Are you ready to Flip?

Moving from Teacher Led to Student-Centered Learning
flipped_ideas

Flipped learning expert, Jon Bergmann recently announced the launch of the Flipped Learning Certification program. I was fortunate enough to access a pre-release version of the program and become the first ever Flipped Learning Certified Educator. In this post, I want to share some of the insights from the course and perspectives on Flipped Learning.

Why Flipped Learning?

According to Bergmann, Flipped Learning, is about making the most of class time by leveraging the flexibility afforded by technologies. Flipped learning makes the most of group and individual instruction to free up teachers to better support learners. In a nutshell, the shift happens by moving direct instruction from the group space into the individual space. In theory, teachers will have more time to support learners with more complex aspects of learning. In practice, although videos are a key element of Flipped Learning, the essence of flipped learning is re-inventing in-class time to enable students to develop and apply mastery learning.

Personally, I connected this understanding with principles of cognitive psychology and self-determination theory popularised by author Dan Pink in his book Drive where Mastery, Autonomy, and Purpose are deeply connected to motivate learning and the application of skills purposefully. In this initial course, Bergmann hints at the advanced levels of Flipped Learning where purposeful mastery is developed. For those already applying a design-thinking, challenge based learning, problem based learning, or inquiry learning approach, getting hold of Flipped Learning tools and approaches promises to amplify these pedagogies. For those teaching more traditionally, this course may change your thinking about your approach, and show you how to free up time to improve student learning.

How to Flip

The course provides many examples of how to get started creating flipped resources and embracing the flexibility offered by technology. Bergmann covers a breadth of topics to enable individual teachers as well as administers get started with Flipped Learning.  Rich with examples, Bergmann, shares expertise from his own experience as a Tech Director and High School Science teacher as well as examples from other Flipped Learning practitioners.

Of particular interest to K-6 Educators is what Bergmann calls the “In Flip”.  The In Flip changes up the structure of face to face class time to include blended learning or technology enhanced learning, with a particular focus on direct instruction delivery. By providing direct instruction in the individual space (eg. on a computer or mobile device), students are able to pause, rewind and access instruction as needed. What this means for teachers is more time working with small groups and providing specialised direct instruction when and where needed. In this way, teachers spend time recording Flipped learning video resources so students tune in to direct instruction before applying the concepts learned.

Take-Aways

The Flipped Learning certification course makes the why, what, and how of Flipped Learning clear. Given the rapidly changing nature of technology and varied technological contexts between schools, educators will need to use their imagination about how to approach Flipped Learning in their contexts. For me, I could see many possibilities to add Flipped Learning into our existing rich inquiry practice to continue the shift to learner-centered learning. For example, teachers can create eBooks with video instruction for students to access when and where needed. Flipped learning principles can also be applied to fostering strong connections between home and school by flipping parent information nights and parent communication. While the initial course just scratches the surface of what is possible for learning in a digital age, the course is a useful beginner’s guide to understand the possibilities. If you aren’t yet flipping, are currently flipping and want certification, or are an administrator wanting to leverage technology more broadly to enhance learning, the Flipped Learning Certification course is worth looking into.

For Educational Leaders, Tech Integrators and Tech Directors

Whole school strategies are needed to harness technology for learning. Bergmann shares insight into technology decision-making that has broad impact on teaching and learning. I would invite school leaders to consider other organizational changes needed to provide policy, communication, infrastructure, resource provisioning, professional learning, and support systems to enable digital learning approaches, including Flipped Learning.  Flipped Learning may well be the starting point to learning in a digital age. Have a look at the Flipped Learning Global Initiative.

 

Digital Citizenship: A Community Approach

With technology in the hands of babes Digital Citizenship starts young.

With technology in the hands of babes Digital Citizenship starts young.

Digital Citizenship is citizenship at a fast pace, with lasting consequence, and easy access to large communities. Teaching digital citizenship requires a community approach as the life associated life skills cross home school boundaries, just as technology does. Here are some thoughts about introducing digital citizenship in K-12 schooling. 

When do you start teaching digital citizenship?

When technology was limited to computers in labs or family desktops, the urgency to teach digital citizenship wasn’t there. Now with phones in the hands of toddlers, the practice starts young. In primary school the initial teachings of Internet Safety start with many of the same tenants of protective behaviors including:

  • don’t give away private details,
  • don’t talk to strangers,
  • think before you act, and above all;
  • have a trusted circle of adults you can ask for help whenever unsure.

