My Month of April

At work, continuing to develop material to support schools as things ramp up. The modules that my colleagues and I have been working on are finally ready to be published, while we also presented together at Edtechteam GAFE Summit at Manor Lakes in Melbourne’s west.

Personally, I took some time off over Easter and with my family spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand. It is funny that it was a New Zealand artist who wrote “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you.” While we were there we copped the remains of Cyclone Debbie, while just missed on Cyclone Cook – touted as the worst storm this century – as it ended up staying on the coast. Other than that we spent our time in gumboots visiting Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland and Hobbiton. I found New Zealand one of those places where the longer you stay somewhere the more you find to explore. I also attended the Auckland Edtechteam Summit.

 
“Hobbit for a day, human for a lifetime #hobbiton” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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

  • Read Write Wikity – Continuing to explore different ideas and opportunities associated with blogging, I collected together some reflections on setting up my own instance of Wikity.

  • Towards Collective Innovation – After sitting through a Q&A with Jaime Casap, I felt inspired to review my moonshot developed as a part of the Google Innovative Educator program. So here is my pivot to something greater.

  • New (Zealand) Experiences – A reflection on education in New Zealand. There were quite a few differences to Australia, particularly the position of Maori culture.

  • Did Someone Say … Hashtags – A personal unpacking of the way that I see and use hashtags. This stemmed in part from a series of conversations that I have been having with Ian Guest around Twitter and professional learning.

While I have created quite a few cards in my Wikity.


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

Learning and Teaching


“Journalism” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why Journalism Might Actually Be the Class of the Future – John Spencer suggests that the true makerspaces are found in creating texts, an activity best captured by journalism. To support this, Spencer provides a range of practical suggestions to turn every student into a budding journalist. This reminds me of Michael Caulfield’s ideas about creating the web and connecting ideas. I wonder how it fits with the Digipo project and whether domain of one’s own is the greatest form of journalism?

I believe the best way to prepare students for the future is to empower them in the present. Journalism asks students to make sense out of their world as critical thinking citizens and then communicate their ideas to an authentic audience.

Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides – Eric Curts demonstrates how Google Slides can be used to make stop motion animation. With this he provides a number of use cases, as well as an outline how to turn the complete slideshow into a video. For more on GSuite, here is a summary for the month of April.

Many times we think of Slides as just a program for creating multimedia presentations. However, with just a few tricks you and your students can actually use Google Slides to make stop motion movies.

Ideas For How to Do Better Book Clubs in Middle School – Pernille Ripp reflects on the changes in her thinking around book clubs. She identifies a number of changes associated with choice and procedures. Not only a useful post in regards to teaching reading in the middle years, but also as a demonstration of a change in practice. This is something Emily Fintelman touches on in her post reflecting on best practice pedagogy.

While my method for integrating book clubs may seem loose at best, I have found incredible buy-in from the students.  They have been excited to read their books, they have been excited to share their thoughts, and the accountability that they feel toward one another is something I would not be able to produce through force.  Middle schoolers need a framework to grow within, they need our purposes to be authentic as much as possible, and they need to have a voice in how things function within our classroom.  Book clubs offer us a way to have these moments in reading that abound with deep reading conversations that I may not be able to have as a whole group, they allow even the quietest student to have a voice.  They allow students to feel validated in their thoughts and they allow them to share their knowledge with each other.  What have you done to create successful book clubs?

How To Train A Gcse Essay Writer – Alex Quigley provides a guide to essay writing. Rather than focusing on words like ‘evaluate and analyse’, Quigley outlines a range of strategies and strands to support the process of composition. Along with Joel Speranza’s reimagining of the common worksheet, these posts offer an alternative approach to seemingly standard practices.

Writing a good essay takes a host of knowledge and expertise. For English Literature then, we need to distill down that complexity into more manageable diagnostic assessments, so that our students can gradually develop from their novice status towards something like expertise. To use an analogy, writing a great essay is like the creation of a strong rope, with each sub-strand being woven together in unison. Each strand of the rope can represent the crucial knowledge required for essay writing success. If we are to teach great essays, then we need to define the strands that will be woven together to form the rope.

Three Questions – Dean Shareski explains that although you might not always be able to measure learning, you can document it. Currently digging into a lot of summative assessment, this recognition of data beyond basic numbers is important. To support this, Shareski uses three key questions.

What do I know now that I didn’t know before this course? Perhaps a list of 3-5 key understandings or ideas

What can I do now I couldn’t do before? Think more about skills, techniques, work habits, etc

Why does it matter? How will this make a difference in the future?

