If not now, when? And why not already?

the-future

I love my job (in saying this I have been in my new position now for 1 day and 134 minutes…), however, I am really meaning teaching, working in schools and doing what my role/s over the past 13 years have involved.

I have also in that time developed a greater presence online via social media through connecting and sharing with of educators the world over. The following, and writing of, blogs has also led to my growth professionally.

Now in this time I have read a lot and mainly within EdTech and Leadership circles about the need to drive and promote change within education systems. This ‘chatter’ has been ongoing and I adore hearing the endless stream of people’s views on the various matters that have us all up in arms from time to time. One such blog post which I recently very much enjoyed was penned…? keyed…? by Richie Lambert titled ‘It’s time to kill off ‘e-learning’ & ’21st century skills‘. This is a fantastic post that looks at the divide between old and new teaching methodologies and thinking, and how this is damaging what matters and that being student learning.

As Richie stated at the beginning of his post, one of the largest ‘streams’ of ongoing conversation has been heavily focused around 21st Century Learning and preparing students for what lies ahead after they complete their schooling journeys. We know that the world is rapidly changing due to the many technological advancements and we have also heard that employers are now looking for skills in potential employees that are vastly different from what they were once perhaps looking for. Now the aforementioned conversation stream I mentioned is this, that our educational models and frameworks are somewhat failing to adequately prepare our students for this new world and what the future ahead of them may hold.

I completely agree that we as educators in this day and age need to incorporate more of these so called ’21st century’ skills in to put programs but certainly not at the expense of more traditional curriculum content. This post however is not about arguing that debate.

One document that I have referenced since its release in 2011 is the “Future Work Skills 2020” published by the Institute for the Future for the University of Phoenix Research Institute.

The report outlines 6 key drivers which are ‘disruptive shifts’ that will drastically alter what the workforces of the future will be like. Lined to these are 10 ‘key skills’ that people will need to be successful in the workforces of the future.

These are outlined below in the embedded graphic.

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Below I have included the descriptors taken from the report that briefly outlines what each key skill is asking from potential employees.

  1. Sense Making: ability to determine the deeper meaning or significance of what is being expressed
  2. Social Intelligence: ability to connect to others in a deep and direct way, to sense and stimulate reactions and desired interactions
  3. Novel & adaptive thinking: proficiency at thinking and coming up with solutions and responses beyond that which is rote or rule-based
  4. Cross-cultural competency: ability to operate in different cultural settings
  5. Computational thinking: ability to translate vast amounts of data into abstract concepts and to understand data-based reasoning
  6. New-media literacy: ability to critically assess and develop content that uses new media forms, and to leverage these media for persuasive communication
  7. Transdisciplinarity: literacy in and ability to understand concepts across multiple disciplines
  8. Design mindset: ability to represent and develop tasks and work processes for desired outcomes
  9. Cognitive load management: ability to discriminate and filter information for importance, and to understand how to maximize cognitive functioning using a variety of tools and techniques
  10. Virtual collaboration: ability to work productively, drive engagement, and demonstrate presence as a member of a virtual team.

I suppose my question is why is there not more being done to facilitate and drive the promotion of these skills within the education system/s? There is little doubt that we as educators are deeply passionate about developing most if not all of these skills in our learners, and if not these skills themselves, others very similar.

The skills outlined above via the IFTF of course have implications for various organisations and institutions worldwide. An excerpt taken from the aforementioned report states;

“To be successful in the next decade, individuals will need to demonstrate foresight in navigating a rapidly shifting landscape of organizational forms and skill requirements. They will increasingly be called upon to continually reassess the skills they need, and quickly put together the right resources to develop and update these.

“Workers in the future will need to be adaptable lifelong learners.”

Educational institutions at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels, are largely the products of technology infrastructure and social circumstances of the past. The landscape has changed and educational institutions should consider how to adapt quickly in response. Some directions of change might include:

» Placing additional emphasis on developing skills such as critical thinking, insight, and analysis capabilities

» Integrating new-media literacy into education programs

» Including experiential learning that gives prominence to soft skills—such as the ability to collaborate, work in groups, read social cues, and respond adaptively

» Broadening the learning constituency beyond teens and young adults through to adulthood » Integrating interdisciplinary training that allows students to develop skills and knowledge in a range of subjects” .

When you read through the 10 Key Skills and even the ideas above for direction change and integration, what comes to mind that you and or your colleagues are doing to support the development of these skills?

I would like to think that we as educators we are already embedding these key skills. I know that within my own teaching and learning I have focused on students developing their critical thinking skills and ability to analyse various sets of data. The ability to not only collaborate and work effectively in a group but to do so in an online environment.

