21C Learning

A year with the iPad in the classroom

A year in, I thought I’d reflect on what I’ve learned a little about the iPad as a teaching tool and what next directions in education technology look most promising.

The iPad is certainly a great tool in lots of ways. It’s light, robust, with good battery life and longevity. My Year 9 students were into their third year with the device and almost all of them were still working nearly all the time; albeit a couple with cracked screens and bumped corners.

I was easily able to share content via our LMS (Schoolbox) and they could submit work, research and had a set of ebooks for their core subjects (the Jacaranda pack)

You’ll notice I didn’t say ‘write’ on them, for while students planned presentations on their iPads they didn’t really take notes. I did show them OneNote a couple of times (I used it constantly as a teaching tool too) and three or four students immediately took to it in a big way, loving the organisational features. The others figured that since they had a paper English book they might as well write in it and, if they’re using the ebook on the iPad it’s pretty tricky to write anything down on the iPad at the same time. I didn’t push it too much; it’s not yet the dominant culture, especially in the middle years.

Also, if you’ve ever spent any time at all typing anything substantial at all (even a Year 9 English essay) on the iPad screen, it isn’t that much fun. Ergo, one interesting moment late in the year with the students working in groups putting together a presentation on their chosen book. In one of the groups a student had bought in a MacBook and all the students in that group gathered around her in designing their Keynote presentation. For some reason (I’m thinking keyboard) that was a much more natural place to do that task.

All this has happened as I’ve noticed the rise and rise of Chromebooks, particularly in the US educational context. Chromebooks are cheap, robust, secure, loved by the bursar and the IT manager. They’ve got keyboards and (I hear) work better offline than they used to. Student A can log out and Student B can log in. You could write an essay with ease and, if you were in a GAFE context a whole lot of other things might happen. I’m thinking of buying one myself to see how good they actually are.

Meanwhile, we’ve decided to offer teachers a choice for the first time next year for their replacement notebooks. The current laptop is an HP running Windows 10: slow to start up and would be an ideal anchor for a small yacht. Next year teachers can choose between a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 and a MacBook Air. I think some of the Maths teachers particularly will be interested in the touch and draw features in the Microsoft choice.

There’s certainly plenty of good choices; of course, in the end it will be all about the teaching that goes with these tools.

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Cultivating global competencies

Cultivating Global Competencies

Dr Yong Zhao

University of Oregon

CEE-Melbourne Girls Grammar, 1/6/2016

Yong Zhao is an engaging presenter and began by talking about some of the problems facing young people, particularly youth unemployment. In the USA 30% of graduates live at home with their parents,the highest percentage ever. ‘We mis-educated our kids, we educated them for a society that no longer exists’.

Zhao emphasised the differences between learners, in their intelligence/s and their human motivations (Dr Steven Reiss lists 16 basic human motivations and their objects of desire) Not everyone has the same motivations, not everyone is equally driven. However, schools ‘shoot for the average, students have to fit into existing positions’ (aka standardised testing)

Zhao described the fourth industrial revolution (steam engine, electricity, computers, AI) and the loss of jobs in what were high skill human jobs (passports, banking, assembly lines …)

So, what can we do to ‘counter the machines’? We need to re-think education (Problem for me here: I don’t agree that education has been preparing students for low-skill jobs)

‘Evidence only works within a certain paradigm’ – be careful of over-reliance on evidence (eg NAPLAN) Norm referenced assessment leads to deficit driven actions.

How can we make children thrive? Celebrate the human-ness of us, our diversity. Diversity has not been valuable in the past; in the future it will be. Artists in the work force have tripled, there are things that machines can’t do. We have a huge appetite for psychological, aesthetic and spiritual products, products that create choice for the new middle class. Computers aren’t good at that. The useless has become useful! Run away from what you’re not good at.

So, what for schools? Embrace the ‘deficits’. Start with the students. Became places of opportunity. School readiness should be about the school being ready for the child. I liked: “PISA is a homogenisation measurement”. Foster social and emotional learning, entrepreneurial mindset: accept the fact that there is no job and create value and your own job. Don’t teach problem-solving, teach them to choose what problems are worth solving. Find the opportunity in crisis. He argued for student autonomy: voice, choice, support (social intelligence, not collaboration), working towards authentic products. (World Class Learners) Teachers become ‘curators of learning opportunities’, mentors. Don’t try to teach. Move away from ‘just in case’ teaching, to product-orientated learning.(meaningful products, sustained process, from isolated classroom to global perspectives) (see http://www.edcorps.org) We worry too much about teaching, and not enough about learning.