Technology adds some new twists, but the core tenants of Internet Safety align well to other aspects of social and emotional learning.

What can parents do?

As the primary educator of children, parents need to understand the new responsibilities of parenting in a

Parents have no frame of reference for parenting with digital technologies.

Parents have no frame of reference for parenting with digital technologies.

digital age.  This is a responsibility none of us have been prepared for by our parents simply because the technology didn’t exist. This means parents need to think about their approach to digital citizenship and online safety while children are still young. Here are some tips I’ve gained from our parent community:

  1. Model the behavior you want to see.
  2. Think about ALL the devices you have (Smart TV, AppleTV, Wii, Playstation, iPad, smart watches, tablets, etc…) as well as the apps (NetFlix etc…) and check parental control settings
  3. Consider a Home Technology Use Agreement in your home to discuss the boundaries and expectations (how long? what content? screen time balance? permissions? outside the home?)
  4. Keep the dialogue going. Internet safety considerations grow with age. Keep the communication open, and assume parent roles for monitoring.
  5. Be a parent. Reserve your right to set the boundaries, check the histories, and impose restrictions when needed. Children may try to convince you they are more tech savvy, but will hopefully thank you later for ensuring their safety and age-appropriate access through your wisdom and life savvy. Don’t forget to guide grandparents and other caregivers too.
  6. Check out the many resources available to parents through the Australian eSafety commissioner or Common Sense Media.

What can schools do?

  1. Run Parent Digital Citizenship workshops. Schools can help parents with how to monitor use, strategies for conversation starters, and building a community to share ideas and strategies.
  2. Become an eSmart school or  Common Sense Media Certified school by developing a whole-school approach to digital citizenship for students, teachers and parents.
  3. Embed Digital Citizenship into everyday learning with and through technology.
  4. Develop web filtering strategies that grow as students do. Increase responsibility when students are ready to increase their access.
  5. Create a Grandparents Guide to Internet Safety. Many parents come to me asking for resources to help grandparents managing children’s technology use.
  6. Enlist students in the learning process. Create purposeful assessment to educate the whole school community through digital creations including: posters, games, ebooks, and advertisements.

What can teachers do?

  1. Model thinking processes online
  2. Give students opportunities to learn online and practice skills of digital citizenship in safe environments (eg. Edmodo or Google Classroom)
  3. Monitor your students online behavior in your virtual classroom and use mistakes as teachable moments to learn
  4. Become a Common Sense Media Certified Educator
  5. Embed Digital Citizenship into your classroom culture, purposefully through teaching about it early on, and continually practice and review. 
  6. Familiarize yourself with useful teaching resources:
    1. Digital Passport
    2. Cyber Detectives
    3. Digital Compass
    4. Hectors’ World

    5. Lee & Kim
    6. eSmart Digital License for Australian Year 6 students
    7. Safer Internet Day
    8. Faux Paw
    9. The Adventures of Smartie the Penguin

This is a growing and changing space, with technology in the hands of babes we all have much to learn.

Blended Learning – the latest trend in K-12 Education

The Horizon report lists Blended Learning as one the top trends for K-12 education (Johnson et al., 2015).

Blending for time, place, space and learner control. Blending for time, place, space and learner control.What exactly is blended learning?

Blended learning, is an emerging term describing face-to-face learning with online learning. In its essence, blended learning is seen to have the potential to transform learning by personalizing learning and providing learners with varied approaches to learn at their own pace, space, and time and pathways.  With technology readily and Internet access available, blended learning is seen by some as an approach that so significantly changes learning it is causing the world to re-think whole education systems (US Department of Education Office of Technology, 2014; UNESCO, 2014)

Examples of approaches to blended learning include “Flipped Learning” where students access learning resources outside of class and then participate in other learning activities when face to face. Other approaches, although sometimes considered merely an extension of ICT integration, include providing instruction and resources online supplemented by in-class experiences with and without technology. This approach gives learners the ability to pause, rewind and revisit instructions and resources as needed. Other approaches include activities, lessons or even courses entirely outsourced to third party providers (think Pearsons).

So what is being blended?

