cross-disciplinary Collaboration on course design (#EDUC99070)

Shared Interests: “Community of Inquiry”

Undertaking the subject “Facilitating Online Education” (EDUC99070), one of the key elements was to develop a “Community of Inquiry”. In the first instance, we were a diverse group of staff working across different specialist/discipline areas with the University of Melbourne. We were generally all interested in (further) developing skills to better adapt to the changes due to the impacts of the Covid pandemic that enforced the necessity for online teaching and learning. I was the only one with an Education background, and working with the MGSE (Melbourne Graduate School of Education).

Over the first few weeks, we were introduced to a number of different platforms in which to build and share our own ePortfolios using and to join numerous free platforms/apps easily available through linking up online.

Some of these included:

and a number of other platforms… I found myself lost amongst numerous open tabs on my computer, not quite knowing which ones would be most useful for my needs, logging on through email address (I have a few) Google, Facebook, Outlook, UniMelb … all different passwords and login processes. At one point I noticed I had over 80 tabs open across two web browsers.

Today’s open Tabs…

And then it was finding the time to ‘play’ (that is, ‘learn how to use’), linking it appropriately with the necessary ongoing teaching work and family/home responsibilities, rediscovering a range of sites I had joined and built up over the previous ten years or so, and to absorb new information with rapid and brief outlines. And then there were the new acronyms: EOR, COI, SOTEL, DBR, AR, VR, MMR … and masses of links to readings that I couldn’t find time for, and when I did, just couldn’t absorb it due to the language, content, terminology, and way(s) they were written.

So back to our Community of Inquiry (COI)…

There are many outlines, descriptions, and examples of this popular framework to be found. (Refer to my previous Post: ). This key statement is derived from Dewey’s work (1938) on a community of inquiry – requiring three interdependent elements: a cognitive presence (the learner), a social presence (the learning community) and a teaching presence (the professor).

“An educational community of inquiry is a group of individuals who collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding”

In my experience, although we had the essential elements of a COI, I found myself feeling further and further disconnected – not so much any missing elements from the above triad, but lacking a sense of common purpose, of active collaboration, actively supporting each other, and personally, of being further out on the periphery, and falling way behind. I don’t believe I was the only one however, but found myself activating the inevitable self-critique – fraudster, can’t keep up, over-stressed, can’t remember all these passwords/login procedures/acronyms … I could no longer even stand to have my camera on during our weekly meets.

My on-screen presence – I couldn’t even work out how to upload a photo for my profile!

Our first ‘assessment task’ was to populate our ePortfolios, most of us choosing to share via ‘edublogs’ platform. I was quite excited about this as I’ve had a WordPress blog for a number of years (, I enjoy writing and illustrating, and I am one for constantly questioning what is around me. However, I did not do this for recognition, career advancement, lots of followers or fame, I did it partly to document my journey and thoughts, and partly to use as a ‘reflective journal’, where I could try to make sense of my thoughts and to see how I may have changed over this time. I thought, why not do this in a ‘public space’, I’ve got nothing to lose.

I dutifully set up my new blog (you are here now!) and began to add content, covering a number of topics and venting myself in various ways. To date, this is my 16th post, and I keep having ideas for more. I have had 16 Comments, made by 4 individuals in total. Comments 3 June, 2021

Part of our task was to make comments on other people’s blogs. I spent some time reading blogs written by my peers, and found them generally interesting, sometimes engaging, but rarely provocative or activating or inviting my further engagement or response. Amy Gray’s blog however, and her comments on my blog, did pique my interest.

We did end up working together and sharing ideas for Assessment tasks 2 & 3: To present an online Draft proposal for the implementation of a blended or fully online unit, and to build an LMS Unit prototype, including revised proposal.

Reflections on our ‘mini’ Community of Inquiry

  • Finding and following up a ‘shared interest‘, initially through noticing each other’s oral contributions during our course zoom mtgs, and then interacting (commenting) on each other’s individual blog sites.
  • Spurred originally by us both having worked in Lao PDR, with a place and culturally based ongoing interest in the region, the people and its uniqueness, as well as challenges in working across linguistic and cultural borders.
  • Amy wrote a very well considered comment in response to one of my blogs about Module 7 ‘Immersive Reality’ (IR) and ‘Virtual Reality’ (VR), in which we both recognised the potential for students’ ‘safe immersion’ into challenging and potentially distressing socio-cultural contexts, particularly in terms of current travel restrictions, and of ‘building empathy’ and developing cultural competencies.
  • We were both very impressed by Stephen Aiello’s presentation: Developing culturally responsive practice using mixed reality (XR) simulation in Paramedicine which gives an excellent overview of how this team has tried to utilise XR simulation to fulfil a similar purpose. However, this and most other examples of XR/VR or 360 views, involve places and objects, with an absence of people, which is still an issue I am wanting to explore further.
  • Although our disciplines and faculties differ (Health/Education), we were both interested in how these technologies could be useful in helping our students to better understand and learn these skills of “Culturally Responsive Practice” which I teach about explicitly in my course.
  • We further discovered that we had both considered ‘giving up the course’, finding EDUC99070 overwhelming and difficult to engage with the content, technical jargon and concepts, readings and perhaps also our ‘peers’.
  • So our collaboration and interest in each other’s work and thinking moved onto email contact and then telephone conversations and to shared Microsoft documents, Adobe Spark and Padlet.
  • We initially talked about a shared course design or unit within a broader course, focussed on combining our disciplines with a common focus on “Culturally Responsive Practice”, that could be offered to both those working in Education and in Health. We could share our expertise and look for common elements across disciplinary boundaries.
  • As it turned out, it was a community made up of very different personalities, the Pragmatist (Amy) and the Esoteric (me). While I worked away at bringing together relevant ‘content’, to be developed through my knowledge area of pedagogy that is second nature to me, Amy suggested we work together on a course she was already responsible for developing, and already made a start on, “Global Child Health – a discovery subject for the Melbourne MD”. This meant we already had a reason for doing it, a general framework, shared interest in learning from and sharing with each other, and the possibility of getting it completed for Assessment!

Final Reflections

I highlighted above, some of the elements that made for a successful team collaboration and output. In hindsight, I’m not sure this is quite what Dewey meant by a Community of Inquiry. But in terms of pedagogy, I was drawn back to the notion of collaboration …

A Community of Inquiry can be described as:

a group of people […] who use discussion to engage in deep thinking, explore big ideas, and grapple with the challenges and possibilities in a puzzling concept, idea or circumstance’

(Museum Victoria n.d.)

This form of community of inquiry was developed by Matthew Lipman 2003) […who] argued that a community of inquiry is characterised by; ‘non adversarial deliberations, shared cognitions, the cultivation of literacy and philosophical imagination and the encouragement of deep reading, and the enjoyment of dialogical texts’ (Lipman 2003). Moreover, Lipman’s account of a community of inquiry  includes the following features: inclusiveness, participation, shared cognition, face-to face relationships, the quest for meaning, feelings of social solidarity, deliberation, impartiality, modelling, thinking for oneself, challenging as a procedure, reasonableness, the reading, the questioning and the discussion

The above quote is related to classroom teaching, but is pedagogically relevant to both what Amy and I did together, and what this course (EDUC99070) set out to achieve.

