My presentations for Leading a Digital School Conference held at Crown Casino on 25th and 26th August, 2016.

Blogging In and Out of the Classroom

Session Description

It is often argued that learning needs to be redefined, transformed into something different. Going beyond what that change may be, a powerful tool that can help drive this are blogs. Originally designed as a means for logging information on the web, blogs have come to take many forms and purposes. This session is about harnessing the power and potential of blogging to develop learning inside and outside of the classroom. Whether you are confused about where to start or what possibilities blogs can offer, this session is for you.  Aaron will provide a range of practical tips and tricks associated with the differences between platforms, how to build a blog from scratch, as well as a range of examples and ideas of how blogs can be used in schools. The reality is, developing creative learners often depends on providing a place for them to shine and blogs is the perfect platform for this.

Creating, Making and Visualising: Integrating Technology within a Classroom that Works

Session Description

Many schools are going through the process of implementing and adapting instructional models only to be left wondering the place and purpose of technology. Rather than somehow seeing these two things as being separate, technology is best seen as an accelerator, making deep learning more doable. Whether it be visualising thinking, creating non-linguistic representations, taking notes, developing summaries, engaging in debate, providing feedback or working collaboratively, this session is for you. Aaron will unpack the positives and negatives associated with a range of digital platforms and programs, including Google Apps, Canva, Verso, Padlet, Edublogs, Paper53 and Adobe Creative Cloud. In addition to this, he will discuss some of the things to consider when introducing various applications and managing change across a whole school.  Too many create a divide between digital technologies and deep thinking. Believing that somehow they need to sacrifice technology for the learning to go deeper. The purpose of this session is to provide an overview of the platforms and programs which made deeper thinking more possible and more doable. In addition to this, it will discuss some of the limitations and things to consider when implementing such change across a whole school.

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flickr photo shared by mrkrndvs under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

My Month of July

This month I started a new job. Still in education, it involves supporting teachers, rather than teaching students. Entering into project land, I must admit that it is a different pace.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Quick Ideas for Creating a Classroom e-Newsletter – Miguel Guhlin unpacks some different options for digitally communicating information.
I’ve always been on the lookout for fresh ways to share classroom content. Here are some quick ways to revamp the classroom, or campus, e-newsletter.
Amplify Your Writing – Silvia Tolisano explores digital writing and outlines some means of having amplifying your writing. She touches on such things as headlines, keywords and hyperlinks.
Digital writing allows a writer to re-think writing and reading experiences, choose from multiple possibilities of communicating and opportunities to to amplify their thoughts, ideas, connections, references, train of thought, and their audience.
A book of short stories for students, by students – wanna contribute? – Bianca Hewes has put out the call for community contributions to a book of short stories that maybe sometimes are overlooked.
I imagine that every teacher has come across ‘that’ story at least once in their careers (and hopefully multiple times) – you know, the one where we read it without thinking about the student who wrote it, without stopping to query a phrase, or the tense, or a character’s decisions… where you just read, and feel, and imagine, and love, love, love. The one where at the end you go, ‘Holy crap, I couldn’t write anything that good. How can I be responsible for teaching this kid?’ You know the one, right? Well, what if we collected a bunch of those stories, and put them together in a book, published via Blurb, that could be downloaded for free as a eBook, or bought as a hard copy, depending on the teacher’s preference.
67 Years of Lego Sets – Joel Carron looks back at the history of Lego. This is not only an interesting reflection, but a great resource associated with data.
As an analyst, I turned to data for answers. I found a dataset on Rebrickable (a site that shows you which Lego sets you can build from the sets and pieces you already own), which contained information on the color, number, and type of pieces in each Lego set for the past 67 years. I used Plotly and Mode Python Notebooks to explore the data.
Reciprocation: The Fine Line Between Remixing and Plagiarism – Kevin Hodgson walks the line between remixing and plagiarising, discussing the difference.
If I use someone else’s words for a remix, am I a writer or remixer? Is it writing if the words are not my own? (I prefer: composer)If I remix, but fail to give credit, does remix become plagiarism?Do I need to ask permission of the writer to remix their work, or does posting writing in digital spaces allow me to assume that work is fair game for remix?If I remix, and then post to public spaces, who is the artist at that point? Me, the remixer, or them, the original writer? A collaboration?If the writer asks the remixer to stop/halt/remove, does the remixer have an obligation to do so? (legal, moral, etc.)
A Glossary of Blogging Terminology – Richard Byrne provides a glossary for making sense of blogs. A useful resource in relation to unpacking blogs with staff and students alike.
Once you've chosen the best blogging tool for you and your students, sometimes the next challenge of running a blog is just knowing the terminology that is used when we talk about blogging.
ScratchMath – One of the challenges with any platform is finding the edge. Jeffrey Gordon provides a range of possibilities which help highlight what is possible.
Teaching computer programming is not like teaching reading or math. Programmers rely on libraries of code they can’t understand, coworkers to write functions they don’t read, and finally a structure that doesn't always require comprehending the whole, but rather understanding of a set of individual parts and their relationships.
Cardboard Challenges: No Tech/Low Cost Maker Education – Jackie Gerstein reminds us that making does not always have to involve coding and electronic kits, sometimes it can be as simple as using cardboard.
The Cardboard Challenges Maker Education Camp utilized no technology (except for projecting images of example projects on the whiteboard) and low/no cost materials. Many of the discussions about and actions related to integrating maker education into educational environments center around the use of new technologies such computer components (Raspberry Pis, Arduinos), interactive robots for kids (Dash and Dot, Ozobots, Spheros), and 3D printers.
Edtech

