Read Write Respond #010

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?

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