Using Social Media for Professional Learning and Resource Collection: Week 13 Post

This final blog post is a combination of information about using social media for professional learning and resource collection, as well as links to resources for teachers to use, which have been collected using social media tools.

Firstly, I’d like to take you through some information outlining the benefits of using social media tools for professional learning.  Although the video below was uploaded in 2010, I think it gives a good understanding of the benefits of developing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) and the practicalities.  A PLN is simply a fancy term for developing a network to enable an educator to keep in touch with people, organisations and resources that enhance their teaching.

Unsurprisingly, I found information on the topic of using social media for professional learning written by Kay Cantwell, the ResourceLink Teacher Librarian.  Kay is a prolific writer, researcher, reader and blogger.  She is often on the cutting-edge of educational trends, particularly in the area of digital learning.  In 2011 she wrote this piece on how social media can enhance schools as professional learning communities.

ResourceLink logo concept 5

Kay also wrote on this subject in the SCIS online journal in 2012.

The important distinction to make here is that the purpose of this network-forming and resource collection is for teachers, not students. In other words, the material is collected for teachers (they are the audience), who then decide how it is to be used in the classroom context.

Next, I will outline the various social media tools used to support the work of teachers who wish to embed global perspectives in their classrooms.  These tools include a website, Facebook page, Twitter account,!, Tumblr and Pintrest pages.  The aim of this wide social media presence is to deliver content in as many platforms as possible, to satisfy the varied needs and interests of teachers.


The purpose of the website is to make information about the organisation available in a static form.  Changes are rarely made to this site.  Two-way communication is not possible.

glc screen shot

The Global Learning Centre website


The Facebook page provides a more dynamic interface, with the opportunity to post content or information for educators to use.  Two-way communication is possible through posts.  Educators are able to suggest resources, which can be reviewed by the organisation.


The Global Learning Centre Facebook Page


A Twitter account provides the opportunity to create short posts on current topics of interest, as well as the ability to create hashtags for professional learning days and conference proceedings.

glc twitter

The Global Learning Centre on Twitter

SCOOP.IT!! pages have been trialled and are currently used in two ways. One way is the collection of websites on broad topics.  The other way is the collection of websites on specific topics.  We’ve found that! works best for the collection and curation of materials for broad topics or subject areas, rather than for specific topics.

scoopitnena! Account number 1

scoop! Account number 2


Tumblr. has been used successfully to collect resources on specific topics.  We’ve found Tumblr. to be the easiest and most effective way to collect resources for the purpose of providing resources for educators.

tumblr geography copy

The Global Learning Centre on Tumblr.


Athough Pinterest has an appealing interface, we have found that it is not as useful as other platforms in collecting websites, images and quotes which are useful for educators.

Would you find these social media tools helpful as an educator?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to using these tools?


Transformative Learning – Civics and Citizenship, Geography and Popular Culture: Week 12 Post

On The Global Citizen Meets Popular Culture page, I mentioned various authors, academics and researchers who have investigated the nexus that exists between popular culture and activism.  While this is an interesting topic to explore from an academic point of view, in this post I will attempt to show the connection between popular culture, activism and the Australian Curriculum.  The emphasis will be on the new Civics and Citizenship draft curriculum, as well as the Geography curriculum and whether these learning experiences result in Transformational Learning.

Firstly, let’s begin with a speed-dating style exploration of the literature surrounding fan-activism.  Perhaps the most well known writer in this field is Henry Jenkins, who has traced the phenomenon of fandom from Star Trek fans in the 1960s who fought to keep the program running, to the modern phenomenon of The Harry Potter Alliance.  The shift from the 1960s Star Trek fans to The Harry Potter Alliance is significant.  Activism for The Star Trek fans in the 1960s was inward looking: The fans fought to keep the show open.  Activism for The Harry Potter Alliance fans is outward looking: These fans fight for equality, diversity and sustainability.

“…we support expanding the field of fan studies to deal with this new model of civic engagement.” Henry Jenkins

Melissa Brough and Sangita Shresthova note the relationship between civic participation and fan activism.

“…the clear cut distinction between fan activism and real-world activism remains elusive.”

Jenny Price provides a more explicit link between fan and civic activism.

“…they (fans) are donating money, they are knocking on doors, and they are doing those kinds of standard things – but because of Harry Potter, not because of (political parties) or their church group.”

“Fandom…is motivating because it gives a reason to connect to something and then you can use that connection as a vehicle to get to other places.”

The ‘you’ Jenny Price is referring to is not only the fans themselves, but other people: friends, family members and teachers.  The ‘other places’ is the window to a world outside their own; a world that is diverse and interconnected: a world where people struggle with issues of justice, equality and sustainability.

These issues are embedded in the Civics and Citizenship curriculum and in the Geography curriculum.

“Geography integrates knowledge from the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities to build a holistic understanding of the world. Students learn to question why the world is the way it is, reflect on their relationships with and responsibilities for that world, and propose actions designed to shape a socially just and sustainable future.” (ACARA Geography Curriculum, 2013)

In the Civics and Citizenship curriculum, global and local issues are the context through which rights and responsibilities, political systems and laws are examined.