What is being blended is digital and physical, teacher time with students, and home and school!

What does blended learning look like in a primary school?

The take up of virtual learning environments is telling with over 80 million users between Edmodo and Google Classroom (see their websites for up to date numbers). While there is no prescribed approach to blended learning, these sites, as well as the multitude of LMS’s available show that primary educators are incorporating some sort of platform for learning. Reasons vary, but here are some I’ve found:

  1. Resources
  2. Workflow for student created digital artifacts (eg. Books, Movies)
  3. Collaborate on multi-user documents
  4. Collaborate with other students
  5. Provide Feedback on digital media texts
  6. Communicate with instructor
  7. Connect home and school

Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC horizon report: 2015 K-12 edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc-.org

UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO education strategy 2014-2021. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org

U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2014). Future Ready Schools: Building Technology Infrastructure for Learning, 70 p. Retrieved from http://tech.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Future-Ready-Schools-Building-Technology-Infrastructure-for-Learning-….pdf

From Dependency to Enablement

zoom

I’ve often wondered why competent and confident teachers are sometimes thrown off kilter by new technology. After all, a great teacher is by definition an excellent learner. Teachers learn new things all the time. So why does technology add an element of fear and trepidation for some? With time as the most precious commodity for teachers, I expect fear of lost time plays into these anxieties and hesitations. Working in the area of technology, I’ve never considered myself a technologist, but rather an expert learner. I like to try all the menu options and work out the functionality, all the while looking at new application opportunities.

As we implement new technologies in schools, teachers cry out for more technical support. I’m of mixed mind about this and question the right balance of enabling support versus what I call rescuing support. Enabling support is proactive and includes self-help, coaching and growing a community of learners who perpetuate this cycle. Rescuing help fixes the immediate problem, but keeps teachers coming back for more. Rescuing help could never be staffed fully as new problems arise and the old ones perpetuate. Teachers want their technical problems to be fixed, but to a large extent in my experience, still feel helpless to solve the problems themselves and want someone else to “just FIX it”. When systems and technology is error prone, this attitude is understandable. However, when systems are singing and the technology “just works” most of the problems are of an educational nature. Parents too are challenged by the rapid growth of take-home technology in use in schools. So.. what strategies can help people to help themselves and their children? Here are some I’ve tried over the past year for technical support, learning teams, students and parents.

Tips for the Techies

  1. Think like a teacher. Make sure it works the first time and proactively provide clear instructions
  2. Show children how to solve their technical problems and have them show you back. Teach them to teach their classmates.
  3. Provide Self-Help strategies for common problems that can be accessed again and again via an iTunes U course, eBooks or FAQs in the Help Desk
  4. Post clear instructions on all AV equipment. Keep things consistent and simple so teachers can help each other.

For Teachers 

  1. invest in lead learners and share within teams and professional learning communities
  2. provide a weekly SnipITS sharing session at staff meetings
  3. run TeachMeets at school where sharing is the norm
  4. feed great tools and resources to lead learners to share within their teams
  5. provide staff induction resources in an iTunes U course that can be revisited and used with new staff through the year

For Students

  1. Provide self-help books on their devices for common problems (adding printers, what to do if you can’t print, about content filtering…)
  2. Have self-help posters in the junior years and keep referring back to them
  3. Create student experts (App Captains, Techies, …) to help each other (and the teachers)

For Parents

  1. Create an iTunes U course for Digital Citizenship (help parents understand risks and responsibilities in a digital age)
  2. Run parent workshops at your school or refer parents to workshops at the local Apple Store or equivalent
  3. Create tasks that involve parents with student technology (eg interview your parents, record feedback, or have them take pictures of students taking action on their learning)

Some may seem rather simple, but all are geared toward building confidence and enabling others with technology.  What strategies do you use to enable learning in your context?

Connected Learning – BOOK REVIEW

"Open your classroom to the world"

Connected from the Start: Global Learning in the Primary Grades would have to be the most practical book

Kathy Cassidy’s guide for developing a connected classroom.

