Gearing-up for ONL162

gears-1311171_1920 I can’t believe that a whole year has passed since I first signed-up for the ONL152 programme; and this time I’m back for ONL162 as a Facilitator (no pressure!)

What is really exciting is that this September there are 15 of my fellow VC team members who have come along for the ride!! There are few things that everyone will need to ‘get sorted’ before we kick-off on the 26th:

  • Join the ONL162 Community (G+)
  • Set up a Blog and Twitter account
  • Access the Activity Tracker
  • Look through the Agenda (with modified times from the 31st Oct), and
  • get those collaborative, creative cogs into gear!!

Here’s to a great first week…”see” you all on the 26th (8am)!!




ONL152 – a reflection

Group 3The ONL152 journey was certainly an interesting one; as the course kicked off I was really not clear about the direction it would take – instructions seemed a little vague and the group I was in also seemed to be unsure of how we should proceed. In time, however, the discussions became richer and a cross-pollination of ideas and experiences really made the whole process really worthwhile.

Before signing up for a course such as this I think it is really important to carefully consider the demands on one’s time – it is definitely not a case of ‘popping in’ once in a while to see what is happening- not if you are wanting the experience to be meaningful. I certainly found this aspect of the course a real challenge – albeit worthwhile!

The scenarios we were given provided us with interesting ‘starting points’ for our discussions, however 2 slight adjustments would have made these discussions even better:
1. If we could have been provided with them the beginning of the course rather than only having them released at the start of each new topic.
2. If at least 1 of the scenarios was one that pushed us a little more; beyond one that merely focused on someone’s fear, anxiety, confusion, suspicion etc.

In hindsight, I really enjoyed this course and the opportunity to engage in this manner  – both with the open community and with the members of my group (3).

May the course, and its facilitators, continue to grow and improve!!


From Content to Communities


To share, or not to share…that seems to be the question. I have encountered a number of lecturers / teachers who are extremely ‘protective’ of their work; I am not referring to their research or articles for publication, but rather to their notes, slides, images, activities or other resources they have developed for their students. Perhaps one of the reasons academics may be reluctant to share their work, especially in a digital space, is based on a lack of understanding of the rules that apply for protecting material that is either created, or made available, online.

Creative Commons licenses allow us to connect and share with others while still being able to exercise control over how this sharing can take place. Creative Commons is not the opposite of Copyright; it does not create a ‘free-for-all’ situation where ‘anything goes’ – instead it allows us to share our work with others while still being acknowledged as the originator of the work. It also allows us access to a wealth of ideas expressed by others that we can use to enhance our own work. There are a range of CC licenses that allow you to select the ‘degree of sharing’ that best suits you.

It’s really all about creativity and connection, access and control; Creative Commons offers us a bridge, a safe passage to a world of collaboration and sharing – “we have to move away from thinking about content to thinking about community” (2008).

Please watch: A Shared Culture (2008).
Director: Jesse Dylan
Producers: Michelle Meier and Priscilla Cohen

We should be ‘Dancing on the Ceiling’

dancing-156041_640One of the many online definitions I came across in my search for information on the concept of flexible learning, described it as “accessing education in a way that is responsive in pace, place and/or mode of delivery”. Flexible learning, it suggests, will typically include the use of technology that allows for remote or online study.

Alastair Creelman, in his video ‘Flexible Learning’, makes an important observation about the way in which technology tends to be used in the ‘flexible learning’ space; he notes that, despite an almost boundless cache of resources available to us, we don’t seem to be able to move beyond trying to recreate the ‘classroom’ format – be it made of brick and mortar, or in a virtual space like Second Life (Creelman, 2014).

Doug Belshaw says something similar when he points out that we tend to be very quick to use the technology available to us to copy (or enhance) that which we already have; books have merely become eBooks, with pages and covers that have been designed to resemble or ‘behave’ like those that exist in the analogue world. He urges that we should rather be using technology to do what has not been possible before; we need to “evolve rather than emulate” (Belshaw, 2014).

Perhaps we should start looking for truly innovative ways to use the technology available to us to design flexible learning spaces that allow us to move beyond the boundaries of the familiar and the predictable…instead of being bound to the ‘classroom’, we should be ‘dancing on the ceiling’!

[Dancing on the Ceiling, Lionel Ritchie, 1986].

Refocusing on the Student Experience

The 26th ICDE World Conference was held at Sun City (13 – 16 October 2015) – and I was privileged to be among the 900+ delegates, representing 67 countries from around the world. Although each of the Keynote speakers was excellent; one in particular linked most strongly with our ONL152, Topic 3 – namely that of ‘Collaborative Learning & Communities’. 


Joyce Seitzinger is an educational technologist at Deakin University, Australia, where her focus is on blended learning and the student experience. She quotes Don Norman when she explains that, “The  whole  point  of  human-centered  design  is  to  tame  complexity,  to  turn  what  would   appear  to  be  a  complicated  tool  into  one  that  fits  the  task;   that  is  understandable,  usable,  enjoyable.” She expands on these ideas when she challenges how educational technology is used and how online programmes tend to be designed; she suggests that perhaps we have “lost the human side of learning”. Instead, she talks to the need for a ‘Learner experience design’; where we refocus our technology solutions on the learner, and answer questions like “How well do we really know them? How are they using our learning environments and services? Are we creating experiences that make the most of their personal learning networks, and how do we design a learner experience that connects to a whole life filled with learning?” (Seitzinger, 2015 – ICDE Topic: Learner Experience Design: a new hope?).

Thought-provoking questions – and certainly some I would like to discuss further!

Digital Literacies are PLURAL

Doug Belshaws ‘8 Essential Elements’.

I find references to ‘Digital Literacy’ (in the singular) problematic and, using the work of Dr. Doug Belshaw as my reference, I will attempt to explain why…

Within different settings, and in different contexts, our levels of literacy will vary – while I may be very comfortable logging on to Facebook, checking in at my local coffee shop and uploading a photograph onto my timeline; I may be far less confident about the prospect of conducting online research using a Twitter # filter. In the FBook context I could argue that I was certainly literate, however, in the Twitter context, far less so.

Referring to Digital Literacy in the singular implies that there is only the state of either being literate or not literate, but if we begin to accept that literacies are in fact plural; made up of several interconnected elements (what Belshaw refers to as the 8 essential elements)  – then it becomes possible to discuss this concept in a far less linear way – as Martin (2006a) puts it “digital literacy is a condition, not a threshold”.

If you are keen to hear more of Doug’s ideas; watch this clip where he presented at a TED Conference in 2012, entitled The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies.