It’s crucial to be critical

It’s crucial to be critical

Critical reflection involves questioning ourselves and courageously risking the stability of our social worlds (Hearn, 2013). One issue that troubles me, especially within the UX and LX design space, is the emphasis on designing learning environments with the persona of the typical student in mind. This is a shortcoming, and an issue that I will face when using NGL to design an intervention as a teacher.

In order to cater for the evolving university market, higher education in Australia is a digitalised affair. As educators, we tend to forget that access to education should be for everyone, not just those who can afford technology and internet access. In fact, technology might actually emphasise wealth disparity. Equity and accessibility to technology is problematic for incarcerated students, indigenous communities, and students who live in rural or low socioeconomic areas. I have briefly explored this in my previous post – “Pedagogy vs. Technology: It’s time to stop the debate!”

Ironically, connectivity is imperative for students undertaking tertiary study with academics designing courses on the assumption that students have reliable internet access (Hancock, 2010). This is not always the case. In fact, UNESCO’s Broadband Commission (2015) has revealed that 60% of the world is without internet, with Google (2015) stating that “even when online access is available, it can be spotty.” Cooper (2000) elaborates on this by explaining there are different levels of connectivity, including:

  • The fully connected (those with an Internet Provider or high speed Internet)
  • The partially connected (those with basic Internet and email service)
  • The potentially connected (those without Internet but who are in possession of a digital device)
  • The disconnected (those without Internet and a digital device)

These varying degrees of connectivity can have a profound impact on social capital with the accessibility and mobilisation of resources affecting the outcomes of people’s social action (Chen, 2013). Therefore, integrating technologies and NGL principles within learning environments is a paradox, when these social justice initiatives lie at the heart of the digital divide.

This flaw extends to blind and visually-impaired students, and other marginalised cohorts who do not fit the persona of the “typical” student. Selwyn (2014) addresses this issue by stating that even if a teacher uses technology in their classroom, this does not mean they are “harnessing the power of technology,” especially if their students are “atypical.” Universal design reinforces the need to utilise multi-modal learning in order to cater for the learning needs of all students – not merely those who have easy access to technology.

How do we ensure that courses are student-centred in relation to student diversity? How do we ensure library catalogues and websites are accessible to students with visual impairments? How do we teach digital literacy skills to students who do not have internet access?

These are questions we can’t really answer, at least not holistically.

According to Siemens (2013), “there has been growing creep of ‘rockstar-ism’ in education where we look for ‘the person’ to give us ‘the solution.’”

We do not need the answers, at least not right away. Critical thinking is about discovering the problems, not necessarily the solutions.

Siemens (2013) states “I’ve answered many questions from audience members [at conferences] with ‘I don’t know’ and ‘that depends’. People seem to find this unsatisfying. We like our so-called rock stars in the education and technology field. We like clear answers. And it’s not healthy for us or for our field.”

It’s crucial to admit our shortcomings.

It’s crucial to ask questions of ourselves and our learning communities.

And it’s crucial to be critical of the responses.


Chen, W. (2013). The Implications of Social Capital for the Digital Divides in America. The Information Society, 29(1), 13-25. doi: 10.1080/01972243.2012.739265

Cooper, M. (2000). Disconnected, Disadvantages, and Disenfranchised: Explorations in the Digital Divide. Retrieved 27 August, from

Google. (2015). Navigate and search the real world…online or off. Retrieved 27 August, 2017, from

Hancock, V. (2010). Essential, Desirable or Optional? Making distant e-learning courses available to those without internet access. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from

Hearn, A. (2013). Situation critical. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(2-3), pp. 273-279.

Selwyn, N. Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved 27 August from,

Siemens, G. (2013). Done doing keynotes. Retrieved 27 August, from,

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2015). The State of Broadband 2015. Retrieved 27 August, 2017, from

Tensions and reflections

Tensions and reflections

Throughout this course, an aura of positivity surrounds NGL. I do not know if this is because no one wants to bring the negative aspects to the table, or simply because NGL does have transformative abilities within the educational space.

