A First eBook Publication

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

Students in EDU5287: Emerging Technologies and Learning have worked tirelessly this semester to create an ebook! It has been a learning process for all of us — but the results are finally available to share. The book is a collection of chapters, each published by a student in the course. Topics are incredibly diverse, but bring together interdisciplinary perspectives on technologies and the ways that educators in schools, universities, businesses, medical schools, and community health care centres leverage a range of technological solutions to support learning.

The book is free and is Creative Commons licensed (Attribution, NonCommercial, Share Alike).

You can access it by clicking on the Buy Now button.

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu.

I will document in a separate post the how-to process, in case folks are interested in using Lulu.com to publish work with their own students.

Thanks for downloading and sharing our first eBook!

Literacy Research Association Conference 2015

This morning, I will be sharing part of my dissertation research at the Literacy Research Association conference in Carlsbad, California.

The symposium is entitled:
Students Constructing Meaning from Multiple Internet Texts: Processes, Pedagogies and Potential.

I’m really happy to be presenting work alongside two other scholars whose work I admire, Michael Manderino and Michael DeSchryver.

Here is what I am presenting today — paper and slideshow.

Full Text of Paper here.

My slides are here.


PowerPoint of Hagerman (2015) Presentation



Combattre les trolls et la bête aux mille têtes: Words that shape thinking about digital literacies and learning

DigiGirlI see the world around me with different eyes, and hear it with different ears. I’ve been away from home for a while. Now, I am back. And I notice things.

About a month ago over coffee, I visited HabiloMédias.ca. I hadn’t ever read the French version of the site prior to that day and it has quickly become one of my favourite resources for Canadian perspectives on digital and media literacies. If you don’t know it or its English counterpart MediaSmarts.ca, it is a treasure trove of information and resources for educators.

At top right that morning two featured blog roll headlines caught my eye:

These headlines were juxtaposed with a rolling image gallery of children reading, children on devices, children and teachers together. Trolls, beasts, children — all within my visual field. Suddenly, I felt nervous. I had just checked my girls — they were still sleeping soundly in their beds. But really. I felt nervous.

I think this struck me as especially significant because, since returning to work in Canada, I’ve sensed this inexplicable uneasiness about the digital world and teachers’ relationship with it. With good reason, I have heard in my circles much talk about safety, about cyberbullying prevention, about privacy and what not to do online. Moreover, through student feedback, I’m learning about a range of needs and perspectives on technology and its use in schools. For example, students have written:

“The integration of online components can be useful to some however, the creation of completely online assignments is not conductive to my own learning. Pen and paper is what makes things easier and assignments that I can see the use of for the future.”


“You promote the use of technology in classrooms, but not all future teachers will have the same interest as you, and this takes away from learning about Curriculum Planning. For example, I don’t want to be on Twitter, nor will I be required to be on Twitter as a teacher, yet it is a requirement for this class. Same for the personal web site. I will not be required to have a web site as a teacher.”

These comments show me that learning with or through digital technologies cannot be assumed, even for those who, ostensibly, have had access to a range of digital devices for most of their lives. The comments also show me that as a community of educators, we lack clarity around the expectations that we have for teachers and their use of technologies in their instruction. I appreciate these students’ perspectives a great deal — but I wonder whether, or to what extent their background experiences with (and without) digital tools might have been shaped by a general reticence or lack of focus on the strategic integration of technologies for learning in the province’s public schools?

In 2011, the Ontario College of Teachers published this Advisory on Social Media Use. Although the article does offer ideas for how to use social media productively and safely, a teacher already feeling nervous about the “risks” of social media might interpret the advisory as council against its use. As the article says, “Nobody wants to jeopardize their students’ well-being or compromise their own professionalism” and with sub-headings like “Criminal, civil and disciplinary proceedings” and “Know the dangers” leading the eye through the article’s recommendations, it wouldn’t be surprising to me if  many teachers say to themselves, “You know, the safest way to do no harm is to just avoid the social media space altogether.” These folks aren’t wrong. They’re concerned. They’re responsible. They’re professional.

