Virtual School Meanderings

July 31, 2016

Your Newsletter From The Ethos Online Community – July 2016

Another one for my Kiwi readers…

Your newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – July 2016

Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,

Have you ever watched an inspirational speaker with a call to action and thought – ‘yes, I agree!’, and then gone away and…done or changed nothing? Tom Asaker’s talk, Why TED Talks don’t change people’s behaviours, helps (perhaps) to explain why.

In his talk, Tom describes some research that enabled people in virtual reality to fly – one group in a helicopter, and one in a Superman position. Those who had flown in a Superman position were way more likely to help people after they had had the experience – they appeared to have been inspired to embody the role of Superman because of their immersion in the experience. Tom goes on to assert that that “we embody our roles, our values, our stories – we live in those stories, and we live according to them”. In other words, we are what we think we are, and we ‘write’ our own narrative, which in turn shapes our perceptions of self.

I pondered this long and hard. On one level I don’t agree (I have definitely, for example, used some of Amy Cuddy’s strategies). However, when change is considered on a larger scale it starts to make a lot of sense for me. If I can’t see myself in a particular story of change – if I can’t envisage my role and see how it aligns with my values – where would I even start on that change? When I think about change in education and the way we learn, for instance, it’s through visualising bite size pieces where I can see my actions might support others to make a difference. It’s a familiar landscape though, and I already have a sense of self in that space.

So, if we want to be part of change, we have to see ourselves in that change; we have to develop the story of our role in that change. The wonderful folks in this community often share what, how, and when they see themselves doing things that make a difference, and I wonder if the activity of sharing helps us commit more fully? This month, for example, check out Monika Kern’s Changing world and Nathaniel Louwrens’ Of unicorns and flying elephants.

What is your story? Where do you see yourself in change? Please share with the community.

Welcome to new members – July 2016

The Ethos Online Community now has 414 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to July’s new members to the community:

  • From the Big Apple, New York, Lucy Adams. Lucy is an essay writer with an interest in guest blogging. We’ve been lucky enough to already have a post from Lucy, check it out: Best Crowdsourcing Job Websites for Freelance Writers

  • Kay Hoods is a New Plymouth based teacher who enjoys using and learning about the use of ICT for collaboration of learning processes

  • From the beautiful Waikato, we welcome Dilani Gedera. Delanie is and E-Learning designer who delves into  E-learning, online communities, technology enhanced learning, learning design. You can find out more on her blog:

  • Again from Waikato, Rikki Sheterline, educator and learning enthusiast, joins us. Rikki notes the impact ICT can have on self, staff, students and community.

  • Kyra Makalita hopes ICT can aid with teaching and learning to improve student learning and engagement. Kyra is currently a teacher based in Taumarunui.

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.

  • July’s featured blog post comes to us from Nathaniel Louwrens. In his post, NZTeach Education Technology Summit – Keynote: Betsy Corcoran, Nathaniel explores the talk given by Betsy (CEO and Co-Founder of EdSurge). EdSurge aims to find the right technology for any particular school or community, and Betsy talked on the importance of trends in this industry. They matter as they dictate where and how students will find jobs, express themselves, and be confronted with multiple challenges. Edsurge uses indicators such as business and demographic shifts to help them find the most efficient and appropriate technology for each individual client. Questions in particular are stressed as a key focus – particularly enabling young people with the knowledge that they can and should ask questions, and the skills to know how.

  • A must read for any writers out there – Best Crowdsourcing Job Websites for Freelance Writers discusses the growth in popularity of both freelancing and online writing jobs. The internet has blossomed to meet this demand, providing websites that aid both freelancers and companies find their perfect fit. Lucy Adams has made this process even simpler by featuring the best websites available, how they work, and what they offer.

  • How much do you know about braille? Unfortunately a low number of educators who are well-informed about braille can lead to a “reduced literacy rate and further academic struggles”. This post shares some little know facts about braille, a language that is both fascinating and important to learn about.

  • State Governments Sponsor These Online Lessons and Tests in the USA – So What Does The Future Hold? from John S. Oliver, provides a very interesting infographic that looks at some of the quirkier state sponsored online lessons (such as decontamination courses, alongside foster care lessons). The internet is providing a platform for such things, and it’s great that governments are getting involved. What kind of wacky lessons do you think will arise next?

  • SEO (search engine optimisation) is now a key way for businesses to ensure they are seen on the internet – hence the need for its inclusion in any business plans. However, with Google becoming more complex, and the online environment more competitive, SEO is now more complicated than ever. Content is one of the most important parts of the whole process. So, how can you write content for a SEO? Here are ten ways to improve your page ranking through creating relevant content and implementing effective tactics. A big thanks to Kate White for this informative piece.