(Note, I retain the use of the term ‘pedagogy’ – rather than other introduced terms such as ‘andragogy’ or ‘heutagogy’ . I realise this is controversial – see but I believe that anyone who is well versed in pedagogical theory, is able to modify their approach according to the age/experience of students/learners, but the basic theories are always relevant.)

Effective pedagogy is about relationships. Building relationships, emphasising empathy, recognising and overcoming biases, noticing, listening, facilitating, encouraging, being genuine, being as ‘authentic’ as possible, knowing your subject/knowing your learners, being fair, being just and believing in the importance of what and who we teach for a better future world.

At this concluding point of the course, Amy and I hope to continue collaborating and working on these ideas together. I know that I have developed more knowledge of the technology out there, more confidence in my own grounding in Education theory (particularly Curriculum & Pedagogy) as being relevant to learners at all levels, become far more interested in developing approaches and expertise into better online/dual mode delivery, and developed a far better understanding of how education is being actualised in the University of Melbourne context. I am looking forward to actively pursuing relationships with others with shared interests, to working with my course co-ordinators in developing their online course designs, and ‘finding the time to play’ mentioned at the outset of this post!


Akdere, M., Acheson, K., Jiang, Y. (2021)
An examination of the effectiveness of virtual reality technology for intercultural competence development,
International Journal of Intercultural Relations, Volume 82, Pages 109-120,

Batt-Rawden, Samantha A. MBChB; Chisolm, Margaret S. MD; Anton, Blair; Flickinger, Tabor E. MD, MPH Teaching Empathy to Medical Students, Academic Medicine: August 2013 – Volume 88 – Issue 8 – p 1171-1177 doi: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318299f3e3

Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Hold Rinehart and Winston

Lipman, M 2003, Thinking in Education, Cambridge University Press, New York.

University of Melbourne online study

Ongoing Progression of study modes at University of Melbourne…

Link to original Marketing Post 26 April, 2021

Note: I have copied sections of the original marketing post below, which appeared on my Facebook feed, and highlighted areas for further consideration. I have a lot of respect for David Seignior with whom I work in my teaching team, and I found that beyond the hype of such a marketing post, there are a number of points made here that warrant further thought and consideration in terms of working with technology for hybrid/online learning (#EDUC90970), and emphasising relational pedagogy and social/cultural considerations within teaching/facilitating learning and curriculum planning.

Online professional education at Melbourne was designed with an online environment in mind. This matters.

Pedagogy before technology

One key pillar is learning design. As Senior Learning Designer at the University of Melbourne, David Seignior says: “Probably the most important consideration when building an online learning platform is that effective curriculum design comes before the technology.

Technologies to deliver remote learning might be abundant, but “you have to know how to use it effectively. Whether face-to-face or online, you need to look not just at what you are teaching but how you’re teaching it. The technology must serve the pedagogy not the other way around.”

“We always work back from what the learner needs to be able to know and do in that particular context, and then consider how that can be learnt and assessed in an engaging manner online,” says Seignior.

Learner-centric programs and best practice

Specific needs of the learner are addressed at this early stage too. Since post-professional learners are often time poor, this characteristic is built into the design. As Lead Learning Designer, David Hall, says:

We need to help them learn and understand as quickly and clearly as possible: provide them only with material that helps them achieve the learning outcomes, make it authentic, and ensure there is variety.

Another potential of good online learning is to develop a Community of Inquiry, that allows students to learn with, from and about each other, says Seignior. The Community of inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) has three key elements: social presence, cognitive presence, and teacher presence to enable effective peer learning and student satisfaction. Some think online learning is set and forget, that it is purely about self-directed learning with minimal teacher presence post design. But teacher presence is a really important aspect of the online learning experience. The more the teacher is present – whether instructing in webinars, facilitating web tutorials or conversing in discussion boards and giving feedback– the more interactive and engaging the learning will be for the student and the more they will feel part of a learning cohort.”

Advanced technology

… things like virtual collaboration tools, which allow learners to work on real-world scenarios, and even access places that they otherwise couldn’t physically go. A development in teaching healthcare for example allows students to ‘walk through’ an operating theatre during surgery.

Discussion boards and activities such as interactive videos and case studies, simulations and games, are also used to support collaboration and connection between learners, peers and tutors. One example is the learning interactive, which sees nursing students compete to accurately identify heart rhythms in the fastest possible time. These collaborative activities are a real benefit of online learning, notes Seignior.

It’s ironic that we compare online and face-to-face. To me, online is more face-to-face than face-to-face. In a lecture theatre, the only person you’re face to face with is the lecturer– all of your peers, you’re looking at the back of their heads. Done well, online is more of a tutorial type setting. It really allows genuine peer learning to take place.”

Referencing back to previous post… teacher academics & content generation (excerpts)

Returning to excerpts from Previous Post on this blog in reference to this article: Academics aren’t content creators, and it’s regressive to make them so…

“So, we were told to “flip the classroom”. Why not edit those lecture recordings into 15-minute, bite-sized lessons […] Suddenly academics became video editors – mostly bad ones – and our students turned to YouTube, because on YouTube you can get a better explanation of the same thing (for free I might add). Universities turned from communities of learning and collaboration into B-grade content providers. This is the death march of higher education. Universities are not content providers.”

The philosopher John Dewey told us that an educational experience – what he called a community of inquiry – requires a cognitive presence (the learner), a social presence (the learning community) and a teaching presence (the professor).

Content can enable learning, but it cannot provide an education.

Education should be better than ever, as we are now able to point at myriad incredible resources, possibly on the web, perhaps in our library, where we act as content aggregator, not creator. Creation is done when we have our researcher hats on, not our teaching hats.

When we go online, when those classes are recorded then transformed into 15-minute snacks, the soul of education begins to die. The community of inquiry must be reinvented for the digital campus.

A quarter century ago, Noam further predicted that “the strength of the future physical university lies less in pure information and more in college as a community”.

We, as teachers in modern university settings, can think of ourselves as community figureheads and team leaders. The students are part of our community, our team, and we are there to manage them, coach them, guide them, to be mentors, to help teach them over a longer journey, and to corral them through this common goal of thought, understanding and mastery.”

Link to original opinion article: Academics aren’t content creators, and it’s regressive to make them so…

 And returning back to University of Melbourne online study (marketing promotion)


  • Effective curriculum design comes before the technology
  • look not just at what you are teaching but how you’re teaching it. The technology must serve the pedagogy not the other way around.
  • work back from what the learner needs to be able to know and do in that particular context, and then consider how that can be learnt and assessed in an engaging manner online,
  • We need to help them learn and understand as quickly and clearly as possible: provide them only with material that helps them achieve the learning outcomes, make it authentic, and ensure there is variety.
  • … develop a Community of Inquiry, that allows students to learn with, from and about each other, says Seignior. The Community of inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson & Archer, 2000) has three key elements: social presence, cognitive presence, and teacher presence to enable effective peer learning and student satisfaction.
  • Some think online learning is set and forget, that it is purely about self-directed learning with minimal teacher presence post design. But teacher presence is a really important aspect of the online learning experience. The more the teacher is present – whether instructing in webinars, facilitating web tutorials or conversing in discussion boards and giving feedback– the more interactive and engaging the learning will be for the student and the more they will feel part of a learning cohort.”

