Comments are the power of the village

What does it mean to be caring in online spaces and how is this related to sharing?


I recently came across a message on a blog that stated ‘sharing is caring’. This was placed next to buttons for the various social media silos. This had me stop and think. Is this this in fact a lie we have been sold? I have spoken before about paying ideas forward and feeding back into the stream, but I wonder, are there means of caring that do not involve sharing into somebody else’s backyard? This then involves stopping to reflect on two questions: what does it mean to share and care?

Sharing

I love to share. It was one of the things that really drew me to Twitter and then blogging. It offered the ability to post short snippets, telling a story over time. This though touches on the first consideration, what should we share?

I often share quotes, visual creations and links. In the past, this was straight to Twitter. However, over time this seems to have become about something else. Although I was backing up my Tweets, my contributions seemed conflicted.

Recently, I have taken to posting everything on my second blog – Read Write Collect – and syndicating from there. This often involves capturing a quote or a short reflection. The question I have is, when I share out, whose link do I share? If I share a link to a bookmark or like then it will bring back all the responses using webmentions. However, then the question is about whether I am sharing for the original author or myself? Should I instead by retweeting a tweet from the author or share out the original link? This then leads to the second point of caring.

Caring

I imagine caring can come in many shapes and sizes. When sharing out on social media, I have long made the effort to mention the original author in the post to indicate to them that I care. Sometimes this also involves attaching a graphic or a quote that caught my attention. Although this is good, I wonder if there are better ways to show care?

A step beyond sharing a tweet is posting a comment. I am not sure if it is the effort involved or the process behind it, but I have always valued a comment more than a tweet. In recent times, this has included posting comments from my own site (where applicable) or pasting in.

Another part to this is linking to ideas when I know that they have come from elsewhere. I think this is often overlooked and I really like the latest change to the webmentions plugins that allows you to turn mentions into comments.


Maybe it is just me. Maybe sharing online just works? However, I agree with The Luddbrarian that where we need to start in regards to Facebook and social media in general is ‘expand our imagination’ in this area. I think that this starts by asking questions. What does it mean to be digital? How are we really caring in online space? Does it have to involve sharing? As always, comments welcome.


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Comments are the power of the village

A reflection on the comments on my blog(s) that have pushed my thinking this year


So often at this time of year people publish lists of posts that received the most views, what interests me though is not the number of hits on my site, but the comments that have pushed my thinking. As Robert Schuetz explains,

Comments are like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, the sugary goodness that adds flavor to our day. Comments turn posts into conversations.

For the last two years (2015 and 2016) I have looked back at this sugary goodness. Below then is a summary of the comments that I received in 2017. For those whose words they are, thank you. For those that I may have missed, sorry.


Context is crucial in shaping everything we do.

George Gilchrist in response to There Are Many Parts to Redefining Schools


Idt’s complicated. A topic in isolation can provide focus, yet only in isolation is artificial. Focus should maximise learning.

John Casanova in response to There Are Many Parts to Redefining Schools


I hadn’t really noticed it until now but I do use the Eisenhower Method. In my early career I worked as a clerk in an investment and I kinda flipped this idea around and called it “prioritising based on what tasks have the capacity to cause us the most amount of pain” (but in more colourful language).

Response to Getting Work Done


Glad you like Blood Meridian, and I second the idea that this one will remain indelibly burnt on my imagination. The passage of the horribles is enough to make the hair on my neck stand at attention.

Jim Groom in response to They Kept on Teaching


Switch by Dan & Chip Heath is a great choice, in my opinion. The section on motivate the elephant connects with your quote from S. Sinek above. Take a look at my ThingLink I made after reading Switch.

Dan Gallagher in response to Reading Leadership


Every conference and workshop these days seems to include, and rightfully so, discussions of flexible, engaging, physical learning spaces. We also need to spend time learning more about digital learning spaces. What makes them interactive, engaging, and impactful? You’ve introduced key elements of a new area of study, “modern geography” perhaps?

Robert Schuetz in response to V is for Visuals


Images are a part of today’s culture — so finding ways to create a visual style that resonates with people is a quick and easy way to communicate messages that resonate. In fact, without visuals, I’m not sure that you can really communicate effectively in today’s world. That raises a huge question: What are we doing to teach kids to create provocative visuals?

Bill Ferriter in response to V is for Visuals


I remember Bob Sutton’s books really impacted my work as a principal, most notably Scaling Up Excellence and Good Boss, Bad Boss… along with his other NSF edu-titled book

Lyn Hilt in response to Reading Leadership


I appreciate your response to Couros, whose original post seemed to focused on ’personal branding’ as a way of marketing the self which can close off possibilities for being an active citizen online. The idea that we should have our ’professional purposes’ first in mind when we are online leads to the relative silence of many edtech / innovation gurus on political issues (Audrey Watters has written about this), which is an ironically inauthentic use of social media.

Benjamin Doxtdator in response to Supporting Digital Identities in School


The #edublogsclub series has me wrestling with a deeper question, “do we manipulate our digital learning spaces, or do they manipulate us?” My original intent with digital V/R mapping, thank you Dave White, was to invite social interaction in the pathways of my digital footprints. What it has become is a reflection activity. Where is my education occurring? Why is it in these spaces? How is my map changing over time? Am I driving this, or is it driving me? To what degree are we responsible for our templates? The fact that I don’t know will fuel my next blog post.

Robert Schuetz in response to Supporting Digital Identities in School


The About.me page is static, and in this fast changing environment it might be more useful to consider the role of the online identity for personal and professional purposes. Many young people can not separate what happens online and the reflection of negativity or positivity on their actual identity. We see this though tragedies caused by online bullying. Perhaps the skill of discerning online content about the self is invaluable.

Raegina Taylor in response to Supporting Digital Identities in School


Your post reminded me of a challenge I see every time Couros posts about students having those three aspects of a digital identity: no matter how much we as educators may encourage this, ultimately it is up to the students to make it part of their lives. I have been blogging with my students for some years now, and when it is not a class requirement, they stop posting. I think part of this digital presence that we want students to establish – the ”residency,” as Robert Schuetz said in the recent blog post that led me here – is not always happening where we suggest. I know my students have an online presence – but it\’s on Instagram and Snapchat, not the blogsphere. Perhaps instead of dragging kids on vacation to where we think they should set up shop, we need to start following them to their preferred residences and help them turn those into sturdy, worthy places from which to venture out into the world.

Christina Smith in response to Supporting Digital Identities in School


I think transformation means a transition from one form to another, not a complete exchange. Often I see new ideas and methods taken up with little regard for what went before. That is doomed for failure. As you say, change takes time and commitment, and definitely balance. But schools need to step us into the future, not tie us to the past. Balance with one foot on the past as we stretch forward into the future.