As support of this, In 2012 the ‘Institute for Public Policy Research’ released a report titled ‘Oceans of Innovation, The Atlantic, The Pacific, global leadership and the future of education.’ This is a very good short read that discusses how those countries in and around the Pacific Rim will in fact lead the world in development, economy, leadership and education in the next 50 years and how driving innovation will drive this. One great passage from this text I have embedded below.

The road to hell in education is paved with false dichotomies. One of the more devastating of these, because it is so thoroughly misleading, is the belief that systems which ensure high standards in reading, writing and arithmetic inevitably do so at the expense of creativity, thinking, individuality and so on.” – Pg 48.

The need to ‘add’ to current curriculum is not needed whatsoever. The blending and integration of problem based learning, challenged based learning and even more tradition models of Inquiry Based Learning can assist greatly in the development of skills which are not taught in an isolated fashion. Design thinking, critical thinking, computational thinking, problem solving, etc… can all be encouraged, and more often than not are, through various models of inquiry.

Personally I believe that it comes down to teachers having effective and developing pedagogy to best teach and prepare our students with the skills and knowledge that will see them become successful. Period. If developing core skills such as those outlined by IFTF in conjunction and alongside with current curriculum content, then I am confident our students will be heading off into the big wide world with the effective skill sets they need.

So if you are educating a cohort of young and enquiring minds… are you preparing them adequately for what their future will most likely entail? And if not, why not? 😉

Teaching Teachers

Towards the end of 2014 I was involved in a series of Professional Learning opportunity ran by the fabulous Muffy Hand. Muffy runs PL sessions for schools and their leadership teams focusing on  how to be more effective as a leader and how to better deal with ‘challenging’ and difficult situations and people. Something I am sure most of us have had to encounter at some stage.

During one of her sessions Muffy showed the graphic below which I was quite intrigued by. The data contained within has derived from the research that Marzano has done around the impact on learning that teachers have. For more information regarding the great research that Marzo et. al. has done head here.

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 When looking at this what surprises you? What resonates and relates? What are the implications of this research and most importantly what if anything can we do about it?

To tie this in to my own educational role for 2015, that being a Digital Learning Coach, I have been thinking more and more what exactly a ‘coach’ within a school is charged with doing? Is it my responsibility to get teachers to the point of being effective and more so highly effective? No pressure there!

According to the Victorian Department of Education (DEECD), they state that; “Coaches are primarily concerned with improving learning outcomes for all students, regardless of their location, background or socioeconomic status. Coaches focus on developing teachers as effective independent practitioners who contribute to high performing school communities.” – Coaching Teachers in Effective Instruction, DEECD 2010

Nothing to it really… 😉

What I very much enjoy about coaching and working with teachers to improve their capacity in a multitude of ways is that teaching teachers is not a whole lot different from teaching kids and I mean this with the utmost respect to teachers! 😉

Before I go on and elaborate on the above point, I need to say that I have never been coached. I have never been formally trained to be a coach and that my knowledge of coaching has been developed from excellent educators I have worked with that have assisted me to be effective as a coach. I’ll take a minute here to thank two of those people in Helen Otway and Michelle Meracis. 🙂

Now, when teaching kids I firmly believe that to do this effectively your number one goal without hesitation is to get to know your learners. If you take the time to get to know your students and their capabilities towards learning, then you as the educator can facilitate a greater means of differentiation and a variance of instructional practices to better cater for these students. Teaching teachers I have personally found is much the same.

Some respond brilliantly to to a more formal manner, some enjoy the team teaching methodology and others prefer a 1:1 approach. I feel that the days of delivering a P.L. (professional learning) session for teachers that involve a presenter banging on about a topic of choice with no audience input are gone, especially with the younger generation of educators that are coming through the university ranks. What P.L we are definitely not wanting to see,and yes, by all reports this is real, is below…

In 2014 I had the wonderful opportunity of engaging as a mentor for a DEECD sponsored professional learning series titled “Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century”. This was a great chance to facilitate and drive and promote professional thinking and practice with a group of passionate and driven educators. One of the other coaches for this PL, John Pearce, gave a great presentation titled “PD can be Dodgy” and within this John delivered two concepts outlined below;

1. An Androgogical Approach to learning. This involves learners being;

  • adults
  • able to strive for autonomy and self direction
  • able to use their own and other’s experiences
  • able to engage in problem solving
  • self motivated
  • facilitated by an enabler

and

2. A Heutagogical Approach To Learning. This involves learners being;

  • interdependent
  • able to manage their own learning path which may not be linear
  • reflect on their learning in order to learn to learn
  • pro-actively manage change
  • engage a coach to assist part/s of the process

As an educator do the above relate to you in anyway? Over the past few years we have heard that teachers need to develop a greater sense of collaboration and connectedness via having a greater online presence. Creating a PLN (Professional Learning Network) is the core example of this. Via a PLN, and to use my own here as an example, I have a vast wealth of people and expertise that I can tap into when needed. Also, via means such as Twitter and G+, the learning comes to me. I follow who I do because they are beneficial to my learning, which inturn I can pass on to others. It would be terrific to see schools place a greater focus on ‘Heutagogical Learning’ and have teachers take a greater responsibility also for their own development. But this of course takes time to embed and time to implement however is the ficus is made time will be found.

