Stuff. Just Make It.


Maker Movement. Makerspaces. Play Pods. Fab Labs. Innovation Labs.

Ever since I had heard about the Makerspace movement some time ago I can honestly say that I was very intrigued. This I guess stems from my interest in students being actively engaged in their own learning, especially when involved in specific models of inquiry such as problem and challenge based learning. I have seen time and time again the engagement and learning of students develop at a rapid rate when they are the ‘activators’ of not so much what they learn, but how they learn it.

So what exactly is a Makerspace? There are many different variations but the general essence of what a Makerspace is well summed up by the “Makerspace Playbook” – Maker Education Initiative 2013 who state;

“Learning environments rich with possibilities, Makerspaces serve as gathering points where communities of new and experienced makers connect to work on real and personally meaningful projects, informed by helpful mentors and expertise, using new technologies and traditional tools.”


2 weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of attending a workshop with Gary Stager, one of the, if not the, worlds foremost authority on Makerspaces and the Makerspace Movement.

At the very beginning of Gary’s workshop he showed a short clip from the wonderful 1950’s American TV Show The Little Rascals. I have embedded the full episode below via YouTube and it is well worth the watch. Gary’s main point from this clip was to highlight that close to 70 years ago young people, namely children, were active in the space of making and creating and yes, this is a TV show, however the ideas were there from someone. In the end, we learn by doing and making.

Besides being as I have mentioned interested in all of this for quite some time, one of the major draw cards to wanting to attend Gary’s workshop was that it involved for the most part tinkering, playing, making and creating. This involved using awesome new technologies, some of which I had heard of and others that I had not.

For me, it was also investigating how we bridge that gap between what students can do in a Makerspace, what they can learn, and how this ties in with the current curriculum.

The SAMR model was also touched upon as through having our students involved in making, creating and tinkering, we are wanting them to be involved on a journey that allows them to complete tasks and ‘things’ that were previously inconceivable. Much like the way we are wanting students to use technology based on the redefinition stage of SAMR.

Adding to all of this, Gary and his Colleague Silvia Martinez have recently written a book titled ‘Invent to Learn‘ and as its name suggests, focuses extremely heavily on using various technologies to make, create and tinker. A basis I believe for this workshop.

The website linked to Gary and Sylvia’s work is also an excellent resource for those wanting to know more about this space in education.

Now just one of the tools that I had a great time engaging with on the day was what is known as a ‘Makey Makey’ Kit. I am sure you may have heard on them. Basically a Makey Makey allows you to substitute just about anything for specific basic functions of a computer. The two embedded videos below highlight this perfectly.

For me personally, it was the ability at Gary’s workshop to be able to play Guitar Hero on my Mac using lollies as the guitar keys. Why would you want to do that I can hear people saying. Well, why would you not!


It’s hard to read but yes, that is a 91% successful completion score for the Foo Fighters Song ‘Times Like These’. 


Whilst on Makey Makey I very recently came across this post by Brian Aspinall who has showcased some of the great Makey Makey stuff that he has done with his students in the UK: What Can You Invent? Exploring the Makey Makey in Grade 7 & 8

After watching these clips of Brian’s, again, you might be thinking “why?”. Here’s where we need to think deeper than the task. We need to think about the learning that took place. It would be great to hear from these kids what they actually learnt. What were their take aways? Did they learn about circuits and electrical wiring? Did they learn about open and closed circuits? Did they learn about electrical currents? What about items and objects that conduct electricity as opposed to those that do not? Did the water speakers react differently when different music was played? THEN we begin to learning about frequency and pitch and then about sound waves. And so the list goes on.

And it is HERE that drives the answer to that “why”.

When involved in a makerspace or learning of that nature, it is not only the focus perhaps of what the students have been directed to do, if anything, it is the ‘experiential learning‘ that takes place. Learning through doing and through experience.

Gary Stager in his workshop also discussed the notion of the ‘Maker Faire‘ which have apparently taken the United States by storm! As per the Maker faire website, a Maker Faire is: “Part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new, Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. All of these “makers” come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned.” Anyone keen? 😉

The 2014 the New York Maker Faire attracted 215,000 people who were simply curious and wanted to make ‘stuff’. Wouldn’t it be great if schools were like that! The curious and making part, not the 215,000 part.

Well why can’t they be? Schools and College worldwide and especially here in Australia are jumping on board and creating Makerspaces in their settings to engage and ignite the curiosity in our young minds.

Blogs posts such as these from Edutopia, “Designing a School Makerspace“, “Creating Maker Spaces in Schools“, and “ReMaking Education: Designing Classroom Makerspaces for Transformative Learning” are great starting points for those wishing to know more.

The 2006 TED Talk below by Neil Gershenfeld, an MIT Professor, is a great video of how a fab lab encouraged others to build what they needed using digital and analogue tools. A perfect example, albeit a complex one, of how a Makerspace and the freedom it gave to those wishing to build within it allowed them to create, innovate and inspire some truly remarkable ideas.

