🤔 #WhatIf quick fix solution of a ‘new school’ is akin to a diet of shakes?

via GIPHY

It seems that from a number examples shared on online that it is a lot easier to bring about change and transformation in a new school without the supposed baggage of embedded behaviours. This makes me wonder though whether a new school with the ‘best’ teachers as the answer for change is akin to those diets which provide initial success, but are more often than not sustainable in the long term? Those sorts of diets that people follow to loose 10kg for a wedding and then put on 20kg after all the gloss has worn off? Not sure, but I think that we need a more nuanced approach to change. One that celebrates, builds and supports what is in place, rather than looks for solutions on the outside. What about you?

🤔 #WhatIf We Implement Tranformational Change Without a Plan or Clear Purpose in Place?

Many make the argument for collaboration, for the development of social capital, for communities of practice, what if this is all in vein because we continue to come back to the same system in place, same purpose for showing up. What if changed started with why, started with not only knowing that there is another way, but being clear about what that might be?

🤔 #WhatIf Essential Books Feed an Essential Curriculum?

I was browsing a bookstore yesterday when I came upon an ‘Essential’ pile of books. One about Economics, another about Physics. Then there was one about remembering all the things that you learned in Geography at school, but have forgotten. This got me wondering about what would and would not be in these books and all of the ones that I had bought over time on philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary theory, religion etc … What if all these books were feeding our desire to be in control and own something that simply cannot be owned? I wonder if NAPLAN preparation books fit this mould as well?

🤔 #WhatIf Disruptive Innovation is Inequitable?

There have been a lot of companies of late that offer fast and efficient delivery of a wide range of things. People seem to be carrying parcels on their back, on bikes, however possible. The problem with this is that such disruption seems to only occur in high-populated inner city spaces? What if such change and disruption was only afforded to a particular class of people? What if innovation was in fact inequitable?

🤔 #WhatIf the focus was on behaviours, rather than applications?

via GIPHY

A dominant model for online learning too often is focused on applications and transactional processes. For example, how to use Google Drawings or manage Google Drive. This is useful in knowing what to do and how to go about it, but it does not necessarily capture why. A different approach to structuring online learning would be through the use of Open Badges.

As I have explained elsewhere:

Open Badges are online representation of a skill you have earnt. … They allow you to verify different information, such as a description, issuer, criteria of achievement and standards met.

One of the challenges is that Open Badges need to be managed as they require a certain level of authentication.

Doug Belshaw outlines this in a post on some work with a school in implementing G Suite, in which he states:

My aim in any badge system is to encourage particular types of knowledge, skills, and behaviours. Whatever system I come up with will be co-designed and go beyond just the use of G-Suite for Education. As the TPACK model emphasises, the system will have a more holistic focus: integrating the technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge required for purposeful educational technology integration.

What such an approach offers is a focus on the pedagogies and behaviours, such as analysing data, identifying trend growth and collaborating in the classroom. This allows technology to be properly integrated. It also allows you to add on any additional badges as they may arise.

🤔 Whatif we are all responsible the situation we are in?


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

In response to Donald Trump’s recent accession to president of USA, danah boyd said that social media is responsible for the creation of this spectacle and it is time for a reality check. This made me wonder, maybe we are all each in our own way responsible for this situation? I am not saying that we are all fueling the fire, but we all make choices about what it is we choose to pay attention to. Sometimes the choice to get involved can in fact be the most profound choice we can make.

Read Write Respond #010

You know those months where you cannot remember what you have done, but when you look back you realise that you have actually done quite a lot. That has been my month. In regards to work, I have led a trial in regards to Communities of Practice, been out to schools to support them with the transition to a new platform and developed a range of presentations and resources to support teachers. In addition to this, I also curated the @edutweetoz account for a week.

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

Design Thinking Project: Make Your Own Character Chatbot – AJ Juliani shares how to go about replacing the traditional character sketch with the creation of a chatbot. To me, this replaces the hot seat activity and actually allows you to develop your understanding further based on feedback.

The chatbot can function as a place for the character to come alive. Not only for the student making the bot, but for the rest of the class, the school, and the world to engage and interact with this character!

Teaching Writing Isn’t Just For English TeachersAlex Quigley looks at research around teaching writing and provides some suggestions to help in any subject. His strategies include checklists, shared writing and gallery critique.

One tip would be to do fewer writing tasks, but doing them more deeply and more thoroughly: editing, revising and making considered improvements. To get students to deeply understand great writing we need to slow down the process and make these strategies for writing success visible and habitual.