On a chilly Melbourne evening, it was stimulating stuff.

Books he talked about:

  • ‘World Class Learners’
  • ‘The Second Machine Age’
  • ‘The End of Average’
  • ‘Counting what Counts’

He did this whole presentation using just the camera roll of his Ipad.

Images from The Illustrated London News for April, 1853. 

 

 

The DNA of a STEM Academy

2016-05-31 11.22.45

DNA of a STEM School

Amanda Fox

@AmandaFoxSTEM

The STEM Academy at Bartlett

Fox talked about the DNA of a STEM school, wearing a DNA inspired dress to do it. She talked about STEM as a trans-disciplinary approach, and talked about her journey over the last few year as a social science teacher, arguing that STEM had to change year after year.

It was interesting to hear about the journey; how she’d been involved in hiring and creating the team and the changes that had taken place in such a short time. I was interested I want to know more about how to make STEM actually work in a subject orientated culture. Some of the things she stressed were:

  • Adaptability. Don’t keep doing things that aren’t working
  • Content comes after you teach it for a while
  • Rigorous curriculum: Problem solving, trans-disciplinary, story-centred, real world
  • A story-centred curriculum
  • ‘Tell your story before someone else does it for you’

They set ‘grand challenges’ that run over nine week intervals, solving a problem like creating a ‘planetary rover’, renewing urban infrastructure. They used iTunes U courses and student worked through the course. Students also worked in teams, fostered community involvement and had on-site visits and field trips.

Session Details

STEM DNA: Design, Narrative, Application

We all know what STEM stands for…Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics…but what does it look like in action? How can you design transdisciplinary, problem based curricula that is unique to your school and community?

Amanda share the narrative of what it’s like to be teacher in a STEM public school; how we began; what is the curriculum, and how in just three years they have evolved to be considered THE top middle grades certified STEM program in the nation. Decode the genome of their transdisciplinary approach, and learn what you can transplant to your own program.

Amanda Fox, Film and Broadcasting Instructor, The STEM Academy (USA)

 

 

One model does not fit all

 

One model does not fit all

This session by Tamara Sullivan focused on professional development, and used sli.do to gather delegate feedback. One thing I’ve been focusing on is feedback tools and this was a new one to me.

Sullivan used the AITSL learning design model to frame professional learning at her school. They ask ‘what is the purpose of this PD, and is that clear to participants?’ She took us through the process her school had gone through in trying to instil 21C skills across the curriculum.

This bit became a bit specific to her school and her problem, but she was able to unpack it and think about the bigger principles, though those threads could have been made more explicit.

Some of the core principles and practice she talked about were:

  • Clear purpose, clear purpose to participants
  • Collaborative
  • The tools, features, design, accessibility
  • Taking a ‘flipped classroom’ approach to PD in lieu of physical attendance after school (highly collaborative, self-directed, respecting teachers as learners, aligned to priorities, sustainable, modelled 21C pedagogies and technologies.
  • Shared ownership of the change (6 leaders took a course and became mentors/coaches)
  • These coaches then made the ‘flipped’ modules, using Office Mix.
  • Teachers were then asked to do something practical with the learning – Level 1, Level 2 or Level 3 responses.
  • One purpose was to MODEL their tools. As an Office 365 school they used Office Mix, Yammer, Mosaic and SharePoint. Yammer was important, she argued, in encouraging participation.
  • This learning was followed up with a survey (using Excel?) and a three hour whole staff workshop to look at practice: looking at action plans and auditing existing tasks and assessment.
  • Other factors: a Learning Innovations Committee (about 30 staff)

I liked this session. I had some things to take back to school. I was impressed with the strategic thinking involved and the respect for teachers as learners.