We also only need to look in our own backyard with great educators out there who are doing awesome things in this area. Adrian Camm and his work with 3D Printing is always a source of inspiration. As Gary mentioned in his workshop, Fabrication (3D Printing) is one of the the 3 ‘Game Changers’ along with Physical Computing (Makey Makey, Arduino, etc…) and Computer Programing. Adrian’s blog posts relating to his ‘Elephanticus‘ are great examples of how technology coupled with imagination can drive learning in this area.  Matt Richards and the work he has done around the Makerspace Movement is very much worth following as his ideas and thoughts in this space are terrific. Also, hearing about the work Narissa Leung has initiated at her setting around letting students have a greater voice when it comes to students being curious, thinkers and wonders is great. Because really, what other schools give their kids a pile of bricks and say “off you go, have fun!”. My tip, not enough. Her blog post about some of this work can be found here.

So what are my plans from here? Honestly, I am not sure. Again, I love all of the above and what it can bring. Ideally, to have some form of Makerspace set up at each of my campuses, or perhaps one major one that can be utilised at by all campuses would be great. To hold our own College ‘Maker Faire’ would also be a great experience. Much like a Google Science Fair. To have students engaged in creativity, imagination, invention and construction and showcase the learning that they took from being involved.

As Seymour Papert once said, “The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready made knowledge.”

While we’re on the quote train, one quote of Gary’s that really resonated was this – “Walking through a school and watching students can be like watching balloons deflate.” Meaning, that the ideas and thirst for knowledge that our students have are not developed and encouraged in school. But rather they are ignored and pushed to the wayside for more ‘general’ topics to be discussed and taught. Yes, we have a curriculum to attend to to, however, like Papert’s quote above, we can certainly steer students in the direction of where and how they develop this ‘needed’ knowledge rather than simply tell them the answers.

And lastly, as if I needed anymore convincing that this whole ‘Makerspace’ thing is a great idea, according to the recently released Australian Governments 2015 Intergenerational Report when talking about Productivity, “We (the Australian Public) have to be more productive to ensure we do not fall behind, to create new opportunities for jobs and to drive our incomes higher.” If we are to do this successfully, we as educators within this country need to ensure we’re developing students who’ll thrive in a future world. Students who can think differently in innovative and creative ways to develop new ways to complete current and new tasks.

Yes, a little off topic, however if you’re interested in the Aus Govs Intergenerational Report, the amazing Dr Karl Kruszelnicki sums it up in a 15min video, embedded below.

I’d love to hear from those engaged in a Makerspace and how they are not only going about integrating a Makerspace type environment into their setting, but what exactly the students are getting out of it in terms of learning.

Pigeons on Trains



So. Are you an Apple Fanatic or more of a Windows lover? Or perhaps you’re happy to stand by a Chromebook and sing it’s praises? Then we have Google and Adobe and all their app offerings? There are then also an abundance of netbooks and other random laptop and desktop devices that schools are happy to swear by. At the end of the day, which is it or you?

There is always discussion and debate around what digital tools and technology is best and what devices and tools are ‘better’, what ever that means, at promoting student learning.

I am finding and seeing lately that educators in all settings are being pigeon holed and or railroaded into using specific digital tools to support students in their quest for knowledge.

Now those who know me will be the first to say that I have come from a setting that was an ‘Apple Mac’ school, Apple Distinguished even, and that all 1800 students were asked to provide themselves with an Apple device under a College wide BYOD framework. This I can say worked. And worked extremely well.

My current setting does things a little differently and without going into details we have the majority of our year 3 – 8 students with iPad devices. There are other devices thrown into the mix such as Lenovo Yoga Windows 8 devices and stand alone desktops. It is when students head to the senior campus that we then have an ‘open door’ policy allowing students to utilise just about any device to support their learning. A true BYOD framework.

Now this in itself has many challenges, of which I am not going to go into right now, however from what I have seen, and for those students who have a device, the more varied devices the merrier. Students will select a device for their needs based on a great deal of reasons, all of which are specific to them as an individual. As teachers we are not bound by the type of devices we use. Nor would there many people I would argue that are told they can only use on specific devices in their workplaces. Dare I say I have been to Australian Google HQ in Sydney and noticed that not all their employees were working away on Chromebooks.

Ritchie Lambert in his blog post “Which digital device is best for education?” says “ The only mistake you can make is believing that one device can be chosen that will be the everything you need.” I’d have to agree. Completely.

At the end of the day it comes down to students having access to multiple technologies that play their part for the role that is intended. Granted, some devices do more than others, however we all need to recognise that there is no ‘one size fits all’. I doubt that there’ll ever be. This is why it is important that educators do not get railroaded and or pigeon holed in using singular technologies. By all means learn about and love what you use most, but do not let that become your sole answer to technology use and integration with your students.

We need to take the best of each, merge them, and smash teaching and learning out of the park.

Do Better, Not Different


Well, that was intense.

I can say that I was not expecting to be challenged by yesterdays event as much as I was. Honestly, I was not sure what I was expecting other than to hopefully develop a better understanding of the NPDL project and to hear Simon discuss how he drives and activates change.

Let’s just say expectations were met, massively exceeded, and then some.

Simon Breakspear led what was a thought provoking and challenging day in how we as leaders within our schools can not only drive and steer the new pedagogies for deep learning project, but also drive, lead and promote change in our educational settings. So really, as mentioned already I got out of the day exactly what I was after.