Norah Colvin in response to Generous Orthodoxy and Educational Change


Being mindful of the consequences is so important – and I think that’s a shortcoming of Edtech generally.

Benjamin Doxtdator in response to Breaking the EdTech Machince


Google Sheets has always been an amazingly powerful tool for me but a difficult one to get lots of people to think about outside of simple number operations.

Tom Woodward in response to Tips, Tricks and Sheets


Last year I used forms embedded in a site to have staff sign up for PD sessions, then had a master sheet that pulled in data from the sheets connected to the forms. The master sheet was then embedded on the site along with the sign-up forms, so that people could refer back to see what they’d signed up for and see what others were doing. I’m not sure that anyone used it (they still just rang me to ask. Isn’t it always the way?), but I was very pleased with the elegance of the whole setup.

Eric Jensen in response to Tips, Tricks and Sheets


You have given voice to so many through your blog. So much research and insight goes into each one and the edu community is the beneficiary!

Steve Brophy in response to Towards Collective Innovation


I think as more individuals advance their learning, while sharing and connecting with other learners, the education institution must move forward.

Robert Schuetz in response to Towards Collective Innovation


You mention the use of hashtags in the context of emotions; I never thought about that! Are you saying the hashtags are used here in a similar way to emoticons? To imbue a tweet with a sense of emotion … but perhaps with more subtlety than an emoticon might? If that is the case, why do people feel the need to do that; what’s the gain or payback? And for whom?

Ian Guest in response to Did Someone Say … Hashtags


There is no doubt that I use hashtags for the “tribes” or community purpose. Your post made me think a bit about that, and I came to the realization that that’s almost the only time I use a hashtag. Thank you for your useful analysis. Now I will need to further analyze my own use. Your post makes me think I may be avoiding hashtags.

Algot Runeman in response to Did Someone Say … Hashtags


Portfolios are a cornerstone of authentic assessment. The opportunity for reflection and longitudinal tracking drives personally impactful, transferrable learning; good for students and teachers alike.

Robert Schuetz in response to Picking a Portfolio Platform


This is a helpful typology. The enabler abdicates responsibility while authoritarian limiter allows no freedom. Mentor implies cooperation.

Benjamin Doxtdator in response to What Sort of Teacher Are You?


Is there a missing dimension? Two dimensional interpretations may prove inadequate when describing our learning networks.

Robert Schuetz in response to Making an Online Learning Hub


digciz as hospitality: one with choice: one among many; one with many; one beside many; one from many; one without many. What will I choose as the “one”?

Sheri Edwards in response to Risk of Hospitality


A balance, though, might be worth considering. Use the comments you see and hear to spur your own thoughts. Take a walk while disconnected and mix the sights and sounds of nature around you with those gleaned thoughts of others. Make something new as a result.

Algot Runeman in response to Questions for Cal


I try to notice when I am told something (or read something) I don’t fully understand, and ask questions for clarification or more information. With the world now at our fingertips there is no reason to not know what we want to know.

Norah Colvin in response to Daily Habits


Do the words of Alex Pentland help to explain why collaboration is scant in education?  The ideas of natural law that teach us that humans are basically competing all the time?

Simon Kiely in response to


I would also argue that sometimes teachers who see blogging as ‘another thing’ could do away with some old habits or practices they don’t need anymore.

Kathleen Morris in response to Obstacles Associated with Blogging


Why must it be a choice? I use both for consuming information, the mobile often for acquiring media (images, video, audio). I find most writing cumbersome (sloppy on the tiny keys, and the sheer challenges of copy/paste). One tendency is to make a line between a platform for consumption (mobile) vs creation (a “real” computer), yet that’s suspect. You can certainly create a fair amount of things on a mobile device. To a point.

Alan Levine in response to Death of the Desktop Computer?


I firmly believe that no individual device is the answer for all needs – choosing the right tool for the job, that’s the key.

Heather Bailie in response to Death of the Desktop Computer?


Bosses need to understand there is greater access to information and expertise than ever before. This makes it easier to challenge the voice of authority. Today, meaningful change occurs through crowd-sourcing.

Robert Schuetz in response to My Way or the Highway?


Personal beliefs about leadership are that they are meant to inspire and empower, not be about control and power. Sadly that is not the case in every school.

Steve Brophy in response to My Way or the Highway?


Sometimes the compromise is worth it, other times it’s better to leave and see what new opportunities arise.

Sue O’Connell in response to My Way or the Highway?


Starting PD by immediate upskilling is always my preferred plan. It’s so tempting to just grab the mic though.

Jon Corippo in response to Professional Development, Awesome or Awful?


Often those presenting (like teachers who are being ‘inspected’ as they teach) feel that they need to perform & be visible.

Dr Deborah Netolicky in response to Professional Development, Awesome or Awful?


Not sure I want awe about me or the content (but this needs to be compelling) – I want awe at their own insights through workshop experiences.

Chris Munro in response to Professional Development, Awesome or Awful?


I wonder what the effect would be if PL providers/deliverers (incl academics) would be paid only after the impact of their work is seen?

Matt Esterman in response to Professional Development, Awesome or Awful?


I think there’s a fine line between inspiring an audience, sharing moonshot ideas but not making Ts feel as though those ideas are out of reach for them and their organization. Show what’s possible without frustrating.

Lyn Hilt in response to Professional Development, Awesome or Awful?


The way sheets can pull in and parse info from the web is pretty exciting as is the way the spreadsheet can be made accessible online to other web things.

John Johnston in response to Organising Data with Forms and Sheets


Although I like tinkering and making stuff I also like things that last a long time, a bit of a tug of war in my head.

John Johnston in response to Developing a Writing Workflow


I spent many years advocating blogging in schools – espoused a variety of purposes and clear outcomes. I still advocate for them but I am met with resistance from so many. An opportunity lost in my humble opinion.

Celia Coffa in response to Blogging the Digital Technologies Curriculum


Another path would be to be fancier in Google sheets and write a formula that grabs all the month’s elements with whatever HTML/markdown wrappers you want and then make that sub-page public on the web and set a cron task and php page to grab it every month and create a post.

Robert Schuetz in response to Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance


A big issue is even if we wanted to train entrepreneurs the skill set is not there for teachers to direct 100+ small enterprises.

Lucas Garth in response to Learnification and the Purpose of Education


I feel (and fear) that the silos have answered the “how do I publish this on the internet?” question so effectively, for so many people, that the impetus to learn and make things — as I learned NucleusCMS — almost two decades ago, is all but gone. Discovering content management systems and weblogging, after hand coding a clunky monthly newsletter, was almost magical. I doubt that today’s “publishers” feel anything like the same satisfaction, but I get it again from the IndieWeb.

