In this presentation, participants will be provided with the why, how and what associated with blogging. Whether it be the difference between platforms and what they allow. Ideas for what blogs can be used for. As well as the challenges associated with blogging, including restricting content and transferring content.
Pasi Salberg talks about the pedagogical love that Finnish teachers have. I wonder what teaching might look like if every teacher had heutagogical love? A love of learning? What would be the impact of this on learning?
I have spent this month being something of a house husband. With my wife heading back to work, I put in for my long service leave to stay at home. I was also lucky enough that my new employer was willing for me have this time. It has definitely been a blessing to have the opportunity to spend so much time as our second daughter grows up. I watched her go from rolling, pulling herself with objects, pushing herself backwards and progressively maneuver around the room. I also got to experience morning drop-offs.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
A Blog for All Seasons: Different blogging platforms enable different possibilities. Here is an account of some examples that I have created over time.
REVIEW – Claim Your Domain: The focus is what it means to exist in a digital world and why we need to take more control of our presence. At the heart of this is the question of data.
Literacy is a focus for every teacher, regardless of whether we are teaching primary school or high school, regardless of what subject we teach. Without strong literacy skills, our students cannot access the curriculum. Reading comprehension and writing are essential to succeed to every aspect of education.
For something like employability or new literacies, having a reference badge system is a great way to get started quickly and easily doing the important work of building capacity. To that end, Bryan and I thought about setting up a GitHub repository that would include everything you need to start issuing a whole range of badges around employability. Our 'payment' (we'd probably do this through weareopen.coop) would be in the form of attribution and lead-generation for future work.
Starting a Patch from Scratch – The team behind the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program reflect on a collection of stories associated with getting started in regards to creating your own garden. To support this process, they have provided a resource with a range of tips and tricks to getting going with kitchen gardening in and out of school.
We’ve also put together some free gardening resources to help you start your own patch from scratch. The pack includes tips on how to plan your garden, making a no-dig garden bed, how to plant seeds and seedlings, mulching, planting charts and recipes for homemade pasta, pesto and a Salad of the Imagination.
Maker Camp Toy Making and Hacking – Jacqui Gerstein provides a series of instructions associated with making your own toys. A useful introduction into the world of making.
For the past two summers, I have gotten the marvelous opportunity to teach maker education camps to elementary level students, aged 5 to 12. Each week has a different theme and each theme meets for one week from 9:00 to 12:00 with a half hour break. Our first week’s theme was on Toy Making and Hacking.
Whether you’re learning HTML or you’re a practiced hand and need a refresher, this HTML cheat sheet gives you a quick reference for commonly used tags, what they do, how to use them, and examples of how they work.
Sentence Tree – An interesting resource that visualises the grammar construction of any sentence.
Best of Education (Padlet) – A collection of Padlets associated with education. Not only does it provide a great collection of resources, it is also a great demonstration of what is possible with Padlet.
The term mathwashing should be more of a warning to fellow technologists: don’t overlook the inherent subjectivity of building things with data just because you’re using math. Algorithm and data driven products will always reflect the design choices of the humans who built them, and it’s irresponsible to assume otherwise.
Oracle's argument looked less like a complaint about unfair competition and more like a complaint about the mere existence of competition, complete with Hollywood's trademark complaint about all things Internet-y: you can't compete with free.
Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money, and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-bannered window with a Facebook logo. Which, if you think about it, is much scarier than simple greed. The greedy man can always be bought at some price, and his behavior is predictable. But the true zealot? He can’t be had at any price, and there’s no telling what his mad visions will have him and his followers do.
Some of these questions clearly need more work, but make clear I think the need for more work to critically interrogate big data in education.
Be Careful What You Code For – danah boyd provides a different perspective on coding. Like Quinn Norton, she addresses the problem of poor code, suggesting that moving forward we need more checks and balances.
Technology can be amazingly empowering. But only when it is implemented in a responsible manner. Code doesn’t create magic. Without the right checks and balances, it can easily be misused.
Negotiating the Future – Sylvia Martinez questions smart technology, suggesting that there are some things that are beyond algorithms and machine learning. Some things that we really need to decide for ourselves.
The real dilemmas that will arise from self-driving cars and other “smart” machines will not be the rare life-or-death ones. They will be the smaller, every day, every millisecond decisions. They will be 99.9999% mundane and hardly noticeable — until they aren’t. Since all these machines will be networked, not only will they make decisions, they will communicate, and therefore negotiate with others.
The public square analogy has its greatest potential to work when Twitter is at its most active during events, such as during major tragedies, political events, TV shows, sporting events. It provides a chance for everyone to share a moment online, be in a virtual public square. But it’s still a square where private suites and rooms exist. And it’s during the down times, when the people are busy with their everyday lives, where this becomes exposed.
With a Chromebook I Don't Need a Macbook Anymore – Another reflection on using a Chromebook. I am not sure if they are the answer for everyone and everything, but definitely seem to be finding a place within the market. My only question is the understanding and control that is being sacrificed in using one, but how many people use sites like Github anyway?
The more I use a Chromebook (home brew), the more I realize that I actually don’t need a new Mac. There simply are no tasks or things I need one for. And please note that this is about my own personal user case. I am no developer, graphical designer, musical artist or professional video producer. I am a simple blogger/youtuber, and I use my devices accordingly.
How Robots Will Change the World – Simon Wilson provides a concise account of where things currently stand in regards to AI, robots and the future of jobs. This is a good introduction into the work of Martin Ford.
If we fail to start adapting, it means grim times ahead, and intense socio-political struggles over resources. As Stephen Hawking put it last year: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.”
The self-fulfilling prophesy – Luciano Floridi explores how the technology that we use has the tendency to want to control us and take away our privacy. He suggests that more needs to be done to break the model if technology is truly to be transformational.
We should start regulating advertisement for the digital industry now that our informational identity is under threat. An advertisement-free infosphere would be a better place and put an end to the strange predicament whereby the technologies that can empower us so much to express ourselves are also the technologies that can mummify so effectively who we are and can be.
Tech Pedagogy: An Annotated Exploration – Kevin Hodgson provides an excellent summary of a series of posts from Terry Elliot investigating digital pedagogies. Also a great example of use of outliners with Diigo.
My friend, Terry, recently published an entire series of blog posts in which he introduces and explores various technology tools, from an angle of pedagogy. He wonders as much of “the why” as much as the “here it is,” and I like that.
The Brexit result makes a radical left government in Britain harder to get — because it’s likely Scotland will leave, and the UK will disintegrate, and the Blairites will go off and found some kind of tribute band to neoliberalism with the Libdems. But if you trace this event to its root cause, it is clear: neoliberalism is broken.
Who Knows What's Best for Students? – Peter DeWitt unpacks some of the different voices who influence learning, from students, parents, teachers, leaders, consultants and researchers. In the end, he suggests that we need to work collaboratively.
Before you go to a consultant, try to tap into the power of the teachers, students and leaders in your school community first.
Capacity is a complex blend of skills that allows a teacher to make hundreds of decisions daily in their role. Through the coaching conversations, the coaches help to conceptualise teaching practice, the coaching model helps teachers reflect on their work and the role of the coach helps them to gain feedback on their implementation of strategies in the classroom which further drive their professional practice to set new goals and strive for new highs.
So your GPS does an excellent job transporting you efficiently from one point to another, but a poor job helping you acquire the survey knowledge to understand the terrain and adapt to changes.
Why Silicon Valley is Embracing Universal Basic Income – Jathan Sadowski provides an interesting take on all the hype from Silicon Valley at the moment regards a 'universal basic income'. I think the most important point that he makes is that it should only be one step that is a part of a wider welfare solution.
It is cruel to call for regressive measures like dismantling welfare to establish UBI and then demand a piece for yourself – or else stigmatize the assistance. UBI can help give people more stability in their life, the workplace and society. But it should work in tandem with targeted aid motivated by equity over blind equality. The hungry should get a bigger slice of the pie.
I’m starting to believe, more and more, that given THE INTERNETS, content should be something that gets created BY a course not BEFORE it. Our current connectivity allows us to actually engage in discussions at scale… can that replace content?
Long story short: The most important lesson that I've learned in a decade worth of writing here on the Radical is that blogging isn't about voice or audience or influence in our profession at all. Instead, it's about reflection and making contributions and learning through thinking.
Now that Thiel has created a template for using money to bring an unruly press to heel, it’s likely to happen again. That presidential candidate (the one Thiel supports) has promised to “open up” libel laws to make suing the press easier. In the old days, billionaires might just buy their own outlets. But now, engaging the press not in argument but in a legal war of attrition is apparently no longer taboo.
I was left underwhelmed because there was very little in the show that could be seen as being revolutionary. Whilst it might have documented a wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes or operations at Kambrya, the claim that Revolution School would “serve as a lesson for all schools in Australia,” might be seen as a tad patronising.
What if we replaced static school science fairs where students show their projects with an event where students are involved in activities where people can interact with different things and get hands on? Taking this a step further, what if schools opened their doors after hours to become a community hub for making?
I got news this month that I was successful in my application for a position as a technology coach. As a part of the negotiations, I was able to keep my long service leave, which means that I will start in July. Subsequently, I have spent this month at home with our newborn while my wife returns to work. It has been a fantastic experience, dropping my older daughter off at school each day and seemingly doing endless chores the rest of the time. Here was me thinking that I would get to watch Days of Our Lives each day.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
Five Ways to Change the World Yesterday – This was a post I started a year ago and only just rediscovered it. The point was that blogging is not necessarily about my own ideas, but rather about being a conduit spreading ideas like a dandelion.
What Makes a Comment? – So often people claim that there has been a death of commenting, but instead I tried to explain that the conversation is no longer centralised as it once was.
TeachMeet10 – In lieu of the ten year anniversary of the first TeachMeet, Ewan McIntosh put out a request for stories, so I thought that I would share mine.
Data, Parents and Education – Building on a post I wrote about the use of Facebook in schools, I elaborated on some of the implications of edtech for parents.
Being at a BYOD school, and being a recent devotee of Google Apps for Education, I have found that there are lots of ways to use technology to make students’ engagement with their Medals and Missions feedback even more effective.
