Virtual School Meanderings

January 31, 2018

Your Ethos Community Newsletter for January Inbox

And one for my Kiwi readers to end the day.

Your newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – January 2018

Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,

And here we are again, sitting at the end of January, with another year ahead of us. We have survived the first few weeks of getting used to those early mornings again. We farewelled mid-day naps, constant snacking and mid-afternoon beers.

How has the return to work treated you? While it may never be easy to give up complete freedom, when you’re happy and engaged at work, it shouldn’t be too drastically traumatic. According to a study, blogged by Sarah Whiting, only 14% of Kiwis felt truly engaged by their jobs. This is a shocking and quite sad statistic. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with the blog also suggesting that if a little time and effort is sunk in to altering this then things can always change (and luckily she gives some suggestions on strategies to do this).

I guess this is something that travels in to education as well. How do we ensure students aren’t simply seeing formal learning as a chore that must be done, but are actually having fun, actively learning and thriving in the classroom? It’s also important to instill in children that they have the ability to do what they please with their life, which can also mean breaking the 9-5 work place mould.

This is something millennials seem to be trying to tackle, with the increase in things like remote work. Something that is well-aided by technology. However, it’s a mould that doesn’t seem to be able to truly change – with most people being confined by society’s model of what’s right. And in a lot of ways it’s just as well, because after all, how would we function without a majority workforce?

Simon Sinek notes that one of the issues with millennials is that they’ve been consistently told they can achieve whatever they want, to follow their dreams, but have never been informed of the hard work that must go in behind the scenes. But surely there is a middle ground? Surely we can have both work ethic and happiness?

What are your thoughts on this? How do you think people should approach work to make sure they are both secure and happy? And how do you think society can be flexible to ensure workers are happier, engaged and more productive? And how do we start to teach these values from a young age? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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 interesting posts. Please jump into the conversations and feel free to ask questions.

  • How happy are we in our jobs? Well, not very according to a recent survey from Gallup. The research found that of the adults who worked full time for an employer, on average, only 15% felt engaged (in terms of being highly involved and enthusiastic) in what they do. NZ/Aus came in just below this average with 14% engagement. Luckily, the report looks to try to solve the issue, not just identify it. However, it does mean a whole lot of commitment to change from all parties. One of the suggestions is a move towards a workforce that focuses on people rather than systems and allows people to identify and work to their own strengths. To read the report and give your input, take a look at this post: Untapped potential. Thanks to Sarah Whiting for finding this research.

  • John Owen looks at a TED talk from the talented Amanda Palmer. Amanda discusses the possibility of surviving as an artist in the online environment. The answer, she believes, is making music freely available and simply asking their fans to pay. Is this something you would participate in as a consumer? Watch the video and see what you think – The art of asking.

  • Humans and machines are often compared. Is this the correct way of looking at things or should we be trying our best to merge the two to ensure we take advantage of both skill sets? Nigel Bailey links us to an article that supposes technology should simply be an extension on the human brain and can, in fact, make it more powerful than ever. Our brains extended looks at how educators should be integrating technology into the curriculum to help this power become a reality.

  • Towards a multiversity: A keynote session with Professor Paul Bacsich from the late, and much missed, Ed Flagg, who looked at a keynote speech from Professor Paul Bacsich at the 2012 Distance Education Association New Zealand (DAENZ) conference in Wellington. Professor Bacsich, from the University of Canterbury, provided a grand overview of the state of eLearning on a global perspective, providing a brief critique and some suggestions about how to move beyond the current landscape: the ‘Multiversity’.

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:

  • Have you noticed how, when you articulate things – either in a verbal or written form – it feels clearer in your head? Sometimes you may write or say something that you weren’t expecting. There is also evidence from psychology and neuroscience that talking through traumatic experiences, issues, and challenges, shifts it from the amygdala to the frontal lobe; in other words from the instinctual part of your brain to the processing part of your brain – which is on of the reasons that coaching can be so powerful. However, if, for whatever reason, you aren’t working with a coach, you may be interested in self authoring. Find out more in this blog.