Now… have a think about the best professional learning opportunity that you have been involved in. Why was it so good? Were you completely engaged? Was a topic that you were passionate about? Was it hands on and practical?

…Now did it improve you as an educator and improve your practice? Did it make you more ‘effective’?

What does it mean to be an effective teacher anyway? How to you become an effective teacher? Who teaches you to be an effective teacher? There is no other profession in the world that I feel asks so much from those within it than what teaching does. Being an effective teacher is bloody hard. My support for people in this profession will never waiver and yes we have heard it before, but as a teacher, an educator, you are so much more. Teachers do not simply get to focus on their craft. We have to play those roles of Psychologists, FBI Behavioural Analysts, Paramedics, Mediators, Interior Designers, Law Enforcement Officials, and everything in between. With all of this going on, how do we still become effective teachers!

If within my role this year I can assist teachers in whatever way to improve their practice, with the one focus in mind of improving student learning, I will be a happy man. Not having seen my new school in action, I clearly get the distinct feeling that I am part of a highly effective school. The conversations I have had have all revolved around how to best cater for the students within the school and how we as teachers can best cater for their learning needs.

I believe that Universities have a lot to answer for in how they prepare wave after wave of the new educators coming in to the system. By no means am I saying that they’re doing a bad job, I will say it could be better, however, it is the schools, the personale within, and the teachers themselves that are required to take the most responsibility towards educators becoming more ‘effective’.

Again, I am looking forward to 2015 and working closely alongside teachers in my new setting. If i can improve their skill sets and capabilities through technology integration and help them to become more effective in their craft than what they already are I will be a very happy person, and I hope they will be too.

Moving On

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It’s more than likely a terrible thing that I am about to do but alas I am going to do it it anyway… Forget quoting your Piagets, Pappert’s, Robinson’s, Mitra’s, Heppell’s, Wheeler’s, and so on (actually, don’t, they’re AMAZING, but for the sake of this post…), I am about to quote some old guy from a bank commercial. The commercial in question is below;

 

“A ship in the harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for”.

Now without leaving that so called harbour, where ever it may be, that ship will always be safe, at ease, have a sense of security and strong belonging and be well known throughout that harbours community. Now that is all good and proper, great in fact, if indeed that ship enjoys all of the aforementioned things and those things only. 

For myself personally, I like the notion of living as a ship in said harbour. It sounds nice and easy going. However, I also am one who easily gets bored with routine, dislikes repetition, needs to be constantly challenged and gets excited about the prospect of breaking from the norm and ‘stirring the pot’.

As my first post in 2015, which I am aiming to be will be one of many, I have after 6 years left a harbour that I was very comfortable in for another setting, or mooring if I am to continue with this whole ship/harbour thing…

 In 28 days time I continue my teaching career at a new College in a role that is similar to what I was doing previously at Manor Lakes P-12 College. I am certain that the particular skills and capabilities I have developed over the past 6 years at MLP12C I owe a lot of credit to. The leadership support and high quality teachers that I associated with daily were a large part of my own development as an eLearning Coordinator and teacher.

My new role sees me ‘tagged’ as a Digital Learning Coach and although the particulars of the role are still yet to be set in stone, I see myself working very closely with select members of my new staff across the 5 campuses in which my new setting, Northern Bay College, are set out over.

I am comfortable in saying that I am nervous and wary of what lies ahead and what challenges may come my way. The challenges do not phase me in the slightest, failing to overcome these is where the nerves kick in and in saying this I do not exactly know WHAT the challenges are as of yet! Having only met a small number of staff at my new setting I can already tell that a commitment and drive to improve student learning is extremely evident and this certainly encouraged by effective technology use.

Now without going into the details of how I am going tackle this new role and ‘coach’ focusing on Digital Learning, I will let the two videos embedded below explain where a lot of my thinking has been as of late.

 

 

I cannot wait to get in to the 2015 School Calendar and I am already feeling like it is a breath of fresh air. I hope that I can continue to share my journey throughout the course of the year and gain feedback from you all when and where needed. 

Oh, and Happy New Year!

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Get Going…

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As I have certainly come to realise since my first days of teaching, Google is much more than just a place to go to to search for stuff, usually like that of the content below…

 

 

Since I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney in 2011 I have certainly been awoken, more so, to all that Google not only has to offer, which is quite a lot, but just how those offerings have a positive impact on teaching and learning.

