Professional Development

This page is a work in progress, which will eventually include professional development opportunities that I have participated in over the years.


Participating in “Leaders in the Making”, with four full-day workshops and group meetings with Warrnambool Network throughout the year.

February – Presented “Digital Toolbox for VCE Environmental Science” at VAEE VCE teachers conference, Melbourne.

Participated in  4- day Maths workshops presented by Ian Lowe In Warrnambool.

26th May – Presented “Digital Toolbox for Creative Connections” and “Creativity in Science Learning” at ICTEV Conference, Melbourne Grammar School.

2nd July – Presented “Mobile Toolbox for Middle Years Maths” at Slide2Learn conference, Albert Park College.

11th July – Presented “Digital Toolbox for Blended Learning” at Australian Science Teacher’s Association Conference, ANU, Canberra


November – Presented at “Blended Learning” conference with Anne Mirtschin.

November – Presented “A Digital Toolbox for Science Teachers and Learners” at LaTrobe University.








2003 Started work at Hawkesdale P12 College as a Maths and Science teacher.

2001 – 2002 Completed a Graduate Diploma of Education (Secondary) at Monash University by Distance Learning – two years part time, while raising my two children and working on our sheep and cattle property with my husband, Andrew.

1996 – 2001 I met my husband, proprietor of Western District Fruit Supply and we got married in March 1996. I had my first child (James) in 1997, moved to Hawkesdale in 1998 and had my second child (Alannah) in 1999 .

1993 – 1995 Returned home to Australia and lived in Warrnambool, where I completed a  Certificate II of Commercial Cookery. I worked as a ski lodge manager at Merrijig Ski Club in winter and a ship’s cook in summer, aboard the “One and All” and the “Eye of the Wind” sail-training vessels.

1989 – 1992 Travelled by yacht, through Indonesia, from Darwin to Singapore. Flew to London and travelled in Europe, Turkey, Egypt and Africa over three years. Worked as a barmaid, waitress, yacht hostess with “Sunsail” and at British Telecom.

1987 – 1988 Lived and worked in Darwin as a party hostess at the Billabong Bistro and then as a laboratory assistant at Western District Pathology.

1984 – 1987 Worked at the local Billabong Bistro as a food attendant, icecream scooper and waitress. In 1987, when I finished university, I worked at a Melbourne Share Registry answering phones, doing basic filing and computer data input.

1984 – 1986 Attended Latrobe University, in Bundoora, where I majored in Botany and Zoology.

1978 – 1983 Attended East Doncaster High School – a bit further to walk! Completed my Higher School Certificate with very average scores. Enjoyed Biology, Art and Maths.

1971 – 1977 Attended Beverley Hills Primary School, a short walk from my East Doncaster home.

On 8th and 9th September, 2008, I attended the induction program for the DEECD’s Knowledge Bank Collaborative Research and Learning program – my research project investigated the question: “Can social networking improve student outcomes in middle years maths and science learning?” The project ran for all of term 4 and I hoped to harness the enthusiasm and motivation that students already had for using social networking technologies to engage them in maths and science learning.

In 2010 I became a Lead User for the Ultranet, together with Anne Mirtschin and our principal, Colan Distel. This is an exciting opportunity to learn more about the multi-million dollar platform that will allow students, teachers and parents to work together. In 2011, we will be able to add learning tasks, track assessments and students will use collaborative spaces to learn and share together.

In June, 2010 I  attended the Slide 2 Learn conference in Shepparton, to learn more about using iPods and iPads in the classroom. I participated in the following workshops:
1: Literacy and numeracy
2: Digital Story Telling (Good article about Digital Storytelling here.)
3: ipod touch NSW DET
4: Art, Science and Humanities
5: Bloom’s digital taxonomy

“21st Century Learning in Rural Communities”

 A Country Education Project seminar with Stephen Heppell

At Etihad Stadium, Friday 15th October, 2010

 I was lucky enough to attend this seminar, with only about 80 other people, all invited by the Country Education Project to discuss rural education into the future. Stephen Heppell is a distinguished speaker from the UK – teacher, ‘architect’ of 21st century learning spaces and leading educational expert. He thoroughly engaged his audience with a powerful commentary of the state of education in various parts of the world, humorous anecdotes and clips of evidence for his opinions – images, videos and web links. His main themes included infrastructure, community and ‘bucking the system’.