Different parents want different things, but we believe all parents want to know if their children are learning and progressing. They want to know if their children are having difficulty and struggling in their learning. They want to know what the teacher is doing and what they as parents can do at home to help their children be more successful. And mostly, parents want to know that their children are cared for, safe and respected, and liked by others. Through thoughtful digital portfolio collections, parents can be reassured that the teacher really understands and knows their child and is helping them learn and succeed.
When technology was limited to computers in labs or family desktops, the urgency to teach digital citizenship wasn’t there. Now with phones in the hands of toddlers, the practice starts young.
7 ways to assess without testing – In light of the frenzy of testing that is going on at the moment all around the world, Steve Wheeler provides some alternative forms of assessment that do not involve testing. Along with Rachel Wilson’s piece on alternatives to NAPLAN, both posts add to the counter-narrative to the culture of standardised testing.
Children don't learn any more or any better because of standardised testing, unless there is feedback on how they can improve. But SATs seem to be the weapon of choice for many governments across the globe. It seems that little else matters but the metrics by which our political masters judge our schools.
We’re not even half way through the school year here, but a request from someone important to me on the other side of the world provokes my thinking… ‘Have you ever written a blog post on strategies, tools or frameworks that a teacher can use to reflect on their past year of teaching?’ My immediate response: ‘Reflection has to happen all the way along. It’s too late at the end of the year.’ But here are some questions to ask yourself, as you look back, look within and look forward…
The LAUNCH Cycle is not a formula. It is not a step-by-step guide to being creative. However, we’ve used the LAUNCH Cycle framework to make creativity an authentic experience time and time again in our classrooms.
Why Aren't Students Allowed to Blog? – Peter DeWitt questions why we do not make better use of blogs to support learning. He provides a number of possibilities, including curation, media literacy, student voice, assessing learning, collaboration and artistic freedom.
If we want students to learn how to use technology effectively, then we should provide multiple avenues to do it.
Who is Investing in Edtech? – Audrey Watters provides a summary of the venture capitalists investing in educational technology. It is interesting to see how they interconnect within the range of products that make up their portfolio, but also how they connects with other investors.
One of the reasons I started my own startup database is that I was interested in questions beyond “who’s making the most investments” or even “who’s making the biggest investments.” Like, who’s invested regularly in companies that have had “successful exits”? Who hasn’t? Who hasn’t made any education investments at all lately? Which trends do investors seem to cluster around? How has that changed over time? Which education CEOs are investors in their own startups or in others?
Apple Stole My Music, No Seriously – James Pinkstone recounts his story of how in signing up to Apple Music his own personal library was transferred to the cloud and deleted from his hard drive. What was most interesting was that this included his own personal creations. Scarily, this is all covered within the terms and conditions.
Audacious. Egregious. Crazy. These are just some of the adjectives I used in my conversation with Amber. She actually asked me how I wanted to move forward, putting the onus of a solution back on me. I understand why, too: she’s just as powerless as I am. I would love for Apple to face public backlash and financial ramifications for having taken advantage of its customers in such a brazen and unethical way, but Apple seems beyond reproach at this point. It took three representatives before I could even speak to someone who comprehended what I was saying, and even when she admitted to Apple’s shady practice, she was able to offer no solution besides “don’t use the product.” When our data is finally a full-blown utility, however, “just don’t use the product” will cease to be an option. Apple will be in control, bringing their 1984 commercial full circle into a tragic, oppressive iron.
Over the past year, podcasts have been experiencing a renaissance as an increased number of users tune in. Even more people are looking to join the chorus to create and share their own content online.
The End of Code – Jason Tanz explores the future of machine learning where the logic of the enlightenment is replaced with by a world of entanglement. This touches on the ongoing debate around coding. Interestingly it focuses on programming rather than coding.
In the same way that you don’t need to know HTML to build a website these days, you eventually won’t need a PhD to tap into the insane power of deep learning. Programming won’t be the sole domain of trained coders who have learned a series of arcane languages. It’ll be accessible to anyone who has ever taught a dog to roll over
I know how to program, but I don't know what to program – Nano Dano critiques the common approach when addressing programming that we need to start from scratch, instead it is suggested that we start by tinkering with something that already exists. I think that this is the strength of sites such as Scratch and Github which allow you to easily fork ideas. Dave Winer talks about building on prior art.
In the software community the general attitude is "don't reinvent the wheel." It's almost frowned upon if you rewrite a library when a mature and stable option exists. While it is a good rule in general, novices should not be afraid to reinvent the wheel. When it is done for learning or practice, it's totally OK to make a wheel! It is an important part of learning
So it is easy to see why so many schools are adopting Google Apps for Education. However, what may not be as easy is the process of deploying Google Apps for your district. There are a lot of questions to consider, options to choose, and steps to take to get from start to finish in a complete roll out.
In brief, the biosocial process assumed by Pearson and IBM proceeds something like this:
> Neurotechnologies of brain imaging and simulation lead to new models and understandings of brain functioning and learning processes
> Models of brain functions are encoded in neural network algorithms and other cognitive and neurocomputational techniques
> Neurocomputational techniques are built-in to AIEd and cognitive systems applications for education
> AIEd and cognitive systems are embedded into the social environment of education institutions as ‘brain-targeted’ learning applications
> Educational environments are transformed into neuro-inspired, computer-augmented ‘brainy spaces’
> The brainy space of the educational environment interacts with human actors, getting ‘under the skin’ by becoming encoded in the embodied human learning brain
> Human brain functions are augmented, extended and optimized by machine intelligences
The government wants to improve the quality of teachers and teaching in Australia, in order to improve the learning and achievement of Australian students. This is an admirable goal, but negative drivers of change such as performance pay for teachers, are toxic to education. Education reform needs to move away from a focus on performativity and accountability measures such as those outlined in the budget, and instead focus on trusting and supporting teachers.
