Dr. Paul Leslie

Dr. Paul Leslie

Friday, 29 September 2017 08:17

832 - Email your instructor

I have received a number of great questions from our classmates and thought I wold share some of them here with everyone. The questions and my comments to those questions will help to give us a focus for our coming work. I have de-identified the questions as much as possible.

First of all, I am sorry for  my late start  with the course. I just arrived in Miami after 9 days waiting to be evacuated from Dominica. The evacuation process itself took 3 days from the time we left the island to arriving in Miami at 3 Am on the 28th.

Question: My question at this time is, what strategies can be used so that individual educators with different educational/life philosophies find common ground to create connections between their classroom environments?

Comment: I have worked for many years in multicultural institutions facing just that sort of issue. Your opinions and beliefs are important, but must be tempered to the prevailing environment.

Question: I would like to know how can we as educators ensure that learning is extended to the home environment and that parents are more actively involved in the process?

Comment: I think the connections between home and the school are critical, especially for younger students, but even with high school students. There are extremes of not caring and caring too much, but in my experience most parents could be a bit more involved. I will say now that technology is a great tool to help parents be more involved and share just that little more information that they need to be interested, but not overwhelmed.

Question: I teach an internship and careers program, so my focus is on exploratory learning and reflections activities. My concern is the most of what I teach is outside of the classroom.

Comment: Your focus is great as that is the way forward for a lot of medical education and for competency based assessment, especially for professionals. Think about portfolios and how professionals and others can capture their experiences through electronic portfolios in order to share a running commentary on their work.

Question: I am very excited to take this course for several reasons, but the main one being the use of digital technology such as video and Skype to improve the learning experience for my students. The question I have about the course is: For the big assignment (35%)-Designing a technology-enhanced Connected Classroom Experience, are we able to show this design to other students in the class via Skype, Youtube, or Adobe Connect?

Comment: You are on the right track for incorporating technology in to your project, however in this medium, I think you need to consider asynchronous technologies. Consider why we use a discussion board and there are no synchronous activities. For your connected-classroom experience, you need to consider very carefully the ability of others to participate in real time. If it is a blended course with a classroom full of kids, that is one experience. If you want to connect with others in real-time, that is another experience.

Question: How might the academic readings and discussions in this course support my ability to make sound decisions and ask good questions about how technology is utilized by the staff and students at my school?

Comment: Your question is useful and incorporates the materials for the course. I encourage you to also ask your colleagues and students for their input. Their concerns and ‘deal-breakers’ are the real issues you will need to overcome and these may really surprise you.

Question: I look forward to learning more about how technology can both improve and be detrimental to home/school relationships. The school community I work in is very tight knit, however we also have very little interaction with those outside our school community. I am curious to know how this is something we can build upon, and what I can learn from the experience of others in the course. I have a strong interest in communication, so I am looking forward to the communication element of this course, and how it can build connections if used properly, and how the decrease in face to face interactions impacts this.

Comment: I can feel your desire to adopt new tools and your hesitancy in doing so. This is a tension that can be useful is making sure you are using tools that will do what you need them to do – that will serve your purposes, not create purposes simply based on their functionality. One issue that I have with technology, despite my love for it in Education, is that we sometimes get lost in the shiny things and lose sight of our actual needs. This is far easier to do that we realize.

I find that people attach values to new or different ideas before they understand them. This inevitably leads to discord and discomfort. My secret is to consider ideas for their own worth before any evaluation (think e-VALUE-ation). In this way, we can see the idea for its own usefulness or not, without clouding our judgement with preconceptions.

Question: I just wondered how you thought my experience may be impacted by not having an active role in a classroom while taking the course.

Comment: Well, this is a great challenge for you to finds ways to be connected to the community from home. It may not be your preferred way, but it is a common and increasingly desirable way to learn and study so that we can make the most of our lives.

For example, I teach online and am currently in Miami. I would love to teach this course F2F, but that would mean giving up my amazing life in Dominica and missing out on the adventures of surviving a Cat 5 hurricane and being evacuated on a Russian cruise ship!

So, my advice is to embrace your decisions and explore how technology can enhance both your ability to be a parent and to support students.

Question: I'll now be creating a classroom setting for clients. I think my questions creating a technology-enabled classroom for adult learners? Can I use this one on one? How do I use this when I'm seeing different clients and learners each day? My goal with be "How to implement technology-driven learning in a non-traditional classroom setting for adult learners" and "gaining leadership and applying in a professional setting" ... this feels very big and broad but I feel I can begin to pull it apart as the course continues.

