Replied to TB872: Overview of different traditions in social learning systems by Doug Belshaw (

A table summarising the approach of different thinkers and traditions.

Thank you for sharing this overview of different traditions in social learning systems Doug. I have dipped in and out of your learning, but more often find myself saving them for later, only for later to never quite come around. This table has me thinking about Richard Olsen’s Modern Learning Canvas and the various questions around learnings role and pedagogical beliefs.
Replied to The Downsides of Generalism by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

The path to generalism is indeed more challenging, yet the reward at the end of the rainbow is genuine satisfaction. Generalists are much more creative. Generalists are more curious. Generalists as system-thinkers are better at solving high-level problems.

I am not sure if I am really a generalist with various pokers in the fire as you seem to have Wouter, but I am always willing to dive into new areas of learning. I wonder if the biggest challenge with this is the narrative, something you touch upon. This week I was asked to step into a different position, one more technical. It is not necessarily my background, but it is what is needed for the project I am a part of. I plough on, connecting the dots, making new pictures, remaking old ones.
Bookmarked You’re learning a lot, but is it valuable? (

The more you’re learning is about discovering how to function in a dysfunctional situation, the more wedded your skillset is to those types of situations.

The more you focus on learning that is transferable and valuable, the better off you will be.

Oliver Quinlan reflects on productive learning in response to new situations as opposed to learning to cope with a dysfunctional workplace. Thinking about my current work, I wonder if learning to live through dysfunction is simply the first step towards more productive learning? Something of a foundation for deeper work maybe? I think that although these activities in fixing up problematic workflows or clunky technology may not seem ‘transferable’ as a set of skills to be listed on LinkedIn, what I do think is transferable is the mindset in how I approach these situations. I am not sure if it is related, but this has me thinking about the Solo Taxonomy, but maybe that is different. Not sure.
Bookmarked What Can Students Do? by Cameron PatersonCameron Paterson (

Teachers do too much of the learning and thinking for students. It does not have to be this way. When teachers work harder than students, young people become inculcated into coming to school to watch the adults work. If we want them to learn; if we want them to think, this is not something that can be outsourced. And if we want them to take responsibility for the culture and feel of the classroom and school, we need to invite them into the conversation, and even step away and let them take the lead. What do you complain about having to do that your students could do tomorrow?

Cameron Paterson reflects upon the question of what can students do in the classroom? He shares examples of where his students have co-constructed assessment criteria, self-assessed their work, written their own report comments and taught their own lessons. This reminds me of Bianca Hewes’ work with ‘meddles and missions’.

Personally, I have tried a few of these things when I was in the classroom, making the curriculum explicit and getting the students to work with me to design assessments. I even got my Year 8 Media Studies class to design their own excursion, including making inquiries with various places in preparation. In these situations I guess the focus of the teaching were the skills associated with how to learn.

The issue that I had was that I was only one part of the week for these students and that this was all vastly different to how other teachers and classes were operating. I guess the point then is how much can students do when we let them?

It is interesting thinking about all this outside of the classroom. In my role working with teachers and administration on some of the day-to-day technical trivialities, such as academic reporting and attendance. It is always so easy to just fix problems as they arise. However, I always endeavour to meet half-way, whether it be to provide a short summary or to actually walk through a problem. The challenges in these situations is the limits of time, I wonder if that too is sometimes the challenge in the classroom too.

Bookmarked 10 steps to running an event I’d want to attend | Open Thinkering by Doug Belshaw (Open Thinkering | Doug Belshaw's blog)

This post is the outgrowth of an (online) conversation I had yesterday after an event I’d attended. It was a conference I used to go to every year which, for some reason this year mostly left me cold.

Doug Belshaw reflects on a negative conference experience. In response he shares ten steps associated with running an event:

1. Encourage participation
2. Provide clear scope
3. Ensure a diverse range of speakers/facilitators
4. Challenge the audience with different views
5. Have tracks and/or themes
6. Provide space for chatting
7. Recognise off-stage talent
8. Provide a mix of session formats and lengths
9. Get the food right
10. Build a community

This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago, but with more depth.