Learning that Matters – Robert Schuetz explores the question of relevancy focusing on David Perkins notion of learning being lifeworthy.
Reimagining education means making lifeworthy learning a curricular priority. Perkins recommends keeping the dialogue positive and productive by identifying themes that generate great understandings. Start by asking what is important now and likely to be important in the future. No one can accurately predict the future but identifying trends and educating for the unknown moves learning towards greater relevance. In addition to igniting lifelong learning, we are at least better prepared for the unsolicited, “why do we have to learn this?”
Examine things from all angles, if you can. And most importantly, listen. Never stop listening.
The Five-Minute Dance Party – Emilie Garwitz shares how those activities that we can write-off as fun and frivolous are actually at the heart of the most important lessons we can learn.
Ask any successful person in business about their success and they will tell you that being comfortable with risk is one of the keys to unlocking their full potential. So, the earlier you become comfortable with taking risks, the easier it becomes later in life.
50 Shades of Open – Jeffrey Pomerantz and Robin Peek investigate what exactly is meant by the notion of ‘open’. They unpack ideas around open source, open access, open society, open knowledge, open government and open washing. A journal entry published at First Monday, this is one of those pieces that you can come back again and again.
This essay is probably only the opening gambit in attempts to disambiguate this term. We have merely opened the door on the many uses of the word ”open;“ as the use of the word grows, others must opine.
The Future of Work: Trends and Toolsets – Doug Belshaw shares a summary of a report he wrote exploring the future of work. He breaks this investigation down into four sub-themes: the demise of hierarchies, re-thinking the location of work, the rise of workplace chat and mission-based work. In addition to this, he created a document contiaining a plethora of further readings. I always find such conversations intriguing as to implications for education.
The main trends around the future of work seem to be broadly twofold: empowering individuals and teams to make their own decisions around technology; as well as, democratising the process of deciding what kind of work needs to be done
Panel Beaters – Jon Andrews provides a fantastic summary of the power and importance of coaching in his reflection on ResearchEd.
Coaching, for us, is NOT a cure to be administered or a tool to be manipulated. Rather, it is an offer, a partnership that is rooted in trust, respect and objectivity. It is a great privilege to partner with colleagues to drill down and explore the granularity of practice.
Could we become a nation which is child-centred and in which every family respects the child and considers education the foundation to national prosperity, as well as personal wellbeing? Many Australian parents have a view of schools that has been coloured by their own experiences, often negative, so this would require a massive cultural shift in mindset. Could we ask Australian teachers to accept a lower salary and invest the funding balance into subsidised school meals instead? If we want to learn from the Finns, these are some of the questions that would need to be addressed at a macro level.
Why I’m Done With SAMR – Mark Samberg points out that there is little detail of instruction, instead technology is described as the transformational solution.
SAMR is not a ladder, a word of warning – Mark Anderson explains that SAMR is not a ladder. Being so makes it an exclusive club that is measured by those best apt at utilising different programs and applications.
The Height of SAMR – Steve Wheeler argues that the opportunities afforded by technology are often missed when we do not situation learning in real situations.
As I progressively go through and archive a plethora of student blogs I am let wondering if we have gotten it right? Many of these spaces have been abandoned. Hours spent building them up, only for them to be left to silent. It makes me think about why we do it.Â This led me to wonder what if students and parents were responsible for the online presence? We ask students to do a lot already, why would managing a blog be any different? Also, this seems to be the fix for many schools in regards to iPads in that it puts the control in the hands of the students. This is an idea that Audrey Watters talks about in her book Claim Your Domain.
Steve Brophy sent the above image to me today with the challenge to identify the biggest problem in my classroom. I was intrigued by who was attached to the message and left thinking that the biggest problem in the classroom is the lack of student action. Too often the conversations that really mater a devoid of those who the decisions actually apply. Therefore I wonder, what if students had a central role in deciding what works in the classroom and what doesn’t? Maybe that itself would be the real learning?
I have been doing a bit of reading into different blogging platforms lately, especially as an answer to sharing in schools. I stumbled upon the notion of ‘respectful software‘ today from Ben Werdmuller. It left me thinking, how respectful is the software we use in schools and what if it was more so?
In a recent interview between Graham Martin-Brown and George WernerÂ regards to Liberia’s new script-based education policy, Werner made the comment that “BridgeÂ doesnâ€™t tolerate teachers unions in the schools it operates.” This got me thinking, what if there were no education unions? How would education be different? Would it allow for more innovation and disruption? Would this always be positive? This is such an interesting question and really makes me think about the world that we maybe moving into in the future.
