Digital Literacy Infographic

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Here is the link for the podcast that accompanies the infographic.



Diversity In the Classroom

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 1.35.04 PMImage Source: Pixabay

Diversity, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary is, “the condition or fact of being different.”

The differences between students can be almost endless (Brookfield, 2015):

  • Age;
  • Gender;
  • Citizenship status;
  • Racial background;
  • Primary language;
  • Preferential learning style;
  • Talents and skills;
  • Level of:
    • Motivation;
    • Self-regulation;
    • Self-direction;
  • Personality;
  • Extroversion and introversion;
  • Sexual identity;
  • Social status;
  • Religious affiliation;
  • Cultural background.

How on earth is the teacher supposed to deal with all this diversity? Even Brookfield (2015) admits that, “(d)iversity can never be fully addressed to the satisfaction of all involved” (p 108). But before we all quite trying, he offers us this: “(i)f your purpose is to help people learn, then you must be open to constantly varying your activities to what we find out about the range of students we work with” (Brookfield, 2015, p 108).

Some of the differences with how students learn and personality variances can be mitigated by employing a variety of different and effective learning strategies. Brookfield (2015) also suggests:

  • Team teaching (p 102) “. . . whenever two or three people with different racial identities, talents and personalities form a teaching team, the possibilities for connecting to a wider range of students expand exponentially.”
  • Mixing Student Groups (p 103) “Do you cluster together individuals who are roughly the same and who you think will therefore work well together? Or do you create a pedagogic bouillabaisse – a mix of different experiential, racial and personality ingredients plus contrasting ability levels that are stirred together to produce a satisfying blend? I would argue that both approaches are necessary and called for at different time.”
  • Mixing Modalities (p 105) – applying a variety of teaching strategies.

In my search to learn more about issues of diversity in the classroom, I came across this resource from Harvard University’s Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. It takes a look at the classroom contract and its impact on students; what is explicitly laid out for students in the syllabus and what is implicit – the unspoken contract of classroom dynamics that leaves students wondering “(w)hat will be my position . . . will I have to talk; can I talk; how will I get to talk; will I be dominant, or not? How will I be judged? What is expected of me?” (Classroom Dynamics & Diversity, n.d., para 4).

In a diverse classroom, these implicit issues can become real barriers for learning, which is why we must strive to bring these issues out in the open for discussion as well.

Differences between students can also bring conflict. Classroom Dynamics & Diversity (n.d.) describes a classroom ‘hot moment’ as the “ . . .moment when the conversation either stops or erupts because of the volatile nature of the subject matter, or because of conflicts among students” (para 8). The article has links for Examples of Hot Moments and Diversity and Tips for Dealing with Hot Moments. The quick and dirty take home tips for me when dealing with a hot moment were:

  • Calm yourself;
  • Detach yourself from emotion;
  • Acknowledge the moment with the students;
  • Make the issue (not the individual(s)) the focus for discussion and turn it into a learning opportunity for everyone.

The article helped me recognize the importance of knowing my own biases as a teacher and appreciating the effects my attitudes have on classroom dynamics.

Diversity in the classroom is a complex issue that requires the instructor to be skilled in applying varied strategies to maximize learning for all students; to have an awareness of how his or her actions and attitudes are impacting the classroom; and to have the flexibility and openness to make revisions in actions and thinking patterns. Lofty aspirations I hope to some day be able to meet!


Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom 3rd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Classroom Dynamics & Diversity (n.d.). Harvard University Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from

Putting the Team in Team Teaching

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Photo source

“One of the most predictable contradictions in American college classrooms is that a solo instructor confronts a classroom full of diverse students. No matter how much she might strive to empathize with different learning needs, racial traditions, and personality types, any individual teacher is inevitably limited by the boundaries of her personality, learning preferences, racial group membership and experience . . . As teachers we all bring different gifts and handicaps to the table. A team that works well is aware of the different talents of its members and attempts to mix these as equitably as possible” (Brookfield, 2015, p 102).