Comment: I think you have a marvelous opportunity to explore some truly cutting-edge research into competency based education with adults and professionals. I am working on the use of electronic portfolios to support competency based activities and demonstrations of competency. This is highly relevant for medical professionals including residents and physicians, and they are common already in the nursing profession. I think you could explore the use of similar tools to support your clients and get them to be able to track their own activities and the use these reflections as a means of assessing their performance.

In terms of collaborative learning and a student-centered approach, I encourage you to explore some of the work around Appreciative Inquiry and portfolios for demonstrations of competency. These two areas provide a focus for interacting with others, and then the tools you will need to actually do this work will be easier to chose from among the many etools out there on the internet.

Question: The question that I want to investigate concerns ways that I can design and facilitate “authentic collaborative learning” that engages students. I can envision this course supporting me in articulating, facilitating and implementing a connected environment where students, staff and families are involved in the learning process.

Comment: I did a lot of work in Sharjah with professional teachers from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon, and of course the UAE. I let them guide the process as I was unaware of the many challenges they faced in collaborating and working with internet-based tools. Once they were able to articulate their needs to me, we could then explore the tools needed to get the work done.

Question: Are there experiences or technology tools that are appropriate for connecting a sensitive culture?

Comment: Well, you pose some interesting questions. I have spent years working in the UAE with female students and teachers in girls-only high schools and so am acutely aware of the concerns of a sensitive culture.

One issue that is always difficult is the need to acknowledge the individuality of our students. This is far more problematic that it might appear. How do we let students grow and be individuals while trying to instill community values? The challenge is to be honest and open. Ultimately, it is about trust – trusting the students to make the right decisions of their own free will - trusting them to evaluate information on their own without our influence – trusting them to be their own person.

These are difficult challenges -there is no way around it. I look forward to working with you on these. This is at the very core of the purpose of education – to set us free.

Friday, 08 September 2017 11:17

Ross U and Queens U

There is a great link between RUSM and Queens University through their medical education programs. Queens has just shared an article about their recent innovation to move to a Competency Based Medical Education (CBME) program for residents. This article is actually a follow up to a previous article that describes in greater detail the program and background. I will be working with our own program in medical education and so hope to learn and benefit from my connections to both universities. 

Please look below for a video interview with students from Queens University.

In both PME 832 and 851, you will be required to contribute to several discussion board topics. These are listed in your respective syllabuses. For those of you who have taken PME 801, the boards were required but not graded directly. For my classes, I did look carefully at what contributions you made to the boards and took this into account when deciding upon a grade. However, in these two courses, you will be graded on each board individually.

So, I would like to discuss my expectations for these boards a bit more thoroughly. I ask you to read about the community of inquiry, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/). You can peruse the site and if you have not heard of this model you really must read a few of the articles listed therein.

In brief, the model highlights how we first must make the community (your classmates) feel safe through social presence – making sure everyone understands your  perspective, context and the purpose of your post. This is not always as obvious as you may think. It also requires that you give (literally) permission to others to challenge you, and to feel confident to ask questions of your classmates about their posts. As with any classroom, f2f or virtual, we all must let each of us (the participants) place themselves in the community and in a context where they feel they can contribute.

 COI model front

The next step is the notion of teaching presence. This is the guiding force of the community. These are the questions that we ask each other and more importantly, the answers that we give. I will ask you challenging questions, quite simply to challenge you. Usually, I expect an answer. You are expected to ask questions of your peers. And when asked, you are expected to answer. In other words, to make the most of this discussion board and community, I charge you with asking pointed and direct questions of each other in the posts. Students must ask other students questions. There is only one of me and many of you. This is to push each other forward in the quest for knowledge.

 Once we have social presence and teaching presence, then we will get cognitive presence, the creation of new knowledge, and not before.

So, let me reiterate that not only is it appropriate for you to ask each other questions, but it is imperative that you do. Teaching presence not only comes from the teacher (me), but comes in the form of directing questions and inquiry which is what gives the community direction and guidance for sharing our cognitive presence. Social presence is that which makes us comfortable doing so.

That is why we are here.

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 15:58

Dominica Teaching and Learning - Initial Goals

I have started a new challenge with Ross U and the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL). For me, this is a foray into medical education and the concomitant challenges of covering a vast collection of content while ensuring a holistic social construction of knowledge.

