Blog post 1

Learning Through Exploration and Play

The first colloquium in this subject was hosted by Annabel Astbury,  a past History teacher, educational leader for the History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, and currently working to deliver the curriculum through ABC Splash. The manner in which this session was delivered was slick and personable, with the chat comments being consistently monitored.  Responses to comments were addressed to the individual attendant who posted the comment or question. This is a skill that so many online presenters have not developed.

The Splash motto: “explore, play, learn” succinctly encapsulates the website’s offerings to education. Opportunities for classes and individuals to engage with the material are provided in the formats of film, games and text.  All resources address Australian Curriculum   standards, and many of the activities are aimed at students from Years 5 to 8.

Annabel outlined the various decisions that had been made in the design of the product, which was predicated on the premise that “the world did not need another product for lesson creation” (Astbury, 2015). The significance of this statement is felt in classrooms all over the world, where there are no systems in place for sorting through the increasing wealth of educational materials (Calhoun, 2015).

Teachers everywhere are overworked, and increasingly overwhelmed by a “dazzling forest of finely-tuned” products, and there is little time to assess their value, master and adopt them within teaching programs to achieve meaningful outcomes (Calhoun, 2015). A repository of products designed by and for Australians (with an online educational base of only 3.2 million users) is critically important to learning in the digital age (Astbury, 2015).

ABC Splash offers a curated and appropriate collection, and furthermore, links to Scootle, an online, Australian Curriculum specific store of material accessible to all practicing teachers, including casual relief teachers.  This would seem to be an enticing proposition enabling easy integration into classrooms across the nation while leading to the potential for a “flow experience” for students (Lemke, 2010, p. 247).

Appropriate innovative practise through the infusion of technology, and the resources this allows, should contribute to classrooms full of fully engaged students who are intrinsically motivated and “110% invested” in learning (Lemke, 2010, pp. 246 – 247). Incorporating technological solutions and permitting students to work differently on mastering learning relies on the critical adoption of skills for the current century. This requires deep thinking in relation to the implications of the new teaching and learning resources, in order to develop a more empowering model of authentic learning (November, 2010, p. 278).

Lemke believes that vesting students with power will increase efficacy in their learning skills, and, if the task is complex, result in more creativity and innovation, and lead to improved adaptive proficiency (Lemke, 2010, p. 247). Such outcomes will only occur if educators can move beyond seeing multimodal incorporation as more than something predominantly technical that simply requires the alignment of minds with machines (Selwyn, 2010, p. 67).

ABC Splash offers educators in Australia the ability to offer a range of learning materials that relate to the context in which Australian students live (Astbury, 2015). In an era where individuals have devices in their hands in most classrooms, the incorporation of such material can be woven seamlessly into lesson design, particularly in settings where students own the culture of learning, and collaborate with each other in creative and multimodal ways (November, 2010, p. 282).

The use of digital technology is pitted against long-standing traditions, and entrenched concerns, often at a micro level, of the everyday educational experiences, pre and post the digital age (Selwyn, 2014, p. 164). This is the dichotomy of the times in which we educate.

Providing teachers access to resources is of little value of they do not utilise them in some way. Constant reminders of what access has been provided, and what it will allow in classrooms is becoming a crucial aspect of the teacher-librarian’s  work.  “But, the way we are approaching the integration of technology into our school systems is raising red flags. If we don’t figure out exactly what these early warning signals mean and incorporate their lessons into our design and our educational philosophy, we risk generating backlash and squandering valuable momentum. We also risk producing a generation of graduates who are unprepared for the future ahead of us” (Calhoun, 2015). This is the critical aspect of the work that we do in our school library roles.


Astbury, A. [Host). (2015, July 21). ABC Splash Online Colloquium. Retrieved July 21, 2015

Calhoun, N. (2015, July 21). How Technology Is Crash Landing in Our Public Schools. Retrieved from Singularity Hub: http://singularityhub.com/2015/07/21/how-technology-is-crash-landing-in-our-public-schools/

Kay, K. (2015, July 21). Do You Have 21/21 Vision? Retrieved from Edutopia Blog: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/do-you-have-2121-vision-ken-kay

Lemke, C. (2010). Innovation Through Technology. In C21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (pp. 243-274). Bloomington: Solution Tree.

November, A. (2010). Technology Rich, Information Poor. In 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (pp. 275-283). Bloomington: Solution Tree.

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning(26 (1)), 65 – 73. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x.

Selwyn, N. (2014). Education and ‘the digital’. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 35:1, 155-164. doi:10.1080/01425692.2013.856668



8 thoughts on “#1

  1. Liz Eckert

    nice articulation of last week’s reading and the colloquium! I wish I was that clear about it all. Mine is still working in the draft format while catching up this week’s readings already.


  2. msimkin

    Thanks Liz, I am still chasing the readings! Internet issues are making the viewing of YouTube clips and downloading materials a nightmare unless I am at school – and I’m not driving back into town for the Colloquium!


  3. Julie Lindsay

    Margaret, thanks for highlighting Annabel’s facility as an online presenter – yes something that is not common to all.
    Yes, students who have devices in their hands…..certainly and advantage, and a requirement?
    I couldn’t help thinking while reading your reflective and well supported post that the foundation of ‘connectivism’ through connected learning is missing and a more traditional disposition towards the use of edtech is inhibiting ‘flow’ in many ways…..


  4. Hyacinth Steele

    Hi Margaret,

    I enjoyed reading the ‘take-aways’ you provided from the Guest colloquium with Annabel Astbury.

    I appreciated the intention and audience that Splash has identified as their ‘brief’. After reading Selwyn I have now revisited this digital resource from a ‘critical approach’ lens and am thinking about the social realities of the use of digital resources. As a learning designer I am adopting a more ‘critical approach’ also to my design work. If I build it it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come.

    I resonated with your p.o.v. as a librarian. I worked for some of my career as a Reference librarian at an academic library. Our information literacy classes and resources became successful when we invited the academics to collaborate with us to identify resources and platforms for their information literacy needs.

    Hyacinth Steele


    1. msimkin

      Thanks Hyacinth. After this week’s colloquium, I wan to go back and rethink Annabel’s! She did give us some data to work with, but how good would it be from the learning design perspective to know how those accessing our material were using it (duration, keywords etc!)


  5. Greg

    Hello Margaret,

    You offer some great insights and recaps from Annabel’s participation last week. Most importantly, you remind the reader that Splash is a high quality resource that can be trusted by teachers and students to assist their learning endeavours. Such quality resources, along with a real commitment towards student-centred learning, will hopefully see teachers, leaders and schools avoid “producing a generation of graduates who are unprepared for the future ahead of us” (Calhoun, 2015).

    Thanks for the post.


    1. msimkin

      Thanks Greg. From a library perspective we provide a range of curated and Australian Curriculum products and links. Unfortunately the Google solution is often the first port of call for information and YouTube for film clips. Why search Albert in ClickView to find appropriate footage with teaching resources? It is not good, on the other hand, to tie students down to only using one resource which is provided by the teacher. The students understand the quality issue better than the teachers – as a general statement.


  6. msimkin

    Thanks Julie. ICT implementation in schools is all over the place and in my experience becoming less effective. Connectivism and connected learning are alien concepts in most classrooms.


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