I’ve come across in the past year. A year 1 teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator, from remote Moose Jaw, SK, Canada, Kathy Cassidy inspires teachers to step outside their comfort zones and become global learners with their students. Targeted to teachers in the primary years (junior primary to Australians), Cassidy’s book is full of interactive resources and stories of her journey developing a connected classroom. With her “If I can do it , so can you” attitude, Cassidy shares with us why she uses Twitter, Skype, Blogs, Videos and Digital Portfolios to connect young students with the world. Connected from the Start generously shares the stories and practicalities of implementing technology from a classroom teachers perspective. This is not a technology manual, but a guide for teachers wanting to expand the boundaries of their classrooms, build resources, relationships and global perspectives. Full of practical advice for parent nights, privacy, moderation and set-up, this eBook provides practical tips for teachers that only a classroom practitioner could offer.

Connected from the Start is a guide, can be read, clicked, linked and annotated cover to cover, or used as a reference for teachers wanting to dive straight into a particular aspect of global connection.

Although Cassidy has crafted her book with teachers of very young students in mind, her stories and encouragement will help teachers of student of all ages and stages along their journey using technology to expand horizons. The eBook is available as a PDF with hyperlinks and embedded video from the PLPNetwork.

The book isn’t just something to sit on your eReader, rather it opens up a professional relationship and dialogue with a real teacher. I initially met Kathy Cassidy on Twitter (@KathyCassidy), and so can you! In fact she encourages you to interact, share your ideas and provide feedback. Cassidy readily shared her own blog Mrs Cassidy’s Classroom Blog as well as Edubloggers’ Class Blog List with me after a brief 140 character at a time dialogue across the world. She exemplifies connected education in both her book and her practice as a connected educator.

Connected from the Start doesn’t stop at why teachers should create connected classrooms, but examines in depth the journey of teacher and her class of 6 and 7 year olds with blogs, digital portfolios, Google Docs, Twitter, Skype and other technologies sharing the why, what and how of connecting around the globe. These real stories are backed by links to people, sites and resources to get started, encouraging teachers to “open your classroom to the world” and have a flexible mindset toward new opportunities while modelling yourself as a learner.

Who should read this book?

  • Primary/Elementary Teachers to get practical tips for developing a connected classroom. You can do it!
  • ICT Coaches and Integrators to see clearly through the eyes of a classroom teacher. Ask yourself: How can you enable teachers like Kathy Cassidy who aren’t sure how to take the next step using technology purposefully?
  • Principals and School Leaders to better understand what it means to be a global citizen in today’s classroom. Ask yourself: “Am I a connected educational leader? How can I leverage these same tools on a broader scale”?
  • Education Authorities to ask: “What policies, systems and strategies are need to enable our students to operate as fully functional global citizens?”

As an ICT Coordinator, I empathise with many of the challenges Cassidy faced and strive in my role to think through and avoid some of the possible barriers through developing whole school approaches that make things easier for teachers. Student account management and interfaces, policy development, infrastructure enablement, parent communication methods and tool selection can be time consuming jobs. In my opinion, technology needs to enable education and educational needs must drive technology requirements. Encouraging teachers isn’t enough if the site is blocked, the internet too slow or the technology doesn’t work. An agile, coordinated approach to technology is required at school level.

New privacy laws introduced in Australia also bring about a few more hoops to jump through. It is concerning that some Australian jurisdictions are placing restrictions on “cloud computing” at the same time our increased access to technology holds more potential than ever. Students need access to tools, and to people around the globe with varying expertise and cultural perspectives.

Connecting with the world can no longer be an optional part of a teachers’ role if we want authentic global resources, relationships and experiences for our students. Global projects like Flat Connections, Global Classroom’s Edmodo Pen Pal and the annual Global Education Conference offer online opportunities to “learn about the world with the world” (Flat Connections Project motto) and give teachers the freedom to pursue their passions. So as Cassidy asks:

What’s  your next step?”

“Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia” a BOOK REVIEW

Could you buy ingredients and create a healthy meal for four people for under $1.50 USD?

Jane Ross’ students can. This is just one of the provocations Jane Ross shares in her book  “Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia”.

Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia, Jane Ross, available on iBooks

Challenge Based Learning in Indonesia, Jane Ross, available on iBooks

As a year 5 homeroom teacher, and Apple Distinguished Educator, Jane describes the process she and her collaborators undertook to outwork one Challenge Based Learning (CBL) project with a class of 5th graders from Sinarmas World Academy in Jakarta. The book is free from the iBookstore as an interactive, visually rich illustration of exemplary teaching and learning. Educators will appreciate the depiction of this student-led, inquiry-based approach providing meaningful, relevant and engaging learning opportunities.  Full of photographs, slideshows and video, this media-rich book takes you on the student’s learning journey and shares with you their investigations, reflections and deliberate actions  to solve community problems.