Jeremy Cherfas in response to My #IndieWeb Reflections


You’re right that the concepts used in the IndieWeb haven’t yet solidified into something that less technical users can grasp. I guess that’s what makes it fun for more technical people to play with, and yet is a frustration for those just looking for something that works.

Malcolm Blaney in response to My #IndieWeb Reflections


Today, the easier pared-down standards that are better and simpler than either of these old and and difficult specs is simply adding Microformat classes to HTML (aka P.O.S.H) to create feeds. Unless one is relying on pre-existing infrastructure like WordPress, building and maintaining RSS feed infrastructure can be difficult at best, and updates almost never occur, particularly for specifications that support new social media related feeds including replies, likes, favorites, reposts, etc. The nice part is that if one knows how to write basic html, then one can create a simple feed by hand without having to learn the mark up or specifics of RSS.

Chris Aldrich in response to Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance


I wouldn’t call it “an alternative way of working on the web”, but as the original way of working on the web. True to the methods of the original web that made all this possible.

Christopher Küttner in response to My #IndieWeb Reflections


The Thermomix as ‘all-in-one’ cooking machine strikes me as an excellent example of assemblage Aaron, perhaps even a learning assemblage. It (and the various configurations), the instructions, the ingredients which go in, the food which comes out, recipes, you, your family, are completely entangled together and assemble differently when one of these actors changes … or a new one becomes involved. An allergy that emerges in a family member would change the assemblage completely. One might argue, well OK, that doesn’t change the Thermomix, but in assemblage thinking, that wouldn’t be the point. The Thermomix is not an isolated performer in the Davis household food prep, it is part of the assemblage. If wheat or dairy products had to be excluded, then the assemblage would shift to accommodate it. One might even say it learned.

Ian Guest in response to Learning Technologies


I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Although our musical tastes differ, like you, I crave the stimulation music provides. I appreciate the algorithms Google music crunches because, with Google’s help, I am constantly expanding and diversifying my playlists. Whether it’s at the gym, in my truck, or in my office, music is part of my divided attention routines. Within the last month, I have made a daily, hour-long commitment to learning how to play guitar, fingerstyle. As a result, my listening focus has shifted to pickers like Mark Knopfler, Lindsey Buckingham, Jerry Reed, and of course, Chet Atkins. I guess I am on a quest to show old dogs can learn new tricks. Thanks for the song suggestions – I’m searching Google Music now!

Robert Schuetz in response The Music of 2017 in Review, or The Year I Discovered Jack Antonoff


I think the line about bending history into a linear narrative is very apt. I always think of Ian Hunter’s work here – the school exists as it does because it is adequate to society’s ed needs.

Greg Thompson in response to Is This the End of School as we Know It?


There is plenty of invented history in education to justify arguments for apparent new-ness, to perpetuate polarisations in debates, and to sell a ‘better way’.

Deb Netolicky in response to Is This the End of School as we Know It?


Of course, technology impacts schools, but much of what schools need to be for kids is irrespective of technology. I favor a 4th option: schools adapt to new circumstances as we find out what works and what does not.

I’m not a big believer in deliberate disruption for the sake of disruption. Schools can be improved, but it’s a mistake to think that every change is evolution. We need to take care if we care about what we end up with.

Audhilly in response to Is This the End of School as we Know It?


it’s important for us to have conversations about our values and beliefs regarding school and learning. If nothing else, it helps establish some common vocabulary in the spirit of change.

Robert Schuetz in response to Why Would You? – Using Questions to Extend Understanding


So they were some of the voices that made a difference to me last year. I must admit that I did not know where to start with my other blog, particularly my conversations with Chris Aldrich. So 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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Dan Gillmor on Indieweb as an alternative

I have been meaning to elaborate on my thoughts on #IndieWeb for a while. Chris Aldrich’s recent post outlining a proposal for a book spurred me to finish jotting down my notes and reflections.


I find #indieweb hard to explain. In part I would describe it as an alternative way of working on the web, a collaborative community and a technical solution. I can’t remember exactly when I first came upon it. I know thought it was associated with the concept of POSSE. It was probably a part of Connected Courses and my move to Reclaim Hosting. Twitter tells me that my initial investigations were associated with Known.

What interested me was the potential to extend and own my presence on the web. Initially, I posted to Flickr from a Known instance and pulled in comments from Twitter and Google+ with the #IndieWeb WordPress Plugin(s).

More recently I have become interested in exploring ‘post kinds’ as I continue to investigate ways that I can better manage my presence on the web. In particular, I like the idea of sending comments from my site, but have yet to either master some of the technical aspects or develop a suitable workflow.

I must admit, I still get lost with some of the mechanics. I wonder sometimes if this is because I am balancing multiple spaces. I would like to better understand how the various platforms and plugins work. For example, what is the difference between Known, Micro.Blogs and WordPress? What does Bridgy do? Are there any limitations to it? For example, can I connect it with more than one space, particularly in regards to Twitter. I also find more solace in reading various reflections, listening to weekly updates and think that the main site has come along way, especially in outlining the different entry points. I think that the addition of a book would be a valuable resource. As always, I am still investigating.

So what about you? Have you had any experiences with the IndieWeb? Do you have any thoughts and comments that you would share with Chris Aldrich?


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How does one celebrate a milestone, such as 300 posts, if not to celebrate the voices that matter most. Those people who have spent the time to stop by and add to the conversation. In the past, I have written posts compiling comments across a year or curated responses to the problem of practice shared out on Twitter, but what interests me is what it means to others to be a part of the village?

After putting put the call out there, these are the responses I got:


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It Takes Confidence

Hearing an early career teacher talk about her aspirations of becoming a principal reassured my optimism for the future of education…only then I heard experienced teachers say something along the lines of ‘can you believe the level of confidence?’ and ‘get through your first five or ten years first’. I have previously encouraged early career teachers to present, only to hear the concern of what others would think. I‘ve blogged about the Tall Poppy syndrome which is familiar to many Australians. On the flipside, I’ve known of early career teachers who believe that after their first year, they’ve ‘got this’. There is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

If we invest in our early career teachers through coaching, could we influence their confidence, while modelling humility? Arrogance in education has no place, but confidence on the other hand, is about trying to improve oneself, which is vital for all teachers and learners. It was inspiring to learn about the tall poppy campaign developed by the Australian Institute of Policy and Science. Young Tall Poppy Science Awards aim to recognise the achievements of Australia’s outstanding young scientific researchers and communicators. It is up to us to encourage, guide and inspire all our colleagues and I for one, would love to turn around the concept of the ‘Tall Poppy’ and make it a positive attribute of all teachers. Just imagine what more we could achieve, if we supported and promoted all our teachers, especially the early career teachers who enter this profession intrinsically motivated and enthusiastic.

