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Showing posts from September, 2014

#GTASYD 2014 - Feet on the Ground, Head in the Clouds

Over last few days I attended Google Teachers Academy in Sydney. There has been a change to proceedings this year with +No Tosh taking control, bringing a Design Thinking approach to the table. The focus has moved away from creating a group Google ninjas to supporting change and reform in education. 
At the heart of it all is the notion of moonshots. Heralding from John F. Kennedy's declaration that 'we will land on the moon', a moonshot is an idea both with its feet on the ground, but its heads in the clouds. That is both practical and ideal. One of those dreams that people say are too hard, which we however choose to be bothered by.


Inspired by +Daniel Donahoo's keynote at ICTEV13, the challenge I arrived with was how do we engage the school community in meaningful dialogue in order to transform our practises to build a better tomorrow. However, I was also mindful of holding onto my idea lightly. Our first activity was to workshop our ideas in our group. My group was m…

What the Twitter Are You On About?

I have been asked by many teachers about how to go about getting connected and how to make the most out of Twitter. However, this overlooks one of the most important steps, actually joining a medium like Twitter in the first place. So I created this basic document as a guide:



Whose Idea is it Anyway?

In today's day and age it seems strange to be talking about the ownership of ideas. That's not yours, that's mine. Really, can one person hold an idea and what is actually achieved by that?
For example, if someone comes up with a similar idea, aren't we benefited by having a conversation with that person or group about how we could make both ideas awesome, rather than deciding which idea is more valid?
Although some love the glitz and glory that comes with being the one behind the great idea, to give an idea life sometimes we need to relinquish some of that control, we need to hold it lightly, allow for different perspectives and provide others a meaningful voice in the discussion.
A lone nut who keeps an idea to themselves is oddly enough still a lone nut. For in the end, it takes a village and sometimes the most important thing we can do is let it go.

A low down model, used by a little old lady just once a week to blogabout ...

I'm not exactly sure how it happened or whether it matters, but somehow I've found myself in the middle of another online course. I must admit that I've had a few failures of late in regards to participation, so it will be interesting to see how I go.
Organised by Alan Levine, Howard Rheingold and Jim Groom, Connected Courses is a course revolving around facilitating online learning. I am really interested in this being a part of the TL21C program currently being offered by DEECD, which not only supports teachers in grappling with some of the challenges associated with 21st century learning and teaching, but also what it means to be a connected educator. 
One of the challenges that I am really interested in exploring is how to syndicate all of the different posts and activities relating to the program. Although applications like Tagboard or Paper.li allow you to curate hashtags and feeds, they have their limitations, whether it be when they are published or what they show. W…

Ask and You Shall Receive - A Reflection on Personalised Professional Development

I was left challenged recently by a post from +Dean Shareski who questioned the focus of conferences on ideas and instead argued that we should be looking for connections. He made the statement that “if you leave with one or two people you can continue to learn with you’ve done well.” This has been my goal of late, to create a space where people can connect, rather than provide a list of links and ideas.
At Melbourne Google Summit, I felt I did this by creating an activity where participants collaboratively curated a guide of how to introduce Google Apps in order to make learning and teaching more doable. A point that +Bill Ferritersuggests when he states, "technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable." 
To me change isn't just about bringing in Google Apps and enforcing it on everyone from above, it is just as much about the small ideas that help others buy-in to the benefits in going Google. I there…

Celebrating Innovation, Both Big and Small

I was challenged today with the question: where will innovation be in five years time? With schools creating strategic plans, it was something being considered. What should be the goal, the aim and drive for the coming years. My thoughts jumped to ideas such as: Utilising 1:1 devices create, communicate and collaborate, not just PowerPoint and publish.Developing flexible and creative learning spaces envisioned by +stephen heppell and the like.Empowering students through the development of digital student leaders as modelled by people like +Steve Brophy, +Nick Jackson and the Digital Leaders Australia group.Going global by connecting with other voices via video and blogs, something championed by +Anne Mirtschin.Converting traditional libraries into imaginative makerspaces as demonstrated by +Eric Sheninger and +Laura Fleming through their work at New Milford High School.Flipping instruction in order to focus on learning in the classroom.Going paperless with Google Apps for Education. I c…

Learning to Learn by Learning - a Reflection on a Collaborative Project

In a post a few months ago I mused on the idea of providing time for teachers to tinker and explore. My feelings were that like the students we teach, we too all have areas of interests that we never quite get a chance to unpack. I was reminded of this again recently by +Edna Sackson who spoke about enlivening a professional development day by empowering the voices of the staff at her school and giving them a chance to present, rather than simply bringing in outside providers. Although I have experienced this to some degree in regards to ICT at my school, where we ran a session where various staff provided different sessions, I have never really heard of it been offered as a whole school initiative. I was therefore left wondering, why don't more staff share and collaborate, whether online or off?
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A point of collaboration that I have been involved in this year was the development of a conference presentation with +Steve Brophy. As teachers we often talk about collaboration, yet e…

Surely Presentations Are More than Just a PowerPoint?

In the last few weeks, many of my students have been grappling with the creation of digital products. Even though I more often than not leave the decision up to them as to what medium they choose to use, too often they arrive at the same conclusion - Microsoft PowerPoint. Now I am not saying that using PowerPoint is wrong, I just question the why it is always the first choice.
This wondering got me thinking about how we have arrived at such a situation. My feeling is that the students are often rushed in regards to choosing the medium for their presentsations and given little scope or encouragement to branch out. I love +Michelle Meracis' phrase 'student voice, student choice'. Yet for too many, in sticking with PowerPoint, this supposed choice is reduced to 'images and text' as +Corrie Barclay warns.
I think that this perceived lack of choice is sometimes brought about by teachers who themselves feel uncomfortable about offering different options and only model one …

Adding Ambiguity into the Learning Mix

One of my goals this year has been to move towards a more student-centred approach. Whether it be reducing the time spent on instruction or providing more meaningful tasks, I have sort to evolve my own practise. Often such conversations open up into talk about choice, authentic projects and placing students at the centre of discussions. However, a particular ingredient that I have added to my cocktail this year has been the focus on ambiguity.
Ambiguity can come in many shapes or forms. For me, it maybe leaving a project open for interpretation or providing a task where students are given a space to decide on various elements. In his book on digital literacy, Doug Belshaw wrote a fantastic explanation of ambiguity, influenced largely by William Empson's book Seven Types of Ambiguity. For me, ambiguity has come in the form of narrative. My focus has been to move the focus away from what to focus on why. Although this feels like a long way from +Ewan McIntosh's call for students …