What do we know about the lives of our students? – Anna Del Conte provides some things to consider when teaching refugees. She provides four clear suggestions.
By focussing on what the students cannot do instead of their learned ability to switch between several languages, their ‘cultural capital’ and the skills that they have developed to survive their extraordinary lives we can sometimes contribute to their feelings of not fitting in.  
Blogfolios: The Glue that Can Hold it All Together in Learning – Silvia Tolisano highlights the power of the blogfolio as a means of extending learning. I really like how this post marries blogging and portfolios.

Blogfolios are a pedagogical tool/platform for the teacher to facilitate learning and at at the same time can become in critical component for a heutagogical (self-directed/ self-motivated) process for the learner. Blogfolios are the glue that can hold all curricular content, goals and objectives as well as support school initiatives, observations, assessment and accountability requirements or personal passions, interest and projects together… you can insert other education related programs, theories, taxonomies, methods, etc. and we can find connections HOW blogfolios could help support it.

Moving from digital portfolios to a domain of one’s own – Ian O'Byrne discusses the history associated with portfolios and outlines some benefits of students going a step further and having a domain of their own

In the development of digital portfolios, I see opportunities for students to engage with digital tools in online spaces across their academic careers. I believe there is a need for students to develop and maintain a domain of one’s own, one canonical address online that students build up from Pre-K through higher ed that archives and documents learning over time. This space can be used to read, write, and participate, as learners build, edit, revise, and iterate as if it were a digital portfolio. As we move from digital portfolios to providing students with a domain of their own we help them connect their literacy practices with the identity development skills they’ll need now and in the future.

Tweeting as an Organization – Royan Lee shares a range of questions and considerations associated with sharing as an organisation.

  • Why a Twitter account? What will the purpose be? (I mean, Apple didn’t really even have one until this year!)
  • Is the goal of your account to make the work you do more transparent or less? Because if it’s the latter, I would argue that people will see right through it.
  • What images will you literally construct? Pictures speak a million times louder than words on social media.
  • What conversations are you interested and willing to be a part of? How will you lead and facilitate conversation? Because, make no mistake, social media is a conversation whether you think you’re taking part in it or not. If you’re not prepared to interact with voices that may be respectfully dissenting, perhaps you shouldn’t start or enter that conversation in the first place?
  • Which community/ies are you hoping to help grow, uplift, and support the voices of?
  • How will you make certain that your presence in the space evolves over time?

Humble Ideas for Innovating the #IMMOOC Experience – Kevin Hodgson questions whether mere questions and conversation are enough when it comes to MOOCs (and online communities). In response, he provides a range of collaborative possibilities for going further.

Real MOOCs don’t rely on the facilitators. Real MOOCs rely on the participants. WE could all do it. YOU could do some of it. It would be a SHARED adventure.

 

Edtech

Five new ways to reach your goals faster with G Suite – Some interesting new updates associated with Google Apps / GSuite around machine learning where more and more suggestions and smarter ways of working are being incorporated into the various applications. It is interesting seeing where Google is moving, especially in regards to mobile.

One of the core promises of Google Docs is to help you and your team go from collecting ideas to achieving your goals as quickly and easily as possible. That’s why last month we launched Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides — with machine intelligence built right in — to help your team create amazing presentations, spreadsheets and documents in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Hal, is in the house – John Mikton wonders what happens in a world where a kindergarteners answer to inquiry questions is to simply ask Siri. It also makes me wonder about the voice of students and what say they are able to have in this future. Greg Thompson also touched upon the place of digital education in his discussion of the various structural issues.

Coming to terms with these exponential changes takes time to digest. As educators, we need to understand that engagement and critical thinking are vital components of education, especially as AI shifts the classroom narrative. The ethical issues which surround these exponential changes are here now. The complacency that schools engage with in the discourse of what it means to be in a world dominated by AI is a tension we cannot ignore.

12 Aspects of the Social Age – Julian Stodd provides an overview of a course around social learning that he is developing. It is a great introduction  to what it means to connect and collaborate in a social age.

In the Social Age, everything has changed. The Social Contract between organisation and individual is fractured, the nature of work is changing, we’ve seen the democratisation of communication and the devolution of creativity, with the old structures of power and control replaced by socially moderated and dynamic forms of Social Leadership.

Technology isn’t human(e) – David White looks at the human side of technology and shines a light on the need to maintain some sort of control and ownership. These are White’s notes from a keynote that he presented with Donna Lanclos at the ALT Conference. This is a topic that Douglas Rushkoff touches on the Team Human podcast.

We are being tempted by this line of thought even though we have explored all this before and know that we are masters of detecting soulless interventions. Even if our algorithms are efficient and effective our experience will be hollow and unsatisfying. I deeply doubt our ability to develop as individuals on this basis (the ‘becoming’ form of education I believe in) and argue that while the digital can be a valuable place for people to connect with each other, technology is inherently limited in its ability to ‘scale humanly’. This is not because we are incapable of designing incredibly sophisticated code, it’s because we have an instinct and desire for the conscious.