And yet — with my eyes and ears that see and hear in different ways because I’ve worked, lived and studied outside of Canada’s borders for ten years, I also know that the world presents new, digital contexts that our students will need to know how to navigate effectively if they are to live, learn and thrive in a globally networked society. I ask, how are we preparing children to live and learn in a digital world that, for all of its perils, also offers promise never before possible?

Without minimizing the importance of safety, I see value in listening to other voices. I see value in listening to colleagues who can show us how to use technologies thoughtfully, strategically and in ways that enable and empower our students and communities. I ask us to let those voices sing as loudly as the ones that might suggest, even subtly, to avoid the digital world.

I strongly feel that children’s best defence against the threats of the Internet is, actually, more guided experience with the Internet.  Children should build a vast repertoire of background knowledge so that when they graduate, the Internet is known, understood, and maybe even seems banal for its predictability. When they graduate, children should have developed a sophisticated set of problem-solving skills that will enable them to safely and effectively address every situation they encounter online.

By way of comparison, driving a car on Highway 401 is dangerous too. But, how do 16 year-olds learn to navigate its complex and ever-changing perils safely?  I think it’s important to remember that kids learn to drive on the 401 by driving on the 401 — with a couple of years of adult supervision  before they do it on their own.

Everyone wants to keep kids safe from the truly stomach-churning stuff that we all know can and has happened because of the ways that we are all so incredibly and immediately connected through digital technologies. The best defence, in my view, is to actively teach the digital literacies that will prepare our children to be safe in our globally networked world. 

Today, I will drive the 401 — with my children in the backseat — in order to get to Ontario’s ed tech conference, BIT15 Conference in Niagara Falls. There, I hope to hear the informed voices, new ideas, perspectives that might inspire new paths toward complex, strategic, digital integration. I hope to hear people thinking about how to empower flexible, critical, capable thinkers and learners in a digital age.

As I hear these perspectives, I will share them in this space. 

As I drive the 401 this afternoon, I know I will be thankful that I’ve driven it a thousand times before and safely managed to deal with a rather long list of challenges. I have missed exits dozens of times but always managed to find my way. I’ve been broken down on the side of the road (with my baby in her carseat) and called roadside assistance for help. I have nearly fallen asleep at the wheel, but because I knew where the rest stations were, I held on until I got to the next one where I could safely nap for a bit. I have avoided accidents by leaving ample space in front of me, experienced stop-and-go rush-hour, merged when there were transport trucks everywhere, crawled along in rain and snow. 

In my haste to find, listen to and share inpsired perspectives at BIT15, I hope I don’t get pulled over for speeding. Of course, this too has happened before, so I will know what to do…

SAMR for Ontario Teachers: Should it be the Preferred Model for Tech Integration?

Lately, my colleague Leigh Graves Wolf and I have been thinking about the ways that the SAMR model, developed by Rueben Puentedura, has been used to frame technology integration practices for teachers in K-12 schools. As I prepared a lesson for my teacher education students on technology integration, I started reading more into the foundations of the SAMR model and the claims that have been made about the impact of technologies used in ways that align with its definitions.

As I reviewed the OSAPAC website (the organization that reviews and purchases licenses for software applications for use in Ontario’s public schools) I was a little bit surprised to find that SAMR received privileged focus. SAMR appears in the rolling gallery of images on the site. Also, OSAPAC has provided access to lesson plans that show teachers how to use diverse digital tools in ways that align with the four categories of the model — Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. The plans demonstrate a range of uses for a range of technologies and are surely incredibly useful to teachers.

All of this said, I wrote this note on a comment form at the OSAPAC website and hope that it might lead to a rich dialogue about the ways that the province is supporting teachers’ professional development as technology integrators.

Short version: I think that SAMR is a very useful framework. However, a few critical indicators suggest to me that we need to learn more about its’ value as a model for technology integration in schools.

