Bookmarked The Future of Professional Learning Part 2 – Ideas and Thoughts (

In general, I think professional offerings will be expanded and diversified moving forward. More than ever, teachers are more comfortable with webinars, chats and courses. Since there is currently little to no face-to-face opportunities, it seems participants are more accepting and less critical of offerings because there is no alternative. That said, I believe there is an opportunity for districts to be more intentional and focused on their online offerings as well as rethinking what face to face learning should be.

Across two posts (one and two), Dean Shareski reflects upon the future of professional development. Two of the points that have stood out are, the flexibility offered by online learning that will not go away.

I believe my own work with feature more virtual options both because it’s been experienced by a greater number of educators in the past 9 months but also because when done correctly, provides great benefits.

Learning in-person will become more about connections and relationships, rather than content.

People will naturally be excited to be together and it should be honoured as such. That means providing people with an opportunity to be with each other beyond the breaks should take priority. I would also suggest that we emphasize the social side of this as much as any professional side. In the past, this would have been seen as frivolous or time-wasting, that mindset has to change. If you’re just worried about delivering content, then it may be better served online. I think this shift will be a challenge for many and like the return to school, it’s going to be easy to revert to previous models.

This all reminds me of something Shareski wrote a few years ago about connections over content:

I’ve been saying for a long time that the old adage, “If you leave a conference with one or two ideas you can use in your classroom right away you’ve done well” is not nearly as good as “if you leave here with one or two people you can continue to learn with you’ve done well.”

Responding to this, David Truss suggests that the future needs to be more interactive.

To expand on this idea, I don’t see things like pre-presentations or assignments and tasks being given before a conference (read as ‘not homework’), but I do see opportunities for conversation, interaction with the presenter, and with other conference attendees. I see icebreakers and teasers.  I see feedback to the presenter about what the attendees want. I see presenters providing clear learning intentions and a framework for their talk. I see presenters providing a personal introduction so that instead of the first 5-10 minutes of a 1 hour presentation slot being “This is who I am”, the presentation starts with an activity, engaging people with other people who have already connected online. I see interactive presentations that rely on participants being involved and engaged with the material.

Bookmarked Four Learning Models That Are Working in Remote (and Concurrent) Classrooms Right Now by By AJ Juliani (A.J. JULIANI)

One of the most amazing things to come out of the past year of remote and concurrent/hybrid learning has been the sharing of various learning models that work in our current situation. Many of these

AJ Juliani discusses four models for structuring learning offsite:

  • Station Rotation
  • Choice Boards
  • Playlists
  • E5 ( Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate)

As Juliani highlights, the challenge is identifying the right model for your context:

For Hybrid A/B learning I would have all of the students at home be in one group (Group 1) while breaking up the students in-class into two separate groups (Group 2 and Group 3). However, if your situation is such that you have at home hybrid students and full-time virtual students that group may have to be split in two.

These are discussed further in Catlin Tucker’s new Advancing with Blended and Online Learning Course.

Liked 2020 Zoomed By(e) (CogDogBlog)

After all the time people are spending in these environments, are there other modalities, what others ways of collaborating we can use besides this one? I find that the first reach colleagues go for is webinar, webinar, webinar. And webinar. And that is my Zoom Fatigue, is that it seems to be the limit of our imagination.

Liked More help needed for vulnerable learners in the age of COVID-19 school closures (EduResearch Matters)

Moving forward and learning to live with further disruptions, requires future generations to become adaptable to possible changing learning environments, building capacity and resilience for future crises becomes an imperative. Proactive and multifaceted responses and planning for any future crises will best meet the educational needs of our diverse student populations to ensure vulnerable children are not left behind in their learning.

Governments should re-examine resource allocations to schools to ensure all students have equality of access to up-to-date resources, especially technology. The pandemic has shown us that learning online is possible, but if we are to avoid widening existing educational disparities, we must ensure that learning is equitable for all students.

Bookmarked Lessons Learned | EdCan Network (EdCan Network)

We consider the narratives and lessons that emerge from both the content of these articles and our own experiences.

