2017

My blogging has lapsed in 2017.  I will blame my new role as Project Officer for the University of Adelaide’s CSER (Computer Science Education Research) Group.  It has been an amazing experience working in this team as the Victorian Project Officer.

Please meet my fellow workmates:

 

As time goes by …


My mum was a bit of trailblazer when it came to technology.  I didn’t notice or appreciate it at the time, but items came into our house before they arrived in many neighbouring homes.   We had a microwave oven, a personal computer, a home darkroom and many photographic items.     The computer and camera equipment were used by mum to be both creative and practical.    With photography Mum created audio-visuals (the precursor to slideshows and moviemaker) – stories created with images on slides and music.  Would her creative juices been connected to digital publishing instead of the beautiful calligraphy she produced?   I have evidence of quirky cards made with MS Publisher in it’s earliest forms and I wonder what she could have created with Canva!

In her 70’s and 80’s, Mum embraced email using it to keep in touch with many distant friends and family.  Word processing developed from being a business tool, a wonderful extension of the typewriter she mastered as a 16 year old to being the tool of choice on which to create poetry, prose and stories.  She was quite happy to share what she wrote, shaer her thinking and ideas with others and in those days her work was published in printed newsletters.  It was well received and Mum enjoyed the responses she received from her ‘readers’.

I can’t help but wonder what Mum would have created with today’s tools at her fingertips.  I see her as being a blogger – sharing her writing in a number of ways.  Her handwritten travel journals would likely have been blogs.  I can see her creating a whole new network of people: commenting on posts, creating conversations with those beyond her local area.

I wonder how she would have viewed Facebook.  I think she would have loved the fact that it connects people, keeps them in touch over time and space.  I am fairly sure, her forehead would wrinkle at some of the inane material people share, but I reckon, she would be there, contributing and receiving in her own way.

Digital photography would have allowed more instant products and variations, I am not sure they would be any better but the variations would have been extended.  The ability to access information in an instant would have challenged her but I think she would enjoy the ability to answer that niggling question in a few key strokes.

No-one can transplant themselves into another generation, we live our lives as we can and as we should, in the environment in which we are born….. but I do wonder.  Creativity takes many forms.  What would Mum have done with today’s tools?

In honour of Mother’s Day 2017

 

Twitter Politics

I have often said that Twitter has a reputation problem and recent events have brought that to mind.  I have been a defender of this wonderful social media tool for a long while and still believe that it is a profoundly powerful tool for professionals such as teachers.  I have countless stories to tell of how using Twitter has provided me with the right answer at the right time, with examples of connected learning, and even a supply of informative and fun news feeds. Students and teachers with whom I have worked have had wonderful interactions that really enhanced their learning.

I often hear the “I don’t want to hear what so and so had for lunch or what that silly celebrity did last night”.   I get that ! Neither do I !  I tell people that all social media tools are customisable, we select who we follow and should regularly and judiciously click the Unfollow button.

Recent Tweets by the newly elected President of the United States, have me seriously wondering and indeed, concerned.   News articles are often published citing quite major policy decisions that have been announced on Twitter and I really wish that Twitter was not being used for that purpose.    Obviously due to the stature of the office held, tweets from a President, get a large degree of attention, retweets and quotes in other press outlets.

I don’t want important government announcements made in this forum.  We all know the limitations of 140 characters and I don’t think this is the correct communication tool for such work.  Twitter has it’s purposes but in my personal opinion, I do wish that major leaders did not use the forum in this manner.  If it is possible to be old-fashioned in this relatively new sphere of communication, I think I am!  I want to hear important policy announcements and the thoughts of our world leaders distributed in other forums than social media.  Perhaps things are just evolving as I know communication does, but it makes me uncomfortable, it seems to trivialise things that are not trivial at all.

It would appear that over 24 million followers disagree with me.  What do you think ?

 

…edited

 

Looking back, looking forward

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This week marks a personal milestone, I move from the comfort zone of a school working environment which has become familiar and has provided wonderful opportunities and move on to an exciting new adventure.  Time for reflection, Time for appreciation, time for nerves and above all time for thanks.

In a few short years the technology landscape in schools has changed beyond my wildest imagination.  When I started working in my current position, I had never heard of a Chromebook or Google Apps for Education and most definitely knew little about coding.   The iPad was not yet invented.  I had never blogged or tweeted and my professional learning network was just in foundling form through mailing lists (List-servs).  I had never been to an on-line or face to face technology conference, let alone presented at one and I had only experienced the atmosphere of a few schools.

This could be construed as covering decades, but in fact was only eight short years.  I now count the blogging and tweeting as commonplace and a regular part of my professional routine.  The students in our classes today will never remember the way things were before and in many ways take their connectedness for granted.  Watching the Olympics live from their Chromebooks, writing collaborative documents with peers and sharing their work to a potentially global audience are just what they do!

I am glad to have the hindsight as it makes me more grateful of the opportunities around today.

The things that remained constant are the people and the big purpose – to improve student outcomes.   I have been blessed to be working with and amongst dedicated teachers who have been willing to try new things, adapt, consider, challenge and in some cases ignore.  I have made so many mistakes, had false starts, trials and a few successes but all these were learning moments.  My blog is the chronicle of much of that learning and I am grateful to have the evidence of my changing thinking.

As is often the way when I am composing a post or preparing a lesson, Twitter has just alerted me something that just clicks with my thinking.   A tweet from Steve Brophy (@stevebrophy3) introduced me to  Kelly Sewell’s post discussing a book  ‘The Buzz – Creating a thriving and collaborative learning community’ by Tracey Ezard.  Whilst reading I realised that there has been a ‘Buzz’ in my school.  As Kelly describes “… the ability to apply, synthesise, evaluate, discard or embed. It is a growing intelligence and the most important aspect of learning intelligence is the mindset of curiosity and growth.”

It was this Buzz that made the past eight years amazing in my school for me.  Teachers have come and gone and stayed and each of us has taken on what felt relevant and comfortable for them.  We have all learned from each other, questioned each other and made our own choices.

The most profound understanding I take from this most recent experience, allbeit eight years, before I embark on another challenge, is the power and importance of relationships. The creation of a story alongside other learners, whether they be younger students or colleagues.   If I had tackled these challenges on my own they would have had such smaller impact.  This could have been at my own school, within the Teachmeet network (that also spawned in this era) and within the wider teaching network, both local and overseas created through Twitter and Blogs.

I am a different teacher than I was eight years ago, the sum of added years with amazing experiences, failures and successes has given me confidence to move on.    I would hope that that attitude was spread to others I have dealt with.  I have most certainly come to agree with Seymour Papert (who passed away recently) .  This philosophy has driven my interactions with teachers and students and will continue to do so.   I know that I don’t know much, I am not really technologically skilful, I am however blessed with a questioning mind and that has allowed for many learning opportunities and it makes the next era very exciting.

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