My initial focus will be on how to help the faculty and colleagues make their thinking visible to each other. Ross employs the MS Office 365 suite of tools, which facilitates access to information across the institution. While I favour the Google Suite of tools for personal use, I support the use of institutional tools for the support, future-proofing and access that they provide

One task will be to move toward the use of a departmental platform housed within the larger institutional platform. This will connect us with our colleagues outside of the department and give us a presence among those very same colleagues to promote our activities.

 A concurrent task will be to examine strategies that will raise the 'teaching' profile of the CTL. One long term plan is to contribute to the design and implementation of the Medical Education Teaching Certificate (METC). The target audience for this certificate are those who wish to pursue and enhance their roles within  medical education. Another goal is to promote the ability of our colleagues to make their thinking visible to each other. This goal will be pursued in one instance through modeling good practices, and through another by encouraging others to communicate with us through the institutional tools noted above.

To paraphrase a comment I shared with a colleague this week, I think adopting a mission statement, vision for action and perhaps a philosophy of education, gives focus to our work by helping to underpin our individual goals. My stated philosophy that, "Education is a community affair", is evident in each of my goals outlined above. In each instance, the underlying notion is to create an educational community by allowing each of us a means and set of tools to communicate with each other.

pleslie card back

Sunday, 03 September 2017 20:19

PME 851 - Syllabus - Fall 2017

GDPI/PME 851 - Culture, Curriculum and Pedagogy

Instructor: Dr. Paul Leslie

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Queens University

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Grade Item



0 / 50


Personal Profile

0 / 5.56


Conversations about Inquiry

0 / 5.56


Resources for Promoting Cultural Awareness and Diversity

0 / 5.56


The Role of Education

0 / 5.56


The Role of Technology

0 / 5.56


The Six C's

0 / 5.56


Pedagogical Preparation for International Teaching

0 / 5.56


My Classroom and Its Cultural Norms

0 / 5.56


Linguistically Diverse Teaching Contexts

0 / 5.56



Culture and Context: Navigating Cultural Diversity

0 / 10

Identity as a Teacher

0 / 10

Final Assignment Infographic

0 / 30

Discussion Boards

Each student is required to complete assigned discussion posts every week as well as respond to the posts made by other classmates. There are 9 discussions in total that will add up to a score out of 50%.

Each module also includes questions that will prompt your thinking and reflection of your professional context in relation to that topic. You are not meant to post all the answers to these questions, but choosing a few could help you inform the topics you discuss in relation to the readings. 

Online participation (during entire course): We expect all students to participate actively in the online discussions on OnQ. By participating in a timely fashion in each module, students contribute to the collective learning of the class as well as their own individual learning. 

Participation can consist of: 

  • A compelling quote from the readings
  • A reaction to the content
  • Discussion questions raised by the text or videos
  • Sharing relevant research studies of interest
  • Providing examples of interesting classroom/teaching practices
  • Reflection on your own experiences related to cross-cultural learning/teaching
  • Contributing to the discussion of key issues that emerge from our shared work 

There are three assignments that will add up to 50% of the total grade.

Formative Assessments

There are also two formative assessments in which you will reflect on your progress to date. These are not graded, but are mandatory assignments. They provide you an opportunity to speak frankly to the instructor about your thoughts and comments on the course, how the course is serving your needs, and your performance.

Course Syllabus

Course Overview: For a full overview of the Course Outline, see below. You will find an outline of the module names, topics, expected duration, learning activities, and assignment tasks.

There are five modules in GDPI/PME 851– Culture, Curriculum, and Pedagogy. The course is structured in blocks with reading weeks in-between to give some time to read the course materials. On reading weeks, no online posts to OnQ are required. 





Module 1

Week 1

Sept. 18th -24th

Introduction to PME 851 and our Community

1 week


Discussion Board posts:

  • Personal Profile 
  • Conversations About Inquiry

DUE: END OF WEEK 1 – Sept. 24th

Module 2

Week 2

Sept. 25th – Oct 1st

Culture and Curriculum in International Contexts

1 week 

Discussion Board Post:

  • Resources for Promoting Cultural Awareness and Diversity

Dropbox Assignment:

  • Culture and Context: Navigating Cultural Diversity

DUE: END OF WEEK 2 – Oct 1st

Reading week

Week 3 – Oct. 2 – 9th (Thanksgiving)

Read ahead or catch up. Late assignments may be considered if posted during reading week

Module 3

Week 4

Oct. 10th  - 15th


Curriculum and Teaching


1 week 


Discussion Board Post:

  • The Role of Education

Dropbox Assignment:

  • Identity As A Teacher 

Mid-course formative assessment

  • Reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 4 – Oct. 15th

Module 4

Weeks 5 & 6

Oct. 16th – 29th

Classroom and Community Connections

2 Weeks

Discussion Board Posts:

  • The Role of Technology
  • The 6 C's

DUE: END OF WEEK 6 – Oct. 29th

Reading Week

Week 7, Oct. 30th  – Nov. 5th

Read ahead or catch up. Late assignments may be considered if posted during reading week

Module 5

Week 8

Nov. 6th – 12th



1 week 


Discussion Board Posts:

  • ·        Linguistically Diverse Teaching Contexts
  • ·        My Classroom and Its Cultural Norms

DUE: END OF WEEK 8 – Nov. 12th

Module 6

Weeks 9 – 10

Nov. 13th – 26th

 Course Closure

2 weeks

Final Discussion Board Post

  • ·        Professional Resources

DropBox Assignment

  • ·        Final Assignment PME 851
  • ·        Final course reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 10 – Nov. 26th

Thursday, 31 August 2017 17:14

PME 832 - Syllabus - Fall 2017

PME 832: The Connected Classroom

Instructor: Dr. Paul Leslie

  • Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education, Queens University
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • Course designed by Dr. Holly Ogden & Judy Wearing

Below you will find attached a PDF of this page plus a PDF of the entire course outline.

Discussion board posts (6 X 6% each for 35%)

For each discussion board, please post your own comment and then respond meaningfully and respectfully to the post of two classmates. Discussion board posts should be between 350 and 500 words in length and connect to the required readings.  Responses do not have a required length but should be crafted to further learning in a meaningful and respectful manner.

  1. “Making Connections” Please share three statements, two truths and a lie about yourself. Read and respond to the post of EVERY member of the class, by guessing which is the lie.
  2. My Connections” Share your annotated concept map, showing as many meaningful and authentic connections as you can imagine for students in your current practice. Provide a description of the connections you’ve mapped, referencing some of the readings and/or the video.
  3. “Top Two”. Cite related research and scholarship to make strong connections between two pedagogical approaches and the Mind Map you posted in Module 1.
  4. “Sharing Case Studies” Share a brief description of the second Case Study that you examined and provide a link for your peers to find more information about the program. Then, describe what you found to be the most significant “take-away” from the two examples of connected learning you researched.
  5. “Technological Tools” Share a brief description of three examples of how educators effectively used the same technological tool. Rank them in order of effectiveness, and explain why you ranked them in the order you did. Also explain how you would use this tool in your own practice.
  6. “Technological Frameworks and the Role of the Teacher” Consider your current practice. What are your strengths and next steps as you strive to offer technology-enabled connected learning for your students? Make reference to at least one framework and connect your thinking to November’s ideas.
Examining Theory in Practice—Case Studies (30%)

In this assignment, you will examine two, present-day examples of Connected Learning. You will investigate two case studies (one from a provided list, and one that you have found on your own) using the guiding questions below.

  • What pedagogical approaches from Module 2 relate most closely with each case?
  • What important skills are the students developing in each case study that may not be as readily developed in a traditional classroom setting?
  • What are the biggest three challenges or barriers to providing this kind of connected learning opportunity for all learners?  What are possible solutions to overcome these challenges/barriers?
  • Can you think of one or more suggestions to increase connectedness or enhance student learning in each?

Share your analysis of both cases in a written document (1000 words - double spaced). Post this document in the Theory in Practice DROPBOX for your instructor to evaluate using a checklist.

Leadership in Professional Learning—Designing a Technologically-Enhanced Connected Learning Experience (35%)

This culminating task will help you to bring together your learning from all five modules in this course. For this final project, you will envision what connected learning could look like in your professional context. As a culminating task, you will individually design a connected classroom project that you could use with your students and present it to your peers. You may choose to present your design as a project or unit plan or in another format (e.g., powerpoint, prezi, youtube video, etc.) with the goal of inspiring others to foster and create connections in their own teaching and learning. 

A successful connected classroom project or program will include:

  • Strong and authentic connection
  • Rich learning that uncovers the curriculum
  • Ongoing learning– not a one-time thing
  • Theoretically-supported pedagogy, Technology-enhanced opportunities, Feasible design.