Canadian academics, Alec Couros and Katia Hildebrandt consider the various discussions and evidence associated education during the current pandemic to identify five narratives:

  1. Educators can, and do, leverage technologies in powerful and creative ways, but inequitable access to devices and connectivity remains a major barrier to student success.
  2. As home-school relationships become increasingly important, parents’ abilities to support their children’s learning can have a major impact.
  3. School climate has a significant effect on how teachers, learners, and parents experience school, but care must be taken to ensure inclusivity for all members of the school community.
  4. The move to remote learning has laid bare the degree to which teachers’ (and schools’) roles extend beyond academic instruction.
  5. The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic offer a tremendous opportunity for transformational change in our education systems, should we choose to take it up.

It is interesting to compare this with Jal Mehta’s lessons:

  1. There are limits to one-size-fits-all schooling
  2. Schools need to be more human
  3. We cannot set the needs of students against the needs of adults
  4. It is not clear how we catch students up on what they have missed during the pandemic

Mehta touches on the challenges of equality in regards to how different states respond to the situation.

Although these lessons seem pretty universal, I wonder if building back better actually starts locally. It will be interesting to see how different systems around the world provide long term support in response to the situation and the mechanisms they will use to measure the return on investment.

Bookmarked Does Virtual Learning Work for Every Student? (JSTOR Daily)

Given Covid-19, schools have limited options for teaching kids. What’s working and not working in the era of online learning?

Amanda Woytus reflects upon who has and has not benefited from learning online. For some, the flipped model of asynchronous videos has provided them access to learning and the opportunity to be more flexible with their time. However, Woytus also explains that not everyone is able to engage with video content and learning in the same way. As she highlights:

Last semester’s physics class, for example, required students to watch videos of lectures, similar to the flipped classroom model. “I personally could not do that at all,” he remembers. “I can’t focus on a YouTube video that I want to watch, so how does anybody expect me to focus on a YouTube video that’s boring?” He recognizes that physics can be interesting, but if his diagnosis makes it difficult for him to pay attention to a video that was designed to be pure entertainment, a YouTube video of a professor talking at him stands little chance.

I think this highlights that one model alone, such as flipped learning, does not necessarily fit everyone’s needs. This has me thinking again about Steve Collis’ discussion of learning narratives and learning choice.

Often the argument is made against ‘direct instruction’ and specific information, however the issue is not the instruction, but the fact that such instruction is not at the point of need. Collis spoke about the use of flipped instruction and providing students more choice and autonomy as to when they accessed this information. Therefore, such shared learning narratives often involved a number of choices or spaces.

Bookmarked Remote Teaching Tip: Assessments in an Online Environment by Bill Ferriter (

if the questions on your assessment can be Googled AND you are worried about cheating, then you have written a bad assessment.

Bill Ferriter suggests that before you worry about how you are going to assess learning online, you need to address the question of what you are assessing for.

  • We need to know the level of rigor of the essential standard that we are assessing before we can write a question that will generate reliable information on student mastery.
  • We need to decide on the kinds of things that students should know and be able to do if they have mastered the essential standard that we are assessing.
  • We need to write and then deliver a small handful (3-5) of questions for each essential standard that we are assessing.
  • We need to think through the common misconceptions that we are likely to see in student responses to our questions.
  • For any constructed response questions or performance assessments, we need to decide together what “mastery” will look like in student responses.
  • That might include developing exemplars of different levels of student performance or creating shared scoring rubrics.

If the focus is multiple choice questions, Ferriter uses MasteryConnect, while if it is about deomonstrations, he uses Flipgrid. Although there are many other options out there, these work within his context. As he explains:

Your goal is to find tools that:

  • Have little to no learning curve for you or your students.
  • Aren’t blocked by your district’s firewall.
  • Fit into your budget — or the budget of your school.