Design and Play – Our Podcast Workflow – Steve Brophy shares his workflow associated with recording the Design and Play Podcast. Along with suggestions from The Podcast, Doug Belshaw’s ‘how to’, Ian O’Byrne’s comprehensive series of posts, my reflections on adding other content to blogs and Eric Jensen’s reflections on student podcasts, these resources provide a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into podcasting. In addition to this, Dave Winer has written a few posts lately about the history and future of podcasting for those interested in the context associated with the technology.

When Dean and I started recording the Design and Play podcast, we had no clue where to start. I had been collating articles and workflows that people had shared but we were total amateurs. From my reading and my experience working with media, I knew that having great audio was the key (D’uh!) but how do you achieve that when you physically aren’t in the same room. I hope this post sheds a little light on the workflow that we have developed to make Design and Play come to life.

Google Earth Engine – Google Earth Engine is described as a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis. It is another one of those applications that allows for deep connections to the world in the classroom. Along with Jon Major intriguing post on the economics and ethics associated with solar panels, Earth Engine offers a wealth of resources to start talking about the environment.

Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.

Edtech


“Technology” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Reconceptualising Online Spaces To Build Digital Capacity – In notes from a webinar Naomi Barnes presented, she explores the question of integrating digital technologies. Building on the work of Marshall McLuhan, she discusses the idea of dialectics. This reminds me of Belshaw’s eight elements of digital literacies. Along with Jonathan Wylie’s recent presentation on good technology integration, these posts offer some alternatives to the usual reference to the SAMR model as the solution to talking about technology.

… the most effective way to build staff capacity in digital technologies is to allow the technology to fade into the background and help people discover how the technology can enhance and augment what they are passionate about. No digital literacy program is going to be bought into unless it pushes some buttons that are not necessarily related to technology.

The Current State of Educational Blogging 2016 – Sue Waters unpacks the results to the 2016 survey into the current state of blogging in education. The key findings include the move away from tablets towards Chromebooks and the reality that 1:1 is still far from the dominant model.

We started the annual survey because we’re frequently asked for detailed information to help educators:

Convince school administrators to allow blogging.

Understand the benefits of blogging and how blogs are used with students.

Know more about which blogging platforms are commonly used by educators (and why).

Here’s what you told us in 2016!

Digital Literacy is about power – Doug Belshaw reflects on digital literacies and argues that they are centred in power. Along with his post on deconstructing literacies, He touches on a range of questions and considerations to support a deeper understanding of literacies.

It takes longer, is messier, and involves hard work, but coming up with a co-created approach of digital literacies (note the plural) is the only real way to get to sustainable and meaningful change. If your organisation is trying to do a digital literacy ‘to’ a group of people, it’s doing it wrong.

Hashtags as Roots of Resilience – Kevin Hodgson digs into hashtags. He uncovers some of the problems, as well as the benefits associated with making connections. Along with Ian Guest’s history of the hashtag and Clive Thompson’s exploration, they offer a deeper understanding of the web and the way it works.

Without hashtags, we might as well be yelling into deep space. With hashtags, we have the possibility to connect.

5 Ways To Use Apple Clips In The Classroom – Mark Anderson reviews Apple’s new app Clips. Like Adobe Spark and Google AutoDraw, it makes the process of creating easy. Some activities that he suggests include explaining a topic or giving feedback. With this in mind Naomi Barnes considers what is lost in seemingly dumbing down the making process.

It is easy to use and there can be considerable depth of challenge applied to tasks given to pupils to complete using the tool. By demonstrating knowledge, understanding, skills, evaluation, synthesis etc whilst using the tool creatively, I can see how this tool could impact upon learning and standards.

Storytelling and Reflection


“Collaboration” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Collaboration – Gary Stager considers all the hype surrounding Google Docs and it’s collaborative edge. In discussing his decades of experience, he suggests that writing is selfish and collaboration should not be forced, rather it needs to be natural. Along with Peter Skillen’s reflections on technology, these posts offer a useful provocation in thinking about modern learning.

Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts. Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

Competencies vs. Skills – Eric Sheninger identifies the differences between competencies and skills. Often talk is about future skills when what we really need to be addressing are the competencies which encapsulate these skills. This is captured within the New Zealand curriculum, something clearly visualised by Richard Wells. Competencies are also important to consider in regards to developing Open Badges.

While skills are an important part of learning and career paths, they’re not rich or nuanced enough to guide students towards true mastery and success. Skills focus on the “what” in terms of the abilities a student needs to perform a specific task or activity. They don’t provide enough connection to the how. Competencies take this to the next level by translating skills into behaviors that demonstrate what has been learned and mastered in a competent fashion. In short, skills identify what the goal is to accomplish.

How Google Book Search Got Lost – Scott Rosenberg takes a look at Google Books, the original moonshot. As he traces the history associated with the project, he shows both how Google has changed and responded to various challenges. It is also interesting to note what might have been done differently. Cathy O’Halloran and I recently presented on the way in which Google connects cultures. It is fascinating as to what is available with nGram, but also where it might all go in the future. Something that Rosenberg also notes in closing.