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:

  • Scratchpad has been mentioned several times on Ethos. This positive learning initiative is really finding strength and momentum of late. Take a look at the July newsletter to find out all about the coding, robotics and electronics fun – Minecraft, 3D printers and the student of the month.

  • A Framework: 21st century student outcomes and support systems revisits a post Heather Eccles wrote a while back exploring a particular diagram that presents “a holistic view of 21st century teaching and learning that combines a discrete focus on 21st century student outcomes (a blending of specific skills, content knowledge, expertise and literacies) with innovative support systems to help students master the multi-dimensional abilities required of them in the 21st century”. This diagram really helps to lay out a lot of elements in a simple, visual manner.

  • The OECD reports are always really great to dip into and read. As part of its ongoing work, this report and associated study aimed “to measure and improve adult skills around the world”. As such, the OECD “tested the skills of more than 50,000 16 to 65 year-olds in Chile, Greece, Indonesia (Jakarta), Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Singapore, Slovenia and Turkey”. This post (Improving skills to build fairer more inclusive societies) gives a great video run down, a link to read the study, and pulls out some of the stats discovered about New Zealand in the study (some of which are pretty impressive).

  • Making the most of learning and teaching online: Fostering skills and strategies to stay safe – It is never too early, or too late, to teach safe online habits. As such, there should be age-appropriate, engaging, interactive, multimodal safety sessions for every student in every school, college, and university. Tailoring a method to deliver these lessons is much more effective than pure policing, censoring or locking down. The above link offers further information, advice and links of doing this in an appropriate, accurate manner.

Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1324 in total), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • Philip Patston is best recognised for his ten-year career as a comedian and entertainer, but it’s his passion for social change that is getting him noticed. An alumni of the New Zealand Social Entrepreneur Fellowship, Philip is a passionate believer that we have the opportunity to reimagine diversity. In this video (Reinventing labels and reimagining diversity) Philip talks about engaging people to achieve positive social change by reinventing the labels with which we categorise ourselves and each other.

  • This talk was given at a local TEDx event and asks ‘What do Quakers and punk rockers have in common’? Tech entrepreneur Geoff DiMasi explores the shared values of two unlikely groups in this talk about using business as a force for good.

  • Does the media control our brains?…. Probably not, but you can’t argue that the media–news, entertainment, even educational media–is able to handily deliver messages which impact the way we see the world.  In But wait: How DOES the media tell you what to think?, the question is: as the media is bringing information and insight to us, and that info-slash-insight is having some kind of impact on our thoughts and actions, how exactly does that happen?

  • Many people who do brilliantly at school turn out not to do so well at life. Why? This video, Success at School vs. Success at Life, takes a deeper look.

  • Founded on principles of Leonard Bernstein, Artful Learning is a school improvement model that stimulates and deepens academic learning through the Arts. Learn more: The Artful Learning Model.

  • A little bit of a challenge for you – This is the simple riddle that 50% of Harvard students get wrong. Let us know how you get on.

  • In History as a Cure for Our Times the perception that we are living in deeply, uncommonly troubled and crazy times is explored. We should take a measure of consolation from the example of history, that teaches us that humans have always been cruel and mad – but that civilisation has progressed nevertheless.


  • Google has had an influx of updates and upgrades recently. In Google tools get some cool new functions – we’ve picked out the features that have stood out for us, and explained them a little – hope it helps!

  • Introductory guide to online tutoring skills links to a fantastic guide Clive Shepherd has put together on the roles involved in. It starts by offering three separate roles and then unpacking each individually.

  • If you are a fan of TED Talks you are likely to have come across, and / or used the TED-Ed channel in YouTube. This is an initiative that encourages educators to capture ‘teaching moments’ via video, and then work with animators to create videos for education. This aims to “amplify the voices of great educators around the world”. This great little video looks at the project a little more in depth. A great opportunity for any educators or animators to get involved in and share their skills.

  • De-Hub: Innovation in distance education introduces Distance Education Hub. This  is an online space where the aim is to bring academics together around the subject of distance education. The idea is to create an environment where relationships are built, knowledge shared and pooled, and collaboration encouraged, so that a research agenda can be created on the international scene. The community has an active presence on Wikieducator, and is building a database around distance education which compiles international indices and journals. A real must visit tool for any distance educators.


  • Are you looking for a job leading up a technology centre in Auckland? – well this may be the perfect opportunity. One of our favourite learning initiatives, Scratchpad, are looking for a Centre Manager for their St. Lukes centre. The company focuses on helping students love, use, and program technology. The role involves time with the students and overseeing their progress, as well as management and marketing of the centre and brand. See the above link for further details.

What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including 2016 International Conference on Education, Psychology and Social Sciences, taking place in Kuala Lumpur on August 5th.

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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