Lifelong learning and growth

One of the courses I am doing for my Master of Educational Leadership this semester is ‘Learning Technologies in Practice’.  I have been a keen educational technology practitioner for a number of years now, however, I don’t think we can ever stop learning in this area so I thought it was a good opportunity to continue developing and also share with colleagues as well.  Something I have been really reflecting on of late, and how it fits into the classroom, is Google Apps.  The DEC has released Google Apps to all NSW DEC schools (see previous blog post) and I think its fantastic, however, where do they fit into what DEC schools are currently doing?

I think I will focus my first EDCN865 assignment on a PBL-based unit of work that makes effective use of Google Apps as I really want to help my colleagues better understand how they can make use of these tools in their own classroom.  The ability to be creative and collaborative is what I love the most about Google Apps.  The apps are also one of the best ways to create/facilitate student-centred learning experiences.  This is something I am extremely passionate about and really want to encourage more in classrooms. Teachers are so comfortable with the ‘chalk and talk’ method (or variations of), however, we are not doing our students any favours by spoon-feeding them with notes, lectures and wordy Powerpoint presentations.

Technologies such as Google Apps, afford educators the opportunity to provide differentiated learning experiences that are created and driven by students for the most part.  Ownership and accountability for the work can be given to students too with the ability to track revision history in apps such as Google Docs.  Problem- or project-based learning (PBL) is also the perfect platform to showcase this in.  PBL is inquiry-based and student-centred and Google Apps provide students with the essential tools to independently manage this.  So, this is where my thoughts are heading for my assignment, but also for how I want to encourage and work with my colleagues as school.

I have implementing Google Classroom with two of my Year 8 Visual Art classes who are completing a research task and I have been exploring the potential of this app as a learning management system substitute (albeit limited) because my current school does not utilise Moodle very much.  I have found that students picked up the knowledge and skills of how to access the classroom very quickly and did not need very much, if any, further instructions on how to use the system. They were very good at following my instructions and navigating the app and it has been easy for me to access their assignments, comment and give marks back.


Features and qualities important to pedagogical models

I have long had an interest in pedagogical and instructional design models and the elements of them I have looked for, as evidence of their quality, has been guided by these questions:

  • Does the model provide adequate scaffolding for a learning experience?
  • What is considered most important, content or pedagogy?
  • Are students’ getting the opportunity to demonstrate higher-order thinking skills?
  • Is ICT considered as a supporting tool in the process and experience of teaching and learning?
  • Is there room for flexibility, adaptability and differentiation?
  • Is there room for student self-regulation to be facilitated and encouraged?
Photo by David Jones, from, Some rights reserved

Photo by David Jones, from, Some rights reserved

When I consider pedagogical models, I consider all of these and more, often thinking of the NSW Quality Teaching Model.  As a leader in technology integration in teaching and learning, I never consider pedagogical models without considering how it scaffolds ICT integration.  Technology is still such a gimmick and there is still somewhat of a novelty to its use within the classroom, however, it is not always integrated with solid instructional design as its foundation.  That is why my interest has been in models of pedagogical design and instruction that help provide that foundation that both encourages ICT integration and enables it in a smooth and undertaking way.  My most frequently referred to pedagogical models are: TPACK, ADDIE model, the NSW Quality Teaching model, Bloom’s taxonomy, inquiry-based learning model and problem- or project-based learning models.  I find each of these great foundational models for integrating ICT into pedagogy, for reasons outlined below.

TPACK – This model is comprehensive at outlining the connections between pedagogy and technology, between pedagogy and content, and between content and technology, as well as all three intertwined.  It places content as the most important element in this pedagogical model and seeks to establish solid foundation in content and activities before technology interferes.  Technology is seen as the supporting actor, the tool to enhance outcomes further.

Bloom’s Taxonomy – This model does not make suggestions as to how technology should be implemented in the model’s original format, however, the verbs offered in the model, suggest active ways that technology can be utilised.  Students can create, analyse, synthesise and discover new knowledge with technology.

Inquiry-based learning model – This model has stages for creation and for discovery or investigation as well.  Much can be discovered and investigated with resources available on the Internet.  Reflection and discussion are also important features of Inquiry-based learning and can be facilitated through the integration of technology as well.

