Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Digital Artefact & Exegesis Assessment task for Masters

First assessment task for #INF532 involved creating a digital artefact and writing an exegesis on it.   The Connected 10 Educator Challenge  
See on Tackk

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge


The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is a learning artefact that has been designed to support teachers in their journey to understand why and how they can become connected educators. It has become a fundamental requirement for modern educators to become 21st-century learners where they take control of their own professional development and how they foster connections with the world. The environment that students and educators are interacting with is constantly evolving, with rapid technological advancements,  greater access to information and the exponential growth of social media platforms fuelling it. With the interconnectedness of our world, people need to learn to communicate, collaborate, and problem solves with people worldwide (Saavedra & Opfer, 2012, p. 8)  Ball & Forzani also agree that this new dynamic society requires innovative uses of technology, and a much greater emphasis on collaboration and problem solving (2009, p. 497). Haste (2009) further supports this when she describes the 21st-century student as a collaborative tool user who needs a new brand of competencies to thrive within a changing environment.
For many educators it can be a daunting task to begin this journey as a modern educator in a hyperconnected environment.  The connector 10 educator challenge is a learning artefact that will allow educators the opportunity to explore a range of different tools and platforms to realise the full potential of being a connected educator. The artefact explores a range of tools such as twitter, Google+, Facebook. Blogs, TeachMeets and much more. The different sections are designed to allow exploration and development of skills. It is important that educators develop these connected networks, and develop their skills in different areas. Tom Whitby’s (2015) view highlights that “the gap between teacher and student will continue to widen if the educator's’ mindset for learning does not evolve”, further strengthens the idea that educators need to change. The educators themselves are the key to any changes that are required, and this needs to be addressed by focusing on allowing time to explore, to experiment and develop a mindset that is focused on creating a more networked, collaborative, and self-directed educator.

Artefact Design

The artefact has been designed on the platform Tackk, which allows for the integration of various forms of digital media, text and other tools, to facilitate the collection of resources and sections that form the Connected 10 Educator Challenge. The contents are designed in a sequential format to allow the educators that interact with it. Tackk platform allows the Connected 10 Educator Challenge to be improved over time by adding more resources and updating it when required, ultimately making it a more dynamic resource. It is designed to be able to be shared on different social media accounts, and can also be copied by Tackk users and repurposed for their own learning environments.
It starts with an overview of the artefact challenge, followed by the ten different sections. These sections are designed around learning and trialling new tools to become a more connected educator. Each individual section includes either video, links to further reading or how-to guides; at the end of each section, there is a challenge to allow for the development of skills, confidence and be reflective of their practice. This artefact is designed to be a manageable challenge and progressive development of abilities. The idea for a Connected learning artefact is a blend of inspiration from the connected educator month, various Twitter guides, and mostly through interactions with educators. Many have admitted that their biggest problems with being a connected educator are; that they are scared, they do not know how to use the tools, and they don’t have the time. The Connected 10 Educator Challenge’s inspiration concept has developed into a practical resource that educators can interact with and allow them to build their confidence in the connected environments. It is designed to allow educators the opportunity to explore these tools, but also make them be reflective of their practice as they go along. It is also designed to be flexible in nature, meaning that is can be done daily, weekly or as a self-paced challenge.

