Time to Level up

Time for Lunch by David Gallagher

Photo courtesy of David Gallagher via flickrcc license

Hooray! I am two units into the Google Certification for Educators.

Whew! Time to  pause and reflect. 

At the end of Unit Two  I’ve:

  • clocked 37 hours of PD time
  • written, tabbed and highlighted 82 pages of notes
  • answered more than 150 multiple choice questions
  • learned a hell of a lot.

This last point surprises me more than the number of hours I’ve committed. I confess I thought it was going to be a bit of a breeze — after all, I’m fairly experienced with web tools in general and I use the Google suite of tools everyday for personal and professional. As it started out, I remember thinking, “How hard could it be?” But that (as it turns out) was not the right question.

The right question is, “How much better can it be?

And the answer is a lot!
The tools have more potential and flexibility than I’d realized and the course is specifically addressing educational uses and applications. So as I am apply my new knowledge about features, functions and settings, the changes to the way I work are paying off immediately.

We often don’t get to know our tools well because:

  • we are too busy
  • we think we know them already (blush)
  • we just aren’t that interested in the tools (do I really need to learn about spreadsheets, they’re kind of boring).

But those are ways of denying ourselves smarter ways to work.

As I work through this course I am reminded that while it takes quite a bit of time,  it is also giving me the time to become an expert with the tools I need to continue to lead in my field.


Mr Darcy’s Education on Growth Mindset

Illustrated by Hugh Thomson 1894

The Bennet Family at Home illustrated by Hugh Thomson, 1894 from Wikimedia Commons

When I was looking at the Fixed Mindset/Growth Mindset infograph on the DLMOOC site yesterday a conversation between Lizzy Bennet and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice popped into my head:

“I certainly have not the talent which some people possess,” said Darcy, “of conversing easily with those I have never seen before. I cannot catch their tone of conversation, or appear interested in their concerns, as I often see done.”

“My fingers,” said Elizabeth, “do not move over this instrument in the masterly manner which I see so many women’s do. They have not the same force or rapidity, and do not produce the same expression. But then I have always supposed it to be my own fault- because I would not take the trouble of practising…(Pride and Prejudice, 1813, chapter 31)

Ms Austen you were centuries ahead of your time!

Starting DLMOOC: Mindsets and Learning Strategies – Some initial thoughts and beliefs

The Deeper Learning MOOC is starting on Jan 20th and even though it is the summer holidays in Australia, the line-up of topics to be covered is too good to miss out on so I’m starting my 2014 PD a little early

In the preview week, there is plenty of reading to do on Mindsets and Learning Habits and Strategies. I’ve had a particular interest in this my whole educational life, especially since having my own children (all grown now but still learning!). We chose to put them into an alternative primary school because we did not want to see the love of learning they had  (and all children have) die before they got to high school. We thought better to nurture it by thinking ‘outside the box’ rather than attempting to revive it during adolescence.

Watch young children’s play before they enter school, Eduardo Briceno’s Four Learning Mindsets (see below) are very evident, so what happens when children go to school? Well, perhaps it’s that mistakes are pointed out but rarely are they pointed out as opportunities to learn (challenges), maybe abilities/ lack of ability are revealed for others to use as forms of ridicule (sport, art, music, etc), what’s it’s never made clear is that abilities are not fixed – most kids’ know’ what they ‘are good at…/they are bad at …” by about 7 or 8 years old.  It ends up being all about perceived performance and not really about learning. Parents demand it; educational institutions make sure it happens. And most kids ‘get it’ and stop trying. Or do they?

I believe there is a growing disconnection between ‘in school’ and ‘out of school’ learning and the culture of learning. Just go to a skate park, or watch a bunch of kids playing Minecraft together; or learning how to parkour or krump. Kids are keen learners and  again, display all four of the Learning Mindsets as they take part in these types of activities:

  • “I can change my intelligence and abilities through effort” (Growth mindset)
  • “I can succeed” (Self- Efficacy)
  • “I belong in this learning” (Sense of belonging)
  • “This work has value and purpose for me” (Relevance)

They’re also applying collaborative techniques and learning-to-learn skills especially via social media (YouTube videos/cheats/tutorials/walkthroughs, community forums). Real deep learning is alive and well — outside of school.

Self-Directed Learning - How to Wire a Car (planning, reading, tutorials, forums, trying, persevering)

Self-Directed Learning – Electrical Wiring of a Car

Carol Dweck’s quote in “The Effort Effect” summed this dilemma up nicely:

The key isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.