Andrea Stringer

@stringer_andrea / Andrea Stringer



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It Takes a PLN

Being a connected educator is essential to all aspects of my teaching life. I cannot imagine being the teacher I am, without my PLN. The idea that ‘it takes a village’ is central in my beliefs of being a connected teacher. Growing and interacting with a PLN allows you to discover new ideas, be challenged and pushes you to grow. My PLN keeps on evolving, and I love the diversity of ideas, opinions and interactions. I strongly believe in the power of being a connected educator, sharing ideas and conversations.

I happened on your blog after connecting with you at GTA Sydney 2014, but it has been our interactions and communication that has allowed me to grow in admiration of what you do. I admire your efforts in writing, sharing and connecting.

Jacques du Toit

@jdtriver / The Teaching River



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It Takes Sharing

I found your blog through Twitter,
and it set my heart aflutter.
So many excellent shared ideas
developed over many years.
Your experiences openly shared with others:
teachers, fathers, kids and mothers,
contribute to our greater good
and spread beyond your neighbourhood.
Thank you so very much
for bothering to keep in touch.
Knowledge enriches all if we freely share
within the village and beyond,
and all the way across the “pond”.
When suffering from a sense of despair,
please remember, we, your followers, care.

I read a lot and usually find inspiration from tweets such as yours. Twitter is like my faculty!

Thank you  for taking the time and initiative to raise the concept of ‘it takes a village’ with me!

Margaret Simkin

@margaretsimkin / Digitalli



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It Takes Spontaneity

That might actually be my best advice to any blogger – don’t overthink it. If an idea crosses my mind I just write it. Sometimes straight to my blog, sometimes to another venue that will get more widely read…but I really value the number of people who blog spontaneously because it makes the blogosphere a more conversational space among whole (read: vulnerable) people.

Maha Bali

@bali_maha / Reflecting Allowed



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It Takes Connections

It takes a village to raise a teacher. Everyone has something to share and everyone has something to learn. We aren’t alone and in a digitally connected age we never should be.

Matt Esterman

@mesterman / My Mind’s Museum



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It Takes Dialogue

I think that this phrase speaks to the complexity of teaching. None of us have all of the answers to the myriad of professional dilemmas that we grapple with, on a number of levels, every day. By connecting online, I’d like to think that we are each sharing our thinking and ideas and drawing on those of others for the benefit of our students. The complexity of teaching stems from the fact that every one of our students are unique, as are the interactions in every one of our classrooms. What works for me might not work for you but what works for me might just nudge your thinking towards something else that works in your context. Reciprocally, by distilling my thoughts into 140 characters, or being discerning about links and resources I share, and sending them out to the world, I invite feedback and dialogue. This shapes and influences the next stage of my own thinking and understanding. We are not going to put the [education] world to rights but we are doing our own small bit for the greater good.

I often ponder how the many years of relative isolation in my early career (I started teaching in 1992) might have been different. How my learning might have been accelerated by exposure to voices beyond the walls of my school and local area. What I do know is that, until my engagement with Twitter (and subsequent graduation to blogging), the breadth of my professional conversations was quite limited. I had my own department within my school supplemented by occasional face to face contact with a wider network of people (most often working in the same subject area as me). These external voices were part of local associations, national bodies and the very occasional conference. All too often though, these fora were about sharing resources and socialising (no problem with that) rather than discussing their application in context. It was not until I had the privilege of working in Initial Teacher Education that I came into more regular contact with a wider range of perspectives on education and some global voices. But even then, dialogue was still limited by hierarchies, opportunities and physical constraints on time and space.

I remember my anxiety at putting out my first tweets. I was cautioned by some peers against sharing too much. Someone might steal your ideas and materials! Thankfully I didn’t see it that way. I reached out to connect and learn.

Now I can’t imagine not being a connected educator. I’m very grateful to be part of the global education village.

And a final footnote: I’m now living and working on the opposite side of the world from where my career began but more connected than ever!

Chris Munro

@CmunroOz / Reflections on Teacher Professional Growth


IMG_3500

It Takes Appreciation

Kevin Hodgson

@dogtrax / Kevin’s Meandering Mind



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It Takes Courage

I jumped in feet first and put both feet in ‘it’ by committing several gaffes in the misty fog of Twitter protocol. It didn’t help that I had never used any form of social media before and was totally out of my depth! I was yelled at with capital letters, threatened to be blocked, probably muted and politely ignored. Someone even made a crack about grandmothers being allowed to use mobile phones – I know, right? So ageist! If only I had known how to search for things like the following tips from @carolinemlittle … Maybe I showed my human side, my fallibility, a little too much? (Originally published as I’d Like to Take This Opportunity)

Anne Del Conte

@annadelconte / Anne’s Angle



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It Takes Contributors

Connected learners have an intuitive sense of the value of their social networks. Easily described, but can the value of a learning network be quantified? Reed’s Law states the utility of a network can scale exponentially with the number of participants. The formulaic interpretation is 2n-n-1. Of course, for this principle to be maximized every participant needs to be a contributor to the network. In other words, all villagers must share.

Robert Schuetz

@robert_schuetz / Nocking the Arrow



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It Takes an Idiot

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the internet lately. I’ve been thinking about what was promised when I first started tinkering with html and Mosaic browser (I never actually learned much html. Just enough to be a little dangerous). What I’ve been thinking about is how the internet promised the democratisation of information. It promised to be a place where everyone had a voice. What it very quickly seemed to become to me was a marketplace. The voices were all touting their businesses and the information was all tainted by vested interest. Even when individual voices could be heard they were mediated by business and advertising and therefore they were only for those worth advertising to (teenagers, basically). MySpace passed me by, and I was late to Facebook, and it felt as though what was promised in 1995 was a long-forgotten “non-core promise” that circumstance had rendered untenable.

I don’t remember how I came across readingwritingresponding.blogspot.com.au. It was probably as a result of attending ICTEV13. Anyway, I came upon this post and I disagreed with it wildly. Aaron’s post challenged me in ways that made me uncomfortable and forced me to give reasons why not everyone should be using their voice online. Basically, it forced me to add my voice to the village. And in doing so, I found the internet that I thought was going to exist in 1995.

Aaron is my village square. He’s the place I go when I need to connect with educators outside my own school. I stay at home (metaphorically) a great deal. When I venture out, the village square is still there. Aaron is still speaking and inviting other voices to add to the conversation and the learning is ubiquitous. I suspect I’m the village idiot, but a village needs all sorts of voices, so I’m happy to take on whatever role I can.