Replied to Everything* is learnable (

You simply can’t learn everything and some things are very long undertakings. There are contextual limits too – some things are very expensive to access for example. However, my general approach to things personally is that things are learnable until proven not to be. I accept that I’m extraordinarily privileged to rarely hit the contextual limits of this. For people who experience these sorts of constraints much more regularly it must be very difficult to adopt this mindset.

Oliver, I really enjoyed your reflections on mindset and learning. It is always intriguing watching things like 16 Levels of Piano. I think that the issue sometimes is that we do not know the next step. This inability to break things down leads people to talk about supposed magic:

I may not have all the answers, but I think I am good at capturing particular problems at hand and with that drawing on past practice to come up with possible solutions. I am going to assume this is why people come to me with such diverse questions and quandaries.

I often think that the real magic is finding the time to take the next step.

Replied to 6x6x1 Two Things To Stand On (CogDogBlog)

If ever you apply Thing 1 to ask a question in public, always keep in mind Thing 2— understand that there is often more.

I always find asking questions online intriguing. There is often so much ambiguity in responses. I find there is as much learning to be had in making sense of suggestions as there is of the suggestions themselves.
Bookmarked Learn with We Are Open Co-op – We Are Open Co-op by Anne Hilliger (We Are Open Co-op)

One of the bigger projects I’ve been working on during my internship at WAO was redesigning and rethinking our platform. Over the past years, We Are Open worked with a variety…

The We Are Open Co-op have collected together their various resources in one place, whether it be templates, online courses or episodes of the podcast. Along with the Hyper Island Toolbox and Laura Hilliger’s Participatory Learning Materials, this collection is useful in supporting the endeavour to make change.
Liked New Metrics for Success | It’s About Learning (

Learning Creates is a new alliance bringing together a range of stakeholders to focus on personalized, passion-based learning as the key to modernizing education and preparing young people for successful futures. There is now an Australian hub for the Mastery Transcript Consortium, an expanding network of schools who are introducing a digital high school transcript for students to have their unique strengths, abilities, interests, and histories nurtured and recognized. Big Picture Learning Australia is transforming education by retiring the traditional ‘appointment learning’ where everyone learns the same things according to a fixed timetable inside the walls of a school.

Bookmarked Why Wordle Works, According to Desmos Lesson Developers by Dan Meyer (Mathworlds)

If you’re someone who designs learning experiences, I hope you’ll take Wordle as a challenge.

  • Can you create a wealth of learning opportunities with only a simple prompt?
  • Can you design the activity and support so that everyone learns as much from failure as success?
  • Can you offer feedback that goes beyond “right” and “wrong,” that helps learners identify everything right about their wrong answers?
  • Can you make room for multiple paths to correctness?
  • Can you offer learners a representation of their learning they can share with other people?
Approaching Wordle from the perspective of learning and teaching, Dan Meyer summarises five ingredients that have helped make it work so well.

  • Failure is expected.
  • Effective feedback.
  • Different routes to the same answer.
  • Your learning results in a product you can share.
  • It’s social

For a different perspective, Daniel Victor provides a profile of Josh Wardle and the meteoric rise of the once-a-day game. While as an alternative, sajadmh has created a version of Wordle in Google Sheets.

Replied to Exams and contemporary learning – it’s all upside down! by gregmiller68 (

As principal of St Luke’s, I challenge students to answer three questions:

  • Who am I?
  • What can I do?
  • What problems do I want to solve?

You won’t find any one of these three questions on a HSC paper. I dare say that none of those questions appear in any examinations for school systems across the world. However, in answering these three questions throughout their time at St Luke’s, students are more able to understand their SIM (strengths, interests and motivations), engage with concepts such as ‘flow’ and ‘purpose’, and therefore enter a post school world with confidence by knowing where they can contribute.

Greg, if the focus for learners is about identifying problems worth solving, I wonder where that leaves teachers and what it means for them?
Bookmarked Counting learning losses (code acts in education)

As the three examples I’ve sketchily outlined here indicate, learning loss can’t be understood as a ‘whole’ without disaggregating it into its disparate elements and the various measurement practices they rely on. I’ve counted only three ways of measuring learning loss here—the original psychometric studies; testing companies’ assessments of reading and numeracy; and econometric calculations of ‘hysteresis effects’ in the economy—but even these are made of multiple parts, and are based on longer histories of measurement that are contested, incompatible with one another, sometimes contradictory, and incoherent when bundled together.