Ferriter closes with a reflection on how he deals with the threat of students cheating. FIrstly, he makes a concerted effort to lower the stakes on my classroom assessments by making them smaller and providing students the opportunity to repeat where needed. In addition to this, he suggests that if the answer is in fact Google-able then maybe it is actually just poor assessment.

Your piece about cheating reminds me about an experience I had in Year 10 Science when we had an open-book test. I remember Ms. Hé not paying too much attention to our chatter during tests. We would turn and talk with colleagues to get the answer. The funny thing was that it did not really make a difference. I cannot remember what grade I got, but I know it was not great. I think it clearly highlighted the lack of care I had for the subject. Cheating made little difference. In hindsight, I wonder if that was in fact her strategy, not sure. It was a useful lesson to learn.

Replied to
I remember watching Simon Breakspeare’s presentation about building back better. That seems like an eternity ago.

It is interesting to look back at my three points of reflection from last time:

  • Structure of online learning
  • Communication between school and home
  • Play and social spaces

At home, the resilience prevalent first time around quickly dwindled. Second time around what became paramount was anything social and creative. At the end of term, the class had a party. This sparked a round of cooking and requesting things from the shops. Sadly, such opportunities were few and far between. What is interesting is that I do not really think this is any different to how things are normally, instead it is just more visible I guess.

I really liked your closing point:

It’s awful but an adventure at the same time

Like how the rings of a tree cut open can show the impact of drought, it will be interesting to see what impact of all this will be on students and on the profession. It certainly is an adventure, but maybe it always was.

Bookmarked The art of inquiry teaching…from a distance: Part #1 (

Someone described it to me as the ‘moment when the clouds parted and the sun shone through’. That is what it felt like way back in June (remember June?) when, for a few precious weeks, I was able to go into schools and work with kids and teachers face to face. It was definitely NOT the same expe…

Kath Murdoch shares two posts (one and two) unpacking strategies for incorporating inquiry into the remote context:

  • Cultivate curiosity by provoking, modelling and valuing it
  • Ask more questions than tell
  • Release control and let learners do the heavy lifting
  • Notice, reflect and respond
  • Be personal by helping students find and pursue their passion
  • Harness real contexts, such as virtual field trips
  • Allow for humour and play
  • Encourage collaboration
  • Focus on concepts over busy work
  • Celebrate the skills within the learning

Emily Fintelman provides her own take on incorporating inquiry into the online classroom, as well as an excellent reflection in the DLTV Journal.

Bookmarked The New Normal: Teaching Amidst Coronavirus by Emily Fintelman (DLTV Journal)
Emily Fintelman reflects on the move to remote learning. For her school the focus has been on guiding learners, rather than delivering lessons. This has included the creation of a ‘learning menu’ with a balance of open-ended tasks, problems worth solving, investigations, personal inquiries, games and tasks. Student contact therefore is centred around well-being, and the maintaining a emotional, social and psychological safe space.

So much of the talk is about what students won’t have access to… a carefully scheduled timetable, a teacher on hand at every second of their 6-hour school day, materials, internet and so on. But a compelling thought is that so many factors that are important for learning have not disappeared… agency, curiosity, goal setting, interesting questions, learning about things that are personally meaningful, feedback from teachers, peers and relatives, a genuine audience. They just look a little different.

Replied to Humans Have Bodies by Ian O’Byrne (

As I watch my children regularly tune in to virtually connect with others, I wonder what they are missing. I wonder about this lost year of their lives when they’ll have missed connections as they can choose to tune in or out as they see fit. Already I can see my children’s eyes glaze over when they are connected into the video conference and need to pay attention.

I wonder about the connections that are normally made in the classroom outside of the content that my children will miss. How the teacher noticed that one day when our daughter stood up to the class bully. Or when my son decided to risk it all and tried out for the lead in the holiday musical. Those times that are show us (the parents) that we’re hopefully doing the right things necessary to raise a good human being.

But that is no longer what my children have become. They’ve become a stat. They are two of the 65% of students attending school virtually this fall. They are a link and a secret invite code to a Google Meet call. They are a white board full of intersecting and conflicting schedules. They are a series of pending assignments waiting on a Chromebook.