Now I could, as I have done in the past, recount the day minute by minute and write a long-winded recount. I won’t. In the words from Simon himself: “Focus on less, but better”. So. I’ll pull out several key points from the day that really resonated quite strongly with me and what I do, and how my thinking has been shaped around these thoughts and ideas.

Here we go.

1. “The Best Always Look To Get Better.”


Yes they do. That’s what makes them the best. That willingness to constantly improve and want to be the best, or do the best, or lead the best, and so on… However, education is not a competition. Schools should never be ‘competing’ against one another (Did someone say ‘My School’ website…). They should be working with one another to improve practice and I was pretty happy with the conversations that I had had with other educators at various settings to hear about how they are ‘being the best’ they can be. Effectively, this is, that is, what it is all about. It is about teachers and schools being the best that they can be for the students in their setting. It is about preparing and educating the young minds that walk in to our setting each and everyday with the skills that will hold them in great stead to be successful in their chosen career paths, what ever that may be. It is about improving pedagogy, improving practice, improving learning. Seriously, why would you NOT want to be better. If there is no desire for improved pedagogy and whole school betterment, why…? The question for me is “what can I do at my setting to get better, as an individual in my role but much more importantly, what can my college do to be the best it can?”

2. “The ‘new’ way needs to become easy so that it becomes ‘the’ way”

Screen Shot 2014-04-03 at 8.26.28 am

How often do we hear it. “Oh no, not something thing else I have to do.”. Or. “Not another add on”. Or. “I don’t have time for this”. Are we too good improve? (I love the image above as it can occasionally be like that). Everything new is difficult, different, worrying, and so on. If it was simply ‘easy’ why would we be bother to begin with? Things only become easy, like changing pedagogy, like implementing new initiatives, like introducing new learning and learning strategies after the hard yards have been done. Only then will things become easier and only then, as Simon mentioned, it will become ‘the’ way. I cannot say that coordinating and implementing a 1:1 program at my previous school for 2000 students was easy. Nor did it happen overnight. It took the best part of a small army spanning the better part of 5 good years. But now, it is the way. It is easy. The hard yards had been done. Change, in any format for any initiative can be challenging. We need to push through the difficulty, testing and trying parts before we see the light.

Yesterday I also came across this blog post by George Couros titled “Why are you doing that again?“. One great point that George makes which goes hand in hand with another quite from Simon, shown below, is that “The biggest barrier to change is often our own thinking. As individuals, we need to change that.” Relates very strongly to new ways becoming the way.


3. “We need to do better, not different.”

This relates to the first point however I think that when you actually think about it, as I did for an hour on a train home, there is a lot to take away from this statement. Why do we do different and does doing different mean better? Is it perhaps implied that because we are making a change or beginning to do things differently that we automatically think this means better? Are paradigms being shifted? This statement I think will remain with me forever in the back of my mind as for me it promotes the further thinking of “why”. If I, or my college are initiating change, why? Will it improve student learning, or are we simply doing it because it is new and ‘different’. A great book that I have recently started reading, on top of two others (which I have never done, that is, read multiple books at once), which I feel relates to this perfectly is titled “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. A book already challenging me to think deeply about my own practice. And I am only a handful of pages into it! If the why does not lead to better, but only different, is it really worth the time, resources, manpower, costs, and headaches?


4. You cannot lead people into a future you cannot see.”


A fair point. Although I think that this did not bother Captain Kirk and the USS Enterprise. If you yourself cannot see what lies ahead how do you expect others to follow you? Leaders and those driving change need to firmly understand the path that they are taking and most importantly why. See above points 1 and 2. And 3. And 4. Why are we doing this? Will it make a difference, or, more importantly, will it makes us better?? Will those driving this change be able to pull others into getting on board though inspiring them to do so? The purpose needs to be there as does the the ability to be able to discuss, converse and debate why perhaps a change is needed. Ensuring that others can see this, the why, then leading people into the future will be much more successful and worthwhile and perhaps the amount of Klingons that are encountered are dramatically reduced.


5. “Learn to fail well.”

I hate failing. Just like losing. Hate it. The competitiveness in me just does not like it. Everything from engaging in the odd playstation game, to years of playing football, to being involved in a trivia nights, losing or failing just does not agree with me. I do not think that this is solely a bad thing. It drives me to do better and be better. Not in a manic, screaming, overly intense way either! Personally learning to fail well is something that I need to be able to do better. I think that now I ‘fail OK’, but I perhaps could sit back and reflect for longer as to why I have failed rather than think briefly about it, and try again immediately. The hustle and bustle and need to constantly complete set tasks to a standard that I am happy with perhaps could be cause of the odd failure here and there. Again, not a bad thing I feel. As yes, slow and steady wins the race but we always cannot afford to be slow. The teaching/education game does not always allow it. I feel that also failing well is a skill and a particularly great thing to be able to model to students. It shows them first hand what it means to be resilient in the face of adversity. That getting in a ‘huff and a puff’ solves nothing. Learn to fail well. Learn from failure. “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new” – Albert Einstein.


So they’re my 5 takeaways. The 5 items on my agenda to focus upon. I must thank Simon for such a great day again and for again challenging me and most likely the other 100+ people in that shared space. We’ll all be much better off for it!