Schooling the Platform Society – Ben Williamson continues his exploration of edtech, examining the impact of platforms on schools and the culture of dependency that is being developed. Along with Mike Caulfield’s reflection on the internet of (broken) things, these posts shine a light on our dependency on companies to maintain the products that we come to rely on.

For all the talk today of transforming education, perhaps the real development we are witnessing today is a thorough platforming of education. Summit, AltSchool and ClassDojo are prototypical of how scalable platforms are being rolled out into schools in ways that are intervening in learning, teaching, administration and communication. Together, these platforms project a distinctive vocabulary of personalization, playlists, community, customization and user-centredness that has its origins in the culture of social media platform development.

Attending to the Digital – Audrey Watters takes on the myth of attention, critiquing the call to disconnect. Instead, Watters suggests that we need to reconsider how we are connecting and focus on that. This post reminded me of Greg Thompson’s discussion of ideology and the argument that everything is ideological, so let's start there.

“What is television?” Postman asked. “What kinds of conversations does it permit? What are the intellectual tendencies it encourages? What sort of culture does it produce?” What is the Internet, we should ask now. What kinds of conversations does it foster, and what kinds does it foreclose. What are the intellectual tendencies the Internet encourages? What sort of culture does it produce?

Storytelling and Reflection

Research-informed education practice: More than lip service and shallow pools – Deborah Netolicky reflects on what it might mean to be research-informed and why it is more than simply picking up a meta-analysis. Along with the recent publication of her paper on professional learning, Jon Andrews’ post on the complexities of research and Doug Belshaw’s discussion of what we should measure, these offer a great place to start in regards to including teachers in the conversation about change and development.

John Hattie’s meta-analyses are often referred to in education circles as examples of research that tells us what works; it is certainly his name that I am currently hearing most often in schools and at conferences. I respect Hattie’s work and that there are things it can tell us, but am skeptical about the ways in which it has been universally adopted as a ubiquitous beacon of research light in the edu-darkness. Dylan Wiliam, in his 2016 book Leadership for Teacher Learning, discusses the limitations of meta-analyses and their application in education, cautioning that “meta-analysis is simply incapable of yielding meaningful findings that leaders can use to direct the activities of the teachers they lead” (p. 96). Snook et al. and Terhart also present critical perspectives on Hattie’s book Visible Learning. This is just one example of how a particular set of results has become so widespread that it unquestioningly becomes part of the fabric of edu-talk.

What Counts As Evidence in Changing Practice? – David Price discusses the problems with evidence and calls for practice-based evidence. To support this, Price provides seven suggestions of things to work on, rather than simply leaning on the evidence.

I believe that the only sustainable future for professional learning and innovation in schools is one which is driven by teachers, not externally imposed. One that sees innovation as  constant, not coercive, or ad-hoc. This is why I believe so much in transferring the science of improvement from the healthcare, aviation and automotive sectors into education – and I’ll examine this in more detail in my next post.

What Do “Great” and “Leading” Mean to Your School? – Grant Lichtman puts out the challenge for schools to define great and what it means to lead. This is associated with a look into the future of schools.

One of the primary conclusions of our 20-year look ahead is that in that time frame, schools will all fall into one of three categories: those that can do anything they want because they are insulated by wealth, geography, markets, or legacy; those that offer a truly differentiated learning experience that is sought after by consumers; and those that are struggling or failing.  Few schools will fit into the first group, which means most that are not struggling will be those that have a clear idea of what words like great, leading, or significant mean to them and to their community of stakeholders

The fantasy of categories in education – Naomi Barnes questions the foundations on which we depend upon and says that it is time to reconsider things.

Our school system is built on categories because one of the easiest ways to control a large group of people is to help them find where they belong (or force them into compliance), either through choice in discipline interest or socialized through fashion and attitude. However, the categories don’t work. STEM, prog, trad, digital leader, luddite, whatever. They are a fantasy. The bigger our world is getting the more this is becoming obvious. It is becoming increasingly difficult to align political beliefs with the spokesperson of the political party, sub-cultural status to the discipline of interest (what becomes of nerds when everyone uses the Internet competently?), science to objectivity. Schooling is no different. It is not an island where people are prepared for society. Schooling is the tool which perpetuates the societal cycle no matter how progressive or alternative.

