robert Schuetz in response to Breaking Out Collaborative Problem Solving in the Classroom


First step is recognizing the problem and deciding to act, first step in acting as an ally is to listen well.

Maha Bali مها بالي in  response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?


Ancient Elephant but if we keep pointing it out small steps made.

Naomi Barnes in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?


If all leadership ‘gurus’, keynotes, role models are white males, how does that shape us?

Corinne Campbell in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?


Education seems to be the opposite to many workplaces. Ive been the only male in a number of schools. All my principals and APs until now have been women. Sexism is rife in the staff room. ‘Oh you’re a male’, ‘Oh you’re guaranteed a job’, ‘We need you to unclog the toilet’,  ‘MC this event’, ‘Move this furniture’…

A Man in response to Is Gender an Elephant in the (Education) Room?


When I am wearing my coaching hat, I typically assist learners with creating a curation system, a processing / reflection plan, and a contribution (sharing) process. Once they have a process, or workflow, in mind, then we start discussing tools / web places that will support their process. I view digital executive functioning (gathering, filtering, and sharing) as a critical piece for the modern learner.

Robert Schuetz in response to Filtering Knowledge and Information Beyond Twitter


It appears that you felt in some ways pulled in different directions; torn between being yourself and fulfilling the needs of the post/role, however they might be interpreted. I wonder if it’s in any way similar to the different obligations one has when moving into school roles which carry additional responsibility?

Ian Guest in response to A #RoCur Reflection


I don’t think of myself as a writer, but a blogger. That means, I think, I don’t worry so much.

John Johnston in response to My Secret Art of Blogging


Our assignments need to provide the opportunity for each learner to determine what the tool can do for them, personally. It isn’t enough to show them the things we know the tool can do. An educator must design (at least some) assignments to let each learner find the unexpected uses of the tool. It is the serendipity arising from the students’ uses which needs to be intentional.

Algot Runeman in response to Breaking the EdTech Machine


I wonder what education will be like in 10 years? Homework, standardised testing, accreditation, university entrance requirements…will we be having the same conversations? Does our collective dedication and passion for learning and education make a difference? Sorry-more questions than answers!

Andrea Stringer in response to Do Great Teachers Make a Great School?


I think as teachers we are accountable for our students being given the greatest chance of falling in love with learning but it doesn’t all come back to us. Sometimes our students are determined to share their anger around and no matter what we try to put in place, it will not stop them from attempting to destroy the learning environment for themselves and others. We don’t stop trying but we mustn’t beat ourselves or others up for often failing either.

Anna Del Conte in response to Do Great Teachers Make a Great School?


In 2017 I have suggested our school explore paradigms and theories of knowledge. Strip back to basics, expose beliefs.

Simon Keily in response to What or How – Which Would You Choose?


We are not necessarily in control of our circumstances but we are in control of how we respond to them. The attitude we carry with us affects all around us. We can’t always avoid negative people but we can do our best not to let them get to us.

Anna Del Conte in response to What or How – Which Would You Choose?


So they were the voices that made a difference to me last year. What about you? Who were the voices in your village that changed the way you thought last year? As always, comments welcome.


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