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”)
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.
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:
- An academic virtuous circle similar to Stanford’s, with government involvement — but more accessible to a larger, more diverse group of people
- Easier funding for consumer business models other than ad tech (disrupting, not directly competing with, existing Silicon Valley businesses), at better valuations
- 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).
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 (@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:
- The iPad Comes Alive with Augmented Reality – A collection of guides and reflections associated with Augmented Reality.
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
So that is September for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
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