Are we setting them up to fail?


Is giving students unrealistic expectations unfair & unreasonable? Are we setting them up to fail and failing to prepare them for the real world?

Education and the “real” world!

However much we, as educators believe with passion that education should be valued for its own sake surely that doesn’t mean that:

  • It ALL has to be easy and fun – the real world isn’t!
  • Every student is capable of achieving ANYTHING they want – life doesn’t give us everything we want and anyway sometimes there will be things we don’t have the capacity to achieve. In my view this is what “diversity” is about.
  • We should fail to consider the needs of the students in the future to function in society and the world of work.

The world is not a “nice” place that will pander to their every want or even to their desperate needs.

There are some things that will be unattainable. This is true for all of us & while I agree “man’s aim should exceed his grasp” I think this should be “but only just”. There are some things we have to learn to “get over”. Then get on with life in the knowledge that there are some things that we as an individual can’t do, just as there are some things we can do “better” than many others. Sometimes we can find an additional strategy to enably us to reach the unattainable but not always!

By way of illustration that everyone has some things that are impossible for some of us – I am a musical incompetent. I am semi-tone deaf, find keeping time extremely hard and consequently can’t dance, sing or appreciate what others see (sorry hear) in what is a fairly meaningless cacophany for me. As far as I am concerned it was far better to find this out young despite the angst it caused as a child to be “different” and singled out as a “growler”. The alternative now would probably be that I would be encouraged to feel that I could do anything and would be continually set up to fail in the name of increasing my self-esteem and not hurting my “precious” ego. The subsequent negative impact on myself and potentially on society of the inevitable self-realisation doesn’t really bear thinking about.

Differentiate the learning

My message in this is don’t try to tell all students they can do anything/everything! This just leads to disaster. Find out their strengths – celebrate and build on them. For example I have had a number of students over the years who were (in my professional opinion as an educator) not capable of developing critical thinking skills. Time to duck methinks – I see many bullets waiting to shoot me down in flames!  All of these students have had immense strengths in other areas. One was a brilliant natural horse rider, building an instant rapport with any horse she rode. Another was (so I’m told) an excellent musician.

I would certainly not deny students the opportunity to develop skills that in my professional judgement may beyond their capacity – I could be wrong (we will all be wrong in such judgements at times) and I always hope I will be wrong. However I believe strongly that I need to differentiate the learning. Many of the activities I use across three Certificate levels of Certificates in General Education for Adults are very similar for each level but are differentiated by the outcomes expected at each level.


In my opinion it is critical that I exercise my professional judgement on the potential capabilities of my students. I then need to apply this judgement to the development and utilisation of strategies that will enable my students to achieve to their full capacity.

Edublogs webinar overview – in the “Moderator Sandpit”


This session, recorded as always was an opportunity to find out more about using BlackboardCollaborate from the moderator perspective including both features and strategies . As with the precursor Elluminate there are many tools and features available to the moderator that are not visible to participants. Although in my personal opinion there are a number of ways in which BbC is less “user friendly” and less conducive to smooth session flow than its predecessor. This is still my opinion after regularly using BbC as a moderator since its inception almost a year ago. In my work context I still use Elluminate – as this is easier for my students (adult literacy/numeracy).

The Session

This session was a “walk through” and “play with” some of the features available to moderators that are not available to participants. We were a very small group which provided opportunities for discussion and dialogue about the various features and their use. I started as I often do with a poll on where people were coming from on BbC and a “what would you like to takeway”.

In these sessions I always give everyone moderator privileges, this usually leads to interesting effects as people are unable to resist just “playing”. However with the small number of us this did not arise. Throughout the session we discussed some of the positive and negative aspects of particular tools/features.