 

The teachers posed the challenging problem:

“It is our shared responsibility to ensure resources are more evenly distributed” 

and guided students through an inquiry process where students took the lead posing and investigating their own questions. They were given the opportunity to think deeply about meaningful world problems and respond locally by taking action in a nearby community.  To better understand the resource needs, students collaboratively investigated:

  • life on a limited budget
  • life in a local “Landfill Community”

Visiting a local community with so many resource needs led students to identify real issues facing this neighbouring community and further inquire into new challenges, problems and opportunities to solve problems with lighting, safe shelter and clean water; all problems that are difficult for governments to solve let alone school children!

Students became problem-solvers, inventors and advocates posing real solutions. More importantly, they gained cultural understanding and empathy within their extended community. Their reflections indicate that they see themselves as global citizens who are able work in teams and with help from around the world, to tackle the world’s problems.

I recommend this book for teachers interested in fostering student-inquiry, empowering students to take meaningful action, or publishing for purpose.

What I loved about this book was:

  • the clear illustration through example of transdiciplinary learning where many “subjects” were explored in-depth “just in time”,
  • the clarity of the role of teacher as activator,  facilitator and learner with students clearly in the driver seat of meaningful learning they won’t soon forget; and
  • that it is freely shared with the world and encourages global perspective!

I agree with Ross on the power of student-led inquiry and applaud her for sharing her experience in this accessible way. However, I expect teachers in Australia and other developed nations will face a few of their own challenges implementing learning in this way:

  • Do privacy policies limit us from sharing work in this way?
  • Would risk assessment plans prevent us from accessing communities in these conditions?
  • Would our subject-based national curriculum veer us toward set achievement standards and sacrifice depth of learning for breadth?
  • Do we have the agility in our learning spaces, timetables and pedagogies to take learning in new directions based on learners’ wonderings?
  • Are our communities too insulated to look at the needs of our neighbours near and far?
  • Will we step out of our comfort zones and model ourselves as learners to extend learning in unfamiliar contexts?
  • Will students score as well on national tests and impact school ratings negatively?
  • Does a national curriculum designate a ceiling for student learning and cap it or does it have the same potential Ross outlines to create a launchpad for learning?

There are many implications for school leaders related to culture, however the greater challenge may lie in imposed national curricula. In Australia, the 2014 Australian Curriculum Review final report poses some of these concerns at a national level, particularly around fragmenting and overcrowding the curriculum and giving preference to discipline-based pedagogies.  My hope is that we can find ways to empower rather than overwhelm innovative practitioners who wish to follow Ross’ lead.

Coaching Teachers as Lead Learners

I came across the term “Lead Learner” at a Google Workshop run by CUE in California. With this simple title, our workshop leaders positioned themselves along side the participants and were prepared to learn together. They offered insight and direction, but all the while modelled their learning strategies. I found this greatly empowering and have used the term ever since.

If we aim to build a culture of enablement rather than dependency, we need to find ways to increase our internal capacity. Coaching builds school capacity by empowering teachers.

Drafting works because, right in front of you is proof that you can go faster.” Seth Godin

Models of coaching enable teachers to work along side peers in a non-threatening model to enable, support and grow as teachers.

Coaches, like teachers, are people builders.

To equip teachers for success we need to have the policies and support structures to enable learners with and through technology. The way we craft policies and support structures has a great influence on teacher confidence and attitude toward technology use.

Factors influencing technology use in schools.

Factors influencing technology use in schools.

Consider how you are handling these kinds of policies. Do they exist, are they empowering, are they documented, communicated and understood? Policies can boost confidence and certainty (but only if they are empowering!)