Reading the articles “Technology and education – why it’s crucial to be critical” and “All models are wrong – but some are useful” made me realise that there is an absence of critical thinking within NGL. This made me question the negative aspects of NGL.

Firstly, the amount of technology, and its constant promotion can be an overwhelming experience for students. Throughout this course, I felt like new technologies were constantly shoved in my face, (right from the blog’s creation to the integration of Diigo, Reddit and nameless other tools). Would it have been better to integrate the technology gradually? Or was the constant promotion of technology a deliberate strategy to compel students out of their comfort zone? Was it a way of enhancing deeper reflection? Collaborative learning?

Or, were some students left behind because of the way technology was introduced? . My statement stems from the lack of posts from other people’s blog, which in turn, makes it difficult for me to comply with my requirement as a student, to link to other people’s posts.

In addition, as students, I felt like we struggled to “take off” as a network, simply because each of us was moving at a difference pace within the NGL environment, with most of us (including me) hovering in liminality. A few weeks ago Mitch and Keturah disagreed with my post “Are we a group, network or collective?” I still stand by my view, even stronger than before. In truth, I think we are evolving, but believe as a learning community, we have not established ourselves as a network, but as a group or task-based community that is simply aiming to meet student requirements.

One of the shortcoming of NGL that I have found is a sense of isolation.  No one has commented on each other’s blog, and there as been a lack of presence from the facilitator. As a result, the NGL course and the connections within it, did not provide me with feedback or motivation that could have enhanced further action within my own learning.

This post was not meant to be one of negativity, but as acknowledged by Hearn (2013) it takes courage to critique, which is “required if technology and education is to become a genuinely significant area of academic endeavor,” (Selwyn, 2014).


Hearn, A. (2013). Situation critical. Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies, 10(2-3):273-279.

Jones, D. (2015). All models are wrong, but some are useful and its application to e-learning. Retrieved 27 August, from,

Selwyn, N. Technology and education: why it’s crucial to be critical. Retrieved 27 August from,


Is technology making us stupid? No.

Is technology making us stupid? No.

This week, we were asked to be more critical of NGL. Applicably, I could critically see both sides of the argument in Lodge’s (2012) article, “Is technology making us stupid?” I am a millennial, so I am technically classified as a “digital native,” (Prensky, 2001). However, I felt like I grew up in the transition phase, where technology was slowly been integrated into our daily lives. To be frank, I was quite oblivious to the digital revolution and I credit that to my upbringing (being raised in the country). However, like Madelein mentioned in her post, I can say that nowadays I would be slightly lost without my iPhone, social media and the ability to Google pretty much everything. As a student, the ability to search for information on the web is transformative…but does that make us lazy? Incompetent? Stupid?


Students have always subconsciously used Jarche’s (2014) framework of seeking, sensing and sharing knowledge. When I apply SAMR to this argument, it is evident that Google is a substitute for library books. We are still seeking the same knowledge, just in a different way. The rise of virtual classrooms might have made us more anti-social, but it definitely has not impacted student intelligence.

In fact, education in the information age has fostered independent and critical learners. This is reasoned by the fact that students have more control over their learning, as supported by Siemens (2008).

As an educator, I teach academics about issues that are connected with internet use including: copyright infringement, plagiarism, incorrect information, critical thinking, and open education. Although information on copyright law is easily accessible on the web, my students need to use critical thinking skills to interpret legislation for their own context.

Are my students stupid because technology allows easy access to a digital copy of the copyright act?

Definitely not.

In fact, when you add copyright and digital technologies together you get incredibly complex and messy conundrums (as Samanthi mentioned through her blog on copyright frustrations), simply because the Copyright Act 1968 does not fit into today’s digital world.

As stated by Lodge (2012), the “future of technology-enabled learning and education is in a synthesis of the science of learning and the art of teaching,” which will help us “figure out how we can educate the future generations of students to become wise and knowledgeable in a world where information is cheap and easy.”

