Open Education Matters – FEEDBACK is the new currency

Feedback currency

When I left school more than thirty years ago, there was no internet. There was no smart phone. There was no digital camera and video recorders were expensive and bulky. Everything about school was about how well you could play the game of information retention and regurgitation. Yes, I managed to get good grades based on my learnt skills of information recall. But in reality the things that I remember from those school days regarding facts, figures, dates, formulas and names are only those ones that I have often had to recall via a daily crossword or two.

So what do I value the most about that schooling experience? Well, just knowing how to articulate an argument was a short cut to exam success for most of process and this skill has been invaluable for my whole life. But this is something that only realised in hindsight. The real engagement when mastering a new subject or topic came from timely and well directed feedback. A recognition that my efforts are valued regardless of the subject, skill or topic. And yet there is also something more that lies underneath this. Many of us are driven to know why things are the way they are. To find a reason to do the things we do every day. I guess in short, an addiction to learning is born out of need to find context for existence and I can see this daily in the friends, family, colleagues and clients around me. Whether it be a new language, learning an instrument, how to create animation videos I seek new skills but I note that the persistence and practise only sticks when I get the feedback payoff similar to those days in school.

So I look at where education in our schools are now, mostly through the experience and eyes of my children. I am often challenged by the idea that a lot of schooling today is still based on teaching them ‘what to learn’ rather ‘then how to learn’. Having said that, I cannot dismiss the fact that I survived the system of the seventies and eighties and in fact may have even thrived as a result of it. Maybe this is something every generation considers and is possibly why schooling has changed so little over the last century in terms of delivery style. But just as the pen changed the relevance of the chalk and slate, surely the internet will change the relevance of the text book. My children have full access to any content they can imagine, and if the content isn’t there, they can make it. But they don’t need to focus on content. If they need to know an answer to a question they can ask Siri or Cortana. Even if it was a rather complex question they can reach out via community forums or platforms such as fluther.  What is it that drives them to learn new skills? What is it that will keep them engaged?

Most likely it is the same things; feedback based on having their position or argument valued. In simple terms that might be the dopamine hit they get from posting on Instagram and receiving likes. The thumbs up from their friends and families from a Facebook post that keeps them engaged to want to do more, learn more but more importantly share more. I mean we all do it. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it is all about the quantity of the post but they soon learn that the quality of the post is what matters. This is about still striving in those areas of off line activities, think sports or hobbies where the posting is the validation part of the process where the feedback comes into it. ‘I get awarded a trophy at a football presentation. It’s in a room full of people and I feel good. People take photos which are subsequently posted on line. People I don’t even really know give me an on-line thumbs up. This actually feels better than the room full of people. It has a permanency of record as it becomes achieved for all of history.’

And like my own experience it is more than just the feedback, it is feedback from their tribe. The need for belonging is intrinsic in all of us and has been iterated as one of the greatest underlying issues when it comes to social health issues such as mental health well-being and addiction. Regardless of how small your interest, the specialty of your niche, there is now a digital tribe (often in the first instance) that can bring that individual into not only an on-line community but an off-line community as a result.

So I write the above in response to a question posed to me via an on line learning session, “Why the importance of open education?” I didn’t really have a clear way to articulate all the pent up learnings that I have on this subject so I stripped it back to the argument as above. I mean I could have just stated, ‘It is inevitable that open education will continue to thrive and proliferate. It is in our DNA, and it is in our best interest to do away with the tethers of copyright.’

Over the past few months I have ‘read’ (listened via audiobook) the following narrations that do a much better job at arguing this reality than I could ever do in this short post; “Tribes. We need you to lead us” Seth Godin / “Sapiens”, & “Homo Dues. A brief history of tomorrow” Yuval Noah Harari / “The selfish gene”, Richard Dawkins / “The Inevitable. Understanding the 12 technological forces…” Kevin Kelly / “The rational optimist” Matt Ridley. This is the deep learning that gives me the context to know that this is the future of learning. That open learning is underpinned by human nature to ‘seek, sense and share’. Note, I am reminded of something I read in a blog recently – ‘collaborate to validate’. I mention this for one particular reason and that is a reminder that, just because it is written or said  doesn’t necessarily make it true. So the importance of life experience can not be understated. (Subject for another time).

One final point, just as audio books have changed the way I engage with my self-education practices and underpins where my deep learning comes from, what will that look like for my children. It is quite possible that it won’t be from reading (or listening) as in my preference, but will more likely come from computer simulations (think virtual reality and gaming). The copyright is not the content, or the concept or the idea but how the idea or concept is applied, interpreted or presented. People are doing it every second of the day via Facebook and Instagram with video, photos and memes. How many are being chased down and held to task re copyright?

Can we really own an idea? If an idea falls in a forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it really exist? I look forward to your feedback…


44th edition of NDCO eDIN news now available

44th edition of NDCO eDIN news now available –

This months edition comes to you in the middle of the school holidays
and I hope everyone had a little bit of time off. I managed to slip
in a small but rewarding break with my kids, and with the football
season all done and ‘dusty’ed’ (congratulations to the Richmond Tigers
and Melbourne Storm), its back to normal programing.
With the usual range of topics covered in this edition, my main conversation
here is about what is that normal programing. The main
one for me is the upcoming NDCO national conference happening in
Canberra. As per previous years I will be focused on brining a special
edition of the eDIN news in October featuring all the latest news
from the gathering. This years conference will likely be one of regeneration
as many of the previous NDCO’s have moved out of the
program with a new cohort commencing.
Also for the month of October is the usual focus on mental health and
wellbeing activities. (Mental Health Week—8th—14th October).
‘From its beginnings in 1985, the week has grown to encompass
hundreds of events, organised by a multitude of individuals, community
groups and service providers throughout the state.’ I hope you
take the chance to join in, reflect and participate where and when
any opportunities present themselves.

