Dr. Paul Leslie

Dr. Paul Leslie

Friday, 23 February 2018 08:18

832 - W2018 - Case Study Feedback

Hello 832 Students,

I have compiled the feedback I gave to you. I urge you to take a few minutes to read through. You may find some inspiration by benchmarking your own feedback against that which I gave to other students.

There are two sections. The first section are general comments that I leave at the end of your assignments. 

The second section are in-text comments. Some of these may seem rather obscure because they are taken out of context, but  I think you may still benefit from seeing the nature of my comments, which range from formatting and style, to content. 


Part 1


Paul comments

This is a very interesting paper and I really liked the final section where tou bring relevance to the whole activity by relating the findings to your own practice. That was a very powerful way to conclude. This is a suggestion I will forward to the course writers. It is a great addition to the activity.

You were able to be really concise and yet give a broad range of ideas and go well beyond the expectations of the assignment without going way over the word count. You are at 1159 words which is well within an acceptable excess range. I am impressed with the hard work I know you must have done to reduce this from its original length to this length and still be overflowing with great ideas.

Nicely done!


Paul comments


First, A couple of technical points – I suggest you use headings. These are APA standard and really help to separate out the sections of your paper. This greatly increases readability. Also, you have some long paragraphs – these too are harder to read through, especially when the reader (me) is stopping to make comments or write down notes and then needs to find their place again.

Overall, this was very well organized and I think you gave a clear and concise overview of the studies and approaches therein. Your opening paragraphs were excellent and you really drew out some interesting points by comparing the two studies in the way that you did,

Your suggestions for improvement might be a bit less effective although I can certainly see the appeal of these. In some cases, they seem reasonable suggestions, but you really need to think about the reality of the context and try to find suggestions that do not cost too much or require time (almost the same thing). Ideally, they would be things that are not really changes or additions, but redirections of effort. In that way, resources such as time and money might be redirected and so you would not require more.

Anyway, this might be difficult to think about if you are not familiar with the context (e.g. with trades work in Ontario). Very nice work.


 Paul comments


Thanks for your assignment. I enjoyed reading your work. It was concise and to the point. I think you captured all of the essential information and clearly demonstrated an understanding of the approaches through the examples you provided.

I will note that your writing, while error free might use a bit more editing to remove some repetitive statements and slightly round-about expressions. I note that your word count is over the limit by about 25%. That is not unusual, but you could spend 15 minutes and remove that 25% without losing any content. In fact, this would reveal the content to me more clearly. The best papers are the ones that I don’t have to reread. If you like, I would be happy to do that for you with the first 2-3 pages of this paper as an example.

Your APA formatting might need a bit of a touch up as well. For example, the in-text citations are not entirely correct. At any rate, your work is clear and I think this was a solid effort.


Paul Comments


This is a very interesting and easy to read piece of writing. Well done! You have clearly not only thought carefully about the two case studies and your tasks in writing about them, but you have carefully crafted the writing as well to deliver a very concise and thoughtful assignment.

Your suggestions are insightful and achievable, which is a key point in offering suggestions for improvement. They have to fit the project and actually be possible. It is easy, as you note, to throw money at the projects. However, then the question is, what to do with the money.

Don’t forget to address your introductory statements clearly and directly.


Paul Comments


Hi - you are obviously very passionate about these two studies. They are no doubt very inspiring and motivating. However, I fear in your enthusiasm you may have overlooked some issues. You have touched on some of the issues such as assessment, but then you espouse the other benefits so thoroughly that the issues get lost.

This is quite long at over 1600 words for a 1000-word assignment. I think you could really shorten it by focusing on the academic element. You do mention the approaches, benefits, issues and suggestions, but they are lost somewhat in the effusive descriptions of the projects.

I think you might benefit, for the next assignment to really focus on the question and concentrate your enthusiasm for the projects. This enthusiasm is great, but it has the effect of clouding your own judgment on what to include in your writing. That is why you have gone so far over the word count.


Paul – Comments


This is a wonderful piece of writing. The writing itself is very clear and succinct. However, you have shown great thought and care in putting this together. You clearly have demonstrated a deep understanding the approaches and how to realize them in the classroom. Your suggestions for improvements are grounded, realistic and I can imagine you actually doing some of these changes.

I hope you get to actually try some of these. I think the art approach as a medium of expression, especially for young students, but also for immigrant and ESL students is excellent and very achievable.


Paul Comments


Thanks for this work. I think it has a lot of potential and you have clearly given it a lot of thought. However, my first reaction is that you have written it as a conversation piece perhaps when what is needed here is a concise piece of academic writing. So, you are at about 1750 words for a 1000-word piece.

The problem then becomes that longer pieces of writing have a tendency to repeat themselves and give a lot of detail, which may or may not be supported.

