A new start

September 4th, 2018


So as of yesterday I am officially Professor/Head of Open Education in
the National Institute for Digital Learning at Dublin City University.
There has been a lot to organise in advance. Getting my PPS number
(which was very stressful), securing a flat (perfect location, tiny
but nice) and of course bringing all the stuff I will need over from
the UK. My initial two days have involved finding my feet and meeting
people, as well as an outline from the Director, Mark Brown, of the
kinds of things I will lead on or be involved with over the next few
months. It was particularly nice to meet with members of the Open
Education Unit yesterday and I plan one to one meetings with each of
them over the coming months. Technology wise I am almost set up. I
have a DCU email account, a new laptop and an Irish phone. This is one
of the busiest times of the year as the university gears up for the
arrival of the new students. An important event associated with this
is the Welcome day for our Open Education/DCU Connect students on
Saturday 29th September. I’m really looking forward to meeting the new

Ar aghaidh agus os a chionn!

Farewell to a lovely person…

August 8th, 2018



I was very sorry to hear today of the death of Ingeborg Boe. She was a leading light in the field of e-learning and a lovely woman and she will be sorely missed by our community. I have many fond memories of her, she was always cheerful and smilie. Her son wrote a lovely tribute to her on facebook.  She had suffered with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of it’s ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. Her son asked that rather than send flowers, people might like to make a donation here. The picture is one I took of Ingeborg at the EFQUEL conference in Granada in 2012. She was actively involved in both EFQUEL and the EDEN communities. My thoughts are with her family at this difficult time.

All change…

July 17th, 2018


Image source

I have really enjoyed doing consultancy over the past couple of years, lots of interesting and varied work with clients from Ireland to Australia! I have also been lucky enough to be involved in a range of fascinating e-learning projects over the years, but I am keen now to take up a position where my expertise can make a difference in practice. I have always seen the consultancy work as something of a transition phase until something I really wanted to do came along… and it has!

In September I take up a new position as head and professor of the Open Education Unit, located in the National Institute for Digital Learning (NIDL) at Dublin City University (DCU). I have been a visiting professor with NIDL for a number of years and have been very impressed with how the Institute has developed and blossomed. The post will entail working with the NIDL team and the faculties to expand online provision through the University’s DCU ConnectEd platform. In addition to the Open Education Unit, NIDL has two other units; the Ideas Lab and the Teaching Enhancement Unit. Each of the units has distinct areas of interest:


The Open Education Unit focus is to support the design, delivery and effective management of distinctive and transformative online learning experiences for online distance students. DCU has a long history of opening up access to higher education through distance provision and I’m really looking forward to building on this tradition in working with the Open Education team.


The Teaching Enhancement Unit focus is to support the design, development and evaluation of distinctive and transformative professional learning experiences for staff. Helping DCU staff harness the potential of blended learning for campus-based students is a major aspect of the TEU’s work.


The Ideas Lab focus is to support the design, development and research of new and emerging models of blended, online and digital (BOLD) education with the potential to help transform lives and societies. Notably this year the Ideas Lab has led DCU’s Irish Language and Culture MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform which I’m told have attracted over 20,000 learners from more than 120 countries.


I’m very much looking forward to working with others in NIDL and staff across the University to build on DCU’s already substantial presence in digital learning. My new role will also provide an exciting opportunity to contribute to NIDL’s growing research programme and support planning and preparations for next year’s ICDE World Conference on Online Learning which DCU is hosting in November.


