Questions and reflections on #edutech

Having just returned from two days of educational stimulation and exhaustion at EduTech conference in Brisbane, I wonder; does anyone go to conferences like these seeking answers?  Do they arrive bright-eyed at the opening keynotes in anticipation of getting answers to all or even some of their school problems? Are they seeking a clear indication and plan for a future direction?  I hope not, as I believe they would come away disappointed.  It would be like bobbing for apples in a swimming pool.

The day after I returned, I was asked by my 84 year old dad (non-teaching background), “What was it all about?”. “Well, it was called EduTECH, so it was about Educational technology, but not really, it was more about how we have to change our schools and teaching because of technology.”

Other bloggers have described the content of the sessions in great detail and reflected on how this will impact on their teaching,  Kathy Turley and Simon McKenzie to name just two.   My note taking was too poor to produce such informative summaries for any readers here.  I was letting others on Twitter synthesise the main points and summarise the buzz (thanks to all #edutech contributors and summarised excellently here by Alex Semmens!).

So all I have to share are some of my ponderings :

  • The message is that teachers have to change their views of their role.  I know we have been hearing “No sage on the stage” for a long time but it is getting louder and louder and more important.  Technology is not replacing us, but it should be making us change our tack on our craft.
  • Flexibility seems to be one of the most important features of both schools and the teachers working in them.  Flexible access to devices, flexible working spaces, flexible timetables, flexible lesson structures, flexible mindsets amongst administrators, teachers and students.  Daniel Pink spoke of the power of ‘un-commissioned work’ – this does not happen in a classroom where time pressures are extreme.
  • There is a strong push to change, however the reality of the assessment system we send our students towards is a large disincentive for many and excuse for others. The famous Dewey quote; “If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow’, could perhaps be re-considered; “If we assess today as we assessed yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow”.  What can we do about this major issue?
  • Students often don’t get enough credit – many presenters had examples of how amazing things can occur when we loosen the reins, this probably applies to teachers too!
PicTwitter from Lauren Batty @LaurenBatty01
PicTwitter from Lauren Batty

Overall, I was privileged to be entertained, informed and challenged by the ideas of Dan Pink, Sal Khan, Stephen Heppell, Ewan McIntosh, Alan NovemberStephen Harris and Sir Ken Robinson.   I was just as excited to hear the story of Star of the Sea School Cleveland and Alice Leung and to chat amongst my colleagues about how any of this can translate into change in our varied workplaces.

In this blogpost, Ewan McIntosh summarises the theory of Guy Claxton;  The magnificent eight qualities of powerful learners and he expanded on that in his presentation.  The words viewed here might seem like catch-cries without the context but the message was strong.

The ‘big’ conference experience has also left me appreciating more and more the joys I experience at the far more intimate professional learning gatherings hosted by Teachmeet Melbourne.  There is so much wisdom in every school community, every local neighbourhood and definitely at every TeachMeet.  It is no surprise that we see responsibility, real change, choice, collaboration, respect and challenges at every event.

Sharing on-line – Why do we blog or shy away from it?

I am involved in an online community called ETMOOC  (which I hesitate to call a Course for reasons explained here).  It is suggested that we use a blog as a reflective and communication tool.  I was happy with this as blogging has become part of my professional activity over the past few years and it fits with my learning style, interests and skills.  Quite naturally though, there are many who are new to blogging and I have noticed a large degree of trepidation amongst the first nervous posts.  I have seen this amongst my colleagues as well, a mixture of people who are comfortable in this medium and those who are not, or at least use it in only one facet of their professional lives.   It makes sense, as we know that we are all different, have different learning styles, are somewhere along the introversion/extroversion scale and will therefore all have different comfort levels at exposing our thinking in a public medium.

Four barriers to Blogging, by Ian Gray, suggests that Perfectionism and Procrastination are two major reasons why people don’t blog.   My thinking is that the Perfectionism is the major one: many people believe that they have nothing to offer or that others know more than them and therefore their contributions would be of lesser value.   I would like to encourage people to re-think their attitude if Perfectionism is hindering their involvement. I have mentioned this short clip before “Obvious to you. Amazing to others” but it remains relevant .

Are you holding back because you think you have nothing worthwhile to share?  If so, I would like you to re-consider, think about how you happily read other people’s posts and how ideas and fears resonate with you.  In my experience, the benefits gained from putting yourself out there far outweigh the nervous apprehension felt when your mouse hovers over the PUBLISH button.   I admit that blogging is a risky experience but so too are most learning opportunities!

“Nothing spectacular just my ordinary thoughts” – Derek Sivers

If you are new to blogging I congratulate you and suggest you persist, find a purpose (ETMOOC for example) and blog away.  Don’t be deterred by a lack of comments as sadly there is only a very small number of people who read and actually comment despite enjoying what they read!   If you are an experienced blogger perhaps you could add to the conversation?  Why do you blog?