Is technology making us stupid?


It’s just making us different.


Prenksy, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants: Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), 6.

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine? Retrieved 13 August, 2017, from

Lodge, J. (2012). Education in the information age: is technology making us stupid? Retrieved 25 August, from,

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 24 August, from.



Some things change, some things stay the same

Some things change, some things stay the same

The literature by Siemens is a familiar discourse within higher education. In fact, the questions posed on the NGL blog are the same questions Siemens asked a decade ago, and ones that continued to be asked today. It seems, with the advancement of technology, the higher education sector is in a race it can never finish, nor win – with the ultimate goal of fulfilling student needs within evolving, uncertain, and rather elusive learning environments.

What is the role of an educator?

I believe educators have two primary roles – the role of facilitators and the role of learning designers. Educators are people who facilitate connections, knowledge and conversation. They prompt engagement and new ways of thinking by encouraging creativity, innovation and reflection. Based on social constructivism, the role of an educator as a facilitator allows students to construct their own knowledge (Le Cornu & Peters, 2005). Additionally, I believe the needs of students will not be met until educators become designers of learning experiences (Lavoie et al, 2011), with an understanding for the unique needs of their students. This is also supported by Laurillard (2012) who advocates the concept of “design science,” which focuses on educational theories to attain student learning.

What is the role of the learner?

The role of the learner is to be a self-directed explorer of ideas, learning initiatives, and connections. Siemens (2008) states that “different learners have different needs,” thus, arguing that learners should be in control of their learning journey. Tobin (2000, p. 12) agrees by stating that “all learning is self-directed,” and that “real learning – the information that is retained and used beyond a course – can only be determined by the learner themselves.” As a learner, this is something that resonates with me. According to Siemens (2008), some students prefer high degree of social interaction, while others prefer a more individual approach. I have always had a self-directed mindset to my own learning, especially in finding the methods that are most effective and motivating for me. I believe this is important for other learners too. Looking at my fellow peers, this self-directedness is seen through each of our blogs and way we have tailored them in association with Chris’s facilitation skills, and the design of the main NGL blog page.

How would curriculum be created and share?

Curriculum needs to be created in a structured and relevant way. According to Siemens (2006), relevance is not just about the nature of content, but rather the process of ensuring currency for students. Siemens (2006, p. 43) acknowledges that content has a short lifespan and that “through the connectivist approach to learning, we create networks of knowledge to assist in replacing outdated content with current content,” in order to ensure curriculum worthiness.

In addition, the curriculum should allow for networking, communication and opportunities for students to connect knowledge to real life scenarios and practicalities. In Lauren and Mitch’s blogs, there has been a significant focus on technologies. This will drastically influence how curriculum is created and shared. As digital technologies are used within courses, information literacy must be embedded within the curriculum to ensure students will be able to use, find and share the information provided (Campbell, 2004). Digital literacies and information skills are paramount in the digital age (van Deursen & van Dijk, 2010). These skills include: computer literacy, information literacy, media literacy, network literacy, e-literacy, web literacy, game literacy and digital communication literacy (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008). This diversity means that digital literacy is often seen as a “framework for integrating other literacies and skillsets,” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2008, p.4). From Siemen’s comment on currency, and my own experience as an educator within the information science field, I believe the curriculum needs to be created with digital literacy in mind.

How would research be conducted?

Research would be collaborative and methodological, qualitative and quantitative. Networks would be the core of research conduction. This would be achieved through task-based, practice-based and knowledge-based communities (Riel and Polin, 2004). Technology would also play a fundamental role in research management.

What would be the role of the university in society?

Universities are hubs of learning, knowledge and discovery. Despite the changing roles of educators and learners, the role of universities is rather static. By comparing ancient and contemporary universities throughout history, it is evident that despite technological progression the goals of universities have remained relatively the same. These goals include: learning and teaching, research and more recently entrepreneurship via networking. Although universities have a stagnant core, they must constantly evolve in a rapidly changing economy.

