7 characteristics of a true connected educator

We are in the thick of Connected Educator Month and, despite all the juggling of tasks and ideas and events and a hundred other things, my mind has been delving into the ‘why’ and ‘so what’ of it all.

I have seen a few folk ask 'what’s the point – aren’t we all connected all the time?'. The fact is, no, we’re not. I have spoken to many educators for whom this month has been a catalyst for dipping a tentative toe into blogging or social networks, digital storytelling and webinars.

And, of course, connecting digitally is just a first, tech-focused step. Being connected is dispositionalthe modern educator must adapt expertise to serve the evolving needs of their learner – and a network can serve to support individual educators more than just immediate support in one’s local school.

connected educator

The following ideas were the basis of my session at ULearn14; an abridged version (and livestreamed version) is below.

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UDL at ULearn: no accident

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was the subject of the third keynote delivered by Dr Katie Novak (USA) at Ulearn14. Giving UDL such prominence at Ulearn14 was no accident.

Dr Katie Novak

Kia ora Katie

Thank you for making the journey to us from Boston. Thank you too for sharing your passion for learning, and your knowledge and experience of implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to support inclusive practices in the US.

It was really exciting to see awareness of UDL among participants at ULearn increase tenfold. The large show of hands indicating no knowledge of UDL at the beginning of your keynote seemed to indicate that those of us implementing UDL are still running below the radar. The response also highlighted that, although the “Effective Governance Building Inclusive Schools information for school boards of trustees 2013 guidelines identify UDL as a tool to support best practice (p.11), there will need to be a concerted effort across the sector to support a deepening understanding of UDL and how it can be used to support inclusive practices in all learning contexts.

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The art of switching off: Surviving in a digitally demanding world

Switch it off!

I have realised I am spending too much time DOING and too little time REFLECTING; not enough sitting still and looking back on what has happened, and using this to look forward to where I am going and the possibilities ahead.


I love the challenges of my job, the opportunities for learning and working collaboratively, and appreciate the flexibility of working online. Much of my online work is done from home, and the days when it is wet and cold and miserable and I can curl up on the couch and work from there are precious. BUT, working online and from home has its own challenges.

The ability to work from anywhere, anytime brings with it the temptation to work everywhere, all the time.

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He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e! (October, November!  Teachings of the earth and sky, beneficial to mankind!)

He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e!

nā Hohepa Isaac-Sharland

English version

Tihei Mauri Ora!

Ka rere ake rā ngā kupu tangi ki a koutou e ngā mate tuatini kua whetūrangihia, tiaho mai rā i te poho o Ranginui hei kanohi arataki, hei mata tauira i te ara takahi mā te hunga e mahue mai nei ki muri. Koutou rā ki a koutou, kāti, e tātou mā, e ngā kaipupuri i te mauri o te ora, tēnā tātou katoa!

Hei kupu tuatahi māku, ehara ahau i te tohunga ki te reo, ki ngā kōrero o rātou mā, nā reira he wānanga ēnei kōrero āku e takahuri haere nei i te hinengaro, ka whakatakoto ki te pepa.  Ka rua, ko tōku reo Māori hei reo tuarua mōku.  Kāore ahau i tipu i tētahi kāinga kōrero Māori, nā reira, kei a koutou te tikanga he aha rā hei kapo atu māu, hei porowhiu rānei, ko te tumanako ia, he hua kei roto.

Whiringa-ā-nuku, Whiringa-ā-rangi e!
He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e!
ngahere - forest
He aha ētahi o āna kōrero, he aha ētahi o ōna tohu hei arahi i te ako?

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Ten Trends 2014: Gamification

Trend 9: Gamification

CORE's Ten Trends for 2014 have been published. This post considers the ninth of these trends: Gamification. We publish posts on one of the trends approximately each month. You are encouraged to comment or provide supporting links.


Gamification is the name given to the process of developing motivation and engagement by rewarding people with things that they want, and it often takes the form of points, acknowledgement of achievement, badges, prizes, and so on. You complete certain milestones and you are rewarded with something you want, something that is meaningful and engaging to you. The rise of computer gaming culture has meant that more and more research has gone into finding out what features make games so addictive for some people. The trend of gamification is really about how to reward, motivate, and engage people in learning.

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Modern Learning Pedagogy + Modern Pasifika Learners = 21st Century Pasifika learners raising a village

fale society values

An old Samoan proverb still relates to current education changes from the past to the modern and the future of our Pasifika learners:

“ E tumau le fa’avae, ae fesuia’i le faiga”
(the foundations remain the same, but the ways of doing it change).

A Samoan fale is a home, a community, church, and a safe environment that provides a sense of belonging, leadership, and spirituality. From this structure, then, the Samoan fale serves, for example, respect, reciprocity, and inclusive values. Without a strong foundation, the community will not function morally and inclusively.

If a modern learning environment/modern learning pedagogy  (MLE/MLP) acknowledges some of these values as part of the school culture and pedagogy, then the foundation for engagement and learning for our Pasifika learners, parents, families, and community will lead to a successful environment.

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11 ways to grow great readers: a parent’s perspective

How do we get our children reading?

Why 11 you may ask? A nod to a favourite movie — Spinal Tap — if 10 is good, then 11 is even better; that’s the theory. I think the easiest way for a child to enjoy education and develop a thirst for learning is creating a love of reading. Children who read a lot, expand their vocabulary, pick up a range of knowledge, and generally do better at school. But best of all, it’s fun — the thrill of having a good book to escape into is magical. But how do you encourage a love of reading? Like most things to do with children — sleeping, eating etc., — there is no magic one-size-fits-all solution to encourage reading. This is my perspective as a parent with what has worked for our family — I have two sons aged 7 and 9 — and I would love to hear ideas of what has worked for your family or students.

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Modern Learning Environments: Flexible or Purposeful?

Purposeful Learning Settings

Purposeful Learning Settings

In the modern learning environment world, sometimes we use the f-word: flexible.
There is quite a bit of debate over whether an environment should be flexible (and able to be re-purposed into any configuration when needed) or purposeful (with clearly defined ‘learning settings’ that support particular activities). Both have their merits, but what’s the difference, and which is right for us?

As always with modern learning environments (or practice) a great place to start is with your values and beliefs about learning.

“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are”
– Roy Disney

When planning changes to your physical environment (or even buying new furniture), it’s important, as a community, to talk about what good learning looks like. A great way to do this is to have people talk about their theories of learning and what sits behind those theories: “I believe powerful learning happens when learners are active rather than passive”, or, “Student ownership of the learning process leads to powerful learning.” The unpacking of these theories to explore whether they are based on research, hunches, student voice, or personal experience is a powerful way for staff to begin to make decisions about physical learning environments.

Once these conversations have taken place (and are set up to continue to take place), a school or centre can best determine whether flexible (the f-word) or purposeful learning settings are best. Here are some case studies for each:

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Making connections with ICT

Making connections with ICT

I was thinking the other day about a discussion I had with my lecturer at teachers’ college about aspects of culture. I can’t remember exactly what context it was in, but I recall at the time saying that I felt I had no real culture. This is now in contrast to today, where I feel a great sense of connection to my culture, or at least a connection to what it means for me to be a “Kiwi”, raising a family in this wonderful country, and making positive contributions to the community in which I live.

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Tātaiako-E: Cultural competency must-haves

I recently had the privilege of sharing some insights into what culturally responsive practice looks like in Aotearoa from a Māori-educator perspective with the Howick Pakuranga Principals' Association eLearning Network in Auckland. The majority of participants were familiar with the Ministry of Education’s starter kete of Māori education strategies such as, Ka Hikitia — Accelerating Success 2013-2017, and curriculum resources like, He Reo Tupu, He Reo Ora. I chose to flesh out the cultural competencies discussed in Tātaiako using anecdotal evidence as examples.

Source: Tātaiko: Cultural Competencies for Teachers of Māori Learners

I chose not to take the normal approach of using guest speaker stories, PowerPoints, handouts, and two-minute discuss-amongst-yourselves-and-report-back-to-the-group style, as these are only surface-scratching stuff. As the educator of this present moment, I’m totally about being a better person than yesterday and fulfilling one’s personal legend (perhaps even helping you discover your own?). I like to make these cultural competencies more tangible, mash it up a bit with some online resources and practical ways to help integrate the principles in your classroom and kura.

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