The idea of creating a learning environment that capitalizes on the strengths of each member while minimizing weaknesses is so exciting! After all, aren’t ‘two heads better than one’? Brookfield (2015) states, “ . . . when two or three people with different racial identities, talents, and personalities form a teaching team, the possibilities for connecting to a wider range of students expand exponentially” (p 102). Yet, when I reflect on my experiences of ‘team teaching’ in workshops and in the online environment, I must confess it hasn’t been exciting at all – in fact sometimes it has been quite frustrating!

Are two heads really better than one? According to Ludden (2016), it depends on how they interact. In the past, it was thought that group work intelligence was determined by the average intelligence of the members or that one really clever team member who takes over and runs the show (Ludden, 2016). Research from Woolley (as cited in Ludden, 2016) reveals that the group actually develops a group mind and that the determining factor in how well the team performs is not based on “ . . . accumulated knowledge or skill set . . . (but) how well the individual team members can read the emotions of team members” (para 10). In other words, “ . . . a group composed of members who have moderate intelligence but are very good at reading each other’s emotions can outperform a group with high average intelligence but low social perceptiveness” (Ludden, 2016, para 12).

Another factor that impacts team functioning is how alike or diverse team member personalities and cognitive styles are (Ludden, 2016). Too close and there are limitations to the approaches the team will use, but too diverse and there are breakdowns in communication and a loss of empathy amongst team members (Ludden, 2016).

Too great of a diversity in teaching perspectives certainly was the cause for the feelings of vulnerability and frustration Dabbs (2013) had during “ . . .a very tough first year . . . “ (para 3) of teaching with a co-teacher who did not share her enthusiasm for teaching “ . . . in new and authentic ways” (para 1). As someone who is equally and enthusiastic about the very same thing, I can relate!

Team Teaching Advantages and Disadvantages, (n.d) lists the disadvantages of team teaching as follows (para 12):

Team teaching is not always successful. Some teachers are rigid personality types or may be wedded to a single method. Some simply dislike the other teachers on the team. Some do not want to risk humiliation and discouragement at possible failures. Some fear they will be expected to do more work for the same salary. Others are unwilling to share the spotlight or their pet ideas or to lose total control.

Despite the challenges team teaching presents, students do indeed value its impact on learning. Here are the results of a survey of 440 students taking a large undergraduate marketing class in Australia where team teaching was employed (Yanamandram & Noble, 2006, Abstract):

Despite the relatively weak forms of team-teaching adopted to teach this subject, the majority of the students liked the concept of team-teaching. The findings in this study suggest that team-teaching can facilitate student learning through the generation of interest and exposure to ‘experts’, but can hinder student learning if the team fails to act as a cohesive unit and work together to adequately link learning concepts. This study also argues that the most critical factor in determining the success or failure of a team-teaching effort is the actual composition of the team. A key implication of this study is that a team that comprises of ‘good teachers’ (perceived as those skilful in teaching large classes) is far more important than a team comprising of ‘experts’ in different knowledge areas.

Team teaching requires strong communication skills, dedication to ensuring skillful teaching is taking place, commitment to the team effort and a thorough understanding of the key concepts in order to reach the potential it can have on student learning. In order for this to take place, team members first have to be able to work together.

Tips on Working Together

For me, the clearer I am with myself about what is important to me the better I am able to communicate my expectations to team members. Murawski and Bernhardt (2015) suggest using tools to help a supervisor be able to understand how best to pair teams together, but if like me, you don’t always have a choice in who you will be team teaching with, understanding where everyone is coming from sounds like a good idea. Some tools to use to help identify teaching perspectives include:

Murawski and Bernhardt (2015) also acknowledge that sometimes teams may need “ . . . couples therapy” (para 30) if problems continue. For me, I feel that accessing my manager and or the teaching and learning centre in my university may also provide some more ideas of how problems can be worked through.

Once the team in on the same page in terms of teaching perspectives and approach the next step is to implement best practices with the approach. Here is a list of 10 ‘commandments’ that I thought really outlines these key concepts and will help pave the way to successful team teaching.

