Blog Post #2 Digital information ecology and knowledge networks:


In this information age in which we live, which is exciting, fast-paced and scary all at the same time a range of definitions need to be examined, elaborated on and finally agreed to by enough educators to be meaningful in terms of our profession and to impact on student learning outcomes.

Much of the terminology being developed comes from quite different areas, for example, ecology is usually a term used by Biologists. When it is applied to Information and Communication Technology those of us working in this sphere need to pause and consider what the implications are for us.

Educators and information professionals view the world through numerous lenses, unlike some professions where the focus can be more one dimensional. This image, of the historical Kingscote Lighthouse light, represents the varied ways educators have to adapt concepts and theories to their role in guiding student learning.

Photo M Simkin

Photo M Simkin

Digital Media and Learning is a phrase used by Gee (DMAL) (Gee, 2010). Gee argues that the “learning” aspect will not evolve until real coherence of terminology and practice develops through collaboration and the ‘accumulation of shared knowledge’. (Gee, 2010, p. 6) He acknowledges the importance of this as:

‘a truly important and yet tractable theme around which the area can organize. Does digital media and learning have such a theme? One candidate would be this: the ways in which digital tools have transformed the human mind and human society and will do so further in the future. This certainly seems a big and important theme. The question, then, becomes whether there are shared tools and perspectives we all can develop to study it and whether it is tractable, that is, whether deep study will lead to real results’. (Gee, 2010, p. 6)

While we are referring to terminology, here’s another example: Gee quotes ‘Ong’s classic 1982 book … started the discussion of the effects of digital media on traditional literacy and said it constituted a form of “secondary orality’ (Gee, 2010, p. 7). Orality resonates with the concept that digital story telling is so valuable for assisting students to make sense of their world. It ties in with the work of Stephen Heppell and his students, which can be seen here: (Heppell, n.d.)

Be Very Afraid


Beyond defining the terminology, there is benefit to educators perusing models and translating words to action in the classroom.

Digital Literacy Model
Digital Literacy Model


(Hague & Paton, 2010)

This diagram reminds teachers of why it is important for them to be present and active in their lessons (whether as sage on the stage, guide by the side, or as co-learner). Students cannot be expected to just know the implications of the qualifying words such as critical, effective, functional and utilised here. In order for projects such as Stephen Heppell’s to be quality educational end products, deep understanding of these 8 areas is necessary. Students may achieve that through effective collaboration and networking with each other, but having the teacher as co-learner is the most effective way of achieving this.


Summey (2013, p 15 cited in (M, 2014) provides a diagrammatic representation of these:

Cited in M's Blog

Cited in M’s Blog


Gee, J. (2010).   New Digital Media and Learning as an Emerging Area and “Worked   Examples” as One Way Forward. Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of   America. Retrieved March 22, 2014, from

Hague, C., &   Paton, S. (2010). Digital Literacy Handbook. Bristol, United Kingdom.   Retrieved March 23, 2014, from

Heppell, S.   (n.d.). About BVA. Retrieved March 26, 2014, from Be Very Afraid:

M. (2014, January   5). Digital Literacy, Social Networking, Blogs, Wikis, Social Bookmarking.   Retrieved March 23, 2014, from M’s Multimedia Blog:




A Very Big Hurdle

Helen Haste’s concept of people as problem solvers rather than tool users resonates with me. I have long held the belief that technology is only a tool and it is what we do with it that really matters. I struggle with the value of setting students a task and then mandating the output that proves the task e.g. create a PowerPoint. I try to encourage teachers to offer the task and a rubric and let the students design their own responses in any format that is accessible by the teacher.

In Curriculum meetings there is much frustrating discussion about mandating the way we write courses and the content that we have to teach, but it is impossible to move the discussion to C21st skill sets.

It seems obvious that, as Helen Haste says, students need a new brand of competencies to thrive within a changing environment. I really like Helen’s  summative drawing of the potential power of collaboration :

Collaboration of problem solvers

Collaboration of problem solvers                     

Her diagram showing problem solver organisation  has no arrows because the individual is constantly changing directions according to the process of their problem solving interactions – individual to society and back again.


This is a continual pyramid not a directional one.

This is a continual pyramid not a directional one.


The two definitions are also very powerful:

  • dialogic This means that everything anybody ever says always exists in response to things that have been said before and in anticipation of things that will be said in response. In other words, we do not speak in a vacuum.
  • dialectic The dialectical method is discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject, who wish to establish the truth of the matter guided by reasoned arguments.

From <>

Competence isn’t just about skill but about adaptation.

5 competences

  1. managing ambiguity
  2. Agency and responsibility
  3. Finding and sustaining community
  4. Managing emotion
  5. Managing technological change

It is important for us to teach ambiguity so that students do not feel anxious by not knowing what the right answer is. They need to understand multiple perspectives.

Young people are encountering strangers and even non people in their online connections and we need to assist them with this process.