The ‘Non-Negotiables’ of Next Generation Learning – Greg Miller reflects on his recent visits to various schools and wonders when we will reach a time when students will be able to identify their development in regards collaboration and creativity. Along with Robert Schuetz wondering whether we should teach students email, Dan Haesler’s question as to whether schools kill learning, Dave Cormier's challenge as to what sort of learning are we educating for and Corrie Barclay’s discussion of deep learning, they offer an interesting provocation about what matters in schools today and tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong, as I have already stated, I am impressed with how students articulate their learning. I am also encouraged by leaders in schools who ensure there are references to skills such as creativity, collaboration, communication and team work as a part of their formal assessment and reporting. However, it is not yet mainstream for schools to assess and report (I would rather the words “observe and feedback”) to parents about the ‘non-negotiables’.

The Need for More Play in School – Eric Sheninger discusses the importance of play in regards to learning. What stands out is the place of things like recess. Another interesting read in regards to play is the anti-helicopter parent plea in the New York Times.

Our kids need and deserve more play, not less! Recess in particular is needed not just in our youngest grades, but also even through the middle and high school years.  Read about why high school should be more like kindergarten and the point becomes clearer. Play has to be valued in school and its integration should be a priority if student learning and achievement are the goal. Why you ask? Research has found that play develops students in four ways: physical, cognitive, social, and emotional.

An Empowering Reality – Brad Gustafson shares a recent project involving 360-degree video, not because of the new technology, but how it was used to strengthen student engagement.

Seven questions to elicit reflection on learner empowerment:
1. Is it more important to teach a child to engage with content, or create new content and ideas, or both?
2. What does learner empowerment look like for this particular student, in this particular lesson?
3. When is the last time we asked our kids who (and where) their audience is?
4. Where are we displaying their work?
5. Could the audience (people or space) be different for different learners?
6. How might we be holding kids back from more opportunities to connect, create, and share?
7. Are we settling for engagement when we should be teaching kids to drive?

Why It’s Time to Let Go of ‘Meritocracy’ – Doug Belshaw reflects on the recent call to bring back Grammar schools in the UK. He wonders if it is time to end meritocracy, rather than add to it. He and Dai Barnes continued the conversation in Episode 64 of the TIDE Podcast. This is a pertinent conversation in regards to Gonski and the equitable funding of education in Australia.

Given that we’re unlikely to recapture the original meaning of the word, I’d like to see meritocracy consigned to the dustbin of history as an outdated approach to society. At a time in history when we seek to be inclusive, to recognise and celebrate diversity, the use of meritocratic practices seems reactionary and regressive. Meritocracy applies a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter approach that — no surprises here — just happens to privilege those already in positions of power.

Panama: The Hidden Trillions – In this article for the New York Review of Books, Alan Rusbridger shines a light on the numerous stories to come out of the Panama Papers. Continuing on from Belshaw's post on meritocracy, this is a reminder that the world we live in simply is not equitable.

Interesting as the individual characters are—and the dryness of tax avoidance schemes certainly needs a bad-guy narrative to keep the reader reading—the mechanisms of how money that should be taxed is instead routinely kept offshore are just as gripping. Harding was fascinated by the pristine respectability of the London offshore enablers: “I think the kind of big reveal for me was the role played by the West, and law firms, and banks, and so on,” he told his Oxford seminar. “It’s easy to think kleptocracy is a problem of faraway, nasty countries, about which we don’t want to inquire too deeply, but it turned out that we’re the biggest crooks of all, actually, in that we facilitate this.” His “we” refers to the British.

Edubusiness Partnerships – La Bocca della Verita? – Jon Andrews calls out the clash between business and institution. This is an important conversation, especially when the recent Horizon Report suggests that one of the long-term trends is reimagining schools.

I’m all for professional bodies amalgamating their work as long as the profession is fully involved rather than the recipients of ‘best-in-class’ pre-packaged training that is considered or assumed to be precise, transplantable and contextually neutral.

One Nice Thing – Thomas Murray suggests that instead of asking children what have they done today or what did they learn, instead ask them what was one nice thing you were able to do for someone else? In doing so the focus is moved from the individual to a responsibility for the village.

I’ll admit, even as an educator trained in teaching kids, this whole parenting thing can be a challenge. There are so many times I question my own decisions as the dad of two little ones but I’m very fortunate to be married to someone who is a rockstar mom and makes great decisions for our kids and family, daily. One thing I can be sure about however, is that our world needs more love, more kindness, and more empathy. My hope as an educator and as the dad of two precious children who will someday leave their own legacy, is that we lead with love, show empathy to those in need, and help the next generation create a brighter future.

FOCUS ON … Creative Commons

There has been quite a bit of discussion lately around Creative Commons, here then are some resources to continue the conversation:


READ WRITE RESPOND #010

So that is October 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?

Read Write Respond #009

Melbourne GAFESummit

This month, I have continued on with my work on communities of practice, exploring the intricacies of making an online course. I also attended the GAFESummit in Melbourne, where I got to spend time with a few Twitteratis (see above for my picture with Jenny Ashby and John Casanova). In regards to learning, I finally got to explore the potential of BreakoutEDU.  In other news, it is my first time in ten years of working through the school holidays, which has been strange. Although someone put me in my place explaining that is what most people do.

