A new organisational architecture to support blended learning

A new organisational architecture to support blended learning Saint Stephens college, QLD

This session was about how one school is moving to blended learning approaches, and the shifts in teaching and structures required to make that happen.

They focused on the changed role of the teacher and the new ‘architecture’ needed. This approach is a team based one, and the Principal questioned the importance of the teacher in the future.

The session explored the role of the 21c teacher in pretty familiar ways really. They explained their approach to blended learning, the teacher guiding the students through understanding and checking for understanding.

They talked of a KnowledgeWorks article: 7 future roles for educators including ‘data steward’ and ‘micro-credentialing analysts!

They are working on a data dashboard with Independent Schools Qld.

They also appointed a learning coach, targeted using data and said that the roles were definitely increasing.

Interestingly, their students were required to enrol in a MOOC.

They also talked about their LMS, their development of a robust network as the bedrock for the journey and their choice of BrightSpace.

it was interesting to hear about the way they gradually moved the conversation towards blended learning and responding to the Netflix generation, evidenced in weekend and after hours ‘when they want to learn.

They argued for the self-paced benefits of blended approaches.

so, their stages were:

– Infrastructure

– LMS

– Blended approaches

The last one can make teachers uncomfortable but you can do the first two without making any change at all.

They talked about data, and moving to predictive data, along with a data dashboard to look at results, particularly achieved results against ability. (NAPLAN vs English and Maths results)

Finally, they made a good case for their Academic Advisor program, which they’re expanding, partly based on the parent feedback.

‘If you build it they may not come, but if you don’t …’

Finally, they talked a little about physical architecture, their LOTE building, the Team Projects Area, the Arts and Applied Technology Precinct, I-Centre and ‘Science in Action’ building.

They see a future with fewer teachers and less classroom time.

They talked about the School of One in the USA

it was a good session presented by a passionate team.

Below: three slides from the presentationIMG_9413 IMG_9414

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Code like a girl

So, in the interest of diverse opinion, in respect to the last post, I post this video of girl coders from the recent Apple WWDC Conference. I’m all for empowering girls to be what they want to be, and love the advice here: ‘don’t give up, just because it’s dominated by men’.

BTW: I still don’t think compulsory coding is a good idea! These kids all really wanted to make things happen.

A deluge of possibilities

When you come back from some time away, particularly when you’re wandering around beautiful landscapes like I was, you do get out of the pace and rhythm of a school. So, it’s been a bit of a jolt coming back and getting used to timetables, bells, hundreds of daily interactions and the pace of the day.

And, one thing that has particularly struck me, in an area I’m very keen about, is technology. Schools seem to be at the center of a perfect storm of change, particularly in terms of ed-tech.

At my own workplace, for example, we’re grappling with the virtues of OneDrive and Google Apps for Education and probably going to opt for some of both. The OneNote notebook creator (see video below) looks like a great leap forward to this product that is so powerful, but so tricky for setup at times. We’ve been a school that uses Outlook and Office, so the collaborative features of OneDrive will be welcomed, but the sites and the survey tools in Google are excellent.

At the same we’re weighing up options for an LMS that might supplement or replace our current wikis, with teachers looking at things like Blackboard, Schoology, Edmodo and others. It’s an arms race of features out there. I’ve been using Schoology with my own teaching, and I think it’s terrific, but what about a reporting tool? And how’s the mobile app look?

Finally, we’re talking a lot about ebooks and replacing / supplementing the paper text books with e-book versions. Do we go with a single vendor, try to accommodate a range of vendors and portals or look for an aggregator? And how do we transition our teachers and parents to that model?

Lots to think about. Sometimes I think back to the simplicity of a day’s walking in Skye last term, but it sure is an exciting time to be a teacher. I’m pretty sure that OneNote will be part of my teaching next  year. Here’s that video:

The 8 ‘Must Have’ Skills for 21C Students

My school has been looking closely again at various models for 21C learning, both in terms of student learning but also what it means for 21C teaching practice. I’ve been revising my old blog post about this stuff and looking at new things.

And I liked the simplicity of this model. I like that it specifically mentions global citizenship. I’m not that keen that it assumes that this stuff ‘beyond’ the 3Rs. I think that maybe those basic skills still need to be referenced specifically. I found this HERE

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Re-imagining engagement

This week I attended a workshop meeting looking at student engagement, organised by AITSL under the Learning Frontiers banner and the headline: ‘Imagine a world where kids are as eager to learn throughout school as they were when they arrived.’