What would ‘education’ look like? How would we mark it? Accredit?

Education will be more student-centered, with an aim of creating independent and critical leaners. This will be achieved by focusing more on skill, rather than content. Education will be more flexible and integrative. There will be a favour of virtual environments over physical classrooms. As a result, there will be further exploration on the concept of “place” within education. This is also supported by Northcote (2008, p. 677) who emphasises the importance of “place,” in physical and virtual environments by stating that “a sense of place is often experienced more at the individual level than the community level.” That is not to say a student cannot create a “place to hangout” with others within their online learning environment, but rather, as determined by Siemens, the student is in control of their learning experience, rather than the teacher.

I think education will look more digital. To be truthful, as an educator, this scares me. In my previous post ‘Are you digitally included or a useless digit,’ I mentioned the rise of robots in the workforce. I anticipate education following a similar path with an emphasis on “self-service,” automation and artificial intelligence. However, despite the inevitability of technological advancements, I hope that humans remain the heart of education.

Accreditation and graduate attributes will continue to drive higher education. According to Siemens “universities better serve their role of accreditation…on sufficiency of learning when they look beyond formal classrooms.” I envisage this to be achieved through an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning (and graded participation) and stronger partnership between students and industry.


Campbell, S. (2004). Defining Information in the 21st Century. Paper presented at World Library and Information Congress: 70th IFLA General Conference and Council, Bueno Aires, Argentina. Retrieved from

Lankshear, C & Knobel, M. (2008). Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

Laurillard, D. (2012). Teaching as a design science: Building pedagogical patterns for learning and technology. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lavoie, D., Rosman, A., & Sharma, S. (2011). Information Literacy by Design: Recalibrating Graduate Professional Online Programs. In T. Mackey & T. Jacobson (Eds.). Teaching Information Literacy Online (pp. 133-152). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Le Cornu, R & Peters, J. (2005). Towards constructivist classrooms: the role of the reflective teacher. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 6(1).

Northcote, M. (2008). Sense of place in online learning environments. Paper presented at ASCILITE, Melbourne, Vic. Retrieved from

Riel, M., & Polin, L. (2004). Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, & J. Gray (Eds.), Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning (pp. 16–50). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Siemens, G. (2006). Knowing Knowledge. Retrieved 24 August, from,

Siemens, G. (2008). New structures and spaces of learning: The systemic impact of connective knowledge, connectivism, and networked learning. Retrieved 24 August, from.

Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Van Deursen, A & Van Dijk, J. (2010). Internet skills and the digital divide. New Media and Society, 13(6), 893-911. doi: 10.1177/1461444810386774

Pedagogy vs. Technology: It’s time to stop the debate!

Pedagogy vs. Technology: It’s time to stop the debate!

This post is not related to any of the questions on the NGL blog, but is inspired from this week’s discussion on pedagogy and technology. I have just watched the catch-up zoom recording and have been thinking about Chris’s emphasis on pedagogy and the discussions surrounding being critical on technology. As a teacher (librarian), I find there is a pedagogy vs. technology debate within higher education. When I work with academics, they seem to think they can only have one or the other (probably due the restrictions of copyright and the nature of my role). However, I find this sentiment frustrating, and a contradiction to the principles of NGL.

As a librarian, I have witnessed the transformative role technology plays in bridging the digital divide, by bringing online learning to the “offline” world. I have contributed to this through my work, where I contribute to a project that is taking technologies that do not require internet access into prisoners to enable tertiary opportunities (University of Southern Queensland, 2017). This has been achieved through the development of a LMS that is disconnected from the internet. In the online environment, this LMS works in conjunction with the university’s institutional repository. However, this is not feasible for students without internet. To address the issue, the project uses a “compiler” software which harvests objects hosted in the repository and “packages” the course for export to correctional centres, where incarcerated students can access their courses and even use them on personal devices without the need for internet (Farley et al, 2015).

