Category Archives: Communities of Practice

When Student Meets Academic

imagesLast week, I was honoured to be asked to present a workshop at the Australian Catholic University  Learning and Teaching Conference called “Learning for Life 2014”. I co-presented this workshop with Mr Adam Staples, a lecturer at the university. What is interesting is that I am a student, or at least was a student, in one of Adam’s university units in the online environment.

The conference obviously allowed for many memorable moments particularly listening to their keynote speakers Dr Larry Johnson and Dr Panos Vlachopoulos who both inspired the minds of many in the conference room.

But for me, the interesting concept was to listen, as a student, in a room full of people who determine the thinking of the teachers who teach our children. It felt like a big, very accommodating staffroom. These people are educating the teachers in our schools to consider their teaching. When this comment is fully digested, you realise what an important role these people have.

My experience started by meeting Adam for the first time in person even though we have communicated for a year through university studies. This was quite a comical moment as we have both communicated via email, phone and Twitter and suddenly we are face to face. This is the beauty of online learning, i.e. you can know someone and never meet in person.

And the introduction of other academics and staff flowed for the next 24 hours...Dr Donna Gronn, Penny Wheeler, Dr Kristian Lorenzen and many more. From Professors to Doctors in their chosen study area to Directors to learning staff. All people who have extended their own learning and experiences. All these people feel committed to the learning process enough to continually push the boundary of their own learning and experiences.

What then would a student have to offer these educated people, some might ask? The answer is that the student is able to allow them to reflect on the “other side of the fence” and perhaps give an insight into what makes for effective online learning. Adam Staples and myself have had this conversation over the last six months in particular. What has resulted is a desire to extend this question so much to design a theory and framework around it to make the online community of practice or as we have called it an  “e-COP” one where we are able to learn how to teach online and learn how to learn online. Some very exciting “thinking” times ahead!





Filed under Communities of Practice, Learning Environment, Online Learning

Twitter in the Classroom

UnknownAs an educator and parent I ask myself ” Is there room for Twitter in the classroom”? Not long ago I would have said “No way” and now I say a definite “Yes”!

I have only just been introduced several months ago to Twitter through a university unit that I was undertaking as part of my studies in Education. Previous to that I questioned my husband’s need to have a Twitter account as I thought it was some “social gathering point where everybody told everybody else  everything they were doing. Some would say this comment is true but using social media, in this case Twitter, I now know it is so much more than that. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Communities of Practice, Twitter

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

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


A Community of Practice, otherwise known as CofP, is a term whose definition is as old as civilisation.

Investigated by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger, it defines a group of any size of people who have something in common and a “…learning partnership between its members “ (Wenger)

There are three necessary elements to a CofP according to Wenger.

They are: Continue reading


Filed under Communities of Practice