Virtual School Meanderings

May 31, 2016

Your Newsletter From The Ethos Online Community – May 2016

One for my Kiwi readers…


Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,


Winter has arrived with a hiss and a roar in Aotearoa NZ. So, if you are on this side of the globe, it’s a great opportunity to curl up with this bumper copy of the newsletter in front of a roaring fire…or similar. Enjoy :)


This month I’d like to share a couple of musings about collaboration and cooperation – both essential to living and working together. I suspect, however, they are sometimes misunderstood, and often used interchangeably.


So what? Well – one aspect of collaboration is “the creative cognitive process of offering up ideas, [and] having them criticized or expanded on…” (Rowntree, 1995, p. 207). In other words, it is not always comfortable and may cause dissonance, but it is likely to challenge entrenched thinking or ways of doing. On the other hand, cooperation tends to include people taking on specific roles, and mainly involves pleasant interactions, where people are friendly and willing to share information.


Take for instance, an organisation that fundamentally changed the way that it was doing things. As part of the change management process, it was identified that professional development needed to be customised to support everyone as their roles morphed, and therefore required extensive reconfiguration in the way it was facilitated…and what was being offered. Although the senior leadership and the departments in the organisation helpfully agreed to work on aspects of the changes to professional development – and kept in touch with each other around what they were doing – they worked on each aspect independently. There was little sense of alignment of purpose or approach, and as a result it wasn’t possible to finalise an integrated professional development design, as well as little sense of who should lead up the initiative.


In this example, everyone worked hard and kept in contact, but did not actively join forces and work together. This is one of the key issues with cooperation: It feels good – and effective. Everyone is sharing and often there is a sense of overall momentum. However, there are no robust conversations that push thinking, no ongoing interactions to help ensure mutual understanding around what is needed, and no learning from, and with, each other.


Having worked with a variety of teams and organisations, for me collaboration feels … great but tougher. There are times when we are on a roll. Everyone has been involved from the outset and has a sense of ownership; ideas are flowing and everyone is contributing to that wonderful sense of forward progress. However, at other times, it seems like we’re walking through treacle because it takes ages to get agreement in understandings, timeframes, and next steps.


If you are leading or in a team or organisation that is working through change, I would argue that collaboration is the key to make it meaningful and permanent. With cooperation you may well just end up back where you started.


It would be great to hear any examples you have of collaboration and cooperation, and your thoughts.

Welcome to new members – May 2016

The Ethos Online Community now has 400 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to May’s new members to the community:

  • From the lovely city of sails, Auckland, we welcome Robert Harrington. Robert is an education advisor.

  • Teacher, Brendon Anderson, joins us from New Plymouth. Brendon is particularly interested in how eLearning can facilitate integration in the sector.

  • Karen Hughes is a teacher from Taranaki. Karen would like to look into eLearning and its influence on creativity, collaboration and connectivity.


Know anyone who would like to join an international Online Community that’s all about learning – across all education sectors, business & ITOs: Please invite them :)

Member Blog Posts and discussions

In this newsletter, as always we have some great posts. Please jump into the conversations and feel free to ask questions.

  • The featured blogger for May is Richard Jones, who asks SCORM in Moodle – is it really worth it? Richard has found through experience that Moodle can stand alone, and is, in fact, a much simpler format without SCORM objects. He works closely with both Moodle course design and Articulate Storyline development, and has been considering lately what a client may really need, as opposed to what they think they need. Running through some pros and cons to both, he concludes that the questions should always be considered; can I achieve my learning objectives with Moodle activities only? If not, why not? And what is it about SCORM that makes it the compelling choice?

  • Nathaniel Louwrens, participates in and facilitates many online communities of practice (CoPs). In his post, Professional learning communities, he thinks through the  research he is undertaking in to these CoPs, specifically what drives engagement. Nathaniel aims to delve into where educators are sourcing their professional development from and why, as well as trialling different strategies that may drive participation. He also touches upon the different types of CoP users and their depth of engagement – for example, just because someone does not contribute doesn’t mean they aren’t observing and translating that information into changes in their classroom. This post also questions why people may not engage, or how some may only use CoPs for certain self gain. This is a very interesting topic, and one that Nathaniel has only just begun to explore, so watch this space.

  • Perspective on online vs offline education looks at an interesting article about a photographer who has progressed her business to the point of setting up an online school to share her skills. The article looks at both her online and offline experiences in doing this, and her original reluctance to teach in an online platform. The article has fantastic insights that can be used for all teaching environments. Thanks for this gem John S. Oliver.

  • Like everything else related to technology, eLearning has developed a number of interesting trends as people try to figure out what works the best. Vera Marie Reed gives us the ten current trends within the industry.

  • Monika Kern shares her experience as a blogger. Monika talks about her reasons for blogging, concluding that ultimately it allows her an outlet to talk through, and make sense of, particular issues. So, what were to happen if this right was taken away? In Fine lines; To blog or not to blog Monika discusses the potential censorship teachers face in what they can and can’t post online. She addresses the fine lines that arise between the personal and professional self, and how social media can amplify these. However, Monika disagrees with the thought that educators should have strict guidelines as to what they post – after all, is this not just a case of using common sense, as you would if talking in public? The post also looks at how this could result in stifling the potential for debate, discussion and healthy disagreement. What are your thoughts on this?

  • Are you, or someone you know, interested in a community services career? Kate White has put together the 4 ways to choose the best community services career for you. Kate sums up all the different aspects of this path that should be considered, as well as how to choose between the various sectors (such as aged care or child care). A fantastic help for anyone considering these as a career option.

  • The Butterfly Project, Self Harm and Self Soothing looks at self injury (SI) in young people. Madelyn Griffith-Haynie is working on a series that delves into the link between ADD, anxiety and SI. This post links to a number of articles on the subject. Madelyn is also analysing a method that has been developed to prevent children self harming, called The Butterfly Project. This project works on the basis that in order to keep drawn butterflies on their arms ‘alive’ children must resist the urge to cut until they naturally fade. If a child does cut when a butterfly is still visible then the butterfly ‘dies’. Madelyn explains how this may trigger feelings of guilt and therefore make a vulnerable child more likely to hurt themselves, particularly in regards to ‘black and white’ thinkers. Madelyn’s main aim is to spread awareness of SI and help sufferers. If anyone has any way they can aid in this cause or simply help spread the work, please do chime in.

  • Schools in New Zealand are being encouraged to join a community of learners (COL), essentially a community of schools. This will not be mandatory, but the Ministry of Education will prioritise free professional learning for schools existing in a COL. The idea is that learners and educators will be able to draw on the strengths of each contributing school and have a more positive learning experience due to the increased input.  In Just another thought along the same line, Leigh Hynes examines the possible positives and downfalls of this idea. She looks at how the method could be improved upon also (for example grouping schools from different areas and backgrounds). What are your thoughts on COL’s?


Also recommended

As always you have contributed a superb variety of posts this month. Thank you. Here are some of the posts and topics that you may find of interest:

  • This month, some places in the world saw Mother’s Day. My Tribute to ALL Mothers is a lovely post from John S. Oliver that expresses his appreciation of his own Mother, as well as Mothers everywhere! John has also shared two Pintrest board to remind Mothers how important they are.

  • One of the things technology has enabled is the opportunity for a workforce that doesn’t necessarily need to be physically present. This idea of telecommuting (essentially working from home) is one that divides opinion though. Interestingly, Yahoo has just announced they will be rescinding their telecommuting policy, because “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together”. This decision has sparked a lot of discussion, with Richard Branson even getting involved to voice his disagreement with the sentiment that physical presence is needed to be one. Take a look at the post (Should companies insist on policy of ‘bums on seats’ at the office? What about a blended approach to working?) and let us know your experiences and opinions on the matter.

  • Often educators are seen as either tech savvy and eLearning focussed, or not. Jennie Magiera’s story describes her journey from Digital Doubter to Tech Guru; where she shifts from openly mocking her friends who had bought iPads “pointing out that they had just bought a ‘giant iPhone that can’t make calls”, to one where she is very aware of the potential of eLearning. One of the things she credits with her shift in thinking is some intensive professional development she had the opportunity to participate in. Read more about this transition in Story of change: From Digital Doubter to Tech Guru.

  • You may, or may not, be familiar with the Network for Learning (N4L) that is being developed in New Zealand. The potential of such a network is huge, but it requires a collaborative effort to actually make it work. It’s not so much about the infrastructure, it’s more about the people and the opportunities to collaborate, share, and build. How can you get involved, if you are not already? In her column While waiting for the Network for Learning we are building it!  (CINZ) Niki offers some suggestions, while also adding ideas for the overall planning behind the N4L. (All quotes from the article reproduced in this post are with kind permission of Niki Davis.) Building the Network for Learning: Commentary by Niki Davis provides a useful overview of the background to the N4L.


Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1,296 in total), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • This video introduces the Google Slides Q&A feature. This allows you to talk with, not at, your audience. Learn more on the Google Docs blog: Get the app: Android: | iPhone & iPad:

  • Following instructions and acing the test: Role of the teacher? This teaser for the upcoming documentary “Most Likely to Succeed” is a thought provoking clip that shows the gap between a teacher’s aspirations and beliefs about his role, and those of his students. The clip starts to unpick some of the implications of, and reasons for, this mismatch. Interesting stuff!

  • Most of us will do anything to avoid being wrong. But what if we’re wrong about that? “Wrongologist” Kathryn Schulz makes a compelling case for not just admitting but embracing our fallibility. Take a look: How do you feel when you are wrong? Same as when you’re right….. until you realise.

  • Adam Braun is the Founder and CEO of Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit organization that has broken ground on more than 80 schools around the world and delivered over 3 million educational hours in its first four years. PoP was founded with just $25 in October 2008 using what Braun describes as a “for-purpose” approach to blending nonprofit idealism with for-profit business principles. In this video (The five phrases that can change your life) Adam talked about what it takes to transform an idea into a reality. He talks about his journey, specifically the five phrases that have guided him.

  • Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO defines design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success”. Design thinking is a powerful approach to problem solving and supports schools in moving toward a more hands-and minds-on, challenge-based curriculum. In this video series we are given a number of insights into this process. In the first video (Design Thinking – Maximise your Students Creative Talents) Co Barry (Founder and CEO CreatEdu) gives ways that design thinking methodology can unleash student creativity and improve students’ ability to solve complex problems. We then hear from Robyn, (in Design Thinking – Teaching as a Musical Gig) who likes to  treat teaching like a musical gig. Teaching design thinking in her own way through rediscovering lost mediums with her students, she encourages people to reframe what they think they know. We are then given some overall  insights into design thinking and why it is so important (The Best Kept Secret – Design Thinking). What are peoples thoughts on this method?

  • Why do people feel miserable and disengaged at work? Because today’s businesses are increasingly and dizzyingly complex – and traditional pillars of management are obsolete, says Yves Morieux. So, he says, it falls to individual employees to navigate the rabbit’s warren of interdependencies. In this energetic talk, Morieux offers six rules for “smart simplicity.” (Rule One: Understand what your colleagues actually do.)



  • In Addressing Pākehā paralysis with non-stupid optimism, CORE Education’s Alex Hotere-Barnes discusses his research into how the concept of non-stupid optimism can help educators address Pākehā paralysis in their work. Alex believes that addressing Pākehā paralysis and working through it is a really important way of ensuring that our learning systems are more inclusive and socially just.

  • The wonderful team at Cyberwise recently shared the following resources, focussed on the Millennial Generation, in NewsWise. Whether you are convinced or not that folk are ‘wired differently’ because of the ability to be ‘connected’, creative, and communicating 24/7, these resources are well worth dipping into…and the quiz is fun too. Take a look: Millennials under the microscope: Resources, ideas and a quiz.

  • It is old news to most educators that “The young person who watches digital TV, downloads MP3 music onto a personal player, checks e-mail on a personal organiser and sends symbolised messages to a mobile phone of a friend will not be satisfied with a 500-word revision guide for [HSC] physics” (Abbot, 2003). Embedding multimedia resources into meaningful tasks can scaffold learners’ understanding of concepts, demonstrate practical skills, and, where learners are creating the multimedia, enable cultural appropriacy and foster creativity. This post shares some examples of how Mayer’s Theory of Multimedia Learning might be applied in practice, as well as resources that are useful examples of ‘walking the talk’.


What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including  ICMIP 2016 – the first International Conference on Multimedia and Image Processing – EI Compendex taking place next month at the University of Brunei Darussalam


Please feel free to add events to share them, or just let me know and I’ll add them :-)



Much gratitude to Charlotte Caines for doing the lion’s share of work putting this monthly newsletter together. Please keep your posts (including cross-posts), comments and recommendations coming :-)


Nāku iti nei, faafetai lava, and warm regards


Hazel Owen

Education consultant / Director

Ethos Consultancy NZ Ltd

PO Box 90391, Victoria Street West,

Auckland 1142

Phone +64 (0)9 9738027 / +64 (0)9 5750206

Mobile +64 (0)21 2273777

Web site:


Email addresses: /

Skype: hazelowendmc

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