Ben Williamson explores what we talk about when we talk about learning lose. He discusses Barbara Heyns’  1978 publication Summer Learning and the Effects of Schooling, data associated with NWEA MAP Growth test in the US, and recent large-scale studies of learning loss by organisations such as OECD and World Bank. What this all highlights is the complexities associated with the idea, as well as the various commercial and political influences.
Bookmarked The ‘how’ and ‘why’ of the classroom | The Psychologist (

There is evidence that instruction, practice and repetition works, if the aim is to retain large amounts of information, although it’s less clear whether you can successfully impose this on other people without a very strict regime of control. The quibble is more about philosophy of education and whether retaining large amounts of particular types of information is the goal we should have for our children’s education. And there are some difficult questions about exactly what the purpose is of requiring children to learn a lot of information before they are allowed to engage in critical thinking or question what they are learning.

Naomi Fisher pushes back on the ‘what works’ mantra and instead argues that how and why matter just as much. For example, she explains that if our focus is on developing critical thinkers, then drilling children with facts and figures will not necessarily get us there.

The cognitive model is only one of many. There is an extensive body of research which shows how, from a very early age, children are engaged as active agents in their learning and learn through play. They test hypotheses, problem solve and come up with creative solutions. Alison Gopnik, professor of developmental psychology at University of California, Berkeley, calls this the ‘child as scientist’ theory of learning, and anyone who has spent time with a young child will have seen it in action. They mix things together, they experiment with floating and sinking, they ask purposeful questions. My own daughter did a series of complex experiments aged about six when she would put various concoctions in the freezer, oven and in the bath under water, to see what would happen. The first I knew of it was when black smoke started emanating from the kitchen. Scientific enquiry was so alive in our home that every time I opened the fridge a new experiment fell out.

This reminds me of Gert Biesta’s three key arguments for a ‘good education‘: qualification, socialization and subjectification

Replied to Emily and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Professional Development Session (Mrs Fintelman Teaches)

I’ve tried to come up with answers to the question “What makes good professional learning?”. My answers are questions.

  • I believe I know how children learn. Do I know how adults learn? If I don’t, should I be in charge of running this session?
  • What is the point of the session? What do teachers REALLY need to leave with? Answers? Questions? Skills? Content? Attitudes? Enthusiasm?
  • Do I want to teach them what I know? If I do, what do I know that is so important that 30 adult professionals all need to hear it, in the same way, at the same time? Is me putting it on slides and talking about it the best way for them to learn it?
  • I believe people learn by meaningfully doing. Will people be learning by doing or will they be passive? How can I remove that tendency for the presenter to do all the doing?
  • Is my ego involved? How can I remove it if it is?
I really enjoyed your reflection Emily. I wonder if there are times when we learn as much from failed experiences as we do from those that truly succeed? It reminds me of riff I once made on something Douglas Rushkoff once said about solving riddles or posing new ones:

For me, what matters is not necessarily the content, but the conditions created that provide the possibility for personal problem solving. To reword Rushkoff’s question, is professional development meant to solve our riddles or pose new ones?

I was intrigued by your statement about being an ‘expert on learning’:

I really believe that people educating room full of experts on learning should be absolute masters of learning – otherwise they’re hardly qualified to be doing that job.

I wonder if all learning is the same and with that if all professional development is the same?

Replied to Why do people choose crosswords but not lessons? (EDUWELLS)

In crossword terms, New Zealand teachers work with learners to look at which clues have been answered so far and so make the judgement as too which would be the easiest and obvious next clue to answer. Learners ‘fill out the crossword’ at different speeds and in different order but the longer term journey from start to finish is always visible in the national learner curriculum levels.

I grew up watching my grandfather spend hours over crosswords, just wonder what to say about those who don’t buy into it?
Liked To Theme or Not to Theme: That is the Question (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

The difference between a theme method and a curriculum with an emerging focus is that that what children actually know about the subject or topic is as relevant as their interest in that content. The message being communicated through the use of themes is that there is a great deal of information to be consumed by children through a transmission model of learning. Themes related to the seasons, alphabet, numbers and geometric shapes are accepted as important concepts for children. What is missing is the empowering possibilities of co-constructing learning with children. Moving beyond themes to experiences that encourage deep thinking while making learning visible will give voice to children.