People in the field

Mary Jo Madda is a math and science teacher that turned into a journalist. Before jumping into a new field, Mary had some serious experience under her belt, she made a training curriculum for teachers looking to create digital media to use in their classrooms. After her transition, she soon became a senior editor at, a community of education technology entrepreneurs and educators, before moving on to the role of a Creative Strategy Manager for education initiatives at GoogleShe still writes for EdSurge.

I picked Mary because of her contribution to building a community of educators and covering a variety of topics related to education. Since the role of an educator is new to me, i find it important to have access to the experience and ideas of others in the field.

I liked that Mary’s articles ranged from silly
“He Had No Pants on” 10 Awkward, Human Moments in the Move to Online Learning

to serious
Confronting the Realities of Sexual Harassment in Education and Edtech

from dry
Not Just Numbers: How Educators Are Using Data in the Classroom

to controversial
White Fragility in Teaching and Education: An Interview With Dr. Robin DiAngelo

EdSurge also has a podcast where relevant ed-tech topics are discussed. After gaining speaking experience on a podcast, Mary moved on to bigger audiences.  She was a speaker at SXSWedu, various universities and appeared on TedX. In this particular talk Mary looked back at the failures of the past “Why technology can’t fix education”  but she also did other talks about success in the future What Skills Will Students (Really) Need to be Successful in 2025 and Beyond?

Mary Jo Madda is not a worldwide or even national celebrity, educators rarely are, yet she is a good illustration of how women contribute to the field. 

blogs and video as a window into your soul

I learned the hard way that blogging and making video content is not just about sharing knowledge or information. It’s also about providing a window into your soul. Are you passionate about what you teach? Did it transform you into an interesting person? But why should it matter if you are teaching a subject that is interesting by itself? Well, Lin & Huang confirm my own experience that “the charisma of a teacher has an obviously positive influence on students’ interest… no matter what that interest is” (2016).  Blogging allows an opportunity for your true character to shine through and while you can shield yourself with the wall of text, the video leaves you nowhere to hide. I realized how important it is to have such a window into someone’s soul when I was looking for a psychoanalyst. A few of them had short articles or abandoned blogs on their websites, but none of them had any video content. It’s not surprising, counsellors and psychotherapists, regardless of school of thought, are taught to reveal as little as possible about themselves. The main reason is that therapy is client-focused, the therapist stays in the background and for the most part, steps forward when summoned by the client. Once in a while, the therapist shines a light at something that the client can learn about. It is considered beneficial to remain hidden from the client at that moment because people often perceive therapists as different from an average person, perhaps less flawed or more enlightened.   The cloak of darkness keeps up the necessary illusion. And it is necessary because how do you learn from someone who, let’s say, picks their nose, how do you receive healing from someone who fights with their kids, how do trust someone who betrayed their spouse, how do you share your secrets with someone who’s bored to death by them?
Revealing yourself, whether in the session or through blogging or video on your website, often conflicts with the nature of the profession and yet as a client I was searching for a window into their soul. I was anxious, I wanted to know, will I like that person? Is it a good match? Is it someone I can trust? Can I learn anything from them about myself? Are they able to help me? As I am about to start my own private practice as a counsellor, I’d like to break this tradition and get actively into blogging and provide lots of video content. Hopefully, it will answer the same questions others will have about me. I might pay a price that I will not like. It might cost me many potential clients, but maybe it’s best to lose someone who looks into my soul and does not see what they are looking for.