I recently started reading Audrey Watter’s book Claim Your Domain. One of the things that she touches upon again and again is the question of data. We talk about the idea of a domain of one’s own as a means of reclaiming our presence and identity, collecting together the little bits that are scattered everywhere. It got me thinking, what if schools had a domain of their own? Rather than being dictated by templated self that NAPLAN and other such measurements impose or counting the ‘death rate‘ as John Hattie suggests, schools can take control of their presenceÂ and manage their own story of success?Â
Whether it be setting goals, fostering innovation or working with student data, so often the focus is on the individual. I wonder if this is in part a product of the mantra around ‘personalisation’. I am not again ‘personalisation’, but I am again a single person being responsible for this. What about if we work together, spread the load and work as a team. I wonder if such a culture of collaboration would not only reduce the stress, but also increase the possibilities imaginable.
I provided a short reflection on listening to TIDE Podcast.
In his book Smarter Than You Think, Clive Thompson discusses those who through the use of various applications and devices capture every aspect of their lives. He highlights the impact that such practises have on our social life, as well as the supposed over reliance in technology that this creates, taking over what we would have done for ourselves in the past. However, what really stood out was what was uncovered in regards to memory. Through these various examples of life journals, Thompson is able to show that the way we remember things isn’t necessarily the way things actually were. Clearly, this is a Pandora’s box and in many respects is nothing new, but what it got me wondering was whether the education that we feel we grew up with really was the way we remember it. For example, was Mr Tracey really as harsh as I remember and were lessons really as cumbersome and chaotic as I thought they were. how much of this representation of the past is merely a construct of the present?
It has been another exciting month. Started off attending the inaugural Melbourne West GAFE Summit at Manor Lakes. I presented sessions on Slides and Drawings, as well as attended a session by Heather Dowd on Presentation Zen and Suan Yeo on Google Expeditions.
At school, I have been working hard to finish up a few things, such as reports, before I go on long service leave for half a Term Two. Really looking forward to spending some quality time with my children doing the daddy daycare thing.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
This is a resource for anyone who wants to do things more creatively and collaboratively in their team or organization. It’s a collection of methods and activities, based on Hyper Island’s methodology, that you can start using today.
Coding a LEGO Maze – A different approach to coding where students make a maze using Lego and then develop the physical code required to complete it.
There are so many baby steps involved in learning how to think like a programmer. Throughout the past several years, I’ve programmed in at least 6 different computer languages (C, C++, Java, Fortran, Matlab, and Python). For a beginner, what’s important is not the specifics of a language (called the syntax). Rather it’s better to understand the commonalities between languages which are the building blocks of any programming language. These LEGO mazes, which can be solved with “code” using paper rather than a computer, illustrate 4 levels of difficulty and include a variety of programming concepts.
In order to build a growth mindset in our classrooms and schools we need to find a better balance between expecting compliance and engaging in authentic engagement. We set up a dynamic to truly engage students through strategies like flipping our classrooms, metacognitive activities, using engaging short video clips, setting instructional goals with students, providing time to go through questions with a small group of peers, and providing time where students get to ask questions of us as much as we ask questions of them.
Reading Conferences with Students – Pernille Ripp discusses the challenges of reading conferences within a limited amount of time and provides some thoughts and suggestions.
While the 45 minutes of English class will never be ideal, it will never be enough, it will never feel like I can provide each child with the type of learning experience they deserve, it cannot hold us back. It cannot hold me back. And I cannot be the only one that is trying to do this.
The Secret of Effective Feedback – Dylan Wiliam summarises what works best when it comes to feedback. He identifies a range of elements, including self-assessment.
Looking at student work is essentially an assessment process. We give our students tasks, and from their responses we draw conclusions about the students and their learning needs. When we realize that most of the time the focus of feedback should be on changing the student rather than changing the work, we can give much more purposeful feedback. If our feedback doesn’t change the student in some way, it has probably been a waste of time.
21 Digital Tools To Build Vocabulary – Kimberly Tyson unpacks a range of tools to support vocabulary. The list is divided into references, word clouds, games and digital word walls.
In today’s 21st century classrooms, digital tools must coexist alongside more traditional tools. Online tools, compared to their more traditional counterparts, provide a broader array of information about words and word meanings. In addition, some tools allow teachers to easily customize words so that students can practice, review, and play games with content or unit-specific words.
As research into psychology continues to develop, we learn more and more about how best to help students learn. Revision time can be challenging as it often requires students to monitor their own behaviour when working independently at home. Hopefully, by teaching them about what helps improve their memory, mood and concentration, we can better equip them to meet the challenges head on.
Third Places & Third Spaces – Bon Stewart explores the idea of the third space, a virtual place that carries across time and physical space. An interesting read regards to connected learning.
The Third Space is a potentially transformative space between the roles of student and teacher, a hybrid space where identities and literacies and practices can actually change on both sides.
We need to acknowledge that learning in a network/community/wild space means that sometimes there will be uncontrollable interactions. You will be confronted by what a colleague today referred to as ‘aggressive academic hectoring’. There is privilege always. How do we maintain the advantages of rhizomatic space and still give people the tools to be resilient?
Beyond Coding – Going beyond coding and algorithms, Steve Collis discusses the future of neural networks and artificial intelligence.
Insight into the power of repeated and branching algorithms doesn’t begin to prepare us for what is essentially distributed extended cognition. Incredibly sophisticated artificial intelligence, including neural network computing, is embedded in our lives and progressing in rapid cascades.