What is an API? – Ben Werdmuller unpacks the world of APIs. He touches on their purpose and what they mean for the personal user. This conversation is continued in a post on Open Source.

APIs present a pragmatic solution that allows us to build on other software while saving on short-term costs. They’re not a magic wand, but used wisely, they allow us to build entirely new products and services. And maybe — just maybe — they will allow us to take control of our digital lives and build a new kind of internet.

Future Proof – Four Corners provides an investigation of the impact of robotics and automation on of the future of the workforce. With this, they explore the role of education within all of this.

The loss of these jobs will be challenging for the existing workforce as there may simply not be enough jobs to go round. But the greater fear is that we're not preparing our kids for work in this technological age. Schools and universities are churning out students with qualifications for jobs that won't exist, instead of training them for the ones that will be created.

Has Technology Failed Us? – Douglas Rushkoff explores the impact of technology and the life we live today. Rather than despise it's existence, he wonders how it might somehow be different.

The thing that disturbs me most is when people accept the artefacts that have been left for them as the given circumstances of nature. When people look at corporate capitalism, or Facebook, or the religion they have, as if they were given by god and not invented by people. It’s this automatic acceptance of how things are that leads to a sense of helplessness about changing any of them. I am deeply concerned about the environment and the degree to which temperatures are rising, and how the worst expectations of environmentalists have already been surpassed.

Facebook is chipping away at privacy – and my profile has been exposed – Alex Hern unpacks the irony encoded within Facebook's ever evolving privacy settings. Another reminder why we need to be ever so vigilant about Facebook and every social media platform for that matter.

Facebook can truthfully say that it does what it promises, and even offers settings that let people lock-down their own accounts, while designing the site so even internet-savvy users like me will end up exposing information we never intended to make public.

Three steps to become a digitally agile educator – Ian O'Byrne provides a great introduction to being digitally agile, focusing on identity and space.

A 21st century educational system must educate all students in the effective and authentic use of the technologies that permeate society to prepare them for the future. As part of this future, learners need opportunities to not only read, but also write the web. 

Are you being catfished? – Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt provide a thorough guide to uncovering catfishing.

