Category Archives: Education

Business Council Australia, Higher Education Reform & the benefits of NGL

One of the key benefits of a global and networked society is the ease with which information can be disseminated and discussed.  Indeed, we are all privy to information that once would have been difficult or costly to access.  It’s why it is important that we, as a society, learn how to effectively interact online and engage in significant discussion.

Here is an example;

The Business Council of Australia has sent a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014.

The Business Council believes the comparative advantage for Australia must be to train, attract and retain the best and brightest people in the world. That means we need a higher education sector that delivers skilled graduates, world-class research that leads to innovation, and a strong export industry.

For a few years it was bandied about that Australia was ‘the clever country’.  That notion then seemed to fade into the woodwork.  As someone who is convinced that education is one of the most profound ways to positively change lives and create better futures, here’s hoping that the weight of the Business Council can help avoid the political horse trading mentioned and see education funded at the level that can see a return to ‘the clever country’.

This is where being a sophisticated online community can be invaluable.  We can get discussion going, solicit feedback from people that we would have difficulty reaching physically and canvass views from a wide variety of people.

So, perhaps a crucial new area in education is to teach how to interact effectively online, the rules and etiquette, how to think critically, and engage/respond to others effectively.

[This connects me to a separate post about why it is essential that we teach everyone how to think critically.  That I believe is more important than much of the content mandated in curricula.]


Critical Thinking and the infection of online hysteria

Maiers Literacy Institute Reflections (Day 1)
Courtesy of Mike Sansone on Flikr

If we don’t think critically, then is it helpful to think at all?

One of the powers on an online and networked society is the speed with which information and discussion can be disseminated.  However, there is a danger that – without critical thought – people can get swept along with their communities ‘liking’ and ‘disliking’ simply because that is the prevailing wave of information passing through.

For an easily implemented approach, I really enjoyed the paper by Duron, Limback and Waugh which introduces a five step critical thinking framework for any discipline.  It explores techniques that encourages the implementation of critical thinking within curricula.

For something more complex, the The Foundation for Critical Thinking has identified nine intellectual standards and eight basic structures present in all thinking and has developed an Online Model for learning the Elements and Standards of Critical Thinking.

Regardless of what methodology you adopt, it seems to me that we are remiss if we neglect to include the capacity to be discerning whether online or off.




Duron, R., Limbach, B., & Waugh, W. (2006). Critical Thinking Framework For Any Discipline. International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, 17(2), 160–166. Retrieved from

Blame, boundaries and ‘hating teachers’

Annaleise brings to our attention an article from the US “Why do Americans love to blame teachers?”  I suspect any of us with an interest in education, or simply reading the local newspapers, have seen similar in our own countries.

What I found most interesting was the comments about  ‘calling’:

In the early 1800s, reformer Catharine Beecher argued that young women with a missionary calling should replace male teachers who were “intemperate … coarse, hard, unfeeling men, too lazy or stupid” to teach

In the field of psychology we are discouraged from seeing our occupation as a ‘calling’ since it can create havoc with healthy boundaries. It doesn’t mean psychologists are less committed, it is more an effort to not take on responsibility for the client outcomes whilst still maintaining responsibility for our own professionalism.

I can see a difference in my practice from when I was a young psychologist to now. I don’t care less, I simply care differently. Maybe a similar emphasis might be helpful in education since currently there does seem to be a popular tendency to make teachers accountable for ‘all things’ including many that are totally beyond their control.  And some teachers contribute to the situation by caring too deeply and not wisely.

To me a ‘calling’ is to care passionately about what I do and have a deep desire to act on that passion.  However the way that calling is expressed has changed over the years as I have matured and learnt better ways of implementing my passion.  I feel both my clients and myself have benefited as a result.


I also found this article as helpful on the topics of boundaries:

Frankel, Ze’ev • Holland, Jason M. • Currier, Joseph M. . 2012. “Encounters with Boundary Challenges: A Preliminary Model of Experienced Psychotherapists’ Working Strategies.” Journal of contemporary psychotherapy 42 (2): 101-112.