In your case, you have given lots of details, some of which flow logically from your argument, but others which are just sitting there with no basis or support from the surrounding argument.

For your next assignment, you need to try and really organize your writing and your thoughts. This is where a concept map of sorts might be useful. You can then use each paragraph as a thought and then you can compare the thoughts to see of they are coherent, concise, only one or two examples and not repeated.

I was not clear on your point about the approaches. You seem to suggest that connected learning is the overarching approach and that the other approaches you discuss are part of connected learning. This may be perhaps, but I am not sure you have support this argument.


Paul Comments:


You seem to have touched on the relevant points in these studies, but you have done so in a rather round-about way. That tells me that perhaps you are not as familiar with the approaches. Some of your comments as well may indicate that you could read more widely on case studies before selecting these. Alternatively, you need to read more widely to appreciate these two more.

I think your points are all valid but I also think that you could organize this much better to really highlight your points and by doing so, remove some repetition and thus have more of your 1000 words to express your ideas more thoroughly.


Paul Comments


This was a pleasure to read. It was well written, concise and to the point. You were able to highlight a number of excellent key points and ones that were tailored the specific examples.

I also loved your discussions about barriers and suggestions. Combining these around a discussion of the learning approaches instead of the specific case studies was great. You then brought the case studies back in with a discussion of suggestions that ties the approaches to the case studies. This is a wonderful piece of writing!

FYI - as a style point, if you do not indent new paragraphs, you need to add a line space. I prefer this style rather than indenting because it is much easier to read.


Paul – Comments


Thanks for your paper. From a strictly formatting point of view, I think you would do well to reformat and try to find a style that adheres to a more formal style such as APA. The point of these styles guides is to help you prepare paper that is easier to read and easier for you to write.

I think you have two interesting studies, but I do think you have glossed over some of the important pieces and missed an opportunity to really present a coherent comparison of the two and then be able to give solid suggestions that offer better, more holistic approaches to the studies.

You have picked out some highly relevant points and presented them clearly. However, I think you might be able to see and discuss the connections between the two more clearly.


Part 2


  • nice touch to discuss the choice of the studies
  • I would like to know if this is clearly delineated in the documentation. What are these competencies?
  • This term is often used in a negative sense. I am not clear if this is good or bad.
  • Interesting but is it practical? Would they trample the vegetables?
  • This is a nice conclusion, but I think you could shorten some other sections and put a bit more ‘conclusive’ writing into this.
  • Careful of your wording – they are not benefiting from the theory but from the practices enacted through the project. The theory just provides guidelines that help the educators get the most out of their activity.        
  • Great examples – I see the connection to the skills in the previous paragraph, but further clarity might emerge from combining these two paragraphs
  • Ha – money solves a lot of issues.
  • This is a great summary of the programs. I think you have really captured the essence of the programs. I might suggest that you try to bring in the approaches more closely, either in a concluding paragraph, or throughout the section.
  • Nevertheless, this is very clear and quite well done!
  • Absolutely – teachers need help to let go, and often for good reason – the school boards need to give teachers permission to let go a bit.
  • You could combine this with the barriers to provide clear connections between the barriers and sources of improvement, but nevertheless, this is very interesting
  • Art teachers? Aboriginal artists? Immigrant and refugee artists? E.g., http://www.canadianarabinstitute.org/events/conferences/professional-development-conference/art-and-culture/
  • Careful, this might not be true
  • Careful with such exclusive claims
  • Very nice, but this makes me ask about the assessment and focused learning? Who is managing that? These places are just places. Who is giving the focus and guiding inquiry to the activities?
  • I think that at this point, you are repeating or reiterating certain points and so this is where you need to think about reorganizing this paper. You are way over the word count of 1000 words.
  • You have a tendency to use a lot of colloquial expressions. This is fine in discussion boards, but for an academic paper, you need to really cut out idioms and colloquialisms as much as possible.
  • This is all interesting, but I feel you are bouncing around the point, and not quite getting to it. What do you want me to know about this project?
  • Can you elaborate? This is precisely why we take them out of the classroom.
  • Great opening paragraph – concise and very descriptive
  • Wonderful
  • Very much – key point
  • True, but an element of experiential learning is longitudinal – they need to spend time doing this.
  • Very concise!
  • Nice point – this is a behaviourist model as opposed to a cognitive model
  • This is actually much more exciting for students than many teachers realize.
  • Nice idea – they could do drafts in the discussion boards but submit final reflections privately to instructors.
  • This also is valuable feedback to the instructors which is often overlooked. Teachers often do not take advantage of feedback to themselves on how well students learned the content.
  • Are you sure? All schools? I have seen classrooms that do not look like this.

Dear 801 Students - In response to some questions about the PLCs, the collaborative group and Module, 4, here is some additional information that might help you.I hope to clarify the relationship between the following two assignments and professional learning communities (PLCs).