Catfishing schemes, or romance scams, continue to plague social networking services. In fact, the issue has become so common that there’s a good chance that one of your recent “friend” requests actually came from a scammer versus someone who is actually interesting in pursuing a genuine friendship

Storytelling and Reflection  

The Future of Work – Touching upon everything from the meaning of work, impact of automation and disruption to past practises, this lengthy post from Oxford University captures a number of topics relating to the future of work.

Technology will make many jobs redundant, others easier, and create at least some new ones along the way. Keynes’ prediction of a fifteen-hour working week may even come true. But while humans are in charge, we can still choose for there to be some work that’s performed by non-robotic hands.

Towards a School Coaching Culture – Chris Munro unpacks the intricacies involved in developing a culture of coaching in schools. Along with his interview on TER Podcast and Paul Browning’s post, they represent a good place to start in regards to coaching.

The pre-conditions for coaching will be different in every school context. Coaching leaders need to be in tune with these and take them into account when considering their approach. Trust is a critical factor here. We know that trust is critical in individual coaching relationships but in terms of establishing a broader coaching culture we need to think about the levels of trust across the full range of conversational contexts in the school.

Critical Questions – David Truss reflects on personalised learning versus adding more choice. Much of the thinking in the post stemmed from the critical conversations had at ISTE. This is an interesting read in light of Jon Andrews post on educational cheese rolling.

We live in a world where people prefer to avoid going to hard places, rather than realizing we are all on a learning journey and that the hard conversations often lead us to better places. But that said, there was nothing hard about my conversation with Sheryl, (or David, or Michelle). They weren’t hard, they were invigorating! We should all invite critical questioning into our practice, in the same way that we encourage our students to do the same. 

#WalkOn – Along with The Beauty of Dreams, Steve Brophy’s provocation is a challenge for everyone to take up. This is linked with CoLearn MeetUp, an exploration of educational alternatives.  

‘Walk on’ was the real message for delegates.  In education, we need more educators to ‘walk on’ and take on new challenges, to rethink pedagogy, reimagine school and to grow our collective voice.  We all battle our inner self when it comes to new opportunities.  Talk ourselves out of going for something, self defeat with our own negative self-talk but why?  Why do we do that to ourselves?  Your value is needed, your voice counts and we need all educators to #WalkOn. 

Memory Machines: Learning, Knowing, and Technological Change – Audrey Watters provides a critique of digital memory and whether archives truly are useful when it comes to supporting memory. This reminded me of Celia Coffa’s keynote from DigiCon15.

We might live in a time of digital abundance, but our digital memories – our personal memories and our collective memories – are incredibly brittle. We might be told we’re living in a time of rapid technological change, but we are also living in a period of rapid digital data decay, of the potential loss of knowledge, the potential loss of personal and collective memory.

Performing Data – Ben Williamson explains that what we choose to measure and count has consequences to how we perform and what we see as possible. This is pertinent when we talk about innovation and transformation, as such changes can be dictated by the measurements that we use. 

Performativity makes the question of what counts as worthwhile activity in education into the question of what can be counted and of what account can be given for it. It reorients institutions and individuals to focus on those things that can be counted and accounted for with evidence of their delivery, results and positive outcomes, and de-emphasises any activities that cannot be easily and effectively measured.

Poor research and ideology: Common attempts used to denigrate inquiry – Richard Olsen digs a bit deeper into some research on discovery learning, uncovering some flaws in the process.

To suggest that individuals playing Texas Hold’em against a computer mirrors inquiry that happens in our schools in complete nonsense. To suggest that this research proves pure discover “widens the achievement gaps” is complete nonsense. To suggest that because learning poker by yourself on a computer playing against a simulation isn’t a good way to learn has anything at all do with student learning and real inquiry is nonsense.

Distractions – Corinne Campbell provides a different take on John Hattie's effect sizes and distractions in education. She questions whether such conversations are a distraction from supporting an equitable education system for all.