Along with your connected classroom program/project, please write a rationale ( 600 words MAXIMUM, double spaced) detailing:

  • How the program relates to pedagogical approaches (cite scholarly work);
  • How you decided which digital technologies to incorporate;
  • Who you could share this work with and how you might share it; and,
  • Why you chose this approach and how it shows professional growth from your previous teaching and/or planning.
Formative Assessments

There are also two formative assessments in which you will reflect on your progress to date. These are not graded, but are mandatory assignments. They provide you an opportunity to speak frankly to the instructor about your thoughts and comments on the course, how the course is serving your needs, and your performance.


Course Syllabus






Week 1

Sept. 18th -24th

Welcome to PME 832

1 week


Discussion Board Post:

  • Making Connections

DUE: END OF WEEK 1 – Sept. 24th

Module 1

Week 2

Sept. 25th – Oct 1st

What is a Connected Classroom?

1 week 

Discussion Board Post:

  • My Connections

DUE: END OF WEEK 2 – Oct 1st  

Reading week

Week 3 – Oct. 2nd - 9th (Thanksgiving)

Read ahead or catch up. Late assignments may be considered if posted during reading week

Module 2

Week 4

Oct. 10th  - 15th   


Pedagogical Approaches that Support Connected Classrooms


1 week 


Discussion Board Post:

  • Top Two

Mid-course formative assessment

  • Reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 4 – Oct. 22nd  

Module 3

Weeks 5 & 6

Oct. 16th – 29th   

Theory in Practice: Examining Case Studies

2 Weeks

Discussion Board Posts:

  • Sharing Case Studies

DropBox Assignment:

  • Examining theory in practice – case studies

DUE: END OF WEEK 6 – Oct. 29th

Module 4

Week 7

Oct. 30th  – Nov 5th

Technological Tools for Connected Learning

1 Week

Discussion Board Posts:

  • Technology Tools

DUE: END OF WEEK 7 – Nov. 5th  

Module 5

Week 8

Nov. 6th – 12th

Technologically-Enhanced Learning Frameworks and the Role of the Teacher

1 week 


Discussion Board Posts:

  • ·        Technological Frameworks and the Role of the Teacher

DUE: END OF WEEK 8 – Nov. 12th

Reading Week

Week 9, Nov. 13th - 19th

Read ahead or catch up. Late assignments may be considered if posted during reading week.

Course Closure

Week 10

Nov. 20th – 26th

Leadership in Professional Learning and Reflecting on PME 832

1 week

DropBox Assignment

  • ·        Leadership in Professional Learning—Designing a Technologically-Enhanced Connected Learning Experience (35%)

Final Formative Assessment

  • ·        Reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 10 – Nov. 26th

(Working title)

Project Context

The Western Sydney University School of Business mission is to “Prepare students for Enterprise futures”. In this project, we propose to connect our mission to the Graduate Employability model by developing strategies to foster intra-university connectedness between students by using connectedness enabling digital tools and infrastructure in our new vertical campus at Parramatta. We will help students to build a connected identity and work with connections through pedagogies based on social media and eportfolios and connected learning.  

We will focus on two key units within the Accounting Program, which suffers from a retention rate of 50%, and a dearth of pedagogic research. “Working in Professions” is a 2nd year, professional unit taught across the Bachelor of Business and the Bachelor of Accounting. This unit averages 250 students per semester, and by sharing outcomes with two equivalent units, with average enrolments of 200 students and 90 students, provides a connection to all Bachelor of Business majors, and potentially 540 students per semester. “Auditing and Assurance Services” has an average enrolment of 205 students per semester, and serves as a capstone unit that links the main Accounting threshold concepts to employability.

Within these two units, students will employ online digital tools including cloud storage, synchronous editing, concept maps, social media, and eportfolios to share ideas as discrete objects, and so build connections with others, both locally and with larger communities, including employers. Consequently, students will also use their compiled artefacts to build an online profile and portfolio, informed by their connected interactions, for the purpose of enhancing their employability.

In alignment with the Graduate Employability model and our focus areas, the project will ask:

  • How can connectedness tools facilitate the co-creation of knowledge within capstone units?
  • How can connectedness tools and a supportive learning environment make explicit connections between student knowledge and employability?

We will employ a participatory action research methodology in which the students and tutors will be active participants in both the initial design of the project, and in the design of assessment tools. By incorporating an iterative approach, each activity will provide artefacts for analysis. The resulting data can then be applied to the next iteration of activities to determine future practice.

The research will also involve a phenomenological study of the produced artefacts compiled from the range of activities performed over the semester to examine the nature and depth of connections achieved through the activities. Focus groups will be conducted with participating students to inquire about their perceived ability to benefit from connections between their constructed knowledge and employability, and the nature of those benefits. Data from the focus groups will help to inform the phenomenological analysis.