And so much for a short blog post. I knew this would happen! 🙂 I’ll learn from this failure! Maybe. 😉



“Education… needs to be radically rethought partly to stop the boredom, but mostly to blow the lid off learning, whereby students and teachers as partners become captivated by education day in and day out.” Michael Fullan

Fullan sums it up perfectly I think. The need for change, of some description, to encourage and foster learning that looks like and relates to the year 2015 and beyond is essential, especially if we are wishing to eradicate that ‘boredom’.

After having attended a workshop just this Monday passed regarding Fullan’s ‘New Pedagogies for Deep Learning’, I was strongly encouraged and even more so motivated to be part of this relatively new initiative.

In short, the New Pedagogies for Deep Learning initiative is a global innovation partnership linking students, teachers, leaders and schools across the world to essentially re-design what teaching and learning looks like to ensure student lead more successful lives.

From this partnership students from the world over will be encouraged and engaged in deeper learning experiences that will provide them with the skills to be life long learners, creators, connected citizens, and collaborative problem solvers.

My new College is one of 80 schools within the DET who are involved in this global partnership that is looking at how deep level learning can shift that paradigm towards students, teachers and the wider community to become more connected towards active learning scenarios.

The workshop I attended was a ‘101’ based event and certainly gave me the background information that I needed to be up to speed with this program. In saying as I have already, that I walked away motivated and encouraged by what I had been part of, I was also very much intrigued as to how something of this magnitude would play out.

The video below gives a good overview of NPDL and how it’s 4 dimensions of,

– pedagogical practices

– learning partnerships

– leveraging digital

– learning environments

… as well as the 6C’s (competencies) of,

– collaboration

– critical thinking

– creativity

– citizenship

– communication

– character

…all foster and develop authentic engagement via this notion of deep learning.

One of the first tasks that we were tasked with doing was to complete a good old ‘Y-Chart’ with the focus being on “What does Deep Learning…”, as seen below.


Would you agree with what was recorded? What else would you add?

What goes hand in hand to support this initiative are the support materials, resources and papers that have been designed to assist students, teachers and leaders.

One of these resources is the Education+ paper written by Michael Fullan and Geoff Scott, which can be accessed HERE.

This is a short yet highly thought provoking read and I encourage you to please do so. One quote that resonated, partially as I have blogged about this type of thing very recently, was;

“It is learning that looks at the world from many different perspectives, cuts across the disciplines (after all we live in a trans-disciplinary world not a mono-disciplinary one), learning that is relevant to real world interests, needs and challenges of our students, is (inter) active and which concentrates on developing the capabilities that count not only for today but for a sustainable future”Fullan & Scott 2014.

Again. Beautifully said.

All of this, knowing there was an assessment component to this program left me with thinking how do educators involved assessment because honestly, how does a teacher assess and even plan for deep learning?

And then just when you raise a question, BANG, the answer, or part there of appears. Another paper, written as part of NPDL by Hill and Langworthy titled – ‘A strategic approach to the assessment of deep learning’ is also an excellent read and certainly goes some way to answering the above.

Like the ‘Education+’ paper, this is also short but again full of deep thinking for yourself. The big 3 (pedagogy, curriculum and assessment) of course play a large part towards reassessing just what student assessment should look like. Personally I do feel that assessment, and the data that goes hand in hand with it, are the core tools that we as teachers have. It is assessment and data that drives what we do, what we plan, and how we teach to that plan. A whole paradigm shift in assessment of student learning needs to perhaps not to occur, but a rethink in educational settings as to what we assess, how we assess it and what we do with the results of that assessment is needed.

Lastly, and before this turns in to a novel, i’ll finish up with this…

We were asked / tasked with writing our dream scenario of what would we as teachers absolutely love our classrooms to look like, if NPDL were fully incorporated as part as tools of all planning and action. What would your ideal, deep learning classroom look like?

Mine went along these lines;

“My NPDL classroom would be full of inquiry. Learning tasks would be rich and cross curricula and the larger of the focus would be on application, not skill. Students would drive their own learning and the teacher act as an advisor or facilitator. Student focus would be to take action with their newly acquired knowledge and skills. For that action to benefit others outside of the college / school setting. My classroom would be technology rich with students creating content for others, not simply consuming information. They would foster the 6C’s and encourage the use of those skills in others. Students would seek knowledge from outside of the classroom, or the school for that matter, to assist in building on their prior knowledge. They would use experts in their field, relatives, friends and students in other settings. Assessment would have purpose and drive the teaching. It would also drive students to use the data from those formal, adaptive assessments to set their own learning goals and agendas.” 

(I could probably add more…)  🙂

What would your ideal classroom look like? And how would you integrate NPDL?

This is certainly a global initiative worth keeping an eye as the results that come from it I believe will be outstanding.

If not now, when? And why not already?


I love my job (in saying this I have been in my new position now for 1 day and 134 minutes…), however, I am really meaning teaching, working in schools and doing what my role/s over the past 13 years have involved.

I have also in that time developed a greater presence online via social media through connecting and sharing with of educators the world over. The following, and writing of, blogs has also led to my growth professionally.