Infrastructure: Stephen Heppell advocates large, open spaces with lots of light and high ceilings, decorated with student works. He rejects the ‘cells and bells’ tradition of education and encourages smooth curves and creative design in buildings and furniture. He suggests removing corridors and doors and opening up older style buildings with archways, mirrors and skylights. His designs allow for intimate learning in small groups and larger ‘agile, shared, collaborative’ spaces for whole classes. He asks that designers and teachers watch how students learn naturally; not on straight-backed chairs, but lounging, leaning, standing and crouching. Big bean bags and tiered steps are features of his rooms. (BTW 18 degrees is an ideal learning temperature)

Community: Heppell suggests that we give students more choice and voice in schools and develop a culture of praise – ask them to text answers to the question “How can we make learning better?” to a school phone; have them on interview panels; give out ‘praise pod’ cards, where students can be recorded explaining what they have done well at to receive recognition (this can be sent to parents or posted on a blog) and ‘hero cards’ in which students can give teachers recognition – (Today I was made to feel special and I wanted to say “Thank you”) – these go into a draw for prizes. He likes shared relaxing spaces (not separate staff rooms) and social learning – like cafes and outdoor classrooms. He also suggests ways to involve parents more in the school, by offering a ‘Community Learning Space” , Artists (or other experts) in Residence and requesting their input for decision making. Ask people to do what they enjoy and are interested in, be realistic, don’t be overly ambitious and focus on the ‘doing’. Celebrate the successes of the school in the media and on the web.

Systems and Learning: Heppell rejects state and national standardised testing and encourages personalised, online learning and projects such as:

1. Go out and take 100 photos of people of each age from 0 to 99;

2. Design your ideal classroom/school/garden/playground;

3. Create raps to remember what nouns/ verbs/prime numbers are;

4. Use Flickr to explore geology, flowers, animals, anything

5. Put school assemblies on YouTube and ask that students watch in their own time (!).


We are facing enormous global challenges in the 21st Century – including climate change, biodiversity loss and habitat destruction,  war and terrorism, the energy crisis, inequity of resources and pollution, to name a few. Educators in this century are responsible for preparing our future leaders to address these critical and complex issues, not by looking to our past, but by giving students the skills to create new solutions. How can we engage and motivate our students to be active participants in solving the problems that previous generations have caused, without overwhelming them with feelings of powerlessness?

As a frequently optimisitic teacher, I believe that we have the technologies available that will assist to reduce the impacts of climate change and pollution and increase our use of renewable energy. We have the tools that allow expert collaboration around the globe to cure diseases, provide food security and prevent tyrannical dictators from exploiting their people. What we need are energetic and empathetic people with global awareness, outstanding communication skills and the confidence and capacity to advocate for a sustainable future.

Franklin D. Roosevelt said “We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future”. And that is what we must do. We can give them 21st Century Learning  Skills and we must do this by teaching them with new strategies. Often, these learners are already using tools that allow them to develop complex skills, such as social networking, 3D gaming, GPS, video creation and file conversions and transfers. If teachers in this new age can harness the enthusiasm for these tools and encourage students to use them in ways that enhance communication, global awareness and education for sustainability, we may have the opportunity to change the catastrophic course that has been set.

In a recent book, “The Amazing Web 2.0 Book” by Terry  Freedman, the author lists the benefits of using Web 2.0 applications in education, based on the responses of the many contributors to his research and publication. These are based on the Personal Learning and Thinking Skills from the UK study of 21st Century Skills. The book cites the following most important attributes of learners in order of priority:

  • Independent enquirers
  • Creative thinkers
  • Reflective learners
  • Team workers
  • Self-managers
  • Effective participants

Tony Wagner, the author of “The Global Achievement Gap” advocates the following seven survival skills for successful 21st CenturyLearners:


  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination
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  1. Tammy Dewar

    hi Britt,
    Thanks for a giving us a great blog with so many great science resources! I loved your two pictures of you as a student on your about me page.

  2. brittgow

    Thanks Linda, Anne and Jenny for your thoughtful comments – it truly was worth every bit of the nine hours travelling to get there! I agree, it would have been wonderful to have Steve Heppell’s expertise on our BER panels. He was fairly scathing of the UK Green Schools though, for their small windows and low ceilings (energy saving features in the colder climates). We didn’t discuss the bandwidth issues or travelling in detail, although he advocates for online learning and the community aspects of rural schools.

    Very true that all our 21st century skills were used in the Chilean mine collapse – collaboration, problem solving, critical thinking, effective analysis of information and communication. Let’s hope all our challenges have such happy endings!

  3. Linda Pilkington

    A great post Britt. Stephen Heppell is someone I admire and respect and I would love to be part of something like this and have the opportunity to meet him face to face.

    It was interesting this week to watch a country put together some of the world’s finest critical thinkers and problem solvers to work together as a team, demonstrating all of the ‘seven survival skills of the 21st century’ to ensure the survival of every one of the 33 trapped miners in Chile. We can’t plan for and teach the skills required to do something like this, I agree with Stephen Heppell that we need to encourage and motivate our students to be active participants in solving lifelike and meaningful problems.

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  5. Anne De Manser

    Thanks so much for sharing this Britt. Sounds like a thought provoking experience.
    If only Stephen Heppell had been the consultant for our BER buildings !

  6. Jenny Ashby

    Great blog post Britt. Lots of interesting ideas to ponder. In Australia I think country school students are still at a disadvatage due to bandwidth issues and travel distances. Did they discuss this at the day?

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