During the session we discussed and played with:

  • whiteboard tools
  • whiteboard object menu allowing monitoring of “who did what”on the whiteboard
  • loading slides/whiteboards
  • layers on the whiteboard as a means of managing access to live links
  • saving whiteboards & chat
  • application sharing with particular respect to the least bandwidth/resource heavy strategy
  • managing access to tools for participants both as a group & individually
  • webtours, managing participant movement around the site
  • managing access to the session (eg removing a participant if necessary)
  • using the timer
  • managing screens through the Explorer window
  • polling

Throughout we were both demonstrating/experimenting with tools and also talking about how they can be used with students for: monitoring participation; estimating engagement; technical support and a variety of other activities.


This was an excellent session – despite or perhaps in part because of the small number. Many questions were raised and (mostly) answered. I always enjoy sharing my own strategies and how I use the tools to work with students as well as giving others the opportunity to explore the moderator features.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday April 26th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday April 27th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

A new dimension for your posts


Finding new ways to make your posts more interesting is always fun and can also help demonstrate employability skills such as those in technology! Here you will find out how to sign up for “Slideshare” and “Prezi” two different ways of adding presentations to your blog. We will also show you how to “embed” these types of presentation in your blog.


“Slideshare” is a simple way of uploading and sharing Powerpoint presentations. So if you already know and use Powerpoint you may want to use this to share your employability skills presentation.

This short screencast gives the steps for signing up to Slideshare. Once you have signed up you are directly in an upload screen. However you will get an email with a link for you to click to confirm your membership. Remember to click this or your account will disappear!

The embedded Slideshare below will show you how to upload and embed a Slideshare



Prezi is a tool for producing and sharing presentations completely online. The main features are that unlike Powerpoint it is not linear and that it uses a zooming technique to move between items.

Here is a screencast on signing up for Prezi

The short embedded Prezi below will show you how to embed a Prezi. For learning how to use Prezi checkout the help in your Prezi account


For making and embedding Vokis see “Lina’s Blog”


We hope you have fun embedding Slideshares or Prezis and Vokis in your blogs. They are a great way of adding an extra dimension.


Here! You pinched my photograph!

But It’s Mine!

Suppose you took a fantastic photo with your digital camera, and you put it up on the web. You would be very proud of it, and you would be right to be proud of it.

Now, suppose some thief came along, stole it, and made lots of money from it? You wouldn’t be very happy, would you?


(Image courtesy Purdue University)

No, I didn’t think you would be.

So When Is It Okay to Copy Stuff?

You can copy things when the owner says you can. They might tell you that you need to say where you got it from, and how you can use it. Look at that picture just above. The owner (Purdue University) is very happy for me to put in this blog, because they said I could provided that I said where it came from “(Image courtesy Purdue University)” and I wasn’t going to sell it.


Creative Commons is a way that people are happy to share their stuff with you provided that follow the Creative Commons rules that apply. You quite often see an image that looks like this:


A Creative Commons Licence

This is almost the same license as the one for the thief image.

Always be sure to read the Creative Common license for any pictures or words that you want to use yourself. If you are unsure, ask someone!

 Where Can I Get Pictures?

You may have heard of Flickr. It has lots of pictures that you can use under a Creative Commons license. When I entered this:

creative commons horse

Creative Commons horse request on Flickr

I found this:


Lady, you’ve got a weird eye!?

The photographer (Jinterwas) has asked that she is acknowledged as the photographer, so here is a link to her web pages on Flickr:

If you click here, you will see where Jinterwas put the original photo, and you will also see a link to the license:


License link

If you click on that “License” link, it will tell exactly what you are allowed to do with her photo.

You can get to the Flickr web site by clicking on this link.

For More Information

For an excellent post by Ronnie Burt on what you can and cannot use, have a look at this link.

Phil Hart (


Edublogs Serendipity webinar overview – applied learning


This was one of those occasional sessions where I am writing the overview post from the recording  of this Serendipity session. I was laid low by a migraine! So Phil went “solo” doing a fantastic job as Moderator/Facilitator. On hearing the recording I was so sad to have missed this exciting session about something very close to my heart. The chosen topic in full was “Would teachers value professionals from the real world of work in the classroom to reinforce applied learning?”