Now in this time I have read a lot and mainly within EdTech and Leadership circles about the need to drive and promote change within education systems. This ‘chatter’ has been ongoing and I adore hearing the endless stream of people’s views on the various matters that have us all up in arms from time to time. One such blog post which I recently very much enjoyed was penned…? keyed…? by Richie Lambert titled ‘It’s time to kill off ‘e-learning’ & ’21st century skills‘. This is a fantastic post that looks at the divide between old and new teaching methodologies and thinking, and how this is damaging what matters and that being student learning.

As Richie stated at the beginning of his post, one of the largest ‘streams’ of ongoing conversation has been heavily focused around 21st Century Learning and preparing students for what lies ahead after they complete their schooling journeys. We know that the world is rapidly changing due to the many technological advancements and we have also heard that employers are now looking for skills in potential employees that are vastly different from what they were once perhaps looking for. Now the aforementioned conversation stream I mentioned is this, that our educational models and frameworks are somewhat failing to adequately prepare our students for this new world and what the future ahead of them may hold.

I completely agree that we as educators in this day and age need to incorporate more of these so called ’21st century’ skills in to put programs but certainly not at the expense of more traditional curriculum content. This post however is not about arguing that debate.

One document that I have referenced since its release in 2011 is the “Future Work Skills 2020” published by the Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute.

The report outlines 6 key drivers which are ‘disruptive shifts’ that will drastically alter what the workforces of the future will be like. Lined to these are 10 ‘key skills’ that people will need to be successful in the workforces of the future.

These are outlined below in the embedded graphic.


Below I have included the descriptors taken from the report that briefly outlines what each key skill is asking from potential employees.

  1. Sense Making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social Intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

I suppose my question is why is there not more being done to facilitate and drive the promotion of these skills within the education system/s? There is little doubt that we as educators are deeply passionate about developing most if not all of these skills in our learners, and if not these skills themselves, others very similar.

The skills outlined above via the IFTF of course have implications for various organisations and institutions worldwide. An excerpt taken from the aforementioned report states;

“To be successful in the next decade, individuals will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating a rapidly shifting landscape of organizational forms and skill requirements. They will increasingly be called upon to continually reassess the skills they need, and quickly put together the right resources to develop and update these.

“Workers in the future will need to be adaptable lifelong learners.”

Educational institutions at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, are largely the products of technology infrastructure and social circumstances of the past. The landscape has changed and educational institutions should consider how to adapt quickly in response. Some directions of change might include:

» Placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities

» Integrating new-media literacy into education programs

» Including experiential learning that gives prominence to soft skills—such as the ability to collaborate, work in groups, read social cues, and respond adaptively

» Broadening the learning constituency beyond teens and young adults through to adulthood » Integrating interdisciplinary training that allows students to develop skills and knowledge in a range of subjects” .

When you read through the 10 Key Skills and even the ideas above for direction change and integration, what comes to mind that you and or your colleagues are doing to support the development of these skills?

I would like to think that we as educators we are already embedding these key skills. I know that within my own teaching and learning I have focused on students developing their critical thinking skills and ability to analyse various sets of data. The ability to not only collaborate and work effectively in a group but to do so in an online environment.

As support of this, In 2012 the ‘Institute for Public Policy Research’ released a report titled ‘Oceans of Innovation, The Atlantic, The Pacific, global leadership and the future of education.’ This is a very good short read that discusses how those countries in and around the Pacific Rim will in fact lead the world in development, economy, leadership and education in the next 50 years and how driving innovation will drive this. One great passage from this text I have embedded below.

The road to hell in education is paved with false dichotomies. One of the more devastating of these, because it is so thoroughly misleading, is the belief that systems which ensure high standards in reading, writing and arithmetic inevitably do so at the expense of creativity, thinking, individuality and so on.” – Pg 48.

The need to ‘add’ to current curriculum is not needed whatsoever. The blending and integration of problem based learning, challenged based learning and even more tradition models of Inquiry Based Learning can assist greatly in the development of skills which are not taught in an isolated fashion. Design thinking, critical thinking, computational thinking, problem solving, etc… can all be encouraged, and more often than not are, through various models of inquiry.

Personally I believe that it comes down to teachers having effective and developing pedagogy to best teach and prepare our students with the skills and knowledge that will see them become successful. Period. If developing core skills such as those outlined by IFTF in conjunction and alongside with current curriculum content, then I am confident our students will be heading off into the big wide world with the effective skill sets they need.

So if you are educating a cohort of young and enquiring minds… are you preparing them adequately for what their future will most likely entail? And if not, why not? 😉

Teaching Teachers

Towards the end of 2014 I was involved in a series of Professional Learning opportunity ran by the fabulous Muffy Hand. Muffy runs PL sessions for schools and their leadership teams focusing on  how to be more effective as a leader and how to better deal with ‘challenging’ and difficult situations and people. Something I am sure most of us have had to encounter at some stage.

During one of her sessions Muffy showed the graphic below which I was quite intrigued by. The data contained within has derived from the research that Marzano has done around the impact on learning that teachers have. For more information regarding the great research that Marzo et. al. has done head here.

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 When looking at this what surprises you? What resonates and relates? What are the implications of this research and most importantly what if anything can we do about it?

