New Pedagogies for Deep Learning – Connection at the core

If I could distil our work in this partnership down to one word, I think it would be “Connection”.

In our recent Seattle Institute, the global cohort, now joined by education leaders from Japan and Finland, worked through defining our core message.

NPDL Core focuses

NPDL Core focuses

Cluster Leaders all shared the strong desire of their participating schools to connect, to share and build new and best practice around explicit learning design and leading to create ad support the conditions for innovation and excellence to flourish.

Actively fostering new learning partnerships, between and among teachers, learners, family and community is at the absolute centre of our learning design and leadership.

Workshop activities “making this real” allowed us to build clarity and precision of focus around what this work looks like at all levels, from cluster, to school and classroom level.


Our challenge remains to contextualise global resources, taking into account national curriculum imperatives and drivers, whilst maintaining the directional vision of the partnership work. Pedagogy, Technology and Change Leadership are powerful levers; employed with explicit and elegant efficacy they remain the drivers for change across our work together.

So for me, “Connecting” – locally, nationally and globally, to define and redefine what we do as leaders, teachers and learners, to build a bank of shared and incisive practice, is the most exciting possibility this partnership presents. The Global Partnership supports  Cluster teams, to build the knowledge, skills and competencies needed to transform learning in their clusters.

Interesting to read in the NMC Horizon Report: 2014 K-12 Edition the FastTrend Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches, and their definition of Deep Learning: “Deeper learning is a term increasingly used to describe a variety of approaches in which students gain knowledge and skills by investigating and responding to a complex question, problem or challenge.” The elements of authentic engagement in real world issues and problem solving again reflect “Connection” – of learners to learning. Implicit in this is the need for teachers to connect to and to understand their students’ interests and abilities, and design learning opportunities accordingly, focusing on the deep learning competencies of Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Citizenship, Critical Thinking and Character.

It was fantastic to share the work in Seattle with my Australian colleagues in a rare opportunity to come together in person. Look forward to continuing to lead the shift together……


coding for kids!


been trying to get my daughter of 8 to dig into some sort of computational thinking/coding. Tried a few apps etc…..Daisy the Dinosaur (’t really cut it. Read a post by Paul Hamilton ( about “Game Press” and checked it out.

GOLD! (sorry that must indicate too much Sochi)

A quick tutorial, and we’re away with a joystick and button controlled running arcade game.

Classic comment…”sorry daddy, hang on, I just have to test a few things first…..”

maybe a minecraft killer 🙂








change is messy

“The more accustomed one becomes to dealing with the unknown, the more one understands that creative breakthroughs are always preceded by periods of cloudy thinking, confusion, exploration, trial and stress; followed by periods of excitement and growing confidence as one pursues purposeful change, or copes with unwanted change.”


Michael Fullan. Change Forces: Probing the Depths of Educational Reform. p17

Image source


New Pedagogies for Deep Learning

London Annual Deep Learning Forum, January 2014.

It was a pleasure and privilege to be a part of this week as a learner and facilitator. hosts an outline of the partnership, including two whitepapers, Towards a New End: New Pedagogies for Deep Learning, and deeper insights into uncovering Deep Learning in A Rich Seam: How New Pedagogies find Deep Learning.

There is little doubt that education globally is at an inflection point. Although technology holds great potential, too often it saps productivity and discourages critical thinking. New Pedagogies for Deep Learning: A Global Partnership will develop deep learning competencies that go BEYOND 21st century skills.

The goal is to implement deep learning across whole education systems that are enabled by new pedagogies and accelerated by technology, and to include skills that prepare all learners to be compassionate global citizens who have the ability to communicate effectively, think critically and collaborate to create knowledge and solve real-world problems in an increasingly complex and connected world.

Building on the work begun in Hong Kong in November, clusters met to dig deeper into planning for implementation in their local contexts. Our Australian cluster focussed on the logistics of implementation across 20 Tasmanian and 80 Victorian schools, with school selection to be completed by the end of February.

Highlight of the week was the Partnership Global Launch featuring Michael Fullan, Andreas Schleicher and Peter Hill.

npdllaunchAnd Peter’s observation “New Pedagogies – Why NOW? Because we can.”

Michael Fullan talked us through the push and pull factors influencing education, and making change inevitable. “There is a grand convergence spontaneously erupting. I think it is a natural dynamic of push and pull. The push, to put it directly, is a combination of the boredom and alienation of students and teachers. Students won’t wait, and teachers can’t wait. It is simply intolerable for students and teachers to be at school every day when increasing numbers of them would rather be somewhere else. What kind of existence is that!

On the other hand the digital world is a 24/7 phenomenon of limitless intrigue and consternation. There is something out there but it cannot be fathomed. Humans have stopped evolving physically, but the brain is changing in uncontainable ways. Humankind’s relationship to the universe is becoming seamless. There is no distinction between us and mother nature; between us and what we are creating– digitally, artistically, and spontaneously. We are what we create, and what incubates ineluctably becomes us.

Technology, pedagogy and change dynamics are converging on their own. We cannot stop them but we can take advantage of them to enable and accelerate learning, where learning and living become indistinguishable. This is not a theoretical realm. It is reality.”

The “new pedagogies” are not just instructional strategies – they are powerful models of teaching and learning, enabled and accelerated by increasingly pervasive digital tools and resources and support deep learning at all levels of the education system. “Deep learning” develops the learning, creating and ‘doing’ dispositions that youth need to thrive now and in their futures.

In short, we are in a perfect storm. We have the tools, understandings and strategies to turn the rhetoric around 21st century skills into a concrete reality in contemporary teaching and learning.

Focussing on the twin pillars of capacity building and developing new measures of engagement, attainment and excellence, the NPDL Partnership is ultimately about the evolution of the teaching profession.