Le gach dea ghui


Pros and cons of EdTech

June 26th, 2018

screen-shot-2018-06-26-at-141515.png Image source

Got an interesting email about a guide to the pros and cons of educational technology, which apparently builds on my blog post on this topic from sometime back. Some of the benefits of using technology in the classroom include:

  • Making learning more fun
  • Personalising the education experience
  • Instant access to knowledge
  • Facilitates collaboration amongst peers
  • Reflects the real world of work
  • Can make things easier for teachers

Some of the downsides include:

  • Lack of support
  • Extra cost
  • A source of distraction
  • Health concerns
  • Not inclusive

Mapping tools to types of activity

May 15th, 2018


Image source 


As part of a three-day CLICKS workshop on Learning Design I created a new section on tools to support diferent types of activities. I classified them as tools to support the following types of activities:

  • Presentation
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Brainstorming and concept mapping
  • Reflection
  • Feedback
  • Assessment
  • Recording
  • Voting
  • Annotation
  • Curation
  • File sharing

Table 1 lists examples of tools under each category. I also provided tips and hints for ensuring these tools are well used. For presentations I suggested the following. Include an outline for the talk. Keep text short. Add a relevant image with a URL to the source. Use bitly/com to shorten URLs. Use an appropriate background so there is a contrast with the text. Check spelling and grammar. Have a logical structure and a clear message. Include a summary and if relevant include references.  


For supporting effective moderation I suggested the following. Have a clear introduction. Avoid questions that are likely to lead to yes/no answers.  Guide the discussion and summarise at key points and encourage reflection. Keep an eye on back channels. Keep to time and consider recording key points.


Collaboration is about working with others to achieve a common goal, with a shared vision and purpose. I suggested the following as the benefits of working collaboratively. Firstly, it is important to have clear communication, with trust and respect. Secondly, it is useful to assign roles and have a clear division of labour.


I listed the following as the benefits of brainstorming and concept mapping. Firstly, it is useful as a way of generating ideas on a topic. Secondly, it can be done individually or as a group. Thirdly, it is a way of building on the ideas of others. Fourthly, ideas can be grouped. Finally it is a way of generating solutions to a problem.


Thinking about and reflecting on what you have learnt is known to be an important aspect of learning; I suggested the following benefits of reflection. An online journal or blog can be to collect ideas and thoughts. It is a mechanism to relate new concepts to prior experiences, and a means of critically evaluating of the learning experience. It can lead to the development of an action plan.


There are four types of feedback: diagnostic, formative, summative and peer review. Benefits include the fact that it can help learners understand and gives them guidance on how to improve their learning. It is also a mechanism to have evidence of achievement of learning outcomes, leading to accreditation.


Recording can bring resources to life; audio and video can enhance the text. Students can listen/watch numerous times, can stop and rewind and can take notes. Video can be used to provide a welcoming message or to demonstrate something. Audio can be used to record a lecture or to provide personalised feedback.


Another way of introducing interactivity is by using vorting or response tools. These can be used to check class understanding, to provide formative feedback, to check students’ preparation for a class, or can be used to stimulate debate. Arguably they not only make lectures more interactive, but also to enhance learning and motivation. Feedback from students can be used to adapt content to meet their particular needs.


Annotation is a powerful tool for enably deeper and more active forms of reading, which is likely to result in more knowledge being retained. Students can add questions, comments, links, and keywords, and can highlight text.


The amount of information available on the web is bewildering. Curation is a good way of dealing with this. It is possible to co-located related resources and these can be shared with others.


Finally, file sharing tools can be used to share resources with specific people or make them available to anyone with a link. Some tools enable you to see how many people have viewed or downloaded resources. File sharing means that the resources can be accessed from anyway and is a good means of backup.  


Table Summary of how tools can be used to support different types of activities

Type of activity




Facebook live


Google drive and classroom

Google slides









Google sheets


Kanban Trello

Google wiki

Brainstorming and concept mapping









Annotated word files

Audio feedback


E-portfolios: word, google drive, dropbox, pathbrite







Facebook poll



Survey monkey








File sharing

Drop box


Google drive


Table 2 maps various tools to the 7Cs of Learning Design.