Session details

One model does not fit all – Professional development for the 21st century teacher

Educators around the world are undertaking school wide reforms to ensure that they are preparing students to live and work successfully in the 21st century and beyond. However, teacher professional development is not always designed or delivered to meet the needs of the 21st century teacher. So how can we restructure professional learning to ensure that all teachers are well equipped to cater for the needs of students in today’s environment? This presentation will explore practical strategies to transform professional development at a school level to develop the competencies of lifelong learning for both students and educators.

Tamara Sullivan, Dean of E-Learning, Ormiston College

 

 

Fast and slow learners

Fast and slow learning at Amesbury

Some great principles from Amesbury School in NZ

  • Fast and slow learning (15 minutes)
  • Self-testing (Kahootz)
  • Status indicators: Red cup means ‘I’m in flow’ (Do not disturb) even in open space
  • Collaborative and solitude
  • Tents. Yes, tents.
  • One minute meditation (YouTube)
  • Online collaboration

Session Details

Paradoxical Education: Meeting the needs of our 21st century learners

As a new school which opened in 2012, Amesbury’s vision is for every child to continually fulfil his/her potential. This means every child gaining knowledge, skills and attributes; becoming “insiders” in the existing social orders – especially the community of learners; and, every student developing as an empowered and joyful human being. Lesley will share the pedagogical approaches that underpin what they do, and the practices that enable in eduation: “weak” and “strong”, ”risky” and “risk-free”, “predictable” and “unpredictable” – paradoxical education that meets the needs of 21st century learners.

Dr Lesley Murrihy, Principal, Amesbury School, Wellington (NZ)

 

 

My brain is full

 

EduTech Stage

EduTech – Day 1

‘How the digital world will change the way we think and learn’

Baroness Susan Greenfield, Neuroscientist.

 

Humans adapt to the environment.  We got a short course in Neuroscience 101. It’s the brain that determines our individualism.

 

Greenfield is a renowned neuroscientist, and  talked about the plasticity of the brain, neural connections and experiments that establish that the mental is the physical.  ‘Thinking is movement confined to the brain’, she quoted, and showed how ‘use it or lose it’ principles of physical exercise also worked in brain cells.

 

Connections give ever deeper meaning over time as the world around you is personalised.  (The opposite happens in Alzheimers)

 

She then ventured into more contentious areas; quoting the Daily Telegraph on the ‘erosion of childhood’ and the habituation of violence from video games,  attention problems from high video game and TV watching. There were lots of peer-reviewed journals (and more of The Telegraph) and some emotive terms like ‘gambling’ and ‘addiction’.

 

She argued that there are two basic modes for the human brain: meaningless and meaningful and you could see where this was going: video games are bad. This lead to a critique of social media, narcissism. ‘In the old days we used to play games like this ..’ (Shows picture of kids in sandpit)

 

Interestingly, she argued that being in charge of your own identity was very important to avoid loneliness, and argued that immersion in social media was losing that control of your own identity.

 

From there it became a bit predictable, and limited. Books are good (I agree) video games (no meaning, no connections) are not, search engines and relegating our memory to Google are bad …. She read a bit about the importance of facts, from Dickens. I think, without irony.

 

Good things she argued for: stories, physical exercise, interacting with nature. Then, a quote from a the ‘laughter, fun and giggles’ of bike riding with the kids. Really.

 

Odd choice to open a tech conference. I guess it reveals that the smartest scientists in the world, with the best machines for registering brain activity in the world, are still prisoners of their own imagination and own neural connections.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EduTech

Sitting at the airport waiting for a flight gives you time to think. I’m heading off to EduTech in Brisbane for a couple of days and am trying to figure out just what I hope to find out, that I couldn’t get from a Twitter Feed. 

Of course, there’s power in the networked connections you can make in conferences, but I’m hoping too that there’s more that I’ll come back to my school with.  I’ll blog my thinking over the next couple of days but I’m particularly interested in:

  • The state of play in the LMS world (and specifically where Schoolbox sits in that)
  • IOS student response systems and apps
  • Are there possibilities in Chromebooks I’ve ignored for too long?
  • What do the new iPad admin settings look like
  • How can I get on board the next OneNote thing
Mixed up bunch isn’t it? Tech agnostic: Google, Apple, Microsoft … I’ll be interested to see if I’m any clearer on some of these key questions by Tuesday night.