The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton

The Beginning of the End? Visual note drawn on ipad using Adobe Ideas by Nicki Hambleton


Looking back over the past year, it amazes me just how much I have learnt, grown and changed due to COETAIL. I had been so excited to start the course last February and it has not disappointed. In fact, I believe it has been and still is the making of me. When asked for a 140 character summary to a prospective COETAIL applicant I wrote:

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 20.17.57

The Beginning of the End

Reviewing my notes, both written and visual, helps me to remember my thoughts and directions to decipher the way to move forward into Course 5, effectively the beginning of the end of COETAIL. It helps me to rewind through my ideas to see where the most learning and growth occurred yet also to see where the vision for my students crept in during the course. Despite thinking I knew exactly what I wanted to work on, it surprises me, through a comment from Clint, that I had made some suggestions all the way back in Course 1 about connecting my students and helping them to grown in the same way that I had.

A Classroom in the Cloud?

Photo Credit: mugley via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: mugley via Compfight cc

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Having rewound through the past 28 posts, far too many words and 21 visual notes, I found it initially hard to decide what aspect would be right to pursue, so I looked back at myself and my passions to help take new direction. It was clear that we gain so much through our connections and often students in Middle School cannot be a part of this due to their age and online restrictions. Yet this is a huge part of my growth and learning and I want students to be a part of it too. From this the idea to connect artists online, bringing together their art work, cultures, discussions and feedback was born. Now I know this is nothing new as many teachers have websites doing similar things, such as Michelle Anderson‘s IB art site (currently not working) and The Incredible Art Department to name only a few, but these are largely teacher driven and I would like my students to drive it. In this way they own it, create it and develop it for students by students. Course 1 asked us to reach out and develop our PLN documenting the benefits from like minded groups and I want to help my students to reach out beyond their classroom, their school and country to learn much deeper with other similar aged youngsters. In Course 2 we looked at responsibility and digital citizenship and I feel that helping students to communicate and post online will help to address and teach students this first hand. In Course 3 we focussed our attention on Visual Literacy and working on a wiki, website or blog will help students to understand good design, aesthetics and functionality. Finally in Course 4, the course that taxed and pushed me the most opening many doors in my learning, focussed our attentions on using Technology authentically. It was here that I grew the most and I know my teaching has changed because of it. Connectivism and problem solving will be at the heart of the project, driven by SAMR to aim towards transforming the way art is learned and shared.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

In the past I have helped students to set up a blog and use Picasa web albums to share their work and thoughts online, connecting with their fellow peers for feedback. They were largely successful and, with my encouragement, began to receive comments but not true connections as a PLN might be. This aspect worries me, as at this stage I do not know how we can create an online forum for discussions like Twitter, exhibit artwork to comment on like Voicethread, connect with a multitude of schools globally yet keep them protected and safe. When I look into blogs, sites and wikis I can see the potential but not the depth or functionality for all to participate or take turns in moderating or curating. It feels like an unanswerable question but:

Is there an appropriate platform out there that would work and if so, why hasn’t someone done already this before now?

How can I ensure all students have ownership and work collaboratively to create, upload, share and comment? How can I ensure students drive this with limited experience of such a task? I have a great Technology team behind me who can suggest and show us ideas and options but even so, any ideas and advice would be gratefully received at this stage!

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

In my last post I was told that problem solving sometimes means you don’t know what the outcome may be and this scared me. But as I look ahead to this project it feels a little liberating and exciting to not know, not plan every step and to believe and trust that my students can work through this with my help. It is odd to not foresee the outcome but I am confident that it will be what it will be and most definitely grown by my students.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

I really want to push more problem solving and student directed work through this project. I know our students are great thinkers yet also demanding of answers, so it will be a shift in what they are used to and possibly unnerving for them (and me!). But the benefits far outweigh the concerns. It will require them to adopt the new method rapidly and to be adventurous in posting, connecting and sharing ideas. Our students are used to technology and work naturally in Google apps so I am concerned they will find “yet another thing” tiresome to adopt initially. It will also rely on them encouraging others to participate beyond their classroom and away from their school but I am hoping that my PLN will help to encourage involvement and to spread the word once it is up and running.

Please look over the following UBD and let me know your thoughts and feedback:

Photo Credit: Andreas Kristensson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Andreas Kristensson via Compfight cc

It feels rather sad that COETAIL is coming to an official end but reading the outline for Course 5 helps me to realise that this may only be the beginning, the beginning of what happens next. I know the connections we have formed will be long-lasting and I hope that the group will keep posting, sharing and connecting both online and, where possible, face to face. I like the idea of continuing to work with COETAIL, perhaps as a coach if that were to be possible, in order to help others as I was helped and to give back to the community. So perhaps it should read “The End of the Beginning”.