 The 10 Commandment of Team Teaching

For all of the commandments that Anderson and Landy (Leavitt, 2006) made, I was able to find supporting evidence from Brookfield (2015). I will definitely need to post these in my office!

  1. “Thou shalt plan everything with thy neighbour” (Leavitt, 2006, p 1)
    • “Team teaching is not two or three people agreeing to carve up a course into sections so that each person does 30 or 50 percent of the sessions. Properly conducted, team teaching involves all members of the team planning the course, writing the syllabus, specifying learning objectives, conducting the class, and evaluating student work” (Brookfield, 2015, p 141).
      • For the online course I teach, I need to ensure that my co-teacher and I are involved in all parts of planning by preparing content material jointly – either each taking on different parts and then providing constructive feedback or actually sitting down to the work together.

2. “Thou shalt attend thy neighbour’s lectures” (Leavitt, 2006, p 1)

  • “ . . . (E)very team member is in the class all the time so that she or he can complement and support whatever the lead teacher is doing (Brookfield, 2015, p 142).
  • An online course doesn’t have lectures per se but there are Discussion Forums and a Clear as Mud Post where we as instructors provide feedback to students about their anonymous muddiest survey questions (there are 5 surveys throughout the course). Instead of just having one instructor answering the questions, we could each take turns and then provide comments and debate concepts with each other in the forum (see commandments 3 and 4).

3. “Thou shalt refer to they neighbour’s ideas” (Leavitt, 2006, p 2)

  • “In team teaching we can hear a colleague explain and idea or contribute some information then show students how we connect it to our own stock of knowledge” (Brookfield, 2015, p 145).

4. “Thou shalt model debate with thy neighbour. (Leavitt, 2006, p 2)

  • “One of the meta-agendas of higher education is teaching students how to disagree in ways that don’t shut down further communication” (Brookfield, 2015, p 143).

5. Thou shalt have something to say, even when thou art not in charge (Leavitt, 2006, p 2)

  • “There will always be time when one instructor has more knowledge or experience than another, but when this is the case the teacher with less content knowledge has an important role to play as a skilful questioner and also as an observer of the class to ensure that everybody is getting the chance to participate” (Brookfield, 2015, p 152).
  • While this may be hard to make happen online, there is a face-to-face workshop where case studies are reviewed as a group. Having one person field questions, while the other observes classroom dynamics and takes a closer look at the students’ work would help to ensure that everyone is able to participate.

6. “Thou shalt apply common grading standards (Leavitt, 2006, p 3)

  • “Specifying the criteria by which students work will be assessed is crucial in any classroom but never more so than in a team-taught course. Ideally, it should be possible for either faculty member to slot into the grading role and assign the same grade or number of points for any particular piece of work” (Brookfield, 2015, p 151).
  • In the online course, there are rubrics for marking case studies and discussion forums, but one of the problems could be that my co-teacher and I may mark differently if we identify different issues, recommendations and relevant evidence to support decisions for the cases. In order to mark the same, we need to be able to work through the case studies together first, come up with a list of key issues etc. and then use that when we mark.

7. Thou shalt attend all staff meetings (Leavitt, 2006, p 3)

  • “Team members plan, conduct, evaluate, and debrief all activities together. This is the sine qua non of team teaching.” (Brookfield, 2015, p 150).
  • I feel that my co-teacher for the online course and I need to meet by phone every week to ensure that grading, discussion forums and plans for the next week’s module are discussed.

8. Thou shalt ask open questions (Leavitt, 2006, p 3).

  • “When a solo teacher tries to convey the different viewpoints or theoretical frameworks that exist on an issue, he or she is always working within the confines of being a singular voice . . . Team teaching allows your partner to pose a question or contribute an insight that opens you up to a genuinely new way of thinking about something” (Brookfield, 2015, p 145).
  • The online forums and Clear as Mud post provide wonderful opportunities for both of us to pose questions to students and each other.