Dear OSAPAC Members,

I’m a new member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa with specialisations in educational technology and digital literacies. I am very curious about the rationale you used as a committee to promote the SAMR model as a province-wide approach to technology integration. I have certainly seen SAMR grow to become an incredibly popular model for describing the ways that teachers can use technologies. On face value, it makes a great deal of sense and it gives teachers very useful language for their technology integration choices. However, I would encourage you to consider the research foundations for Puentedura’s work and the ways that SAMR puts technology at the center of the conversation. To my knowledge, Puentedura’s analysis of the impact of methods that could be considered more “transformative” is speculative. I’m not saying he’s wrong — but I am saying that we need to apply very critical lenses to the claims he makes about approaches to technology integration and their impact on student learning outcomes.

For example, in an often cited presentation that he provides at his blog (see slide 20) (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2014/12/12/TechnologyInEducation_AnIntegratedApproach.pdf) Puentedura shows how a set of 20 studies in a meta-analysis by Pearson, Ferdig, Blomeyer and Moran (2005) could be mapped onto his SAMR model — and how the effect sizes of studies that used methods that seemed to be “modifications” or “redefinitions” were larger.

There are, potentially, a few problems with this. First, he is applying his definitions, post hoc, to methods of technology integration in studies that may or may not have actually used methods that align with his definitions. Secondly, he doesn’t provide any statistical analysis of the effect size differences — on the graph, the differences look large — but he doesn’t show if the effect sizes, by category, differ from one another statistically. If you look at the spread of effect sizes in the “Redefinition” category, it looks like there is a very big difference — but really, there is just one study that has an effect size close to 3 (which is huge) and the others are really not that much higher than the effect sizes in the other three categories.

When we look at data like these, we have to resist the temptation to focus on the outliers and really look at how most of the data are actually really close in terms of their effect sizes. This interpretation, by the way, has not appeared in any peer reviewed journal articles that I know of. A brief Google Scholar search turns up lots of references to Puentedura’s blog and to the writings of others about the model — but I don’t see any evidence of studies that demonstrate why we should tell teachers that this framework should be privileged above others, as they come to think about the complexities of their technology integration choices. Food for thought. I’d be happy to discuss further. I’m genuinely interested in the rationale you have used to promote this framework for the province’s teachers. Interestingly, the creator of the video you share (SAMR in 120 seconds) is by Candace Marcotte who is a close friend and former student. I love Candace’s work — but if you called her directly, I’m sure she might also say that SAMR is just one framework among many that teachers should think about as they learn to integrate technologies in thoughtful, strategic ways.


P.S. Two other Frameworks for consideration:
Mishra & Koehler’s Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK)
Kolb’s Triple-E Model

From My Garden: A Systems Thinking Approach to Online Reading Instruction

I’ve been an appreciative contributor to the Technology in Literacies Education Special Interest Group at the International Literacy Association for a couple of years now. Here’s a link to my latest post — a reflection on how we might approach online literacies instruction in ways that are inspired by systems thinking.

I’ve included a few photos that I took of the garden while I was contemplating the connections between the work I do as a teacher and scholar of online reading, and the ecological systems that enable flowers to bloom. Complex systems, ecology, interactions — how can these images help us to consider online reading instruction that allows complex learned behaviours to emerge?


Infographic: How do Theoretical Frames in Literacies Fit Together?

Multiple Theoretical FramesThis week, I’m presenting at a two-day workshop for the Association of Independent School Librarians. The title of the PD session is “At the Center of IT All: Scaffolding Advanced Information Literacies for K-12 Students in School Libraries”. One of the questions that the AISL wanted to explore through this PD session is one that many literacies scholars grapple with daily — how do theoretical frames such as transliteracies, New Literacies, multiliteracies, media literacy, and information literacy fit together? And to follow up on that question — how are these theoretical frames both similar and different?