Table 2: Mapping the 7Cs to activities and tools





How to ruin a course







Google drive


Find and collate resources




Create resources



Google slides



iPhone audio or video




File sharing

Google drive or classroom





Students- students

Students – broader community





Google sheets


Joint project work

Group work management

Working up ideas


Kanban Trello

Google wiki







Wordpress or Edublogger



Annotated word file

Audio feedback



Facebook poll



Survey monkey


Activity profile

Complete the excel spreadsheet and take a picture of it




Complete on a flipchart and take a picture of it


Feedback from learners





Tools for different types of activities

May 9th, 2018

Mapping 7 cs_to activities_and_tools from Grainne Conole

As part of my workshop I developed a hand out on tools for different types of activities.

The future of education

March 13th, 2018



I recently did a really interesting piece of work for the Open Universities Australia looking at key future trends in education. The piece was part of a larger report, which has just been released. Donna Gallagher was the lead on the project. My section focused on four key topics that are likely to shape the education sector in the next five years. The topics were:

  • The future of work and the skills needed.
  • How the needs of new consumers may change education.
  • Whether universities are accommodating the needs of older consumers in terms of their continuing education and the new skills and workflows they need to develop that will be relevant to them professionally and socially.
  • How blockchain technology will impact on the market in terms of transportability of qualifications, how will blockchain impact the market.

The intended audience is academics at all levels within a university and professional university staff such as course coordinators and learning developers. This evidence-based report will enable OUA to develop its portfolio strategy ensuring that it is built on a foundation of knowledge about the broader educational and societal context it operates in.


Future of work

By 2030 automation (robotics and Artificial Intelligence), globalisation and flexibility will change what we do in every job.[1] As technology reduces the need for workers to complete routine, manual tasks they will spend more time focusing on people, solving more strategic problems and thinking creatively. Digital talent platforms[2] have the potential to improve the ways workers and jobs are matched. Many employers say they cannot find enough workers with the skills they need.[3] This is particularly problematic in the IT and STEM industries.


Traditional, linear career trajectories are rapidly becoming antiquated. Digital technologies are creating new opportunities; in terms of digitization of: assets, operations and the workforce. These changes have a number of implications. Firstly, many activities that workers are carrying out today have the potential to be automated. Secondly, digital technologies offer a potential threat but also potential opportunities. Thirdly, we are teaching leaners for an uncertain future to do jobs that don’t even exist today. These raise a number of issues. Firstly, what skills are needed in the future and are universities addressing future requirements? Secondly, how should we design and deliver courses to meet these future needs? We need to move beyond knowledge recall to teaching learners the skills and capabilities they need to be lifelong learners, skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication and team work.[5] 

Deloitte has introduced a fully customized, interactive, game-based assessment as part of their application process.[6] The focus is on simulating real-life work scenarios that applicants can expect to encounter at Deloitte. The approach demonstrates that Deloitte recognizes that the next generation is technology savvy and expects more active and personalized learning experiences.



Learners are increasingly demanding, and want personalized and flexible learning opportunities and have been referred to as the I Want What I Want When I Want It (IWWIWWIWI) generation. This raises the question of how universities can ensure that they are meeting these needs. There is a dichotomy in that university education is becoming more expensive and at the same time information is more ubiquitous.[7] Many are arguing that we do not need a degree to acquire the knowledge and creativity required to be successful and gain meaningful employment.

New initiatives are arising to address this such as ‘uncollege’, which aims to help learners identify areas of interest and to accelerate their learning.[9] It is a social movement that aims to change the notion that going to college is the only path to success. Furthermore, we are seeing an unbundling of education.[10] Learners increasingly do not want to do full three-year degrees; they want bite size chunks of learning. They may choose to pay for: i) quality assured learning materials, ii) learning support, iii) a guided learning pathway, or iv) accreditation. Universities need to shift from offering a specific one-time experience to providing lifelong opportunities to enable learners to acquire skills useful across multiple careers.[11] Different learners will have different needs and will therefore choose different components. In addition, learners are increasingly mixing formal educational offering with free materials and courses, available through Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). As a result new forms of recognition of learning and accreditation are emerging, such as digital badges, certificates of participation/completion, and Accreditation of Prior Learning (APEL). The OpenCred project provides a summary of these.[12] It articulates a number of factors associated with non-formal learning (identity verification, supervised assessment, quality assurance, etc.).


