uLearn Live @ Lunch #2

It’s really interesting when your job means that you’ve run a number of online training workshops as well as facilitated a number of webinars as the host, but you’ve never be the “guest” in an online session. That changed today when I was invited to share what I’m presenting on at uLearn this year, and what I like about being a connected educator.

I was nervous being on the “other side” but enjoyed it anyway! Thanks Tara for the opportunity!

Tuakana teina and mentoring

I’ve just read this blog post from Karyn Gray: Ma te tuakana te teina e totika. Ma te teina te tuakana e totika.

It’s well worth a read, but I really wanted to share one key point from it.

Karyn talks about some of her mentors and mentions that 3 of them are younger than her and some are less experienced, but this does not matter. Karyn is still able to learn from them and be challenged.

“Tuakana teina is not about age or even about experience. Its about knowing who is going to challenge you in a constructive way and help you continue to learn regardless of your position or theirs.”

This is mentoring. This is the mentor/mentee relationship. It’s also a reminder that both the mentor and the mentee can benefit from this relationship.

In my wider work I often work with teachers/school leaders who have far more experience (and age) than I do. Sometimes I wonder how I can be helping/supporting/guiding them, and yes, nerves can be there sometimes! This post has reminded me that we ALL have something to offer. It’s also not about having all the answers but working together to work through the issue/focus they currently have.

The rise of #EdBlogNZ


Many of you will have noticed the hashtag #EdBlogNZ starting to gain a bit of momentum recently due to some great promotion from the likes of amazing connected educators such as Sonya van Schaijik (@vanschaijik) and Alex Le Long (@ariaporo22), but perhaps you’re wondering how it started.

I enjoy reading teacher blogs and have done for over 5 years now. I’ve used in the past my trusty Google Reader, Flipboard, Feedly, Blogtrottr and now I use Inoreader (RSS reader). However, as new and different edubloggers come along, they don’t get automatically added to my RSS reader, so I miss them.

I was using the edchatNZ hashtag to try to capture these new blogs, however some days that twitter stream runs hot and the blog posts are easily missed in the constant chatter. Fantastic that the chat is going on, but I wanted to capture those blog posts.

So I thought – we need a way to identify what is a blog in twitter, and hence the EdBlogNZ hashtag was born. I started it quietly, at the end of July 2014, tagging my own blog posts with it.

It didn’t really catch on. For over a month I tweeted using the hashtag. Had a couple of retweets but no one else noticed until…

Woohoo! Someone noticed! Not surprisingly it was Annemarie!!!

On that same day, September 6 2014, we saw two others share blogs with #EdBlogNZ!!! And it has started to grow from there with more and more people slowly picking up on the hashtag. Connected Educators Month NZ 2014 helped a bit, as well as quite a few tweets like this one:

Recently, thanks to awesome support from Sonya and Alex, we have expanded EdBlogNZ into a blog site that currently links to anyone who shares a blog post using the hashtag. Check out the blog: EdBlogNZ. Sonya has been compiling a spreadsheet of NZ educator bloggers for some time and this has been included in the blog.

EdBlogNZ also now has a twitter account: @EdBlogNZ. We plan on using this and the blog to set up some blogging challenges, likely to start off during the upcoming Connected Educators NZ. Look out for the challenges and follow us!

I’m really looking forward to where this takes us and am excited that #EdBlogNZ has finally really started to take off! Now I just have to keep up with all these awesome professional teacher blogs and bloggers!

Models for virtual mentoring


As a part of the VPLD Developing Virtual Mentors course, we have been looking at two models for virtual mentoring. The GROW model and the R-Ropraha model. This post is just my quick summary/reflection on the two models.

GROW model

Model developed by John Whitmore,  Graham Alexander, and Alan Fine.
The GROW model: A simple process for coaching and mentoring.


Reality (current)

Options or Obstacles

Will or Way forward

This model is simple and straightforward. It is starting with the goal, looking at where things are currently at, what can be done/what is in the way, and the next steps to achieving it.