  • Responsible Use
  • Essential Agreements
  • Loan Agreements
  • Privacy Policy
  • Student Account handling
  • Teacher Code of Conduct

I see Coaching as a four step process: COACH.008

 

  1. Equip: Prepare for success
  2. Aim: Set targets and strategies
  3. Activate: Take action with coaching support
  4. Extend: Share within and beyond the school community

Equip

In my role as a technology coach and integrator, I’ve found that much of what I do that enables learning with technology happens long before I enter the classroom.  Equipping teachers for success includes

  • Defining enabling structures (help-desk systems, IT support, time to co-plan, release to observe, opportunities to share and celebrate)
  • Selecting tools and consolidated approaches that work within the school context – finding and removing barriers before the tech gets to the classroom
  • Preparing technologies to minimise setup and disruption (eg. upload all accounts based on a convention for a campus wide cloud solution)
  • Curating resources and access to resources
  • Demonstrating new possibilities
  • Crafting and testing policies

Aim

Draw on available resources to determine growth points and plan learning engagements. Use the growth points to plan intended learning for the teacher. Identify self-learning, professional learning and coaching assistance needed.  Here are some resources to consider:

Activate

This is where the action happens both planned and ad-hoc. Lead Learners (teachers) are coached as they act on their plans, support their peers and take action in the learning environment.

Extend

  • Share within and beyond the school community
  • Reflect and incorporate new learning for future practice

Presentation resources from SchoolsTechOZ “Coaching teachers as lead learners”

Coaching Teachers as Lead Learners

 

Making Learning Mobile – Its not just the tech!

Mobile devices, whether laptops or tablets have clearly made their way into many of today’s classrooms. But what about the learning spaces? Have we just brought  computer labs into classrooms, or are we making learning personalised and mobile by shifting the context and culture?

Moving the lab to the classroom?

Are we merely moving computer labs to classrooms?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Abdul Chohan, of Essa Academy in the UK caught my attention at a recent visit to Adelaide by saying “We can’t change behaviour, but we can change beliefs” and encourages educators and innovators to focus on changes in beliefs and attitudes. He continues “When beliefs changes, then behaviour automatically changes”.  Essa Academy have made significant transformations to their learning community and the learning taking place. This is profoundly logical, but while I agree that beliefs need to change first, I’m not quite convinced that behavior will automatically change. Essa Academy have embraced deliberate cultural changes to backup their beliefs.  Learn more about Essa Academy’s story.

In contrast, Stephen Harris, known for the innovative work around learning space design, at Northern Beaches Christian School in New South Wales challenges educators at the SCIL “Making it Mobile” sessions to reflect on whether their beliefs align with their practice.   Like many, I began to question whether students need individual “sitting spaces”, how classroom routines can empower students, where “wait time” can be reduced, and how flexible spaces can be found and created with limited budgets.

Looking purposefully at the other aspects which influence learning culture, like timetables, learning spaces, seating arrangements and even when learning begins (because the class is quiet and the teachers starts the lesson?) affect our abilities to act upon beliefs.

Why not make classrooms mobile too? 

“If you don’t change the spaces how will teachers change the paradigm?” asks Harris.

If the learning kit is personalised, does the need for the individual sitting space lessen? Do we need desks?  As students have more tools to direct their learning (eg. Virtual Learning Environments) can they be more responsible for it?

Are we changing the learning spaces and taking the tech with us?

So what changes are we making in my school? After only a few weeks with tablets, we started to see students taking their “toolkit” (iPad mini) around the school, on excursions and home. In our “Support Centre” we brought in a moveable “standing desk” (bookcase on casters from IKEA).  I find myself looking at spaces with fresh eyes and asking “what if” questions about the least used spaces in the school.

With other large projects, like this one from Immanuel College, there are changes in education on a massive scale to put these beliefs into practice. With the new Margaret Aames centre looking much more like an ultra-modern museum,  public library or university hub than a traditional high school

What do you believe about learning? About the role of technology? Learning Spaces?  How are your beliefs translated into your practice?  I say its time to say goodbye to personal sitting spaces and use the spaces we have in new, more flexible ways.

Feel free to share your ideas here!

 

 

ShowBie – The iPad Workflow Solution?

When our Year 1 and 2 teachers embarked on our 1:1 Mobile Learning program last term, they immediately saw the challenges of workflow. While embracing the multimodal capabilities of the iPad, we quickly realised the obstacles with our traditional thinking about the processes of handing up and giving feedback on new media including eBooks, video and the multitude of creations possible on the iPad.

We then asked:

    • Do teachers need to review every video during classtime?
    • What about large file sizes and email?
    • How can we give timely feedback?
    • How can we keep up with all that students are doing?
    • What needs to have peer feedback or be shared with the class via AirPlay?