Maybe, when some neural network of the future achieves self-awareness and find itself paralyzed by Kafka-esque existential doubts, it will find solace, as so many of us do, in finding exactly the right book to shatter its psychic ice. Or maybe, unlike us, it will be able to read all the books we’ve scanned — really read them, in a way that makes sense of them. What would it do then?

Mark Zuckerberg’s Makeover Is a Political Campaign Without the Politics – Nitasha Tiku unpacks Mark Zuckerberg’s move to meet the people by traveling to different states. Although many have interpreted this as politicking, Tiku suggests that it is about building social capital that helps keep Zuckerberg and Facebook’s options open, especially with the growing concern and criticism around platform culture.

Right now, Zuckerberg needs public goodwill to protect the idea that his product is a tool for connectivity and not misinformation, mass surveillance, or censorship. Add to that Facebook’s stranglehold on the media and the $18 billion online advertising market, and suddenly the term “antitrust regulation” sounds like more than just a quaint European custom. Lately, even the word “platform,” which once made it easy for tech companies to evade accountability, is starting to sound sinister. The New York Times recently argued that companies like Facebook, Google, and Uber are largely responsible for “rehabilitating the concept” of a monopoly in their endless drive to dominate.

Learning Styles And Bovver Boys – There has been a lot written about the potential of social media. However, there is just as much discussed around the limitations of such spaces and the ease with which we can confirm our biases. One aspect that has arisen over time is the place and power of tribes and with this some negative attributes, such as trolling. Thinking about these matters, Marten Koomen wonders about the place of care in such spaces. It is interesting to consider this discussion alongside Michael Caulfield’s investigation of technology designed to meet a demand in his new newsletter and whether spaces such as Twitter are designed to support or sabotage a culture of care?

Many educators approach education from an ethic of care and are particularly prone to bullying. As Noddings (2003) explains, a person who engages others from an ethic of care “is not seeking the answer but the involvement” (p. 176). Care is of primary importance in education. It is through an ethic of care that new insights and understandings become possible. When involvement is inauthentic and hostile, those engaging can experience toxicity and distress. Of course, those who approach life from an ethic of care still need to reason, but this reasoning needs to proceed with an empathy for different perspectives. It requires moral development (Gilligan, 1977; Kohlberg, 1971; Murphy & Gilligan, 1980).

Wakefulness and Digitally Engaged Publics – Ian O’Byrne reflects on the challenges of university professors to engage in the public discourse. I think that this has as much to do with teachers sharing their practice to reframe the perception of education. An example of this is the #hashtag180 challenge. Having said all this, Bon Stewart and Benjamin Doxtdator touch on some of the challenges in balancing identity and citizenship.

As digital technologies become more ubiquitous, we need to realize there is not much of a difference between the online and the “real spaces” around us in which we exist. In a post-Snowden world we understand that our data and digital footprint is public. We must contend with the potential that we are under constant surveillance from business, government, and other entities. Our online and offline interactions are woven together into a transmedia narrative that forms different parts of our identity. It follows us as we browse online and in our academic journals. As we explore and adapt to these new spaces and tools, the learning may be often messy. There is also the concern of how this positioning affects our perceived or presented identities. Despite these concerns and challenges, digitally literate academics are needed to infuse networked publics with reasoned and validated evidence and data.

Meeting The Challenges Of Teacher Professional Learning – Alice Leung discusses the process associated with professional learning. I think that this where we are at in education, finding balance between running sessions, but also providing follow-up to support the development of collective capacity. This is something that both Andrea Stringer and Cameron Paterson also touch on, the need to identify areas of action as follow up.

Teacher professional learning is a process, not an event

Cultural Forces That Define Leadership… – Edna Sackson provides a series of questions to help guide leaders in recognising the cultural forces within their context. Along with Joel Speranza’s list of wicked questions, these posts allow educators to dig deeper into their own practice.

How might a leader, in any context, ensure that he or she provides time, sets expectations, engages in interactions, uses language, models actions, creates an environment and ensures opportunities that empower the community to flourish?

FOCUS ON … A Domain of One’s Own


“Domain as Rent” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In Maha Bali’s keynote for #OER17, she touches on a number of challenges associated with open education, including gender, access, colonialism and equity. As a part of this discussion, she brought up the challenges associated a Domain of One’s Own. Last year she wrote a post arguing that we do not own our domain, rather we rent it. Here is a collection of posts associated with domains and reclaiming the web to continue the conversation:


READ WRITE RESPOND #016

So that is April for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

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

Image used in the cover: “Anzac Memorial” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/34337343715 is licensed under CC BY-SA