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

  • Defining a Community of Practice – There is a lot of debate about what is and is not a ‘community of practice’. In this post I collected together some different definitions, as well as explored the potential of using the Modern Learning Canvas to represent the information.
  • Watershed Moments of Learning – Dean Shareski recently reflected on a series of watershed moments, I decided to use it as a model to share some of my own moments.

  • REVIEW: Renegade Leadership – My review of Brad Gustafson’s new book.

  • Building Trust in Online Communities – One of the challenges with online communities is building trust quickly. To get some ideas, I reflected on the different communities that I have participated in, unpacking how they went about it.

  • So Everyone Has a Blog, Now What? – This is a short post on the importance of having a reason to blog, not just focusing on the platform.

  • Communities, Networks and Connected Learning with Google – These are the notes and slides from my recent presentation at GAFESummit where I used Dron and Anderson’s notion of digital spaces to explore some of the possibilities made available through Google Apps for Education.


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

Learning and Teaching

Introducing Design Thinking to Elementary Learners – Jackie Gerstein provides a series of tasks to support the development of a maker’s mindset.

I use the following activities to introduce elementary students to the design thinking process. The ultimate goal is for the learners to work on their own, self-selected problems in which they will apply the design thinking.

How Do We Disrupt Our Thinking? – Steve Brophy continues with his exploration of innovation, this time addressing the challenge of disruption. Connecting this with the IOI Process and the innovative hypothesis, he outlines a series of steps to guide disruptive process.

Start provoking the status quo. What lies in the adjacent possible? What can you invert? What can you deny? We need to defer judgement on our hypotheses and let them swill around in our brain. These are what ifs, fresh perspectives. Let’s say we start the day at 11am. Studies show that a later start would work for the developing teenage brain. What about if school followed the Spanish lifestyle and we had a siesta in the afternoon, followed by our creative subjects. It works for Don Draper! We would have to minus the scotch though. Whatever you land on, the thinking is the hero. From here you need to test and validate that your assumption works.

Four Fantastic Feedback Tools for Google Docs – Eric Curts outlines four different ways of giving feedback using Google Docs.

Now with tools such as Google Docs and Classroom, it is easy for students to create and submit their work digitally. So how does a teacher leave feedback on an electronic document? As we move from paper and pencil to Docs and digital, we need options for providing feedback that is valuable to the student, but not cumbersome and unnatural for the teacher to create.

Your Kid Should Not Do Homework and Here is How to Stop It – Gary Stager crafts a letter for parents to give to teachers in regards to homework. As always, Stager does not waste words. he also provides a list of resources to support what he is saying.

A colleague recently asked for advice for parents wishing to opt-out their children from school assigned homework. This is what we did. Every person we have shared this strategy with found it to be successful. In most cases, teachers not only agree with our stance, but aren’t quite sure why they assign homework in the first place.

#MobileSapiens: A Creative Safari – Amy Burvall never ceases to push my thinking about what is possible. In this post, she shares her creation of a ‘creative safari’ session at a conference. In addition, Burvall also posted a reflection on setting up physical ‘creative zones’ at a conference to guide and support people’s creativity.

This summer I took a chance on a new form of conference offering for me – the outside-the-venue-creative-safari … Part of my raison d’être is that I firmly believe in the use of smartphones as the ultimate device (at present) for the classroom. Coupled with BYOD programs and GAFE (Google Apps for Education), I am convinced smartphones are the most useful and intuitive approach (you can read more in this post, “Wires and Fires”)

Why Group Brainstorming Doesn’t Work – Claire Karjalainen addresses the need to work individually, as well as a team. She provides a list of questions and considerations to guide brainstorming.

When we’re in a group, inevitably, group dynamics will take over. A few of them can be pretty harmful to the end goal of getting a bunch of good ideas out of a brainstorming session.

Edtech

How Instagram Stealthily Publishes Maps of Our Exact Locations… and We Don’t Care – Alan Levine shares how to remove location information from your Instagram photos.

I like having a map show where my photos were taken– anywhere in the world but showing where my house is located. I could accomplish this by remembering to remove the geotagged info from every photo I upload that shows my home location. But that’s asking a lot of my memory. And it’s tricky. Even if I tell Instagram that my photo was taken in a general area of my town, if the image contains geolocation data, it will still accurately pinpoint my home although I feel like I am not doing so. This is Sneaky By Design.

How I Blog for Personal Professional Development: You Can Do It Too – Naomi Barnes discusses the intent behind her decision(s) to blog.

