Category Archives: Technology

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.]


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!

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.

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!

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.


Tracey as Student – Revisited

One of the largest learning curves for me has been getting familiar with all the terms and technology associated with EDU8117.  I had originally thought that I would use my time to learn Filemaker Pro and even try to get a database online. Given the time I am taking to get abreast of EDU8117, this simply isn’t realistic.

Then it occurred to me that what I was really doing was “learning how to swim in the NGL waters.

This is all totally new to me and I didn’t expect it to be.  David in his post about identity asks, “Who are you?” “How will NGL impact onwho you are and what you do?”  I hadn’t even known that I was a ‘traditional’ learner who depended – and expected – a clear pathway forward. This surprised me immensely as I think of myself as strongly self-directed based on having run a company for over twenty years.

I knew that other students were struggling with the course [Muzettes’ s the ups and downs;  Deb’s minute paper; and Alex’s Techno-whelmed] and although that was reassuring, (thanks everyone), it wasn’t until I was reading Wendy Drexler’s “The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy” that I felt better.

Students engaging in networked learning research must be more self-directed. Not only are they navigating a number of web-based applications for the first time, they are also required to take an active role in the learning process by making decisions about how to search, where to search, and why certain content meets a learning objective.

Imagine the potential frustration that self-regulated learning holds for students who are quite comfortably accustomed to specific teacher directions with finite expectations.

What a relief!

However, I’m not sure that “being more self-directed” is entirely accurate.  Perhaps a better description would be that the learning environment is dramatically different with different rules.  So much isn’t said or made clear. 

The image that struck me to illustrate the differences between traditional and online learning is: 

  • Traditional teaching is the voice of the teacher calling out into an auditorium,
  • whereas networked learning is the voice of the student calling out into a darkened auditorium.

I am assuming that the lights will slowly go on and I will discover that the auditorium is filled with people all engaged (in their myriad of ways) in related learning.

[Image courtesy of The Zender Agenda on Flickr]

Drexler, W. (2010). The networked student model for construction of personal learning environments: Balancing teacher control and student autonomy. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 2010, 26(3), 369-385.