Answering the question, “Why”, in the classroom

To help focus on motivating students to prepare for class, the following bibliography and associated quotes are presented to provide discussion around factors that contribute to motivation.

In What the best college teachers do, Ken Bain (2004) writes:

“The most effective teachers help students keep the larger questions of the course constantly at the forefront. Donald Saari, a mathematician from the University of California, invokes the principle of what he calls “ WGAD ”—“ Who gives a damn? ” At the beginning of his courses, he tells his students that they are free to ask him this question on any day during the course, at any moment in class. He will stop and explain to his students why the material under consideration at that moment — however abstruse and minuscule a piece of the big picture it may be — is important, and how it relates to the larger questions and issues of the course.” (Bain, 2004, p. 38).

Freire provides two texts, Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Freire, 1996) and Pedagogy of Freedom (Freire, 1998) that address larger questions around education. In the first, he comments that without a guiding question or focus, students may view their weekly tasks and readings as:

“detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance” (Freire, 1996, p. 52).

In the second text, he asserts that it is the teacher’s duty to:

“Accept as a duty the need to motivate and challenge the listeners to speak and reply” (Freire, 1998, p. 104).

Similarly, in studies based on undergraduate, ‘college’ and post-graduate students, Kember (2015) comments:

“If teachers wish to motivate their students ’ learning they need to find ways to show the relevance of topics included in their courses. If relevance was established, students took an interest in the topic.” (Kember, 2015, p. 83)

To highlight the need for relevance, faculty too, are advised to keep perspective on what they are doing.

“I have to think,” she told us, “about why anyone would want to remember particular pieces of information.” (Bain, 2004, p. 30).

“Teachers need to know the learning intentions and success criteria of their lessons” (Hattie, 2009, p. 239).

McLuhan (1964) warns that as we become more specialized in our tasks and classes, the greater the danger that we do not see the larger whole to which we are contributing.

“The specialized task always [escapes] the action of the social conscience”  (McLuhan, 1964, p. 73).

 Autonomy and control in the classroom

Autonomy and learner control in the classroom are widely seen as crucial to motivation. In Gardenfors’ (2011) TEDx talk, he describes learner control as a central factor of motivation.

gardenfors motivation 200

Figure 1: Factors generating motivation (Gardenfors, 2015, 18:25).

Freire (1998) adds that the practice of Education is a,

“permanent exercise in … the development of the autonomy of both teachers and students” (Freire, 1998, p. 128).

While the concept of andragogy, or adult education, faces a range of criticism, it is differentiated from K-12 education by the fact that university students are here by choice. There is ample evidence that,

“Adult education [is] characterized by learner control and self-responsibility in learning, learner definition of learning objectives in relation to their relevance to the learner, a problem-solving approach to learning, self-directedness in how to learn, intrinsic learner motivation, and incorporation of the learner experience.” (Blaschke, 2012, p. 58)


With the increase in ‘new’ media, ‘social’ media and other tools in our classrooms, it is useful to remember that technology is by no means new to education.

Mcluhan, in 1964, commented on the ability of technology to engage us.

“As the age of information demands the simultaneous use of all our faculties, we discover that we are most at leisure when we are most intensely involved, very much as with the artists in all ages” (McLuhan, 1964, p. 379).

McLuhan (1964) also argued extensively for the use of technology and various media, not only in the classroom, but in society, as a tool to:

“translate more and more of ourselves into other forms of expression that exceed ourselves” (p. 63).

More recently, to support arguments around the concepts of idea management and learning portfolios, McLuhan (2003) also discussed the idea that,

“one of the peculiarities of the electric age is that we live simultaneously in all of the cultures of the past. All of the past is here and all of the future is here” (p. 213).

Through media and technology, we can access more information than ever before. The challenge is to give our students both the motivation and the skills to benefit from it.

Click here for help files.

Scroll down or click here to see a presentation on Idea Management presented to the Curriculum Advisor Team at Werrington, July 29th, 2016.


Bain, K. (2004). What the best college teachers do. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Blaschke, L. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1), 56-71. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/1076

Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed. London: Penguin Books.

Freire, P. (1998). Pedagogy of freedom. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

Gärdenfors, P. (2011, October 11). How to motivate students? TEDx. Norrkoping. Retrieved May 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blWcbY5qA58

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. Oxford: Routledge.

Kember, D. (2015). Understanding the Nature of Motivation and Motivating Students through Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. Singapore: Springer.