You started working towards these specific activities when you identified one or more PLCs that you thought might be useful to your work or offer you the support that you are looking for with your teaching. In Module two, you discussed design solutions and burning questions in the knowledge forum. This work was based on your feedback and questions from your concept map.

In Module three, you will be directed to comment on each others’ PLCs and on how they might speak towards your burning questions. These discussions will take place in the Module 2 discussion board where you posted your professional communities.

So, now, you should start communicating with other students, continue to review each other’s questions, PLC notes, and technology montages in the discussion boards. You then need to decide on which ‘brief’ (PLC and question(s)) interests you. Still in the Module 2 discussion board, you can then contact each other and form a collaborative group (2-4 participants) to start the process of analyzing your burning question and taking the appropriate steps to find / propose a solution to the burning questions.

As a group, you can then review your combined questions and PLC choices. Ideally, you will select the brief that has the most clarity in terms of process and the most opportunity for engagement with the PLC. “The focus of your collaboration will be to design a proposed solution to a substantive problem or dilemma in a Professional Community of your group’s choosing.”

In your groups, you will:

  • Engage in critical review of a problem and the context in which the problem exists in a community
  • Propose solutions to a problem that are sensitive to the concerns of the stakeholders
  • Prototype versions of the solution for review by other students in the course
  • Write a Design/Problem Brief that includes 
    • Introduction: description of the problem/issue that is being addressed
    • Literature review - scholarly connections between your burning questions and the literature
    • The proposed solution - a discussion and ‘tangible version’ of the solution (prototype, process description, tools, etc.)
    • "Process account" - a summary of the process of engagement between members of your group
    •  Reference List and citations within the body of the Design/Problem Brief

 You can use any collaborative technologies (e.g. Google Docs) that you see fit, and that you have investigated in the montage. Remember that you need to include a process account of your engagement with each other so you should use a technology that leaves a ‘paper trail’.

After this has been submitted, and concurrently, each of you will be expected to digitally communicate with a chosen PLC about the value of collaborative inquiry as it relates to an authentic problem of practice. This is why I have advised many of you to think about PLCs from whom you can realistically expect to receive a reply.

Please note that there is no reason why your entire group cannot work with the same PLC after the group work assignment is completed to do the Module 5 individual work.

For Module 5, you will

  • Identify a Professional Community with whom to connect
  • Starting with one of your burning questions, and quite possibly the burning question you worked on with your group, take the introduction and literature review from your group work and define a set of core ideas, related to Collaborative Inquiry and based on course content, to be shared as appropriate, with your chosen PLC.
  • Connect virtually and/or physically with the PLC and document your interactions
  • Provide evidence of a connection to the identified Professional Community
  • Where virtual and/or physical connection is not possible, you will need to create a “digital foothold” where you can communicate the set of core ideas that were identified related to Collaborative Inquiry and the particular Professional Community
    • This is the point where you will find the work better and more rewarding if you can actually connect with your PLC.
  • Create a link between your digital foothold and the course.
Sunday, 04 February 2018 21:23

Collaborative Inquiry and the SPARK

In response to questions about how to best manage group work and projects, I have prepared a worked example of the SPArk - Self and Peer Assessment. Please see the SPARKPlus website for further information and detailed explanations with videos of the process.

SPARK logo

The SPARK process provides students a means to give anonymous feedback to each of their group members on their individual performance and their opinions of their classmates' efforts. This has the effect of allowing group members to moderate their, and their classmates', grades. It also provides a means to benchmark their self-assessment in order to help individuals better judge their own performance, and thus increase participation and self-confidence.

Through the use of a  self and peer assessment tool in the form of a survey, students can grade their own and their peers' efforts on any given project. The questions in the survey can be edited to suit the particular project. The survey itself can be delivered  through Google Forms or other survey tool. The results can then be calculated through Excel. Download the attached worked example (see below).

The 'Factors' page highlights the two factors, the SPA and the SAPA, that impact on the group assessment, and describes the calculations of the two factors.

Sunday, 04 February 2018 16:19

801 - Concept Maps - Feedback

W2018 GDPI-PME 801-002 Collaborative Inquiry
Module 1: Collaborative Inquiry Core Concepts - Our Concepts Maps

In order to give you a broader perspective on your work, I have copied and edited all of my feedback to all students on this topic. I have grouped the comments into those focused mainly on the maps, those focused on the burning questions, and those of a more general nature. I have removed all identifying comments, and removed those that might be somewhat repetitive, or a bit vague since they are separated from the posts to which they respond.

Comments about Maps:

I like the map but I am wondering if there is more of a process to the map? For example, you have inquiry and problem solving on opposite sides. Is there a connection between the two? Is there a sequence?

I wonder if you can distinguish on your map between nodes that are titular and nodes that are explanatory?