The Minecraft Generation – Clive Thompson provides a thorough explanation of Minecraft and its place within the history of technology,
Where companies like Apple and Microsoft and Google want our computers to be easy to manipulate — designing point-and-click interfaces under the assumption that it’s best to conceal from the average user how the computer works — Minecraft encourages kids to get under the hood, break things, fix them and turn mooshrooms into random-number generators. It invites them to tinker.
Educators, GitHub and the Future of Open Ed – Greg McVerry ponders on the place of GitHub in education as a space to share and build ideas. Alan Levine also wrote a good post on the subject too. I must admit I have barely touched the surface when it comes to GitHub.
Educators live in easy to use silos. I can not blame them. First and foremost the tools teachers use have to work easily. Yet when they share resources educators are often using proprietary tools and signing away copyrights to their district. Our ideas have value. We should get to decide how these ideas are owned and shared.
It is incredible what kids can do when we believe in them, coach them, and get out of their way! Our students recently participated in a robotics competition that was invented from the ground up by staff and students. We designed and printed 3D “exoskeletons” that fit over our Sphero robotic droids…and SpheroExo was born. The rest is history.
What really bothers me are the consequences to the least-empowered youth. While the EU at least made a carve-out for kids who are accessing counseling services, there’s no consideration of how many LGBTQ kids are accessing sites that might put them in danger if their parents knew. There’s no consideration for kids who are regularly abused and using technology and peer relations to get support. There’s no consideration for kids who are trying to get health information, privately. And so on. The UN Rights of the Child puts vulnerable youth front and center in protections. But somehow they’ve been forgotten by EU policymakers.
Even five years ago, online abuse and harassment were dismissed as no big deal. That is not true now. There is widespread public concern, and more support for anti-harassment proposals. But no one is pretending that this is an easy problem to fix.
The Rise of the Chromebook – Originally published in Educational Technology Solutions magazine, Anthony Speranza provides a clear introduction to Chromebooks and their place in schools.
With reduced overhead costs, Chromebooks are a cost-effective option to deploy technology at scale. Many schools are releasing this as an affordable option for closing the technology-equity gap whilst promoting the kind of rich digital learning that we all believe in.
Terrifyingly Convenient – In a lengthy piece, Will Oremus unpacks the rise of virtual assistants and bots. This is a topic that touches on the topics of trust and convenience, and wonders at what cost.
Like card catalogs and AOL-style portals before it, Web search will begin to fade from prominence, and with it the dominance of browsers and search engines. Mobile apps as we know them—icons on a home screen that you tap to open—will start to do the same. In their place will rise an array of virtual assistants, bots, and software agents that act more and more like people: not only answering our queries, but acting as our proxies, accomplishing tasks for us, and asking questions of us in return. This is already beginning to happen—and it isn’t just Siri or Alexa. As of April, all five of the world’s dominant technology companies are vying to be the Google of the conversation age. Whoever wins has a chance to get to know us more intimately than any company or machine has before—and to exert even more influence over our choices, purchases, and reading habits than they already do.Indie Ed-Tech: Review the Revue – Audrey Watters explores many important points relating to ed-tech in her review of Indie Ed-Tech Data Summit. In particular, she touches on the question of funding and venture capital.
Ed-tech need not be exploitative. Ed-tech need not be extractive. Ed-tech need not be punitive. Ed-tech need not be surveillance. Ed-tech need not assume that the student is a cheat. Ed-tech need not assume that the student has a deficit. Ed-tech need not assume that learning can be measured or managed. Ed-tech need not scale.
Technology is Not Neutral – Counter the usual argument that technology merely amplifies what is already in play. Gary Stager points out that platforms have biases that impact users.
Used well, the computer extends the breadth, depth and complexity of potential projects. This in turn affords kids with the opportunity to, in the words of David Perkins, “play the whole game.” Thanks to the computer, children today have the opportunity to be mathematicians, novelists, engineers, composers, geneticists, composers, filmmakers, etc… But, only if our vision of computing is sufficiently imaginative.
Many of us are acquainted with people for whom the answer to every technology-related question seems to be a Google, a Microsoft, or an Apple tool. I would suggest that these people have as much of a ‘toolset’ problem as the ‘laggard’ on the diffusion of innovation curve. I’d contend that it’s as dangerous and damaging to have baggage that says one vendor’s products are always the best solution as it is to say that no technological solution is best.
Who are creative leaders? They’re the people who have ideas to solve problems. Many times they’re the Consiglieri to a manager. They don’t coordinate people, they coordinate ideas. They’re the people who gain merit inside of an organization, but do not “climb the ladder” in a traditional sense – e.g. they don’t move up the hierarchy.
Until we are capable of putting our children’s needs in front of anything else, we will continue to slip down the educational league table. It has nothing to do with better teachers. It’s got everything to do with protecting our children from politicians.
What are we doing to add play back into our schools, and back into our children’s lives as parents, teachers, and leaders? When we look at the research, the studies, the medical community’s recommendation, and the real life stories of schools in the US and abroad–it all shows the importance of free play. Let’s go beyond recognizing the need, and start intentionally providing time and space for play.