Lin, S., & Huang, Y. (2016). Examining charisma in relation to students’ interest in learning. Active Learning in Higher Education, 17(2), 139-151. doi:10.1177/1469787416637481


The return of the sage

re: 25 years of Ed Tech by Weller

    The sage is dead. We live in a world where modern science is advanced by many, we no longer see individual scientists rise to the fame of Einstein or Darwin. Thus the shift in the role of the educator from “the sage on the stage” to “the guide on the side” seems natural. It might work in some or even most fields, yet it feels wrong when it comes to teaching personality psychology. The main reason is that psychology is not an exact science. There are behaviours, but they are open to interpretation. There are categories, but they are fuzzy. The only way to understand theory is to apply it in social interactions, make many mistakes, analyze your mistakes and repeat this process until you start making so few mistakes that you become a sage. Most people don’t like to make mistakes. Most people don’t like to admit they made a mistake. It is easier to accept constructive criticism if it comes from someone significantly above you in a hierarchy of competency, rather than below or at the same level. It takes a sage to make other sages. Constructivism in psychology, without the presence of a sage, often makes things worse because learners construct their own interpretations of an already fuzzy science. Consider a seemingly simple task of determining whether someone is an introvert or an extrovert. There is an extensive theory that can be used to teach someone to relatively easily detect extreme cases, but no theory can help differentiate an inborn introvert displaying a learned preference for extroverted behaviours from an inborn extrovert displaying a learned preference for introverted behaviours. There is no blood test for it. There is no 100% (or even 75%) accurate psychological test for it. It takes a sage to see that difference because they’ve seen this pattern in thousands of variations and developed a very nuanced wisdom that cannot be shared and absorbed through language only. It can only be acquired through practice. Sages make mistakes too, therefore worshiping them on the stage no longer makes sense, but they can still play an important role on the side. Replacing them with a guide is a disservice to learners.


George Veletsianos’ session on research

It is probably too early to worry about doing an actual research project, since it’s more than a year away. And yet it already feels like a heavy weight mostly because I am not sure where to begin or what questions to ask. That’s why George Veletsianos’ session was so useful. It helped me realize that it is normal, I am not alone, many MALAT students feel the same.

At the beginning of this course I was not aware of research ethics. By the end of it, I was under the impression that it’s way too complicated.  It was good to hear from George Veletsianos that someone will guide us through the process. He calmed my fears that submitting a research proposal to REB is not in any way similar to going through a judgment day and I will not be sent to eternal hell for ethical violations.

I also found it interesting that I can choose to do my research outside of Canada, since I still have ties to Ukraine, where I was born and raised. Although it seems somewhat limiting, especially considering the very likely possibility that it will be less relevant to Canada and my future career here.

CC video reflections

I have always struggled with the issue of piracy discussed in a video. My views on it have changed over the years and I still switch sides from time to time depending on the context. Could it be due to the possibility that it’s not a black and white issue? In the example of farmers modifying the software, I can agree with arguments on both sides. As a tractor owner, I would wish to enjoy the freedom of doing whatever I wish with my property. On the other side, as a manufacturer I would wish to retain some control over access to the software. Perhaps, both sides are extreme in their approaches and if there was a desire to find compromise, some sort of win-win resolution could be achieved?

Like many students, I have been in situations where paying $100-$200 for multiple textbooks meant making uncomfortable adjustments to an already pitiful lifestyle. They reminded me of how poverty does not help in making ethical decisions. In a survival mode, I found it hard to think about others, my needs were too pressing. As a young student, I was also a consumer with not much to offer to society. When I became an adult and started playing a role of a creator, my perspective has drastically changed. I realized how much time, energy and sacrifice it takes to create anything of value. To have it pirated is painful. Some creators adapted by giving away some of the content for free or even welcoming the unsanctioned distribution of their content, which serves the purpose of reaching a bigger audience. Once they become relatively known, they can harvest income in some other ways. Nowadays, I lean towards this approach.

It was interesting to learn how different layers of Creative Commons licencing address some of these issues. The official CC website is much more in-depth, it’s definitely going into my bookmarks. 


What makes a good research question ?

I suspect the answer to this question will vary depending on the researcher. For me it has to have several components:

  • It must stimulate my curiosity. I need to be passionate about the subject otherwise, I won’t be motivated to dig deep enough.
  • It must have practical implications. If the question is too abstract or too general to have a low potential of making a positive impact on daily life, I won’t be motivated to look for answers.
  •  It must be realistic. If there is a very low probability of finding answers, I won’t even start looking into it.
  • It must lead to new knowledge. If the question has been properly answered before, why put any effort into it.
Ideally, these aspects must all be present at the same time. “It is imperative that all four constructs—the problem, purpose, significance, and research questions—are tightly aligned and intricately interwoven” (Grant & Osanloo, 2014)


Grant, C., and Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, selecting, and integrating a theoretical framework in dissertation research: Creating the blueprint for your ‘house’Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research. DOI: 10.5929/2014.4.2.9


Assignment 1 Part 2, Reflection paper

Create, Cultivate, and Reflect on your Digital Presence

Assignment 1 Part 2

Atkins and Murphy (1994) provided a model of reflection, which I found useful for writing this paper and decided to follow their 4 stages of reflective practice.

Stage 1:Awareness of uncomfortable feelings.

While cultivating my digital identity and digital presence I realized that on my Youtube channel I focus too much on the knowledge I’m trying to share in to avoid being known. My channel is educational, therefore in most videos, I explain various psychological theories and use them to analyze real-life situations. Yet you won’t see me talking, just hear and you won’t hear much about why this is important to me or how it applies to my life. Hiding behind the material helps me deal with the discomfort of being seen or known. Being seen and known makes me uncomfortable and yet I yearn it. It’s not a mystery why, I have a highly critical father who never finds anything positive to say to me and never misses an opportunity to point out my flaws. It’s bad enough that I project my critical father onto everyone, which makes me feel nervous before anyone can provide any feedback, but I also internalized my father. I always criticize myself harsher and quicker than anyone can do. The negative father complex (Nix, 2011), as well as defence mechanisms developed around it, are hindering my digital identity and digital presence. It became even more evident to me after unit 5 reflection activity. I recorded a quick and generic video of me not saying anything interesting or in-depth about my plan and experience following it. Not thinking much of it, I posted it on my blog and moved on to check out videos of other fellow students. They were much longer, much more interesting and detailed, personal and authentic. Everything I strive to be and do, yet I don’t. Why did I put out such a lazy and boring video? I felt uncomfortable talking about myself without anyone asking. And if someone does ask, I find it hard to believe it’s not just them being polite. Does anyone care about what I have to say? My father didn’t, so I learned to keep it to myself. I learned to stop caring about my own experience. Why should people care anyway? Why should anyone in the world care? My father, whom i loved very much and idealized as child, was my whole world, his personality was bigger than a world. And this world was not interested in me, so whenever I am asked to be interested in my experience and share it, I feel uncomfortable and I shut down. I run away from it like a plague to avoid feeling uncomfortable. It is one of the reasons why I like being a counsellor and an educator. I can focus on giving people what they need instead of talking about myself.

I also find it difficult to spend time on something I don’t find interesting. Curiosity is my main drive. I feel uncomfortable following a routine or doing what needs to be done because it takes away my time and energy from what I am passionate about. Cultivating my digital identity and digital presence involves content marketing and personal marketing, which feels like something I need to do rather than what I want to do.

Stage 2: Examination of components of the situation and exploration of alternative actions.

What drives the desire to have a digital identity? Ertzscheid suggested that there is a connection to Maslow’s pyramid of needs (2016). I attempt to satisfy the need for self-esteem and self-actualization through my digital presence. As I look back on my initial plan to develop my digital identity and digital presence, I realize now that I look for a confident, skilful and guiding hand to satisfy my need for self-esteem and self-actualization. In my plan, I expressed a desire for outsourcing to fill gaps in my skills and knowledge. I keep searching for a father figure, who will believe in me and help me come out of my shell so that I can be seen and known. So far, my efforts produced no results. People, that I approached to become my partner, saw no benefit for themselves. An alternative would be to hire, as I mentioned in my initial plan, a personal brand developer. Why haven’t I done it yet? I don’t believe that my digital presence is significant enough, there is not much to develop and my Youtube channel only has about 50 videos. I plan to rely mostly on Youtube in building digital presence because “on average, videos led to better learning outcomes compared with other methods”(Noetel et al., 2020). I don’t enjoy blogging, therefore I’m not going to keep an active blog outside of MALAT program, but I will put up all my writing on a WordPress website mostly to have a point of reference. I already purchased a domain name and I am looking for an affordable hosting service.

I am at the crossroads when it comes to my professional life. I just quit my job because I don’t enjoy trying to help people that are resistant to help. As I mentioned in a previous assignment, in social services relationships with care providers are rarely sought out and usually resisted (Rooney & Mirick, 2018). Lack of choice plays a major role in resistance (Ritchie, 1986). Based on this evidence and my experience, I do not ever wish to work again as a counsellor for a non-profit organization. I still enjoy being a counsellor and I like playing the role of an educator, how do I combine both into one? Over the next 3 months, I will be travelling with my family in the RV all over Canada and trying to find an answer to that question. These aspects of my personal and professional life are already impacting my decisions when it comes to content creation. At the moment, I am seeking out volunteers willing to be anonymously interviewed about their personal lives for financial compensation. These interviews will be used for testing a new personality assessment that I have developed. I will be sharing the results and the method itself on my Youtube channel because of its relevance to determining personality compatibility in relationships. I have already conducted a few interviews, which is a very similar process to counselling sessions I am used to, except the participants are willing and fully engaging. And I have already started analyzing the material and writing content for the future podcast series on my Youtube channel. So far it feels like an exciting fusion of counselling and educating roles, but is there a demand for this product in real life?

Stage 3: Summary of outcomes of reflection or learnings.

One of the main revelations has been so far is that digital identity is not the same as personal identity (Schryver, 2013). Personal identity can be a by-product of just being, it requires no extra effort if I don’t wish to put in the extra effort. Digital identity is something to be constructed and maintained, as a reputation (Ertzscheid, 2016). Resident-visitor typology (White and LeCornu, 2011) helped me understand my digital presence. And making a plan for cultivating a digital presence and digital identity helped me identify gaps in knowledge and skills, as well as create a long-term vision. I realized that I focus too much on creating content because i enjoy it and don’t spend enough time on adding a personal narrative to it, for the reasons explained in stage one. I still believe it would be helpful to have someone help me build a personal brand, but it might be too early. For now, I will put more energy into weaving a personal narrative in my content. I want people to care. The debate activity helped me realize that sifting through a ton of information that I care little about can be exhausting. If I was more personally connected to the subject or people debating the subject, I’d want to keep coming back to it. That’s what I want from my audience, but I need to give them a reason to care. How do I do achieve that? I need to focus more on emotional expression and sharing personal meaning. What educational format would be more appropriate for it? After reading a theory of transactional distance (Dron & Anderson, 2014), I realized that I prefer a low structure, high dialogue format, which is more suitable for informal educational seminars.

Stage 4: Action resulting from reflection.

I am going to continue creating more content! Right now I am interviewing more volunteers and analyzing our conversations. When I am done with this project, along with previously created content, it will be uploaded to a personal WordPress website with a fancy custom made theme. When it reaches critical mass, let’s say 100 videos on Youtube and about the same number of articles on my site, I will join several online communities, be it Facebook or forums, and start actively engaging in discussions where I can refer to my content.

I am also looking at various personal brand developers to shortlist and ask for advice, as soon as I hit above-mentioned numbers. Meanwhile, I am working on overcoming my psychological issues and hopefully, it will result in a rise of self-confidence and a decrease of self-criticism.


Atkins, S. and Murphy, K. (1994). Reflective Practice. Nursing Standard, 8(39) 49-56.

Dron, J, & Andreson, T. (2014). Teaching Crowds. Athabasca University Press.

Ritchie, M. H. (1986). Counseling the Involuntary Client. Journal of Counseling & Development, 64(8), 516–518. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1986.tb01186.x

Ertzscheid, O. (2016). What is digital identity? Issues, tools, methodologies. Marseille: Open Edition Press. doi:10.4000/books.oep.1235

Nix, D. C. (2011, April 12). The Negative Father Complex. Retrieved June 10, 2020, from

Noetel, M., Griffith, S., Delaney, O., Sanders, T., Parker, P., del Pozo Cruz, B., & Lonsdale, C. (2020, May 18). Are you better on YouTube? A systematic review of the effects of video on learning in higher education.

Ritchie, M. H. (1986). Counseling the Involuntary Client. Journal of Counseling & Development, 64(8), 516–518. doi: 10.1002/j.1556-6676.1986.tb01186.x

Rooney, R. H., & Mirick, R. (2018). Strategies for work with involuntary clients. Retrieved from

Schryver, K. (2013, February 5). Who are you online? Considering issues of web identity. The New York Times blogs. Alternate link to the The NYT blogs site.

White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9)

Teaching 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools

Teaching 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools

by  Joubert, J. -P., & Koval, D.

      In discussing how digital learning impacted teaching 21st Century skills in 20th Century schools, we first need to define 20th Century Schools. While the original source website seems to be business-focused, the breakdown does seem to be sound in describing the typical 20th Century classroom. In particular, a 20th Century school is restricted to the four walls of the classroom, is concerned with passive learning through memorization of discrete facts, facilitated by a teacher who is both judge and the provider of information (21st Century Schools, n.d.). In addition, work was often done in isolation.

Additionally, Budhai and Taddei minimally define 21st Century Skills as being “the 4Cs—critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity.” (2015, para. 1) While other definitions exist, such as Stauffer’s far more comprehensive list (2020), for the sake of brevity we have held to Budhai and Taddei’s definition.

To this end, we have found that digital learning impacted the teaching of 21st Century Skills in 20th Century Schools in the following ways: 

Critical Thinking

  • The Foundation for Critical Thinking defines critical thinking as, “that mode of thinking … in which the thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skillfully analysing, assessing, and reconstructing it” (2019, para. 2). 
  • As noted by 21st Century Schools, this definition was not represented in the way that 20th Century Schools taught (n.d.).
  • Additionally, Bates mentions that much of the use of technology during the 20th Century, for example the use of lecture capture systems, was aimed at representing similar functions and experiences to those experienced in classrooms at the time (Bates, 2015, para. 16). As a result, critical thinking in the classroom was not positively impacted at the time by digital technologies. 


  • In the 1990’s, high-speed internet access led to lecture capture systems using resources such as Youtube to distribute course lectures and digital blackboards for equations and illustrations (Bates, 2015, para. 16).
  • While using an Learning Management System (LMS) required courses to be reconfigured for use online, the use of lecture capture, “required no changes to the standard lecture model” (Bates, 2015, para. 17).
  • In discussing testing, B.F. Skinner used programmed learning to, “computerize learning, by structuring information, testing learners’ knowledge, and providing immediate feedback to learners, without human intervention other than in the design of the hardware and software and the selection and loading of content and assessment questions” (Bates, 2015, para. 18).
  • Bates also describes PLATO, a worldwide and networked, “computer assisted instruction system,” that, “incorporated [online communication tools such as] forums, message boards, online testing, e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging” (2015, para. 19).
  • These examples show themselves as precursors to the current use of digital technology, from the range of LMS available today, through to the use of Social Media, forums, streaming services and other digital tools in digital education. While they were at one time novelties or experiments, these uses became far more commonplace as we moved into the 21st Century and, as such, have had a positive impact on open education, especially.


  • Technology use has been found to be a disengaging factor when collaborating in-person in a classroom (Heflin, Shewmaker, & Nguyen, 2017, p. 98)
  • On the other hand, collaboration increased when technology use had “some form of planning and design for the use of technology to support and promote collaborative work” (Borokhovski, Bernard, Tamim, Schmid, & Sokolovskaya, 2016, p. 20)


  • On a positive side, technology use supports creativity by “reinforcing students’ intrinsic motivation, self-regulation, curiosity, self-efficacy and knowledge exchange” (Shubina & Kulakli, 2019, p. 104)
  • At the same time, there has been a negative effect of internet technologies on creativity. By facilitating multitasking behaviors, internet technology increases “distractibility and reduced learning, especially in the classroom” (Bruno & Canina, 2019, p. 2125)



21st Century Schools. (n.d.). 20th Century Classroom vs. the 21st Century Classroom.

