What I Learned in 2017

On this last day of 2017, I am going back over my year of learning.  The purpose of this post is mainly to help me reflect, and to organize my work into one place for easy access.  If you are reading this, I invite you to take a quick look at some of the topics my work took me into in 2017.  Thanks for being here!


2017: Learning About Learning in Review

Building Learning Networks

Late in 2016, I was challenged to consider the learning needed to create and participate in a powerful learning network.  Over 3 days, and with much helpful feedback from my PLN, I worked out this summary of what is needed to move forward.  My intention was to carefully dig into each of these components in 2017, but my work took me in a different direction, so building it out remains a possibility for 2018.

Traditional professional learning is not sustainable. It’s too expensive, and we can’t possibly expect employers to meet the learning needs of all educators in times of exponential change.  Educators need to own their professional learning.  Content and collaborative platforms are free.  Networked learning is the option that helps educators continue to grow and learn.

By helping educators become self-directed learners, we enable them to also see the power of networked learning for our students.


Digital Life Skills

As 2017 began, I was obsessed with the need to include digital literacies in our curricula for K-12 education.

“In 2017, rather than a focus on trying to convince others that digital literacies are important, I am committed to providing an open structure where others can learn more about technology with me.

I am convinced that in this world where facts are difficult to find, each and every one of us needs to find our voice and lead learning that will ensure that our connections are creating positive change in our world.”

I did a 9 post series on digital life as part of a blogging challenge, that gave me a way to organize all I was learning about critical thinking and the internet.

3/10 – How the “smart phone” and mobile apps have changed the way we interact online

4/10 – Historical perspective – the co-created open web to corporately owned platforms

5/10 – Algorithms: What’s controlling what you see and read?

6/10 – Information Literacy: What will your lesson plan look like now?

7/10 – Videos and Images – From Facts to Feelings

8/10 – Popularity over Importance: Celebrity culture in a time of wicked world problems

9/10 – The Attention Economy

10/10 – Escape Your [Filter] Bubble

My commitment to sharing digital literacies continued into February 2017 when I began to seriously pursue leadership opportunities in other provinces, and my focus had to change.  I accepted an invitation to speak at a learning event in Montreal, with LCEEQ.

As I continued to work to build the skills necessary for network building, I challenged others to comment on blogs written by Ontario educators #ontedbloggers. I worked with Doug Belshaw to help build the competencies needed for open learning with the Math Leadership Network.

In a #5post5days challenge I continued to talk about the need for more digital literacies in schools.

In August, I once again turned to my concerns about digital literacies as Tristan Harris began to share the technical expertise and the Silicon Valley investment into the attention economy.  We often blame kids for being addicted to screens, but this is how the apps are designed – to hold attention – so that more advertising can be presented or more data can be gathered.  It’s intentional, and we are not doing a good job of teaching children about this.



Math Leadership

In May, I had many conversations around the difference between activities and learning, activities and teaching.  What is learning?  Has any happened here?  These should be easy questions, but they can be surprisingly difficult for educators.

April and May also brought about some amazing work with MathLeadersNEO as we started #NotaBookStudy

This is some of the most powerful work I have ever done, with Dr. Cathy Fosnot and Stephen Hurley on Voiced Radio.  We built a network of learners with excellent math content, many platforms for blogs and communication, and 24/7 support with the technology.  It’s a model I look forward to using in 2018.



2017 was definitely the year of the podcast, and I’ve shared links to some of mine


and here

and here.


Other Interests

Digital Privacy: I was invited to share my concerns about student privacy with Faculty of Education Students at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay Ontario.

Assistive Technology: In March, I was invited to speak to Lakehead Public Schools SEAC group on Digital Tools to Support Learning.  The slides and resources can be found here.

Best Practices in eLearning Instruction: As an AQ instructor for the eLearning Additional Qualification, I questioned the model being used to achieve the qualification in the course.  I tried to deliver the course in a more open way, which was embraced by many teacher candidates, but absolutely abhorred by others. It was a good lesson in how expectations of traditional schooling are still so embedded in our system.

Assessment: In March, I was also invited to work with eLearning teachers in SGDSB around triangulating assessment online.  The slides can be found here.



In August, I also started playing with the idea of a newsletter.  In 2018, I’ll be doing this more frequently, and with a specific purpose, but in 2017 I did some experimenting.  Thanks to my PLN for lots of feedback on this project. I hope the iteration in 2018 is what you are looking for.


Leadership Learning

September began with a new leadership opportunity with NLESD, a change that I am so grateful for.

Our Western Newfoundland Principals worked on Digital Identity in late September.

In October, our Western Newfoundland Programs team really dug into the meaning of Learning.

In December, our Western Newfoundland Assistant Principals spent some time investigating what Leading Learning looks like.

Last year, I had a piece on School Leadership in Exponential Times published in the CPCO newsletter for Catholic Principals in Ontario: Principal Connections.



When you are far from home, and everything is new, you learn to really appreciate the many people who contribute to your professional learning.  Thanks to my amazing PLN who continue to challenge me, and to everyone who networks and joins in the conversations to keep moving our thinking toward where it needs to be for our learners to thrive in 2018 and beyond.



Thanks to Doug Belshaw for sharing this gem with me in 2017. It comes from http://dancing-fox.com/rebelcode/


Featured image by Brigitte Tohm

Network Literacy as a Core Digital Literacy: Mark Pegrum

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