Category Archives: Personal Growth

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!

Being Critical of NGL

In response to Andrew’s post “Being Critical of NGL” and Deb’s comments

HI Andrew and Deb

I both agree and disagree with your comments.

I’m not sure that people haven’t been critical of NGL.

How much of the early isolation, confusion and frustration expressed by a number of us in the course weren’t a result of challenges with NGL?


Did David err in asking for 4 technologies to be downloaded in the first week?  Was this a result of his underestimating his familiarity with the NGL environment?  Would it have been better to adopt a more graduated approach?  Or was the, “throw them in and see who learns to swim”, a deliberate ploy?  Has our network struggled to get off the ground because of the way the technology was introduced?  Would we feel more connected if we had been moving at similar paces earlier in the program?  Have some of our colleagues been left behind (abandoned) as a result of the way the program has been developed? Are we even really connected now?

Computer Literacy:

Is it reasonable to simply put things down to computer literacy (I am computer literate, however these particular technologies are unfamiliar – so what does literacy mean in this context)?  There is also literacy (familiarity) with the world of NGL with its different ways of operating.

 The Students:

There is also a prevailing assumption of dependency (“ie While an online method of education can be a highly effective alternative medium of education for the mature, self-disciplined student, it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners“) which doesn’t seem to be founded on fact.  How much of this is simply based on unfamiliarity with the medium and how to operate effectively within it?  If someone was struggling to learn to ride a bike for the first time when they had never seen one before, we wouldn’t be describing them as ‘a dependent learner’.  As teachers, surely we would be reviewing our expectations … and whether we had provided adequate guidelines or instruction.  Is it unreasonable for learners to expect some degree of guidance from the ‘teaching’ authority?  Is this an issue of role expectation and lack of clarity of how that role might be changed in an NGL environment?  Should the facilitator be clear upfront as to what the students can expect/not expect?

Image courtesy of Paul L Dineen on Flickr

Yes, critical thinking is important, however some of what might be going on could be an assumption of SEKK (Surely everybody knows knowledge).

Food for thought!


Me as Teacher and … OMG Rocketboard!

The reason I am undertaking both the MLAD and EDU8117 (as my first unit) is to remain current , relevant and useful as a teacher/trainer/facilitator.  Given that I work in the corporate world, I want to be able to incite, assist and support learning in a variety of settings.

EDU8117 is insisting that I engage with tools that aren’t currently part of my skill and teaching set.  It’s why I am here and embracing the technology (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, yeah, yeah!).

David in his post – Knowing, learning and teaching in NGL asks us to:

focus toward how and what you might change about your teaching (and your students’ learning) through NGL.

Here is a magic example of how technology can facilitate a better student outcome and how I might change my teaching.

I am a huge whiteboard fan, whether at an organisation, delivering a conference or working with a group on individual.  I believe that the information developed for and with the people involved has greater impact that a more formalised image prepared earlier. They know its for them as they saw and helped the whiteboard evolve.  For instance, currently my individual client notes are photographs of the data developed on the whiteboard during the session.  We both have great recall of what we talked about and it doesn’t require me spending a lot of time transcribing the information into traditional text.

[Reflection:  A downside maybe that when I do transcribe the notes, a secondary level of processing and clarity occurs, however that doesn’t negate the wealth of information captured on the original whiteboard.]

One of the wonderful digital tools for collaborative learning based on my love of whiteboards is Rocketboard.  This fantastic application allows you to convert any drawable space into an online presentation or snapshot.  And others can share theirs.  It is still pre-launch, so if you think this will appeal to you then click on the Rocketboard link.


While not as comprehensive as Hayat’s post “CLEM as teacher“, there is a part of me that does see Rocketboard as pushing my boundaries with networked learning since others can share what I am doing and contribute.

On the other hand Brendon in his post  “Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies”  points out that;

 “Attempts at integrating technology within education, however, have often focused on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the status quo, replacing traditional instructional approaches with ones that are technologically reinforced, yet qualitatively similar”

This can be true depending upon how Rocketboard is used.

Then again it might elicit the “fun, excitement,creativity, and aesthetic aspects of instruction” which are “largely lacking in educational technology implementations”.  Thanks Brendon for the summary and reference to  “Designing Opportunities for Transformation with Emerging Technologies” by George Veletsianos.

I’ll just have to try it and see.

Inviting critique of my posts

Hi to my fellow EDU8117 travellers,

Following along from David’s “learning in a community” post, I have written a number of blog posts now and would like to invite critique and feedback.  Since, alla Johari’s Window, I don’t know what I don’t know.

[Johari’s Window – image courtesy of

So, please, take a 5 minute break and skim my last posts and maybe comment on…

  • Am I missing anything? (i.e. is my name easy to find so you know who is ‘talking’?)
  • Am I referencing correctly?
  • In your opinion, is there a typical place where referencing occurs (ie at the end of a post)?
  • Am I doing anything you hate?
  • Am I doing anything you love … or simply mildly like?
  • How might I improve?
  • Are my posts too long, too short, or like baby bear … just right?

Anything that comes to mind really.  All help gratefully received.

To help the process, things I have struggled with (and want to improve in my posts) are:

  • Not knowing where to look to find out the name of the blogger
  • Having too large a font on a post so that I have to scroll down and down (my preference is to have it tight so I can take in a lot of data at once)
  • Not knowing exactly where to put the links (i.e what words do I highlight?  Are there rules?)
  • Do I have to highlight every possible link? (ie. in the post about “Messing with Mendeley“, I refer to seven alternative programs and double linked them as they got mentioned twice.)



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.