The session was opened by David Jackson (innovation unit, UK) who argued for spaces where principals, schools and teachers had  ‘a licence to do different’.

He made the case for change and the problem: many students are disengaged, and many more are un-engaged. I think the latter is most true in my experience. And he gave some facts that claimed that the further students go through school the lower engagement levels are in terms of:

  •  Participation
  • Belonging
  • Attendance
  • Cognitive engagement

Significantly, and the reason for this was not explored, the lower the SES, the lower the levels of engagement, although it wasn’t clear what ‘engagement’ actually meant either. I think it was in terms of the first three dot-points above, which are blunt measurement instruments to me. However, this issue does seem to matter; engagement influences prospects of success 20 years later according to Australian research, but then you also think – ‘chicken or egg’?

One fact was blunt and quite shocking: 1.2 million American students drop out of school each year  Over ninety per cent said they wanted more ‘real life’ experiences.

So, What is engagement?

 It’s clearly more than attendance, conformity, behaviour and IS about energy and enthusiasm for learning, beyond school, including taking responsibility. One way of seeing engagement learning is the 4P model below:

4P Learning is engaging

  • Purposeful
  • Placed
  • Pervasive
  • Passion-led

I really liked Jackson’s image of ‘school is the base-camp for learning – where you get charged up, and extend from’.

AITSL intend moving beyond a community of practice, to a community of engagement, and beyond that, a community of interest. They are creating ‘Lab sites’ and ‘Developer Sites’ (we used to call these schools, and I have reservations about the idea of school as an experimental lab). AITSL’s aim in this project:  to increase the proportion of Australian students who are deeply engaged in their learning, through the development of teaching and learning practices that promote engagement, beginning with professional practices.

I was concerned that in the new ‘hubs’ and ‘labs’ they intend creating that AITSL seems very much in favour of ‘new players in education’, ‘inside and outside the system’.  That raises alarm bells named ‘Pearson’ et. al.  for me, and I asked them about that over coffee. I was told that they were aware of some these reservations and were working on framing some appropriate boundaries around the commercialization of education in this space.

redesign

Much of the thinking AITSL were presenting on engagement was based on work from the Innovation Unit, presented in Re-Designing Education Systems.though interestingly they have moved away from the key elements of ‘collaboration’ and ‘technology in that work, arguing that those elements should be universal and implicit. The four elements they agreed on were:

 Co-created – adults and students as powerful resources for design of learning

Connected – real world contexts, contemporary

Personal –  build from student passions and capabilities, personalised

Integrated – Integration of subjects, students and contexts

We then spent some times in groups, plotting out imaginary sample networks and hubs that might develop out of this project. A really interesting morning and it will be fascinating to see where this goes, and whether they do avoid the sharks that are circling around education.

Schools involved in 2014 will be announced before Christmas. You can follow the conversation on the Twittisphere at #learningfrontiers

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Padlet

One thing I always look for when talking to teachers about using technolog is something that they can use immediately, without changing their core belief about themselves as educators, or their key role as teacher. I put the arguments around that aside (sage on the stage > guide on the side > meddler in themiddle) and try to look for simple things that teachers can use in their very next lesson that wil have immediate benefit for their students.
So, things like Padlet are great. Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) is a simple web tool that works just as well on iPad as PC, is free, requires no sign-in and allows a group of students to brainstorm or discuss by adding ideas to an online ‘wall’. Simple. I’ve used with my Literature class a few times this year: to document a discussion we’re having in class (one person is assinged as blogger to capture the conversation), for students individually or in groups to put up some discussion points, or for the same thing to be done at home as a homework task. You can run through the ideas one at a time really easily and ask the students to comment on why they made that contribution. And, at the end, you can embed, make a link or make a PDF or image out of the ‘wall’ and put it on your class home page or email it to the students.
With just enough customisation to be fun without being overpowering, this is a really effective simple tool that can get any teacher ‘doing tech’ in five minutes. Some screenshots are below:

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learning:now

I enjoyed a short session this week UK educator, Stephen Heppell, under the heading, ‘learning:now’. It was a kind of meandering tour of projects he’s been involved in, with a particular emphasis on learning spaces and some key messages that resonated with me.

I liked the way he used his desktop as the presentation tool, (see his website image above for a sense of that) pulling up images and doucments and movies as he thought of them (or that’s how it seemed) and now a powerpoint slide in sight. It did mean that at times the talk lacked the dotpoint focus that comes with those tools, but it was a lot more interesting and engaging for it.

He showed lots of learning spaces he’d been involved in co-constructing with students, or he just thought showed the kind of surprise and delight that thoughtful spaces give us. I liked his image of the UK system of everyone stopping for lunch at school at the same time (‘the only place in London where you can seat 1000 people for lunch is the Dorchester and every high school’) and what that meant for how the day involved. He was all for immersive learning, teach the first week of February for a month, and time at task.

The classroom spaces he showed were ‘shoeless’ places, often where every surface is a writing surface and where the student work was celebrated and maintained. He wanted places where students could sit, perch, slump, lie (did anyone ever choose to sit up straight to read a book he asked?) And what was the point of staff rooms, he asked. If we’re all learners, why have a special space for old learners?

He talked a lot about a classroom space at Lampton, UK, that the students had designed: mood lighting, writable surfaces, skype enabled but, signficantly, the students didn’t want the room filled with technology. We’ll bring our own, they argued, and plug in. That way it will be up to date! He drew a lot on the idea of family, showing us a school that had a bread oven near the entrance so that students could smell that fresh bread cooking as they arrived and talked in this way of ‘a learning family, not a learning factory’ and schools that moved beyond placement of students in age-related groups to peer support and peer learning. He argued for ‘in-betweeny’ time, keeping the day fresh and inviiting and playful ways to do the hard stuff.

He was in favour of social technologies like Skype and Twitter (he tweets here) and flipping the classroom, so that the routine work was done at home and the interesting and challenging stuff done collaboaratively at school. He showed us some slides of stupid things that schools ban, mostly mobile phones which were often the most powerful computers in the room, turned off or banned completely.

And he DID have some key messages that resonated with me:

  • Listen to the students
  • The most risky thing you can do as a school or a system is to do nothing.
  • Teachers needs to lead this discussion – the future competitors to our schools will be Pearson
  • If you can astonish kids with the place you create and the expectations you bring, they will astonish you

Rethinking Innovation in education

I’m usually reluctant to write about articles that I can’t immediately share with a quick link but Charles Leadbeater’s most recent piece Rethinking innovation in education: Opening  up the debate, published recently by CSE, seems only available as a purchase.

So I must have really liked it to be writing about it, and I did.  He uses some modern technology comparisons (the App Store, Pixar Studios) to talk about what constitutes effective cultures of innovation and what that means for school systems, including the necessity for sustaining innovation: ‘leading innovation means creating and then leading a creative community, around a cause.’

He talks a lot too about a growing consensus, partly from insights into brain-based learning, about what constitutes effective 21st century learning, something I’ve written about here at times too. He writes, ‘to put it simply, the core of this consensus is that people learn most effectively when they are mainly learning WITH others, and sometimes BY themselves, and less frequently when the are having things explained FOR them or knowledge delivered TO them. Increasingly, to make learning effective we need to design it as a WITH and BY activity, rather than something tat’s about doing FOR and TO us.’ (his emphasis through the caps)

He then lists 10 main ingredients (I love recipe lists!) about that emerging consensus coming out of a range of sources (which he lists)

  1. Learning is an active and engaged process
  2. Engaged learning is impossible unless the learner feels motivated
  3. To be motivating, learning has to be personal, rather than standardised
  4. As well as feeling deeply personal, learning needs to be highly collaborative
  5. Mastering knowledge and skills is not a process of memorising content and regurgitating it in a form for a test; learning is about application
  6. This kind of learning thrives on feedback
  7. Learning needs to be stretching and challenging
  8. That kind of learning is a structured process, not a free for all. Learning should be hard work but rewarding and fun.
  9. Learning should take place in a wide variety of settings, not just at school or in a classroom.
  10. Designing the conditions for this kind of learning is hard; we will need perhaps fewer but more skilled, creative, master teachers.
He says lots of other stuff too, including ‘if education systems were like the App Store, developers from outside and inside the system would be adding new apps the whole time to help people learn’.
Lots of food for thought as I sat in on  a session on personalised learning today.
Top: 19th Century innovation; a steam engine in a Murray River paddle steamer. Photo: Warrick