Online learning can be more interactive than face to face? Here is why! (Podcast 21:14)


In this episode, David Seignior, senior learning designer from the University of Melbourne, explains in what ways online teaching allows teachers to actively engage with their students in learning, and how that can be achieved even with minimal technological interventions.

The value of online education and how teachers can boost an engaging student experience


“…contemporary, well-designed online education moves well beyond these old models into an experience defined by:

  • Social presence: the idea of learning together
  • Cognitive presence: the knowledge you’re sharing
  • Teacher presence: where teachers curate content and facilitate engagement.

[…] Seignior emphasises that teachers who are new to online education shouldn’t feel intimidated by the technology. While the technology does provide enormous opportunities, the pedagogical perspective is always paramount.

“You need to put the pedagogy (or andragogy for adult learning) before the technology… good teaching practices in face-to-face teaching apply in an online context as well.”

He believes there are three essential elements to successful online teaching:

  1. You facilitate
  2. You encourage collaboration
  3. You curate.”

Final Comments

It is interesting to see similarities in each of the above content/articles in terms of teaching/learning, online platforms, the work and/or responsibilities of the different contributors and participants. Although there are some points of difference, I love that Dewey’s work (1938) on a community of inquiry – requires a cognitive presence (the learner), a social presence (the learning community) and a teaching presence (the professor) can still be used with confidence and as a continuing guiding aspiration.

This last article, from 10 Jun 2020, demonstrates how far we have come in such a short period of time.  Engaging with today’s wholly online Teaching and Learning Conference, 2021 with a series of presentations that focus on evidence-based approaches for enhancing and optimising student learning, considering the shift in the balance of blended teaching, learning and assessment towards online and to different forms of in-person education, reflecting the greater confidence and competence of teachers (and students) with digital methods. (from the About:  Transitioning to COVID-normal: Developing a new ecosystem for learning).

My experience of these sessions was of a far more knowledgeable and experienced teaching cohort who were able to share their experiences, research and techniques with a very interested audience of University of Melbourne staff.  As a participant, I hope this is not just my impression (I was interested and gained a lot from participating – including being inspired to write a few more posts for this blog!) and is not simply a ‘marketing/promotional spiel’, but a sign of positive change and improvements to teaching and learning in all its forms, including to adapting our practices to current challenges + opportunities, but retaining attention to the various perspectives I have outlined in this post.


Dewey, J. (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York: Hold Rinehart and Winston

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T. & Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1), 7-23.

Tanner, B. (2020, February 23). Evollution. Taking Initiative to Bring Back Adults.

(comment & excerpts from…) Artificial intelligence research may have hit a dead end

“Misfired” neurons might be a brain feature, not a bug — and that’s something AI research can’t take into account

APRIL 30, 2021 10:00PM (UTC)

[…]  artificial intelligence researchers and scientists are busy trying to design “intelligent” software programmed to do specific tasks. There is no time for daydreaming.

Or is there? What if reason and logic are not the source of intelligence, but its product? What if the source of intelligence is more akin to dreaming and play?

Recent research into the “neuroscience of spontaneous fluctuations” points in this direction. If true, it would be a paradigm shift in our understanding of human consciousness. It would also mean that just about all artificial intelligence research is heading in the wrong direction.

Yet all approaches have one thing in common: they treat intelligence computationally, i.e., like a computer with an input and output of information. 

Narrow AI excels at accomplishing specific tasks in a closed system where all possibilities are known. It is not creative and typically breaks down when confronted with novel situations. On the other hand, researchers define “general AI” as the innovative transfer of knowledge from one problem to another.

Decades of neuroscience have experimentally proven that neurons can change their function and firing thresholds, unlike transistors or binary information. It’s called “neuroplasticity,” and computers do not have it.  

Spontaneous fluctuations are neuronal activities that occur in the brain even when no external stimulus or mental behavior correlates to them. These fluctuations make up an astounding 95% of brain activity while conscious thought occupies the remaining 5%. In this way, cognitive fluctuations are like the dark matter or “junk” DNA of the brain. They make up the biggest part of what’s happening but remain mysterious.   

Neuroscientists have known about these unpredictable fluctuations in electrical brain activity since the 1930s, but have not known what to make of them. Typically, scientists have preferred to focus on brain activity that responds to external stimuli and triggers a mental state or physical behavior. They “average out” the rest of the “noise” from the data.

This is why computer engineers, just like many neuroscientists, go to great lengths to filter out “background noise” and “stray” electrical fields from their binary signal. 

This is a big difference between computers and brains. For computers, spontaneous fluctuations create errors that crash the system, while for our brains, it’s a built-in feature.    

What if noise is the new signal? What if these anomalous fluctuations are at the heart of human intelligence, creativity, and consciousness? 

There is no such thing as matter-independent intelligence. Therefore, to have conscious intelligence, scientists would have to integrate AI in a material body that was sensitive and non-deterministically responsive to its anatomy and the world. Its intrinsic fluctuations would collide with those of the world like the diffracting ripples made by pebbles thrown in a pond. In this way, it could learn through experience like all other forms of intelligence without pre-programmed commands. 

In my view, there will be no progress toward human-level AI until researchers stop trying to design computational slaves for capitalism and start taking the genuine source of intelligence seriously: fluctuating electric sheep.

My comment/reflections…

Yes, I read this and excerpted elements that resonated particularly strongly with me. Whenever I hear discussions about AI, I have misgivings. This article helps me to articulate some of these.

Notions such as creativity, addressing ‘novel situations’, going beyond ‘what is known’, or programmed, to find novel solutions that may not have been already attempted. A “closed system where all possibilities are known” is simply a translation of human fallibility with all its potential biases and blind spots, into, as the author says, “computational slaves for capitalism”. One that works faster, cheaper, more efficiently, but without the potential for the fluctuations and ‘noise’ to get in the way.

Well this ‘noise’, to me, is the human condition and I believe it contributes to the wonders of diversity, of difference, of creativity and even what might be considered bohemian or eccentric responses and ways of being that provide the colours of our world.

In terms of the origins of the new technological and AI machinery, what would it mean in terms of the ethics, morals and understandings of ‘right and wrong’, good/bad, acceptability of ‘solutions’, if any nation, sect or belief system of the world was able to program and develop it? Any religion, any philosophy, any group or individual? We know who is ruling the development of AI right now, is that ok with you and me? With our neighbours, our extended families, our region or our place in the world? Have we thought about why this might be, or how it might feel different if our own belief systems were completely incompatible or in opposition?

Considering immersive technology in relation to pre-service teacher education*

*Note that I am referring to classroom pedagogical responses in general, not subject or discipline specific. This can be seen from the subject description in which I am teaching presently:

This subject will introduce you to key philosophical, sociological, political and historical underpinnings of education and educational research in the Australian context. 

 University Handbook entry for Educational Foundations EDUC90901.

Or prior to that: Health, Wellbeing and Inclusive Education:

Students will engage in an exploration of the relationship between learning, learning outcomes and well-being. Individual wellbeing and identity and wellbeing from ecological, Indigenous and intercultural perspectives will be explored. Students will investigate learning environments and how these impact on learner well-being and in turn learning.