On-line learning – a MOOC

Another opportunity to learn has come to me through Twitter connections.  An online course, a Massive Open Online Course or MOOC, in this case ETMOOC.  Reading the Introduction and this post by Donna Fry (@fryed) caught my attention as it appears that this course will have some structure and planned content in areas that interest me but also plenty of flexibility to harness the power of the group of people who are participating.  The Google+ community is already being populated by an amazing group of people who come from across the world.   I am enjoying watching the Introductory messages people are posting on Google + as well as via Twitter. The global nature of this course will be a highlight.

So here goes …. my first MOOC which still think it sounds strange but so did Blog and Wiki a while ago! 😉  It seems reasonable at this stage to ask the question, So what is a MOOC?

By way of introduction to the new #etmooc community, I am a teacher in a small primary school in Melbourne Australia.  This year, I am also taking on a coaching role, assisting schools to implement online learning and harness the value of ICT’s.    I have participated in online learning opportunities before, in particular, the State Library of Victoria’s Personal learning Network program.   This opened the world to me and was my introduction to blogging and Twitter, which have transformed my thinking as an educational professional.  The concept of sharing online was scary and still is at times, but the benefits it has given me far outweigh the discomfort I have felt.

I have participated in Reform Symposium’s online learning opportunities as well but never before in a MOOC !  I think this will be a wonderful extension of my previous experience and be another wonderful opportunity to extend my network. The first task is to introduce ourselves and this post and this short Animoto video are my contribution.

That’s about it … social learning

students teaching learning with students
teachers  teaching learning with students
students  teaching learning with teachers
teachers  teaching learning with teachers

In “So many opportunities”, I  wrote about the plethora of  opportunities to be inspired to think about education.  Stephen Heppell says  “It’s a very exciting time for learning. It’s the death of education, but the dawn of learning.”   Alan November’s message at #ictev12 was and I para-phrase,  “peer tutoring is in the upper echelon of what will make a difference. ”   The obvious value of the social side of learning is coming through in so many of these conversations.  Will Richardson, says  “it is about what you do with others “ – not about learning alone.

The value of engaging a network of other learners, whether face to face or by on-line interactions is becoming a greater force – not simply as an end product but as part of the learning routine. I spent yesterday with a group of highly networked educators at the State Library of Victoria,  It was exciting to hear the questions and issues in the minds of those in the room. Hamish Curry conducted a wonderful dialogue and Alec Couros brought some of his vast experience to the room as well.

As I see it, the shift is in the use of the internet, from merely publishing final products to involving others in the process of creating the product.   The web was a place to publish, now it is a place to collaborate and create.  No new ideas here really as Web 2 products have been available for many years.  The idea is that good ideas are the consequence of the melding of many other ideas into something new and our sharing can make that happen.   Being open to risk sharing your thinking, despite your doubts that there are many who may think differently or know more is something many adults shy from, this I believe is a great challenge for adults but perhaps not for our younger students.  The concept is described as  ‘learning collectively’  in the Ideas Lab “The Collective Knowledge Constructive Model”.    This collaboration, importantly face to face is enhanced by the use of the tools at our finger tips – nothing beats the personal relationships.

Whilst I love the sound of all this, questions keep arising in my head

  • How do we shift the thinking of people who have a complacent comfort in continuing their isolated existence?  or for that matter should we?
  • How can collaborative learning ‘fit’ the current exam focused assessments our students are required to complete?
  • How equipped are many teachers to become ‘nodes’ in a network to support their students learning?
  • How do we learn and then teach others to filter the enormous wealth and diversity of thinking and knowledge?
  • Is social media a leveller – allowing conversations between people of all ‘levels’ of knowledge, skills and ability?
Luckily I will be able to continue these discussions and ask more questions next Friday, back at the State Library but this time it will be Will Richardson as our    ‘carrot’ offering his perspective.  If this taster is any example, it should prove to be another thought provoking experience.


iste-presentation from Will Richardson on Vimeo.

Patience is a virtue …. help !

I have been experimenting with App Building using a lovely site  The App creation part is easy enough – fun to fiddle with options and explore the possibilities.  Click on the image to take you to the test page.


The trouble I am finding is in the execution.

I think I am able to read fairly well, have average comprehension skills and reasonable problem solving strategies.  However, I am going in circles with the publishing part of the process.

I have my Apple Developer credentials but am lost in a circular war with .cer, .p12 files, Keychain Access etc etc.

Amongst the trouble shooting efforts, I have read the Forums on the site but they have yet to yield any assistance. So what would any reasonable person do when they can’t work something out?


Tweet it and blog about it and see what happens!



Before I could even finish writing this post I had a reply to my Tweet – I love my PLN !

Fingers crossed