For virtual mentoring (or perhaps any kind of mentoring) it doesn’t give the opportunity to get to know the mentee. That is, it doesn’t allow for building any sort of mentor/mentee relationship. The whakawhanaungatanga is missing. For some people this might not be an issue. They want to just get down to business, however for others this could be crucial in order for the mentee to feel safe to discuss issues/problems etc with the mentor.

The GROW model is very task focused and in my view not so person focused.

R-Ropraha model

Model developed by Dave Burton.




Preferred option





In my view, this model is similar to the GROW model except that it starts with whakawhanaungatanga (rapport), and then the Will from the GROW model is broken down further to create a bit more of an action plan (what resources are needed, what is the action, what help is required).

What would I use?

I prefer the GROW model over R-Ropraha just because it is simple. I would perhaps change it slightly to become W-GROW – including Whakawhanaungatanga at the beginning to help establish rapport/relationship between mentor and mentee.

Should the Key Competencies be integrated into teacher professional learning?

10191190673_2cba7027f9_zI’ve been working on a workshop for use in a school around integrating the key competencies (KCs) into learning using digital technologies. This got me thinking about whether I should be purposefully considering the KCs in regards to teacher professional learning.

Question: Should the Key Competencies be integrated into teacher professional learning?

  • Are the KCs only relevant to school age students?
  • As a lifelong learner, shouldn’t I also be wanting to continue to develop these competencies in myself?

The Key Competencies page from the New Zealand Curriculum website states (emphasis mine):

People use these competencies to live, learn, work, and contribute as active members of their communities. More complex than skills, the competencies draw also on knowledge, attitudes, and values in ways that lead to action. They are not separate or stand-alone. They are the key to learning in every learning area.

The competencies continue to develop over time, shaped by interactions with people, places, ideas, and things.

Let’s take a look at the KCs… (all quotes below from Key Competencies page on NZC website)


Thinking is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to purposes such as developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency.

In teacher professional learning, I don’t want teachers to take everything at face value. I want them to think, to question, to critically examine what is being suggested/demonstrated. I want them to question their own ideas, beliefs, philosophies and practices. It sounds obvious, but teachers have got to continue thinking critically. It’s a part of growing professionally.

Using language, symbols, and texts

Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed. Languages and symbols are systems for representing and communicating information, experiences, and ideas. People use languages and symbols to produce texts of all kinds: written, oral/aural, and visual; informative and imaginative; informal and formal; mathematical, scientific, and technological.

Teachers do this daily. Not only do they support students to make meaning of the codes expressed in learning material, they also have to interpret the codes given through student body language, sometimes jumbled ideas/questions and more. In teacher professional learning it’s important for teachers to be able to make meaning of what is being shared within their own contexts for their particular group of students and their needs.

Managing self

This competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners. It is integral to self-assessment.

If I’m running a teacher professional development workshop it is usually made quickly clear to me those teachers who don’t have a “can-do” attitude (at least towards the digital technology I’m using/introducing). They are nervous, and quite honestly, some of them don’t appear to see themselves as capable learners. Until now, I’ve always considered this as simply a lack of confidence but perhaps it’s more than that? It makes me wonder what I can do to help teachers manage themselves and boost their self-motivation.

Relating to others

Relating to others is about interacting effectively with a diverse range of people in a variety of contexts. This competency includes the ability to listen actively, recognise different points of view, negotiate, and share ideas.

Going into different schools is straight away putting myself in front of a “diverse range of people in a variety of contexts”. So I can see this important to me. For teachers in those settings, I guess I make that context change. Our teachers though will always have a diverse range of people in front of them and (at least) each year will have a different range of people as classes change. While the context might seem the same each year (it’s their classroom after all), the fact their is a new range of students means that the context will change. Those students have different needs and it’s so important that teachers continue to be able to relate to others.