Bates, A. W. (2015). 6.2 A short history of educational technology, Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning.

Borokhovski, E., Bernard, R. M., Tamim, R. M., Schmid, R. F., & Sokolovskaya, A. (2016). Technology-supported student interaction in post-secondary education: A meta-analysis of designed versus contextual treatments. Computers & Education, 96, 15–28. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2015.11.004

Budhai, S., & Taddei, L. (2015). Building 21st Century Skills through Technology. Teaching the 4Cs with Technology. ASCD Arias.

Bruno, C. & Canina, M. (2019) Creativity 4.0. Empowering creative process for digitally enhanced people, The Design Journal, 22:sup1, 2119-2131, DOI: 10.1080/14606925.2019.1594935

Heflin, H., Shewmaker, J., & Nguyen, J. (2017). Impact of mobile technology on student attitudes, engagement, and learning. Computers & Education, 107, 91–99. doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2017.01.006

Shubina, I., & Kulakli, A. (2019). Pervasive Learning and Technology Usage for Creativity Development in Education. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET), 14(01), 95. doi: 10.3991/ijet.v14i01.9067

Stauffer, B. (2020, March 19). What are 21st Century Skills?. Applied educational systems.

The Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2019). Our concept and definition of critical thinking.


Academic writing and a drowning dog: post debate reflection

 Sometimes, a happy ending makes a terrible experience worth having, sometimes, it doesn’t.

While camping at a secluded lake today, I heard a dog barking loudly and noticed it swimming in the middle of the lake. It was heading towards the shore, but then for some reason, maybe 15 meters away from it, turned around and started swimming back, towards the other shore. And then did it again. And again. And again. Every lap the barks became quieter and soon turned into barely pronounced whining. The dog was clearly exhausted and struggling. I looked around, there was only one family on the beach and they were aware of the dog but did not seem concerned, so I assumed they weren’t the owners. It seemed inevitable that it was going to drown soon.

I grew restless and rushed into water to swim towards it. I was pretty sure I could not save it because it was a rather large breed and I am not strong enough to carry its weight but I knew i wouldn’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t try.  I quickly realized why it kept turning away from the shore. It was very muddy, legs kept sinking into it, it wasn’t possible to find a solid ground. Like quicksand, the mud was swallowing my legs and I couldn’t even attempt swimming towards the dog. I ran around the lake in search of a less muddy entrance into the water, but had no luck.

At this point the dog was barely staying afloat. I made two more attempts to walk into the mud and had to turn back when it reached above my waist and I felt no ground to walk on. I finally sat on the beach, all dirty, tired and disappointed. And just helplessly looked away. I could not save it and it was time to accept its demise. I could still hear it making some noises, but it sounded like the end was several minutes away.

And right at this moment its owner showed up. The dog heard him whistling and shouting and made a last ditch attempt to reach the shore. And it got lucky, found a more rocky ground. Then the owner pulled it out.

What a terrible experience. I cried from helplessness. It lasted no more than 20 minutes, but i was so tired after that I couldn’t even feel happy that the dog survived. And yet, as strange as it sounds, I am glad this happened to me. Maybe, it is simply because my life was that boring and repetitive in the last several months. This awful experience made me feel alive.

Cant say I feel the same about Academic writing. The debate was interesting to judge, but the Academic writing part of it felt like a prolonged drowning.  And for me it always is. There is usually a happy ending – I learn something new and I get a decent grade, but this kind of drowning never makes me feel alive.

This is not a MALAT type of post but it is exactly why i am going to post it. If I only aim to post what I can reference and do it in a proper APA format, I feel like I am not going to post much. So there it is.