I do like Prezi and this allows the presentation to take on a sequential feature as well as provide an overall view. I would challenge you to think about your sequence and see if you think there might be a more logical sequence, even though we are talking about open-ended systems and ill-structured domains

Also, just because the problem is ill-structured doesn't mean we can't apply some well-structured problem-solving techniques to it. This is where the idea of 'emergence' comes in (Nijs, 2015).

I like the hierarchical approach as it gives a clear idea of the two sides of the question - collaboration and inquiry / problem solving. I wonder if the logical conclusion of this is a solution at the bottom? I did think that as I was working through the map that perhaps a lot of our inquiry and problem solving is not so linear as may think and you map helps to highlight that.

I was interested to see a node on ISD versus WSD as a continuum. Do you think that? Can you elaborate on at what point a WSD becomes an ISD?

I do agree that we are continually collaborating and inquiring, but I also think that we need to produce results. At some point, we need to provide an answer to the inquiry, whether it is as a student producing a project, a teacher producing a lesson plan, or a faculty member producing a curriculum document. 

Comments about Burning Questions

Some other students have asked a very similar question. I recommend you track them down and form a group for the next section of the course.

I like your burning question as it leads to an interesting discussion I am having with my medical students. How do they manage their studies and determine when they 'know enough' and when do they need to dig deeper. In medicine, everyone outside of a family doctor / GP is a specialist.

Your burning question might be answered by the SPARK (Self and Peer Assessment Review) tool out of the University of Sydney. I saw it used to great effect when I worked at Western Sydney University.


How do we evaluate an open-ended project or a student-directed inquiry if we start with the student's project or question and not with our own question?

I like your burning question! I might wonder if it is ever too early to introduce collaborative inquiry. If you have ever watched Ken Robinson's video, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY he suggests that we train students out of creativity. Perhaps if they started with ill-structured domains, and problems, they might retain more of their innate creativity.

Your questions are posed in the negative. From an appreciative inquiry POV, I challenge you to change these questions to frame what you want to see, not what you do not want to see.

I really loved your first burning question about applying these concepts from K-12 and beyond. I have found that some of the very same strategies I have used and seen used with 5 year-olds work very well with university students. The idea of making thinking visible and getting people to put their thoughts on paper is one common strategy.

For your question, I wonder if you might be able to think about the commonalities in strategies between the age levels in terms of collaborative inquiry? That would be highly practical and very useful to teachers at all levels.

With your question, my immediate response was to ask the participants. What are their goals and what are commonalities in their goals. Groups comprised of the three professions might provide an answer? In adult learning, we need to make the purpose of the learning clear, however I wonder if the participants, as adults, bring their own motivation? Is that too simplistic?

I think there is a need to draw upon some principles of adult learning in this context. Are you familiar with the general principles?

I see you have a question about motivation. Do you find yourself struggling with this issue? I wonder if students get used to working on well-structured problems and then become bored with the patterns of solving such problems?

General Comments

Don't forget that the facilitator's framework is really just one model. However, it loosely follows any good research format - Question, methods, data, answer.

I like the notion of "meeting kids where they are at". I like to temper this with "getting them where they need to be". How do you balance this with such things as student-led inquiry and, individual needs and similar approaches?

I would argue that from an appreciative inquiry perspective, collaborative inquiry doesn't necessarily fail if we do not get an answer. We would know that we need to look further afield, but is that failure? I do not agree that we cannot fail, but I do think we need to be careful about what constitutes failure. This might be a matter of semantics, but I think it is important to frame that point carefully with our students.

You state, "Teaching kids to create through process". I have commented to others the question of how do we balance process and product? In elementary levels (K-8 for example), do we need to focus much more on process?

I am a huge advocate of technology but not until we know what we need to do. Then we find the tech tools to help us do it. Of course, sometimes a great tool can open up avenues that we did not know would be possible.

One quote notes that problem solvers must believe that they can solve the problem. This is true, but perhaps not unlike Vygotsky's ZPD - we need to be 'close' to the knowledge we are learning to fit it to our schema. I would add then that the problem solvers also need to see the value in solving the problem.

Sunday, 04 February 2018 11:32

832 - Case Studies Assignment

Hello – in response to some questions about the case study assignment, and to let you know what I am looking for, here are some comments I have given to your classmates.

First, try to get your discussion board post out as early as possible. This will allow your classmates time to respond to you before you write your assignment.

I have also revised the feedback I gave to students from the last semester (see full feedback here: http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/courses/pme-832/item/745-832-f2017-case-feedback ) on this assignment. By reviewing some of the principle comments, you might be better guided in your work on this assignment.