Whenever an idea begins to emerge I write about it. I tweet about it and I write extended blogs. I write for special days. I use metaphors to see if I can make an idea more concrete. I riff (or openly and playfully plagiarise) a writer I respect with my own terms strategically dropped in. I write stories. I write to already published outlines and graphic organisers. I basically experiment with the idea in as many ways as I can until it begins to take shape.

Coding is not ‘fun’, it’s technically and ethically complex – Walter Vannini on coding as being more than just fun, touching on arguments of Rushkoff and Papert about the purpose of programming.

Programming is not a detail that can be left to ‘technicians’ under the false pretence that their choices will be ‘scientifically neutral’. Societies are too complex: the algorithmic is political. Automation has already dealt a blow to the job security of low-skilled workers in factories and warehouses around the world. White-collar workers are next in line. The digital giants of today run on a fraction of the employees of the industrial giants of yesterday, so the irony of encouraging more people to work as programmers is that they are slowly mobilising themselves out of jobs.

Politicking School Evolution – Mal Lee and Roger Broadie touch on a topic often overlooked when it comes to implementing technology, getting people onboard. They consider the different stakeholders and things to consider when politicking.

You’ll soon find the students, even the very young will be your greatest political allies, particularly when you empower and collaborate with them, and ensure they are taught how the 24/7/365 use of their digital technologies can enhance their holistic education. There are few things more powerful politically than having a total student group able to articulate to parents and visitors how the digital is improving their learning.

Is YouTube the Innovative Engine Our Education System is Not? – Kevin Hodgson reflects on some of the changes that have been brought about via YouTube and the impact it has had on education. This post is a part of Hodgson’s participation of George Couros’ Innovative Mindset MOOC.

What if we could do a better job of teaching:

  • Search Engine Queries (and Search Engine Differences … Not Everything Starts and Ends with Google)
  • How Algorithms Shape Our Internet Experience (and How to Navigate Technological Bias)
  • Media Editing Techniques
  • Curation of Digital Content
  • How to Build an Audience
  • How to Ensure a Positive Digital Footprint
  • (Dare I say it) How to Make a Living off YouTube

A better way to choose your Linux distribution – Doug Belshaw shares a useful website to help choose the right distribution of Linux for you. Other than running Linux as a virtual machine a few years ago, getting a machine going with Linux is near that top of my to-do list.

If you’ve never considered using Linux, you’ll be surprised by how good-looking, stable, and user-friendly it can be. It comes in many different flavours (or ‘distributions’) and this Linux Distribution Chooser does a good job of sorting out which is best for you.

Keeping Your Blogging Students Safe Online – Rachel McCollins provides a thorough overview of concerns and considerations in regards to student blogging.

Blogging with students has many educational benefits, but it is fair to say it comes with its own risks too. All schools, colleges and institutions should have an e-safety policy which outlines the steps it will take to protect students when they’re using technology, as well as the restrictions it places on those students. But how does this relate specifically to blogging? In this post I’ll look at some of the risks students face when blogging and identify what you need to do to keep them safe online. I’ll also show you how Edublogs and CampusPress can help you with this.

The Colours Used by the Ten Most Popular Sites – Paul Herbert analyses the colours of the web, identifying the most commonly used palettes.

I was curious what colors were being used by large, popular sites, so I decided to find out. Alexa.com maintains a list of the most visited sites on the internet. I wrote a PHP script to scrape the ten most popular sites and record all the colors used in the sites’ home pages and style sheets.

What is Silicon Valley? – Ben Werdmüller continues with his recent posts unpacking different aspects of edtech. This time up shines a light on Silicon Valley and the various intricacies involved, such as location, investment and (in)equality.

To become a viable competitor to Silicon Valley, here’s what a new location might try to offer:

  1. An academic virtuous circle similar to Stanford’s, with government involvement — but more accessible to a larger, more diverse group of people
  2. Easier funding for consumer business models other than ad tech (disrupting, not directly competing with, existing Silicon Valley businesses), at better valuations
  3. Silicon Valley’s “yes and” culture

I think there’s a strong argument that we don’t need a competitor to Silicon Valley — or at least, not one that works like it. Technology can take all kinds of forms; you don’t have to use the road map in use in the San Francisco Bay Area. Part of the joy of the internet is that anything is accessible from anywhere, and it can embrace many different cultures and values.

Assembling ClassDojo: A sociotechnical survey of a public sphere platform – Ben Williamson provides a thorough introduction to ClassDojo. This is not necessarily a ‘HowTo’ guide, but rather what using ClassDojo actually means. From origins, to privacy, to investment, this is something of a working paper, which considers the assemblages which combine to make ClassDojo what it is. Along with Salvador Rodriguez’ post on Inc., they provide a glimpse of where the application is heading.

