making meaning of a MOOC

Several colleagues and I recently engaged in a MOOC focussing on Collaborative Problem Solving. we have been debating and deconstructing the experience, in particular around the mode of delivery.  I think we have consensus around the value of open content, but are grappling with  the manner in which we might best “make meaning” in our own contexts.mooc

So I used the word “social” to describe how I learn…maybe  that’s not the best description, but as I reflect on my own learning, it’s optimised when I can reflect on inputs, and then make meaning in concert with others. This is not always a linear, or indeed synchronous process, but the notion of sharing and voicing perspectives enriches the learning significantly when compared to solo efforts.

ZPD has some relevance here; high value making meaning is dependant on informed, focussed thinking and dialogue – some from outside the box, sure, but commonly aligned in terms of focus or output or outcome.

This is where the breadth of MOOC discussion forums challenges me. I respect the fact that there are many motivators for MOOC participation, and equally as many diversities across participants. What strikes me is the inherent potential to get lost in forums for days……without really leveraging learning.

The MOOC model won’t be for everyone; time, commitment, and personal engagement may all affect engagement, BUT they are free, open and can offer wonderful opportunities to access content AND  learning.

Can we structure them better? On a local scale, the our Tasmanian Professional Learning Institute is grappling with personalising engaging and high yield online learning….seeking to make it more that a series of lectures down the camera. We hope to dip our toes in the water with this complex mode in the near future, and it will be really interesting to evaluate our success in facilitating the making of meaning in virtual environments.


Happy to be hosting this twitter account this week. Hope to add value to the conversations, and discover or uncover new insights.

Please check it out @EduTweetOz or

Edutweetoz is an Australian social media movement.

Our mission:

  • to celebrate and share the real work of educators from all sectors and provide an alternative to the negative perceptions of teachers popularised in mainstream media.
  • to build a community of educators from all sectors and states of Australia. We want to bring together teachers from pre-schools to universities, from private and public sectors, as well as those who support us in fields such as educational research.
  • to facilitate dialogue and share our journeys and promote excellence.

How it works:

  • Each week a different educator will take responsiblity for tweeting. We hope that people will use the space to share their experiences, pose questions, engage in dialogue about current educational issues and help each other out.
  • Guest tweeters and other educators will be showcased on this blog to share their passion for education with the wider community.

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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Working with android

Wow. Picked up a droid nexus 7. LOVING IT. Fast, configurable and portable. Stay tuned!

LEAP21 now 21CLD

A name change, globally, and updated rubrics sees us ready to kick off 3 two day programs here in Tassie in a few weeks time. Our pilot last year  revealed significant impact at personnel and  school levels. Data showed increased knowledge, attitudes, skills, aspirations and behaviors . further longitudinal evaluation thru this year.This framework actually turns the rhetoric around contemporary skills and capabilities into a concrete reality for teachers and learners.


Had the pleasure of working with colleagues to begin to align the LEAP21 framework to Australian context.

The LEAP21 framework is designed to bridge the gap between the substantial ITL global research conducted by SRI International and Microsoft over the last 3 years and the development of innovative teaching and learning practices in the classroom.
The Leap21 framework offers teachers a powerful set of tools to reflect on and improve their practice and is designed to support teachers in;
* Deepening their understanding of the 21st century skills that students require now and into the future
* Using a set of detailed definitions and dimensions to analyse learning design and provide better opportunities for students to demonstrate 21st century capabilities
* Improving student learning outcomes by using a common process to explore the link between learning activity design and student work
Watch this space!