Artefact Context

Knowledge building is considered a foundational aspect of learning (Lindsay, 2016a), and the artefact is designed to build the knowledge of an individual, but also contribute to the collective knowledge of a group. The artefact considers that the physical aspect is, in fact, more a virtual aspect, where an educator has the opportunity to explore and learn about a range of new tools. The artefact is designed to engage the individual through interactive videos, various readings, links and engaging with the various challenges. This results in real world learning where the individual is required to utilise the various ideas and respond to them.
The ‘Information Society’ relies on constant access and transmission of information, because  information inherently wants to be free (Lindsay, 2016b). The belief that we have entered ‘Information Overload’ is not new, but with the digital era that is evolving it can become amplified. As educators we need to make a choice in the digital era to collectively reimagine learning (Nussbaum-Beach & Hall, 2012) and how we manage this torrent of information. The artefact is designed to facilitate the management of information, streamlining it for the participants into meaningful and manageable chunks.
The main context of the artefact is the exploration of networks and connected learning, and as Howard Rheingold (2011) explains it that “understanding how networks work is one of the most important literacies of the 21st century”. Learning to collaborate with others and connect through technology essential skills in a knowledge-based economy (Lindsay, 2016a). The importance of digital literacies in how people use their social networks in a constant cycle to connect to their friends, family, and others becomes a crucial skill to address. Individuals are connected in more ways than can be imagined and it is shaping their access to networks of information. The learning artefact supports this because it focuses on the creation of contexts where individuals are learning in a networked age, where connecting, growing and navigating networks becomes key driver in a knowledge-based economy (Lindsay, 2016b).
Thomas and Seely Brown (2011) contends that information is a networked resource, where engaging with information becomes a cultural and social process of engaging with the constantly changing world. The theory of Connectivism further explains that learners create new knowledge through more efficient and effective network connections, and it increases the motivation for self-directed learning. George Siemens (2011) explains that the focus on connections requires that learners be exposed to elements that extend beyond the classroom and allow for real-life experience.
As part of the design context, there is a distinct focus on utilising a range of tools, not just one particular medium. The artefact follows what Cook (2012) believes in that there is a movement towards the concept of learning all the time and everywhere, and this concept of a constant state of learning creates a new paradigm for learning (p. 48). This puts us in the position to connect; identify and access information from our networks (McClure, 1994). Furthermore, the artefact is designed to support the concepts of peer-to-peer learning where groups of like-minded individuals working together to develop their knowledge and expertise by implementing new ideas and insights from shared experiences (Lindsay, 2016c).

Critical exposition

The Why

The artefact is designed to introduce educators to different ways to connect and build their own PLN. At the heart of the artefact is the need to build a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Lieberman & Pointer-Mace (2009) propose that ubiquity of technology and social networking resources provide a means for networked learning to scale up (p. 77), and thus create these PLN’s. As Patnoudes (2012) describes it, “a PLN is a system for lifelong learning” and the need is to realise that PLN’s are inherently designed to be personal experiences. A PLN consists of a network of individuals that all contribute in some form to the development of an individual's learning and growth. Will Richardson states that ‘everyone’s network will look different’ (Richardson, 2007) and Buchanan (2011) notes, “at the heart of a PLN are people.. from whom you can learn and with whom you, in turn, can share and converse.” (p. 19).
The idea of a PLN mirrors the dynamics of a ‘community of practice’ (COP), where Wenger (Lieberman & Pointer-Mace, 2009, p. 79) described the idea that most people learn in these “communities of practice” through connecting and collaborating. A community of practice is all about the groups of people who share a concern or passion for something they do, and they then learn how to do it better as they interact more with one another (Wenger, 2012). A PLN requires interaction and participation, it grows and changes over time to reflect individual requirements and interests.
For these reasons the artefact is focused on providing an opportunity for the flattening of hierarchies and boundaries as they overrun traditional connections  and taxonomy (Pegrum, 2010). This personalised collaboration and informalisation through a network are at the core of learning in the future (Redecker et al, 2011). The artefact is exposing participants to the creation of knowledge through a more social and connected activity.

The What

The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is divided into 10 sections, each with a particular focus on developing skills and knowledge. The goal is creating a participatory and collaborative culture that surpasses the connections they previously had access to formal learning environments such as schools (Kumasi, 2014, p. 9). The research by Igel & Urquhart (2012) supports this aspect that social and constructivist learning theories assert that humans acquire and extend knowledge through interaction with one another (p. 16).
The sections include social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIN; but also creation/consumption tools such as Blogging, Podcasts and Youtube. These websites consist of millions of active users worldwide and are focused on sharing information/knowledge. The tool sections have a comprehensive guide and links to assist people in using them, but they do require participants to be active in using them. The daily/weekly challenges are set to make make sure that educators understand that knowledge can be obtained through valuing the diversity of opinion because the connections between many sources can lead to new knowledge (Cook, 2012, p. 48).

The How

The challenges are focused on building the connections through reflective and active exploration. The secret to the success of this will be making sure that relationships are the primary focus and as Steve Wheeler (2012) states, “a PLN is to keep in touch, to maintain a dialogue with their community of practice.” These challenges are intentional and have the purpose of improving learning through connecting. The creation of a PLN allows the members to amplify their intelligence (Siemens, 2008). The need is to understand what it means to be a learner within a connected world to support the students in schools, and this is where the challenges help build this understanding.


The Connected 10 Educator Challenge is a learning artefact designed to lead to further conversations and connections, because in a network age, your influence depends on your degree of connectedness (Pegrum, 2010). The artefact is designed to be personalised, focused on an organic and ever-changing PLN that contributes through sharing knowledge. Ultimately Knowledge networking is about working and sharing common interests with a network of like-minded professionals, and this artefact challenge pushes unconnected educators to explore new paradigms of learning. The design of the artefact offers the flexibility to adjust, adapt and improve the artefact; with space for others to add resources, links and new knowledge to the artefact over time. The importance of being a connected educator in a global knowledge age is fundamental to the success and development of an educator.


Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education. Journal of teacher education, 60(5), 497-511.
Buchanan, R. (2011). Developing a personal learning network (PLN). [online].Scan, 30(4), 19-22; Retrived from http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/fullText;dn=189317;res=AEIPT
Cook, V. (2012). Learning everywhere, all the time. Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin, 78(3), 48-51. Retrieved from
Haste, H. (2009). Technology and Youth: Problem Solver vs. Tool User (part 1 of 4) [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/yzros5qlj44
Igel, C., & Urquhart, V. (2012). Generation Z, meet cooperative learning. Middle School Journal, 43(4), 16-21.
Kumasi, K. (2014). Connected Learning: Linking Academics, Popular Culture, and Digital Literacy in a Young Urban Scholars Book Club. Teacher Librarian, 41(3), 8.
Lieberman, A., & Mace, D. P. (2009). Making Practice Public: Teacher Learning in the 21st Century. Journal Of Teacher Education, 61(1-2), 77–88. doi:10.1177/0022487109347319
Lindsay, J. (2016a). A new paradigm. [INF532 Module 1.3]. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module1/1_3_new_paradigm.html
Lindsay, J. (2016b). Information environments. [INF532 Module 1.3]. Retrieved July 28, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module1/1_1_Info_enviro.html
Lindsay, J. (2016c). Peer-to-peer learning and knowledge networking. [INF532 Module 3.3]. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from https://interact2.csu.edu.au/bbcswebdav/pid-973234-dt-content-rid-2207729_1/courses/S-INF532_201660_W_D/module3/3_3%20PeertoPeer_Learning_Knowledge_Networking.html
McClure, C. R. (1994). Network literacy: A role for libraries? Information Technology and Libraries, 13(2), 115-125.
Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.
Patnoudes, E. (2012, October 1). Why (and how) you should create a personal learning network. [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/build-personal-learning-network/
Pegrum, M. (2010). ‘I Link, Therefore I Am': Network literacy as a core digital literacy. E-Learning and Digital Media, 7(4), 346-354.
Redecker, C., Leis, M., Leendertse, M., Punie, Y., Gijsbers, G., Kirschner, P., Stoyanov, S. & Hoogveld, B. (2011). The future of learning: preparing for change. Rapport Commission Européenne. Retrieved from http://ipts.jrc.ec.europa.eu/publications/pub.cfm?id=4719
Rheingold, H. (2012). Introduction: Why you need digital know-how—Why we all need it. Net smart: How to thrive online. Retrieved from http://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/titles/content/9780262017459_sch_0001.pdf
Will Richardson (2007, December 7). Personal learning networks [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mghGV37TeK8
Saavedra, A. R. & Opfer, V. D. (2012). Learning 21st-Century Skills Requires 21st-Century Teaching. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(2), 8–13. doi:10.1177/003172171209400203
Siemens, G. (2008, September 28). A brief history of networked learning. Retrieved from http://elearnspace.org/Articles/HistoryofNetworkLearning.rtf
Siemens, G. (2011) Special Issue - Connectivism: Design and Delivery of Social Networked Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 2(3), 1-5.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change, Lexington, KY: CreateSpace. Wenger, E. (2012). Communities of practice: A brief introduction. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/06-Brief-introduction-to-communities-of-practice.pdf Wheeler, S. (2012, August 17). The importance of being networked [Blog post]. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.steve-wheeler.co.uk/2012/08/the-importance-of-being-networked.html
Whitby, T. (2015, January 26). Why Twitter Will Never Connect All Educators [Blog Post]. Retrieved, from https://tomwhitby.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/why-twitter-will-never-connect-all-educators/

Sunday, 17 July 2016

My other blog

I have not blogged much here these past six months as I have been very busy with Masters studies, school and various external engagements with conferences. As part of my Masters course I blog on a different platform and I thought I would share some of my posts from there here:

PLN’s and Digital Citizenship
Over the past 10 weeks doing the ETL523 subject I have found the course to be extremely interesting and challenging at the same time. I know that I have been growing/supporting my own PLN over the past 4 years throughTwitter, Google+. Blogging, Instagram, Facebook, etc. and learning what it means to be a digital citizen. I have actively worked with my students the past few weeks in developing their understanding of digital citizenship and how they could use social media for learning. They already use Facebook to chat about school, use Skype when discussing work, but now I want to show them the potential of Twitter and other tools to create their own PLN....