I wonder what happens when humans no longer have bodies. What happens when they can turn on and off connections with others. What happens when they can choose to turn on or off their video camera. What happens when it is expected that they show up on time, look like they’re taking school seriously. What happens when they’re expected to mute their mics, and skillfully…only when needed….un-mute to respond at the appropriate moments.

Thank you Ian for openly sharing your story.

Kinder has definitely been interesting, especially as both my wife and I are still lucky enough to be working.

Liked Distance Learning 3.0: Ready to launch (

Wellbeing is at the centre of our distance learning model. We have deliberately built in a focus on the wellbeing of our students, parents, and teachers by integrating the following.

  • Shortening lesson times and increasing break times during periods of distance learning.
  • Including one Student-Directed Learning Day per week for Years K-10. This day is a ‘non-contact’ day of learning in which students organise their time to complete set work, and teachers prepare, mark and respond to student queries. The day will be cycled through the days of the week, depending on when distance learning begins (e.g. Monday one week, Tuesday the next, and so on).
  • Paring back content to the essentials and rethinking the way students can engage with content.
  • Reconsidering the ways in which students can show their learning, and redesigning or rescheduling assessments where appropriate.
  • Continuing to act with kindness, compassion and empathy.
Replied to Taking conferences online during the pandemic by Oliver Quinlan (

Tips we learned for running an online conference:

  • Have a very clear programme with all the timings, URLs to access resources and meeting spaces.
  • Stick to timings and chair ruthlessly – it can really mess things up if people in different spaces are not synchronised, and if things start to drag then engagement drops more quickly online.
  • Run a staffed green room for presenters – it worked so well getting everyone prepared and ready to transition smoothly between presentations.
  • Have plenty of staff to help with any technical challenges or people who need help.
  • Have a staff backchannel to co-ordinate and discuss issues away from the content. We used our organisation’s Slack instance.
Thank you for the breakdown of your experience Oliver. I really like the idea of a virtual green room, even though it seems obvious it is not something that I have seen discussed. It was also interesting the way in which things were mixed up to accommodate the move online, such as moving the keynote.

Guess no one knows what the future may hold, however it will be interesting to see what sticks long term.

Liked The evolution of the global education industry during the pandemic (

Overall, the project has revealed a particular set of mutations in the global education industry during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has documented some ways in which privatization of education has expanded – through increasing participation of private actors in public education – and of how commercialization of education has developed through the creation, marketing and sale of education goods and services to schools (and parents) by external providers. We understand this as a particularly intense instantiation of fast policy involving multisector actors and networks, and as an accelerated realization of sociotechnical imaginaries of a highly digitalized future of education. The shifting landscape of commercialization and privatization in education we have surveyed will require sustained attention by educators, unions and researchers to ensure that all stakeholders, and not just private or commercial organizations, can participate democratically in imagining the post-Covid future of public education.

Bookmarked What Is Distance Learning For? by Keith Gessen (The New Yorker)

We have missed school very much during this time—have missed its warmth, its diversity, its sense of a common cause. That is what school is, I’ve come to understand. It is child care, yes, for parents who need to work. And it is some instruction in reading and writing and math. But, most of all, it is a shared experience—of play, and conflict, and even boredom—overseen by professionals who know what they’re doing.

Keith Gessen reflects on his experiences of learning online during the pandemic. Balancing with the stress and apathy, he discusses how he found equilibrium when he stopped trying to imitate the school schedule and cut things back.

We cut Raffi’s schoolwork down to the bare minimum—letters, numbers, name. We cut the Zooms to one per week. And the rest of the time we spent outside in the park: digging for worms, climbing rocks, building “pizzas” out of dirt.

This comes back to Will Richardson’s new normal of learning.

Bookmarked Four Levels of Real World Home Classrooms (

Online learning has shown significant growth over the last decade as the Internet and other communication technologies are use to provide learners with the opportunity to gain new skills. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, online learning has become more of a reality in people’s lives.
As our classrooms and learning spaces shift from public buildings to our homes, it can be a challenge to consider how best to connect digitally. This post will share some of the tools and profiles involved in online learning to help you stay connected.