NDCO eDIN newsletter 43rd edition now available

August 2017 edition of eDIN news now available:

Spring has sprung, the buds are busting, jack frost is packing his bag and the magpies are sharpening their beaks. Must admit that spring is my favourite season of the year. As for the last month of winter, things have been busy despite the cold.
My key takeaways for the month; firstly, the opportunity to deliver more workshops in regards ‘Pathway Options’ and ‘Assistive Technology’ is allowing refinement of delivery re style and content. I look forward to presenting more of these in the future. Please don’t hesitate to give me a call if you need me to deliver a session to your group.
Second mention goes to the NDIS and the fact that the world still spins as the rollout continues. It was good to catch-up with Merri Health this month to learn more about the Early Childhood component of the Scheme. I look forward to their participation in the local networks.
Lastly, a big welcome to all the new NDCO’s across the country-side. Seems to have been a big change in personnel across many regions lately. (Which also means a big farewell to all those that have left). I very much look forward to the re-invigorated team at the next national conference in October.


42nd eDIN newsletter now available July 2017

42nd eDIN newsletter now available July 2017

I actually managed a little time off over the school holidays but when I look back at this month it doesn’t feel like it. So much I haven’t included in this months newsletter with some articles being held over to next time.
Key takeaways for the NDCO program this month include the finalization and submission of reports to head office in Canberra and the inaugural meeting of the new NDCO advisory committee in Melbourne. (see page 2).
In Ovens and Murray this month we saw the roll out of the NDIS information roadshow featuring the key players as they got to most major centres in that region. Anecdotally I am receiving a lot of feed-back from potential NDIS participants indicating that they are still very much unaware of the ins and outs of the new systems. This would indicate that information sessions will need to continue during the implementation phase.
We also had NAIDOC come and go although I know a lot of events were postponed due to the weather, with these to occur later in the year when it warms up.
Good luck to all the nominees in the Victorian 2017 Disability Sport and Recreation Awards which closed recently, I look forward to highlighting the winners once announced.

Yours Sincerely,
Mark Cottee

Assistive technology and the age of the ‘device’

NDCO—Assistive Technology Session 20th July 2017

Big thanks to the Albury Wodonga Dyslexia Support Group for inviting me along to one of their monthly session this July. It was great to pass on my knowledge re the importance of the new technology advances (the role of the device) when it comes to people who experience communication hardships – often labelled ‘Learning Difficulties’.

With around 50 people in attendance it was fantastic to reach such an enthusiastic audience. I look forward to hearing back from the group about any advances they make on behalf their students and/or children as a result of the information provided. For those that couldn’t make the session, or if you have an interest into this subject I created a short video capturing the first part of the session and I also  posted a copy of the resource sheet featured on the night. Click here to view it on the NDCO region 15 webpage. (“Dyslexia Assistive Tech overview”).

If you would like to connect with a fantastic support group I would also highly suggest linking into the AWDSG via Facebook: Albury Wodonga Dyslexia Support – or  click here.

Don’t forget that if you would like me to come and do some hands-on sessions with your group, school or other, just let me know.


NDCO eDIN newsletter 41st edition now available

NDCO eDIN newsletter 41st edition now available.

Another busy month as  the mid year term break approaches. I will be having a few days rest that  I am very much looking forward to despite the colder weather. Having completed the annual NDCO reports it’s nice to know I will be returning to a  revised set  of planned activities to focus on.

This month saw a strong move forward with the Victorian NDCO’s fully realizing the intent to have an all of Victorian State advisory committee. The inaugural meeting is scheduled for mid July and I look forward  to bringing you my reflections on the achievements of this  initiative throughout 2017/18.

July is a lot about NAIDOC, make sure you check out the Koorie catch up page for some of the local events happening near you.

It is also that time of year  when there seems to be an influx of staff changes in various program areas. To all those, too many to name here, that are moving on, thanks for your input and contributions to the sector. For all the replacements, I look forward to meeting you soon  and I hope this newsletter finds its way into your in tray sooner rather than later.

Sincerely, Mark Cottee. NDCO region 15 Northern Victoria


NDCO region 15 eDIN news 40th edition

The 40th edition eDIN news is now available.  Click here

As I indicated last month, I have included some extra references to the budget although the main impact points regarding school education and higher education funding were already pre-released prior to budget night.  I am also mindful of my comment  that just because it was indicated in the budget, doesn’t mean it is real. Except for the bit were it talks about the NDCO program being funded (ha).

In other news, it has a been a big month regarding Aboriginal Affairs with a major focus on the talks happening at Uluru during May. Interesting to see a push towards treaty rather then recognition. This is something that Victoria has been contextualizing for at least the last 12 months.

One of the behind the scenes issues I have been focusing on through this month is the impact (issues and opportunities) of the NDIS on the VET sector. I look forward to bringing readers a comprehensive overview in the near future. Already I am seeing the opportunity for positive change in the sector for all and the crucial role VET/Further Education may play for all mainstream connections with NDIS.

NDCO region 15 Mark Cottee