Specific feedback to students:

Response 1: In the article, there seems to be only a passing reference to anything from our list of connected learning methodologies. There is some attempt at networked learning and social interaction. If you would like to investigate this article as a case study, you would want to highlight how some activities could be introduced at an MBA level that would support connected learning. It would be interesting to contrast MBA level work with K-12 work. I have found that strategies often promoted for early childhood classes work also perfectly well in a university setting.

Note that the article discusses social issues at Harvard, not academic or pedagogic issues. So, you might need to look at Appreciative Inquiry as a means of improving the pedagogy which in turns pushes out the social issues through sound pedagogic practice.

Also, be aware that the list of connected learning styles is not complete and they are describing an approach to teaching. They do not necessarily offer a reason for or outcome of their learning. In all cases, the outcomes are around trying to help students connect their own learning to the wider world to give it context and purpose.

 Response 2: So, I would suggest that you examine your own work, reflect on your teaching methodologies and then find two readings on pedagogic issues within your particular field. These can be anything that highlight a teaching practice or teaching and learning issue within your field. Please send them to me as well and I will review them. Then, together we can craft a more detailed assignment outline for you that meets the criteria for the course, but yet responds to your specific needs. The more you can relate these studies to your own context, the more rewarding the course will be.

For example, you might examine how these cases might apply to your context, discuss barriers that you think impede your ability to improve your own practice and then as a conclusion make suggestions for yourself that you can pursue to improve your efforts.

So, please feel free to pursue this article and approach, especially if it speaks to your own interests and strengths. Just, keep a focus on the pedagogy of connectedness and the purpose of being connected. Connectedness is not an end or outcome in itself.

In-text Comments

These comments are organized into three sections. The first are in-text comments that relate to specific instances in the assignments. I selected some that I thought were revealing to the writing itself. The next two sections are from my general comments. I organized them by Positive feedback and constructive feedback. Some are based on the content of the assignment, and some are based on the technical aspects - the writing style and citations.

Great start – could you add just one sentence showing some connection between the two, or why you chose them?

It might be good to just introduce both schools here in one short sentence. You have both in your title, but you need to mention here just what you are doing.

Careful with value-laden adjectives. This may be unfortunate, but I can make that determination from the facts and organization of your sentence. This sounds like being flexible is a bad thing.

Can you provide a conclusion that ties the two studies together or highlights some general improvements that both styles would benefit from – reflection seems to be a common theme.

Interesting conclusion. I would like to see a strong discussion about the comparisons between the two.

To be concise, just leave out colloquialisms. This is a different form of writing than a discussion board

Only use tables for numerical data or very short text-based data. This all should be in paragraph form. It is harder to write perhaps, but easier to read.

You have already talked about this topic a few times. Can you reorganize your paragraphs to bring a more coherent argument?

Positive feedback

It might be useful for you to go through and see where you can cut down on your word count without losing any ideas.

You have given me a great piece of writing. You stepped out of the assignment box and discussed these two case studies in tandem, which really gave your writing a great focus and a means for you to put your comments into a wider context between the two studies.

Constructive feedback

You have given an interesting discussion of two solid case studies. However, I would like to see you really dig into the actual content of the courses. If you look at my comments above, you will see that you bring up important elements of the case studies but do not fully explore them.

You also have a tendency to use very colloquial language. Students who use this style often get a bit lost in the discussion and do not get to the point.

By using tables as you did, I think you have confused the logic of your discussion for yourself and hence, as you will note in my comments, the flow of your discussion is compromised. This format places the onus on the reader to make sense of your ideas. That is actually your job as the writer.

It is quite late, but I am generally very flexible with dates as I understand the pressures of being a teacher. I do not usually penalize anyone for lateness.

For the challenges and suggestions, while I truly appreciated your effort to combine the two cases and comment on both at once, you perhaps were a bit general. Try to really think of the context of the two case studies and offer some suggestions that could really work in their particular setting.

I would like to suggest that you write in shorter paragraphs and then try to manipulate those paragraphs as discrete objects and move them around. You might find that you have reiterated and repeated yourself a few times, and that you have left an idea only to return to it a paragraph or two later. This makes your paper much longer than it should be.

I would like to suggest that you try to write in a formal essay style so that your ideas are logical and clearly linked – so that you can better show for example, cause and effect, sequence and relative importance of your ideas. Your somewhat bullet pointed style (without the bullet points) makes reading your work a bit more difficult and quite disjointed. There is no flow and so I found myself jumping back and forth to put your ideas together. You are supposed to put them together for your audience.

Although writing produces a linear text, you should not approach it that way. Start with smaller paragraphs and then see how you can manipulate and combine ideas to really be concise. That will really bring out your ideas and leave you more words at the end for the conclusion.

If you have clear distinct paragraphs, you can move them around like objects and see the overall coherence of your argument.

As for your arguments, you are putting conclusions up front and then discussing them afterwards. This makes your writing much longer as well. It also confuses the reader because you end up repeating yourself.

