Some digital parenting tips

destroy-cell-phonesI don’t often (actually, never) make comments or tips on parenting. As a parent of four, I know that the job is hard, insanely complex – we’re dealing with little humans here – and often unnoticed. Having said that, as someone who works with teenagers in high school I’ve been coming across more and more disengaged and tired students and, increasingly, parents who are asking for help. So, here are some of my non-negotiable parent-tech-tips.

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Hi there! It’s been a while…

old-planeEarlier this year, at around EduTech time (so late May, early June), I came back to this place to find an article that I’d written a while back. It’s not unusual for me to visit this blog – it’s my thought space, my place of reflection and promotion of ideas, and I’d visited multiple times already in the year. What was unusual this time was that EduTech had been on my thoughts for a while (as I wasn’t going to be going this year) and my most recent post was about EduTech, posted while at EduTech. It dawned on me that I hadn’t been a very loving father to my blog – I’d been ignoring it, and you – the people who read it.

Now, I have all sorts of reasons for not having updated or posted on my blog for over a year, and in fact, I even started a post that day (which then faded into the haze of my busyness). Some of these are fairly straight forward and probably happen to everyone:

  • My role at work changed
  • I got very busy in my role
  • I moved to a new job, over 1700 km away from the last one
  • It is a very busy job
  • I got distracted

[TL;DR: There’s no excuse, really for not having the reflective time. All educators, or those involved in the education system, require self-reflection as part of our professional practice. I should have made time. I didn’t. I’m sorry]

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EduTech 2015: Panel. Some great questions and statements.

DiscussionThis post is really just a jotting down from the panel. I’ve missed stuff, reworded some and added my own spin to a lot. Imagine dot points – it’ll make it hurt less. Take it as you will. I’ll be fixing it up some time in the future. Maybe.

PD in the morning. Great idea. Always exhausted by the end of the day. My takeaway… are we starting at 4 in the morning?

Yammer for public conversations about what’s going on in your classroom. If you want to really go public, how about blogging, twitter, youtube? I think they’re all great ideas with some great (and scary) implications for our learning, as well as our kids learning.

Use online modules ifor stuff that doesn’t

Stop spending so much time quantifying everything – it takes way too much time and effort. Focus on what you need to do well and do that. Stuff the quantification.

Have a purpose (the why?) and keep bringing it back to that. The purpose of hte whyu is to centre that.

I want to visit Ormiston College. Tamara Sullivan, Dean of E-Learning,

Getting going effectively

1. There’s something that everyone wants to try, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to.

2. those who don’t want to do aren’t allowed to stop those of use who do want to do it from doing it.

Kids voice being heard in decision making

MOOC: New school creation (had students on the panels)

MOOC: How to teach us (by students) – already joined

What would you encourage people to not do:

“I come from a family of shepherds, I lead from behind”. Try to lead from behind. Don’t just walk into a staffroom and say “This is what we’re doing… suck it up!”

EduTech 2015: Super Awesome Sylvia – Maker

Super Awesome Sylvia

Super Awesome Sylvia’s page is *definitely* worth visiting.

Internet sensation Super Awesome Sylvia made an appearance on the main stage! She brought one of her bots with her (a watercolour bot which paints water colour paintings from a scanned image) to show what a young person can do with very little parent/teacher input.

Use of maker ideas (doesn’t have to be electronics) develops a love of learning… for the sake of learning.

Ideas for getting started:

1. Take baby steps – you don’t need to create a fully working robot on your first go. How about something that flashes an LED bulb?

2. Cheap is good. Don’t worry about expensive products. Use off-brand – most of the time it works just as well.

3. Failure happens. You will make mistakes – you will learn from them.

4. Be the student – get along side your kids

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff – just get out there and make something.

Go visit her site and get some making happening.

EduTech 2015: Learning Analytics for the Whole School

Learning AnalyticsBreakout session: TrackOne Studio presented this session. They’re an analytics platform which I’d seen used by another teacher previously. I love the idea of analytics because we have so much data on our students but often don’t have an effective way, or even the time, to actually make sense of the data and then use it to really differentiate on an individual learner’s needs.

