About Digital Emerge

Digital emerge is a collection of reflections and experiences within the domains of:
// Digital Technology
// Emerging Technologies
// Innovation in Pedagogy
// Mobile Learning: iPads
// Blended and Online Learning
// Instructional Design
// Curriculum and Assessment

About Me

Nicholas Yates

Nicholas Yates

I am an educational technologist who is working at Zayed University in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. I currently work half-time in the Center for Educational Innovation as a Faculty Fellow (Faculty Development) designing and facilitating faculty learning and development specifically relating to mobile learning and innovative pedagogical approaches in foundation programs and higher education. I also teach English for Academic Purposes half-time in the Academic Bridge Program where I utilize second language pedagogy and mobile learning principles to provide innovative teaching and learning. Lastly, I teach Technical Writing in the College of Technological Innovation of Zayed University. This allows me the opportunity to implement the 4Cs of 21st century learning with information technology majors to utilize communication, critical thinking, creativity and collaboration within flipped classes.

I am a life-long learner and love to develop my knowledge in the areas of learning technologies and instructional design. I am interested in the elements surrounding a contextually balanced instructional design, integrating digital technology into learning, reflecting on readings, expanding my knowledge and skills and actively writing about these experiences.

There is certainly a growing interest in digital emerging technologies that present another dimension to education and I am grasping this with both hands and enjoying taking a very active role in my community in this (r)evolution. A big part of it is the reflecting upon and writing about the issues associated with such endeavors. My musings here are an appreciation of the complexities involved.

I would consider myself a Glo-cal digizen – a global-local digital citizen. In terms of the digital world, I like to think global, act local and act global, think local within the communities I have an active membership in. When there is a broad statement, I will always reflect on it in its context as well as applying it to my context. Alternatively when I have an localized idea, I will often think more broadly and to reflect on how it would play in other contexts. This behavior stems from my digizenship in online and face-to-face communities in a number of contexts: various communities within my workplace of Zayed University, with the communities within subjects at Queensland University of Technology, and my Personal Learning Network spanning across a number of different countries and contexts.


(This is where I switch from first to third person so it sounds more objective and professional…)

Click to download Nicholas Yates’ Resume or view it online.

Nicholas Yates is a graduate of the Master of Education (Information Communication Technology) program at Queensland University of Technology where he researched, discussed, studied, and applied the ideas and best practices of digital learning technologies, instructional design, and online, blended  and e-learning. He is constantly critically reflecting on these in this blog and applying the end product of this process; from improving the learning process through his teaching to his guidance and mentoring of his colleagues in their pursuit to integrate ICT.


Digital Perspectives


This unit includes a comprehensive examination of relevant theory, research, policy, and/or practice in the mediation of learning and communication through technology. Students are encouraged to critique the rhetoric and reality of ICT integration in learning networks.

This unit will provide an overview of the domain of information and communication technology (ICT) in education through a review of seminal and contemporary research and practice in face-to-face, blended and online learning environments. It is intended for educators and system leaders as well as those who have a curiosity about the way digital technologies are helping to reshape the educational landscape.

Nicholas Yates:

Researched and conducted a case study to describe the state of Interactive White Boards (IWBs) within the language learning department of a foreign language university. It analyzed integration of IWBs into teaching and learning as well as the preparation of a professional development program.

Reviewed the issues surrounding IWBs in professional development and wrote an extensive academic literature review and concluded with an original synthesis (click here for an executive summary). Nicholas Yates applied this knowledge with an initial MarketPlace. The MarketPlace  stemmed from a department need and a group generated idea. Nicholas then set the learning objectives, designed the instruction process, created all the materials, trained a number of expert teachers to co-facilitate workshops, and organized the day’s professional development for approximately 50 faculty from two university departments. Yates has subsequently followed up on this by setting, designing, creating, training and co-facilitating a series of IWB Discussions. Action research is being completed on the IWB Discussions and more will be written about these shortly.