In preparation for this talk, I’ve developed an infographic that will accompany more thorough exploration of these theoretical frameworks. I’ll share the full presentation once it’s finished, but for now, here’s a multimodal conception of the relationships between theoretical perspectives on literacies in a globally networked world. Notice that lines separating perspectives are permeable. Icons have been selected to represent elements of each theory that can be used to differentiate them from one another. Importantly, all of these perspectives include social, cultural and critical perspectives as fundamental literacies. Certainly, some theoretical frameworks have been left out and others may view the relationships among these perspectives differently. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Are the crickets singing, Mama?

Inspired by last night’s conversation with my 2 year old…

In through her bedroom window, Ellyn heard the sound of crickets.

She pushed back the sheets and peered into the warm summer night.

“Are the crickets singing, Mama?” she whispered.

“Yes,” said her mother.  “The crickets are singing.”

“Are the crickets happy, Mama?”

“Yes,” said her mother.  “The crickets are happy.”

“Are the crickets in the grass, Mama?”

“Yes,” said her mother. “The crickets are in the grass.”

“Are they in the dirt?”

“Yes, probably,” said her mother. “Some of the crickets are in the dirt.”

“Are they in the mud?”

“Maybe, “ said her mother. “Maybe some of them are in the mud.”

“Why are they in the grass and in the dirt and in the mud, Mama?”

“Because they live outside. The crickets live in the grass and on the ground.”

“I can hear them.” Ellyn put her hand to her ear.

“Why do they sing?”

“They sing for each other,” said her mother. “They sing songs about the day. They sing songs about the night.”

“How do crickets sing, Mama?”

“They sing with their legs,” said her mother. “They rub them together and they make their music.”

Ellyn smiled.

“Will you sing me a song, Mama? Can you sing me a song about the day?”

Ellyn’s head fell slowly to her pillow. Her mother laid the sheets back over her arms.

Out from the bedroom window, on a warm summer night, crickets in the the grass, and in the dirt, and in the mud heard the sound of a mother singing her baby to sleep.

Teachers Teaching Teachers Talk with James Paul Gee

I had the opportunity this evening to be a part of a conversation with James Paul Gee about his most recent book, The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning.

I asked him to expand on the idea of collaborative cognition — his notion of the big-M Mind and why it’s so critical for students to learn to think in networks and also to talk a little bit about how he sees technology supporting this imperative.

I wish, however, that I had had a chance to ask him about how we shift the culture of schooling so that teachers in classrooms feel empowered to create the affinity spaces, the collaborative problem-solving opportunities and authentic learning experiences about which he spoke so powerfully tonight. I wanted to ask this because, these are big — and sort of scary propositions — for a lot of people.

In his book, Gee talks about “institutions of frozen thought”. Schools are frozen — they perpetuate themselves. They exist, under NCLB in America, anyway, to test children. But, as Gee said tonight, they don’t have to exist for this reason. Schools don’t have to be the way they are — that is, places that make many children feel they don’t measure up. It’s just that for people who grew up in these schools and who teach in these schools —  when all you know is the way schools are, it is often difficult to even imagine how they could be different. If this frozen institution is all teachers have known, how can they be convinced to embrace the data that shows why schools have to be be different?

I wish I had asked him about how teachers can come to embrace ideas that challenge their identity and about how teacher educators can empower teachers to trust in the evidence, and to reject outright, testing mandates that undermine the kinds of authentic learning experiences that would make schools better for children and society in general. Gee did talk about crisis as catalyst — and how the inequalities in American society may well lead to the kinds of change that he advocates.When the change comes, however, I think it’s essential for teachers to be leading it.

As a teacher educator, this conversation has empowered me to advocate even more enthusiastically than I already do for inclusive, authentic, responsive experiences in schools that will produce the kinds of human beings that society needs — people who are connected, resilient and smart in the face of challenge and complexity.

[The conversation really starts at about 9:00]
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdrxmNO1fbw?rel=0]

A real first…

This email goes on the list of best emails ever. Here’s what it said:

Good Evening!