Problem-based learning model – A model that allows students room to self-regulate their learning and to utilise a number of technologies to assist them in solving a problem or developing a product.  PBL connects students with real-world problems and audiences and leaves room for differentiation and flexibility as well. 

Photo by Alec Couros on Some rights reserved

Photo by Alec Couros on Some rights reserved

In the 21st century, students need to develop a certain set of skills: collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and information fluency (Dede, 2010).  We are said to be in the age of knowledge, the knowledge society, and this requires the development of “1. knowledge construction, 2. adaptability, 3. finding, organising and retrieving information, 4. information management, 5. critical thinking and 6. team work” (Anderson, 2008 in Voogt & Roblin, 2010, p. 1).  Pedagogical models of the 21st century need to include these skills and need to integrate the mode in which 21st century learners most frequently learn and engage with new knowledge and information, which is technology.  I think some pedagogical models cater well for that explicitly and some may only provide a shel from which to interpret the nature of ICT integration.



Dede, C. (2010). Comparing frameworks for 21st century skills. 21st century skills: Rethinking how students learn, 51-76.

Voogt, J., Roblin, N. P. (2010). 21st century skills. Discussienota. Zoetermeer: The Netherlands: Kennisnet.

How can I get my students to think for themselves?

This question is one I’m sure many teachers have asked themselves on a daily basis.  I teach at a school with wonderful students and great academic success, however, I don’t see my students self-regulating their learning and demonstrating an understanding of their thought processes very much for themselves.  I hear questions in almost every lesson from students along the lines of: “Miss, what to we have to do?”, “What’s the answer to this question?”, “Can you tell me what to write for this ____ please Miss?” and other variations of the same.  Answering these questions is frustrating, I will admit, but to spark their curiosity and get their thought process self-regulating, I will ask them a question back and leave them to ponder it a little more.  What else can I do to help students understand their own thought processes more?

At school, we utilise scaffolds a lot such as the FILIRUC, KWL chart, Venn diagrams and so many more. (I have got a list below of some of my favourite scaffolds and have a Pinterest board of graphic organisers that have similar scaffolds on it.)  Are scaffolds enough to promote self-regulation and metacognition, without spoon-feeding?  Cuevas, H. M., Fiore, S. M., & Oser, R. L. (2002) conducted research on scaffolding cognition and metacognition for learners and discovered that “diagrams effectively scaffolded participants’ metacognition, improving their metacomprehension accuracy (i.e., their ability to accurately monitor their comprehension)” (p. 433).  However, their study goes on to explore the role of scaffolding more and identifies that when it comes to knowledge transfer diagrams as scaffold are effective but are limited when trying to facilitate students’ mastery of information.  So this continues to pose the question, what will help facilitate the development of student cognition and metacognition?

Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn (2007) take a slightly different approach in their research but still look at the concept of scaffolding.  They look at the different impacts that direct guidance instruction and minimally guided instruction has on the learning of students. Their research explicitly analyses the impact of research conducted by Kirscher, Sweller and Clark (2006) who concluded that “minimally guided instructional approaches are ineffective and inefficient” (p. 99).  However, as is pointed out by Hmelo-Silver et al. (2007), there are flaws in this conclusion as such learning methodologies as project-based learning and inquiry-based learning are minimal in the explicit instruction given but I have seen the metacognition and outcomes produced through both of these and they are certainly not ineffective or inefficient.

More reflection on these ideas and perhaps a cycle of action research will be necessary to make my own conclusions I feel.

My favourite scaffolds


Cuevas, H. M., Fiore, S. M., & Oser, R. L. (2002). Scaffolding cognitive and metacognitive processes in low verbal ability learners: Use of diagrams in computer-based training environmentsInstructional Science30(6), 433-464.

Hmelo-Silver, C. E., Duncan, R. G., & Chinn, C. A. (2007). Scaffolding and achievement in problem-based and inquiry learning: A response to Kirschner, Sweller, and Clark (2006)Educational Psychologist42(2), 99-107.