The unit also explores ways to create safe, secure and nurturing learning environments for all children and young people that enhance positive learner engagement

Unit | Deakin (my emphasis)

In our #EDUC90970 Facilitating Online Learning course (professional development program) we have been exploring possibilities in incorporating Immersive Technology such as Virtual Reality (VR) and (XR) as part of the Higher Education (HE) learning experience.


Today I joined the inaugural MCSHE SoTEL Showcase #1 Webinar in which four presentations were given by UniMelbourne academic staff about how they have been using ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’ in their various fields.

Note: SoTEL – SOTEL | Melbourne CSHE Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning research network (

I’m always impressed when I see what others are doing to set up innovative programmes in their discipline areas. It is clear from each of the presentations that whilst there are things to learn, there are also important considerations regarding purpose – using technology that is available, as well as the purpose or educational/professional outcomes. Each of the presenters was working in a team – clearly a crucial aspect in order to combine technical expertise of different kinds – having a great idea for building a platform and tool for your learners, also requires the technical expertise of others (not mentioning the funding required) and so a great idea in and of itself is not going to enough to ‘get it off the ground’.

As per DBR (Design Based Research) Principles:

Design Principle 2: The Collaboration that Is Essential to Instantiating Authentic Tasks-Based Learning Strategies Online Is a New Experience for Most Learners and Must Be Carefully Nurtured (Kartoğlu et al, 2020)

… collaboration is crucial. This principle is sort of obvious, but in my personal situation (still working from home, teaching contract work only, no real links or collaborative possibilities in my own faculty, let alone across all of the HE institutions that I have worked at over the previous years), this is an ongoing challenge.

I have been producing online materials for years, most, if not all, on an individual basis, or working with a team that dissipates at the end of my contract. Maybe this is my own inability to make the right connections, or to follow up on possible collaborative opportunities – this always amuses me as I teach and operate in ways that always encourages and tries to facilitate any opportunities for students to work together in teams, and in fact get very envious of those who manage to co-publish and co-research together! (Personality? Independence? Pride? Stubbornness? Inability to commit???? Or what about practical elements, the ongoing need to make money, support a family, run a household, managing a chronic health condition)

But back to Pre-Service Teacher Education. When Pre-Service teacher educators talk about ‘immersive’ or ‘experiential’ learning, they are usually referring to experiences in a classroom – practical experience, practicums or placements. That is, traditional modes of ‘placement in situ’, and having a ‘mentor’ to help guide them (and also to formally assess their competence). This experience gives pre-service teachers an opportunity to observe interactions, to get to know and to work directly with the learners, to experience the moment to moment pedagogical decision making of practising teachers, and most interestingly for me, get to understand some of the complexities in the classroom beyond their teaching discipline.

Graziano (2017) notes the limited literature on the use of contemporary immersive technologies with preservice teachers.  He discusses a small (N=27) study with undergraduate preservice teachers’ reactions to creating and inter-facing with immersive technology. Of course they found it ‘relevant to their needs and interests’. However, as I keep on finding, this related to ‘teacher instructional design’ and teacher educators becoming familiar with immersive technologies in order to integrate it into teacher preparation curricula. Important work but not my key interest. (PDF) Immersive Technology: Motivational Reactions from Preservice Teachers (

What I am looking for…

I can find numerous articles about bringing technology into pre-service teacher education to improve their skills in integrating technology into lesson planning, instruction, assessment, student interaction and collaborative work, discipline immersion… But in searching, I have realised that what I am looking for is more particular to my area of interest and expertise, and this relates to understanding and working appropriately with difference in the classroom. I’m not referring to psychology here, I am thinking about social situations, inclusive practices, culturally responsive and relational pedagogies. This is where I want to explore possibilities to integrate immersive technology, particularly since 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns a time in which all face to face teaching was put on pause, and actual teacher practicums were cancelled and/or delayed. I was working with Pre-service teachers in their second year of their Masters of Teaching who had never been in a classroom since their own schooling.

The AITSL (Australian Institute for Teaching & School Leadership) site ‘articulates what classroom practice looks like…’ . and provides a resource guide that ‘aid[s] classroom observation’. ACARA (Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority) . There are many other online samples (short videos of interactions, examples from practice, ‘expert’ and novice teachers talking about their experiences etc.) that have been produced in order to help pre- and practising teachers to both inform and to assist them in ‘gathering evidence’ to demonstrate their competence in meeting of the AISTL Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APSTs).

(See relevant discussion re AITSL in previous post: Module-7-Immersive-Reality-Pre-and-Post-Reflections).

Numerous video case studies are integrated with the materials and advice provided on the AISL site. They are expertly produced and provide selected examples to illustrate practice.

State and Territory Departments of Education contain a huge range of online materials, videos, links, case studies, classroom exemplars, curriculum support materials etc. (Find links here…) The number and range of these sources are frankly, quite overwhelming – but useful to access as required, or advised.

Halt … and suspend !!!!! (to be continued…)

I’m going to stop adding to this post now as I am moving further off topic, and in fact, being prompted to write and publish other posts while this one awaits in draft form! (See new page: messy filing cabinets…my mind)


Graziano, KJ (2017) Immersive Technology: Motivational Reactions from Preservice Teachers, Internet Learning, V6, no.1 DOI: 10.18278/il.6.1.4

Kartoğlu, Ümit, Siagian, Ria Christine, & Reeves, Thomas C. (2020). Creating a “good clinical practices inspection” authentic online learning environment through educational design research. TechTrends : for leaders in education & training, 1-12. doi:

ARticle review: This Researcher Says AI Is Neither Artificial nor Intelligent

Kate Crawford, who holds positions at USC and Microsoft, says in a new book that even experts working on the technology misunderstand AI. 

TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES LIKE to portray artificial intelligence as a precise and powerful tool for good. Kate Crawford says that mythology is flawed. In her book Atlas of AI, she visits a lithium mine, an Amazon warehouse, and a 19th-century phrenological skull archive to illustrate the natural resources, human sweat, and bad science underpinning some versions of the technology.

book cover - Atlas of AI by Kate Crawford Link to book review.

Crawford, a professor at the University of Southern California and researcher at Microsoft, says many applications and side effects of AI are in urgent need of regulation.

Crawford recently discussed these issues with WIRED senior writer Tom Simonite. An edited [and further excerpted] transcript follows.

KATE CRAWFORD: It [AI] is presented as this ethereal and objective way of making decisions, something that we can plug into everything from teaching kids to deciding who gets bail. But the name is deceptive: AI is neither artificial nor intelligent.

You take on that myth by showing how AI is constructed. Like many industrial processes it turns out to be messy. Some machine learning systems are built with hastily collected data, which can cause problems like face recognition services more error prone on minorities.

We need to look at the nose to tail production of artificial intelligence. The seeds of the data problem were planted in the 1980s, when it became common to use data sets without close knowledge of what was inside, or concern for privacy. It was just “raw” material, reused across thousands of projects.

This evolved into an ideology of mass data extraction, but data isn’t an inert substance—it always brings a context and a politics. 

You trace the roots of emotion recognition software to dubious science funded by the Department of Defense in the 1960s. A recent review of more than 1,000 research papers found no evidence a person’s emotions can be reliably inferred from their face.