9. Thou shalt let thy students speak (Leavitt, 2006, p 3).

  • Team teaching reaches a wider variety of learners. Solo teachers teach out of their preferred learning style. Although we can all expand our repertoire of teaching practices, there is a limit to how much we can change who we are (Brookfield, 2015, p 142).
  • I love researching information and will often take a very theoretical approach to a topic – an approach that may not work for all people. Engaging my co-instructor into the discussion forums will encourage more participation from the students, as it will appeal to a broader range of learning needs.

10. Thou shalt be willing to be surprised (Leavitt, 2006, p 3).

  • In team teaching there is no clear source of authority and knowledge in the classroom. This can create an environment of discovery and inquiry (Brookfield, 2015, p 144).
  • One huge advantage of teaching online is that you have time to think something through before you post it, but this is not the case in the workshops. Team teaching sounds like a very exciting adventure in learning!



Brookfield, S.D. (2015). The Skillful Teacher: On Technique, Trust, and Responsiveness in the Classroom 3rd Edition. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Dabbs, L. (2013) Back to School: Teaching with Authenticity Edutopia George Luca Educational Foundation. Retrieved from:

Leavitt, M. (2006) Team Teaching: Benefits and Challenges The Speaking of Teaching Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University Fall 2006 Newsletter Vol.16, No.1. Retrieved from:

 Ludden, D. (2016) Are Two Heads Better Than One? It depends on how they interact. Psychology Today Retrieved from:

Murawski, W.W. & Bernhardt, P (2015) An Administrator’s Guide to Co-Teaching ASCD Learn Teach Lead Educational Leadership December 2015/January 2016 | Volume 73 | Number 4 Co-Teaching: Making It Work Pages 30-34. Retrieved from:’s_Guide_to_Co-Teaching.aspx

Team Teaching – Advantages, Disadvantages (n.d.) Education Encyclopedia – Retrieved from:

Yanamandram, V.K. & Noble, G. (2006) Student Experiences and Perceptions of Team-Teaching in a Large Undergraduate Class University of Wollongong Research Online Faculty of Business Faculty of Commerce. Retrieved from:


Trends in Adult Education Part #3: The ‘Aha’ Moment


Photo: A.McKenzie

Ok, I have to make a major confession.

I am a nurse that works in and teaches the specialty of maternity nursing – in other words I work with women as my patients, with women as my nursing colleagues and with women as my students. When I re-wrote the curriculum for the online perinatal course I teach I thought about the clients that my students will encounter and included cultural sensitivity material and information about LGBTQ(2S). I had students work through exercises that examined their biases and preconceptions. I really thought I had it all covered. I was in fact feeling pretty good about how it all came together, until I read this article on gender equality.

You see, I did not, even once, think about how the curriculum and its delivery would be perceived by a male student. I completely gapped on thinking that a male student would indeed be taking the course at some point. The sudden realization had me reeling – how could I be so blinded by my own bias?

Don’t get me wrong, I greatly value my male colleagues. I value their talents and insights. It is just that because I never work with any men (as nurses) in maternity I didn’t even consider that they would ever be taking a perinatal course.

Now I am reviewing the course again to check for anything that might be seen as gender insensitive. I am using this checklist offered by the University of Fribourg, a Questionnaire for the evaluation of gender equality in teaching and so far so good  🙂

I really hope that I won’t have to wait too long before have male students take the course. I am very keen to learn with them as we travel on this journey of learning.


Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) Project e-qual – Teaching, Gender, Quality University of Fribourg. Retrieved from:

Trends in Adult Education Part #2: Implications – Putting Theory in Practice Gamification and Gender Equality


image source Pixabay


In Part # 1 Trends, I mentioned that I thought that gamification could increase the fun factor of learning thereby increasing motivation. When I took a look at some of the motivational theories – and there are a lot of them – the one that seem to fit in with my fun factor theory was Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s flow theory.

Csikszentmihalyi as cited in The Pursuit of Happiness (n.d.) states:

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (The Pursuit of Happiness, n.d., para1).