Participating and contributing

This competency is about being actively involved in communities. Communities include family, wh?nau, and school and those based, for example, on a common interest or culture. They may be drawn together for purposes such as learning, work, celebration, or recreation. They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity to contribute appropriately as a group member, to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.

This is big for me. When in a teacher professional learning situation it is quite important that those in the room are able and willing to participate and contribute otherwise the session can fall flat very quickly. Yes, there is a need for good facilitation, but the active involvement is also critical. It’s also important that teachers don’t wall themselves off in their classroom but become involved in their school community both on campus and with the wider community. Being actively involved in subject associations, as well as professional learning networks (PLN) is so important to help ensure we continue to be lifelong learners and continue to think and question what we (and others) are doing for our students. How can we grow effectively without making those connections to others?

My challenge

So now the challenge to myself is to ensure that I purposefully consider how the KCs can be integrated into the professional learning workshops I facilitate. I need to think about how I am helping those I’m working with grow professionally.


Image source: Flickr – Denise Krebs CC BY 2.0

Student and Teacher Perceptions of Online Student Engagement in an Online Middle School

student engagement


I’m feeling pretty excited today because I’ve just had my first article published, co-authored with Dr Maggie Hartnett, in the Journal of Open, Flexible and Distance Learning.

The article is based on the findings of my 2012 Masters research.

Student and Teacher Perceptions of Online Student Engagement in an Online Middle School




Here’s the abstract:

While our understanding of student engagement in the compulsory schooling sector is well developed in face-to-face contexts, the same cannot be said for online and distance learning environments. Indeed, most of what is currently known about online engagement has come from research with older students in tertiary education contexts. This study directly addresses this gap in the research by exploring student engagement in an online, middle school in a New Zealand distance education context. By considering three key dimensions of student engagement—namely, behavioural engagement, cognitive engagement, and emotional engagement—this in-depth investigation explores what engages middle school students when they learn online. Data collection techniques comprised student and teacher interviews, online asynchronous discussion transcripts, and statistical data from the learning management system (LMS). Results found that students in this study tended to engage behaviourally (i.e., do what was expected of them) with all required activities. Cognitive engagement (i.e., students’ personal investment in their own learning) was evident in the giving and receiving of feedback as well as the interest and relevance certain activities generated for learners. Emotional engagement was elicited through the design and facilitation of the activities, and through the ongoing development of a learning community in which students felt safe to contribute.

Image source: Flickr CC-BY-2.0

EduIgnite Wellington 2014 – Engaging students online

Last year I presented in my first EduIgnite evening. I blogged about it at the time, including the presentation: EduIgnite Wellington – My presentation.

I have just received the video of my presentation and discovered it actually went better than I thought! Still though, I would say… don’t try to bring your masters research down to a 5 minute presentation! It doesn’t work!


WebinarAs part of the Virtual Professional Learning and Development (VPLD) Developing Virtual Mentors (DVM) programme I’ve been encouraged to think about the webinars I’ve been involved in and consider what I observed. This post is me reflecting on just that.

I’ve had the privilege of both participating in and facilitating education and training webinars. Many of these would like be what Nicky Hockly would call “Chalk and talk”. Apparently the least effective type of webinar.

Hockly identifies in a blog post, Four ways with webinars. These include:

  1. Chalk and talk – eg. slideshow and talking – kind of lecture style
  2. Talk and talk – interview style where a facilitator questions a guest/expert
  3. Listen and do – where a facilitator talks through a tool/activity while participants are actually trying it out
  4. Guided tour – where the facilitator shares their screen and takes participants through a process or website, for example.

While I’ve said that the webinars I have been involved are probably Chalk and talk, they possibly also have aspects of Talk and talk as well. At all times participants are encouraged to ask questions in the text chat area or raise their hand, take the microphone and speak.