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media. Cornwall: Routledge.

McLuhan, M. (2003). Understanding me. Toronto: MIT Press.

The following are excerpts from the feedback I gave to students about their video on "My Growth So Far", as part of their final reflections in the course.

growth wordle 200

Comments about Trust

You discuss breaking down barriers and I guess that gets to the issue of trust, which has been a big topic of discussion in many module 5 reports. There is no easy way to establish trust, as many of your classmates have commented, but I hope that you find some strategies that will work for you among the many proposed by your classmates.

I thought you also gave some great comments about encouraging risk and inspiring trust among the participants. You have to have a degree of trust before you start to take risks in the community. By risks, I am thinking of perhaps, sharing a new or dissonant idea? Disagreeing with someone? I would like to see some examples of risk.

That was a great video. I liked your comments about social presence as the force to create trust, highlighted by the literal process of reviewing your partners’ social presence online. It’s always interesting to Google yourself!

In your video, you talk about accountability. That is an aspect of trust in that we need to believe that our work is being valued and that we are working with those who will reward our own work. I do not believe that is a selfish issue, but rather one of equity.

I think using the term ‘idiosyncrasy’ with collaborative inquiry is a great adjective. There are so many factors – as many as there are personalities.

I liked the phrase “many and varied complex processes” involved in PLCs. Yes, that about sums them up! When you are dealing with people in the heart of their work, PD, you will get along of emotion and a lot of social interaction.

Comments about Professional development

I was intrigued by your comment that teachers might see their profession as something separate from themselves. That gives rise to a different view of development. We always talk about 'leaving the office at the office', but PD always seems to span the two worlds.

I noted your comments about ‘value-added’ PD. I think that is a crucial element. I have been to so many sessions and activities where the PD was great for the presenter, but not so great for the recipients. I think that is where a PLC is a good answer in that they help to keep the PD relevant to the teachers.

Your comment about vulnerability is also crucial. Another of our students comments similarly that the emotional aspect of being in a PLC is not to be toyed with and that teachers might see the PD as an object or thing separate from themselves. This may help to address issues of seeming or admitting to not already being good enough.

Comments about inquiry within Collaborative Inquiry

I also liked your comments about 'happenstance' versus intentional collaboration. I think opportunistic collaboration is great, but I have found a bit of intention goes a long way.

You have touched on a very important point. Collaboration will be more rewarding if you have some intention (goals, focus, etc) in your interactions. That is what drives any community. Katz (2013) talks about doing the “right work”.

I liked your example at the end about the unfortunate deletion of work. That they came back for more shows that the work itself was intentional and driven by purpose.

You noted that teachers often felt powerless to effect change in their work or professional lives, but that through PLCs they can begin to share and help each other in ways that are responsive to their needs.

I think you are correct to describe it as a fluid activity. There are so many factors to consider, not least of which is leadership as you mention. How do we keep the PLC focused and moving forward with good leadership, but leadership that does not overwhelm or subsume teachers’ own goals?

I think you are spot on when you discuss that many people like to think that collaboration is somehow an organic interaction, whereas in reality you simply don’t get very far organically. A bit of structure and purpose goes a long way.

You are correct to note that established goals need to be negotiated and to ensure understanding. Otherwise, finding out that you have gone off on a tangent is almost more demoralizing than not having a clear goal in the first place.

You comment that it is the inquiry, as opposed to the collaboration, that is the secret to this work. In a community of inquiry for example, as espoused by Garrison and Anderson et. al., the inquiry is what gives guidance and focus to the community.

You commented about being in a PLC as a participant. That highlights the benefits of reading the ‘Facilitator’s’ guide to PLC. From the other side, you can really appreciate the fine balance of keeping people motivated and focused on their work.

You discussed appropriate problems. This speaks to the need to a clear focus on the inquiry aspect of collaboration. You go on to mention intentional choices. That is another form of having a good focus on the inquiry and the process of conducting the inquiry.

Comments about Personal Growth

I was pleased to read your comments about becoming a lifelong learner. I have always felt that one way to be a good teacher is to continue to be a student.

Thanks for your honest appraisal of your work. I was pleased to hear that you feel you have progressed and are able to manage the process and contribute more meaningfully now. Much of facilitation, if not all, is really about process.

Comments about the use of technology

I loved your comment about using technology to help break down some barriers to collaborating. As several people commented in the Module 5 work, working face to face is not without challenges and often some technological intervention can really help a community move along towards common goals.