To tie this in to my own educational role for 2015, that being a Digital Learning Coach, I have been thinking more and more what exactly a ‘coach’ within a school is charged with doing? Is it my responsibility to get teachers to the point of being effective and more so highly effective? No pressure there!

According to the Victorian Department of Education (DEECD), they state that; “Coaches are primarily concerned with improving learning outcomes for all students, regardless of their location, background or socioeconomic status. Coaches focus on developing teachers as effective independent practitioners who contribute to high performing school communities.” – Coaching Teachers in Effective Instruction, DEECD 2010

Nothing to it really… 😉

What I very much enjoy about coaching and working with teachers to improve their capacity in a multitude of ways is that teaching teachers is not a whole lot different from teaching kids and I mean this with the utmost respect to teachers! 😉

Before I go on and elaborate on the above point, I need to say that I have never been coached. I have never been formally trained to be a coach and that my knowledge of coaching has been developed from excellent educators I have worked with that have assisted me to be effective as a coach. I’ll take a minute here to thank two of those people in Helen Otway and Michelle Meracis. 🙂

Now, when teaching kids I firmly believe that to do this effectively your number one goal without hesitation is to get to know your learners. If you take the time to get to know your students and their capabilities towards learning, then you as the educator can facilitate a greater means of differentiation and a variance of instructional practices to better cater for these students. Teaching teachers I have personally found is much the same.

Some respond brilliantly to to a more formal manner, some enjoy the team teaching methodology and others prefer a 1:1 approach. I feel that the days of delivering a P.L. (professional learning) session for teachers that involve a presenter banging on about a topic of choice with no audience input are gone, especially with the younger generation of educators that are coming through the university ranks. What P.L we are definitely not wanting to see,and yes, by all reports this is real, is below…

In 2014 I had the wonderful opportunity of engaging as a mentor for a DEECD sponsored professional learning series titled “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century”. This was a great chance to facilitate and drive and promote professional thinking and practice with a group of passionate and driven educators. One of the other coaches for this PL, John Pearce, gave a great presentation titled “PD can be Dodgy” and within this John delivered two concepts outlined below;

1. An Androgogical Approach to learning. This involves learners being;

  • adults
  • able to strive for autonomy and self direction
  • able to use their own and other’s experiences
  • able to engage in problem solving
  • self motivated
  • facilitated by an enabler


2. A Heutagogical Approach To Learning. This involves learners being;

  • interdependent
  • able to manage their own learning path which may not be linear
  • reflect on their learning in order to learn to learn
  • pro-actively manage change
  • engage a coach to assist part/s of the process

As an educator do the above relate to you in anyway? Over the past few years we have heard that teachers need to develop a greater sense of collaboration and connectedness via having a greater online presence. Creating a PLN (Professional Learning Network) is the core example of this. Via a PLN, and to use my own here as an example, I have a vast wealth of people and expertise that I can tap into when needed. Also, via means such as Twitter and G+, the learning comes to me. I follow who I do because they are beneficial to my learning, which inturn I can pass on to others. It would be terrific to see schools place a greater focus on ‘Heutagogical Learning’ and have teachers take a greater responsibility also for their own development. But this of course takes time to embed and time to implement however is the ficus is made time will be found.

Now… have a think about the best professional learning opportunity that you have been involved in. Why was it so good? Were you completely engaged? Was a topic that you were passionate about? Was it hands on and practical?

…Now did it improve you as an educator and improve your practice? Did it make you more ‘effective’?

What does it mean to be an effective teacher anyway? How to you become an effective teacher? Who teaches you to be an effective teacher? There is no other profession in the world that I feel asks so much from those within it than what teaching does. Being an effective teacher is bloody hard. My support for people in this profession will never waiver and yes we have heard it before, but as a teacher, an educator, you are so much more. Teachers do not simply get to focus on their craft. We have to play those roles of Psychologists, FBI Behavioural Analysts, Paramedics, Mediators, Interior Designers, Law Enforcement Officials, and everything in between. With all of this going on, how do we still become effective teachers!

If within my role this year I can assist teachers in whatever way to improve their practice, with the one focus in mind of improving student learning, I will be a happy man. Not having seen my new school in action, I clearly get the distinct feeling that I am part of a highly effective school. The conversations I have had have all revolved around how to best cater for the students within the school and how we as teachers can best cater for their learning needs.

I believe that Universities have a lot to answer for in how they prepare wave after wave of the new educators coming in to the system. By no means am I saying that they’re doing a bad job, I will say it could be better, however, it is the schools, the personale within, and the teachers themselves that are required to take the most responsibility towards educators becoming more ‘effective’.

Again, I am looking forward to 2015 and working closely alongside teachers in my new setting. If i can improve their skill sets and capabilities through technology integration and help them to become more effective in their craft than what they already are I will be a very happy person, and I hope they will be too.

Moving On


It’s more than likely a terrible thing that I am about to do but alas I am going to do it it anyway… Forget quoting your Piagets, Pappert’s, Robinson’s, Mitra’s, Heppell’s, Wheeler’s, and so on (actually, don’t, they’re AMAZING, but for the sake of this post…), I am about to quote some old guy from a bank commercial. The commercial in question is below;


“A ship in the harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for”.