Like with a lot of things, I don’t think there is one right way to do things. I for one am not good at talking to fill in that radio silence that you can sometimes get in these types of situations when no one is talking. If I think of a one on one mentoring session, sometimes I think that these silences can also be important. They give time for thinking, reflecting, and even just looking for the right words. Sometimes silence is important.

I think too that some people like a big introduction to a webinar and to hear about this new tool or that interesting thing, but others prefer to have a short introduction and just get into the main session. Is one way right or wrong? No, they’re just different.

Thinking again about Hockly four types of webinars, it’s important to consider what the purpose of the webinar is and decide what is most appropriate. Listen and do and Guided tour could be great for training sessions but not necessarily for introducing the group to a new idea or for group discussion.

So for me, the main thing to consider when looking at webinars is… What’s the purpose? And then you can decide on how that webinar will look or be run.

Twitter chats and rigour

I really enjoy twitter chats. I love the way during #edchatNZ that so many passionate educators from around Aotearoa come together to share, discuss, question and learn together. Last night I did something I don’t normally do during the chat. I lurked, or rather, to use a preferred term – I engaged by ‘listening’ (Wise, Speer, Marabout and Hsiao, 2012).

Was I really engaged? I must have been, because here I am, days later thinking about a part of it, and I’ve been mulling over it since I first read the tweets.

Before I go on I have to say that this post is not against twitter chats at all, or even the specific chat that I reference (or those who organised the questions). As I said before, I really enjoy them. I was involved in the first EdchatNZ and love how much it’s grown! These are just my ponderings.

The first question of the edchat was this:

What does personalised learning mean to you?

A good question. The edchat was focused on personalised learning, so it made sense to ask this question.
Below are some of the responses:

  • Knowing your learners and what they are passionate about – @nzleeangela
  • Personalised is sitting with a student developing a learning plan cooperatively over time. A journey, not a set of goals. – @bazzaphotos
  • everyone knows their own next step, no matter what ‘step’ they just took – @bridgetcasse
  • P learning means making it relevant to Ss. Everyone might have different interests so giving ss ops to do things their way – @marywomble
  • fits the learners individual needs in a student-friendly way – @laniewilton
  • learning which is in a student’s ZPD… not too hard / not too easy.. – @kerriattamatea
  • Learning that is accessible for all and for the individual, enabling opportunities at different paces and abilities.. and stds having choice and control over their learning with firm guidance – @robeanne
  • each Ss has study tailored to their learning – @doctor_harves

Now, I have no problem with any of these responses. They are what personalised learning means to each of these people. They are crowd-sourced responses.

But… are they right? Are some more correct than others? Do some people have a misunderstanding about what personalised learning is but they don’t realise it?

Does it matter?

Perhaps it doesn’t. Perhaps the only important part is that we’ve got a whole lot of teachers getting together and sharing.

But what if it does matter?

Having worked with someone who used the term personalised learning as meaning (loosely) each student doing their own programme of learning completely separate from other students (which, while not an expert, I would define as individualised rather than personalised), it is clear to me that understanding the terminology we are using is critical to ensure we are all on the same page.

How can you also carry on a rigourous conversation when everyone has a slightly different understanding of what the topic of conversation is or means? Do we need to define the topic during or even before the chat? Where is the evidence or the references – are they important in this environment? I would say that they should be.

What do you think? Does it matter? Perhaps I’ve let my mind blow this out of proportion a little… Some of you might realise I have a thing about edu-babble/educational terminology (see Defining education and Pedagogy – what is this thing?). Anyway – I’m interested to hear your opinion so please leave a comment on my blog if you have any thoughts on the matter.

And while this post wasn’t supposed to be about personalised learning. If you want some more information about what it is, check out:


Wise, A. F., Speer, J., Marbouti, F., & Hsiao, Y. T. (2012). Broadening the notion of participation in online discussions: examining patterns in learners’ online listening behaviors. Instructional Science, 1-21.

Image source: Flickrfutureatlas.com CC-BY 2.0