Digital Expectancies: Innovative Practices with Emerging Technologies


This unit will formalise understandings of digitally expectant learners and how emergent technologies can be used to meet their needs, preferences, attitudes and habits. It will investigate the nature and affordances of emergent technologies and apply this understanding to a learning context.

Nicholas Yates:

Analyzed a specific context and a group of learners to integrate an emerging technology into their learning environment. Subsequently designed and hypothesized an integration proposal and wrote a scoping statement for:

Twitter: Repurposed for professional development

Ubernote: Repurposed for secondary schools

Propaganda Software: Repurposed for e-Learning

SmartPhones Augmented Reality: Repurposed for secondary schools

Designed and published an Instructional Design plan to implement podcasting in e-Learning higher education environments. The plan proposed using knowledge building learning objectives within a constructivist learning environment to maximize all learning potential. Yates analyzed the learners, set the learning objectives, selected the digital media needed, outlined the pedagogy needed for the media, and designed and suggested the integration of a number of learning activities. The instructional design project stopped short of the evaluation part of the project management cycle as it was an integration plan only. (For a pre-design survey about learners in the study, click here and here)

Digital Leadership: Policy and Planning for the Future


The aim of this unit is to provide you as, digital and aspiring educational leaders, with a deeper appreciation of the nature of digital technologies as they relate to educational change from a strategic perspective. Particular emphasis is placed on digital leadership by examining both the strategic and operational dimensions of leadership and management in institutions for learning.

Nicholas Yates:

Conducted a situation analysis stemming from an existing strategic plan of a Arts and Humanities department within a university. A critical discourse analysis of interviews and documents was used to understand more about the situation in which the policy existed. Strengths and weaknesses of the existing document were identified and were compared and contrasted with intended and actual practices.

Outlined, designed and wrote a vision, aims, objectives within a new strategic plan for the above situation. The plan focused on seven key areas from which a strategy was envisioned. These included student-centered pedagogy, learning materials and environment, professional learning and development, curriculum and assessment, workplace productivity, and university and community engagement. This outlined phases and stages to structure planning and implementation. It also identified threats and weaknesses that may hinder the plans and how these could be combated. One major difference was the treatment of ICT within the strategic plan. No longer was it segmented into its own area. ICT was included within the core of each area as it plays an active and integral role within the department’s life. This also brought the department’s strategic plan in line with the updated university’s strategic plan. Another noticeable difference was the intent of leadership. This strategic plan advised and emphasized distributed leadership throughout the phases and stages of planning and implementation. This aimed to create a culture to promote leadership at all levels to progress the plan for the teaching and learning and students and teachers.

Reflected on the body of literature that the I read throughout the course and concluded in the final epilogue that leadership is less about knowing and more about understanding the socio-cultural contexts and taking action.

Digital Pedagogies


This unit includes a critical investigation of digital pedagogies and the changes they are making to the role of the teacher, and the interactions between students, teachers and subject content. The unit assists students in designing and moderating worthwhile learning experiences in online environments or physical environments that make use of digital technologies.

Nicholas Yates:

Created an integration plan to realize the repurpose of Evernote as an e-Portfolio to document and capture student learning. Evernote could be used within the three levels of student contribution suggested by Barrett. These levels being storage, workspace and showcase were written into learning and assessment design. Evernote affords greater access, connectivity, adaptability, and mobility. It als provides a workspace for cognitive engagement with the e-Portfolio, provided the learning design includes the appropriate tasks.

Analyzed and evaluated the International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards (ISTE-NETS) in terms of the digital pedagogy and subsequent assessments. Standards like these promote high standards of (socio-)constructivist principles of teaching and learning and a system of evaluation for both. However, whilst the student and teacher ISTE-NETS prescribes and describes highly effective digital pedagogy, they neglect adequate coverage and attention for assessments. In this respect, the teacher is left to draw between the lines so to speak. Whilst teachers are professional educators and will probably have the knowledge to make adequate assessments, it is surprising that these details were not described and prescribed in as much detail. Conclusions were drawn and assessments were suggested including e-Portfolios, task- and challenge-based assessments, and peer- and self-assessment. These assessments matched the principles used within the NETS and matched the digital pedagogy with effective assessments.