The integration and use of these technologies show there are ways to bridge the access divide. Despite this success, critics like Toyama (2011) believe there are “no technological shortcuts on good education,” and that “attempts to use technology as a stand-in for capable instruction are bound to fail.” This belief is also supported by Eamon (1999) who states that teaching involves more than the conveyance of information. It involves socialisation, interaction and group activities, which require proximity and thus, cannot be replaced with technology (Eamon, 1999). Jones & Bennett (2014) agree that a course should be driven by pedagogical purpose, rather than technology. However Jones & Bennett (2014) also counteract Toyama’s argument by stating that “pedagogic principles need to fit within the practical structures and market mandates that make certain digital technologies compulsory in university courses.”

Looking at the interplay between the digital divide and social capital it becomes understandable why certain technologies become compulsory. Although Toyama (2011) argues that technology cannot replace instruction, the realisation that some students are disconnected from everything, including teachers, must be remembered. Therefore, asynchronous learning via digital technologies are often considered better than no learning at all, even if they are not quite holistic. Tobin (2000, p.12) believes this should not hinder the learning process as “all learning is self-directed.” According to Tobin (2000) “real learning” – the information that is retained and used beyond a course – can only be determined by the learner themselves. This is why pedagogy is paramount when designing courses for the offline environment. The alteration of courses to suit the technology is a controversial topic. It has sparked debate in literature with scholars agreeing with Toyama (2011) and Eamon (1999) that technology poses a threat to pedagogy, especially when teachers develop courses to suit the technology, rather than vice-versa.

In contrast, supporters of educational technology use social constructivism and a constructive learning framework to argue that teachers should take the role of a facilitator in which students can construct their own knowledge (Le Cornu & Peters, 2005), ideally connected to real-world scenarios in which technology plays a fundamental part of 21st century work life. Instead of fuelling the debate, Jones and Bennett (2014) suggest that the “digital” needs to be de-emphasised in higher education discourse. This will result in the reimagining of educational technologies and allow for the reassertion of pedagogy-led design, where digital technologies are seen as equivalent, not superior, to effective non-digital alternatives (Jones & Bennett, 2014). The project I work on also recognises the need for an equaliser identity between technology and pedagogy. This is reinforced by Farley et al (2015) who states that getting students to engage with technologies and a course requires more than just access – it requires the employment of appropriate pedagogies, the fostering of social capital and a unification with educational technologies.

This is where I stand in my role as a teacher. I believe we need to grasp pedagogy in one hand, and technology in the other, and bring them together. Rather than fuelling a debate, we need to realise that the unification between pedagogy and technology can lead to the most transformative learning experiences.

I’ve been privileged to hear about these transformative stories via the success of incarcerated students, and as an educator, these are the stories I carry with me.


Eamon, D. (1999). Distance Education: Has technology become a threat to the academy? Behavior Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 31(2), 197-207. doi: 10.3758/BF03207711

Farley, H., Dove, S., Seymour, S., Macdonald, J., Abraham, C., Lee, C., Hopkins, S., Cox, J., & Patching, L. (2015). Making the Connection: Allowing access to digital higher education in a correctional environment. Paper presented at ASCILITE 2015, Perth, WA. Retrieved from

Jones, A & Bennett, R. (2014). Dissolving the online-offline divide: Re-conceptualizing space in higher education course design. Paper presented at proceedings of the 23rd annual Teaching Learning Forum, Perth, WA. Retrieved from

Le Cornu, R & Peters, J. (2005). Towards constructivist classrooms: the role of the reflective teacher. Journal of Educational Enquiry, 6(1).

Tobin, D. (2000). All Learning is Self-Directed. Alexandria, VA: ASTD.

Toyama, K. (2011). There Are No Technology Shortcuts In Good Education. Retrieved 22 August, 2017, from

University of Southern Queensland. (2017). What is Making the Connection? Retrieved 22 August, 2017, from


The SAMR Model

The SAMR Model

As a learner, technology has been integrated into many learning experiences. I’ve decided to apply the SAMR model to the activity of “researching,” which is a core skill within higher education.