Emotion detection represents the fantasy that technology will finally answer questions that we have about human nature that are not technical questions at all. This idea that’s so contested in the field of psychology made the jump into machine learning because it is a simple theory that fits the tools. Recording people’s faces and correlating that to simple, predefined, emotional states works with machine learning—if you drop culture and context and that you might change the way you look and feel hundreds of times a day

We’ve seen research focused too narrowly on technical fixes and narrow mathematical approaches to bias, rather than a wider-lensed view of how these systems integrate with complex and high stakes social institutions like criminal justice, education, and health care. I would love to see research focus less on questions of ethics and more on questions of power. These systems are being used by powerful interests who already represent the most privileged in the world.

Is AI still useful?

Let’s be clear: Statistical prediction is incredibly useful; so is an Excel spreadsheet. But it comes with its own logic, its own politics, its own ideologies that people are rarely made aware of.

(My highlighting) Highlighted parts relate directly to my thinking in regards to how AI/technology can be used across a general (diverse) population, when it has been designed and programmed by fallible and inevitably biased humans? As fashions change, theory, perspectives, experiences, culture/s, languages and dialects, and effects of globalisation, first world power and dominance, disparities between the global ‘North and South’, the ‘East and West’, religious and political influence, AI is being built and programmed by who? As the author says in the final comment, AI “comes with its own logic, its own politics, its own ideologies that people are rarely made aware of” and this is one of my main concerns. How can this be mitigated? Should we (users/educators) be cognisant of these issues of power and bias when we chose our tools? Should we ensure we educate our learners to be critical, to always consider minority perspectives, to consider the tools they/we use for what might be missed, or not considered, or how they support and ensure the power (and knowledge) is wielded by those with conflicting interests?

A Leve Reflections: 1 May, 2021

Referencing & citing online informal sources

The Place of Blogs in Academic Writing

This author, Jenny Davis, sets out to tackle the complexities of whether or not academics should cite blog posts in their formal academic writing.  Davis discusses the pros and cons.  Pros include the speed of publication and free accessibility, is not limited to recognised or upcoming academics working within existing frameworks (compared to peer-refereed journals), and can therefore promote the potential for ‘open discursive boundaries’.  She notes:

[…] traditional journals rely on existing experts to decide what can/should be published. If an idea or methodology does not fit within an existing framework, its chances of acceptance diminish. Blogs are less susceptible this type of censorship, providing a wider breadth of theoretical building blocks and facilitating new theoretical directions.

(Davis, J., April 23, 2013)

Cons include the lack of peer review and its ‘standards’, creating a crowded discourse without a clear way to determine rigour.  Davis also notes the tendency for bloggers to write in a ‘piecemeal fashion’, and the impermanence of blog posts.

Davis then responds in detail to three orienting questions:

  1. When is it okay to cite blogs in a formal academic paper?
  2. Which blogs are okay to cite, and how do we know?
  3. Who can cite blogs?

The final section is headed … “And the Final Answer is:…” – you’ll just have to read the article to find out (and cite it of course!)  Note also, there are 27 interesting comments including further references on the topic.

Note too, there are many other posts, opinions and advice concerning this question so clearly students need to check with their advisors, and advisors (teachers/tutors etc), you need to make it clear to your students what is appropriate to their/your context!

APA 7th Edition Referencing

A very good and up-to-date guide to APA7 referencing from JCU (James Cook University) can be found here at It covers the following:

(Lee, 2021)

Lee’s ‘better question’ relates to asking about the ‘reference type’, rather than the ‘retrieval method’.  The author explains that online and print references are treated largely the same, with each reference being broken down into its four components:  author, date, title and source.

This and other articles on the APA blog site are actually surprisingly interesting and informative!

Craig O (2021)

A brief guide covering examples of Harvard, MLA, Chicago and APA referencing for blogs. Note, the author calls himself “Craig O” – this could refer to either his first or last name being Craig, it could be his online name/moniker, but for someone writing a post about citing blogs online, he doesn’t seem to have noticed that his guide gives no reference to how his name/title might be cited*.

This alerted me to the fact that although this post came up on a google search for such topics, and it seemed fit for purpose at first glance, further investigation found it is linked to a site on pretty shaky grounds. The site is titled “Top Universities: Worldwide University Rankings, Guides and Events”. The logo is QS – at the bottom of the page we see the registered company: © QS Quacquarelli Symonds Limited 1994 – 2021. All rights reserved. On their homepage, they say:

Home of the QS World University Rankings, is one of the leading sources of information for prospective students from around the world. Whether you’re hoping to learn more about a particular study destination, or want to compare the reputation of different universities, we can help you take the next step on your educational journey.

Most of their linked posts carry a banner saying ‘sponsored’. (see my Afterword… at this end of this post – and don’t fall for every post or link that catches your attention!)

*Note, the above JCU guide does this explicitly for blog posts:

FormatAuthor, A. [Screen name if applicable]. (Date). Post title – not italicised. Blog name. http://www.xxxxx
NOTES: If the author’s full name is not listed, just use their screen name without brackets. If the author is a group or a company, do not us a full stop between the author’s name and the screen name


Overall however, it seems there is still disagreement on the ‘correct’ way to cite informal posts and other online material. APA7 now removes the necessity to include ‘date accessed’. Sites change, posts are updated, and this information is not always easily available. The main reason for references and citations being used are to give attribution to the the writer/producer. This information is not always available. Does this mean that these materials are then not appropriate as sources for academic work? Or does it mean that their ephemeral nature should be acknowledged, and a publicly accessible URL should be used at a minimum?

After trying to provide correctly cited references for this post, I think I am going to be even more forgiving to my students for their referencing. BTW, how to I format this with hanging indents – ie correct APA style? No idea!!!


One aspect I looked at in my PhD Thesis (Leve, 2011) was the matter of ‘grey literature’. In discussing the construction, marketing and mediation of international education as a highly valued commodity, ‘grey literature’ became the only available source of information (beyond anecdote) and I decided to make this a part of my thesis overall.

In terms of this study that involves texts from a broad range of sources, the differences in tone or ‘shades of grey’ are not always clear.  ‘Grey’ denotes an ‘in-between’ measure, not black or white but grey, somewhere in between good/bad, reliable/undependable, clear/obscured – in the case of this study, it is a type of text that lies somewhere in between promotional texts and conventionally published scholarly research, a distinction which will be further examined throughout this chapter.   However, in a cultural studies framework that highlights the meaning-making potential of any form of text, the credibility of these sources may be seen as less important than the exposure and ‘work’ they undertake in constructing and mediating understandings of the phenomenon in question.  

(Leve, A., 2011, p116)

It is only now that I see how this resonates with online and ‘informal’ sources, which have hugely grown in proliferation since I wrote this content. I ended up relying on this ‘grey literature’ for my data, because via a screen shot, it keeps on existing and cannot be changed. It is a reflection of a context – a time, a place, and probably, a message of and for that moment.

But, through this post, another one grows a seed – stay posted!


(Trying out the advice above!)

