Replied to

Massive congratulations once again Ian. I look forward to reading it in its entirety.
Replied to ‘Tis done! by IaninSheffield (

It’s now three days after my viva and I’ve almost managed to mentally process the outcome. I passed, with no corrections.
If you’re not familiar with how the doctoral examination process works, at least here in the UK, here’s a quick summary. An internal and external examiner are appointed; …

Well done Dr. Ian. When will it be (digitally) published?
Replied to Mock mock viva by IaninSheffield (Marginal Notes)

My thesis explores the assertion by some teachers on Twitter that it supports or provides their PD.
I conducted a sociomaterial analysis of their practices through an approach I called flânography involving multiple methods, including novel ones I developed.
Those practices are enacted by both human and nonhuman participants within richly complex activities, characterised by personalisation, autonomy and reciprocity.
I conceptualised these practices by proposing two interlocking dimensions of ‘compound learning’ and ‘scales,’ which enable claims about professional learning through Twitter – and online more generally – to be accessed and scrutinised.
In helping to legitimise these practices, my analysis and theorisation provide tools with which organisations and individuals can assess alignment and value of these practices alongside institutional and other goals.

I would have no idea what questions you would get asked in your viva Ian, but one thing that I was left wondering from your recent reflections was why Twitter and not say Delicious? Did or does Delicious or Diigo support your professional development? Would this simply be a different ‘gathering’ or something different altogether? I am not sure if I have made sense here, but it is just something that has always left me wondering.

📰 Read Write Respond #035

My Month of November

It is always odd coming to the end of the year, but not being in a school. We have continued to grapple with scalability, reviewing workflows to identify gains. I have also spoken to a few schools about what they are doing next year.

It feels like every month is eventful. Makes me wonder if in part this is a mindset? Ms 2 graduated in swimming and will skip the next class. This means I will no longer need to get in the water. Ms 7 had her yearly keyboard recital. It is always fascinating watching her learn her pieces and develop confidence over time. Practice makes perfect? Lastly, we had some issues with our roof, which involved water getting into the house.

Personally, I think this is the first month in a long time where I have not written any long form posts. I have started a few drafts and written some lengthy comments on other posts, but never really found the time and energy to finish gathering my thoughts on anything.

In regards to music, I have been listening to the new album from Muse, as well as the VAST compilation, featuring a range of Australian artists. In addition to this, I have found myself listening to a lot of old St. Vincent.

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking. Based on some feedback, I have tried something different for this edition …


Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Making change in education – champions are for charlatans: Dave Cormier reflects upon the change approach of “working with the ‘willing’ first” and wonders if this is wrong approach. Rather than sustainable change, focusing on the guaranteed +1 is both unethical and creates a super star culture. Something I have touch d upon in the past. Cormier instead argues that the focus needs to be on long term change, with a plan to solve an actual problem. Associated with this, it is important to make space for such change, what Tom Barrett describes as innovation compression. This is also something that I have discussed in regards to my concern about ‘great teachers’. Rather than the right teacher, I would argue that we need to focus on the right culture and environment. Cormier also addresses this in regards to the complex versus the complicated.

ePortfolios: Competing Concepts: Tom Woodward addresses a number of considerations associated with ePortfolios, including strategy, audience, ownership and privacy. Woodward provides a lot of nuance throughout his discussion and provides a number of examples to support this. It is a worthy addition to the discussion of ongoing reporting and ways to blog. Woodward also reflected on the skills required for living online.

Twenty things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD: Lucy Taylor provides some suggestions of things to consider when starting a PhD, such as identifying a work/life balanace, set yourself goals early, write down everything and backup your work. This reminds me of posts from Gayle Munro and Deborah Netolicky sharing some of their experiences.

The plastic backlash: what’s behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference?: Stephen Buranyi unpacks the worldwide rage against plastic.  This is a part of the wider discussion of global warming. Whether it be in the drinking water or the ocean tip, rubbish has become an important conversation.

QandA:‘what works’ in ed with Bob Lingard, Jessica Gerrard, Adrian Piccoli, Rob Randall,Glenn Savage (chair): Glenn Savage chairs a conversation with a varied group of voices discussing impact of evidence, Think Tanks and NAPLAN on education.


Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Reflections on the smart phone: Antony Funnell speaks with Professor Genevieve Bell, Ariel Bogle, Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth and Emma Bennison about the history and affordances of the smart phone. They discuss the walled garden created by apps, the way devices inform our humanness, the cross-cultural appropriation of new technologies, support for accessibility and the surveillance built in. I have been thinking a lot about smart phones lately, especially while reading James Bridle’s New Dark Age and Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. The conversation that I think is interesting is whether there is a future beyond the templated self produced by a handful of social silos.