Reflection is, in my opinion, a double-edged sword. The process of reflecting is a worthwhile one, but it can bring illumination and affirmation in one breath, disappointment and frustration in another. Either way, our work demands reflection of us. Question is, how best to do it, when do we do it and how do we get the most out of it so all benefit?
FOCUS ON … GIFS
With the recent addition of GIFs to a range of applications, here are a few resources to help make more sense of what all the fuss is about:
A link was shared with me today to a new course around a course in clinical teaching. There is something that does not sit right about the idea of being clinical. I reckon that it represents an emotional detachment. To me, a marksman is clinical. A surgeon is clinical. I am not sure if a teacher should necessarily be ‘clinical’? This got me thinking then what a teacher should be?
In my thinking, I was surfing Youtube and came across an interview with Mark Ronson unpacking his record collection. He provided a breadth, appreciation and understanding that really blew me away. In one story, he shared a time when Prince came into a club where he was performing. After racking his mind as to how to get his attention, he dropped an obscure 70’s beat into the middle of his set. Low and behold, Prince made his way up to the stage to find out more about the track.
ThisÂ made me wonder what it might mean for every teacher to be a DJ. That is, to have a knowledge and connection with their audience (staff and students)Â to go far beyond progression points. This as a metaphor might better capture the science and art of teaching.Â
March has been a weird month. Everything just seems to have flown on by at school. We unpacked mindsets as a part of the instructional model. Intervention kept on intervening, with the highlight being the use of TouchCast and the green screen to support recordings. I also had the opportunity to pitch an idea as a part of an (unsuccessful) job application which was interesting. Wonder why more processes aren't like that?
At home, I am learning first hand just how much students in Foundation grow and learn, with my daughter coming on leaps and bounds. Actually both are flying with the youngest considering taking up the act of crawling.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
I’m calling these 10 examples practical because I believe they are doable. They work in most grade levels, in most schools, in most situations. However, as we talked about in a previous post, you and your students are going to have to be the ultimate decision makers on whether or not any of these ideas would work.
If the world around us wasn't changing so rapidly, we might have got away with sticking our heads in the sand and believing (like certain schools still do) that effective education means little, if any, learner agency and whole lot of control and teacher centred pedagogy. Don't get me wrong, there is still a place for direct instruction and even rote learning, but if you are limiting yourself to such practice, no matter how awesomely charismatic you might be, you are doing your students a massive disservice.
My plea is that our new language learners are not given ‘busy work’; like colouring-in, or childish toys to play with or books to read that are not age appropriate. Please don’t leave them in a corner to fend for themselves and grow bored while both of you wait until the EAL/D teacher comes to withdraw them for their special lessons. If you need help, just ask someone.
There is no doubt that Australia is a literacy-dependent society. The demand on young people is growing within the context of international test rankings and competition, an increasingly globalised workforce and a transitioning economy that requires highly sophisticated literacy skills. As such, it is important that literacy teaching in classrooms reflects the very best approaches that research, policy and curriculum design can provide.
Rather than diligently memorizing the notions written by others inside his textbooks or the theorems presented to him in class lectures, the learner who curates the subject he wants to learn, develops a true understanding of the subject and a personal opinion about it. I would venture to say that he now “owns” the subject, rather than simply “knowing” about it.
Connecting is more important now than ever. According to a 2011 study of youth done by the Public Health Agency of Canada, just over half of our grade 10 students feel that they belong and have a teacher that cares about them in school. It is difficult for me to hear this as I know how hard we work in education. How can almost half of our students not feel cared for and a sense of belonging? The question must me asked… knowing this, now what? We know the links between positive school environment and mental health and we know the impact we CAN have on our students so what are we doing about this as educators, schools and as a society?
The Day Began Gently – Jon Harper shares a range of ideas as to how we can better start the day off with ourselves, our students and our colleagues.
Tomorrow morning starts tonight. Plan right now how you are going to make it go well for your students, your staff and yourself. I may not get to lie next to my son as he gradually awakes. But I will hug him and kiss him the first chance I get. He may not run to greet me when I am pulling in the driveway. But I can run to him once I open the front door. And he might not tell me over and over again how much he missed me. But I can tell him.
Indie means we don’t need millions of dollars, but it does mean we need community. We need a space to be unpredictable, for knowledge to be emergent not algorithmically fed to us. We need intellectual curiosity and serendipity – we need it from scholars and from students.
Welcome to the Paradox (and Myth) of “Best Tool for X” – In the search for the best collaborative platform, Alan Levine touches on the paradox of deciding on the best tool for a task. The reality is that we only have a limited time to test and therefore often come to depend on others and our own intuition.
This, welcome to Paradox. To really compare them, even a demo session won’t cut it. I won’t really know without putting it to use in a real situation, with real people. The time it would take to do this? And so I have to thus make some hunch guesses based on limited skim by, reviews, and what people I might know who have more experience. And while I understand why people want to know when they ask, and despite the endless flow of listicles that people publish, there can never be a simple answer to “What is the best tool for X?” There are a lot of importance differences between X for me and X for you.
The Overselling of Ed Tech – Alfie Kohn adds his thoughts to the debate on edtech, touching on the various promises made and the true impact of technology, to amplify what is already in place.