Craig O, (March 16, 2021), How to Properly Cite a Blog In Your Essay, QS Top,

Davis, J. (April 23, 2013), The Place of Blogs in Academic Writing, Cyborgology,

James Cook University, (updated Apr 23, 2021) Social Media, APA (7th Edition) Referencing Guide,

Lee, C., (Mar 8, 2021), “I found it online”:  Citing online works in APA Style, APA Style Blog,

Leve, A (2011), Constructing the ‘Study in Australia experience’ Full fee paying overseas students in state government schools ~a small but integral player~ [PhD Thesis, Monash University]

Reflecting on social media ‘bullshit’ in solomon islands

Reading Sue Ahearn’s well informed article published in (or see Who we are) provides a kind of a background to ways in which social media is used in this part of the Pacific. My knowledge and experience is with the Solomon Islands, an archipelago of small islands geographically and culturally close to the much larger PNG. At this time, the threat of COVID is very real, but in the Solomon Islands towns and more remote areas of PNG, news and ‘facts’ are shared primarily through Social Media, mostly FB.

PNG & Solomon Islands, Australia’s northern Pacific Island neighbours

Few people have the skills or literacy abilities for critical analysis or ‘fact finding’ beyond a headline or brief comment/claim. Paying for data to connect to the internet or to open links is out of reach of most people. Links are often posted to less reputable sites that present stories inspired by ‘conspiracy theories’ that look just as trustworthy as any other. If it is a ‘doctor’ or a ‘priest’ presenting these ‘facts’, and if they are relatable (eg dark skin), they are more likely to be shared.
Solomon Islands main provider. Note small print… Many people complain about their data disappearing, or ‘being stolen from them’ – it is very hard to keep track.

When you clicked on this blog post to open it, did you think about how much money it would cost you for the blog page to open? For many internet users in developing nations, such issues are serious considerations, given high internet prices, particularly when compared to generally low incomes.
Written by Amanda H A Watson

If my friend in the Solomon Islands has data, they can access the internet. We use Messenger or IMO to speak but the quality is incredibly low and intermittent. They may call five times, I hear the ring, answer, hello? hello? hello???? I can’t hear anything… After a minute or two, hang up, then again, hello? hello? Can you hear me? A delay … a response comes through to something I said maybe 40 seconds ago. Maybe we can have a ‘conversation’, depending on where they are standing. Sorry, you’re breaking up … sorry, what did you say? Sorry, I missed that, not clear. This is how we ‘communicate’.

Australia signs on amid security concerns

“Back in 2016 the Solomon Islands government signed a deal with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei to lay a cable to Australia.

But the Australian government was concerned Huawei would be permitted to plug into Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure. […] The Australian Government then announced its support for the PNG cable and a few months later said it would foot most of the bill to lay the cable to the Solomon Islands as well.”

Old news now. The undersea cable was completed in 2019. As yet, there seems to be no improvement to the system or lowering of prices/access.

“Bringing lower cost fast and reliable internet and communications to the Solomon Islands through the Coral Sea Cable System and Their domestic network “

[No new or updated information appears to be available.]

So, beyond the data/communication issues… – The Official Website front page – note dates!

The most recent Solomon Islands National Census was held on 24th November, 2019. (I was there! – it was a massive and difficult task, and like a lot of information in the Solomon Islands, is likely to not quite tell the whole truth!) But it is clear to all that it is a very rapidly growing population, and keeping up with infrastructure to support and educate this population is constantly far behind what is required.

As can be seen clearly in the information provided below, the increase in social media users in the Solomon Islands is also massive, and rapid. It is hardly surprising that with this growth, the generally low levels of media literacy or English language skills, and the proportion of the population who live in rural areas (generally village subsistence) that misinformation and/or conspiracy theories and calls to ‘return to traditional (and godly) ways’, are often the responses on or to social media posts.,71%25%20of%20the%20total%20population.

Schools in the Solomon Islands are banning mobile phones – even boarding schools where the students live far from their homes and families, which has had a mixed response. (Link to interesting article about pros and cons of banning mobile phones in schools) Social media and internet access is often blamed for declining standards – loss of respect, declining education standards, increased rapes and unwanted pregnancies, domestic violence … all blamed on the proliferation of pornography and western values through mobile phone use and exposure. Interestingly, some commentators (particularly those working with NGOs) also note that it is more likely that social media and internet access just makes the news about instances involving these declining standards far more public than before.

Culture and close extended family networks mean that incidences have often been shut down and kept quiet as protection from shame being brought about after such events. Corruption at high levels has also continued ad nauseum. Social media has provided a ‘voice’ for victims and increase in awareness and human rights, but this is really so ‘new’ and so sudden that the controversy over banning Facebook by the Solomon Islands Government is hardly surprising. (see previous post: SOCIAL MEDIA IN LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES)


Globally shared information about Covid-19, in a country that has had only 20 cases, all brought in by overseas travellers and quarantined, with apparently few to no symptoms, is difficult to take on or believe or relate to. I hear regularly of far too many deaths in the only National Referral Hospital, people of all ages, dying primarily of Non-communicable diseases and lack of treatment options being available. These deaths are shared by family members and people pay their condolences with messages on Facebook. It is hardly surprising that local Solomon Islanders would be more inclined to stories and local pandemics rather than this foreign pandemic that has the world on edge, and a ‘vaccination’ for something that hasn’t touched them beyond closed borders and financial loss.

As can be seen in the latest on COVID in neighbouring PNG (above), the case in the Solomon Islands is volatile and could change rapidly at any time. Much international Aid and attention has been put on the Covid pandemic with increased education and quarantine measures, but many people are resistant and aggrieved that this money is not being spent on existing problems.

For better or worse, social media is a tool that has opened up communication and access to information in the Solomon Islands but how much of this is ‘mis-informed bullshit’ remains a cause for concern and vigilance.

Social media in less developed countries

So there are about one billion three hundred and ten million results found on this query in 0.55 seconds? I was actually considering my own experiences with social media over three years, when I lived and worked in two ‘less developed countries’, Laos and Solomon Islands, during the period 2017-2019. But I’m not sure I have anything new or original to add, if there are that many ‘relevant’ posts already!

Savannakhet, Lao PDR 2016-2017

In Laos I found that Facebook, WhatsApp, and no doubt other platforms, were used in a multitude of ways. As an outsider, everyone I met would ask me to link up with them on social media. I was resistant, I had made it a self proclaimed policy back then (2016) that I would only make ‘friends with’, or link with people I knew, and felt comfortable with. I seriously considered setting up a new FB profile that I could use so that my current friends and feeds did not get mixed in with my new friends and feeds.

Can I create multiple Facebook accounts?

I didn’t bother setting myself up a new page/profile. It seemed many of those making requests wanted to simply link up, and thereby use our ‘friendship’ like a reference on their resume, which turned out to be not a problem for me. They did ‘like’ my posts, so we were somehow ‘connected’. In 2021 I still am connected to a number of these people. We share our news- often their posts are in Lao language, and I will translate it. I still have a friend who contacts me often – I used to sit down and ‘talk’ with her every day after work over a reviving beer lao, but we never really shared a common language. We now correspond via Facebook, and she says that she uses a translator app to maintain the conversation.

The culture and Lao context is very different to what many of us (in more ‘developed’ countries’ might know or expect. The college I worked at, the staff and many of my friends were very ‘rule oriented’, they loved their uniforms, conformity was applauded and expected. They laughed at my antics, wanted to learn from my English, and were amused at my non-conformist behaviour. Flip side was that I was an outsider in all ways, a source of curiosity and friendliness, but always on the periphery of the society, never really having access to the deep culture and beliefs of these people.