The Session

This was a great session although for me as always when I listen to a recording rather than attend a virtual session of any sort it was somewhat frustrating! I kept wanting to type in text and on the whiteboard and trying to put up my virtual hand :).

The session started with a whiteboard of some initial thoughts. These included: clarification of the meaning of “applied learning” in this context; and some examples.

The first whiteboard  generated discussion that led to a second whiteboard about visiting experts – their presence or non-presence and their roles.

Again much more discussion took place with consideration of attracting learners into skill shortage areas, and reference to teaching for jobs that currently don’t exist through transferrable skills. This is a part where I so wanted to join in as I have a “bee in my bonnet” about transferrable skills and the need to teach generic rather than specific tool use, and of course critical thinking. Although I have a caveat on this because in my professional judgement not all students can learn critical thinking – we can’t all learn everything there are some things for each of us that we lack the capacity to learn! For me one of these is anything music related!


I really wish I had been there – I always hate to miss a session and in this one there were so many times when I wanted to join in! As a literacy/numeracy lecturer in Public Vocational Education (Australian TAFE) I am is a system that is based on experts from the real world of the industry or profession doing the teaching. However I often feel that the whole system focuses too much on industry expertise & not enough on the skills to facilitate learning. For me the use of team teaching and/or inclusion of guests still working in the industry is a great potential solution.

Our Next Session

Our next Webinar is an Edublogs “Fine Focus” session. “A Moderator Sandpit” In which we will discuss and “play with” BlackboardCollaborate from the Moderator perspective.  Join us on Thursday April 19th at 23:00 GMT/UTC the time for you will vary depending on your timezone (check yours here) Thursday afternoon/evening in the USA, late night Thursday in Europe, and Friday morning April 20th in Australia – in the usual Blackboard Collaborate virtual room.

What you SEE is what you learn!


Visual texts and increasingly audio-visual texts are something we meet with all the time. Visual texts are ones where images or graphics of some kind play a major part in “getting the message across”. This doesn’t mean they are necessarily “word free”. Many visual texts combine words and images to strengthen their message. Audio-visual texts combine voice or other sounds with images to achieve their objectives.

“Good” visual texts

To be able to “write” good visual texts you need to know about some of the features that can be used to create effects as well as about the factors such as audience that will affect the content. We talked about some of these in virtual class. If you need to revisit them login to the course website and checkout the recordings for “Week 2 Day 1 – morning” and “Week 2 Day 2 – morning”. Or take a look at the slideshare

View more PowerPoint from Jo Hart
where you will also find information on signing up to ToonDoo. This is the medium we are going to use to make visual texts on online safety.

Making a visual text using ToonDoo

Those students and lecturers for our first pilot ELFADA course who were online during the virtual class session on visual texts made a Toon together. We did this through desktop sharing with each person taking turns to control my desktop and add their own choice of character and text.
This was great fun to do. Toons are a great way to express your personality online whilst staying safe! Making visual texts is a good learning activity for any subject you are studying. You can use them as we are doing to learn about and share your own ideas about online safety.
The wonderful thing about posting to blogs is that you can update posts when something changes. I am doing exactly that here by adding the joint ELFADA toon from the second group of ELFADA students. As with the previous one this was great fun to make!

Our second group joint ELFADA toon

However there are lots of other ways to use them to make learning more fun.
For example to help you remember the different meanings of two words that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings, as in this simple text above.

Saving Toons

Something we did not really cover in the session was saving your Toon and capturing the link so here is a screencast to help you if you get stuck on this.

You can add your Toons to your blog posts in two ways. We have already look at adding a link – you can do this with your Toon by saving the link and inserting it in the post. Next week we will be looking a adjusting images to a suitable size and inserting them in posts.


Visual texts are a great learning tool as well as being fun to make. We hope you will carry on making Toons and other visual texts for learning. Remember to leave a comment on this post. The more practise you get at commenting effectively the better. Was the post useful for you? In what way was it useful? Was there anything about it that you thought worked very well and why was this?

About texts!



