Monthly Archives: October 2013

Not a Rebellious Ideal of Reformation: Grades and Exams

UnknownRecently, I have come to the end of several units that I have been studying at university after many years out of the university environment.

The first thing that struck me was the different ways of learning. Online, face to face and others. Here, I am in three online units, each “teaching” me in different ways. This is not a post about which one is better or what lecturer was more effective in my learning. This sort of commentary is subjective to individual students and in my opinion, plays “ping pong” discussion with each person’s beliefs all the while challenging another’s beliefs with no expression to motivate others to change.

This post is about how and why we grade and examine students. It is not a rebellious ideal of reforming the education system because I am not trying to reshape everything that has and continues to occur in school rooms all over the world.

This post is purely and simply an awakening.

I was a teacher for many years and examined my older students and graded their “learning”. It was cultural. I could see the students who “worked hard” got a good grade and felt good about themselves. And those students who didn’t do too well, I felt compelled to “prop them up” with simplistic self esteem boosts.

I almost feel a shame and need to apologise to students. Was I a  good teacher? I’d like to think so. Was I empathic? I’d like to think so. Did I try to energise my class with exciting and reachable “learning experiences”?  I tried and thought I did.

But now, being the student and not the teacher, has given me the chance to realign my thinking. Sure, “grade” students and even “examine them” but let’s step back and think about how we do it and most importantly, why we do it. With all the means of learning and teaching available to us surely we can do better than a 20 question multiple choice test to be completed in a limited amount of time?

Always remembering that:

One students’ knowledge is not the same as any other’s knowledge…thank goodness!

One student’s experiences are not the same as any other’ students experiences…thank goodness!

One student’s dreams are not the same as another student’s dreams…thank goodness!

My eyes are widening and my views are now shaken. Do I believe there is a place for grades and exams…perhaps, still deliberating??

However, what I do strongly and passionately believe in now is that we have so, so many tools and resources to “assess learning” and even “reflect teaching practises” that we shouldn’t be restricting our “terms of judgment” to “pen to paper exams”. Surely we owe it to our students to be more creative, more just in our choice of examination, more compelled to help them achieve from their initial point of instruction.

I do know that my re-entering into a classroom after these studies will be different…so much different. That is, if I pass my exam that says I can re-enter!


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Filed under exams, grades

Kindling a Flame

imagesAfter finishing a university unit and reading the evaluations of other students, I started to mentally digest what makes one unit more effective, enjoyable, rewarding and productive than another. After all, I am in the position of student at the moment as opposed to my usual position as teacher.

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”

The thoughts of my fellow students have had my mind working overtime as I tried to “steal” some teaching and implementation skills from the unit. Each evaluation I read seemed to repeat many common statements.I found this fascinating as this was not a group to rely on others to think for them, this was a well thought and informed group. Why then the many similarities?

The unit itself was online but regardless of the different formats ie my classroom face to face teaching as opposed to online, I realised that there are many elements I could borrow from this unit:

These elements as I understood, defined and summarised are as follows: Continue reading


Filed under face to face learning, Learning Environment, Online Learning


ImageThree months ago, I started to blog on my own blog site, webclasscommunity, something I swore I would never do cause:

  1. I didn’t have the time,
  2. I wasn’t tech savvy, and most importantly,
  3. no-one would be interested in what I had to say

Well, I can’t really comment about the third reason for not blogging  but I can confirm that Continue reading


Filed under BLOG WRITING, BLOGGING, Learning Spaces

I Think You Nailed it, Gilly Salmon!

ID-100167452It is now twelve weeks since I first turned my computer on to a learning environment called “Online Learning”, a small defining component of e-learning. An environment that couldn’t be further from my original studies at University back in the late eighties where I spent twenty minutes trying to find somewhere to park, racing to my lecture or tutorial only to find “the good seats” all gone, and then realising how hungry I was and should have had a pit stop at the cafeteria before this two hour avalanche of information.