To quote my good friend Erika Twani New Pedagogies for Deep Learning is not a pilot. It is the real thing. The time is now. Transform education.

See also “The Plastic Brain” for a great summary of the New Pedagogies whitepaper, and for more info!

21CLD Program impact

Professional Learning and the 21CLD framework – some emerging data.

Lists defining, academically and anecdotally, 21st century skills, abound. One of the programs I facilitate for  the Tasmanian Professional Learning Institute revolves around using  the 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD) framework. Over the last 18 months, I have had the opportunity to work with around 70 teachers from 30 schools.

21CLD au21CLD names up six capabilities: Collaboration, Knowledge Construction, Self-regulation, Real World Problem Solving and Innovation, Use of ICT for learning and Skilful Communication. The original global rubrics that support and define these capabilities have been critically refined and aligned to Australian context and Curriculum. The rubrics make absolutely concrete, at classroom level, the ways of thinking and working that enable teachers to construct learning activities that provide students maximum opportunities to build the six “21st Century” capabilities.

So does using the 21CLD framework have an impact?

Emerging evidences; 47 responses to evaluative feedback, gathered over three 21CLD programs, would indicate a resounding YES.

As a result of 2 full day workshops, preceded by several webinars, and subsequent in-school support, we are seeing consistent indications of shift in practice across participants’ knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations and behaviours. Participant schools are beginning to develop a common language and shared understandings of what the six capabilities look like on the ground; in terms of both learning activity design and student learning behaviours.

Pre and Post workshop ratings against the National Professional Standards for Teachers also generally indicate a significant growth in professional capacity.

This document (pdf 386kb) contains an indicative sample of our program evaluation and emerging evidences – please get in touch if you are interested in finding out more!

Problem Finding and Disruptive Innovation

In his blog post, Adopting a Digital Disruptor Mindset to Transform Education, J Robinson talks about technology adopters and digital disruptors, referring to James McQuivey’s book, Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation. A mindset focussing on digital disruption focuses on engaging with new possibilities, rather than doing what we currently do, “better”.

I wonder if both have a place? Incremental improvement, supported and encouraged, can flourish and bloom as significant innovation over time, as it becomes established and operationalized as the norm. As I work through the ideas of problem finding-possibility thinking, (previous post) there seems an emerging connection between prevailing mindset and preparedness to engage in innovative thinking patterns.

Thanks for the post J Robinson!

Dan Pink’s “Problem Finding”

At Edutech, I heard Dan speak, not for the first time, about the need for students to become “problem finders” as opposed to just “problem solvers”. This phrase was echoed by several others in keynotes too. Perhaps it’s just semantics, but I couldn’t get my head around the phrase. The post at has really helped crystallise my thinking. If we reframe the words “problem” solving” into something more appreciative – “looking for opportunities” or “possibility thinking” then immediately I can grasp the intent of the phrase. I love the example given of the artists considering subjects – some paint what they see, whilst some consider what they might paint, given what is before them.
If we remove the base notion of a scenario as something that needs solving, and shift to considering what might or could be, then I think we could be working in Dan Pink’s “Problem Finding” mode.

Partners in Learning Aus National Forum

An absolute privilege to facilitate 2 intense days of working with the 21CLD task design framework last weekend. Co facilitating with the masterful Joan Dalton and inimitable Travis Smith was an enjoyable and valuable experience, both for me, and for the workshop participants. Having worked extensively with the 21CLD framework for 2 years now, it continues to evolve. Joan and I (well, mostly Joan) revised the rubrics, adapting them to include specific Australian Curriculum links, and raised the expectations of practice for the Australian context in general.

The forum workshops were tagged 21CLD; architecture for learning design. the 21CLD rubrics ARE a tool that shifts much of the rhetoric around teaching 21st century capabilities into a concrete reality. Participant feedback indicated the development of strong understandings around process and direct links to, and plans for implementation possibilities in their own school and beyond.

I would suggest that if you are looking for a place to start in actually DOING SOMETHING about shifting teaching and learning practice, then 21CLD can provide a critically effective foundation for action. Emerging evidences from programs in Tasmania indicate a significant effect on the way teachers design learning activities, and we are currently engaged in collecting evidences of impact from both teachers and students, with the aim of publishing the data by December this year.

Thanks to all participants for their dedication and work over 2 days (which included a Saturday), and again to Joan and Trav for their expertise. I look forward to continuing to support this program across the country.


21st century skills: more than lip service

So many schools carry a tagline something like “teaching students for the 21st century”. Yet if we ask leaders and teachers to quantify what and how that looks, in practice, there is rarely a coherent response. Hardly surprising, really, given the number of 21C skill and capability lists – where to start?
After leading work with the 21CLD Framework for 18 months now, I am strongly convinced of its merit and worth. It makes a difference. Emerging evidences of impact indicate that it provides for the development of a realistic, concrete set of actions that turn the rhetoric around 21st century education into realty. We have engaged 30 schools and almost 100 teachers in this work across Tasmania, and are supporting each teacher in scaling the use of the framework within and across schools. It is powerful, practice changing work – but NOT as a bolt on; as a bolt in to existing school priorities.
I am looking forward to facilitating at the national Partners in Learning forum prior to Edutech in Brisbane at the end of May. In this forum we will begin a national Pilot of the 21CLD framework. Bringing school leaders and teachers together to work through the framework has proven a powerful model, and we anticipate being able to tell some significant stories around progress in the coming months.

21CLD rhetoric to reality.

Two great sessions this week in Tassie. Hi engagement and more importantly building the ability in educators to structure learning activities  to build 21st century capabilities in students. This framework turns the rhetoric around 21C skills into concrete reality.
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