Sunday, 21 January 2018 09:24

Complexity and Curriculum

In support of the work my students are doing in PME 801 and in PME 832, I would like to offer a reading on complexity. In both courses, we are looking at the notion of how to better work with our curriculum to create great learning opportunities for our students. Please see the news items in your respective courses for the articles.

In PME 801, we are reading about the notion of ill-structured domains of knowledge (Jonassen, 2000). In PME 832, we are reading about connecting our learning opportunities. In both cases, we are discussing the difference between complexity and complication. I believe we need to be clear in these distinctions as they will inform our future work in both courses. I trust reading this article by Nijs (2015) will help to clarify these notions.

Please have a look at this post as well that reviews a related article by Nijs (2015) on complexity in design.

 In one discussion board this week, I raised the question of what is the difference between assessment and evaluation. You will no doubt find an explanation in my archives somewhere. At some point, all teachers need to assign grades to students and then we decide if they will pass or fail. We then need to look at the continuum between passing and failing. This leads to a question of whether we can simply say a student has passed or has failed. Onwards we go to looking at whether an assessment is arbitrary (subjective), or based in some larger coherent system. Are our assessments and evaluations objective or subjective? WHat is the difference? Thus we reach complexity.


Jonassen, D. H. (2000). Toward a design theory of problem solving. Educational Technology Research and Development. 4(48)., 63-85.

Nijs, D. (2015). Introduction: Coping with growing complexity in society. World Futures. 71., 1-7.

Nijs, D. (2015). The complexity-inspired design approach of Imagineering. World Futures. 71., 8-25.

Friday, 12 January 2018 09:12

832 - Email your Instructor

Dear PME 832 Students,

Thank you for the emails and your questions. They are very revealing in that they give me an insight into the concerns of the class generally and also allow me to focus on certain topics which we may or may not cover during the semester.

I will make every effort to refer to these questions, and to my answers, as we progress through the course. I am not including every question as several were very similar. I have sent these responses to the individual ‘questioneers’ and here will perhaps expand slightly on some of them try and make them more generally applicable or relevant.

Please note that I am happy to accept questions throughout the semester and will respond to every email sent to me.

Q: I am looking forward to learning about how the classroom can be successfully and efficiently connected to the home (as I find it difficult sometimes to draw the line on how much work should be sent home/ should any work completed at home be assessed). I look forward to examining case studies which relate to the teaching profession and be able to apply the knowledge gained to my practice. 

A: Your question is fantastic. I spent years wrestling with how to connect my classroom to the home during my own practice, and worked with many of my students on that very question for the research projects when I was with teacher training in Dubai.

Technology definitely can help, but the diversity of parents and people make this question a tough one! There are questions of how much help can or should parents give? How much feedback do you want from them? Some will argue that teaching is your job! Some are not capable of giving much help. Nevertheless, it is a highly worthy pursuit.

Q: A question that I have is: will we be required to make a blog/ website for this course. If so, I will start preparing my web page right now, and add information as we continue the journey.

A: You are not required to make a blog for this course. However, a teaching portfolio of some sort is a great tool that you can use for your teaching activities and to do such things as communicate with parents (see previous question). In the medical professions, many boards require doctors and nurses to maintain portfolios for demonstrations of competency. See some of my previous posts on portfolios.

Q: I’m currently not in a teaching position. The concern I have is that since I have very limited teaching practice, I’m not sure how to reflect what I have learnt from this course in my own professional practice. Could you please provide some suggestions to me?

A: We will absolutely find great ways to relate this course to your practice. I had a number of non-teachers in this course before and I think we were able to create some very innovative and practical projects.

Q: I like to sum up one of the most important themes as "scrutinize, don't immortalize".  To me, this is the nature of professional inquiry, and understanding that my role as teacher is an ever evolving and progressive one - those that say beyond year three of teaching is a gravy-train are complacent and don't perhaps deserve the privilege of preparing the future generation.

A: First of all, I have only rarely had the opportunity to teach the same course more than once or twice and never with the same students. So, every day is a new day. Evolving and progressing! I operate from the principle that we can always do better. That is dependant in practical issues like time, but we must always be reflecting on our practice and thinking about how to do things better. This is where a portfolio is very useful to help us improve. See my blog on the time span of discretion.

Q: My current generation of students carries the stereotype of entitlement. I would like to explore strategies to instill a sense of community and citizenship in our students, to have them understand better the social responsibility they are preparing for, to value their learning as tools to treat their patients well, and not just pass their next exam. I would like to further that theme by continuing to improve my methods of promoting autonomous learning habits and self-regulation within my students, who are often struggling to evolve from high-school teenagers into young professionals. 