I have to confess that online learning was nothing as I had expected. I thought online learning was about logging in, getting my learning readings, “go home” ( i.e. debark from the signing on of the unit) , do some activities and email an assignment through to someone unknown called my lecturer. Feeling extremely naive now.

Perhaps it is the term we use…”Online learning”. Is it deceiving? There are no words in this title of interaction, collaboration and group experiences. They are two very isolated words that suggest, to me, that we are signing in and out of an environment as individuals floating in a “pool of other onliners”.

So, what are my thoughts now.?  Having been introduced to the theories in Gilly Salmon’s “e-Moderating: The Key To Teaching and Learning Online” I even still questioned reaching what she called Stage 5 where “Participants are essentially using a constructivist’s approach to learning.” (Salmon, 2011)…no way, this is not going to happen in 12 weeks, surely??? How could I possibly engage in a university unit whereby the students are helping themselves and others without the full, visual, interactive support of a lecturer? To be identified as “Communities of Practice”. What a ridiculous expectation to ask…wrong again, I was!

It is now Week 12, and yes, our lecturer is “lurking”, some would rather say “quietly encouraging yet enabling presence” (Staples, 2013) , but the learning I am getting from other “uni students” is phenomenal, supportive, scaffolding, constructive and emotional.

Do I believe every online learning will be like this…not in a second! But do I believe, and now know, that it can be like this…absolutely. Oh, the doors it opens….

Enough blogging, time to go re-enrol in another unit, or two, or three…online, of course!


Filed under BLOG WRITING, BLOGGING, Communities of Practice, Gilly Salmon, Online Learning

Aligning (Not Combining) Aboriginal and Western Pedagogy …I Just Don’t Get It!

I have just been asked to re-design a current unit of work, which would be used in the classroom, with both current curriculum and 8Ways Pedagogy of Thinking. 

At first, I had no idea where to start…no idea. Do I start from an Aboriginal perspective or from my original perspective?

So, being “Implementation of 8Ways Illiterate” I started with what I knew. That is, the unit “Global Environments – Rainforests” from the New South Wales Board of Studies website. Nothing too exciting till my feet “got off the ground” with the idea of aligning two pedagogies.

Continue reading


Filed under 8Ways, aboriginal learning space

A Future “Generating Knowledge” Space Design Brief

All Working TogetherThis is a reflection I have visited so often lately, that is, to brief a future learning space. One that will keep up with changes socially, environmentally and technically. And the more I reflect on this the more “dense” and “thickened” my ideas become. To the point that I no longer felt I had a clear vision.

What would be needed in a future learning space in the outback is on a completely different level and purpose to the city. What would be needed if the world resources continue to dive is not “predictable” in just one area as education as so much is affected by it.

Then this morning I realised that no matter how many times I scribed my thoughts on paper, on the computer, in my eyes there is no “crystal ball”, no solution, no correct answer. It was all about current research, current ideas and future perceptions. Continue reading


Filed under 21st Century Learning, Classroom Designs, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Hedley Beare, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces



Starting new at university after 20 plus years is not easy especially when my days at university were incredibly different to today. On-line learning…what is that?

My days at uni were all still about learning obviously but “back then” I thought a professional looking assignment was the one that I submitted after typing it out on a typewriter with built in liquid paper!

So, as I ponder what units I will choose to study next semester I spent some time looking at some of the key elements of this unit. That is, my first university study after all these years…no wonder my head hurts!

I remember my lecturer saying to us at the beginning of the unit “I don’t want to inundate you with everything in one go”. How busy could it be, I thought? I am sure, with the “wisdom of age” behind me I would be ok…hmmm…

Well, I started to mind map my unit and look how much we have explored, and probably a lot more I have missed out on here…my head can’t think past these.

It was an interesting exercise because what I thought would be a unit of physical “Learning Spaces” turns out to be so much more…so much more!EDFD459mind map


Filed under 21st Classrooms, Communities of Practice, Curriculum, Learning Environment, Learning Spaces, mind map, mind mapping, Personal Learning Networks, roof top playgrounds, Slideshow, Taxonomy, WEBQUESTS