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: 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.

http://sylviashow.com/

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?

#wearecoct

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.

EduTech 2015: It’s all about learning. Really

Day one of the EduTech Conference is here.

EduTech Logo

I’m sitting in the main hall listening to Eric Mazur and feeling like this conference will go well. He’s pushing all the right buttons and it’s all about the learning.

EduTech is the leading Education Technology conference held over two days (three if you include the extra cost sessions) in Brisbane. It has lots of speakers from all around the world, who talk to the influence of technology on education. It also has an exhibition which brings most of the leading technology houses who have even a remote link to education. I love this bit… lots of ideas, products and conversations happen on this floor. Microsoft, Google, Samsung… they’re all there. The only one that’s been missing for these last three years is Apple. Arrogant much? Perhaps, Tim Cook, you might want to consider getting your products in front of the decision makers here..

Education Technology conferences can be fun too.

EduTech 2015: ready for learning. Education Technology conferences can be fun too.

Anyway, I’ll be making lots of posts… hopefully from every session I go to. If you don’t like getting my updates, you might want to move away from your WordPress reader and your facebook and twitter feeds. They will be messy. They will be filled with mistakes, they may not even make sense. Hopefully over time I’ll be able to fix them up and reflect upon all the stuff that is being discussed. They talk fast, there’s lots in the discussions and they don’t stop for notes. So my apologies in advance.

Now, let’s go get learning.

On being less helpful…

Students Learning

With a bit of trust – students can teach even us. Image from Pixabay – Free images of high quality (http://pixabay.com/en/students-computer-young-boy-99506/)

I love reading this blog, and yet again, I find a gem.

It’s often all too easy to just go ahead and make changes for the kids and pull them along with you, especially when it comes to technology in education. However, every now and then, it’s really apparent that kids can (and do) employ technology in ways we haven’t seen – they’ll find a way of doing stuff that’s easier and more efficient than what we’ve shown them.

We introduce them to a tool and they go ahead and use it ways we didn’t even think of…

Sometimes, we just need to trust.

On being less helpful….