Now without leaving that so called harbour, where ever it may be, that ship will always be safe, at ease, have a sense of security and strong belonging and be well known throughout that harbours community. Now that is all good and proper, great in fact, if indeed that ship enjoys all of the aforementioned things and those things only. 

For myself personally, I like the notion of living as a ship in said harbour. It sounds nice and easy going. However, I also am one who easily gets bored with routine, dislikes repetition, needs to be constantly challenged and gets excited about the prospect of breaking from the norm and ‘stirring the pot’.

As my first post in 2015, which I am aiming to be will be one of many, I have after 6 years left a harbour that I was very comfortable in for another setting, or mooring if I am to continue with this whole ship/harbour thing…

 In 28 days time I continue my teaching career at a new College in a role that is similar to what I was doing previously at Manor Lakes P-12 College. I am certain that the particular skills and capabilities I have developed over the past 6 years at MLP12C I owe a lot of credit to. The leadership support and high quality teachers that I associated with daily were a large part of my own development as an eLearning Coordinator and teacher.

My new role sees me ‘tagged’ as a Digital Learning Coach and although the particulars of the role are still yet to be set in stone, I see myself working very closely with select members of my new staff across the 5 campuses in which my new setting, Northern Bay College, are set out over.

I am comfortable in saying that I am nervous and wary of what lies ahead and what challenges may come my way. The challenges do not phase me in the slightest, failing to overcome these is where the nerves kick in and in saying this I do not exactly know WHAT the challenges are as of yet! Having only met a small number of staff at my new setting I can already tell that a commitment and drive to improve student learning is extremely evident and this certainly encouraged by effective technology use.

Now without going into the details of how I am going tackle this new role and ‘coach’ focusing on Digital Learning, I will let the two videos embedded below explain where a lot of my thinking has been as of late.



I cannot wait to get in to the 2015 School Calendar and I am already feeling like it is a breath of fresh air. I hope that I can continue to share my journey throughout the course of the year and gain feedback from you all when and where needed. 

Oh, and Happy New Year!



Get Going…



As I have certainly come to realise since my first days of teaching, Google is much more than just a place to go to to search for stuff, usually like that of the content below…



Since I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney in 2011 I have certainly been awoken, more so, to all that Google not only has to offer, which is quite a lot, but just how those offerings have a positive impact on teaching and learning.

The knowledge gained from the 2011 Academy, the personal and professional networks that were developed, as well as the skills I obtained have assisted me to better differentiate and deliver content to my students as well as allow them as learners to differentiate their own learning through collaborating, creating, and communicating online.

As part of being a GCT (Google Certified Teacher) it is an expectation, and a good one at that, that the networks that are formed share the ‘Google Love’ amongst not only the Google Communities but the educational communities wide and far. As part of this we have the GEG, or Google Educator Groups, and in particular the GEG Melbourne Chapter, which yes, sounds like a MotorCycle club…

As a brief background to what exactly a GEG is, the graphic below sums it up very nicely…

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 12.55.07 pm

Last night I was part of a 2 man team alongside with the talented and passionate Aaron Davis where we ran the first GEG Melbourne WEST event! An event that went smoothly, was rich in discussion and even had attendees learning the odd thing or two.

The event was geared around “Getting Going With Google” as you can see below with the focus on enabling educators with the knowledge needed to get up and running with Google for 2015!

gegNow I must pause and thank those in attendance. Manor Lakes P-12 College is not the easiest place to get to to the fact that you made the effort and then also managed to find it was credit to you all! 🙂

GEG’s run every so often and I encourage all educators who are looking for ways to better enhance the use of the technology within their settings to attend a GEG at some stage.

As an introduction to the evening I demonstrated the use of two GREAT Google based activities, these being ‘A Google A Day, and Smarty Pins‘. These are AWESOME as warm ups with kids as well as staff! 😉 There are many of these great Google based tools and activities out there that are very powerful and yet not very well known. This is a post in itself, that will hopefully come soon! 😉

The presentation embedded below was a little rehash of one that I did at the Google Summit in 2013 in Melbourne and was aimed to give a very brief snapshot at ways, very easy, very simple ways, that Google App’s can be incorporated into teaching and learning programs and was the basis of last nights GEG.

Lastly, the real benefit of the evening was the connections that were made and the discussions and sharing that took place. It would have been very easy for Aaron and I to share countless resources that supported them in ‘Going Google’. This we could have done by email. Much the same way a Keynote presenter could present via Skype, Google Hangouts or Web Conferencing.

Being there however to have face to face discussions with people about the trials, tribulations and successes that we have all been part of within out settings makes these experiences SO much more worthwhile.

2013 ICILS Report – A Snapshot.


Recently I attended the DLTV (Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria) Digital Leadership Forum.

The day itself was absolutely jam-packed with speakers, presenters and information and as per usual I left feeling overwhelmed. One of the topics of discussion that was raised and one that I followed up afterwards was the data that was recently released via the 2013 ICIL Study.

ILCILS, or ‘International Computer and Information Literacy Study’ was undertaken to determine ‘Australian students’ readiness for study, work and life in the digital age’. Quite a large and ambitious study to undertake!

I have linked both the studies findings in both its forms, the ‘comprehensive’ and the ‘at a glance’ versions below for you to have a more in depth peruse at your own leisure.