  • Promoting the rights of youth – The Freechild Project is now Freechild Institute. In order to accurately reflect its broad commitment to educating youth and adults, Freechild Project leaders have decided to rename the organization. Starting in January 2018, the organization will now be referred to as Freechild Institute. In 2001, Freechild founder Adam Fletcher was supporting a group of youth in Olympia, Washington, who were organizing to promote youth rights. Citing educator A.S. Neill’s question, “How will free children fit into an unfree society?,” the group suggested Fletcher call his emerging project “freechild.” Since then, Freechild has become an international phenomenon, acting as a free database for youth changing the world. Providing more than two dozen free publications and hundreds of teaching tools online, Fletcher has provided training and workshops and keynote speeches on behalf of Freechild.

  • E-Learning can be a daunting subject, with many different micro areas. Hazel addresses some of the common questions that arise with some helpful resources and blogs. Take a look:  Answers to tough questions about eLearning.

  • Great story here (Māori and Pasifika achievement at secondary school) that was shared earlier this month on Radio NZ National, highlighting the absolute importance of learning being culturally grounded. The story focuses on how an Auckland secondary school has made dramatic improvements in the achievement rates of its Maori and Pacific students. With Brian Evans – Principal of Kelston Boys High School in West Auckland, which has seen a marked improvement in the NCEA pass rates for its Maori and Pacific students, who make up three quarters of the school roll.

Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos (1,607 in total – thanks as always to John S Oliver for his awesome contributions), these are a just few of the highlights – there were plenty more this month, so make sure to check them out.

  • Goofy – Teachers are people too – a good, silly watch for those days when you feel that students may forget.

  • Can you solve the dark coin riddle? – Lisa Winer – a little riddle to keep the brain ticking.

  • Higher education is expensive, so people want to get the best deal— a high quality college education at a low cost. This is similar in the way which many for-profit colleges and universities advertise themselves. Many students soon found that the cost of upward mobility through certain for-profit institutions wasn’t the answer for them. These schools saw a huge jump in enrollment during the 2000s. Fueled by a struggling economy and the expansion of federal financial aid for college, many students saw the advertisements of for-profit schools as attainable and affordable. But almost two decade later, there are new regulations to reign in the predatory schools profiting off student debt. And today, over a dozen for-profit colleges in the US (ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges, Sanford Brown, and others) have closed their doors for good. Explore more in The battle over for-profit colleges, explained.

  • And staying on that topic…. While the cost of college education in the US has reached record highs, Germany has abandoned tuition fees altogether for German and international students alike. BBC’s Franz Strasser looks at the increasing number of Americans who are taking advantage and saving tens of thousands of dollars to get their degrees.

  • Thomas Sowell is an American economist, turned social theorist, political philosopher, and author. He is currently Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. In this segment he explains how geography influences culture. Full video from May, 1998, quoted under fair use.

  • In 1998, 42% of Iceland’s 15 and 16 year-olds reported that they had got drunk in the past 30 days. By 2016, though, this figure had fallen to just 5% and drug use and smoking had also sharply declined. The action plan that led to this dramatic success is sometimes called “the Icelandic Model” – and strikingly, it does not focus on tighter policing or awareness campaigns to warn children off bad habits. Instead, top researchers collaborate closely with communities on initiatives like parental pledges and night-time patrols after dark, while the government invests in recreational facilities. But is being a teenager in Iceland still fun? Let’s find out; How Iceland saved its teenagers


  • Would you like to know how to create an interactive diagram in Google Slides? Well you’re in luck. Richard Byrne (Free Technology for Teachers) shared this ‘how to’ resource, which you may find useful. Richard writes: “Google Slides has a lot of capabilities that often go overlooked. One of those capabilities is the option to link slides so that viewers don’t have to necessarily see them in a chronological sequence. By linking slides you can create an interactive diagram in Google Slides. In this video I demonstrate how to create an interactive diagram in Google Slides”.

What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including next year’s SoTEL Symposium 2018 taking place in Auckland on February 15.

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

Nāku iti nei, faafetai lava, and warm regards


Charlotte Caines
Community Coordinator
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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