PBL World (Australia) – Day 2

PBL World (Australia) – Day 2

Today’s keynote was from Glen O’Grady of the Republic Polytechnic in Singapore.  He had some great thoughts to share on PBL but particularly raised the issue of research and the validity and successfulness of PBL.  He had a lot of evidence for the value of PBL but as many will testify, the proof is in the pudding of student work.  There were many other great points that came out of the presentation too.

  1. Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods – incls research #pblaustralia
  2. Does pbl work? how do you define work and what is the criteria used to judge. Maybe look at the end product-students #pblaustralia
  3. “Problems need to be iterative in one problem, one day” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia
  4. Glen O’Grady is presenting interesting ideas about liquid learning, fast & slow knowledge at #pblaustralia today at Parramatta Marist
  5. Theme of students WANTING to be their best, we just need to allow them. PBL Structures support student doing their best. #pblaustralia
  6. “PBL is just the manifestation of certain principles about learning.” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia
  7. No longer about just the amount of knowledge, but the velocity of knowledge- O’Grady #pblaustralia
  8. The John Hattie researched pegged immediacy of feedback as powerful. #pblaustralia
  9. “Habits are developed by regular, interactive actions over a an extended period of time.” Glen O’Grady ANU #PBLaustralia Keep PBL regular!
  10. #pblaustralia teachers don’t tell they ask ?’s for students to develop their own strategies and be more self-directed
  11. “The enemy of innovation is perfection” Glen O’Grady. I’m a perfectionist but cannot I be an effective innovator too? #pblaustralia
  12. PBL forces us to come to terms and deal with the issues our students are facing so we can really teach #pblaustralia
  13. “PBL is philosophy… Not just method… How ppl should learn and classrooms operate and needs to b examined” Glen O’Grady #pblaustralia

And some of our questions were clarified too…

  1. An alternate word for problem is hook. What can we do to make learning intrinsic to the learner #pblaustralia
  2. Checklists are for quantity. Rubrics are for quality #pblaustralia

More great resources were also shared…

  1. I’ve got a prototype taxonomy of 4 elements for innovation – #pblaustralia not just edu but any field at all

PBL World (Australia) – Day 1

PBL World (Australia) – Day 1
Questions to ask in PBL
So many questions came out of today and like the start of every PBL project, there is many questions that we need to know the answers to in order to complete our project.  In this case our project is to learn about and plan effective PBL projects.

  1. #pblaustralia Is your project a MAIN course or a DESSERT? Can we ‘renovate’ our dessert projects 2 b more encompassing of the curriculum
  2. ‘Who in the adult world would need to know this content and how would they use it?’ Thanks @OlaDoctorGina !!! #pblaustralia
  3. How much should we as teachers monitor the work students are going? Management of work. #pblaustralia
  4. How can you create buy-in for students to hook them into the project? Build their motivation? #pblaustralia
  5. “Who am I and what do I contribute to the world” PBL philosophy #pblaustralia
  6. Stimulus resources vs stimulus experiences to prompt further inquiry… Which is more appropriate? #pblaustralia
  7. What real world topic should your class tackle? Students deciding = engagement, passion, & ownership! #pblchat #pblaustralia #PBLStyleChat
  8. What essential questions do students need to be able to answer before answering the driving question #pblaustralia
  9. Is the new innovation missing? We usually start with renovation, making incremental changes. #pblaustralia

Great take aways

For me there have already been some great take away statements and resources that will help me a lot in planning PBL but also in helping my colleagues do PBL as well.  Here are some below.

  1. Best take away… “You do not know what your students can do” @gregwhitby #pblaustralia I love giving students scope to demonstrate this
  2. Cross-KLA planning for new teaching and learning programs… Luv it! #pblaustralia
  3. Good PBL: Plan collaboratively. Spark student interest. Exhibit student work for the public #pblaustralia
  4. “A common intellectual mission…” #pblaustralia
  5. “Standardisation…the death of innovation” Luv it! #pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock
  6. “Uncovering material not just covering material” Larry Rosenstock #pblaustralia
  7. @Pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock giving us gold…produce, keep it simple, all students & adults learn, uncover not just cover #PBLAustralia
  8. Do the higher order all the time and lower order takes care of itself. Production takes care of consumption #pblaustralia
  9. Do the PBL first… Not at the end of ‘Chapter 5’… Begin with the end in mind #pblaustralia

My own project begins

I’m planning a project that will facilitate learning about digital citizenship and responsible online and digital interactivity.  I particularly want this to include implications of the law.  My target group is Year 9 with a product that will target a Year 7 audience eventually.  I’m a little different in that I am not a full time classroom teacher as such but this will definitely be a good project to use with Year 9 in iPlan lessons I hope.