A: As for the students, I believe in a pedagogy of freedom. We need to bring them to learning and the social construction of knowledge and then let them make the decision to actually learn. They are entitled to not learn if they want. However, I would feel a bit of a failure if I thought I did not inspire my students to strive for their own betterment.

Q: At my college there is current PD surrounding the use of technology in the classroom, with emphasis on the distinction between using it simply for the sake of using technology, versus using it to create new opportunities.  I'd be interested if we will delve into this topic, or if there is even merit in this focus?  Obviously, technology can bring in many new opportunities, though my current thoughts are that even if it merely replaces or augments a current practice, a little change can still be good, even if all it does is recapture the students attention.  I also look forward to the topic of technology enhanced learning environments, and how this might help answer this question.

A: I love technology for the things I can do with it, and I include my chainsaw in that mix. However, it is only a tool. If we have nothing to work toward, then we will not need any tools. I do not advocate technology for its own sake, nevertheless, sometimes we do not know the possibilities of a tool until we try It out.

Q: For my PME progression in general, I feel I put in quite a bit of effort and time into the assignments and discussion, and have done well, not just in course results, but more importantly in my own professional development.  That said, I will continue to focus on improving my communication and discussion skills, working to use evidence and resources to better challenge or reinforce the ideas of others. 

A: I will expect you to ask challenging questions and demand answers. That you can do with your entitled students! Please see my post on the use of discussion boards. Also, have a look at how they are graded.

Q: I currently teach ESL in an English for Academic Purposes program where we have a lot of students who are young adults, and tend to use their smartphones in class. I hope to learn how to utilize those smartphones in my teaching, rather than telling them to put them away. 

A: I think that mobile devices are fantastic tools that can do so much for us. The trick is to find the right use for them. I do not advocate technology for its own sake, nevertheless, sometimes we do not know the possibilities of a tool until we try It out.

Q: Does the course focus heavily on collaboration between classmates to demonstrate the importance of being connected with one another?

While I do encourage the use of the discussion boards to work together, the two main assignments are individual. The connections are more about your ability to connect your learning to your ‘world’. In your case, I will expect to see how you can connect the various aspects of practice of being a good technician with the larger practice of being a professional.

Q: I am hoping to improve my technological connectedness throughout this course and be able to apply it to the many roles I play in my profession of being a Clinical Education Leader in an ultrasound department within a hospital.

A: The course really is about understanding why we are doing any particular thing within our studies, either as a teacher or other professional. For example, can you explain to a beginning practitioner the reason behind every single thing that they need to learn?

Q: Regarding the connected classroom, I am interested in exploring new teaching strategies aimed to bridge the gap between theory and practice. I would like to learn more about community-service learning, since I believe it is a great way for increasing students' cultural competence and helps in creating good global citizens. Moreover, I would like to discover the role of technology in connecting curriculum with the real world.

A: You ask some great questions and have some great goals. I hope we can begin to understand how our learning theories play out in the classroom. For example, I often talk about the pedagogy of freedom, but what does that mean when I am working with a student, even if my student is him or herself a practicing teacher? How do I make that person understand how to help themselves be free of those things that detract from their lives?

Q: I currently teach at a school where learning takes place both inside and outside of the traditional classroom. For instance, our students take part in a service learning program every Friday afternoon. Because of this, I have seen first hand the many benefits of this type of education. That being said, It's clear there are certain things we could be doing even better (most notably, making use of the internet to promote global learning). Given this fact, I'm excited to learn more about what others in this class have been doing.

A: I think service learning is a great way for students to learn the value of their own abilities and apply their own learning. The only catch is that the ‘service’ needs to be real.

Q: I tend to take as much of a conversational approach to my discussion posts and assignment submissions.

Very practical question! Yes, actually, I do favour a more academic style because I want my students to get to the point. I appreciate the conversational style in the classroom and F2F, and over coffee. However, I think written communications needs to be much more succinct and direct. Also, I find that to have a successful construction of knowledge, we need to challenge each other. It is for this reason, that I always tell my student teachers that their students are not their friends. You need to dig, challenge and push – all in a friendly and respectful manner of course, but yes you need to dig, challenge and push. That takes energy which I hope is not used up or lost in a more conversational piece of writing.

Also, by forcing you to be more succinct and to the point, you will need to focus your attention on the heart of the matter you are discussing, not get lost in the surrounding swirl. This hopefully will allow you to see the most relevant points of any discussion.

At the risk of being too conversational, how does that sound? I hope this is not a shock, but I find that once students become more comfortable with this style, we start to see some exchanges.

Q: When reading through the tasks, I didn't see a collaborative assignment.  Is the collaborative portion of this course considered to be the discussions that take place each week? 

A: Yes, the collaborative elements are the discussion boards, which I take very seriously. They are worth a significant part of the grade.

Q: If I end up needing an extension on one of the major assessment pieces, is this a possibility if I talk to you ahead of time?

A: The discussion boards need to be completed in a timely fashion for you to really benefit and for the other students to benefit from you. However, I am very flexible on the submission of the two individual assignments and will not penalize anyone for a late assignment.

Q: A question that I have is about best practices for technology is used to enrich learning experiences for early years. 

A: I have found that technology can be great in the early childhood classroom and have noted that children as young as 5 or 6 clearly grasp the concept of a user name and password to save their work.

I have also noted that technology is great to help the teacher save time in admin and preparations so that they have more time to focus on creating great lessons.

Welcome to PME 832. I am very happy to be teaching this course. It is highly relevant to teachers at all levels. The connection referred to in the title of the course includes the connections from each of us to our students, from our students to their classmates, to their community, and perhaps most importantly to the knowledge and experiences they have in their daily lives. The connection also refers to the tools used to create such connections.

Course Format

There are five main modules and two 'bookend' modules in PME 832 – The Connected Classroom. 

  • Introduction Module: Welcome to PME 832
  • Module 1: What is a Connected Classroom?
  • Module 2: Pedagogical Approaches that Support Connected Classrooms
  • Module 3: Theory in Practice: Examining Case Studies
  • Module 4: Technological Tools for Connected Learning
  • Module 5: Technologically-Enhanced Learning Frameworks and the Role of the Teacher
  • Course Closure Module: Leadership in Professional Learning and Reflecting on PME 832

Independent Assignments 

  • Discussion board posts (6 X 6% each for 35%) 
    • Making Connections
    • My Connections
    • Top Two
    • Sharing Case Studies
    • Technological Tools
    • Technological Frameworks and the Role of the Teacher
  • Examining Theory in Practice—Case Studies (30%)
  • Leadership in Professional Learning—Designing a Technologically-Enhanced Connected Learning Experience (35%) 






Week 1

January 8th -  14th

Welcome to PME 832

1 week


Discussion Board Post:

  • Making Connections

DUE: END OF WEEK 1 – Jan. 14th  

Module 1

Week 2

Jan 15th - 21st  

What is a Connected Classroom?

1 week 

Discussion Board Post:

  • My Connections

DUE: END OF WEEK 2 – Jan 21st  

Module 2

Week 3

Jan 22nd – 28th

Pedagogical Approaches that Support Connected Classrooms

1 week 

Discussion Board Post:

  • Top Two

DUE: END OF WEEK 3 – Jan 28th   

Module 3

Weeks 5 & 6

Jan 29th - Feb 11th   

Theory in Practice: Examining Case Studies

2 Weeks

Discussion Board Posts:

  • Sharing Case Studies

Mid-course formative assessment

  • Reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 6 – Feb 11th  

Module 4

Week 7

Feb 12th – 18th  

Technological Tools for Connected Learning

1 Week

Discussion Board Posts:

  • Technology Tools

DropBox Assignment:

  • Examining theory in practice – case studies

DUE: END OF WEEK 7 –  Feb 18th

Reading week – Week 8 – Feb 19th – Feb 25th

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

Module 5

Week 9

Feb 26th – Mar 4th

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 9 – Mar 4th  

Course Closure

Weeks 10 & 11

Mar 5th – 18th  

Leadership in Professional Learning and Reflecting on PME 832

2 weeks

DropBox Assignment

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

Final Formative Assessment

  • Reflection

DUE: END OF WEEK 11 – Mar 18th

Tuesday, 02 January 2018 10:01

832 - Discussion Boards and You

In PME 832, you will be required to contribute to several discussion board topics. These are listed in your syllabus. For those of you who have taken PME 801, the boards were required but not graded directly. However, in this course, you will be graded on each board individually. As this entails a lot of extra review and time,  I will not grade each board as we progress through the course. Rather, I will look carefully at your contributions to the boards across the course and take your efforts into account when deciding upon a grade. I will provide an interim grade at the midway point so that you can gause your participation against my expectations. 

To understand more about the grading process, please read this post: http://www.paulleslie.net/index.php/item/742-discussion-boards-in-d2l .

Now, I would like to discuss my expectations for these boards a bit more thoroughly. I will ask you to read about the community of inquiry, (https://coi.athabascau.ca/). Peruse the site and read a few of the articles. If you have not read about this model before, I strongly urge you to read about teaching presence as supplied by the students. The site will provide a few articles about this topic.

In brief, the model highlights how we first must make the community (your classmates) feel safe through social presence – we must make 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 teacher but many students. Thus teaching presence must come from the students as well as the teacher. This will each of us 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, 02 January 2018 09:48

PME 801 - Summer 2016 Info

I started teaching this course about 3 weeks after I moved to Australia to start my new position with Western Sydney University.

Hence, in my rush, I did not take the time required to track my work properly in this portfolio.

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