Some questions which need answering:

1. Who will access the data and for what purpose?

  • School leaders
  • Teachers – access to your classes data e.g. NAPLAN. Access to this data can help you really target your teaching on an individual basis focusing on strengths and weaknesses.
  • Students – Kids seeing where they are at is incredibly powerful, but needs to be handled carefully.
  • Parents –

2. What data is available and where is it stored?

  • Schools tend to have one main data store (School Management System) – academics, behaviour etc. But where else is it kept? Your LMS (e.g. Moodle), spreadsheets?
  • Exams? ICAS, NAPLAN, surveys, in-class tests?
  • where is it?
  • what is it?
  • who currently uses it?
  • who would benefit from using it?

3. What are the requirements of a Learning Analytics solution?

  • Integration with your existing systems. If you have to put your data in more than once – you’re going to lose your staff.
  • Cater for the needs of all members of the school community – Principal, Teachers, Parents, Students.
  • Flexible without being complex. It should be fairly intuitive. It should be able to give the information that’s needed when it’s needed.
  • Target the appropriate data to the appropriate people. Should be delivering the data that a person needs, and only the data that that person needs.
  • Able to be extended and refined

4. How can we visualise the data so it is easy to understand?

  • Tabular, comparison charts (internal v. external, internal v internal etc)
  • Using the data, you can quickly identify the outliers and act upon it. So someone who does well academically, but under-performs in NAPLAN may need more test preparation, someone who is achieving okay academically but really excels in NAPLAN may not be working to their potential in class.

TrackOne has a heap of ways of quickly grabbing the data you want and presenting it in a variety of ways so that we, as educators, parents, or even the students, can see where someone is at, and what areas need more focus, and which bits are going really well.

TrackOne Studio:

Analytics… grab that data and make it work for you.

EduTech 2015: IntelEDU – Looks like my school’s done a lot right

Sometimes at these conferences it’s easy to become a bit down… there’s all these cool schools with smart people, doing cool things and producing smart kids. But, what’s really cool is that my school is well on the way to being as cool (if not cooler) than those schools. We’ve been re-imagining assessment and its role in the learner’s life. While we’re not yet 1 to 1 (and we never will be… we’ll be many to 1!), we’re well down the path to a BYOD (or CYOD) environment… we’ve got new wifi infrastructure, we’re going to have NBN soon, and our really smart teachers (that’s all my colleagues) are pushing the boundaries of what a teacher laptop and iPad can do… They’re ready, our students are ready… but is the world ready?

So it’s really nice that the guys from IntelEDU pointed out a heap of things that schools need to do prior to actually rolling out B/CYOD and to ensure good learning. Guess what? We’re doing it or have done it. How awesome is that?


EduTech 2015: Eric Mazur

Eric Mazur

Eric Mazur

Day 1 of EduTech 2015 is here. The opening keynote is none other than Eric Mazur. He’s a professor over at Harvard University and is currently looking at new ways of learning (or actually the stuff that we know but have difficulty implementing… thanks Education ministers). @eric_mazur

Some of the major takeaways here are that our current assessment strategies are aimed primarily at ranking students, rather than helping students learn, or even really assessing the implications of what they know and how they’d use it in real situations. Authentic assessment really is driven by situations that would apply in the world around us. He shows how assessment in the states is all about isolation (apparently they’re not even allowed to take watches in because they could be smart watches). When we work in the world outside the classroom (note: not the real world… what is real? That’s a topic for another post), there’s no-one there telling him he cant refer to other experts in the field, that he has had to know it all before hand, when he’s working on his nano-stuff.

In fact some of the aims the system is claiming it’s working towards are actually penalised – exams promote cramming, which has negligible knowledge retention comparatively.

So what now?

Let’s mimic real life (his words) – let’s mimic what happens in most industries outside of the artificial walls of hte school.

Collaborative learning? How about collaborative examinations. He drew attention to one of his university phyusics classes, where he uses an individual round of testing, followed by a team round. We could plainly see that there was quite a lot of demonstration of understanding, and little stress. It could be assumed that those students who have less knowledge learn even more while assessing. Is this a bad thing? After all, what are school actually for?

4. Resolve Coach/Judge conflict

Use external evaluators. Keeps you from being the executioner, allows you to remain as a mentor/coach.

Calibrated Peer Review.

We Must Rethink Assessment. If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll get the same results. We’ll have great leaders for yesterday, rather than for the future.