Checking Out Online Shopping (IRL Podcast): Manoush Zomorodi investigates the big data associated with shopping online and off. This reminds me a comment by Ben Williamson in regards to Class Dojo that ‘sensitive’ data is often about how as much as what is captured.

Secrets of the Edu-Twitter Influencers: This is a reflection from a number of educational ‘thought leaders‘. What stood out was the intent of self-promotion that many started their journey with. One thing that I found interesting was how much time different people spend. It makes me think that being a ‘thought leader’ is something that needs to be maintained.

Why people troll others online: Ian O’Byrne discusses some of the reasons why people troll online and how to respond to them. For a deeper look at the types of trolls, read Molly Hill’s post.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: Antonio Villegas discusses much-dreaded lock-in effect that can occur with WordPress when utilising a particular feature provided by a plugin.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: In this extract from The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports), Tim Wu explains how today’s monopolies were able to avoid regulation. He give the particular example of Facebook and Instagram:

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels
Image via “Lego Subway” by Friscocali is licensed under CC BY-NC | Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels

When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home: Alana Semuels explores the intricacies associated with Elon Musk’s boring project in Los Angeles. She highlights the many ways in which innovation is able to bypass the rules and regulations that hamper the development of public infrastructure. For me this is highlighted by fifty year plan associated with transport in Melbourne. I agree with Semuels’ that it would be better to see such time and money spent supporting the state, rather than endlessly trying to circumvent it.

Should we really all fly less?: Diego Arguedas Ortiz discusses a recent study unpacking the individual actions that can help lead to climate change. Some of these actions include taking public transport, invest in renewable energies, eat less meat and stop flying. If this is too much then Arguedas Ortiz provides a list of actions to offset your activities. On the flipside, Martin Lukacs argues that individual action is a con and that what is really needed is collective action.

Zambia may serve as a crystal ball for countries looking to deal with Beijing: Siobhan Heanue reports on China’s growing influence in Zambia. This is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Even more interesting than Chinese ownership (do they own the third world?) was the ownership of business for 20 years. This investment, both private and state, is nothing new and is a part of a long-term strategy. It would be fascinating to see a breakdown of Chinese investment and ownership from around the world.

‘A wall built to keep people out’: the cruel, bureaucratic maze of children’s services: Jake Anderson recounts the journey associated with gaining support for their daughter, who has ASD. One of the things that stood out was the blur between private and public connected with the privatization of government contracts.

Dropping Acid: Shuja Haider talks about the sounds and methods associated with Acid House music. Along with the TR808 and the Line 6 DL4, this article documents the place of the TB303 on modern music.

Focus on #CPDin140

I have been following Ian Guest’s research into the potentials associated with Twitter in regards to teacher professional development for a few years. Having submitted his thesis, Guest has been openly unpacking his work in a series of posts in preparation for his viva. Here is a summary of those posts:

  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest outlines what is next now that his thesis has been submitted, including developing responses to possible questions
  • Thesis Abstract: Ian Guest provides a summary of his research, as well as an explanation of why he moved away from the traditional contents page.
  • Foreword: Ian Guest provides a forward to provide preliminary explanation of terms like flâneur.
  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Ian Guest breaks down the different parts of his research.
  • Chapter 2: Hinterlands: Ian Guest provides a summary of the supporting and sustaining literatures which informs his research.
  • Chapter 3: Sensibilities: Ian Guest explains his choice of flânography and how this sits with the Actor Network Theory.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1: Ian Guest explains how he took on three methods of research – participant observation, semi-structured interviews, blog post analysis and interviews – but these were supplemented with additional methods which emerged during the study.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling Methods #2: Ian Guest addresses questions of ethics, data management and analysis associated with his research.
  • Introducing the Gatherings: Ian Guest explains that in presenting his work as ‘gatherings’, he has assembled a variety of actors and data, and through sociomaterial description, to produce ‘an adequate account.’
  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest uses EduTweetOz as a catalyst for an examination of the parts associated with Twitter.
  • Chapter 6: Gathering: Assembling actors, maintaining relationships: Ian Guest explores the sense of hygge found by many connected educators.
  • Chapter 7: Gathering: It’s personal…: Ian Guest discusses some of the benefits and drawbacks to learning with Twitter he found through his research.
  • Chapter 8: Retracing my steps: Ian Guest explains how professional development on Twitter is an ongoing process of assemblage in which actors like teachers and tweets, hashtags and hygge, communities and crib sheets, are bundled together, form, reform and break associations.
  • Ethics revisited: Ian Guest revisits the question of ethics when researching in online environments in light of some of the challenges faced.
  • Chapter 9: Concluding: Ian Guest discusses some of the implications and limitations, including four contributions to knowledge.
  • Why did you undertake this study?: Ian Guest discusses the three nudges that led to his research.
  • Can you summarise your findings in a few sentences?: Ian Guest summarises his research by providing answer to three key questions: How are professional learning practices of teachers on Twitter manifest, How does the Twitter social media platform support the professional learning practices of teachers, and How does professional learning practice extend beyond Twitter into the wider social media ecosystem and the ‘real’ world?
  • Where did you make ‘the cut?’: Ian Guest discusses some of his choices and constraints associated with the field, the collection of data and the writing process.
  • “Flânography? Isn’t it just an ethnography?”: Ian Guest documents some of the differences and similarities between flânography and ethnography, including impact on immersion, mobility and visibility.
  • In your flânography, how should we conceive the ‘field?’: Ian Guest discusses the notion of field and how it is performed through the act of research.
  • Which theoretical framings did you consider and why did you settle on ANT?: Ian Guest reflects on the various methods he explored, including communities of practice, connectivism and rhizomatic learning, and why he ended up choosing actor network theory.


So that is November for me, how about you? As always, happy to hear.

Also, I am interested if anyone has any feedback on the style and structure of this newsletter. I would love to know if there are things that people like or if there are things that you would change?

Bryan Mathers Image

Cover image via JustLego101.

Bookmarked Chapter 5: Gathering: Meeting the locals by Ian Guest (Marginal Notes)

A tweet is a busy actor, and is often the point from which further activity begins.

Ian Guest gathers together the actors associated with my post (and subsequent tweet) reflecting upon my experiences with EduTweetOz.

The Retweet is a repeater and amplifier, causing the original message to appear and then reappear in Twitter timelines; a nudge here, a prod there. This is more than creating or extending a network of practice or personal learning network, it is networking.

He provides a useful take on some of the human and non-human players involved in Twitter and Twitter Chats, with a particular focus on the place of the hashtag.

Hashtags cooperate with other actors, repeat themselves and become more insistent. In collaborating with other human and nonhuman actors they do work by forging connections and facilitating communication exchanges. Hashtags don’t simply work for teachers in this regard, but work with them, sometimes coaxing, sometimes cajoling and sometimes compelling.

Liked Chapter 1: Introduction by Ian Guest (Marginal Notes)

Recent research is making it plain how complex teacher professional learning is. Adding Twitter into that mix does not simplify matters and I contend that these novel circumstances might be better addressed through a less conventional, more adaptive, responsive approach. Rather than working from a methodology which makes certain epistemological assumptions based on our current understanding of teacher professional learning, I wanted to remain open to different possibilities and hopefully produce fresh insights.

Replied to PD and Parkruns (Marginal Notes)

I love Parkruns with other folks and I love running and cycling on my own; each has its own merits and issues. One of the strands which emerged in my study was that both planned, formal experiences and less formal, unstructured experiences each have their place. Some people might prefer one over the other, some find value in both. There are valid reasons why sometimes everyone needs to be following the same programme at the same time. However, teachers learning through Twitter clearly gain a great deal from being able to choose paths which address their individual needs and suit their contexts. Perhaps they are flâneurs/flâneuses? Perhaps we could be taking the best from both worlds?

Ian, your discussion of the benefits of formal and informal reminds me of Graham Wegner’s discussion of personalised versus personalized. It has me thinking though that where there are two options we can have a tendency to alienate one of them. I am subsequently rethinking this and the benefits of different options.
Replied to Thesis Abstract by Ian Guest (Marginal Notes)

A conventional table of contents is set out in the same order that the chapters and sections appear within the thesis. It provides a quick reference guide of the topics to be discussed, together with shortcuts (in the form of page numbers) to each section should you wish to jump from one to another. Unlike a novel, readers are unlikely to read a thesis from start to finish, despite the ToC outlining the suggested reading order. Why then is it necessary to provide an order when it is unlikely to be followed? Furthermore, it’s no simple matter to compress all that information onto a single textual page in order to provide an overview snapshot (the ToC in my thesis straddled six pages for example). Producing the Streetmap therefore served a number of functions.