Growing & Connecting
It has been a journey from a basic understanding, to an enlightened disposition on digital citizenship over the past 12 weeks. I have been an active participant online with using PLN’s, managing my digital footprint and recognising the role of creative commons. However, the course has managed to extend my understanding significantly with regards to school leadership and vision, and I have been fascinated by the readings and resources in the course......

Thursday, 12 May 2016

TeachMeet 10th

My story for TeachMeet 10th anniversary.

I was introduced to TeachMeets by Matt Esterman in 2014 when he asked for presenters for the first TeachMeet at EduTECH. I had never heard of TeachMeets, and knew nothing about it. Initial research and discussions on Twitter quickly opened my world. I came to the TeachMeet very nervously, not knowing quite what to expect, but soon my life was changed. I connected with educators from all over Australia, and even Ewan McIntosh did a presentation and many others that I had interacted with online. Sitting there listening to teachers sharing what they do, their passions, their ideas, and all in short 7-minute sessions was incredible. My own session was a blur, I spoke about how I have used Evernote to create a hybrid class site and make my classroom paperless. I heard Simon McKenzie, a Twitter #histedchat friend, talk on his Ancient history class project, and developed my own take on his project later that year to great success. Simon Crook shared a line that I still remember, "Engage me or Enrage me" with regards to meetings.

From this first initial TeachMeet I launched TeachMeets in my region, and they have grown over the past two years where others are also starting them up to help extend our teaching networks and help everyone grow. TeachMeets really provide a wonderful platform where teachers can share and connect, and it has truely opened my world.

Register yours here: http://bit.ly/teachmeet10

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

7 Years

Today marks 7 years of living in Australia. On January 19th, 2009, my wife and I stepped onto Australian shores for the very first time in Brisbane. There are many reasons why we decided to move to Australia, and many of our friends have left too, but many have decided to stay and I don't need to go into the reasons why we moved here in this post. I thought I would rather mention some of the reasons why we love being in Australia and love being Australians.

Australia has allowed me to change careers and become a teacher (which I absolutely love). We arrived in Brisbane with roughly $5000 to start again at the age of about 30. The first six months were tough for us, we had to adapt and take any work we could. I had left a well-paid Logistic Manager job, and Jacqui her teaching position of 4 years. I took a job at Cash Converters and Jacqui did relief teaching, and soon we started finding our feet. I decided to change careers and started doing my Post-Graduate Teaching Diploma. Now 5 years into teaching, it has been an amazing change and journey. Now we are both studying again, both doing our Education Masters and looking forward to the next opportunities that unfold.

Little Miracle
We tried to have our first baby through IVF in South Africa twice, both times it failed. After just over a year in Brisbane we had the opportunity to try again, and with government funding for part of it, and we had a miracle. We were a long shot for it working, but in April 2010 while I was on my first ever teaching practicum we found out that Jacqui was pregnant. Our little miracle baby arrived just before New Years on the 30th of December. She is a born and bred Australian, even had her Australian citizenship before us. Now she starts Prep in just over a week and our next chapter with this awesome little girl begins.

Freedom & Safety
Australia is a country that has an incredibly low rate of crime and violence, and we have never felt so safe and relaxed. Living in South Africa before we moved over here is hard to describe, as the intense fear, suspicion, nervousness and distrust is hard to convey in words. Since living here we have outdoors to enjoy, parks and public events, and so much more without the nagging fear that we experienced in South Africa. Many of our friends and family are still there, and they view and experience it differently to how we remember it. Here we are happy and grateful for our lifestyle we can experience.

We look to a future here; where our daughter will grow up and pave her own way; where we will eventually buy a house of our own (after some serious saving for many years), and to where our journey will take us. We are Australians, we are proud to be part of this great nation and how we can contribute to this wonderful country. We are thankful for being part of this great nation, and though we will never forget our roots in South Africa, our friends and family, and memories; we love living in this great country we now call home.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

The year that was - 2015

My reflection on 2015

(long overdue post I started a few weeks back)
This past year was a mix of some really wonderful times, and many periods of intense struggle. I have not blogged in months and retracted from Twitter considerably, and there are many reasons for this that I won't go into now and mentioned it briefly in my blog post a few weeks back. 

This is my annual recap/self-reflection of the past 12 months. I'm extremely thankful for the wonderful people that have been part of my journey, and the inspiration they have given me and influence they have had on my life.