Online Learning: Implications for Learning


This unit aims to provide students with the opportunity to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to use a variety of delivery methods appropriate to their post-secondary student cohort, and to be able to evaluate and critique each mode of delivery within a pedagogical framework, which is student-centred and context-specific.

Nicholas Yates:

Analyzed the needs within an English for Academic Purpose foundation program of a UAE university for an online IELTS Language and Skills course. An instructional design approach was used to analyze and create the IELTS course. Kemp’s Instructional Design model was used to structure the course design but online learning principles and language learning pedagogy was incorporated to maximize learning. Of particular importance were the following:

  • Specify overall goals for the online IELTS course
  • Examined current student needs and predicted future needs.
  • Chose language and skills needed for IELTS preparation within thematic units
  • Selected instructional objectives and appropriate online pedagogy and strategy
  • Organized a sequence based on development of language and skills.
  • Planned the online delivery system
  • Developed appropriate assessments
  • Identified resources and materials that were conducive to online environment

Curriculum, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education


The unit aims to introduce students to key concepts and practices underpinning contemporary curriculum design, development, assessment and evaluation in rapidly changing global and local contexts.

Curriculum in higher education is subject to a number of influences including contemporary curriculum approaches, the structure of bodies of knowledge in fields, disciplines and professions, accreditation of curriculum and institutional and government policy and quality assurance processes. This unit will address key concepts and influences underpinning contemporary curriculum design, development, assessment and evaluation in higher education.

Nicholas Yates:

Completed an action research project on teacher perceptions of integrating digital literacy skills into the language learning curriculum of two university departments.  Nicholas reviewed the extensive and ever-growing body of academic literature as well as blogs, organizational materials and reflective writings. Yates reviewed and categorized the literature from a number of different dispositions, technological, sociocultural,  and socioeconomical, and conceptualized digital literacies from a generic, situated and transformative perspective. Through a survey and follow up interviews, a number of digital literacies would be seen by the research participants as beneficial and a positive addition to the teaching and learning process within classes and beyond.

Professional Applications of Research


The unit focuses on the needs of professionals to seek research knowledge that addresses specific problems or issues in their practice and to develop a positive attitude towards research in general. It assists students to search databases and other sources to locate published research reports in their field and evaluate them critically.

Nicholas Yates:

Developed and furthered his understanding of research methods and methodology through the critical analysis and evaluation of qualitative and quantitative research.

The qualitative research paper critically reflected on Communities of Practice within professional development. They focussed discussion on the conceptualization and inclusion of layers within the macro, meso, and micro levels of the community. They synthesized their understanding of the enabled professional to conclude.

The quantitative research paper examined the relationship between technology training and integration. This article investigates three research questions being 1) the correlation between training design and faculty pedagogical practices in integration, 2) the effect of years of teaching on integration, and 3) the relationship between years of teaching and reported technical proficiency. Through my critical evaluation on this paper, the analysis was adequate but the discussion and conclusions lacked sufficient depth.

Professional Dialogues in Education


This unit aims to develop understanding of what it means to be an innovator and a leader in a contemporary professional context. The unit is underpinned by the notion that innovation means being more critical, being open, being able to engage with greater uncertainty and complexity, and being able to learn from the past in order to manage the future.

Nicholas Yates:

Interviewed a close mentor and discussed pertinent issues surrounding professional development, personal learning networks, professional growth, and discussions on disciplines e-Learning, online learning, ICT integraion, digital literacies, 21st century learning, curriculum development and assessment. The conversation was critically reflected on to explore my own professional development, ways to build further knowledge through a personal learning network and strategies on growing as a life long learner.

For more information or details on any of the assignments produced for the MEd, please email me directly digitalemerge [at] gmail dot com or Tweet me @digitalemerge.

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