So, the fun comes not from any one element (like those identified by Scott and Neustaedter (2013)), but from the combination of elements that allow the individual to push themselves to learn and succeed at “. . . something difficult and worthwhile” (The Pursuit of Happiness, n.d., para1).

This is something I can relate to. I love that feeling I get when I am skiing or trail running or canoeing or doing yoga or even when I’m learning something new that is really cool like motivational theories (really :)) time flies by, I forget to eat, I live in this state of flow until I get frustrated or bored and then feel compelled to move on to something else.

Marczewski (2015) in the article Grinding to Mastery and Flow presents an excellent graph that shows how flow happens when the game is in the sweet spot between skill and challenge. It is important to note that flow isn’t completely without variance and there can still be moments when the challenge is too much or too little hence the little zig zag pattern that appears in the sweet spot; but if the challenges stay too hard or if it stays boring you drop out of flow and you move on to something else.

The prospect of having students be in flow is pretty exciting to me but is it realistic? Penny and I (both flow enthusiasts) talked about the barriers we have noticed to getting into the flow like being able to focus and being at the same skill level as the other people you are interacting with. These are definite considerations when teaching a group of students.

Summary: Putting Theory into Practice

  • Elements that are to be gamified (like feedback and progression for example) need to be based on proven instructional strategies:
    • When giving feedback during the game consider it like an assessment for learning which is a “. . . a dynamic and ongoing conversation between the teacher and the learner – the goal of which is that the learner comes to better understand and consequently own the process for their own learning” (Fenwick & Parsons , 2009, page 157, 168).
    • When creating progression in the game use Blooms Taxonomy to guide how to increase to higher levels;
  • Consider the level of challenge that the game will provide – it needs to be difficult but not too difficult for the students;
  • Create an environment where the students can focus;
  • Ensure that the technology won’t get in the way of learning – there is nothing is worse than having unexpected technological problems and having no back up plan.

I have given a lot of thought of how I could apply gamification to the courses I teach. One of the courses is a 6 hour face-to-face workshop that has a set curriculum and is quite frankly awful. Whoever created it was completely unaware of the principles of andragogy and thought that providing 6 hours of power point presentations and 2 quizzes was going to provide a rich learning environment. While I won’t go into the details of how I am going to tackle reformatting the material (yet again) I will say that I have decided to replace the 2 quizzes – which I did as a group anyways as it provided more learning than having people do it on their own – with a jeopardy game.

Using the jeopardy game format I will be able to apply the elements of freedom to fail, rapid feedback and progression that Scott and Neustaedter (2013) identified. I will have the class break up into groups of 3 for collaborative learning. I will also create a final class challenge question so that ultimately, the teams will all be working together. For a little extra fun I will provide treats like candies and such to everyone. I need to ensure, however, that the questions are of the appropriate level of challenge.

As technology develops and apps become more readily available, I may have the opportunity to individualize a program to create games and enhance learning for my specific subjects. For now, I am content to try gamification using simple technology like power point or even paper based games. I will watch with interest as to where gamification in education will go in the future.

Gender Equality


image source pixabay

The consequences of gender inequality impact all of us “Gender segregation in career choice results in talent loss for the individual as well as for society” (OECD, n.d.,p 9).

As a nurse educator this really struck home. Nursing, especially maternity nursing, is an almost exclusively female dominated specialty. Having been in nursing for almost 30 years I remember how much discrimination the two men in my training program experienced when they did their maternity specialty. Patients and nurses refused to allow them in the room and yet, curiously, had no problems letting the male doctors in the room.

Reading about gender equality has really gotten me thinking about what it is in maternity nursing in Canada that continues to keep men out. A friend of mine told me that in Australia they have had male midwives for 20 years now. Why is taking us so long for us in Canada to shake the stereotypes? Why don’t we understand that the care of labouring and post partum women would be enriched by having men on board as care providers and as educators?

I think we need to start by recruiting more men into nursing. We need to start showing images of male nurses in professional nursing magazines and in social media. We need to start by ensuring that men are not being exposed to gender bias when they are primary school and we need to actively recruit men from high school to come into nursing.