These competencies are what young people need for the future; they must be mandated within education.

Social change is not linear and everyone needs to work with that fact.


How do we bring our colleagues on board with these types of beliefs so that we are not creating classrooms as Nathaniel Bott describes: in the early part of this clip: “ boredom and disengagement is too big a part of the modern classroom” ?

This is one of our biggest hurdles as educators.

Quick post: Tweeting into space? Tweeting for collaboration.

Interesting to see, courtesy of Twitter, how many people viewed my posts this week. According to Twitter

the number of views on the posts tagged #INF530 was 60, 66 and 78.

This is what I posted and was hoping for some feedback on:

1. So are we seeing the death of edited and curated content in this era of Internet? This is one of Weinberger’s contentions.

2. Read David Weinberger “too big to know”? Interested in opinions/comments about the power of crowdsourcing & knowledge thru Internet #INF530

I would have liked some responses, but I plan to copy David Weinberger into the next one! Connectivity is one thing, but to have two way communication is the ultimate as it helps you expand your thinking and take in other perspectives on the same topic. Intellectual debate makes learning so much more valuable. Anybody want to trial a collaborative tool to collate some thoughts based around texts we are reading for our scholarly book review? (I don’t have a specific tool in mind but happy to suggest something).

Knowledge, searching and understanding – a starting point.

It is interesting pondering the future work skills 2020 image in our module 1.3 ( and comparing it to the book Too Big to Know by David Weinberger where the contention seems to be that the digital world is without structure and something of which it is almost impossible to make sense. (I haven’t finished the book yet, but this is my summation at this point).

To what extent is there no structure, or is it that the organisation is too big to recognise? Is all knowledge considered equal, or do most people acknowledge that some people are in a more informed position to pass comment than others?

Does computer processing power and speed equal improved understanding and lead to increased knowledge?


Does the number of Google searches bear some relevance to an increase in the total data base of human knowledge? Does the Knowledge Graph actually improve knowledge access or growth or is it just an attractive interface? Do the many random, poorly thought out  and casual searches each day impact on the serious academic type content sought  by the minority?

While sites like educate students to search more effectively it is crucial to question how many students are exposed to such sites, and what proportion of teachers actually teach such skills. This is more important than the digital native vs immigrant debate. If those with experience and understanding of quality of result are not part of the conversation then all student learning is compromised.

Teachers need to inhabit the same spaces and model their use. They need to incorporate these things into their subject area all the time, not just as one off, special activities. This is the digital divide that really concerns me.

Blog Post 1:

The context of my learning is a mixture of

  1. Teacher related – about 30%

This is my 7th year teaching VCE History Revolutions. This year’s class is small but focused and the students participate in the learning process, with each other, and with me. The year most of my current students were in Year 9,  I took two classes of Year 9 History (Australian Curriculum). This was also the first year that our school had 1:1 devices and year 9 was the first year level targeted for their adoption. I documented this whole learning journey at a blog that was shared with these students at the time: . Luckily for me this was also the first year we could allow mobile phones to be used in class – but only when we had an explicit task in mind.  I had students collaborating with absent peers on their phones through Facebook chat, active participation in finding relevant information on an at-need basis and experimenting digitally.  My class, in many ways, is my testing ground.

  1. Teacher-Librarian related – 60%

A great role that fills most of my working week and waking hours, and gives me licence to dabble in all curriculum areas in our school (and beyond) – and which is only limited by the time I have available. I can develop skills and use them to assist all members of our college community, create web sites, curate web links, teach, purchase resources etc. I can also share professionally with my teacher-librarian colleagues.

I am looking to learn more about why I do what I do and how this impacts on pedagogy. Some interesting reading I have come across already since we commenced our learning journey in INF530 is:

Figure 1: knowledge tools -an important consideration for learning. (Pang, A 2008)

Like so many things we come across as educators, the consideration really needs to be the learning outcomes that such discoveries empower in our students.  Figure 1 links to an article  (Pang, 2008) which makes for interesting reading in terms of our course material. (It is downloadable as a PDF also).

Information that we come across needs to be considered in the light of the Gartner Hype Cycle:

A visual reminder of how many educators view technological innovation.
Figure 2: A visual reminder of how many educators view technological innovation.  (Sharples et al., 2013 p. 6)

Figure 2 refers to educators’ reactions to educational innovations such as educational television, integrated learning systems and virtual worlds (Sharples et al., 2013 p. 6) . MOOCs are currently considered to be at the peak of inflated expectations. (Sharples et al., 2013 p. 6)



Pang, A. (2008). Knowledge   Tools for the Future. Retrieved March 2014, 2014, from Institute For The   Future:

Sharples, M.,   McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., Fitzgerald, E., Histr, T., &   Gaved, M. (2013). Innovating Pedagogy Report 2013; Open University   Innovation Report 2. Retrieved March 15, 2014, from Open Access UK: