Virtual School Meanderings

July 3, 2016

Your Newsletter From The Ethos Online Community – June 2016

Another one for my Kiwi readers I received on the first of July (at least over here anyway)…

Your newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – June 2016


Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,

There has been a lot written about change, especially, more recently, about the rapid rate of change. Population growth and associated demographics have led to increased concern with use of the planet’s finite resources, global warming, equity for emerging economies and populations, overcrowding, and health. These are impacting many countries’ cultural contexts, as well as their political and legal infrastructure.


Globalisation and associated economic imperatives have led to a greater global awareness of the range of social values, cultural norms, and societal structures. Benefits have included the sharing (in some cases) of scientific findings and processes that have worked in specific contexts. Critics, however, point to a homogenisation of culture and language, and marginalisation or exclusion of some, as well as practical impacts such as the spread of infectious diseases, and (sometimes unregulated) growth of industry with associated issues such as erosion and pollution.


Advances in technology have been a driver of change for employment and (formal and informal) education. These factors are influencing the shape of some organisations, and the ways that are open for us to learn. For example, for the first time there will be four generations in the workforce all of whom are likely to want the option of flexibility of where, how and when they work and from whom learn (Jimenez, 2005).


Alongside all of this there has been a shift in understanding of what constitutes knowledge, and how that knowledge is shared and shaped, which in turn has led to democratisation of sensemaking, knowledge management, and how knowledge is created and shared (e.g. as shown in the theory of Connectivism). The impact on education has been (and still is) a gradual move away from seeing educators as the ‘holders of knowledge’ toward knowledge as something that a learner develops with the help and support of a facilitator (who may also mentor and coach them).


Given these changes, it would be great to hear your ideas and experience of working within change – and through it.

Welcome to new members – June 2016

The Ethos Online Community now has 409 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to June’s new members to the community:


  • All the way from sunny LA, we welcome developer, Kirk Vanklink. Kirk is hoping the community can help him in furthering his learning experience – we hope we can help!

  • Joanna Wheway, a super busy deputy principal from Auckland. Joanna believes that e-Learning consistently enhances the learning experience for both young and mature students. She believes its ability to facilitate development and personalisation are vital. You can find out more about Joanna and her views on this at:

  • From the beautiful garden city of NZ, Christchurch, we welcome Jared Reginald Hopkins. Jared is a teacher and hopes the Ethos Online Community can aid in gaining advice from experts and as place to share his thoughts on areas of interest and development in education.

  • Again from the garden city, we have Cushla Fitzsimmons joining us. Cushla is a teacher with curiosity around professional development.

  • With a particular interest in student agency, innovative learning, personalised learning, GAFE, coding & robotics, we welcome teacher, Katarina Moore, who is based in Whangarei.

  • Rosey Kara is an educator who believes that using computers in classrooms to can enhance learning and engage learners. Rosey joins us from the beautiful Whakatane.

  • From Aotearoa’s big city, Auckland, is Rachel Boyd, who is a principal who would like to network with other professionals around learning, leadership and education.

  • Sharyn Douglas, who is in the education field in Cambridge, has an interest in ICT enhanced learning as she believes it can span across cultures, diversity and learning needs, creating equity in access to learning and teaching for learners. You can find out about Sharyn’s first contribution here, and more on her blog:

  • As a deputy principal in Opotiki, TH Biddle, likes to employ ICT enhanced learning, technology and other learning tools to support 21st century teaching and learning in the classroom. Kia ora, TH :)


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.

  • Education, in many ways, comes down to preparing students for the future. How do educators do this when the future is always uncertain? Monika Kern has been involved in composing the NZC’s vision for the skills young people would ideally acquire for future success. Monika shares this with us in her Changing World post. Given that connectedness is a skill stated in this and similar statements, but not in further international policies, Monika questions how relevant it is. Is it more relevant (or equally) to prepare students for encountering people who are less connected and culturally aware?

  • Margaret Macpherson has been involved in the reading mentor programme at Ashburton College for over 10 years. Here we get an inside look with a video showing the programme in action. This is a community funded project that has the stats behind it to show it’s really helping kids – amazing!

  • Peter Breach observes the trend for students to bring their personal devices into the educational space – whether that be a tablet, laptop or phone. Is the occurrence of educational institutes providing technological facilities (with their preferred programmes loaded) going to become obsolete? And if so, Peter puts forward questions about how educators and students will share information in a consistent manner. Take a look at Peter’s thoughts, and add you own, in Androids, Tablets and the Cloud.

  • Online, interactive courses have opened doors and presented opportunities. However, there is aspect that is hard to manage – summative assessments of student learning. Managing Summative Assessment of Student Learning looks at two Moodle based courses, the challenges presented by their final exams, and the methods used to overcome these.

  • Gavin Clarke explores the currently polarising subject of  perceived benefits surrounding Innovative learning environments. The question that all educationalists want to know is “how will these changes impact on student attainment?”. Gavin questions whether the wording of this is totally appropriate – particularly the sole focus on student attainment, the argument being that this takes focus away from other benefits that may arise from such innovation. Gavin argues that the attention should be on the whole child and how it will benefit their learning journey rather than drilling down on the percentages attaining national standards in Reading, Writing and Mathematics. The post explores Education as more than attainment, particularly in regards to needing to go above and beyond 3 core subject areas. Gavin states that reform is needed in order to help students achieve future success. This post looks at why this reform is needed, and what exactly needs to change. The theme being that attitude needs to be valued as equal (if not superior) to attainment.  What do others think about this – do changes need to be made? Is the focus on attainment detrimental? And how do we change?


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:


  • Passion Learning for Teachers asks how can teachers push their passions further? And how do they know where to go to help them do so? There seems to be little available research and resources on this subject. Monika Kern suggests maybe we need to take our cue from classrooms and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), therefore start offering Multiple Means of Engagement (why), Multiple Means of Representation (how) and Multiple Means of Action and Expression (what of learning). Monika puts forward the idea of tailoring workshops and sessions around these principles to encourage further engagement and accessibility. Do others think this would encourage more to pursue their passions?

  • Ever wondered why you can’t remember the facts from your university lectures, yet you can still remember the stories told by college chums (despite it being over a beer maybe?). Well this little infographic explains why our brain retains stories and not facts (Why telling stories is more memorable than working with ‘bare facts’). If we remember this, and ensure the two aren’t mutually exclusive, maybe there won’t be so many forgotten birthdays!

  • What is it like to be an online facilitator? Sarah Stewart describes her experiences of facilitating  ‘open courses’ (run in Wiki Educator), from a personal viewpoint. Confessions of an Online Facilitator.

  • The education system in general is being blamed for not addressing (or even is seen as creating) many of the ills of societies and communities in a range of countries around the world. In his Ted Talk, Richard Wilkinson, disagrees with this, saying policy makers are focussing on the wrong thing. WIlkinson suggests there is a much bigger picture that needs to be addressed. In this brilliant presentation he reveals what the bigger picture is, why education is being blamed and how we can look towards soothing the issue; When rich and poor are too far apart there are real effects on health, lifespan, trust…and education.

  • Does gender dictate the way a mentor and mentee interact? Does it change the relationship, potentially making it harder for a mentor to help a mentee of the opposite sex due to differing perspectives? A certain blog post seems to think that yes, this is definitely the case. What has gender got to do with it? Reflections on coaching and mentoring looks at the opposing argument. Surely every person you come across has varying perspectives and viewpoints, no matter what their gender, and is that not part of the experience – to gain something from someone who is looking at things differently to you? Greg Carroll has already jumped into the conversation, and it would be really interesting to hear others’ opinions on this subject.

  • This thought-provoking podcast by Randy Bass starts from the position that “Our concept of learning has expanded at a rate far outpacing our notion of teaching, an issue that applies to the design and delivery of learning experiences”. He goes on to discuss and give examples of how, in higher education, working from this stance is a positive place to start questioning assumptions around educational design and the central position of the curriculum. Find links and further information here: The curriculum is dead, long live learning.


Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1,307 in total), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • Here is what makes sound, noise and music work – A cool video that delves into what makes noise – definitely one for any music teachers out there. Thanks John S. Oliver.

  • In this video René Carayol reveals what it takes to become an authentic and inspired leader.

  • A vignette of Kotter’s 8-step change model in action here.

  • If you have a large cube of ice, but realize that what you want is a cone of ice, what do you do? First you must melt the ice to make it amenable to change (unfreeze). Then you must mold the iced water into the shape you want (change). Finally, you must solidify the new shape (refreeze). Lewin’s Change Model: Unfreeze, Change, Refreeze. By looking at change as process with distinct stages, you can prepare yourself for what is coming and make a plan to manage the transition – looking before you leap, so to speak. Find out more in this exploratory little vid.

  • Now here is a way to spice up a maths class – Origami proof of the Pythagorean Theorem.

  • Where do good ideas come from? In this video One of our most innovative, popular thinkers, Steven Johnson, takes on-in exhilarating style-one of our key questions: Where do good ideas come from?

  • Is your school or workplace divided into “creatives” versus practical people? Yet surely, David Kelley suggests, creativity is not the domain of only a chosen few. Telling stories from his legendary design career and his own life, he offers ways to build the confidence to create; Build Your Creative Confidence.

  • In Boys Learning, Olivia, Sheryl and Mel – three senior school teachers, from Wairakei Primary School in Aotearoa New Zealand, present their research on Boys Learning. Some great tips that are applicable for learners in a wide range of contexts.

  • An Enslavement to Your Standardised Assessments: A passionate spoken word poem is the mind blowing speech 2016 Harvard graduate Donovan Livingston delivered during commencement. This video is incredibly powerful, hence it’s recent found internet fame.



  • Many thanks to Conor Bolton who recently shared these online learning outcome authoring tools. Really worth taking a look if you are involved in any form of teaching, or learning – can be a real eye opener!

  • Benchmark yourself using the Moobric – a tool to help you reflect on your online teaching – What does effective online facilitation look like? And how do you know? Here’s introducing the online rubric: Moobric ( This tool has has been developed to help educators using Moodle reflect on their online facilitation / teaching, and to use it as a catalyst to identifying their current and future online teaching and online course development skills.

  • In the clouds: Tools and the importance of getting involved provides some cloud based systems that encourage interaction and participation. It is really good to have a few options here so you can really tailor the tool to the learning objectives and types of learners.


What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including EDULEARN 16 – the 8th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies, taking place on July 4th in Barcelona.


A bit further in the future, but closer to hand is Moodle Moot NZX (2016). Moodle Moot will be at the lovely Northtec campus in Whangarei this year (October 5th to 7th 2016). It sounds as though, as always, it’s going to be a vibrant exciting conference with additional workshop days – so check it out now :)


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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