I suspect education departments, politicians and the media of creating the Fixed Mindset culture that we are struggling with currently. They have created a pervading atmosphere of a talent competition while discounting and neglecting the whole concept of mastery of subjects, skills and abilities.

(As further proof, in Australia, we are currently witnessing the phasing out of many apprenticeship and competency-based education programs.)

Whew! Nothing like a little rant a bit of deep reflection about current attitudes and beliefs to kick off a MOOC.

I look forward to reading, discussing, listening and learning more about this crucial and timely topic.


Krakovsky, Marina. “The Effort Effect. “Stanford Magazine Mar. – Apr. 2007: n. page. Stanford Alumni. Web. 10 Jan. 2014.


Sharing with a Wider Audience

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

I’m very fortunate to be working part-time at the State Library of Victoria; I’ve been with their Learning Services area for nearly four years now. Besides introducing school groups to the wonderful history of Victoria and the extensive resources available to them at SLV, I find myself involved further and further with online learning projects including the VicPLN and  the Bright Ideas blog.

Bright Ideas is turning out to be a great place to share my professional learning and reflections; there is a wide audience and a generous community of Teacher Librarians and as well as other educators. So I think while I am regularly contributing to Bright Ideas I will temporarily put TL under Construction on hold. No sense in repeating myself!

Here’s a direct link to my posts on Bright Ideas. Many thanks to those I have been in touch with over the years. Please keep the conversation going!


Readjusting my Connection

In 2010, I read David Warlick‘s Gardener’s Approach to Learning: Cultivating Your Personal Learning Network. I liked the idea of cultivating an information ecosystem (it appealed to the permaculturalist in me) . After reading the book, I decided to map my PLN  out.  I found the exercise gave me a good overview of where I was digging, what areas seemed to be most fruitful for me and who my fellow ‘gardeners’ were. But change is as rapid in an information ecosystem as it is in the natural world; tools changed, needs changed, and I found my PLN was getting overgrown so I did a bit of weeding then remapped it. You can see it  and what I wrote about it on my professional eportfolio here.


My PLN 2012 Click for larger size

I’m currently participating in #etMOOC and a quote that came up in Topic 1, Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy got me thinking about my PLN map again. First, here’s the quote:

We shape our tools and then our tools shape us.  (Marshal McLuhan)

The active conversation at that stage was about making sense of connected learning; making meaning of being part of a network. It made me realize that not only was my network changing (again)  but that it was changing me and in all the hurry and infowhelm I wasn’t pausing to take in the lay of my info landscape or trying to make sense of it. The conversation also had me thinking that up until now my PLN was a pretty serendipitous affair, like one of those gardens with things that just pop up from seeds of previous plantings. Is this a good thing or should I be trying to plan my PLN a bit more seriously than that? I decided to update my map  then  compare the two, and look at the changes to perhaps gain some meaning from all that was going on. (Back to the Webspiration drawing board!)

There’s a link to my new PLN map here (better resolution)

My PLN 2013


In comparing the two and in reflecting on the map I noticed that:

  • I’m being shaped by Google tools – they have more influence on my online experiences and PLN than in the past. (Is this a good thing or a bad thing?)
  • my PLN input is leaner. (I recognize the need to continuously streamline what I subscribe to, and be ruthless about it.)
  • I’m increasingly ignoring my feeds, twitter and Google + for days on end then trying to catch up. (sounds like professional FOMO, I need to learn to let go)
  • staff at school are not part of my online PLN (an area I’d now like to focus on)
  • I’m contributing/creating more content (authoring/creating digital media/presenting at conventions). Increased creation is squeezing out the amount of time I have for consumption. ( Is that a good or bad thing? Good I think)
  • I’ve become increasingly interested in Digital Citizenship (and the bigger picture of SEL)and it is reflected in my PLN
  • I’m shifting from following blogs on RSS feeds to following the blog creators on Twitter (Benefits – extra content, more interactive, more immediate.)
  • I’m decreasing the places I go to for professional news/reading -consolidating on  Twitter, Facebook pages, Google+ rather than subscriptions and rss feeds. Less time consuming.
  • I follow an increasing number of people who are big picture thinkers, not necessarily educators. I’m widening my awareness,  interested in the global changes and trends that are taking place all across the info landscape.
 This has been a useful exercise,  I do understand my network better. I also see I can make it better; there are decisions to be made, opportunities I can pursue and more questions to be answered. Speaking of questions, I’m ready to tackle some of the pedagogical questions asked in Topic 1 in my next post.

Via Tumblr gifs