The knowledge gained from the 2011 Academy, the personal and professional networks that were developed, as well as the skills I obtained have assisted me to better differentiate and deliver content to my students as well as allow them as learners to differentiate their own learning through collaborating, creating, and communicating online.

As part of being a GCT (Google Certified Teacher) it is an expectation, and a good one at that, that the networks that are formed share the ‘Google Love’ amongst not only the Google Communities but the educational communities wide and far. As part of this we have the GEG, or Google Educator Groups, and in particular the GEG Melbourne Chapter, which yes, sounds like a MotorCycle club…

As a brief background to what exactly a GEG is, the graphic below sums it up very nicely…

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Last night I was part of a 2 man team alongside with the talented and passionate Aaron Davis where we ran the first GEG Melbourne WEST event! An event that went smoothly, was rich in discussion and even had attendees learning the odd thing or two.

The event was geared around “Getting Going With Google” as you can see below with the focus on enabling educators with the knowledge needed to get up and running with Google for 2015!

gegNow I must pause and thank those in attendance. Manor Lakes P-12 College is not the easiest place to get to to the fact that you made the effort and then also managed to find it was credit to you all! 🙂

GEG’s run every so often and I encourage all educators who are looking for ways to better enhance the use of the technology within their settings to attend a GEG at some stage.

As an introduction to the evening I demonstrated the use of two GREAT Google based activities, these being ‘A Google A Day, and Smarty Pins‘. These are AWESOME as warm ups with kids as well as staff! 😉 There are many of these great Google based tools and activities out there that are very powerful and yet not very well known. This is a post in itself, that will hopefully come soon! 😉

The presentation embedded below was a little rehash of one that I did at the Google Summit in 2013 in Melbourne and was aimed to give a very brief snapshot at ways, very easy, very simple ways, that Google App’s can be incorporated into teaching and learning programs and was the basis of last nights GEG.

Lastly, the real benefit of the evening was the connections that were made and the discussions and sharing that took place. It would have been very easy for Aaron and I to share countless resources that supported them in ‘Going Google’. This we could have done by email. Much the same way a Keynote presenter could present via Skype, Google Hangouts or Web Conferencing.

Being there however to have face to face discussions with people about the trials, tribulations and successes that we have all been part of within out settings makes these experiences SO much more worthwhile.

2013 ICILS Report – A Snapshot.

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Recently I attended the DLTV (Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria) Digital Leadership Forum.

The day itself was absolutely jam-packed with speakers, presenters and information and as per usual I left feeling overwhelmed. One of the topics of discussion that was raised and one that I followed up afterwards was the data that was recently released via the 2013 ICIL Study.

ILCILS, or ‘International Computer and Information Literacy Study’ was undertaken to determine ‘Australian students’ readiness for study, work and life in the digital age’. Quite a large and ambitious study to undertake!

I have linked both the studies findings in both its forms, the ‘comprehensive’ and the ‘at a glance’ versions below for you to have a more in depth peruse at your own leisure.

The dynamics of the survey itself are as follows:

  • 60,000 year 8 students were involved from 3,300 schools from 21 countries worldwide.
  • 46 schools in Australia were involved along with their 5,326 year 8 students.
  • From these worldwide settings above, 35,000 teachers were also surveyed.

Rather than pick apart the survey and it’s findings in a whole lot of depth, I have attempted to create a marvelous info- graphic that outlines just some of the key data that I thought was very interesting. Data that I have already shared with some members of my staff which have proved to be great topics of conversation.

Some of the data and findings are not at all surprising, others on the other hand are. One of the biggest surprises is that Australian students are less interested in using ICT more so than any other country. I have been deeply wondering why this is? My students do not leap for joy when we use their iPads in class however they also do not sigh and complain.

What are your thoughts about the below? I would love to hear them!

 

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ICILS 2013- Australian students- At a Glance

ICILS 2013- Australian students- Complete Paper.

 

Digital Normalisation – Invisible Technology

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thetechrabbi.com

Digital normalisation = “Digital normalisation occurs when the use of the digital technology across all facets of the school operations is so natural, so accepted as to be near invisible.” – Lee 2014.

It is an interesting concept and a concept that I would say that I have certainly taken on board towards something I am wanting to achieve. Even in saying this it is much more than merely a concept. It is in my eyes it is an end game and a goal, a major one at that, to reach and be successful at reaching.

This week I had the pleasure of speaking with Mal Lee, author and co-author of ‘Bring Your Own technology; The BYOT Guide for Schools and Families’ as well as ‘A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Changes’. Mal, as his website rightly states, is one of the worlds leaders in researching and documenting the evolution of schooling and teaching from it’s traditional methodologies to one that is fully digital.