This post is about texts and how we can understand their “messages” better if we consider more than just the words that are used.

Written texts

You will find that there are lots of different types of text. When we look at written texts it is useful to look at the features and think about why those particular features have been used. The use of different features can make texts more fit for their purpose by affecting how we understand them.

The Prezi shown below on “Text features and purposes” is a reminder of some important text features and text purposes.


Edublogs two webinar overviews!


Firstly, my apologies for the delay in posting such that I have ended up doing a “two in one” post of the most recent Serendipity overview and link and our “Desert Island App/Tool” FineFocus session. I have been totally overwhelmed by work for the ELFADA project. As well as being in virtual class for over 20 hours last week I have been finalising and publishing posts on the course blog.

Serendipity 29/30 March

There were only three of us in this session, we chatted a while before starting to give others time to arrive, and with only three we didn’t do a poll we just chatted about education issues. The recording is thus only about 45 minutes. We ranged across a variety of topics including:

  • Use of the term “blended learning” and its perceived meaning. My personal feeling on this is that the frequent use of the term to refer only to delivery that includes face-to-face is now totally outdated.
  • The need for empathy with students and the frequency with which those who perform very well in job interviews are often unable to “walk the talk” effectively once in contact with students.

This was a great session – so nice to just chat about “edu” matters with others!

Desert Island Apps/Tools

This session, recorded as usual, arose from my continual quest for slightly different approaches to the webinars. I have noticed in the past that when we ask for “a” favourite anything even if we say JUST ONE we always end up with most people putting in a list of several! This led me down the pathway of wondering how to emphasise the “ONE”. I remembered a radio show from my childhood in the UK – “Desert Island Discs” – where guests chose the 8 records they would like to take if they were to be marooned on a desert island for the rest of their lives. They were also allowed to take only ONE book! So I used the marooned concept as a way to focus our minds on the one app/tool we felt we couldn’t live without.

We started by assuming that we had our device of choice, Internet connectivity and access to cloud-based apps/tools so that the focus was entirely on apps/tools that needed a download. Then we had a whiteboard for people to jot down a few of their favourites from which to choose that final one to take to our desert island and to talk about!

Once we had some ideas we discussed further – we thought that some of our “must haves” were browser accessible so perhaps we didn’t need an app/tool. The next step was for each of us to decide on our ONE app/tool and then for us to talk a little about it an why it was our choice. Probably the most ingenious idea was for “Java IDE” enabling the maroonee to build his own tools.

This session was fun! The desert island concept seemed to work in focussing minds on choosing just one tool, and I think we all got interesting insights into each other’s preferences. Definitely a format to repeat.

Next Webinar

Our next session will be an Edublogs “Serendipity” session on Thursday April 12th at 23:00 GMT/UTC (Afternoon/Evening USA) or Friday April 13th at 7am West Aus, mid morning Eastern States Aus depending on your timezone (check yours here) – in the usual BlackboardCollaborate room. This is one of our fortnightly unconference sessions where we invite you to bring along your “hot topics” and “burning issues” for our poll on the topic.

Adding links and uploading files to your post


This post is about adding (inserting) links into posts. Linking is one of the most important parts of blog posting. It is a way of letting people get to more information from your post.   You can also use links to show and acknowledge (reference) where you have found information.

Adding a link

Adding a link is very easy. You just need to follow a few simple steps. You will find a useful guide to adding links if you checkout his  link to “How to insert links in your post” from the Edublogs guide. The guide has a short video and also images with text to describe the steps.

You can now include links in any of your posts. It is a good idea to include links to course blog posts that you have used to help you create your own posts.

Uploading files

Later we will look at adding images to your posts. However the first thing we will ask you to add to a post is the second draft of your Learning Plan. So here we will show you how to upload a file that you can open from within your blog.

This “How to upload files” is a screencast. The file that we uploaded in the demonstration is this one Learning Plan Template.

Once you have done your own draft Learning Plan using the template you can upload it by following the steps in the screencast.