So, happy 300 Aaron. Many happy returns of the day.

Eric Jensen

@jentzly / Edulurker



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It Takes Co-Learning

It takes a village.  This proverb has unified you and I  in so many ways as learners.  From connecting online through to co-presenting face to face, we have both seen the immense value that co-learning can bring.  My best professional learning experience is still our co-presentation at DLTV.  We had been enriched beyond our wildest expectations before we had even presented.  The experience has continually resonated with me because we were both willing to contribute, to question, to listen, to speak up and I know we are both forever changed as a result.  How many professional learning experiences can boast that?  Not many I would imagine.  The village process sparked so many ideas and I want to give that experience to other members of the village.  I created CoLearn as a direct result of our village learning experience.  CoLearn is about being willing to contribute to the learning of other learners and to be willing to have others contribute to yours.  It is about co-learning together, providing a critical friend and hopefully sparking change and innovation in your classroom.  CoLearn is “it takes a village” personified and I think is way for real change to happen in schools.  I want to thank you Aaron for being a part of my village.

Steve Brophy

@SteveBrophy3 / Transformative Learning



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It Takes a Text

I’m currently working on an assignment for the Discourse and Linguistics module I recently completed. With that at the forefront of my mind, it’s hardly surprising that it colours this post. Without his permission, I wouldn’t dream of undertaking an analysis of Aaron’s blog, however there’s a feature on which he draws heavily, and which also speaks to the theme he provided – intertextuality (Kristeva, 1986).

Most of what we say or write we’ve heard or written before. Our social encounters and experiences, personal and professional, have shaped our thoughts. In turn this contributes to the knowledge from which we draw and the meanings we construct. When we make an observation or express an opinion, we do so using the words we have heard (or read) and the images we have previously seen. Sometimes we do this explicitly, making the source of those words clear by using quotation marks, or using other indicators. Often we are less aware of a specific source, but know that what we are saying belongs to a particular discourse, for example classroom practice or technology integration. This link between the text we’re producing and those which preceded it is called intertextuality. It also pays forward into those texts which succeed it and together this chain, or network of texts constitutes horizontal intertextuality. Vertical intertextuality links our text with the others written, not referenced or drawn from, but which work within the same discourse. Those texts may be in the same medium (blogs), the same mode (‘written’ text), or indeed be different media or modes.

Aaron assiduously references other posts he has written, helpfully drawing together themes across his work, indicating ways in which we might make meaning for ourselves. This is termed an intertextual collection, and because the overarching theme is centred on education (or perhaps more evocatively, learning), it could also be said to constitute disciplinary intertextuality. It is important to remember that when producing our own text, we not only reproduce the texts of others, but transform them. If I was teaching the origins of the Universe for Y9 students for example, I would need to turn the texts I have accessed over the years into one accessible to a 14 year old. Perhaps Aaron does similar work to this in ensuring his writings are accessible to a broad readership, but also to challenge our reading and understanding; pushing us to think afresh to produce our own texts. A presentation seen and heard at a conference would be transformed both by being summarised, and turned into a different mode of representation.

It would be remiss to comment on READWRITERESPOND without remarking on the obvious additional affordance that being on the Web provides and which extends intertextuality. Hypertext. Few educational bloggers I read are as intertextually prolific through hyperlinks as Aaron. Some hyperlinks are explicit and reference other texts dually, both through a quotation or title, and through the hyperlink markers of different coloured text and mouse-over supplementary information. Other links are implicit, using the markers alone, but hinting at where the hyperlink might lead through the words themselves. Hypertextuality extends the meaning potential of the post immeasurably. Although as readers we have some agency in how we read and make meaning from a text, we are nevertheless guided by the order the author has provided. With hypertext however, we have far more choice in how we construct our knowledge, by following links to other texts, and if we feel so inclined, beyond those too. Our learning chains or ‘traversals’ (Lemke, 2002) are as different and individual as we are.

By now, any discourse analysts having got this far will be screaming “What about the blog post header image prompts?!” They are indeed significant in so many ways, but then I’d be into the realms of multimodality, hypermodality and the deep analysis I said at the outset it would be inappropriate to conduct. I will round off though by returning to the start, and back to Aaron’s prompt “It takes a village.” I’m still not sure I fully understand the implications, but my interpretation is that by working together cooperatively, we can achieve far more than individually. Intertextuality plays a central part in the social, cultural and historical processes which enable ‘villages’ to do what they do. (Orignially published It Takes a Village)

Ian Guest

@IaninSheffield / In the PICTure & Marginal Notes


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It Takes Scepticism

Often those with the largest followings generate the greatest impact & spread stuff virulently and unquestioningly. I’m not saying here that I ‘know’ what is or isn’t right. I equally see how it can transform usually inert educational behaviour in some into enmity as the scale and proliferation of uncritical consumption becomes apparent.

I wonder why this phenomena occurs. The need to belong, to affirm, to simply connect people and ideas? Online, does groupthink, as it takes on a personality and entity of its own, serve to exclude rather than include others and arrest participation from outside? Again online, does groupthink slowly immunise itself from what it perceives as irrelevance from others? Does groupthink calcify its own attitudes or philosophies rather than welcome and accept that there is something good about variety?

Jon Andrews

@obi_jon_ / Reflections of a Reluctant Writer


So what about you? What does being a part of a village mean to you? As always, I would love to know. Feel free to leave a comment or write your own post.


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So it is that time again, when lists of top posts start getting populated. As I have said before, I am not a big fan on measuring hits or most amount of retweets on a blog. The question then is what other forms of reflection are there. In the past I have shared those posts that have had the greatest impact on me, while I have also celebrated the voices of others. So this year, to stop and look back I thought wouldn’t it be interesting to collect together all the ideas and opinions that others within the village have so kindly shared. Not necessarily the passing “thank you” or “your blog was useful”, but those comments where people have added something new to the conversation. It is these nuggets of gold that make it all so worth it. So here they are, enjoy!


“It’s funny that we originally connected because we work in different surrounds and come (seemingly) from different worlds but your taste in music and the fact that you are an axe shredder like myself, mean we have more in common than we first thought.” Steve Brophy in response to Memories Through Music

“People often see ‘data’ as meaning test results. For me the key has been realising that EVERYTHING is data. Every bit of information and evidence counts.” 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 Learning 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

“Anyone looking for a simple way to contribute globally, you might like to join the Granny Cloud, part of Sugata Mitra’s School in the Cloud project.” Edna Sackson in response to How Are You Making the (Educational) World a Better Place?