Ian O’Byrne maps out four levels of home classroom. Starting with a Chromebook and a phone then ending with a desktop and two 24 inch monitors side-by-side. Maybe Troy Hunt’s epic setup is level five?

This also builds on reflections from Doug Belshaw and Aaron Parecki about options associated with remote working. This really is something that I need to look into.

Bookmarked Blended Content Studio (

A week or so ago, a video I made for an internal course here went viral, and many people (a hundred or so?) tracked down my email and asked to be a part of it.

It occurred to me that both those emailing and many at WSU would benefit from having access to all the materials outside of the Canvas course shell. Not the quizzes and not the recorded sessions, but the videos and text in a meaningful sequence.

I am publishing this today with a couple hours that miraculously was not scheduled and there seems to be no current emergency. All the same, I do apologize that this will be put up in a basic form that wouldn’t meet course standards if I was teaching a public course. But I hope it’s useful.

The course consists of three core modules, structured around the Connect, Explain, Engage concept:

Mike Caulfield breaks down some of the pieces associated with the structure of blended learning and some consideration in regards to the creation of video content. I really like how he addresses the different options, as well as things to consider. I find reading these pieces useful in that it forces me each time to reconsider my thoughts.

Some things that stood out to me were the use of unlisted YouTube videos:

I use unlisted YouTube videos for a lot of my materials. It’s not secure — anyone with the link can watch it. But for things where I don’t care who sees it, it’s a good technique for sharing course video.

Nudging up the personal ‘you’:

whatever volume you normally do “you” — you need to nudge it up just a bit if you are recording a video of any length. There’s something that asynchronous video does where it shaves of a bit of enthusiasm, a bit of emotion. Something about it being recorded.

Or maybe it’s when we don’t have an energy on the other end of the conversation, when we don’t have that audience energy, we just don’t give it our all?

Online time is different to face-to-face time:

So maybe divide it by 1.6, or 1.5. Two hours and 40 minutes of class might be replaced by 1 hr and 36 minutes of explanatory video. If you add in questions or activities in between the videos — short quizzes, reflection, discussion prompts, it’s even less. You might end up with 50 minutes of video and 50 minutes of reflection/quizzing. And as long as the videos are introducing new material and concepts in a concise way, this holds whether the videos you’re asking students to watch were made by you or someone else.

Importance of signalling, segmenting and weeding:

We talked about signalling, where we use one channel of audiovisual communication to help students organize another. Segmenting, where we give students a chance to process information periodically. And weeding, where we remove extraneous material that might be confusing to students.

A couple additional things: speak quickly (speech on video seems slower than in person). Give a sense of immediacy, the sense you’re talking to the specific person listening at a time approaching now. And we talked about this a bit in terms of segmenting, but give the students opportunities for active learning. You don’t learn what you don’t integrate, and integration is linked to doing, not listening.

Bookmarked Librarians turned Google Forms into the unlikely platform for virtual escape rooms by Aliya Chaudhry ([object Object])

By going through the games, players develop their problem-solving and reading comprehension skills, Brooke Windsor, a librarian at Richmond Hill Public Library in Ontario says. She’s made several escape rooms, including ones themed around Star WarsMarvel superheroes, and Jurassic World. In addition to honing those skills, the problems and puzzles often involve geography or math.

“We still want to sneak in that learning, broccoli-in-the-brownie style,” says Windsor.

These activities provide a vehicle for teachers to get students interested in different subjects. Lockard says that her ancient Egypt-themed escape room is used in history classes, and her space-themed one is used by science teachers and Girl Scouts groups.

Aliya Chaudhry reports on how some librarians have turned to digital escape rooms. Cory Doctorow explains how:

The librarian-creators link these puzzles into online resources from their collections and the whole world, turning them into jumping-off points for self-directed research and learning.