We can’t answer the question “Is tech useful in schools?” until we’ve grappled with a deeper question: “What kinds of learning should be taking place in those schools?” If we favor an approach by which students actively construct meaning, an interactive process that involves a deep understanding of ideas and emerges from the interests and questions of the learners themselves, well, then we’d be open to the kinds of technology that truly support this kind of inquiry. Show me something that helps kids create, design, produce, construct — and I’m on board. Show me something that helps them make things collaboratively (rather than just on their own), and I’m even more interested — although it’s important to keep in mind that meaningful learning never requires technology, so even here we should object whenever we’re told that software (or a device with a screen) is essential.
The New Digital Divide – Cortney Harding examines the digital divide that is occurring between those who have and those who have not. This is not simply access to technology, but access to resources required to protect themselves and their digital presence.
The great promise of the Internet and the new digital world was that it would create a level playing field and allow everyone to access the same information. Unfortunately, it has also created a world where accessing that information has very different costs depending on how much money you make or the color of your skin.
The emphasis of both is on fixing people, rather than fixing social structures. It prioritizes the design of interventions that seek to modify behaviours to make people perform as optimally as possible according to new behavioural and psychological norms. Within this mix, new technologies of psychological measurement and behaviour management such as ClassDojo have a significant role to play in schools that are under pressure to demonstrate their performance according to such norms.
Why didn’t Microsoft know better? Plop a consciousness with the verbal ability of a tween and the mental age of a blastocyst into a toxic, troll-rich environment like Twitter and she’s bound to go Nazi.
Storytelling and Reflection
Publishing is dead. This is why – Jon Westerberg provides a summary of the state of newspapers, media and publishing. He questions the institutions that still push students through journalism degrees into professions that no longer exist.
Will what we see as publishers now — Buzzfeed, Vox — eventually be seen only as advertisers? And will the profession of journalism one day cease to exist?
Why? – Chris Harte reflects on the question why and wonders if reinstating it at the centre of learning may help to develop a deeper inquiry into life's big questions.
Maybe by engendering a love of the question why? in our children, we can help them to ask the big questions. To disrupt the status quo. To enquire into the depths of the universe and the meaning of life. To question peacefully, truthfully and with the intent of making the world a better place. To stare boldly into the eyes of the heavens and ask why?
What if we… stopped being so sure of ourselves and instead became confident in our uncertainty (like Keats’ “negative capability”?). What if we…felt free to explore a host of options to test what works best in the here and now, and in respect of the context? What if we…embraced the fact that a “best practice” is really flexibility and evolution over time?
True for Us, True for Them – Emily Garwitz reflects on learning and suggests that what works for us as teachers should also apply for the students in our classroom.
Here’s something I know to be true: I learn by trying and failing and then trying again. True for us, true for them. I learn through active, experiential learning rather than passive learning. True for us, true for them. I learn through collaborating with others. True for us, true for them. I learn by moving, thinking out loud, getting personalized feedback…true for us, true for them.
I’m not paying you to think. I’m paying you to do. We don’t have time for all this PD guff, collaboration, staff voice and the like. Look, I’ve seen enough. You have your work cut out turning this place around. I want no excuses – from you or the students. I want a return on investment.
Scientists have discovered that people make fairer choices when they are being watched, if only by a robot. England needs more schools to cope with increasing pupil numbers and I believe free schools can be a solution, but only if people have faith in the process. To make that happen, someone needs to be the robot. So I will keep on asking for information – even if it lands me in court.
Traditionally at schools, the pilot or trial is the go to method to validate the effectiveness of a particular tool, approach or change in practice and I have been a part of many trials and pilots in my career. Some successful, some total failures. My issue with the pilot as a methodology is that we determine the course but often we don’t tend to stray from that original determined path.
To put it simply, innovation in schools today is far too focused on improving teaching, not amplifying learning. The real innovation that we need in schools has little to do with technologies or tools or products designed to improve our teaching. The real innovation, instead, is in relearning why we want kids in schools in the first place.
Network Leadership – Cameron Paterson investigates leadership in a networked era. He outlines a series of steps needed to move from traditional hierarchical leadership, to one more fluid and agile.
Education is moving from a narrow pipeline metaphor to an incredibly diverse web of outside networks and knowledge is becoming literally inseparable from the network that enables it. Reminiscent of Ivan Illich’s learning webs, knowledge is now distributed across networks of connections, and learning consists of immersing oneself in networks by creating and sharing. The future of learning lies in networks, and networks require a new form of leadership, prioritising peer to peer relationships to build creative capacity.
Playing the Game of School – Edna Sackson shares a great activity to help appreciate what school might mean and how it might feel to be in one.
In a recent reportÂ in The Independent, it was highlighted that Donald Trump uses the grammar of an 11. My interest is not necessarily on the quality of Trump’s delivery though, but rather the ’11 Year Old’ who actually represents this standard. Who decided what an 11 year olds langauge was? And worse, how can it not have changed or morphed since Abraham Lincoln? I am left wondering what the langauge of a 35 year old is? Or have I stopped growing?
There is a place for the teacher to support the learner in regards to how to learn, but imagine if we were supported by a teacher ALL of our life, what would that look like? Does it happen now and we don’t even know it? What curriculum would you use at lets say 36? What would it mean to differentiate learning in this environment? Would our approaches be different? Why or why not? As usual, I hold on loosely to this idea. Really not sure.