I liked your comments about using technology to remove barriers. Several of your classmates have noted similar points and I think that is an important element to share with those who might be resistant to collaboration due to similar barriers.

I liked your reflections on using technology. While I think that being in a room together is the best way, I also think that technology opens a world of possibilities that simply are magic to me. The possibilities of social justice in the sense of how many people can benefit through the use of technology to enhance their learning is a great thing. 

Have a look at http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/m4ed/ to really be inspired!

As I have mentioned to others, technology is a great tool for social justice. It allows many of us to access education and resources that otherwise would forever be out of reach. Regardless of your location in the world, technology can open so many doors to education and the enrichment of our lives.

Comments about the nature of teaching and learning

As teachers, we still need to know our stuff – the content. But what we really do, is help others interact with that content and do something with it. In our knowledge economy, we are not expected, nor can we be fonts of knowledge anymore.

I thought your discussion of the post-Gutenberg readings were very insightful. I wonder if children really do think in more complex ways. I think they do because the tools at their disposal give them the chance to access information and combine and recombine it in ways that we never could before through reading. I think of the British term for doing an under-graduate. They would say that someone was ‘reading at Oxford’ to say that they were doing their degree there. That is no longer the case.

I thought your reference to your classmates’ work was very revealing that your valued their input and learned from them. I hope they know that!

Your comments about cognitive dissonance were very much appreciated. I think that the comments from some of the readings which state that we work best with like-minded individuals are true. However, I also think that this is not a setting that will encourage growth because there will be less cognitive dissonance. That is good when you just want to get something done, but not so good when you want to develop your skills and knowledge.

Sunday, 02 April 2017 22:15

Google Drive - Use in the Classroom

The following document was written in support of work being done in an School of Business classroom. 


There is a need to design processes that will support greater classroom engagement. Both teachers and students need strategies to enable classroom interactions, a set of tools to facilitate those interactions, and on-going work ‘habits’ to support their studies.


The notion of Idea Management offers strategies that span students’ academic work, that will help students use various media to articulate their thoughts into discrete ideas (narratives of learning), and make their thinking visible to their academic communities.

idea manage v2

Figure 1: Idea management.

Students become active learners when they can make connections between ideas, outcomes, and goals, and so understand why they are doing any particular activity. Teachers need to acknowledge and support these strategies to give students the opportunity to develop good habits.

Google Drive as tool for Idea Management

The notion of idea management derives from the concept of a portfolio and its ability to support long-term, on-going reflection. To create a culture of reflection, students need a cloud storage tool that allows them to organize, manipulate and share their ideas. A client-owned suite of services incorporated in Google Drive allows students to retain ownership and control access to their ideas. It also allows students to readily share their work, participate in classroom activities, and have access to the entire body of newly constructed, shared knowledge.

Discussion: Class Observation

The XXX Course requires students to review a range of case studies and then discuss possible interpretations and solutions. Each week follows a similar pattern.

Homework review questions are completed prior to class, and reviewed in class.

Next, students work collaboratively on a case study that requires in-depth analysis. They can use Google Docs to build a group answer, synchronously editing the same document, and contributing meaningfully in a manner that overcomes shyness and language issues.

Google Drive folders are created for each tutorial group. The students themselves are given responsibility to manage their own work within these folders.

The tutor can use Google Drive to access group documents and share group responses with the whole class. The ‘live’ document can be edited during the feedback process by the owners to incorporate comments and corrections from the tutor and other students.

google drive studentowners

Figure 2: Google drive folders.

Finally, the whole class participates in an audience response using a Google form, where they are posed survey questions to answer. The answers are shared immediately and provide a rich set of data for classroom discussion. One question is an affective domain question checking on their ability to cope with the work.

how do you feel week 2

Figure 3: Affective domain survey response graph.

Students also answer a cognitive domain question that checks their understand of a core concept or process from the week's work.

financial audit wordle

Figure 4: Word cloud based on cognitive domain survey question: What is a financial report audit?

Anecdotal feedback from students indicates that they are very comfortable with this technology. An informal count in class indicates that most in fact already have a Google account.


  • Students were able to grasp the concepts behind the use of cloud storage within minutes.
  • Students actively participated in the group discussions because they could. They had the power to edit the communal document, and be seen and heard.
  • The level of engagement across the classroom was almost immediately apparent and observed to be virtually 100%.
  • The survey was a highly focusing activity. All students were observed to pay close attention and to discuss the results readily and at length with their table mates. The results provided great insight to the tutor on the level of understanding across the room.
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