Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed-Tech: A Book Club – Part 2

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In Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed-Tech, the years 2002 up to and including 2011, are quite relevant to my practice today. I have recently been tasked with providing a program/support to the gifted students in my K-12 school district. We are a relatively small district with approximately 6000 students, and we have had no gifted-ed program or supports for the last 15 or more years. In June of this past year, I was tasked with creating a Gifted Program.

I set to work reading, researching and learning the ‘best practices’ in gifted-ed. The common thread that I kept coming across was that these students needed to be challenged, and they need to interact with like-minded peers (Wallace, Sisk & Senior, 2018). With these students ranging from ages 8 to 18, my first problem was; what does that even look like? These students are spread across the district, spanning many buildings and schedules. Enter Web 2.0, blogs, videos, e-portfolios, and personal learning environments (Weller, 2020).

As Weller discusses quite eloquently through these chapters, and as Dr. George Veletsianos discussed with me in an earlier blog, connectivism as pedagogy, or at least as a set of principles (Weller, 2020).

Weller (2020), discusses the varied use of e-portfolios (p.102), and I am hopeful that by addressing the explicit teaching of e-portfolios, and how and why they can work for a student at a young age, we will see an upturn in their usefulness in the future.


Wallace, B., Sisk, D. A., & Senior, J. (Eds). (2018). The SAGE Handbook of Gifted and Talented Education. London, England: Sage.

Weller, M. (2020). 25 years of ed tech. Athabasca University Press.


8 thoughts on “Martin Weller’s 25 Years of Ed-Tech: A Book Club – Part 2”

  1. It’s great to hear your thoughts on this Sandra. As someone who was in and out of the gifted programs in early education, this sounds like a fantastic project to be involved with! I can see how a combination of these tools could be a wonderfully engaging way for students in such a program to gain/retain ownership and agency in their own learning.

    I’m curious, as Weller has noted a number of criticisms of the technologies, particularly e-portfolio’s and PLE’s, what are your thoughts on minimizing issues such as their apparent high complexity, reducing overhead for learners, and keeping it user-focused rather than institutional?

    Finally, the goal of the e-portfolio, in general, appears to be focused on employment. Are then any end-goals that you have begun to identify for students, whether on the basis of per-grade or graduation?

    1. Hi Jean-Pierre,

      It does not surprise me at all that you were part of gifted programs as a young lad! Your writing and your articulate nature give it away 😉 My son is gifted, so I think my district saw it as a great opportunity to use all the research I had already done for my own son to benefit the district.

      My plan to minimize the issues is to explicitly teach these students from a young(ish) age what an e-portfolio can do. It is an avenue to be creative, have a digital memoir, showcase their talents, and collaborate. I hope that they can be the pioneers of showing me how to overcome the roadblocks and criticisms that e-portfolios have seen. I have seen talks of universities wanting to use e-portfolios as entrance requirements, so beyond employment, there is that too.

      In reality, the e-portfolio is expected to be a by-product of our work’s work in the space we collaboratively create. I want them to have a blog space, a space to share cool things they have found/discovered, a place to post challenges for each-other and a place to be with like-minded peers. Statistically, our district should have around 60 gifted students. As of June, we have only identified 6. Part of my goal, in the beginning, will focus on identification, as well.

  2. What about getting these kids out and about on some field trips? Escape rooms? Maker spaces? Would the blogs be writing blogs? My daughter hated writing…

    1. Hi Wendy,
      For sure, field trips will be in the future…but for now, I am limited due to social distancing. I do not plan to have this a ‘writing’ heavy space; unless there is a student who excels in that area and wants to show us their talents. There will be no grades, but there will be an expo (still working out the details of that part!). Because the students are so varied in age, I will likely have to pod them and cross-pod for some activities. I can’t wait for pandemic times to be over! The possibilities will be endless. Odessy of the Mind ( another venture we will likely jump on. I am super excited 🙂

  3. Hi Sandra. This sounds like a very exciting project to undertaken, given the current circumstances we find ourselves in. Connecting the students under the Web 2.0 banner, is the way to go for sure. Have you thought about splitting the students up into cohorts/teams (based on their interests) as a way to get the most out of the students? Given that these students are high level learners, perhaps giving them some level of autonomy in picking a project (from a short list) would be the way to go, based on what skills they wanted to enhance or develop? Using a glimmer of the e-portfolio, you could ask the students to self-reflect on the projects, what went right/wrong and what did they enjoy about the work?

    1. Ash,

      Yes, exactly! Autonomy and reciprocal teaching will be paramount for this group. I am actually thinking the students themselves will be an integral part of designing our space and activities.

  4. Hi Sandra. Good luck with the wide range of gifted children across your district. On a note about the gifted program, here is some insight through the eyes of a gifted student “”. Who know the student marked as gifted did not see it as a gift?

    1. Hi Rod,

      Thanks for the comment!

      While I do agree with some of her points, she is outlining the ‘outdated’ idea of gifted education. My ideal has these students receiving the supports they need to thrive, much like any kid with a special need is given. Yes, gifted is a special need. It seems counter-intuitive, but gifted students struggle in public education. Here is a quick, but good read on the subject

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