ClassDojo is prototypical of how education is being reshaped in a ‘platform society.’ This sociotechnical survey of the ClassDojo assemblage provides some sense of its messy complexity as an emerging public sphere platform that has attained substantial success and popularity in education. Approached as a sociotechnical assemblage, ClassDojo is simultaneously a technical platform that serves a variety of practical, pedagogical and social functions; an organizational mosaic of engineers, marketers, product managers and other third party providers and partners; the subject of a wider regulatory environment and also a bit-part actor in new policy networks; the serious object for financial investment in the ed-tech marketplace; and a mediator of diverse expert psychological, neuroscientific and behavioural scientific knowledges and discourses pertaining to contemporary schooling and learning.

Critical Questions for Making Sense Out of a Connected World – John Spencer poses a series of questions to support teachers and students alike with the ethical integration of technology.

I want students to embrace technology and to love it, but also to think about the nature of technology. I want them to think beyond simply “how does this work?” and into the deeper questions about how technology is shaping our connected world.

Storytelling and Reflection

Leading with an Innovator’s Mindset #IMMOOC – Aaron Hogan reframes George Couros’ eight characteristics of an innovative mindset. He provides twenty five questions to consider in regards to innovation.

What follows is really a reframing of chapter 3 in George Couros’ book The Innovator’s Mindset. Where his recommendations (at least upon my reading) are for teachers setting up innovative learning spaces for students, I’ve tried to draw out what will challenge me to be a better leader on my campus. It’s not a linear list; don’t try to do all this in one PD day.

This School Replaced Detention With Meditation. The Results Are Stunning – James Gaines discusses the rise in schools using meditation as a way of supporting students, rather than the usual disciplinary approach.

One study, for example, suggested that mindful meditation could give practicing soldiers a kind of mental armor against disruptive emotions, and it can improve memory too. Another suggested mindful meditation could improve a person’s attention span and focus. Individual studies should be taken with a grain of salt (results don’t always carry in every single situation), but overall, science is starting to build up a really interesting picture of how awesome meditation can be. Mindfulness in particular has even become part of certain fairly successful psychotherapies.

Leading for Inquiry Learning – Kath Murdoch collects together her thoughts on leading inquiry.

They are in no particular order, but are an attempt to capture the essence of what this kind of leadership is all about….

  • Relationships are at the heart of all we do.
  • Questions are the inquiry leader’s most powerful tool.
  • Inquiry leaders need to be inquirers- they need to be willing to learn, they are people with a growth mindset – they view learners ( children and adults) as potentially capable, curious and creative!
  • Wonder, joy and passion are contagious.Passionate leaders inspire passionate staff.Pedagogy – not programs – help learners develop as inquirers. Programs can support the pedagogy but attention to pedagogy comes first.
  • Nurturing all teachers as inquirers builds a strong, whole school inquiry culture.
  • Cultivating curiosity in our teachers – about the world, about their kids, about themselves and about learning is critical to the success of an inquiry school.
  • When we see teaching itself AS inquiry – we change the way we think about our work and the way we view ourselves in the classroom
  • Collaborative planning is all about inquiring into the needs and interests of our learners  – and responding accordingly
  • The principles that underpin inquiry in the classroom apply equally to teacher learning.
  • When schools see themselves as ‘communities of inquiry’ everyone is a teacher, everyone is a learner.
  • Nurturing the ‘whole teacher’  means we balance personal and professional care and build stronger, more trusting teams.
  • True collaboration requires time.  When we consciously build our skill set for effective collaboration – our planning and teaching is strengthened.
  • Effective planning for inquiry takes time – people need space and time for the kind of deeper conversations from which powerful teaching is born
  • Standards/outcomes should inform our planning rather than drive it. Our students’ needs are the drivers.
  • It is not the leader’s role to make the plans.  Plans are powerful when they are co-constructed rather than imposed.

Here’s My Reading Comprehension Journey – Ross Cooper looks back on his journey in regards to comprehension.

While these five stages don’t encompass all of the reading that transpired in my classrooms, they should provide a solid idea of how I progressed in regards to reading comprehension, close reading, guided reading, and literature circles (and also how there was still room for improvement as my formal teaching career came to an end).

Responsibility / Demand – Danny Brown reflects on life, responsibility and the purpose of education. This reminds me in part of Dave Cormier’s one principle of education, whether learners care.

Just as awareness is educable, so is the ability to respond to the demand that comes with the gift of life – the ability to love. Should this, then, be the primary aim of education?

Are schools agile enough to evolve with society? – Anthony Speranza looks into some of the origins to working in an agile way and wonders how agile schools are.