A year’s growth for a year of schooling presents an impoverished view of education. For schooling is about more than academic growth. Our education system is how we  maintain a cohesive, civil society. We can’t afford to be distracted from that. 

Together – Aaron Hogan reflects on the nerves of facing the first day. In the end he reminds us that no matter what videos you show or awesome activities you do that it is only by working together that we achieve anything.

The more I think about it, the more I believe that our legacy as educators is built in community over time. That’s easy to say, but tough to do. Still, that’s our job. If you want to be the teacher who leaves an impact, develop a space where students can learn with you and their peers together.

FOCUS ON … designing a technology-rich environment

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately exploring technology-rich environments. This is a collection of posts and resources that I have collected:

  • Trudacot: A protocol developed by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber to help facilitate conversations around deeper learning with technology.

  • A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages: Mal Lee and Roger Broadie provide a thorough discussion of what is required in bring schools into the digital world. This includes a taxonomy covering many elements within a digital environment.

  • SAMR: Devised by Ruben R. Puentedura, the premise behind it is that each layer provides a deeper level of engagement and involvement with technology.

  • High Possibility Classrooms: Student Agency Through Technology-Enhanced Learning: A framework focussing in Teacher knowledge developed by Jane Hunter through her research into exemplary technology teachers.

  • Transformational Learning: Alan November provides six reflective questions to guide the transformational integration of technology. Like Trudacot, these questions help to identify the place of technology associated with learning.

  • Modern Learning Canvas: A tool developed by Richard Olsen that allows you to design and implement innovative learning practices in an agile manner.

  • Return on Instruction: Eric Sheninger provides several suggestions in relation to being more accountable to the integration of digital technologies.

  • Eight Elements of Digital Literacies: A series of eight elements identified by Doug Belshaw that help break down the mindsets and skillsets associated with digital literacies. They provide an interesting set of questions to help guide the use of digital technologies both in planning stage, as well as during the process.

  • Anywhere Anytime Learning: Bruce Dixon and Susan Einhorn collect together their experience in rolling out 1:1 devices around the world to provide some guidelines of things to consider. Rather than a strict list, they provide a series of questions and provocations to support teachers.

  • Resident vs. Visitor: Arguing again the native/immigrant metaphor, David White and Alison Lu Cornu provide a continuum that incorporates the nuances involved in the use of technology. They focus on two aspects, personal vs. institutional and visitor vs. resident. The mapping matrix can be a useful exercise to ascertain where staff and students are at and possibly where they may want to be.

  • Digital Leaders: A scheme designed to allow students in leading the change around technology.

  • Ethics of EdTech: Cameron Hocking provides a range of questions to consider when introducing a new platform. It touches on the challenges of privacy and data.

  • ICT School Planning: The Victorian State Government has created a number of resources to support schools in regards to planning. This includes the planning matrix, digital learning showcase, as well as the updated ePotential survey, which can be used to develop a picture of practice.

  • Questions you need to ask when developing a digital strategy: Allan Crawford-Thomas and Mark Ayton provide a series of questions that are useful as a provocation in regards to developing a vision and specific mission statements.

  • Why We Went Multi-Device, Multi-Platform For Our 1:1 Initiative: AJ Juliani reflects on the steps involved in rolling out a 1:1 initiative in his school.

  • Microsoft Technology Planning Resources: A collection of resources designed to support the transformation. These include a transformational framework, as well as a discussion of quality assurance.

  • ISTE Essential Conditions: ISTE provide a discussion of the critical elements necessary to effectively leverage technology for learning. It is linked with a research-backed framework to guide implementation of the ISTE Standards, tech planning and systemwide change.

  • Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Contemporary Teaching and Learning: Document produced by Richard Olsen and Ideas Lab around living and learning in a technology-rich world.


READ WRITE RESPOND #007

So that is July for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. Maybe you have a resource to add to my list.

 

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?