We also need to ensure that programs are evaluated for hidden curriculum. Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) offers an evaluation guide that instructors can use to evaluate their course (including teaching didactics, students performances and instructor performance).

Men have the right to be able to chose their profession just as much as women. I am hopeful that as society becomes more aware of gender diversity it will translate for more freedom for men to come into nursing.


Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) Project e-qual – Teaching, Gender, Quality University of Fribourg. Retrieved from:

Fenwick, T.J. & Parsons, J. (2009) The Art of Evaluation A Resources for Educators and Trainers Thompson Educational Publishing Inc Toronto, Canada

Marczewski (2015) Grinding to Mastery and Flow Gamified UK Gamification Consultancy. Retrieved from:

Merriam, S.B. & Bierema, L.L. (2014) Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (n.d) The Pursuit of Happiness. Retrieved from:

OECD (n.d.) Trends Shaping Education 2015 Spotlight 7, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from:

Stott, A & Neustaedter, C. (n.d.) Analysis of Gamification in Education Retrieved from:

Teaching To Promote Gender Equality (n.d.) Center for Teaching Excellence University of Virginia. Retrieved from:


















Trends in Adult Education Part #1: Trends – Gamification and Gender Equality

My learning partner, Penny and I got together this week to discuss two emerging trends in adult education: gamification and gender equality.


Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 4.35.09 PM.pngimage source Pixabay

The trend I brought to the table was gamification. It is an instructional strategy I first encountered in PIDP 3250 but refrained from diving into in previous blogs as, quite frankly, I really wasn’t quite sure about it. More specifically is it effective? Is it worthy of the hype? Is it really something I could successfully integrate into a health care provider workshop or online perinatal course?

Let’s check it out.

Gamification [n]: the use of game design elements in non-game contexts” Knewton Infographics para 1.

When I think of games, I think of fun, and making learning fun is certainly something I as an educator aspire to. Then I starting considering why incorporating fun into learning was important and the first thing that came to mind was increased motivation.

This infographic posted on eLearning Industry cites a survey done by TalentLMS that found, “79% of the participants said that they would be more productive and motivated if their learning environment was more like a game”. I was curious to know more about the study and so I checked out the Talent LMS web site and found out that the ‘participants’ of the study were users of TalentLMS – no sample size or demographic information was provided. So much for a valid study . . .

More convincing is this quote from The Education Arcade at MIT found on the Knewton Infographics “Game players regularly exhibit persistence, risk taking, attention to detail and problem solving, all behaviors that ideally would be regularly demonstrated at school.” This got me thinking; what are the elements of gaming that induces these behaviours in gamers? And can these be applied to the educational setting?

A google search for these answers brought me to the article that I had Penny read and the one we met up to talk about: Analysis of Gamification in Education by Scott and Neustaedter.

Key points and take home messages for us were:

  • The four elements of gaming that can be successfully be applied to the educational setting (Scott & Neustaedter, 2013, p 1) are:
    • Freedom to Fail;
    • Rapid Feedback;
    • Progression;
    • Storytelling.
  • Things to watch for:
    • Scott and Neustaedter (2013) warn of “. . . implementing game components by simply trading out the parlance of pedagogy for that of gaming culture” (p 1) as educators run the risk of adversely affecting engagement.
      • Personal anecdote:
        • To help ‘motivate’ staff to read the material for a new mandated educational program at my hospital, a leaderboard that illustrated progress of completed readings for each team was created with the promise of a free dinner for 2 for the winners. It was not favourably received and staff reported feeling bullied.
  • Competition versus collaboration:
    • One of the case studies that Scott and Neustaedter (2013) present involves adding ‘head to head’ competition to the educational setting. After what I had seen happen at work with the reading completion competition I wasn’t at all convinced that it was a safe bet for the classroom. Knewton Infographics lists collaboration as helping students to feel pride in their work in their game. Personally, I think that collaboration is the path I would chose to go with.