What I learnt about social media in this context was that it was a tool to make and retain connections, that for many it was a source of English language and mixed cultural examples, that Buddhist monks used social media and that in some ways, it contributed to opening up the world and possibilities of social and cultural connections and understandings. At the same time it was used by most people to communicate locally, and the more ‘friends’ on your list the more socially ‘successful’ you were seen to be. But on the other hand, these ‘connections’ are also heavily impacted upon by Covid and travel restrictions. So for the moment, social media keeps me somewhat in the ‘loop’ with my beloved Savannakhet, Lao PDR.

Solomon Islands – 1994, 2004, 2018-19

I spent longer in the Solomon Islands, and have longer standing relationships there. When I first went as a volunteer in 1994, there were few telephones or even electricity connections (none in rural areas where the majority of population still live), no mobile phones, few computers or access to technology. What there was was often donated through aid, and mostly ended up useless as there was no expertise in repairs. I lived on a remote island (Pigeon Island, Temotu) in 2004 and they had a small computer connected to the Sailmail communications system, and a two way radio that people would come from surrounding areas to use to send or receive urgent messages from the capital.

Brief sideline – I found myself as the new teacher at Pigeon Island with my son after responding to this advertisement in 2004…

Since that time, I had received requests from extended family and friends to connect on Facebook. Most of my Facebook feed is now from the Solomon Islands and I am able to keep contact with friends, extended family, colleagues and professionals. I am able to keep up with news and discussion forums, government announcements, interest groups, and more. I still host and maintain two Facebook pages with former colleagues – Friends of Special Development Centre and Research, Reports and Statistics of Solomon Islands.

The use of Facebook in the Solomon Islands has caused some controversy, as access is relatively new for many people, it is available in most areas, and the Solomon Islands Government (SIG) recently tried to instigate a plan to ‘Ban Facebook’. This set off all kinds of backlash and anti-government sentiment being shared, alongside more traditionally focussed members of the community who in fact continue to blame Facebook for the declining respect for tradition, access to pornography (and hence rise in violent rape and crime) and the negative influence of Western behaviours.

It also happened in the midst of the Covid ‘SOE’ – State of Emergency, that was said to give the government unnecessary powers to stifle public knowledge or opinion.

After the initial announcement, the online forums and public posts went in all directions! More technologically astute people began to share ways to get around the ‘ban’ (which was only FB, not any other platform) and other social media options were shared, including questionable sites (a lot of these had increased popularity during Trump’s dying days). The level of technological mastery is generally low, particularly in the provinces, so for many it was Facebook or nothing. A large and vocal number of people preferred nothing.

The SIG later backed down on these plans, and things have largely gone back to the way they were, although certain media commentators and content decision makers do seem to be more cautious about what they will post.

This is the first of my posts relating to Social Media use in Developing countries. Please look out for my next post: Reflecting on social media ‘bullshit’ in solomon islands 

module 7: immersive reality – pre and post reflections

In #COM000848 – Facilitating Online Learning this week, “we explore Immersive Reality as an EOR to support online learning that supports learner exploration and authentic online learning environments”.


The question I have relates to education/learning that is about actual interaction with humans in all their diversity and about respecting the strengths, needs, values, beliefs and experiences of people from diverse backgrounds. How do we teach/learn about responding effectively to situations that do not (and should not) be categorised or generalised, or responded to in a way that dismisses context (including sensory, emotionally, dis/comfort, familiarity, implicit/unconscious bias, tone, status…) and incorporates cultural sensitivity, understanding of appropriateness in terms of neuro- and gender diversity, and the above mentioned aspects of diversity?

How can virtual reality provide opportunities to truly experience these diverse and often unexpected or ungeneralisable ‘realities’, let alone test or measure the appropriateness of student responses? It is the unknown and unexpected ‘human’ response variations that concern me here. How can virtual/immersive reality prepare one for such events?

I work in the Faculty of Education (MSGE and across various other institutions) with pre-service teachers. I can fully understand the benefits of Immersive /Virtual Reality in terms of methods (ie teaching areas, or disciplines), particularly since COVID where experiential access is now far greater and so many new opportunities to ‘experience’ locations, information, ideas and become ‘immersed’ exist.

However, my area of interest and expertise relates more to education issues in general – in terms of diversity/difference, pedagogy in terms of relationships, in issues that relate less to the ‘disciplines’ and content (the what) and more about the who, the how and the why.

AITSL (The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership) has instituted a number of Standards (APSTs – Australian Professional Standards for Teachers) that include the following:

Of particular relevance are those detailed under Standard 1 :

1.1 Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students
1.2 Understand how students learn
1.3 Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds
1.4 Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
1.5 Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
1.6 Strategies to support full participation of students with disability

So again, I reiterate my question, can these pedagogical considerations be achieved or improved or be better implemented through augmented reality technology?

Post Seminar Reflections

Two guest presenters were brought in to present their overviews and experiences with Immersive Reality – Stephen Aiello (Links to an external site.) and Claudio Aguayo (Links to an external site.).

In the module content, design principles were introduced, each of which still seem to bypass the human/relational ‘authenticity’ question that relates to my concerns outlined above (and in our presentation on ‘Authentic Learning’).

Design Principle 1: Rather than Perfectly Duplicate, Replicate where Possible and Innovate where Necessary 

Design Principle 2: The Collaboration that Is Essential to Instantiating Authentic Tasks-Based Learning Strategies Online Is a New Experience for Most Learners and Must Be Carefully Nurtured 

Design Principle 3: The Fidelity of the Simulated Experiential Learning Environment Does Not Have to Be Exceptionally High as Long as it Enables Learners to Suspend Disbelief and Feel that What they Are Experiencing Is Real.

Kartoğlu, Ü., Siagian, R. C., & Reeves, T. C. (2020).

Aguayo, C., Eames, C., & Cochrane, T. (2020, 03/09) offer a framework for complementary mixed reality (XR) and free-choice learning education. Content from Table 1. Pedagogy/heutagogy (teaching and learning principles) is copied below (my highlighting).

i.          Focus should be placed in self-determined (heutagogical) learning, where the learning is guided by learners’ motivations and needs.

ii.         The placement of the outside-the-classroom visit within a teaching unit is pedagogically important.

iii.        The structure of  the outside-the-classroom visit is pedagogically and logistically important.

iv.        Pre-visit resources can help to sensitise learners and initiate connections to place (the visit site).

v.         Use of  the mobile learning resources (virtual/immersive environments) should be designed to complement and not detract from sensory (embodied/haptic) experiences in the real environment.

vi.        The visit should allow freedom to experience but also have some focus to scaffold learning, and to promote interactions between learners (social learning).

vii.       Opportunities for learners to interact with both real and virtual/immersive learning environments increase learner autonomy and engagement.

viii.      Learning needs to be reinforced post-visit to deepen knowledge, clarify attitudes and support next learning steps

Whilst this is an excellent list of ways to set up and use mixed reality learning opportunities most effectively, particularly for adult learning, it does not address the types of skills that may be required from instructors (or school teachers) in relation to diversity in terms of i) needs/motivations; iv) sensitisation and initiating connections; v) sensory experiences (or responses); vi) interactions; or viii) attitudes.