Digital apprenticeships are an interesting new development in vocational Higher Education.[13] Degree apprenticeships combine university study and workplace learning to enable apprentices to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree. An apprentice has full-time employment status rather than student status, and receives at least an apprentice’s minimum wage. Degree apprenticeships are co-designed by employers ensuring that apprentices are equipped with the skills employers need and boost their employment prospects. Degree apprentices do not pay for training costs or student fees and are not eligible for student loans.


Changing ageing

We live in an increasingly ageing society.[14] People are more likely to have multiple careers and hence need to become lifelong learners to adapt to changing circumstances and develop new skills.[15] Furthermore, many choose to retire early, take part-time work, or be self-employed; prioritizing their work/life balance. Lifelong learning is important for a number of reasons. Firstly, educational investments are an economic imperative and on going learning and skills development is essential to surviving economic and technological disruption. Secondly, learning is positive for health. Research has shown, for example, that learning to play a new instrument can offset cognitive decline, and learning difficult new skills in older age is associated with improved memory. Thirdly, being open and curious has profound personal and professional benefits. Fourthly, our capacity for learning is a cornerstone of human flourishing and motivation.[16] Melbourne University have announced an initiative to offer lifelong learning opportunities for professionals across all academic areas for people at all stages of their career. Providing a rationale for the initiative, the Vice Chancellor stated that ‘radical developments in the technology landscape, primarily associated with the rise of the internet and associated digital media and tools, have opened up new possibilities in the provision of, participation in, and access to, education’.[18] A range of delivery models are being used, including campus-based intensive, online-learning and custom modes of delivery.


Transportability of credentials

To support more flexible career pathways and lifelong learning, opportunities for learning need to be available from a variety of formal, informal and non-formal settings. As mentioned earlier digital badges and certificates of participation/completion are increasingly being used to recognize learning in non-formal and informal contexts. Trying to collate learning across these different spaces is challenging. Blockchain education is being heralded by many as the next big thing in education.[19] A blockchain can be described as a digital ledge. Or more succinctly:


The blockchain is a distributed database that provides an unalterable, (semi-)public record of digital transactions. Each block aggregates a timestamped batch of transactions to be included in the ledger – or rather, in the blockchain. Each block is identified by a cryptographic signature. These blocks are all back-linked; that is, they refer to the signature of the previous block in the chain, and that chain can be traced all the way back to the very first block created. As such, the blockchain contains an un-editable record of all the transactions made.[20]


EduCoin was an education-oriented cryptocurrency. It aimed to help students, educators and third parties make secure transactions without fees, rates or long approval times. Blockchain startups are exploring things like identity management and smart contracts. In terms of education, one of the benefits of blockchains is the notion of ‘learning is earning’. The ledger tracks everything someone has learned in units called EduBlocks, each represents a number of hours of learning but it is also possible to earn them from individuals or groups.  A key benefit of the blockchain is that it can be used to better manage assessment, credentials and transcripts.

A number of institutions are exploring blockchains, including: the MIT Media Lab, the University of Nicosia, the OU UK and Holberton School.[22] The distributed, decentralised nature of blockchains is perceived as providing opportunities to disrupt traditional products and services, along with the permanence of the blockchain record and the ability to run smart contracts. The advantages of blockchains include: self-sovereignty, trust, transparency/provenance, immutability, disintermediation, and collaboration. Although still in their infancy, the implications include: accelerating the end of paper-based certificates, allowing users to automatically verify the validity of certificates, and give users ownership.


