Bite-Sized Professional Learning

As some of you would already know, I made a “tree change” last year and headed to the Barossa Valley. As the new eLearning Manager in my school, one of my first initiatives was to set up a fortnightly “newsletter” in the form of a Weebly created site. Each issue contained five items; no more and no less. There was, what I believed to be, an appropriate mix of topics; the latest theory or trend, new apps, video tutorials and a regular “How To…” column. This was an attempt to give teachers the opportunity for some regular professional learning “at leisure.” All the feedback was positive and I saw no reason not to continue in 2016.

For Weebly Pro Users there is the opportunity to access detailed analytics of your website traffic. In the first term this year I noticed that the readership of the newsletter had fallen away dramatically; to as little as five percent of the teaching staff. I wasn’t particularly miffed but did want to know the reasons for the drop-off. I brought up the matter at a committee meeting and I was certainly bemused by the three reasons I kept hearing in various forms …

  1. “People are tech-weary, we’re sick of hearing about it all the time.”
  2. “Your newsletter took too long to read; sometimes it was 15 or 20 minutes.”
  3. “I would have been more likely to read it as a print out.” (Seriously, a printed eLearning Newsletter!)

To me they each seemed like a version of that same old excuse which has long made me bypass miffed and go straight to “bl**** angry.” It surely can’t be acceptable any longer to say “I haven’t got time for this.”


Pleasingly, it didn’t take me long to come up with an alternative; a Tip of the Week in poster form, created in the excellent Piktochart. (Hell, people can even print it if they want to!) I really enjoy the design process and so I’m happy to do this … in that sense at least. But seriously, how effective can it be to deliver bite-sized professional learning!

*If you would like to use or just check out my first two tips, just use the links below:

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(#Bloggermore2015 14/26)

And so boldly I launch into the second half of my self-imposed blogging challenge (I know, I know, it’s October!) On this occasion I want to reference two great posts that I’ve read recently; one from Guy Trainin (@tgite) and the other from the Matt Esterman (@mesterman) “Museum.” In his post “The two emotions that matter when we ask educators to integrate technology,” Guy identifies four teacher responses to the introduction of technology. The powerful graphic below identifies these responses:

The Four Teacher Responses (Sourced from the Guy Trainin blog hyperlinked above)

The Four Teacher Responses (Sourced from the Guy Trainin blog hyperlinked above)

Guy emphasises the fact that there is an imbalance between the excitement and apprehension. He suggested that 90% of the educators that he was working with were part of the “Gung Ho” and “Careful Enthusiasm” groups. Whilst I agree that it’s these two groups that we need to cultivate and keep in schools, I suspect that eParalysis is more widespread than we would want to admit. On a daily basis I see teachers unable (or is it unwilling) to complete the most rudimentary IT tasks. This, I believe, is infringing the “digital rights” of students. (*You might like to read my 2014 article from Fractus Learning on these student rights. It is, rather cleverly, called “Declaring the Digital Rights of Students.”)

image from

eParalysis image from

On a related matter, I also read Matt Esterman’s post “Dropping the e” in which he argues, eruditely and convincingly as always, for removing the e from eLearning. Whilst I frequently read Matt’s “My Mind’s Museum,” this was an occasion when I felt compelled to also post a comment. Naturally, to make sense of my comment, you will need to read Matt’s post first! And no, I’m not being paid for driving traffic to his blog. Here’s what I had to say …

“I too have a cheque book … somewhere. We are in an era where the “screenagers” we teach have a new, ever evolving relationship with their devices. Some argue, I suspect quite rightly, that the device has become an extension of self. For older teachers (I’m an exception) technology is valued primarily as a time saver, for how it can improve our own work life. I detest the labels, most especially “21st Century Learning” … it’s just learning. But the majority will want to keep that damn “e” because they view it as other learning, a different process. My greatest frustration remains the paralysis that overcomes so many when asked to employ technology as a means of accelerating, enhancing or redefining learning.”

Of course, as always, I would welcome your comments. (Alternatively, leave one for Guy or Matt … neither of them suffer from eParalysis and will therefore reply.)

The Year Ahead: #Bloggermore2015 1/26

It’s been a big few months; new address, new state, new job, new-rotic! (You knew I would get a joke in early.) Most of my long service leave has been devoted to renovating and painting our 1930s cottage in the beautiful Barossa Valley of South Australia. I’ve even discovered that YouTube is a great resource for the DIY challenged like myself. It seems there’s a “how to” video for just about any repair job around the house … and some even ended up looking (vaguely) like the picture.

I didn't do this ... honest!

I didn’t do this … honest!

But now, my new position as eLearning Manager at Faith Lutheran looms large on the horizon. Yesterday I spent an hour in discussions with the school’s new principal and was certainly encouraged by his focus on learning and the significance of educational technology. My main responsibility will be to mentor my colleagues in the use of technology in order to redefine and enhance learning. No wonder I’m excited; but I’m also realistic about how much time I’ll have to devote to this role.

I also have two “big gigs” booked for later in the year. In March I will be delivering my very first keynote at the State Conference of the History Teachers Association of Western Australia. (HTAWA) I will also be returning to EduTech in order to present alongside fellow History teachers Jacques du Toit and Matthew Esterman. So, by now you’re probably wondering (at least I hope so) about the rather obscure hashtag in the title of this post. Yes, it is a direct nod to the J.K.Rowling website Pottermore but it is also a challenge to myself. Though, of course, you might want to join me! Over the past year my blogging has become, at best, irregular. What I plan to do, therefore, with time at a premium, is to share the details and observations of my year in a series of 26 posts … one per fortnight with an aim of restricting myself to an achievable 200-400 words in each post. Please keep me honest and on track.