*the above drawing “The Beginning of the End” make visual reference to Escher’s Upstairs and Downstairs, 1960, lithography.

  1. Joe Teft says:

    Hey Nicki,

    Love the idea of collaboration to create something, amazing to see the students taking part of the creation. When students own it, I think it means so much more. I fully agree that all people (but artists as well, ha ha ha) grow through connections. We all have our favourite teachers because of this connection, but we also grew from our friends and peers, I think this set up will be a perfect opportunity to watch them grow.

    See you tomorrow, looking forward to talking more about this (funny I’m thinking more about “real world” talks.



    • Nicki Hambleton says:

      Thanks as ever for your support Joe, I couldn’t get there without you! I look forward to our debates and discussions on moving forward and this one I imagine will need a lot! I really appreciated your comment on not knowing the outcome yet and it helped to detach myself from over planning and thinking. That is a novelty for me! I really want to allow the students ownership and yet to help them to move forward successfully so that it works and takes off! See you soon!

  2. Matt McGrady says:


    As I head back to work tomorrow I want you to know I am taking great joy in reading your proposal -joy because it aligns with my interests for Course 5 project and because it is a very good idea for young artists. I think there is so much room for my students to really grow by recognizing the potential that a connect environment brings them. We have been really pushing hard this year with peer feedback and frankly the kids know who in the class to go to for great feedback. They are craving more input, and from other sources. I really think hearing from your students would impact the art making of my students greatly. Would you be interested in connecting again? I know you are wanting to have students take direct ownership but do you think we could programme in a little connection between our kids?

    What about a class twitter account? I was throwing this around a little – I figure it might get some more traction with students if they saw it a little more other than me checking my twitter account and letting them know whats going on when I post their work….

    I was looking at the google cultural institute and the open gallery they offer but I wasn’t overly impressed with the lack of comments. Utlimately it is a much nicer looking interface but the inability to comment leaves is a dead end. My students know google sites and are coming round to blogger – could we arrange a little blog share? quadbloggingesque?

    Maybe think it over. The work I put forth for my Course 4 final project is just a precursor to the work I want to do with my students exhibiting their work out in the world and participating in an art world they can connect to. I really really want to see us connect our classes if possible. Give it a spin and let me know.

  3. Clint Hamada says:


    I can’t wait to see what you are able to create with this! This has potential to blow things wide open for your students in terms of empowering them and instilling confidence. I’m sure there will be a few technical hiccups, particularly dealing with students under 13, but there are (almost) always ways around those!

    • Nicki Hambleton says:

      Thanks Clint. I am a little apprehensive now I have committed to this, but excited of the (unknown) possibilities! I really need to put the feelers out as to what platform or format to try out so that it does what I would like it to do for the benefit of my students!

  4. Dan Hallwood says:

    “ A Classroom in the Cloud” as a Course 5 Project: As an art teacher myself I have also spent a lot of time thinking of ways to transform the way art is learned and shared. I understand some of your concerns about redesigning this unit. Can we ever really ensure all students have ownership and work collaboratively to create, upload, share and comment? A tall order for sure. You are lucky that you do have the luxury of a great tech team behind you. Granted being involved with COETAIl has infinitely helped me with my teaching and learning but having the support of a strong tech would help me even more. Living in Yangon Myanmar does not help. Great tech team but the internet connection here is a joke!

    I also find it liberating not to always know the outcome of projects. Proceeding with this attitude has let me put more faith on what my students are capable of. Most of the time I have not been let down. I don’t think you will be either. Hopefully your PLN will do what you are hoping it will and your kids will indeed be adventurous in posting, connecting and sharing ideas.

    • Nicki Hambleton says:

      Thanks so much for checking in and commenting Dan. I wonder if, when it is off the ground, you might be interested in commenting on some of my middle school student work? It would be amazing to connect my students with yours as they may not have much idea about life and art in Myanmar (nor I). As soon as we are up and running perhaps you could have a look at the class sites and see if there is a way to connect (or join in?). That would be amazing.
      How are you getting on with your project? If there is any way I can be of help I would be more than happy to.
      I know an Art teacher in Singapore who is moving to Myanmar this August, perhaps I can connect you two? His name is Chris Lister and he is heading to the school in Vientiane.

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