Collecting, organising and giving feedback on digital media produced by students is a challenge! Until now.

Enter Showbie

Showbie is a workflow app and cloud solution to assign, collect and review “assignments”. It’s clever use of the “Open In” feature allows students to “hand-up” just about anything they create on an iPad using the Showbie app.  What’s more, its simple interface makes this a workable solution even for our 6 and 7 year olds.  From a teacher’s perspective, they can assign tasks, share resources for the tasks and easily see who has handed up their work and comment on it using annotations, audio notes or text comments.

The support team are very responsive to support requests and have made it easy to answer your own questions including useful tutorials on how to use ShowBie with dozens of apps including my favourites: iMovie, Explain Everything, BookCreator, Comic Life and anything in the Camera Roll.

Showbie address the workspace part of an ePortfolio – but does not currently serve as a “showcase” environment or collaborative space.

What’s next?

From a technical perspective, I’d like to see some risk reduction (back-up, versioning, …). I’d also love to see a way for students to communicate not just with their teacher, but with one another.  And.. I’d like to interface (easily) with a blogging platform like EduBlogs so students can publish their ideas and finished products to both gain feedback from broader audiences and maintain a collection of artfefacts of their learning journey beyond a single classroom environment.

Overall, Showbie shows much promise! I’ve just subscribed to a Pro version for our school  and our Year 2 teachers are excited about the potential.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on iPad Workflow and Showbie in particular. Why not download the free version and see for yourself?

Why Workflow is Key to Student Success with iPads

IMG_0016With a plethora of engaging educational apps and innovative ways to put the these bite-sized learning tools together its easy to get started with iPads. However, publishing student creations takes some experimentation, planning and collaboration with technical teams.

Simply the camera, a video camera and voice recorder offer tried and true ways to capture student thinking and understanding. Add on apps that can put it all together, annotate and share and we really have some new opportunities not previously possible.

But how do we share these creations and snapshots of a child’s learning? This is where many of the educators I’ve spoken to get stuck.  Of course we need to come back to the question every writer asks of “What is my purpose” and “Who is my audience”?    If the creations are temporary in nature, simply sharing with a peer may be enough. But what do you do when you want to share with a greater audience and over time?

Sharing from iPads

Our local hub group recently pondered this question and we came up with several ways we could share from an iPad, with different levels of success depending on the options enabled or disabled by the school’s IT department and whether the iPad is personal or shared:

  1. share directly on the iPad (student led conferences, peer feedback)
  2. show via AirPlay
  3. printing (with concerns we would limit ourselves to the “flat” version of print only media)
  4. Moving from the iPad to the teacher for collection (Email, connect to computer, Mover+, WebDAV, DropBox, DropCopy..) to burn to disk or post elsewhere
  5. student post to a platform that enables sharing (eg. EduBlogs, KidBlogs, ScribblePress, ShowMe, EdModo,…)

Discussions with the school IT department are needed to enable WebDAV, set email size limits, set internal only email for young students and even enable various ports or sites.

Putting it all Together

Multitouch books offer multimedia functionality and interactivity, but are not the easiest to share. Apps like Book Creator make it easy to capture student learning journeys that include photos, movies, annotations, screen captures and text, but sharing of these larger artefacts becomes even more challenging (but worthwhile!) as the ePub format is specifically designed for iOS devices and the files can be larger than email systems allow.

So how can we represent young student learning using iPads over time?  Personally, my current thinking is that we need a student blogging/ePortfolio platform where students are responsible for sharing their work as they go. Going this way means teachers have a way to comment on multimodal work and check the status, students can re-publish and capture their learning along the way.  Students can also give one another feedback on their work. If parents and the larger community are also offered access we can raise the bar through authentic purpose and audience.  Kathy Cassidy offers some great advice sharing her experiences as a year 1 teacher in Canada in her new book “Connected from the Start, Global Learning in the Primary Grades”.

I haven’t yet found a simple way for young students to share larger artefacts easily, like multitouch books.  As apps offer better integration and bandwidth improves I’m sure there will be more options. For now teachers just may need to to put together mini ‘book stores” for sharing. Here’s a great example shared with me by Sheldon Bradshaw  on the Write Now Bookstore.