Uploading Images

Uploading images is almost the same as uploading files. The differences are:

  • Instead of highlighting the title to link a file you just put your mouse pointer where you want the image and click to position it. You can then follow the screencast to upload the image.
  • Once the image is uploaded you get a different window for managing it, here you just choose where you want it to appear in the width of the page and then click insert.

It is important that you resize and adjust your image as necessary to fit the width of your blog. You can see how to do this in later posts.


Once you have used the information in this post to add a link and also to upload a file leave a comment on this post that answers these questions.

  1. Which set of instructions (“Adding a link” or “Uploading a files”) worked best for you?
  2. Tell us one feature/factor, for each set of instructions, that you found very helpful?

Remember to write proper sentences and to check your spelling before you post the comment.








Writing a post – the “writing bit”


A “good” post is really one that does what you want it to do! While it is always exciting (and sometimes a bit scary) to discover that others are reading your posts, the important thing is that they work for you!

Posts for different purposes will be very different. For example if you are writing or using video or images to showcase something that you are good at this will be very different from a post where you are writing to share information. Both of these will be different from a post where you are giving instructions on how to do something.

This post is about some of the ways you can make your posts easy to read, effective and interesting.


It is important that you have some sort of structure for your post. Clear structure is very helpful for anyone reading your post – reading online is much harder when there is no structure. The structure is like a series of signposts that show you where you are and breaks the post up into manageable “chunks”.

You will see that most of the posts on ELFADA are split up using headings. We usually have an “Introduction” that tells you what the post is about. The middle part of the post has one or more headings for the topics or sections covered. Then we finish with a “Conclusion”, often this includes questions to help you write comments on the post.

Under each heading there will be one or more paragraphs. Checkout this link for a short look at paragraphs with a quiz and this one for a more detailed look at writing good paragraphs. The course website also has more on paragraphs and how to write good ones. The paragraphs are made up of sentences – short paragraphs work better than long ones in blog posts. You will find more on writing good and correct sentences on the course website.

As well as paragraphs we often use lists to make something easier to read. “Bulleted” (dot point) lists are good when you have several examples to give. Numbered lists are good for the steps in instructions explaining how to do something.

It is best if you can organise your post with information in a sensible order, this is easier if you have a structure in your mind when yuo write.

The words

The words that you use and the way that you use them are important in making your blog easy and interesting to read.

Remember you have no idea who might read your blog post (it could be a future employer) so it is always good to take great care with your writing. Draft your post first and expect to edit it at least twice before you publish. Proofread your work carefully – it sometimes helps to read it out to yourself. Use the spell check but also check that you have the right words in the right places – if you are not sure then look up the word! Spell check won’t find a mistake if you have used a real word in the wrong place eg “there” instead of “their”. Read your sentences carefully to make sure that they are correct well written sentences that make sense and that you have capital letters and punctuation in the right places.

Take great care that you do not copy/paste text from elsewhere – using other people’s writing except under particular conditions is theft! It is very easy for someone to check online to see if their work has been stolen, so use your own words and refer to the source of your information – in a blog post it is usually easy to link to that source if it is online.

When you first start writing posts it is a good idea to ask your lecturer to check the post over and suggest any editing before you publish. Login to the course website for more help with spelling, punctuation and grammar.

Media and links

One of the great things about blogs compared to printed pages is that you can include other “stuff” and so make your posts much more exciting! It is a good “rule of thumb” to include at least one of the following:

  • image
  • audio/audiovisual/visual
  • interactive activity (such as polling)

in every post – more than one if the post is long! These can be included as uploaded images, links or embedded code or a blend.

Once you have got started with writing posts we will be looking at some of the ways of including different media in posts. This is particularly useful for any posts where you are showcasing your skills and want to include pictures or audio.


Writing blog posts is just like any other type of writing. You write different posts for different purposes. As with all writing drafting, proofreading and careful editing are the keys to good posts.

Add a comment to this post. Is the post helpful for you in thinking about writing your own posts? What do you think will be the most helpful item in the post for you personally?