“I find the Melbourne TeachMeets to be most valuable. For me, nothing beats the discussions and chats that are a result of face to face meetings.” Michelle Wong in response to Should Every Teacher in the World Be on Twitter?

“A question I know Dan Haesler asks regularly is not just ‘Why do kids come to school?’ but “Why would they stay?” if they start to see school as lacking the environment and opportunities they need to explore some of those entrepreneurial experiences and independent paths we’re hoping they find. A challenge we’ll face in the next 10 years I’m sure.” Matt Esterman in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Maybe, instead of what age, the question could be, under what conditions do learners learn how to learn?” Robert Schuetz 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. There is no way that you will ever have all teachers on one social media choice – go with what you are comfortable with.” Andy Knill in response to Should Every Teacher in the World Really Be On Twitter

“Twitter is a great introduction to the world of edchat due to its short sharp format and always try to remind myself that about 80% of teachers have never done any of the above.” Richard Wells in response to Should Every Teacher in the World Really Be On Twitter

“The real reason I blog? Like my friend @acampbell99 says, it’s strictly selfish. I blog because it helps clarify my thinking. By blogging, I basically turn my website into my own reference point. I believe reflection is power, so my blog keeps me a superhero.” Royan Lee in response to Blogging Starts with Why

“I would say that I get a lot more satisfaction from reading blogs rather than writing my own. The ‘why’ comes from learning from others experiences and thoughts!” Corrie Barclay in response to Blogging Starts with Why

“Our school systems tend to support development of passive learners who follow the PAH continuum. Understanding the continuum can help us help them break out if it. If schools allowed for heutagogical learning from the start (such as at Jon’s school) — Wow, that would be transformation!” Lisa Marie Blaschke in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“What we have to keep reminding ourselves though, and I would encourage schools to think about is this: How do we sustain the cultural shift? How do we remain compliant for the ‘must-do’ state and national mandates – but create the space/traction/culture required for take-off? Then, what are the diffusion strategies (story-telling, collaborating, family partnerships and reflection) to encourage further growth and authenticate the shift.” Jon Andrews in response to Why Do You Come to School?

“Those who lead merely through power seek to manipulate the rest of us for their own ends and have little interest in mutual relationship. If they happen to be very skillful manipulators, then they can make things happen, but benefits to others is quite accidental. 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. Some guides provide us with clues as to what to do and how to do it. Other guides show us what not to do and increase our awareness of what to avoid. Both are important.” Alan Thwaites in response to What Would You Do?

“Another consideration could be to consider what to do with ‘teaching time’ by reducing mandated hours for core subjects to their bare minimum requirements. 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?

“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.” Jen Moes in response to It Take a Village

“I very recently heard of a college that did the exact of this where students in one particular class I believe, cooking/home eco/food technology, were wanting to raise money for something or other. They had the ‘math’ class looking at profit margins based on costs, the photography students taking images of the finalised products, the visual arts students design and create the packaging and the multimedia/media students develop the online /offline propaganda/advertising. From all reports, big success with a focus being on DEEP LEARNING.” Corrie Barclay in response to Electives, What is Your Choice?

Elective means a something that you elect, you choose to do. Surely this is different being required to pick from a selection list that others have assembled for you? With respect to Forrest, electives are ‘like a box of chocolates’. You might get to pick which chocolate you have, but someone else chose what flavours are in the box. Personally, I would rather make my own chocolates and experiment with creating my own flavours. Even if I mess it up, just let me give it a shot!” Alan Thwaites in response to Electives, What is Your Choice?

“Blogging is also a conversation, or at least it can be. My learning has been challenged, expanded, and deepened through the comments of others. Comments are like gold – rare and precious.” Robert Schuetz in response to To Comment or Not to Comment, Is That the Question?

“Interestingly enough you then insinuate that you gave the students permission to now use their imaginations ‘So, yes students were definitely allowed to build everything’, This is not a critique of you it merely I feel it demonstrates how all powerful the dominant discourse of education is within our own identities as ‘teacher’ leading to an expectation of required practices in order to both maintain that identity and also participate successfully within the current system (under the principal of exclusion and selection) .” Kynan Robinson in response to Just Make

“I want to engage my students passion, and it’s working within the restrictive curriculum for seniors that I’m trying to get there. One of the hardest issue is making tasks authentic and relevant, linked to their passions.” Jacques du Toit in response to Cultivating the Passion for Learning

“If I was truly collaborative, I would lead learning in a more ‘connected way’, more so than the static delivery of information. 21st century educators understand that connecting, collaborating and learning is essential to their job. More so, they understand the great leverage that technology brings to their ability to do so across the world.” Greg Miller in response to The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

“Giving credit matters not because we need to create celebrities or build people’s followings. Giving credit matters because giving credit means that creators will get that positive vibe that comes from knowing that people dug their stuff — and when people get that positive vibe, they will continue to create and share.” Bill Ferriter in response to What’s So Creative About Commons Anyway?

“Last year a former student came back to our school and hunted down all the teachers who were here when he attended to let us know he had been accepted into a medicine degree. This was so encouraging. In Primary School he had received support for ESL, reading recovery and was on the Macquarie Reading Program. He had been determined to succeed and applied himself to do as well as he did. Who would have thought?” Anne van der Graaf in response to Who Would Have Thought?

“Blogs give everyone the chance to have a voice and that’s what I love most about them. You can hear from all of the top notch educational gurus, however I personally find that those deep in the trenches have just as much to say, which is just as important.” Corrie Barclay in response to There is More Than One Way to Write a Blog

“About 6 years ago I went to an informative presentation by Mark Treadwell. Mark made comparison between our current times and the Renaissance of last millennium. One essential difference being that changes which took place then, took place over some 400 years. The changes that are taking place at this time in history will take place within a 40 year time period, exponentially accelerated by the immediate accessibility and extensive connectivity that comes with the world wide web.” Greg Miller in response to Innovation, Context and Why

“For transformative change to occur, it requires stable leadership, possibly for ten plus years and occasionally refers to research when stating this.” Greg Miller in response to Innovation, Context and Why

“I’m not a huge fan of the statement “pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator.” Technology should be more accurately seen as the enabler. Without technology many innovative pedagogical approaches are not possible at all.” Richard Olsen in response to Doing the Right Thing

“If you focus upon nouns – the gadgets – instead of the verbs – what you are doing with them – you are using the wrong ruler.” Alan Thwaites in response to Doing the Right Thing

“Sometimes it might be the job of schools to create that safe space for students away from their families, and therefore not provide quite the level of transparency that we might like. It’s a tricky balance.” Eric Jensen in response to Irresistibly Engaging for Parents Too

“Online spaces might be considered the last bastion of teens because many of them have yet to feel the power, nor reap the benefits of sharing their learning transparently. In the near future, what will carry more weight with students, high marks in geometry class, or comments on their blog post from a reader a half world away? How can we help teachers and parents feel the power, and understand the benefits of transparent, socially networked learning?” Robert Schuetz in response to Irresistibly Engaging for Parents Too

“Relationships are the key and developing a classroom where students have voice and choice in their learning. Where student engagement is intentional and something we reflect on, attempt to improve, and don’t blame on the students or their parents.” Tom Whitford in response to Discipline or Learning, What is Your Mindset?