I attended your presentation at MRA, and was so excited to take your thinking back to the team in our district that is redefining our former Summer School program.  We would love to try out the pst2ic3 this summer with our struggling students.  I was wondering if you had any additional pieces of your work that you would be willing to share that we could use with teachers to help them to be more successful with implementing something like this with a group of kids.

Thanks for any help and guidance you can give!

This is the first time someone I don’t know has attended a conference presentation and (a) emailed me after for more information and (b) has told me that they would like to use ideas that I’ve been working on to frame their own practice with students.

I could hardly believe my eyes when I read this this morning!

And it couldn’t have come at a better time. Anyone who has worked on a dissertation knows about the self-questioning that so often leads one to wonder if it’s all worth it. I have wondered whether all of this effort will make any real, positive impact for students in schools. Will anyone care about these ideas? Will there be value in any of this for anyone? Is this a line of research I really want to spend my professional life pursuing? Will anyone ever hire me to teach this stuff…and the list goes on.

One has to believe, of course, that the effort is worth the sacrifice; that the work is good and valuable. I do believe these things. But I also think anyone who has written a dissertation will admit that having faith in the work is hard. The “limitations” of one’s own research are always easier to see than the strengths. N’est-ce pas?

So, thank you kind emailer. A message like yours is also a voice telling me to stay the course and to keep on…

Taking Delight in Graduate Students’ Successes


As a graduate student, I have thought a good deal about the nature of student-professor dynamics, and about the investment one makes or feels in students when, like, you, they are already grown up. It’s easy to feel invested in children because, well, they’re children. But what is it that graduate student advisors and instructors feel toward their students when they succeed? Pride seems a little paternalistic or even a little presumptive — can professors really take credit for students’ achievement at this level? Last week, I found myself thinking about these questions when one of my students earned some much-deserved recognition for work she did with colleagues in a class I lead last summer.

A Master’s student whom I taught in the MAET Overseas cohort in Ireland contacted me via email. She is currently taking a literacy methods course and as an art teacher, she was unsure about her approach to a literacy-focused research project. We chatted for about 45 minutes, got caught up on recent goings on, and had a very constructive conversation about how she might proceed with her assignment. During our discussion, she also told me that she had decided to present a research poster, developed with colleagues during our summer courses in Dublin, at a graduate student conference at MSU. I was absolutely delighted by her initiative and wished her the best. The poster, which reviewed extant literature on parent-teacher miscommunication also offered practical solutions for building better home-school partnerships by using digital tools. As their instructor — I was totally impressed by the work for its intellectual rigor and its applicability to classroom practice. During our open poster review session in Ireland, other members of the overseas MAET community reviewed it, and loved it, too. The students’ work generated quite a buzz of discussion around this very important issue.

And so, I was simply delighted to learn that judges at the graduate student conference also saw great value in this work. My student and her colleagues who co-authored the work were honored with one of five poster session awards for research excellence! Hooray! Hooray!

And then, I started to wonder why I was taking such delight in their success. I didn’t create the poster. I didn’t write a single word that went on it. I certainly didn’t present it — in Dublin, or in E. Lansing. So why was I feeling so pleased? Why, even now, as a teacher of teachers, do I derive such joy from their achievements? In thinking about this, I have come to realize that the best I can do as a graduate student instructor is to create opportunities and learning structures that enable excellence to flourish. Come to think of it, this has always been what I have tried to do, whether teaching young children, adolescents or adults. Although there is always content that needs to be communicated from me to students, the truth is, that in most cases, I mostly try to frame the learning activity and get out of the way so that students can create things.

And so, I guess the delight I took in this poster session award  was deeply connected to a feeling that the activity itself had some value and that the learning ecology in which it was developed allowed these students to show the world their best. In some way, I guess there is delight to be taken in the knowledge that work I have done behind the scenes created a stage on which others could succeed.IMG_2500

I offer my sincere congratulations to Blair, Pilar, Jillian and Laura — and also my thanks, because their successes have prompted me to reflect on my work as a teacher educator. Always learning…