I first met Mal when he contacted me for information for his BYOT text, mentioned above, to gain an insight into how my college was evolving with the integration and transition towards digital, especially through a BYOD program.

This week was a chance to revisit some of that work and discuss the changes that had taken place since. From 2012 to now there has been quite large growth within specific areas of our college relating to technology integration and that being much more than just the amount of technology our students have access to.

I discussed with Mal the journey I’d embarked on at my college over the past two years and the continuing shift towards the end of the rainbow that is digital normalisation. The notion arose of having schools/educational institutions engrossed within an effective ecosystem that was self-sustaining led me to thinking about the strength of the ecosystem I was currently working within. Students having access to tech is certainly one thing, however looking at how this access is being a driving force for students to meet learning outcomes is another. And herein lies the ‘effective ecosystem’ scenario. Is the technology, from year to year / across the college on a P-12 continuum, building student capacity to effectively use digital means to meet learning outcomes?

To get even further sidetracked for a moment, my college was very recently part of a whole college review process, a process that said many things about the state of our college and just one of these being that we are extremely in front of the vast majority of other settings when it came to effectively using technology. However. There’s always a “however” or a “but…” We, also like the vast majority of schools (if not all of them), have no singular effective way of measuring the value in how technology improves student learning. Something I am very keen to delve a lot deeper into over time. How to measure this effectively, with concrete data, will be a challenge but I am sure we’ll be able to solve this little conundrum.

Anyway, let’s get back on track. So. We also discussed the capabilities of the students and where their needs were, if there in fact were any. The students themselves have certainly reached a point of digital normalization or at minimum are very close to it. If it were entirely and completely up to them the majority would find it somewhat difficult to complete set tasks and demonstrate their learning in any other way. I am sure you’re all familiar with the saying “how do we prepare kids for a future when we do not know what the future holds”… I heard a very similar quote just today! It was here that Mal mentioned that “how would they (students) apply the digital technology in their graduation year in 2026 where Moore’s Law is suggesting they will be using technology with a computer processing power 150 times greater than now and will have use of computing systems 350 times more sophisticated (Helbing, 2014).” I cannot even comprehend what that means. Think of the potential, or detriment, that technology that much more powerful would have within the education system.

According to a “Project Tomorrow Survey – www.tomorrow.org” as mentioned by Mal, year 5/6 students are our most proficient users of technology and knowing my own year 5 and 6 students I would have to agree. When you think about the age of these students and where they ‘sit’ in relation to technological advancements such as mobile and wearable technology, the curriculum that they are engaged in and also the ways in which they use technology in their daily lives it feels like a perfect fit.

In completely agreeing with Mal and his work/s, no matter what stage your school or college may be at with its technology integration, it is that we can not overlook that digital normalisation looks very different with different cohorts of students within an educational setting. That ‘normalization’ may occur on a whole but that but it may also look very different in various year levels throughout that same setting. The way in which students of different ages engage with their technology to support their learning can, and does, differ greatly. This is again where teacher capabilities need to be at the forefront to allow educators to learn, witness and practice ‘best digital practice’.

Lastly, I shared with Mal our vision and eLearning strategy for 2015 and beyond and although he applauded us for moving towards 100% BYOD, he did call me a “coward” for not allowing students to bring in any device! 🙂 I do have agree with him… albeit slightly! 🙂

For more on Mal Lee’s works please visit his website at http://malleehome.com/. Mal is also a keynote speaker in Melbourne next August at the ‘IWB Leading A Digital School’ conference so if you can, please get there to hear him share his wisdom you will not be disappointed.

Teaching & Learning in the 21st Century

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Last Friday I had the absolute pleasure of attending the culminating session of the ‘Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century’ Professional Learning course. This DEECD (Dept. of Education and Early Childhood) sponsored event has effectively been running for 5 months and has included 2 face to face days, 6 hour long webinars and ongoing social media interaction by participants and their teams via G+, Hangouts, and Twitter. So you could say somewhat intense!

The final session reminded me of quite a few things and also had me thinking about quite a lot of others, these others  i’ll cover in my next post.

What made last Friday so great was that the 80+ educators that were in attendance were all there to hear from each other and to share their amazing stories and the journeys that they had been on. That after working closely within their designated teams and alongside their coaches for quite a while it was now time to celebrate the successes that were had.

To have the opportunity as a teacher to share, discuss, network, brainstorm and most of all celebrate what it is you have been doing for months on end places you in a great scenario. I feel as though i perhaps witnessed more sharing and celebrating of teacher wins and successes in a day that I believe most schools would see within a year.