Things to keep in mind:

  • “This analysis reveals that the underlying dynamics that make games engaging are largely already recognized and utilized in modern pedagogical practices, although under different designations” (Scott & Neustaedter, 2013, abstract/introduction).

Bottom line for me was stick with proven instructional strategies.

  • While Scott and Neustaedter (2013) acknowledge that “(t)here is no once-size-fits all model for the successful gamification of a classroom” (p 7), sticking to and understanding underlying principles of the four elements they have outlined (see above) means I should be able to successfully integrate gamification into my workshops and online course. All I have to do now is to figure out how . . .

Gender Equality

Screen Shot 2017-01-11 at 4.48.02 PM.pngimage source pixabay

The educational trend that Penny offered for discussion is that of gender equality. I thought yes! We always need to be thinking of how to ensure gender equality in education; this is a perfect trend to explore in more detail. The barriers to education for women around the world are appalling: approximately 516 million of the 774 million adults that lack basic literacy skills are women (UNESCO as cited in Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p 8). As a self-identified feminist I was very keen to learn more about gender equality in education.

What I really liked about the article that Penny brought forward (Trends Shaping Education 2015 Spotlight 7) was that it looked at gender trends in education from OECD countries, which includes the likes of Canada, Australia, Sweden and the US, and not just 3rd world countries. The article emphasis the importance that education plays “. . . in ensuring that women and men have the same opportunities in their personal and professional lives, through formal schooling, shaping attitudes and transforming behaviours” (OECD, n.d., p 1).

Penny summarized the concept of gender equality as ‘levelling the playing field’. This is echoed by UN Women, 2014, as cited by OECD, n.d. : “Gender equality does not mean that men and women should become the same but that a person’s rights, responsibilities and opportunities should not depend on whether they are born female or male” (p 2).

The OCED article highlights the importance of gender equality in the education of children particularly when the stereotypical notion that boys are naturally better at math than girls and girls are better at reading than boys is debated:

Where do these gender differences in performance come from? It is not the case that girls and boys have inherently different abilities in these subjects. Instead, performance differences are driven by the fact that schools and societies foster different levels of self-confidence, motivation and interests for different subject areas among boys and girls (OECD, 2015 as cited in OECD, n.d. p 3).

Finally, the article looks at how gender equality is playing out globally in terms of leadership roles and occupational choices for women. Female dominated fields include health and welfare and education, while male dominated fields include computing, sciences, engineering, manufacturing and construction. Hardly a surprise, but what will be interesting is to see how educational programs will shift to create a level playing field in these areas.

Key points and take home messages for us were:

  • The importance of gender neutral curriculum throughout the educational system: “(g)ender segregation in career choice results in talent loss for the individual as well as for society” (OECD, n.d., p 9).
  • Being aware of your own bias as an instructor;
    • I think that this is really coming to the forefront especially given society’s emerging awareness of the spectrum of gender diversity that can and is being expressed.

Gender equality in education is gaining awareness but we still have a long way to go. “(T)here is a moral imperative to ensure that everyone can choose the subject or career that appeals to him or her. We need to ensure that we create a society in which men can become nurses and women can become mechanics without any hesitation or discrimination, if this is what they choose to do” (OECD, n.d., p 9).


Evaluation for gender sensitive teaching (n.d.) Project e-qual – Teaching, Gender, Quality University of Fribourg. Retrieved from:

Gamification and game-based learning (n.d.) Centre for Teaching Excellence University of Waterloo. Retrieved fro:

Knewton Infographics (n.d.) KNEWTON. Retrieved from:

Merriam, S.B. & Bierema, L.L. (2014) Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

OECD (n.d.) Trends Shaping Education 2015 Spotlight 7, OECD Publishing. Retrieved from:

Stott, A & Neustaedter, C. (n.d.) Analysis of Gamification in Education Retrieved from:

Teaching To Promote Gender Equality (n.d.) Center for Teaching Excellence University of Virginia. Retrieved from:

The Top Gamification Statistics And Facts For 2015 You Need To Know (n.d.) eLearning Industry. Retrieved from: