What just happened?

I published this over on LinkdIn, and thought I’d archive it here too:

What just happened?

As we all prepare for the for the transition back to face-to-face it’s hard not to look back at what just happened, from an education perspective, with a mixture of astonishment and pride.

streams2020-05-20_13-35-21

In the space of a matter of weeks, educators across the country have made a radical change to one of the cornerstone foundations of education; what a classroom looks like. We’ve all been subjected to PD sessions where the presenter has put up a picture of a Dickensian classroom and then a ‘modern’ classroom and provoked, ‘So, what’s changed?’ Maybe we even squirmed in our seats a little. But something just changed in a way that few workplaces have changed so quickly.

I don’t buy too much into the ‘hero’ memes for teachers that have been circulating online, but there’s no doubt that teachers, so often criticised for their students’ failings in this international science competition or that, have demonstrated extraordinary capacity and resilience as they have kept playing the game while the goalposts were not only moved, but were in two different places depending on which but disappeared entirely.

While every school and system have their stories, I couldn’t be prouder of the way Balcombe Grammar teachers have responded during this time. We put in place new structures and frameworks (‘This Week’s Learning’ communicated out to students and parents’, two-part lessons structures and live lessons using Microsoft Teams, OneNote and our Intranet all in a week, with no lead time. We’ve seen teachers building and sharing in Microsoft Streams and students taking up the opportunity to replay lessons and concepts as they wished; who would have thought that ‘CAS Linear and Quadratic Graphs’ would be trending in our own little YouTube? We asked teachers to keep learning going and they did that, and more.

The students I’ve spoken with over the last few weeks have appreciated the effort teachers have made in transforming practice; some have even enjoyed the change. Others can’t wait to get back to see their friends, but all of them acknowledge that the teaching and learning has gone on.

We surveyed parents twice during this process, at the start as we ran an ‘asynchronous’ week, and again only a week ago. The results were encouraging: parents felt that students were engaged and productive, that learning was progressing and that teachers were modifying courses appropriately. Parents saw the greatest challenges for students as the lack of social connections for students, and the amount of screen time. For parents themselves, the challenges were mainly around trying to balance their own work requirements with supporting their children’s progress.

After postponing the original planned Parent-Teacher interviews, we also took these conferences online for the first time, using Microsoft Teams, with parents logging in and being admitted from the ‘Lobby’, in order to facilitate feedback for parents of our VCE students, with very positive feedback from parents and teachers. It’s something we’ll do again.

The biggest challenge might still be ahead; a staged return to school involving some face-to-face and some online teaching is not going to be straightforward. However, there are some practices we’ve introduced in the last six weeks that we’ll want to continue on with, even in a post-pandemic world, and I couldn’t be prouder of the way our teachers (and students) have adapted and evolved their practice so successfully.

 

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

 

 

Implementing an LMS

Implementing an LMS

Paul Mears (Firbank GS)

http://www.scoop.it/paulmears

@paulmears

Paul talked about

1 How to be strategic with human-centred design

2 selection process of an LMC

3 Implementing for success

This was interesting, beginning with a focus on ‘human centred thinking and design. ‘Opportunities, not problems’, which came out of Stanford.

He argued for ‘shadowing’, observation, interviews … and the importance of ‘student agency’ Bring the students in, give them respect and they’ll rise to the occasion.

When he talked to students the students hated the ‘mushrooms’ that had popped up with different teachers all doing their own things. They wanted to select a unifying LMS and shared the process they used to select that company. (Firefly)

Mears prefers ‘integrated learning platform’ to LMS, as the platform should integrate diverse things like YouTube, ClickView, Google Docs, PowerPoint

This was the most practical session I had for the day. Good advice, ‘The main thing is to make the main thing the main thing’

 

 

Driving an innovation industry

Driving an innovation agenda
Ian Williamson

Williamson began his talk about. innovation by emphasising how quickly things can dramatically change.

Only 21% of the 1982 Fortune 500 companies were still on the list in 1982. (aka Kodak and Polaroid and Motorola) He asked the question, ‘why didn’t Sony invent the iPod?’

He argued that no one is immune- ‘Higher education is now ground zero for disruption.’

The biggest barriers to innovation:

  • risk averse culture
  • lengthy development time
  • not enough good ideas

Innovation requires leadership and recognise that different types of knowledge are needed for invention and harnessing (from thought to implementation). He argued for collaboration and integration, using Apple as an example.

Want data? We got it.

I sometimes get questions from other more sceptical teachers asking things ‘where’s the data? for the kinds of technology related concerns that I’m always talking about as being more and central to learning. I remember nodding vigorously when one speaker at one conference said something like ‘If you looking for proof that technology should be in contemporary learning, you’re asking the wrong questions’. Something like that. Precise quote hey!

Or, I remember several occasions when someone (usually the someone with the financial clout) will say something in a meeting like, ‘Yes, but where’s your evidence that this ipad thing is ever going to take off?’ or ‘What other schools are using wikis?’

So, I was interested in this ‘Internet Trends’ slideshow a colleague alerted me to today. Over a hundred slides. Scroll it through. Put the pieces together. What does this have to do with learning? If you’re asking that, you’re asking the wrong questions!

Where are we on the (educational) hype cycle?

I liked this cool looking graph from Techcrunch today, not just for its look at technology (I agree that tablet pcs are probably about to get some real impetus in the next year or so) but also because of its illustration of that cycle of innovation, expectation, hope, disappointment, small movements forward.

How might we apply it to educational technologies: blogs, wikis, IWBs, twitter, LMS systems? Or how might we apply it to educational ‘reforms’ or ‘revolutions’? Where does statewide testing, league tables, peformance based pay or the debate between phonics and whole-language sit on this continuum?