Ian, I am excited to read both your findings, as well as your flânographic methodology. I am intrigued to what it might have in other areas beyond Twitter.

I also really like your reimagining of the traditional linear table of contents. I wonder what implication that this might have for something like the IndieWeb, especially the organisation of the wiki. At the very least it might be useful for Greg McVerry and his investigation of the IndieWeb for education.

Replied to Thesis submitted. Next steps. (Marginal Notes)

Last week I submitted my thesis. No hoopla. No fanfare. No round of applause. It was merely a matter of printing four copies, getting them bound, then dropping them off at the reception desk of a University office building. Quite an anticlimax really. In return I was given a pro forma acknowledgement of receipt and the promise that they would be passed on to the relevant department. I needed no more than that, but I can’t help thinking how deflated some people must feel; all that effort and not even a ‘congratulations’ or ‘you must be delighted?’ Perhaps there might be something to be gained from the University rethinking that small but significant aspect of the examination process.

Massive congratulations Ian. I assume that eventually it maybe published somewhere digitally. Can’t wait to read it. Exciting times!
Replied to Quite a week (Marginal Notes)

On Friday I did something I’ve never done before. Ever. I bunked off. It was a gloriously unseasonal spring day, I’d just handed in my first draft and I’d won a prize earlier in the week. I felt I deserved a treat, so took advantage of the sun and pedalled off on a longer bike ride than the winter usually permits. Coffee and cake provided an indulgent lunchtime treat as I basked in the sun. OK, so I did catch up on a couple of research-related podcasts during my journey, and by the time Sunday closed, I’d still clocked up a fifty-hour week, but having that weekday off still felt … naughty.

Congratulations Ian for getting your first draft in. I hope your leg is ok now too.
Replied to Why teachers are turning to Twitter by Brendon Hyndman (The Conversation)

Rather than a one-off professional learning event (such as a conference), Twitter provides a low-cost, easy to access platform. It requires little effort beyond 280 character posts or photos to connect with a range of education professionals, leaders and organisations.

I am a massive advocate of open education. I feel the possibility of a wider audience has taken my learning to a new level. Reading this post, I just feel that there is a massive question not considered.

If you interviewed my last year, would I provide the same response as I do now?

My experience of Twitter has waned of late. I still share there. I still engage with people. However, I have moved my learning to my own space. I think that this is important.

As with all technology, Twitter is ever evolving. The most recent news has been the depreciation of their API that allows for the development of external applications. Each of these changes has a consequence.

The other concern I have is which teachers are turning to Twitter? Chris Wejr questions whether every teacher is able to share who they are online?. Maha Bali also captures this in regards to open education:

what kind of privileges do we have that give us the power to have a space there – things like the English language, having the capacity for a good bandwidth on in the internet to do something like virtually connecting, having TIME to spare and being financially comfortable, being naturally willing to expose yourself and make yourself vulnerable – you have to have a lot of privileged to be willing to make yourself vulnerable. Because some people are already vulnerable and marginal and they cannot take certain risks online.

In addition to whether they can share themselves online, the other consideration is whether they must?

I wonder then if the title should be why some teachers are turning to Twitter and what does this say about education? Personally, I wonder whether more teachers will turn to the open web and a better web? Here is to hoping.

Bookmarked The four types of online discussion. Where are you? by wiobyrne (W. Ian O'Byrne)

The four types of discussion found online can be used to identify the general tendencies individuals have as they communicate, comment, and react in online spaces. An individual may have a series of posts and comments that spread across multiple quadrants as they socialize and participate in online spaces. Yet, wherever there is a large concentration of messages on this model, that identifies the type of communication you generally engage in.

This matrix really has me thinking, especially about different contexts online. For example, with a Twitter chats, when you have different people meeting together with different intents (dialogue vs. debate), how is it that it works? Or does it?

Liked What do teachers do on Twitter? Emerging findings. by IaninSheffield (Marginal Notes)

In pre-internet times, connecting with colleagues (and/or experts) having shared interests often depended on proximity. Twitter now enables those connections to become possible where once it might have been much less common.


I do find Twitter and social media and all those communities and tribes that I belong to as really quite interesting because they sort of exist outside of this temporal nature of where I work; where my contract is and so forth. They’re connections that y’know if change five jobs, I’ve still got these connections. And many of the people that I know have changed jobs several times, but it’s the connections that have remained – Aaron Davis

Quoted in Ian Guest’s post​ on Connecting, a part of his research into Professional development in 140 characters​.