Consulting The Oracle

So, after a two month hiatus (love that word) it’s time to blog again. Hopefully, this will put paid to the rumours that I celebrated Christmas by systematically visiting all 127 Cellar Doors in the Barossa Valley. Such a lie; I’m only just up to the letter P.

Later this year I will be speaking at the Education Nation conference in Sydney … here’s the proof.Education Nation

The title of my Day One presentation is “Have We Just Made Everything Worse? Technology in Our Schools.” Although the event itself is still three months away, I’m sure the organisers will be glad to hear that my planning is well under way. Indeed, one aspect of that planning is to put into words in this post a half formed idea that I had recently. There is a genuine risk that some of you will immediately label me as the poster boy of the lunatic fringe … but here goes. I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback.

At the start of the school year this past January, our Faculty Head of Religious Education (the programme is now called LIFE) was addressing the full teaching staff about changes to the subject including the new soubriquet (Ooh, I like that even more than hiatus!) He began with this quotation:

“One might define spirituality as the search for connectedness and meaning …”

I’m certain that regular readers here know how much I write about and indeed value connectedness. We hear frequently about Internet and device addiction; in fact, a major Adelaide radio station recently ran what they termed a “digital detox” for parents and their “addict” children. And then, the proverbial penny dropped. Is the connection that so many of us now feel to our mobile devices really a form of spirituality? So much of what we do online is about “… searching for connectedness (think Facebook or any other social networking site) and meaning (think Google or indeed any web browser.) In an era where organised religion is frequently shunned by young people, have they turned to the digital realm to find meaning and eternal life? Already, a significant number of companies are selling services which can continue your digital presence long after your death. For a sample of these you could visit

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Walking away from that January meeting, I was chatting with another colleague about my idea. His reply was immediate … “You could be right, every time I go on Google I feel like I’m consulting the oracle.” Certainly it bears thinking about … what happens to my digital music library when I die? What about my photos? Will I still be connecting via this blog with teachers who aren’t even born yet? Will I be tweeting from beyond the grave using a service such as DeadSocial or LivesOn? (Their motto: When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.) For your sake, I hope not.

Reconnecting With Connectedness

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I have long been fascinated with the idea of connectedness. I have written about it previously on this blog and also penned an article on Global Connections for Australian Teacher Magazine in August 2013. It is no coincidence that this blog is called The Connected Teacher or that @connectedtchr is my Twitter handle. Recently, I have “reconnected” with the entire concept after coming across an article referencing the new book “The Relevant Educator” from Steven W. Anderson and Tom Whitby.

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I am fortunate to have met both Steven (he of the bow ties) and Tom (invariably in Hawaiian prints), albeit fleetingly, at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. I also attended a session conducted by Steven with his other long time collaborator, Kyle Pace. No surprise, the idea of connectedness (and how to achieve it) was also high on the agenda there. Of course, in October each year, the USA celebrates “Connected Educator” month whilst Australia is busy focusing on Oc-sober. (Probably says something significant!)

In “The Relevant Educator” the authors identify the 8 tenets of being a connected educator. For Steven and Tom, these teachers maintain educational relevance by …

1. Practicing and modelling lifelong learning 2. Viewing failure as part of the process of learning 3.  Sharing and collaborating 4. Connecting with other educators 5. Putting relevance ahead of doctrine. 6. Exploring the possibilities of technology 7. Employing this technology to personalise professional learning and 8. Using technology to learn and teach

I would like to think that I model most of the eight but that connectedness requires many hours, huge energy and has left my life “out of balance.” It would seem to me that there is a real need for schools to start employing what I have decided to call digital specialists. These specialists could be employed to deal exclusively with numbers 6-8 on the above list and to craft digital resources on demand. They would act as an intermediary (and filter) between time poor classroom teachers and the ever expanding digital world. Would your school be prepared to invest money in such specialists?

In the interim, here’s an infographic summary of “The Relevant Educator” which was created by yours truly (the digital specialist) using Piktochart and with the permission of Tom and Steven. As always, please feel free to use this resource in your own writing or presentations.