In no particular order, here they are:

1 Every Classroom Matters Episode
At the end of 2014 I was approached to record an episode with Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) for her Educational Podcast show 'Every Classroom Matters' on my 'TweetingAztecs' project. The episode was recorded in January, and what an interesting experience that was doing an interview with someone on the other side of the world. The episode was aired in May (coincidently on my birthday) -Lesson Plan: Creative and Wildly  Engaging Ways to Teach with Twitter https://shar.es/16Bmus 

It was such an honour to be part of Vicki's show. I have admired her since becoming a teacher and connecting online. She truly is such a wonderful educator that shares so much and inspires many. Check out her show and blog: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/

2 Teachmeets
During 2015 I managed to organise 4 Teachmeets in the region, including two successful ones at the University of Southern Queensland Hervey Bay Campus with more than 20 educators attending. I absolutely love Teachmeets and what they stand for, the. The sharing by teachers is always inspirational, helpful and fascinating. 

I also presented at the first Teachmeet Sunshine Coast in March, and ran TeachMeet session at EduTech and presented at the same event. Teachmeets are definitely part of my future planning for 2016 and to see how we can have more in Queensland.

3 EduTech
I was privileged to have the opportunity to be a speaker at EduTECH 2015 with Matt Esterman. Originally Simon McKenzie was also going to join us, but unfortunately could not, but he was still a great help with providing resources and support. It was great working with Matt and being part of the Conference. Matt is such a generous and passionate educator, and someone that I love connecting with. He is the one that introduced me to TeachMeets and I'm very happy to call him one of my closest edu-friends. EduTECH was great to attend because I managed to catch up with some edu friends from all around the country. The conversations outside the speakers is what I found the most beneficial and stimulating. 
Embedded image permalink
Picture by Helen Bremner (https://twitter.com/MrsHb)

4 Engage Summit
I was fortunate to be part of the Engagement Behaviour & Learning Summit at QUT in July. It was a great event organised by Linda Graham. It was the biggest audience I ever presented before, more than 300 people from all sectors of education. Check out some of the presentations online. Here is mine on using Social Media with my classes.

5 Masters
I started my Masters with CSU - Knowledge Networks & Digital Innovation this year and it has been extremely challenging juggling it with everything else. Two subjects down, and six to go. Along the way I managed to get a Distinction with the second subject - Design Thinking with Ewan McIntosh; and having a study partner in Jordan Grant to help and support.

6 Eric Sheninger
In May my school hosted Eric Sheninger for a workshop after I had made contact with him to set it up. It was great having him here and spending time with an educator that loves sharing his knowledge. The workshop was excellent, and just having him over for a relaxed barbecue was another opportunity to connect and chat. He also presented at the TeachMeet sessions at EduTech, and delivered a great Keynote. I look forward to meeting up again in the future and following along all the great work he is doing.
Me, Eric & Stuart Taylor

7 #28daysofwriting
Tom Barrett challenged people online to join him in doing #28daysofwriting to kickstart some creative and reflective writing of glogs. It was quite a challenge, but I'm so happy that I managed to complete it and write a blog each day. No idea how some people maintain regular blog posts, as I struggle to find the time or inspiration, but this was a good learning month with writing. Might need to challenge myself again to help this blog get a roll on.

8 Other Highlights
So much goes on in a school year, and there is so much to be grateful for. My students performed brilliantly and seeing them grow is what makes all this hard work worthwhile every year. I've had the chance to present at another school to share my knowledge of various tech tools, and helped teachers at my school become more proficient with Google tools. I helped a number of teachers write the Google Educator Level 1 exams and more to follow in 2016.There was the first ever Queensland EDCAMP, which was great to be part of and present at. The #TweetingAztecs project just keeps on going, and I have talked about it on many occasions; now I look at what else I can do. Doing a book review on TER Podcast, and being on one of the EduTECH episodes was another highlight. 

Lastly; seeing my wife get to half-way point of her School Counselor Education Masters and watching our 4 year old little girl develop, are the closest highlights to my heart. Spending time with my girls is my favourite part of every year.

I'm sure I missed a few points; but I know that everything that takes places, the good and bad, makes me into the educator that I'm becoming.

In 2016 I'm looking forward to being involved with the 3rd International Heutagogy Conference in Brisbane in May, presenting at the CSA Queensland Conference in July, continuing with my Masters Year 2, organising TeachMeets, daughter starting Prep at the school we both work at and anything else that happens along the journey.