When I started my undergraduate course, there was still a mandatory emphasis on borrowing and using hard copy books and journals from the library. Nowadays, printed artefacts have been substituted with the World Wide Web. This includes library databases and institutional repositories, where electronic books and journals are available 24/7.


Instead of writing down the details of every possible source, the internet allows students to bookmark or add relevant sites to their favourites. According to Kharback (2013), the augmentation aspect is similar to substitution, but contains added functionalities. This is evident in search engines such as Google Advance, which allows you to filter via format, keywords and even copyright status. The library database has similar, if not greater functionalities, which allow students to filter by author, dates and Boolean phrases.


As a student, you can download PDFs for educational purposes. You can create annotations, paraphrase words and build on ideas as part of student research and assessment.


According to Kharbach (2013) “redefinition means that students use technology to create imperceptibly new tasks.” From the act of “researching,” this could involve creating mindmaps or infographics, via tools such as the software, which I have been exposed to throughout this course. This could also involve the production of a paper or journal article from the conducted research via word processing technology and referencing tools.


Kharbach, M. (2013). SAMR Models Explain for Teachers. Retrieved 21 August 2017, from

Image: Lefflerd, 2016, The SAMR Model, used under Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike Licence

A Learner’s Reflection

A Learner’s Reflection

According to Jack Mezirow, “a defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience,” (cited in Costa and Kallick, 2008). Prior to starting my tertiary education (back in 2010), I often viewed experiences as “they are” in its entirety, not as opportunities for learning. According to Feuerstein et al 1980) this is referred to as “episodic grasp of reality,” and is not a beneficial habit for learners or students.

From my education, especially through courses such as this one, I am now someone who needs to connect my experiences to other experiences, in order to construct meaning, create insight and explore complex learning (Costa and Kallick, 2008).. This is done through reflection. According to Tobin (2000, p. 12) “all learning is self-directed,” and “we foster our own growth when we control our learning, so some reflection is best done alone,” (Costa and Kallick, 2008).

So far, my experience with NGL has been a little wobbly. I started off intimidated by the course design and the transparency and openness of blogging. In week one, Cousins (2006) and Kligyte (2009, p. 541) defined liminal space as a messy journey, back and forth, across conceptual terrains. I still think I am in a liminal space, but am finding that I am not shifting back and forth as often as I did at the beginning of the course.

At the moment, I am focusing more on the assessment and my requirements as a student. I have decided to learn Auslan as my learning task, and am finding it a lot harder than I anticipated. I have referred back to Jarche’s (2014) Seek, Sense and Share framework, and by comparing it with my post on Learning with CLEM, it seems I have done a lot of seeking. I have sought out groups via my learning network, I have discovered tools such as sign language apps, and have consulted literature such as Auslan dictionaries, as well as resources on YouTube. However, I am struggling with making sense of sign language, and feel like I have hit a brick wall. In my PKM post, I stated that the way I make sense of learning is mostly by journaling, writing and reflecting. However, since Auslan is a practical learning task, I am finding it difficult to reflect and make sense of it. I am yearning for more face-to-face interaction, or an Auslan buddy that I can practice and reflect with. The need to reflect with others is supported by Costa and Kallick (2008) who acknowledge that reflection is enhanced when we ponder our learning with others.

In addition, I am currently brainstorming topic ideas for Assignment 2. I am also finding this difficult, as my “role as a teacher” is rather unconventional. I am a librarian within the copyright niche. Therefore, I am thinking something along the lines on how NGL influences the practice of copyright in the digital age.


Costa, A & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning through reflection. Viewed 21 August, 2017, from,

Cousin, G. (2006). An introduction to threshold concepts. Planet No 17, December 2006, Retrieved 7 August, 2017, from

Feuerstein, R., Rand, Y., Hoffman, M., & Miller, R. (1980). Instrumental enrichment: An intervention program for cognitive modifiability. Baltimore, MD: University Park Press.

Jarche, H. (2014). What is your PKM routine? Retrieved 13 August, 2017, from