The dynamics of the survey itself are as follows:

  • 60,000 year 8 students were involved from 3,300 schools from 21 countries worldwide.
  • 46 schools in Australia were involved along with their 5,326 year 8 students.
  • From these worldwide settings above, 35,000 teachers were also surveyed.

Rather than pick apart the survey and it’s findings in a whole lot of depth, I have attempted to create a marvelous info- graphic that outlines just some of the key data that I thought was very interesting. Data that I have already shared with some members of my staff which have proved to be great topics of conversation.

Some of the data and findings are not at all surprising, others on the other hand are. One of the biggest surprises is that Australian students are less interested in using ICT more so than any other country. I have been deeply wondering why this is? My students do not leap for joy when we use their iPads in class however they also do not sigh and complain.

What are your thoughts about the below? I would love to hear them!


Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.01.54 pm


ICILS 2013- Australian students- At a Glance

ICILS 2013- Australian students- Complete Paper.


Digital Normalisation – Invisible Technology


Digital normalisation = “Digital normalisation occurs when the use of the digital technology across all facets of the school operations is so natural, so accepted as to be near invisible.” – Lee 2014.

It is an interesting concept and a concept that I would say that I have certainly taken on board towards something I am wanting to achieve. Even in saying this it is much more than merely a concept. It is in my eyes it is an end game and a goal, a major one at that, to reach and be successful at reaching.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Mal Lee, author and co-author of ‘Bring Your Own technology; The BYOT Guide for Schools and Families’ as well as ‘A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Changes’. Mal, as his website rightly states, is one of the worlds leaders in researching and documenting the evolution of schooling and teaching from it’s traditional methodologies to one that is fully digital.

I first met Mal when he contacted me for information for his BYOT text, mentioned above, to gain an insight into how my college was evolving with the integration and transition towards digital, especially through a BYOD program.

This week was a chance to revisit some of that work and discuss the changes that had taken place since. From 2012 to now there has been quite large growth within specific areas of our college relating to technology integration and that being much more than just the amount of technology our students have access to.

I discussed with Mal the journey I’d embarked on at my college over the past two years and the continuing shift towards the end of the rainbow that is digital normalisation. The notion arose of having schools/educational institutions engrossed within an effective ecosystem that was self-sustaining led me to thinking about the strength of the ecosystem I was currently working within. Students having access to tech is certainly one thing, however looking at how this access is being a driving force for students to meet learning outcomes is another. And herein lies the ‘effective ecosystem’ scenario. Is the technology, from year to year / across the college on a P-12 continuum, building student capacity to effectively use digital means to meet learning outcomes?

To get even further sidetracked for a moment, my college was very recently part of a whole college review process, a process that said many things about the state of our college and just one of these being that we are extremely in front of the vast majority of other settings when it came to effectively using technology. However. There’s always a “however” or a “but…” We, also like the vast majority of schools (if not all of them), have no singular effective way of measuring the value in how technology improves student learning. Something I am very keen to delve a lot deeper into over time. How to measure this effectively, with concrete data, will be a challenge but I am sure we’ll be able to solve this little conundrum.

Anyway, let’s get back on track. So. We also discussed the capabilities of the students and where their needs were, if there in fact were any. The students themselves have certainly reached a point of digital normalization or at minimum are very close to it. If it were entirely and completely up to them the majority would find it somewhat difficult to complete set tasks and demonstrate their learning in any other way. I am sure you’re all familiar with the saying “how do we prepare kids for a future when we do not know what the future holds”… I heard a very similar quote just today! It was here that Mal mentioned that “how would they (students) apply the digital technology in their graduation year in 2026 where Moore’s Law is suggesting they will be using technology with a computer processing power 150 times greater than now and will have use of computing systems 350 times more sophisticated (Helbing, 2014).” I cannot even comprehend what that means. Think of the potential, or detriment, that technology that much more powerful would have within the education system.

According to a “Project Tomorrow Survey –” as mentioned by Mal, year 5/6 students are our most proficient users of technology and knowing my own year 5 and 6 students I would have to agree. When you think about the age of these students and where they ‘sit’ in relation to technological advancements such as mobile and wearable technology, the curriculum that they are engaged in and also the ways in which they use technology in their daily lives it feels like a perfect fit.

In completely agreeing with Mal and his work/s, no matter what stage your school or college may be at with its technology integration, it is that we can not overlook that digital normalisation looks very different with different cohorts of students within an educational setting. That ‘normalization’ may occur on a whole but that but it may also look very different in various year levels throughout that same setting. The way in which students of different ages engage with their technology to support their learning can, and does, differ greatly. This is again where teacher capabilities need to be at the forefront to allow educators to learn, witness and practice ‘best digital practice’.

Lastly, I shared with Mal our vision and eLearning strategy for 2015 and beyond and although he applauded us for moving towards 100% BYOD, he did call me a “coward” for not allowing students to bring in any device! 🙂 I do have agree with him… albeit slightly! 🙂

For more on Mal Lee’s works please visit his website at Mal is also a keynote speaker in Melbourne next August at the ‘IWB Leading A Digital School’ conference so if you can, please get there to hear him share his wisdom you will not be disappointed.