The four topics considered represent some of the key changes and associated challenges that are likely to impact on education in the near future. They demonstrate that we are operating in a complex, changing and dynamic context, with education offerings across a spectrum from free resources and courses through to traditional formal educational offerings. To meet future needs learners need to develop new skills and competences, along with digital and academic skills to become lifelong learners, enabling them to take control of both their chosen learning pathways and collation of accreditation to demonstrate their achievement of learning outcomes. Traditional educational institutions need to radically change to meet these needs. They will need to develop a more flexible and agile portfolio of offerings that are targeted at the specific needs of different learners from the IWWIWWIWI generation through to older learners. They will need to consider what is distinctive about their learner experience in a world of information abundance and free resources and courses.



[1] https://www.fya.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/FYA_TheNewWorkSmarts_July2017.pdf


[2] Connect individuals with work opportunities, examples include LinkedIn and Monster.com


[3] https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/technology-jobs-and-the-future-of-work


[4] https://www.slideshare.net/Incisive_Events/jacob-morgan-the-future-of-work


[5] https://www.curriculum.org/secretariat/files/Sept30TLConfronting.pdf


[6] https://www.accountantsdaily.com.au/professional-development/8935-deloitte-reinvents-graduate-recruitment-process


[7] http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/lisa-portolan/to-what-degree-will-universities-be-relevant-in-future_a_22125822/


[8] https://disruptivedigital.wordpress.com/multi-channel-engagement-platforms/


[9] https://www.uncollege.org/


[10] http://e4innovation.com/?p=952




[12] http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC96968/lfna27660enn.pdf


[13] http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/policy-and-analysis/reports/downloads/FutureGrowthDegreeApprenticeships.pdf


[14] https://www.ageing.ox.ac.uk/files/Future_of_Ageing_Report.pdf


[15] https://www.economist.com/news/special-report/21714169-technological-change-demands-stronger-and-more-continuous-connections-between-education


[16] https://hbr.org/2017/02/lifelong-learning-is-good-for-your-health-your-wallet-and-your-social-life


[17] https://www.slideshare.net/damom7/keeping-in-touch-tablets-use-by-older-adults


[18] http://campusmorningmail.com.au/news/another-davis-innovation-at-the-university-of-melbourne/?utm_campaign=website&utm_source=sendgrid.com&utm_medium=email


[19] http://www.youareoxygen.com/2017/11/08/blockchain-hype-hope/


[20] http://hackeducation.com/2016/04/07/blockchain-education-guide


[21] http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/bitstream/JRC108255/jrc108255_blockchain_in_education%281%29.pdf


[22] http://hackeducation.com/2016/04/07/blockchain-education-guide

OUA Marketing Opportunities Report

February 22nd, 2018


Image source 

In January I did some work for the Open University of Australia for their Marketing Opportunities Overview. Open Universities Australia’s (OUA) focus is on the opportunities associated with OUA’s digital marketplace and growing the participation of Australian Universities to enable greater choice for more students. The document aims to: 

  • Provide insights in to what their students are looking for, as well as what is happening in the broader landscape to assist with planning and decision making around new programs for 2019.
  • Provide information on doing business with OUA and the various mechanisms we have in place?to encourage greater participation in the marketplace.

My section was on explore the market horizon and in particular how an evolving technology, combined with an increasingly sophisticated consumer, continues to shape the environment in which education is delivered. My contact at OUA sent me the proofs to the report; it is certainly substantial and has lots of interesting and insightful material. The report should be out next mouth after which I hope I can write a blog post summarizing my section. 

International Women’s Day

February 22nd, 2018



Debbie Holley from Bournemouth University has asked me to give a talk at their International Women’s Day on 8th March. I remember doing something very similar at Bath Spa University a few years ago. In the talk I reflected on the key moments and challenges associated with my career and in particular the transition from Chemistry to e-learning. It was a really interesting talk to do; it was nice to have the opportunity to reflect on my career. Overall I have been extremely lucky; I have been involved with great project, worked with fantastic people and traveled all over the world. Talking to Debbie this morning about the focus of the talk, she asked me to articulate the challenges and opportunities associated with my work and my career. She also wants me to emphasis the importance and value of being part of an international community of peers, through conferences and relevant professional bodies. To this I would add the value of using social media effectively, and certainly I value my network of colleagues and friends through social media such as facebook and Twitter. I’m really looking forward to the event and hope there will be time to have a conversation after the talk. 