As a structured professional learning course that aimed to do the following…

“provide practical examples of how primary and secondary teachers are enhancing their curriculum delivery and student learning through authentic and effective use of ICT, virtual communities and Web 2.0 tools.

The course aims to provide participants with:

  • a practical overview of how teachers are seamlessly using ICT in their teaching to enhance student learning

  • a better understanding of the tools, resources, learning communities and collaborative possibilities other teachers are exploring through ICT

  • clear, practical examples of how to use readily available software, Web 2.0 tools and learning communities to add value to teaching and learning at school

  • an opportunity to participate with other Victorian educators in an inquiry-based learning project designed to assist participants and their schools. Projects are guided by a coaching team of experienced educators.” 

… I feel that the course succeeded and surpassed expectations.

From here I need to add that I’d advocate that the above points are what should be happening in schools anyway. That having to take a ‘course’ to facilitate such great opportunities for teachers to build capacity and network should not be needed. The resourcing to ensure that this happens statewide by all schools should be prioritised to a much greater extent. Would this not be some of the greatest professional learning that teachers could engage in? Unlike the example below that was shared last Friday by Keynote presenter, John Pearce.

 

At the end of the day those in attendance were asked to list their greatest/biggest takeaway from the course and I have listed a few of their responses below which sums up perfectly just what participants actually did ‘take away’ from the course.

– “My biggest takeaway from the PD series was the way I found depth in the way to apply ICT throughout the school (both teaching and learning).”

– “Fantastic professional learning and learnt so much. Biggest thing I got out of it was connecting to others and building my PLN.”

– “My big takeaway from #TL21C is how teachers are happy to help anyone learn. I have been able to extend my PLN many times over as well as learning about a raft of learning opportunities for my Students. Thanks to all involved.”

– “Biggest takeaway from #TL21C  2014 – The importance of connecting and sharing with other educators.”

– “The biggest thing I have taken from this is adventure is setting up my Professional Learning Community.  The networks that are out there and how to use them.  eg twitter, pinterest etc” 

Having been involved in this course now for a third time, and thank you to John Thomas for this, I have seen many Victorian DEECD teachers come and go, all however with a heightened sense of how to improve pedagogy and student learning through 21st century teaching and learning practice.

 

The best part: the sharing, the stories, the learning, which... pretty much happened all day!

The best part: the sharing, the stories, the learning, which… pretty much happened all day!

The challenge is now for all the teachers who completed this course, and I know that some certainly already are and have been, is to inspire, lead and encourage their new learnings amongst staff at their own settings. This in turn will only have positive repercussions for schools as a whole and the teachers and students within them.

For those wishing to know more about the course itself, please head over to the Blog, also linked above. For an even more insightful glance, visit John’s Storify on the culminating session which sums up the final day very nicely!

I am hoping that this course can run for a while to come, or at least until all schools and the ed. system invest in coordinating the same collaboration, networking and sharing within their own settings and focus on this as a priority! 😉 In the end, why would you not want teachers driving their own professional learning, networking with other educators and learning from one another all for the betterment of student’s education and teacher improvement. Yes, I know… Madness! 😉

Middle Years iPad Perception Data 2014

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Recently I asked our Middle Years students in years 6, 7 and 8 to complete an ‘older’ survey that I had created to gauge their feedback regarding their iPad use here at the College.

This is a survey that we have ran in the past yet with smaller cohorts of numbers and the data embedded below that has been gathered by close to 200 students (197 to be exact), gives a good insight into their thoughts and behaviours when using their devices to support their learning.

In the future i’d certainly like to, and most likely will, redesign this survey to ensure that the data gained is more detailed and perhaps redirects where necessary teaching and learning practices to better use the technology students have access to. In saying this, if you have any thoughts and/or comments where this data could be improved by all means please let me know.

In looking a little more closely at the data, here are my 5 big take aways…

1. Slide 11

22% of students would prefer to NOT use their device to support their learning and would rather complete their work via exercise books and via questions/tasks from the whiteboard. One of the technology integration models we focus on is students directing their own learning when it comes to using technology. Students being given the responsibility to select how they are to demonstrate met learning outcomes and if this means not using a device then we are fully supportive of that. This highlights that there is certainly a need to ensure that teachers differentiating when planning and catering for all learners and their learning styles and not planning curriculum with a focus geared solely towards technology use.

2. Slide 17.

81% of students mostly enjoy using their iPad device to complete major tasks and projects. I would like to explore this further and find out why this is the case. This is of course no surprise. I have students create absolutely stunning pieces of work via their ipads which fully compliment the curriculum being taught and the way in which they are wanting to share their understandings of this. Data that outlined also just how often they were using their devices in warm ups and reflections as well as for what purposes would also be interesting viewing. I guess that a step towards gain this would be to also survey staff in 1:1 areas!