“Civics and Citizenship education is designed to provide young people with the confidence, knowledge, understanding and skills to develop their civic identity, live as citizens in their local and wider communities and create a future that will enhance society.” (ACARA, Draft Civics and Citizenship Curriculum, 2013)

As an example, the Geography curriculum in Year 7 focuses on Water in the World and in Year 10, students learn about Biomes and Food Security, as well as Environmental Change and Management.  Firstly, the teacher can provide information on the water crisis experienced in some countries.  The information contained in the video below provides basic information on the water crisis, as well as a call to action in the form of a donation.

Secondly, the teacher can bring in the Civics and Citizenship curriculum to encourage students to think about how they can create a future that will enhance society.  Finally, popular culture can be used to give examples of famous people responding to this crisis.

But wait!  It doesn’t stop there.  A few questions or problems emerge in my mind with this scenario.  The first is that most of the literature on fan-activism comes from North America.  I would like to spend time exploring Australian-based fan activist sites or movements (perhaps in another lifetime).  The second question that emerges for me is one of transformative learning.

As teachers, we can create experiences and activities for students, which are enthusiastically embraced and result in behaviours, which resemble active citizenship.  How many of these experiences result in transformational learning, where meaning schemes of beliefs, attitudes or emotional reactions are changed? (Mezirow 1991 in Imel, 1998).  I’m going to answer my own question and say ‘very few’.  However, for every one million children who are exposed to a challenging curriculum, there might be one or two who are transformed, thereby making a difference to many people around the world.

What do you think?  Is the North American perspective too heavy-handed for the Australian context?  Should popular culture be used in this way?  What are the benefits and drawbacks?



Imel, S. (1998). Transformative Learning in Adulthood.  ERIC Digest No. 200.  ERIC identifier: ED423426

Six Males Under Twenty: Week 10 Post

I consider myself fortunate to have six males under the age of twenty under my roof this evening.  After being fed and watered, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to interview them about the texts they like to read, watch and engage with.

Here are the questions:

1.       Tell me about the books you have read in the past month or so.

2.       How did you find out about these books?

3.       Tell me about the television programs you enjoy watching.

4.       Which games do you play on the computer?

5.       Do you watch videos on the internet?  Which ones?

6.       How did you find out about these videos?

7.       What about board games – do you play these?

books just love me


Books just love me by Ardinnnn:)

  18 year old uni student 16 year old Italian international student Two 15 year old boys 11 and 12 year old boys
Books Five Golden Rules


Scientific American magazine

Warhammer rule book

None Wheel of Time

The Black Prism

Skullduggery Pleasant

Artemis Fowl


Television Programs Game of Thrones

Breaking Bad

Top Gear

Teen Wolf

Teletubbies (joking)

Big Bang Theory

The Simpsons

Whatever is on 99Go or ABC3


Computer Games League of Legends



Team Fortress 2



Call of Duty

League of Legends


Diablo 3


Heroes of Newerth

League of Legends

X Com




Internet Videos League of Legends playback



Game playbacks

Trailers of new games


Game playbacks


College Humour

Ryan Higa



Spazzy commentary

How to Basics

Epic Fails

Diamond Minecart

In the Littlewoood


Sky does Minecraft

Board Games Settlers of Catan Monopoly







Dungeons and Dragons

Trading Card Games

Trading Card Games


Dungeons and Dragons




Settlers of Catan

When answering the questions regarding how the boys found out about these texts, most boys relied on recommendations by a friend or family member.  The 18 year old responded that he would never play a computer game without a recommendation from his brothers or a friend.  The 15-and-unders relied on recommendations, as well as searches using Google and YouTube.  The 11 and 12 year olds commented,

‘You look up something like League of Legends playback in You Tube, then after the video you scroll down until you find something interesting.  If you like it, you keep watching the same thing’. 

The 15 year olds were the least serious when answering the questions.  They mentioned Teletubbies (‘Ha, ha.  You are not going to put names to this, are you?’) and Twilight (‘Ha, ha.  Don’t put that down!’).  At the end of the interview, one 15 year old commented, ‘Is the interview finished?  Can you leave my room now (please)?’  Obviously, their mother is not as popular as the texts they engage with (I even put the please in myself)!

The International Student described some videos as ‘Really stupid’.  When asked for clarification, he replied, ‘I mean, not intellectual’.   I am in total agreement with him on this one!

Both the 18 year old and the 15 year olds were apologetic with some of their answers.  A few times during the interview they commented,

‘I’m not sure we represent the typical teenager.’ 

When asked why not, the 15 year olds replied, ‘People outside our group don’t do anything like us…well, actually, some do…’  They thought a little about this comment and then clarified that most people their age don’t engage in the same combination of texts that they do.  When I reflected on this, I concluded that this would be correct.  Generally, people form friendships with others who have very similar interests.  So, boys outside of their friendship group would have a different combination of interests, although some interests would intersect with theirs.

Although I did not ask directly about social media, all boys used Skype, especially when playing computer games with friends.  Only the 18 year old and 16 year old International Student had an active Facebook account.  Not one boy had a Twitter or Instagram account.

I found this exercise to be extremely interesting and loads of fun.  I particularly enjoyed listening to the commentary surrounding some of the answers.  This is a very worthwhile activity for gaining an understanding of the interests of youth, although my 18 year old was skeptical, ‘Is this a sneaky way of finding out what we get up to?’  You’ve got to love it!