Transforming education

February 9th, 2018


 Image source

This week one of the things I have been doing is preparing for a CLICKS webinar I am doing on Sunday. The outline of the talk is:

  • The impact of digital technologies and wicked problems in education
  • 21 Century competencies and digital literacies
  • Key issues in learning and teaching
  • Future trends
  • The changing roles of teachers and learners
  • Transforming education

The impact of digital technologies and wicked problems in education

Digital technologies offer a rich variety of ways in which learners can interact with multimedia resources, and ways in which they can communicate and collaborate. Key technology trends include: the increasing importance of mobile devices and the opportunity to learn anywhere, anytime, learning across boundaries, the potential of learning analytics, emergent technologies such as augmented reality and Artificial Intelligence. A Horizon summit brought together international experts to consider the future of education. Some of the challenges the group identified included: the need to rethink what it means to teach, the need to re-imagine online learning (and I would argue face-to-face learning), the importance of allowing productive failure, and that innovation should be part of the learning ethos. I would argue that there are three key ‘wicked problems’ facing education today. Firstly that there is a gap between the promise and the reality of what technologies can offer learning. Secondly that teachers and learners lack the necessary digital literacy skills to harness the potential of technologies for both teaching and learning. Thirdly we need to change our teaching strategies and recognize that we are teaching learners to do jobs in the future that don’t even exist today. Therefore we need to shift from knowledge recall to the development of competencies and to help learners develop metacognitive skills and learning to learn.


21st Century competencies and digital literacies

RVS has developed a list of 21st Century competencies based on the principle that education must prepare students fully for their lives as individuals and as members of society - with the capacity to achieve their goals, contribute to their communities, and continue learning throughout their lives. These learner competencies are a set of intellectual, personal, and social skills that all students need to develop in order to engage in deeper learning — learning that encourages students to look at things from different perspectives, to see the relationships between their learning in different subjects, and to make connections to their previous learning and to their own experience.

  • Critical Thinker: Critical thinkers engage in reflective reasoning to build deep understanding that is supported by evidence.
  • Problem Solver: Problem Solvers identify strategies and tools to develop, evaluate, and implement solutions.
  • Innovator: Innovators put elements together to form a new pattern or structure.
  • Communicator: Communicators understand, interpret, and express thoughts, ideas, and emotional connections with others.
  • Collaborator: Collaborators build relationships and work with others to achieve common goals.
  • Globally Aware: Global awareness is the understanding of an interconnected world and a citizen’s role within society.
  • Civically Engaged: Civic engagement reflects a commitment to democratic governance, social participation, and advocacy.
  • Self-Directed: Self-directed individuals take ownership of their learning.
  • Media and Information Literate: Individuals who are information and media literate use technology to explore and build knowledge in an ethical and responsible way.
  • Financially and Economically Literate: Individuals who are financially and economically literate understand and evaluate personal and global economic issues.

Jenkins et al. list a complementary set of what they refer to as the digital literacies needed to be part of today’s participatory culture, these are:

  • Evaluation
  • Transmedia Navigation
  • Multitasking
  • Distributed cognition
  • Networking
  • Visualisation
  • Metaphors
  • Collective intelligence
  • Play
  • Digital identity management

Key issues in teaching and learning

A recent EDUCAUSE report lists the key issues facing teaching and learning. These include:

  • Academic transformation: innovative learning and teaching models
  • Accessibility and universal design
  • Faculty development
  • Privacy and security
  • Digital and information literacies
  • Integrated planning and advising
  • Instructional design
  • Online and blended learning
  • Evaluation of technology-based instructional innovations
  • Open education
  • Learning analytics
  • Adaptive teaching and learning
  • Working with emerging technology
  • Learning space design
  • Next Generation Digital Learning Environment and Learning Management Systems