After the two presentations, I had the opportunity to ask my question directly to the presenters. Claudio Aguayo (Links to an external site.) outlined a number of projects utilising XR such as “Explora XR Chile” and “Cultural Heritage – Virtual Maroe” that looks at ways of interacting with places of cultural and geographical significance. “Rethinking the future of Maori community health with digital media and warm data” provoked particular interest in terms of the possibilities of utilising qualitative data that centres on “interrelationships that integrate elements of a complex system” – potentially inclusive of cultural and other types of diversity.

Stephen Aiello however, shared the following project with us, that seems to finally acknowledge my recognition and suspicions relating to ‘authenticity’ and diverse relational human dilemmas. He said that my concerns were important ones, and that little research seems to exist on how this might be effectively incorporated into XR simulation.

In the link below, he directly talks about the issues that always concern me – the necessity for cultural competence to be considered and taught; the necessity for us all to examine our own biases, which he associates with “attitudes, assumptions, stereotypes and personal characteristics” and how we need to develop the appropriate skills and knowledge to provide culturally safe and contextually relevant practices and treatments (and in my case, pedagogy).

Developing culturally responsive practice using mixed reality (XR) simulation in Paramedicine Education (

I am happy now to see some hope in ways that XR simulation/Virtual Reality can be developed and potentially utilised in ways that are able to consider how we can all develop our cultural competence and tackle some of the many issues around how we respond to and get to know other perspectives and beliefs, and ways of understanding the ‘real’ world(s).


Aguayo, C., Eames, C., & Cochrane, T. (2020, 03/09). A Framework for Mixed Reality Free-Choice, Self-Determined Learning [Journal]. Research in Learning Technology, 28(Mobile Mixed Reality – Themed Collection).

Kartoğlu, Ü., Siagian, R. C., & Reeves, T. C. (2020). Creating a “Good Clinical Practices Inspection” Authentic Online Learning Environment through Educational Design Research. TechTrends : for leaders in education & training, 1-12.

Leve, A & Sayers, R (2021) Authentic Learning

Who uses facebook? a new blog ‘review’ in progress…

In writing this for my Edublog, I was very conscious of the greying of notions of in/formality that seems appropriate for a blog, and ‘academic prose’ with formal academic language/structure/grammar and formatting.  I like my blogs with a more informal ‘chatty’ and conversational tone, shorter blocks of text, and the occasional sideline or rethink, or self talk/reflection.  Can blogs then be taken seriously, as offering anything substantial to academia?  Does a review or a critique written as a blog have any sway or influence?  Does it need to?  … (sideline… Do I care?)

Reading 1:  Ryan, T., & Xenos, S. (2011, 2011/09/01/). Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage.

From abstract:  The results [from a self selected sample of 1324 Australian Internet users] showed that Facebook users tend to be more extraverted and narcissistic, but less conscientious and socially lonely, than nonusers. Furthermore, frequency of Facebook use and preferences for specific features were also shown to vary as a result of certain characteristics, such as neuroticism, loneliness, shyness and narcissism. It is hoped that research in this area continues, and leads to the development of theory regarding the implications and gratifications of Facebook use. [my highlighting] © 2011

I am already on edge – the date of the article, the premises suggested by the title, the shifts in global social media usage and availability over the last 10+ years, and the discipline area of behaviour and personality characteristics through a psychological lens.  But I persist reading, with trepidation…

Apparently, (Ryan & Xenos, 2001 p.1659) “[r]ather than looking at the relationship between Internet use and specific traits, the majority of research in this area has been based on broad models of personality. The Five-Factor Model, otherwise known as the Big Five (Goldberg, 1990), [… which] is based on the theory that an individual’s personality can be evaluated by determining how they rank on five bipolar factors: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience (McCrae & John, 1992)”… Ok, I’m not sure I can read any more.  The idea of ‘evaluating an individual’s personality’ based on these factors is just not agreeable for a sociology inclined thinker that I am. 

After skipping through the rest of the article (we call it ‘skimming’ for a general picture, or ‘scanning’ for something worthwhile to spend more time on – see, the most notable ‘finding’ seemed to be that “Facebook gratifies its users in different ways depending on their individual characteristics” (p.1663).  One of the sections was based on ‘specific gratifications of Facebook users’, and another on ‘Frequency of Facebook use’.  These and specific purposes or motivations for using Facebook I think would be quite different now (in 2021) than they might have been then, for a multitude of reasons. 

However, after reading, I have been prompted to think about what sort of questions I have, that I would like considered through research, particularly those relating to communication, FB (vs other social media) in less developed countries, and whether it is simply a ‘distraction from’ education, or a ‘potential tool for’ education.

Reading 2:  The effects of personality traits, self-esteem, loneliness, and narcissism on Facebook use among university students (2012, Skues et al), from the same journal.  Again it appears centred on university students as users, to be focussed on ‘personality traits’, and to be from almost 10 years ago.

Admittedly another skim read, and the feeling I need to look elsewhere for the type of research I would prefer to engage with.

Extract from Abstract:  “Interestingly, students with higher levels of loneliness reported having more Facebook friends. Extraversion, neuroticism, self-esteem and narcissism did not have significant associations with Facebook use. It was concluded that students who are high in openness use Facebook to connect with others in order to discuss a wide range of interests, whereas students who are high in loneliness use the site to compensate for their lack of offline relationships. [Copyright &y& Elsevier]”.

Again, trepidation – and a bit of self analysis, hmmm, do each of these ‘traits’ exist in isolation from others?  Pick a time of day/week/year, consider context, and I can perform all or any of the above according to psychometrics.  You can probably tell that I’m not really a fan of, or believer in psychological categorisations!

Some interesting aspects in the discussion caught my eye.  Notions such as ‘Impression management’; Facebook ‘as a means of taking a break or as a distraction from study’, ‘connect[ing] with others who share similar interest[s]’; ‘students turn[ing] to Facebook to avoid academic tasks’; and the final recommendation, ‘future research should consider whether Facebook promotes social engagement in a manner that might increase academic engagement, or whether it operates as a distraction’ (Skues et al, 2012 p. 2418). 

However, as a regular Facebook user myself, I am really not so sure that any of these ‘interesting aspects’, are really so helpful.  Facebook (and other social media sites) have a multitude of uses and purposes which are interesting and variable, but how do these findings help us in ‘facilitating online learning’?

The final article I will look at, that I have chosen myself to hopefully obtain some information that is useful for my work as an online educator, is …

Marketing           Psychology         Personality        

(Sideline/note/addendum – I went searching, post 2018, there are hundreds of thousands of articles published about FB/education/online learning …  so I’ll save the next instalment for later.  This is about it for me – and I still need to check my FB before I can go to bed … until next time 😊)

References (for now…)

Skues, J. L., Williams, B., & Wise, L. (2012). The effects of personality traits, self-esteem, loneliness, and narcissism on Facebook use among university students. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(6), 2414-2419.

Ryan, T., & Xenos, S. (2011, 2011/09/01/). Who uses Facebook? An investigation into the relationship between the Big Five, shyness, narcissism, loneliness, and Facebook usage. Computers in Human Behavior, 27(5), 1658-1664.

Skip to toolbar