Building a “Fundamental Success Philosophy”

Last Sunday I had the priviledge of being the opening keynote speaker for the 2014 Curtin Ignition program.  [More]Group

Ignition is five and a half day intensive program held annually in Perth which prepares delegates for taking their innovation to the business world.  Run by the Curtin Centre for Entrepreneurship, it is based on the successful Ignite program managed and delivered by the University of Cambridge Judge Business School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL).

In addition to speaking at the opening on the Sunday, I was invited to take part in the clinics and to sit on the ‘pitch panels’ in the afternoon at the end of the program on Friday. The clinics allow delegates to book a confidential, one on one session with a variety of ‘experts’ who have assisted with the program. The pitch panels are when delegates present their idea to a panel of experts who provided feedback.  So I saw the delegates at the beginning and the end of the program.  Amazing growth both personally and in terms of understanding what was needed for them to bring their ideas to market. The buzz in the centre on Friday was immense.

From an EDU8117 perspective, what was interesting was the number of digital applications that some of the 54 attendees were looking to bring to market.  Digitial technology being used in a myriad of clever and innovative ways; many promising pathways for enhancing education and quality of life.

The experience totally supports why I am doing EDU8117.  Functional use of technology and being comfortable in the online world is essential if we want to stay current and contributing.  So, despite my periodic whinging, I am delighted to be here alongside you all. Thanks David for making it possible.

PS The bottle of champagne they gave me was fantastic too!

Using Mendeley


Although David indicates that we won’t be working with Mendeley to its fullest (2014/08/24), I can see how I need it to explore more of the NGL literature.  So, I spent a number of hours researching Mendeley and thought I would share my discoveries in case anyone else needs a heads-up.

A quick Overview

The five minute Mendeley videos are handy to get a quick start.

In short, Mendeley is a collaboration platform and discover engine for researchers with two main components:

  • The desktop application helps users sort, organise and read research (can drag and drop, read and annotate papers directly within the client and can generate citations using word and open office plugins).
  • The web application helps users collaborate with others online and access content.

Dashboard is a newsfeed on your colleagues’ activity.
My library allows you to access your papers from anywhere in the world.
Public – a database of research (tab = papers) you can search or choose from most popular.  You can add content directly to your library by clicking “save PDF to library”.
The Groups tab lists all of your groups so you can access all of your shared libraries from the cloud.
People – lists all of your contacts or you can search for new ones.

Best YouTube video

Of all the videos I watched on using Mendeley, this is the one I liked best from Boston University:

It’s long at 34.01, but also comprehensive, and answered most of the questions I had;

  • 01.51 Two essential plugins (install web importer; install Microsoft word plugin)
    One allows you to easily add literature to Mendeley from your browser
    The second is the essential MS Word plugin for adding citations to documents.
  • 02.53 How to edit settings so that Mendeley synchronizes attached files
  • 20.50 Creating Folders – think twice! Mendeley can do it , however the search function is sogood that you are encouraged to “Search don’t file”.
  • 29.39 Getting references from Mendeley into MS Word
    Mendeley Cite-O-Matic / Go to Mendeley /Cite / Refresh (if you have changed anything)

Journal Article

Using Mendeley itself (“Well done!” I hear you say), I found a journal article by MacMillan that has a nice coverage of what Mendeley is and using it in an educational setting.  MacMillian makes a number of interesting comments.  I’ve added it to the group (more cheering) for anyone who is interested.

As more and more science research becomes collaborative, and as such collaborations are no longer bound by geographic proximity, tools like Mendeley have become essential to scholarly work, and therefore must become part of post-secondary education.

The ability to track what other researchers have found on a subject introduces a powerful filter to the mass of information available to scholars.

Mendeley’s social networking aspects also suits current and emerging work practices, facilitating collaboration among researchers who know each other through the private groups function and more open sharing of information through public groups and resource lists.

MacMillan, D. (2012). Mendeley: teaching scholarly communication and collaboration through social networking. Library Management, 33(8), 561–569. doi:10.1108/01435121211279902


Other Mendeley Resources

To be comprehensive, here are other sources I viewed:

The Learning Portal

The Mendeley Learning Portal breaks up what you need to know into 7 areas:

  1. Organise
  2. Manage
  3. Read
  4. and Write
  5. Collaborate
  6. Discover
  7. Participate

This I particularly liked as I could target areas systematically.  The social statistics are a feature of “discover” and are mentioned as helpful in both the journal article and the Boston University video.