Change is taxing and requires effort. It requires us to be comfortable with the uncomfortable. It requires us to challenge the status quo, recognising that what we have always done may not be the best solution; and being dissatisfied with ineffective and no longer relevant pedagogies, procedures, and structures. It requires relentless dialogue and shared vision with all stakeholders about the purpose of school, the alignment of our beliefs and practices, and asking the question: ‘is this best for our students right now’? We have natural a disposition to protect the tried and tested, rather than embracing the ‘new’. This is why new and innovative ideas are difficult to launch and gain traction, as the natural response of the status quo is to favour the known road rather than the risky foreign pathway.

This Method Acting, Well, A Call That Teaching – Richard Olsen explores what it means to develop and how this is different to following a set of standards.

I’m not that interested in trying to understand a teacher’s worth. Rather, I’m interested in who they are, what they are currently developmentally capable of, and what their future development possibilities might be. Similarly, to Conor, this method acting, well, I call that teaching living.

Confessions of the Cognitive Heart – Sheryl Nausbaum-Beach reflects on the challenges of maintaining the energy over time associated with learning.

Often the answer to positive change lies within an individual and not on the outside or in the circumstance.Learners, all learners, even those in our classrooms have to be vested in what they are learning. They need ownership.More advanced learners (advance in that they know the curriculum – not that they are gifted) will grow bored and detached if not challenged. Repetition can be lethal. It nurtures mediocrity.Lack of passion for your work can create self doubt and low self concept. When this happens- change things up. Reinvent yourself.Deep learning is best nurtured in a creative and challenging environment. Constraints help develop adaptive expertise. Often the answer is dig deeper. More often it is in going outside and playing. Rigor and passion are married. When I am passionate about something, I am willing to go deeper, stay longer and work harder at the task or problem.Sometimes we need a complete change of scenery and direction to reset. Diversity of ideas and culture can inform your work in ways that allow for renewed passion and spiritual awakening.Talk to people outside of education regularly about your ideas. Listen more than you talk. Take notes.Often, people with whom you are sharing need help connecting the dots. They need you to be direct. They need you to give them solutions to try.  It doesn’t mean they are lazy. Often their a-ha and remix happens when you aren’t there to see it.Just as often, people you are mentoring need you to use appreciative inquiry as a means to discovering possibilities. Collaboratively working on problems through an appreciative lens creates an atmosphere that nurtures higher levels of innovation.We need each other. We need to hold each other accountable. We need to ask each other hard questions. We need to laugh together.Gratitude – authentic gratitude – breaks through life’s stumbling blocks. Never give up.

Ensemble – Simon Ensor touches on criticisms, risks and benefits of sharing openly online. In doing so he traces the experience of one set of experiences to demonstrate the organic nature of connections and the development of ideas.

So this piece of human expression is brought to you by an ‘ensemble’ of people, words, images, remarks, comments, apps. Who knows when, how, or if, this post will resonate with others to take fragments to another place?

3 Questions Before Supporting Innovation – David Truss identifies three questions to support innovation in schools. Along with Steve Brophy’s recent posts on teaching innovation and the different types, Truss provides a useful provocation to consider when pushing innovation.

There are ‘pockets of brilliance’ happening in schools all over the world that don’t seem to scale. This brilliance needs to be supported. We need to encourage new, creative and innovative practices. However, in world of limited resources, we also need to ensure that what we learn as we innovate, is done for the right reasons, is something that can be replicated, and is something that will be meaningfully shared.

FOCUS ON … Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones
Nathan Jones (@elearnjones) passed away earlier this month. A regular member of the #VicPLN, he lost his four year fight with cancer. For so long he was one of the leading voices in regards to the use of augmented reality. Here then is a collection of posts and resources remembering a life ended too early:

  • Educational Videos on Vimeo – Enjoy these Educational Clips that are either how to clips or showcasing the work created in a Primary Classroom.

  • iBooks – A collection of resources avaliable on iTunes, including the Sphero Olympics.

  • Nathan Jones: a tribute – A post from Tim Kitchen celebrating a life.

  • Augmented Reality on Tech Talk Tuesday – A presentation on Augmented Reality, shared many great AR apps that he uses with his classes and showed us how they were used and some of the wonderful outcomes achieved. Here is the link to the recording of this session.

  • TeachTechPlay – Nathan Jones participated in Episode Five on TeachTechPlay.


  • READ WRITE RESPOND #009

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    🤔 #Whatif Kristallnacht was Telecast Live?

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    What if we had binge learning 100 years ago? In Holly Clark’s keynote she shared the idea of binge learning, that type of instantaneous learning made possible by applications like Periscope and Snapchat. The example shared was of a crowd of Syrian refugees cramming onto a train seemingly escaping. Watching it is a bit different than reading about it in a newspaper or several years later in a text book. The question was posed as to what would have happened in 1936 if the atrocities in Nazi Germany was telecast?