“I really don’t know who actually believes in the myth of content. I taught from a textbook in my first job as a teacher but moved away from that approach as soon as possible. Process- and practice-oriented approaches to curriculum have been around for along time – I am thinking of Dewey. I would think of ‘content’ and people as a both/and not an either/or.” Francis Bell in response to Feedback, Content and People

“Stories always linger, if they are worth saving. Some get lost and then found, too.” Kevin Hodgson in response to The Impact of My Teachers

“It is the discussion that derives from people blogging and sharing their thoughts which is perhaps where the real benefit of blogging comes in.” Corrie Barclay in response to #MakeSchoolsDifferent

“My instinct also feels there has been a shift towards more consumption of content via Facebook and away from some of the other social networks. I’m still pondering my thoughts on Facebook.” Sue Waters in response to A Guide to Following Blogs

“I believe that all students need to be literate and numerate, but when is someone ‘literate’ and ‘numerate’? Once a student has achieved an acceptable level of literacy and numeracy, how much more ‘literate’ and ‘numerate’ does someone need to be before we encourage them to engage in self-directed interest projects that may better promote the higher order thinking skills required to develop ‘critical thinking’, ‘creativity’ and ‘collaboration’?” Greg Miller in response to Are Ideals Really Ideal?

“The reality is, nothing will ever be good enough. If it’s too good, we can’t achieve it. If it’s not good enough, it’s unworthy of our practice. The truth is, we just have to push through and use technology to enhance teaching and learning.” Miguel Guhlin in response to Did Someone Say SAMR?

“We are actually right now in a kind of no man’s land, or is it a milling area … not sure. In any case there is the old education culture, still going strong, and the new still finding its way, but knowing the old culture is not the way anymore. The old culture to my mind is like an old fellow who is confident in old ways, suspicious of the young whipper-snapper challenging those ways. The old will give way to the new in the end though.” Alan Thwaites in response to Who’s Allowed to be Innovative Anyway?

“I think that’s probably the greatest crime of education today. When students fail to recognize that they can be interested in topics outside of those topics in the required curricula, we have failed as educators.” Bill Ferriter in response to Genius Hour, My Genius Hour

“Thinking of ways in which one device can not only be ‘used’, but used purposefully as either a device to teach, a device to learn from, or both requires a little thinking outside the box, especially when wanting to do things that perhaps have not been not before or are deemed as common practice.” Corrie Barclay in response to One iPad Classroom

“I am not sure the event was life (or career) changing for me, however I am grateful for the takeaways I got from it all. Who knows, perhaps one of those (seemingly) small takeaways will end up behind the huge difference for me in my future journey.” Riss Leung in response to Learning, Innovation and Success – A Reflection on the Impact of #GTASYD14

“Connecting with other educators, especially outside of your own setting, should be an absolute given. As for the logistics behind this… who cares… it should just happen!” Corrie Barclay in response to Ten Step Program to Being Connected

“I do not believe that it is complicated anymore. It once was, when the technology was so restrictive in what it allowed you to do. Now though all that has changed.” Alan Thwaites in response to Technology in Education, It’s Complicated

“The successful class blogs I have witnessed are being created by teachers who network . The ‘why’ is to provide an audience, model cybersafe behaviour, model and receive feedback and write in online spaces (amongst many other possibilities)” Celia Coffa in response to Blogging in the Classroom

“Blogging is something you need to do to appreciate it whether it be your own personal educator blog or starting off slowly with a class blog. I’m a strong believer in slow and steady wins the race. While I’m passionate about blogging as part of a global communities I also know there are some very successful private blogging programs; and lots of very valid reasons why specific privacies are chosen.” Sue Waters in response to Blogging in the Classroom

“Too often we forget that playing, taking risks, making mistakes is just a whole bunch of fun. As a PE teacher, I would often join in the activities as a way to showcase my passion for learning and physical activity. I think students need to see the enjoyment that our passions bring, it is contagious.” Steve Brophy in response to Leading by Learning – Building a Hut

“I am fully on-board with the practice of flipping pieces of meetings that can be read, or viewed, independently. Done correctly, this practice provides greater opportunity for face-to-face discussion of key concepts, along with differentiated / personalized sessions learners prefer.” Robert Schuetz in response to Flipping the Development

“The usefulness of data at its most powerful will address the needs of the learner – when the learner is the driver. The benefit of data is weakest when other people are the drivers. It is true that the learner needs a context to know what data matters, but gradually understanding that is also part of the learning process.” Alan Thwaites in response to Technology, Data and the Untold Stories of Learning

“Our PD for staff has to become self driven at some point or it will only be a hit and miss scenario.” Jenny Ashby in reponse to Supporting the Development of Digital Pedagogies

“t’s frustrating that education gets caught in cycles of doing to both teachers and students instead of thinking about improving learning outcomes.” Margaret Simkin in response to Supporting the Development of Digital Pedagogies

“On goal setting – I’ve found ISMART helpful. Just putting the word INSPIRING at the front leads the conversation away from mundane easily achieved, tick-box goals. The stems: By…… I (or the students) have……. so that…….. (Ref. GCI) are really powerful when setting goals too. The “so that” is where all of the learning, thinking, justification, and ownership happens.” Chris Munro in response to Supporting the Development of Digital Pedagogies

“The notion of writeable surfaces, using whiteboard paint, was a great inclusion. A splash on walls and tables allows for greater collaboration between students (and staff)!” Corrie Barclay in response to Imagining Different Learning Spaces

“I love your tip about embedding video from Drive. I’m not yet sure when I’m going to use it, but I’m sure I will, and I’ll certainly get students to embed video into their portfolios this way.” Eric Jensen in response to Powering Up Blogs by Adding Content

“Instead of flipped, I envision ‘rotated’ classrooms where students take on the role of teacher by sharing learning processes and products transparently. The teacher’s role becomes learning facilitator, learning leader, and learning model.” Robert Schuetz in response to What Sort of Teacher Are You?