Future trends

In terms of the future trends facing education that designers of learning opportunities need to be cognizant of include:

  • The changing nature of work and the fact that in the future it is likely that many people will have multiple careers.
  • We are seeing a spectrum of learners, from the demands of the ‘now’ generation who want flexible and adaptive learning opportunities personalized to their individual needs through to those who are learning for leisure reasons rather than for work purposes.
  • We are seeing the emergence of new forms of accreditation, such as digital badges, certificate of participation, micro-credentials, and most recently the potential of blockchain technology to enable learners to document and record their learning across different contexts.
  • We are seeing an unbundling of education, in the future learners may not opt to do three-year degrees, but instead pay for: resources, support, guided learning pathways or accreditation.

21st Century teaching and learning

The above has implications for how teaching and learning is adapting and needs to change.  Will Richardson argues that:


We need teachers who are masters at developing learners who are adept at sense making around their own goals. Teachers who are focused on helping students develop the dispositions and literacies required to succeed regardless of subject or content or curriculum


For teaching there are a number of aspects. Teachers need to focus on the development of higher order skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. They need to help learners develop lifelong learning habits. Technologies are increasingly important and teachers need to develop the digital literacy skills to harness them appropriately in their teaching. Finally, they need to find ways to motivate their learners by providing experiential, authentic and challenging learning experiences.


The office of Ed Tech states that:


[In the future we need] learners who master agency [which] lays the foundation for self-directed lifelong learning, a critical skill for thriving in a rapidly changing world and for our nation to remain globally competitive.


21st Century learning means that leaners now how more choice on how and what to learn. As mentioned before we are preparing them for an uncertain future to do jobs that don’t even exist and the likelihood that they will have multiple careers. As with teachers, they need to know how to use technologies effectively and more importantly how to use them for academic purposes. They need to have ownership of their learning and be able to document and curate demonstration of achievement of learning outcomes.


I have talked in a previous post about the changing role of teachers and learners, and also a critique of criticisms voices over the concept of lifelong learning.  


Churchill (2017) considers the ways in which practice is (or needs to) shifting from a focus on teacher-centred to learner-centred.




Learning of facts and declarative knowledge

Memorising information

Teacher is central

Passing exams

Drilling of right questions and routines

Learning to pass exams

Focus on information presentation to passive learning

Technology as a media channel

Learning from resources and technology


Learning of conceptual knowledge

Working with information

Activity is central to learning

Applying knowledge, theoretical thinking and demonstrating generic skills

Problem-solving, design, project work and inquiries

Learning how to learn

Focus on how learning occurs within an activity

Technology as intellectual partner in learning

Learning with resources and technology


Couros lists the following as indicates of student success:

  • Student voice – learn from others and share their learning
  • Choice – how and what they learn
  • Time for reflection – to reflect on what they have learnt
  • Opportunities for innovation
  • Critical thinkers
  • Problem solvers
  • Self assessment
  • Connected learning

Transforming education

For me to meet the needs of all the above there are two important aspects: new approaches to designing for learning and the use of learning analytics. We need new approaches to design that:

  • Enable pedagogically informed decisions that make appropriate use of technologies
  • Shift from knowledge recall to development of competencies
  • Student centred and activity based
  • Help develop meta-cognitive skills
  • Assessment: process rather than product based

We also need to harness the power of learning analytics; so that teachers can identify and help learners who are struggling and to help learners to develop learning strategies and benchmark against their peers. To conclude we need to implement innovative pedagogies that:

  • Support self-reliance, resilience, agility, adaptability
  • Encourage meta-cognition and reflection
  • Utilize the affordances of digital technologies
  • Enable technology-enhanced learning spaces
  • Develop competencies to deal with an unknown future


Churchill, D. (2017), Digital resources for learning, Springer: Singapore