Something I really enjoyed with the Mendeley site was “Share Mendeley with your Community”.  This section showed you how to teach Mendeley to your friends and colleagues.  Very much an NGL principle.

Hope this helps!

Meddling with Mendeley

Like Laura, I am learning to learn the technology associated with NGL.

So I thought I would share my learning about the various programs EDU8117 uses.  Maybe something I learn will help put things into perspective for someone else.


What is Mendeley?

According to Wikipedia, Mendeley is a desktop and web program for;

  • managing and sharing research papers,
  • discovering research data
  • and collaborating online.

It combines Mendeley Desktop, a PDF and reference management application (available for Windows, OS X and Linux) with Mendeley Web, an online social network for researchers.


Where did the name come from?

It helps me to understand the background of what I am studying.  One of the fun things I found out about Mendeley is that there is a short and a long version as to how the name came about.  The short version is that it’s a combination of the names of scientists Dmitri Ivanovic Mendelyeyev and Gregor Medel.  The long version is more fun and starts with Dracula.

How does this benefit the NGL Community?

Mendeley as a tool fits well with the NGL scene as it incorporates sharing and other social networking features.  It operates across a range of platforms (such as Mac, Windows and Linus) and stores on the cloud.   Most significantly it allows collaboration via public and private groups sharing reading lists.  EDU8117 has a private group.


What cautions?

Now that Mendeley has been purchased by the Elsevier publishing company in 2013, there is concern (such as expressed in the New Yorker) that the open access which is a core feature of NGL and one of the things that set Mendeley apart will be lost due to a fundamental incompatibility with Elsevier’s business model.

Elsevier, on the other hand, is infamous for restricting the flow of scientific information so it can sell research papers for as much as fifty dollars a piece, generating profit margins of thirty-six per cent and netting the company billions of dollars in revenue annually.

A counter argument being that the sharing nature may circumvent copyright.

But to many publishers, Mendeley’s collegial-sharing feature looked awfully close to copyright theft.

So, what alternatives are there?

So if not Mendeley, where else?  Techshout provides a quick overview of seven Other reference management tools with a social network capacity ( both paid and free).

EndNote, Zotero, BibDesk (Mac only), Qiqqa, Papers, JabRef, Refworks.

I have worked with Endnote when studying at Curtin University.  Absolutely loved it, although the sharing capacity wasn’t mentioned.  It was free to students so it is interesting to look at the Endnote “Buy now” page and see how expensive it really is.  Hoping to explore Mendeley based on my Endnote experience and gain a sense of how I can import references into documents and posts.

EDU8117 – Working with Mendeley

Although David indicates that we won’t be working with Mendeley quite as closely as he orginially intended (2014/08/18 and 2014/08/24), I am still looking forward to being able to use its basic functions to access the wealth of literature being added to the group and be able to follow in my fellow students footsteps.


Tristram Hunt MP asks: Who Should Have the Power to Create the School Curriculum?

The following YouTube presentation looks at the significance on a country level of educational implications brought about by the digital revolution.

Shadow Secretary of State for Education, Tristram Hunt MP visited the RSA to explore the future of the curriculum in the context of emerging technological and pedagogical innovations.  This is part of the RSA and the Institute of Education Grand Curriculum Designs, a pioneering professional development programme for school leaders and other educators.

5.26 So awesome is the technological power being unleashed by this digital revolution that I do not believe it will  be long before someone proposes an entirely institution-less model of schooling.

Do not mistake me.  I passionately believe that we must celebrate the fact we educate our children in a supportive social environment and that there is something intrinsically valuable in schools as dedicated learning communities where young children learn from each other as well as teachers.

But we only have to look at the popularity of massive open online courses and the Curriculum of One movement in the United States to understand how such a model might look in the hands of those less committed to the social ethos of schooling.

The presentation highlights the need for educational institutions to rethink the way they interact with students. As well as to reconsider what their role might be in the coming years.  It may be that the key purpose of schools in the future isn’t as much guiding education as guiding socialisation.