The student we all hope results from these PBL experiences 🙂

Looking forward to PBL Australia

Looking forward to PBL Australia

The first ever PBL conference for Australia I think, at least one of this kind and I’m not yet there but have been watching the tweets. Some conferences I’ve been to have very little backchannel happening in the way of people tweeting but already this one is flooding my tweet feed.

  1. The first ever PBL conference for Australia I think, at least one of this kind and I’m not yet there but have been watching the tweets.  Some conferences I’ve been to have very little backchannel happening in the way of people tweeting but already this one is flooding my tweet feed.  So I thought I’d reflect on some of the great tweets so far and what it says about the essence of PBL.
  2. Larry Rosenstock “I love a project where people are in disbelief that a kid did it” #pblaustralia
  3. PBL is about giving students the scope and freedom to express their learning and understanding in ways we don’t dictate.  It’s then that they go the extra mile and produce work that just shocks us and I love that about projects.
  4. Create more, consume less. Similar/Different to ‘production not consumption’ of #pblaustralia Creation for self & others #workingonit #ethos Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:53:34

Production is so much more higher order than consumption is.  We don’t want our students just processing information in a remember and understand way but we want them to use knowledge to produce and create.

  1. Are our students doing work that has value to them? #pblaustralia
  2. LOVE the idea of taking abstract concepts in history and physically manifesting them #pblaustralia
  3. Changing the subject. Exploring through PBL encourages the curriculum to come to life and engage in the community. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:34:28
  4. PBL allows us to take the curriculum and make it real life and relevant to students.  We can take concepts and topics in the syllabi and facilitate opportunities for students to use it in their life.
  5. “Develop and defend” – key learning strategy #PBLAustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:56:51
  6. #pblaustralia innovation isn’t tinkering around the edges, it smashing the product and creating an even better product #thought Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:45:04
  7. #pblaustralia Larry Rosenstock. Thank a good teacher. Quality found in collaboration, personalization and engagement Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:51:35
  8. Integrate the world beyond through Fieldwork, Internships and Service Learning! #PBLAustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:31:39
  9. #PBLAustralia technology for production and not consumption Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:43:24
  10. @johnqgoh I’m in 🙂 Flexible teaching, flexible learning, an authentic life #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:40:06
  11. Observation, reflection, public presentation. Another tool for growing constant improvement in education. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:39:25
  12. #pblaustralia follow passions by embracing different combinations of learning
  13. ‘The purpose of learning in this century is not to learn it but to transform it’ #PBLAustralia #ACUtech Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:30:48
  14. Content is irrelevant. Reacting to the content is. #pblaustralia Mon, Nov 11 2013 22:29:20
  15. PBL is learning redesigned and redeveloped to allow students to have a voice, to engage in learning in a way that motivates them and gives them the most relevant outcomes.  It also helps them learn 21st century skills and future career-based skills.

The complete (almost) A to Z of learning Ls

I’ve been thinking more about this since the other night and the TeachMeet I was involved in and started coming up with my list of A to Z learning ‘Ls’:

  1. Authentic learning
  2. Blended learning
  3. Constructivist learning
  4. Design-based  learning
  5. Experiential learning
  6. Games-based learning
  7. Habituated learning
  8. Interactive learning
  9. Kinaesthetic learning (psychomotor learning)
  10. Lifelong learning
  11. Mobile learning
  12. Open learning
  13. Problem- or project-based learning
  14. Questioning
  15. Rote learning
  16. Self-directed learning
  17. Tangential learning
  18. Visual learning

These are the only ones I had a type of learning for and I will continue to unpack these in coming posts but I thought I should write down the ones I had already.  Will also think about designing and developing an interactive tool for discussing this further.