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Media and Political Transformations in the Arab Spring

On  Wednesday (15 May 2013) I had the honour of  introducing a documentary  film ‘Words of Witness’ as it premiered as part of the Human Right Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF).   The documentary was made  during the Egyptian uprising, by  filmmaker Mai Iskander and follows Heba Afify, an online journalist reporting from the frontline of the revolution. I was asked by the Festival organisers to introduce the film and provide the audience with some updated reflections on the current political situation in Egypt and across the Arab Spring countries.

Migrant youth and the challenge of schooling and identity

Young people have been the focal point in recent debates about immigration, multiculturalism, cultural diversity, and the notion of living with difference. We have seen recently (March 2013) the release of the Federal government inquiry into 'Multiculturalism in Australia' with a sharper emphasis on social cohesion and successful integration for migrant youth. But within the broader multicltural debate, cultural identity and articulations of belonging and attachment remain central issues for migrant youth, regardless of how much time has elapsed since leaving their country of origin. Cultural identity is particularly salient for migrant youth who negotiate identity space comfortably alongside, in opposition to, or more commonly, somewhere in between their immigrant parents’ conceptions and understanding of culture and the receiving culture within which they live.

Not well enough informed to "give a Gonski"

Clever marketing strategies, well designed t-shirts, coloured cars, and a social media campaign have increasingly asked members of the Australian public to position themselves as "Giving a Gonski" (see To badge oneself with this term, is to demonstrate visible support to proposed changes to the funding of Australian schools. I want to give a Gonski, as an educator who works closely across the schooling sector, but I can't because it is a complex discussion which is inaccessible to the average person.

School Education - a tangled and conflated web of public issues

It is easy to feel confused, disillusioned and a little disheartened by current critiques and critics of school education as it is portrayed in the media. There are many competing agendas, and a series of conflated issues raised by policy makers, politicians, media commentators and many graduates of the school sector. There is a lack of clarity in the language we use, and feelings we have about education as a society. in some respects, we may have lost sight of the significance and power of a strong, vibrant and robust schooling system, as an asset of our country.

 I love education. I am committed to contributing solid, innovative and rigorous education for pre-service teachers. I have rich partnerships with many amazing schools across public and private schooling sectors. I have a deep commitment to social justice, and believe that for every success we experience in life, we should contribute something back for a "greater good" in/for society. 

My School is losing

Undertaking numeracy and literacy tests at all schools around Australia (NAPLAN), and then publishing the results on the My School website, continues to rouse both defenders and critics because the proverbial report card on My School is mixed.

The bureaucrats responsible for organising NAPLAN and the groups of sixty like schools continue to use the diagnosis defence. They praise the way publication of NAPLAN results can inform diagnosis of educational problems at particular schools compared to their like schools. Poorly performing teachers can no longer hide behind the social background of their disadvantaged students to explain their poor results when they are poorer than other students from the same background.

The current Minister of Education, Peter Garret, is keen on the diagnosis defence for My School. No doubt, Christopher Pyne or any future Minister will use it too.

From stalker to dobber: parenting on social media

My research and thinking, and even my identity with regard to social networking has evolved, but not in a way I have anticipated. Over the past three years, I have offered a number of conference addresses and keynote presentations focussed on the use of social media and networking in education. I have co-authored chapters in books about the challenges, potentials and pitfalls, and often humorously reflected upon myself as s stalker-mum or stalker-teacher.

Student assessments that bring tears to my eyes: The next generation of teachers

Assessment in Higher Education can be a punishing and torturous time in an academic’s life. It is punishing as a large volume of student work is expected to be graded and their results uploaded in extremely short periods of time. Such expectations demand that this work is done over hours which extend well beyond when our loved ones are sleeping, as well as when they are awake and expect some love. Assessment can also be torturous, as if the tasks are not well considered and creatively constructed the monotonous recount of key quotes or really important information retold more than three hundred times can be mind numbingly painful. This piece however, focuses on the joy of assessment, and my recent immersion into the thinking of our future teachers.

Online opportunities: digital innovation or death through regulation?

The steady measured progress of innovation in higher education has been replaced with an explosion of new ideas. The change is both exhilarating and frightening. Each day there are new innovations, as more and more experts explain where these changes might take us.

New ideas are flourishing around Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs, badging, portfolios, assessment, and other ways of extracting value and efficiency from the digital learning experience. Just six months ago most of us had never heard of MOOCs, but if you search for this very odd acronym now you get a flood of results.

Much of the digital innovation so far has come from the United States, but what about Australia? There are some urgent questions around whether we, too, are able to nurture innovation.

An insider’s guide: Studying with Coursera

The disruptive influence of massive online open courses, or ‘MOOCs’, has been well documented on The Conversation and elsewhere. The arrival of major players, edX, Udacity and Coursera create opportunities and challenges for Australian educational institutions.

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