“I like how you weave from Goodman to Reggio to Making Thinking Visible and join the dots between them. It’s also nice to see you connecting to Gary Stager’s ideas and Silvia Tolisano’s cutting-edge work.” Cameron Paterson in response to An Introduction to Making Thinking Visible

“What is achieved by perpetuating the idea that blogs can be ranked? That some are better than others and educators should rather read those? Let’s encourage as many thoughtful educators as possible to share, so that everyone can benefit.” Edna Sackson in response to Just Remember, It Takes a Village

“Is it recognition and feeling valued that teachers and students desire or is it that trophy, certificate and prize? I wonder if we recognised all our colleagues and their strengths and make them feel valued, would it create a more positive culture?” Andrea Stringer in response to Just Remember, It Takes a Village

“Defining and describing learning environments and learning experiences is a challenge because interpretations are so varied. This is why the blog posts, comments, and conversations are essential; to develop some common language, coherence, and as you mention, vision. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to arrive at consensus without these conversations.” Robert Schuetz in response to Vision for eLearning

“I have used bee bots in my early years (and actually upper primary for different purposes) and although programmable, the learning intentions weren’t about coding or programming or the bee bots at all. They were just the medium utilised for the collaboration, critical thinking, maths, problem solving, science, fine motor skills and more that were engaged.” Steve Box in response to Did Someone Say Coding

“Why do they need to learn to code? It all comes down to purpose and necessity. I’m stuck at this point (just like your kids with NXT) and I need this to bridge the gap. The medium is merely the path chosen. The important part is the motivation that drives the learning.” Steve Brophy in response to Did Someone Say Coding

“Introducing technology into a social setting such as education is probably more about establishing new social norms than about the technology.” Marten Koomen in response to One Word – Capacity


I am sure there are comments that I have missed, whether they be on Twitter, Voxer, Medium or email. However, this at least captures some of the priceless perspectives that the village brings to bare. So a big thank you to all and here is to a wonderful year of learning in 2016.

For those interested, here is a list of my supposed ‘Top Five’ posts:

  1. Did Someone Say … SAMR
  2. One iPad Classroom
  3. Why Do You Come to School?
  4. A Guide to Visualisations
  5. Ten Step Program to Being Connected

Or if you are interested in the full WordPress report, click here.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.

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It has been interesting following the #28daysofwriting initiative organised by Tom Barrett. The premise behind it is that committing to a month of regular posts will hopefully help develop a sustainable habit of writing and reflection. I have not participated as I feel it best to commit time when I have it and also write based on need, rather than time. Sometimes this may mean going beyond the rudimentary four paragraphs every now and then, but so be it. Anyway, I digress.

One of the observations that has arisen is the lack of comments occurring amongst the various posts. A lot of people are writing a lot of things, but not many people are actually responding. The proposal that has been put forward is a return to commenting with #28daysofcommenting. Now I am not against comments, as demonstrated by my recent post. As I have said for a long time, responding is an integral role to reading. The challenge is making this visible to others. I have issues though with the argument that ‘micro engagement has killed off the edublogging community‘. I do admit that things have changed, but I wonder if blaming this change on micro engagement is missing something more?

In a post looking at issues with education today, Peter Skillen puts forward a range of arguments. One is that there can be no wisdom and development gained in one-line. Although I think that there is plenty of drivel out there full of excessive branding, self-promotion and back-slapping, as well as enough people engaging in what Doug Belshaw describes as ‘elegant consumption‘, I argued then and I would argue now, there there is still a potential to such interactions. Going beyond being a representation of our digital identity, Twitter offers a means for sharing the main idea, writing aphorisms and generating new ideas. It provides new beginnings if we are willing to take them.

To look at this from a different perspective, Corinne Campbell made the observation that, “creativity requires design constraints”. What is often overlooked with a medium like Twitter are the constraints at play. I think that it is easy to get lost in the flow of things and forget that Twitter can just as easily be seen as a form of creativity. A point that Dean Shareski makes so well. The issue then is how to make the most of such constraints?

As I have discussed before, there are different ways to share and respond. The easiest and quickest thing to do is to simply post a title and link. Something that Barrett puts in the red zone. However, in order to develop richer communities and smarter rooms, it is wise to include handles and hashtags. For me this includes both the author and anyone who I know the topic maybe applicable to. Going beyond this, I also try and post quotes rather than titles. For one it demonstrates a higher level of engagement with the text, but it also offers a different entry point for readers.

Both Barrett and Ewan McIntosh have reflected on the halcyon days when posts would get long streams of comments, where the initial idea acted as a start for a deeper debate. (See debate over Design Thinking for a good example.) Whereas now it is more common to get a retweet, a like or a +1, with little if any actual engagement. McIntosh wonders if “anyone cares about many blog posts any more.”

This move away from commenting was brought home to me by Steve Wheeler’s reflection on his most read posts of 2014. His most read post was Learning First, Technology Second. It received over 8000 hits, yet only twenty three comments, half of which were his own responses. When quizzed on the matter of hits to comments ratio, Wheeler suggested that it is often the more emotive posts which usually gain the most interaction. I wonder if this has always been the case?

A problem I have with comments is that with a move to mobile, they just aren’t as easy as they used to be. A majority of my digestion comes via Feedly. I then save posts for commenting later. Sadly, this does not always happen.

In addition to this, commenting does not always seem as interactive as other mediums. I write a comment and it is between myself, the author and anyone else who may come upon the response. When I write using a medium like Twitter, my response is shared with whoever is viewing and is more visible, meaning the conversation has more potential. For example, I was recently wondering about iPads in Prep and put it out on Twitter:

Fifty posts later and I was left with an array of thoughts and ideas. I wonder if a blog would provide such engagement?

This is where I feel that Blogger wins out over WordPress. I like the fact that comments are connected between Blogger and Google+. Lately, I have taken to sharing comments I receive just as a way of spreading great ideas.

As an alternative, although I may not comment, I do connect. What I do is remix other people’s ideas into my own writing. They will often lay dormant, waiting, then something happens, they connect and spur on a new idea in a new context with a different perspective. What is different about remixes as opposed to connects is that it allows for multiple interactions. Pingbacks then connect back, something missing with Blogger.

At the end of the day, there are many ways of continuing the conversation, whether it be Diigo, Facebook, Google+, Voxer, the list goes on. Although there may have been a reduction in direct comments, I wonder if there has been an increase in engagement overall? I love Robert Schultz’ endeavour to comment on at least one post a day, but I think if we are to move forward then maybe we need to look more closely at the problem? Is there a new idea that needs to be unearthed? What is your take?

I encourage you to continue the conversation here.


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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.


If you enjoy what you read here, feel free to sign up for my monthly newsletter to catch up on all things learning, edtech and storytelling.