3. Slide 23

53% of students said that using their iPad device helps them to be more creative in the ways that they complete and present work and set tasks. A major focus for us at the college has always been placed upon creativity. Powerpoint and Keynote presentations can be great, and certainly have a purpose however, the iPad as does a lot of mobile technologies allow for a great amount of personalisation, expressive and detail to be placed in work that is created. As a college we foster this within classrooms and a great yet small example of this is students presenting their work via app’s such as Minecraft.

4. Slide 26

Now in saying the above… The data on this slide depicts only a select few app’s being used to ‘create’. iMovie is excellent as it is open ended and students can develop a lot via it however the others are a little more limited in what they can do. Further to this I would like to determine why this is the case. Is it due to students sticking to what they know? Or not having awareness of what else it out there? In a recent blog post i tried to highlight this to my year 7 students and it did have a profound result. This post can be located here: 1 Task – 15 Ways

5. Slide 39

Towards the end of survey i included several very generic slides regarding cyber safety and cyberbullying that may have occurred via their personal iPad device. This slides perfectly highlights that cyberbullying and social issues arising from technology are no longer limited to a select few mediums. That there are many applications and services that now allow students engage in what can only be described as highly inappropriate online behaviour.

 

My Classroom of the Future.

https://jennscheffer.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/school-redesign-4.jpg

On the back of my last post i’ve been thinking a lot about how I can transform my classroom to better cater for the kids of todays world. To foster and encourage creativity and innovation and have them engaged within a learning environment that breaks away from the norm and gives them a sense of belonging.

So after ‘sketch noting’ up a storm, see below ;), i’ve attempted to mockup a learning environment using my current space that reflects 21st Century teaching and learning. I love the whole notion of learning space and learning space design and love seeing how other educators have their learning spaces set up.

Having heard him countless times and even had the opportunity to work alongside him, Stephen Heppell is a person whose ideology around what learning spaces look and feel like are well noted. His website at http://www.heppell.net/ contains great information about all things learning space design and i have certainly adopted some of his thinking.

Documents such as those shared below via a dropbox folder are also great reads, albeit a little ‘departmentalised’, yet give clear insights into what perhaps an effective learning space can be and or should be. If this is the case though within these documents why are more school classrooms not like this…? The million dollar question!

DropBox Link

The TEDx Talk below via Sean Corcorran is a great 17min watch and hearing Sean’s thoughts and philosophies relating to some of the thinking that goes into learning space design is terrific.

To cap this post off and on the back of my image below, i simply thought that I would describe my ideal classroom. Some, if not all, is certainly achievable and time to implement at least some of the below will be the only obstacle!

 

sketchnote

 

Here we go…

I want a classroom space that belongs to my students. A space that they want to come to because it is safe, exciting and has purpose. Furniture is to be mixed and not all the same to cater for various learners. Bean bags, collaborative tablespaces, standing height benches, moveable seating, writable surfaces (walls and tables), and isolation, or independent, break out spaces are to be all complemented with natural lighting. I am also a big fan of ‘rooms within rooms’ for student to break away from what is happening in class and to have an environment that lessens interruptions to their learning. A great example of this is via the work Matt Ives, an educator from New Zealand is doing around Design Thinking, his blog can be located here.

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Just one of the tents Matt Ives has set up in his classroom!

I’d also love to have furniture that encourages physical activity, such as having to climb, crawl, or whatever it may be to gain access to a specific space. The examples below I think would be awesome! I think also having exercise machines such as exercise bikes in the classroom would also be fantastic and I am certain that they’d get used! 

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These students from Japan get to play in a cargo net located above where they’ll one day learn in! Imagine having to crawl across that to get to a staff meeting! Taken from Heppell.net

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The climbing frame bookshelves in Bankok’s TK Park family learning space.

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Breakout spaces in a school from Denmark!

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From a school in Scandinavia. Does not look all that inviting but I bet once you’re in it… 🙂

Here are three older images I located showing just a few of the things I mentions happening at my College.

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A ‘not so great photo’ of ‘tired seating’ at my college.

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Beanbags… Not everyones cup of tea… But kids do love ’em!

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Have an old couch at home…? Bring it in!

Students, like those who work at Google, are to also have constant access to food and snacks throughout the day. We as adults are not restricted and told when to eat, our students should not be either. Obviously a focus geared towards healthy eating and brain food will be encouraged and not 500ml Cans of Red Bull!  

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A Google Snack Bar!

Within the class there is to be a ‘makerspace‘ to foster and encourage student innovation and creativity that is NOT confined to the curriculum being taught. This also will be relevant towards teaching students to code within year levels where it is not stated within the curriculum. The use of other technologies to drive some of the above (MaKey MaKey, Arduino, iBeacon Tech, etc…) will certainly drive some very powerful learning. The greatest inventors of out time were never restricted to a syllabus! 

