Comments, the real conversation.

What innovations in education do you think have been important recently? and Who would be the innovators in education you’d most like to meet and why?  These questions were posed to me by Christine in response to my last blog post “Nothing but 5”.  I will most definitely be answering the two questions posed to me by Christine in this post but I am also going to talk about the growth of blogging as one way dialogue.  A recent post by Scott McLeod on his blog Dangerously Irrelevant (a definite must read blog) talked about the golden era of blogging where the post would only be the start of the conversation.  The comments would continue the conversation and there would be a great deal of engagement with the original ideas.  I know myself that I don’t engage with great blog posts as much as I should.  Scott is right when he says that maybe it is due to the proliferation of other social mediums.  Is it fatigue or information overload?  Is it both?  I am lucky enough to contribute to the LearnEnabling website with a group of educators that I admire beyond belief.  The site started with a conversation with Nick Jackson (@largerama) and myself and grew to be a platform for sharing stories about enabling learning in an eLearning role.  Each member of the group takes it in turn to write a post every fortnight and the power of the site for me is that this is only the conversation starter.  The comments are often nearly posts themselves and we strive to challenge each other’s thinking.  I wrote a post about Digital Watering holes for students and the push from schools for students to gather online in an LMS.  The below comments are just a sample of the dialogue that happens when we connect with each other’s thoughts.

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I myself am guilty as charged when it comes to simply tweeting or retweeting a great post.  Is it laziness or information overload?  I’m not sure.  My action to correct this is to comment on a post a day this week and then compile them at the end of the week as a reflective piece.  I’m keen to see what posts jump out at me.  Now before I forget Christine, here is my response to your questions.

What innovations in education do you think have been important recently?

This is really a challenging question because I can only speak to my context.  What has been innovative at my school?  Personally the making, prototyping and creating capacities afforded by technology have been the greatest innovation at my school.  I have students designing their own combustion engine and 3D printing the design, students making guitars that work using Makey Makeys and students creating 3D experiences for Virtual reality.  The tools available now to bring an idea to life are just mind blowing and the landscape will only keep getting better.

Who would be the innovators in education you’d most like to meet and why?

This is always students.  Why?  They are innovative in spite of education and this makes me smile and sad at the same time.  I started a blog series on our school blog after being inspired by the learning of one of our students.  You can read more about Jordan’s story here.

Now I hope reading this inspires you to reach out and comment on blog posts that get you thinking.  Engage further with the conversation and see where it will take you.

As always, thanks for reading.


7 thoughts on “Comments, the real conversation.

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  1. Steve as well as responding to my questions you have posed a few of your own, that resonate with me. I have had a number of discussions recently with colleagues about ways to engage with teachers in two-way dialogue in a time where opportunities for teachers to meet professionally with other teachers face-to-face outside their own schools seem to be diminishing.

    When I was a young teacher (a while back now), PDs, seminars, meetings and conferences were seized upon as great opportunities to meet with other teachers to consider, discuss and debate key issues, strategies, big ideas in education. Generally these were in our own time and at our own expense, but In the circles I mixed in, mostly related to literacy, the opportunities were taken up regularly by large numbers of teachers. Yes, I know times change and perhaps teaching was simpler, less beauracratic . . . but the conversations, sharng and debating of ideas, are all still important. There are I know some very well attended teachmeets, and other PLNs, but the days of conferences being attended by hundreds of teachers seem to she gone.

    Of course these days we can all engage in two-way dialogue via all sorts of social media tools, including blogs – surely a perfect way to discuss, debate and share. Yet it seems most of us prefer to read and reflect rather than contribute. Is it to do with putting ourselves on the line? lack of time – are we all subscribed to too many feeds across so many diverse channels covering diverse topics, leaving no time to read them all, much less respond? I know I have recently been culling my feeds, trying to find the key ones, that stretch my thinking in such a way that they demand my input, the ones that get me thinking and help me to contribute to improvised teaching and learning capacity in some way.

    Steve I loved your responses to my questions about innovation and innovators. The authentic learning that your students engage in sounds inspiring. I’m keen to know how they make decisions about what they will design and create. I’m also wondering how you manage the need for formal assessment of their wonderful work int his age of data collection. How involved in assessment are the students of their own learning?

    i am especially interested in knowing more about how your students are creating 3D experiences for virtual reality, and how these outputs are put to use. What great futures your creators and makers will have – so many skills to draw upon as they encounter a dynamic and changing world.

    It would be great to have your students participating and presenting at next year’s Screen Futures Summit and Youth Festival, so other educators and young people can see and hear about their innovations.


    1. Hi Christine, thank you for the post prompt and for the great reply. We are inundated with learning opportunities (both online and face to face) these days and it can dilute the conversation. I too have been looking through my feeds and weeding out the content that doesn’t challenge my thinking. In fact I have been then spending more time sorting through my digital filing cabinet and reengaging with content that I have connected with in the past. In the fire hydrant era of information, I’m trying to stop and smell the roses more. In regards to the innovative students, these projects are all voluntary projects done by student Digital leaders and Student Techs. I’m working on building curriculum and subsequently assessment around them but at the moment I’m more concerned with igniting passion, providing avenues for creativity and participating in co-learning. An interesting discussion I had with Richard Olsen (@richardolsen) the other day was around assessing creativity. I would love to know your thoughts. Can creativity be assessed? If so, what measures do you use? Thanks for commenting Christine.

  2. The 1% rule says that most readers will just consume your content, maybe 10% will share it, but only 1% will actually interact with / comment on it. So unless we’ve got a lot of traffic or write about something that REALLY grabs people, I’m afraid we’ll have to settle for a few comments here and there and be grateful that we have them, particularly given the proliferation of other channels to interact. (blogs don’t have quite the ‘interaction compared to static web sites’ monopoly they used to…)

    Which is too bad because the opportunities for dialogue across time and distance are incredibly powerful for educators.

    Thanks for a great post and for extending the conversation over here, Steve. I’m looking forward to reading your reflections later this week!

    1. Thanks Scott, your post really stopped me in my tracks. This is on the back of exploring the use of Voxer with educators like Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs) and Corinne Campbell (@corisel) has brought back the two way dialogue for me. For me, blogging is part reflective thinking and part “what do I think” and you are right with the 1% rule. Sometimes what I write might be flipped over in it’s first instance but through a dialogue could evolve to be something interesting and co-created. Thank you for taking the time to comment and as always, thank you for your sharing online.

  3. Ah we are back at this old chestnut. Tom Barrett and Ewan McIntosh wrote similar posts at the start of the year. I agree with Scott that an opportunity is missed by not engaging in conversation. However, I also think that we miss some of the nuances associated with being a connected educator when we suggest that everyone must do this or that. Do I think that EVERYONE should Vox. Probably not. Do I think EVERYONE should Tweet. Probably not. However, as you and I explored, there are numerous ways to engage with voices. What concerns me is that there are some who are seemingly stuck in silos and are not engaging in anyway with the ‘room’. I am continually challenged by David White’s notion of the ‘elegant lurker’. I DO think that EVERYONE should at least be a lurker.

    I also rabbited on about this elsewhere (

    1. For me, it is the old adage “if everyone is talking, who is listening?” I guess I am at the point in my connected journey that I want more engagement and dialogue. Initially my blog was written to just capture reflection but my evolution now desires more. I’m interested in your response to my response and so on and no matter what the medium is, this is the case. I like the notion of the ‘elegant lurker’ as I think lurking is pivotal to finding conversations that resonate but at some point, a person needs to contribute. The room is richer when that is the case.

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