To make the space personal I would like students to share achievements regarding things that they have achieved outside of school. To see their interests and passions that drive who they are and then for them to bring these passions into the classroom. My classroom would also be shoeless (A Heppell philosophy), to ensure comfort levels are optimum. I would also have no college/school uniform however I think that will be my one major sticking point. 😉 This all relates to the classroom belonging to the students.

My classroom would also be technology rich. Students having access to multiple devices, especially with an emphasis on using their own. I would have charging stations (OH&S, meh…), and a range of other attachments to suit individual learning needs. I would have a mobile LED TV, preferably interactive, that students could airplay, mirror their devices to. I would want this mobile so as to not make it the main point of the room. It would be flexible enough that I could use it with 1, 5, 10, or the whole class. I could turn it so others could not see it so as to not distract. In saying this it is exactly what I have now, apart from the interactivity, and it is brilliant! Also, and another point I heard off Mr. Heppell, is that I’d love to have ‘Skype’ or ‘Google Hangout’ bars. PLaces where students could interact and connect with others wherever they may be. Why should learning be limited to only the classroom and what is on the internet. Why should students not be able to connect with other experts, no matter where they are! As the American Educator Will Richardson puts it… “There are approx. 2.5 Billion People online. This can be seen as 2.5 billion predators, or, 2.5 billion teachers… You choose.” 

Students would have the opportunity to present their work/findings/understandings in ways which play to their strengths and that also encourage a greater global audience.  

 

I think that i’ll stop here. I could perhaps go on but for now, if my classroom was everything that I have just mentioned above, I would be a pretty happy man. I think that my students would be even happier though!

“Your” School of the Future.

1962 ... The Jetsons, high school

“Wouldn’t it be just great if we all taught at the same school!”. “You know… how terrific would it be to design your own school?”. “Imagine if we all taught in the same school. It would be freakin’ awesome!”.

Have you ever been part of a discussion like those above? In having attended countless conferences and professional learning sessions in the past few years these statements have often popped up over time are are always a really fun discussion to have.

Recently, as I mentioned in my previous post, I attended an Apple Distinguished Educator Retreat in Melbourne which was held at the new Docklands Library (an amazing space!!!). Over the course of the 2 days we and shared countless things all relating to technology, pedagogy and what the future holds.

Linking on from this I personally find that the best part of any conference I have ever been to is always hearing first hand what other teachers are doing in their classrooms and in their respective settings, and this is where I derive a lot of my inspiration from. Sure, the big names in education are great and it’s always wonderful to hear them and give their thoughts and ideas on the state of education and what can be done to improve it, etc, etc… To hear however the triumphs and tribulations of those in the teaching profession and what they are doing in their own settings to drive student learning I fund is much more powerful.

Now as part of this retreat and after the sharing sessions took place we were tasked with a mini project that revolved around “designing the school of the future”. What would the ‘ultimate’ school look like? After being grouped we were given time to develop a presentation that depicted our thoughts and feelings towards this. No easy feat. This could easily be a week long task however we made do with the time we had and of course pushed on. Prior to ‘pushing on’ we did view the video below titled ‘Make The Future’. A great watch.

MAKE THE FUTURE from Alex Dobbin on Vimeo.

The great part about this task was the rich discussions that came out of it. I can say that not a whole lot of work was done ‘presentation wise’ as the conversations hijacked our time. The topics of curriculum, learning space design, teacher capabilities, and 21st Century teaching and learning all became robust areas of discussion. Below is one completed example that was developed by a few wonderful colleagues.

 

From all those topics that were derived and brought up there was ‘almost’ one common thread… That little to none of things proposed and discussed to design the ultimate school were actually happening in schools. As a consistent theme anyway.

So moving on and handing over the baton, what is it that YOU feel are the most important aspects of designing the ‘ultimate’ school. A school that has its core focus on preparing students for the future, whatever that may hold. 

Below I have embedded a Google Form that simply asks you to state what you feel an ‘ultimate’ school should focus on. When designing the ultimate school / school of the future,  what should be the non negotiables. What would your ultimate school of the future look like?

I would love to hear your feedback I’ll be very keen to share the data once it comes in. Just a few of the items I was thinking about were;

  • Learning Space Design.
  • Instructional Practice/s
  • Curriculum Delivery
  • Curriculum Content
  • Teacher Capabilities
  • Culture of Learning
  • Technology Integration
  • Work Skills of the Future
  • Computational Thinking
  • Design Thinking
  • Personalised Learning Curriculum

Thanks in anticipation for your assistance and input! 🙂