How ready is your school for digital age learning? Building School Capacity

Personally, I find technology exciting not for how it works, but for how it can work for me. In my experience in industry, that meant applying or even inventing technology, to provide business solutions. In education, it means embracing technology to find new ways to  improve learning, teaching, and administration. However, technology is complex and poses challenges for schools that were not previously part of the school eco-system as schools now reach beyond the school boundaries into cloud computing, personal devices with 24/7 access, subscription resources, and a world of choice. While enabling student learning is the ultimate goal, D-LIFE addresses the organisational aspects required for effective teaching and learning in a digital age. While many of the existing international standards and frameworks address student and teacher standards, D-LIFE, like the ISTE Essential Conditions, looks at what is needed at the school organisational  level.

To help school leaders navigate this digital landscape, I began a global research project as my doctoral dissertation to determine the essential criteria for enabling learning in a digital age. The resulting Digital Learning Implementation Framework for Education (D-LIFE) includes these essential criteria agreed upon by educational technology leaders and international education experts around the world. Starting from the literature, the expert panel voted on the essentiality of each criteria, and then proposed new criteria for consideration.

 

D-LIFE provides a framework to evaluate current levels of implementation, and determine areas where school growth is required. D-LIFE can also be used to guide leaders to ask the questions of other stakeholders, like technicians, parents, and faculty to ensure educational goals remain the priority of technical initiatives.

 

D-LIFE comprises 10 categories:

  1. Leadership
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Services and Support
  4. Technology Implementation
  5. Policy
  6. Quality and Evaluation
  7. Resources and Resourcing
  8. Learning Environments
  9. Professional Learning
  10. Community Engagement

Each of these categories has between 5 and 33 essential criteria. Using a four point scale of low-high, schools leaders can assess the level of implementation of each criteria and determine appropriate action based on the local context.

Closely aligning with the ISTE Essential Conditions, D-LIFE provides further validation of the ISTE Essential Conditions while offering a practical framework for informing school strategic planning and evaluation, as well as potentially providing accountability measures to evidence the impact of technology investments.

You can download D-LIFE in summary format here. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in learning more about how D-LIFE can be applied in your context.

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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

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Education: The Good the Bad and the Ugly

After inspiration from Seth Godins’ “Stop Stealing Dreams” and Sir Ken Robinson’s “How to escape education’s Death Valley” I’ve created my own Education Manifesto reflecting on:

  • The Purpose of Education
  • The Role of the Teacher
  • Learning Environments
  • What educators need to STOP doing
  • What educators need to START doing
  • What educational leaders need to do about it!

Education: The Good the Bad and the Ugly by Christine Haynes

Education: The Good the Bad and the Ugly from Christine Haynes on Vimeo.

My reflections on what is right, and wrong with education and what educational leaders need to do about it.

Stop Stealing Dreams by Seth Godin

“How to escape education’s Death Valley” by Sir Ken Robinson

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Inspiring Action

Leadership expert, and author of “Start with Why”,  Simon Sinek, conceptualises the strategy of communicating from the “Why” within a simple, but powerful illustration he calls “The Golden Circle”. The Golden Circle codifies the Why, How and What of communication.

  • What you do:  everyone knows thisGolden Circle
  • How you do it:  some know this
  • Why you do what you do:  “very few people or organisations know why they do what they do or why they even exist!”

Sinek claims inspired leaders and organisations all “think, act and communicate” from their purpose – or the inner circle “of why”.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Sinek aptly exemplifies his point through great leadership examples from Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright Brothers; all leaders who clearly understood and could articulate their purpose to inspire action.

Sinek sees innovators as those who are clear on what they believe and take action early on. He moves us beyond the marketing strategies of features and benefits to the conceptualisation of why they would want your product or service.

In my current profession as an educational technology leader, I draw on my initial career in business to gain strategies and insights into how to more effectively lead by influence rather than authority.  Although not speaking directly to educational leaders, Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” provides a conceptual view of communicating from the why to inspire and motivate with purpose. Although communicating from the “why” isn’t exactly a new idea, Sinek’s illustrations make it crystal clear why this method works.

What does this mean for education?

From a learners perspective, we need to keep learning purposeful and from a conceptual level so we tap into personal motivation and relevancy. Motivation, according to Daniel Pink’sDrive” tells us that intrinsic motivation is based on purpose. It is this purpose that is tied closely to our beliefs. Pink believes to maintain our “drive” we need three components of mastery, autonomy and purpose. Mastery comes from practice and refinements guided by reflection, autonomy from choice and empowerment and purpose that is tied to intrinsic motivation. To develop life-long, self-directed learners we need to enable learners who can manage, monitor and motivate their own learning.

From a school perspective,  leaders need to be clear on their purposes and apply strategies that can be conceptualised and carried out to steer the organisation.  This purpose needs to emanate through all parent communication, marketing strategies and policies. The purpose needs to be understood, believed and practiced. The same is true for educational bodies on a grander scale.

In my years in education, I have seen many programs, plans and strategies come and go. True purpose is unshakeable.  As individuals, we must tap into something deep inside us that aligns us to the organisations we choose to serve, particularly in education where the motivation for exceptional educators is much more than monetary.

As Sinek says:

 “Those who lead inspire us. We follow those who lead not because we have to, but because we want to”.

What motivates you to follow the leaders you are following? What makes your heart sing?

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Schools are organisms

The people are the ‘school’. Schools are living organisms with interplaying dynamics. Sir Ken Robinson encourages us to to “Think of institutions as organisms. Schools are a living place full of people with hopes and aspirations.” Our job is to encourage growth.  He emphasises that the point of education is to help people grow from the inside out. “The real result is quality of life, a future we’d all like to live in” says Sugata Mitra

Be encouraged by this story of imagination and life changing innovation.

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Beyond Apps: iPad Workflow to Transform Learning

Workflow is the process of your learning environment. When working with iPads there are several challenges and complexities. Here are a few of the notes and resources from my EdTechSa 2013 session. The three main elements of workflow could be considered:

    • Resourcing
    • Collecting
    • Communicating

Resourcing includes gathering all the links, books, documents, and instructions students need to undertake a given learning engagement. These are generated by both teachers and students and need to be shared with others. Traditionally these have been stored on school servers in shared areas like “Shared Files”, “School Common” or “Common Resources” and also on school learning management systems.

Collecting involves the “handup” process of collecting the various artefacts created by students. In paper this is the teachers’ “in- tray”. Electronically students typically put their assignments in an electronic type of  “in-tray” for teachers to review.

Communicating: I used communication rather than “Review” as ideally there is dialogue that isn’t just one way. Here students reflect on their learning and teachers provide annotations, comments, feedback and summative assessments are all forms of communication.

The complexities that come into play using iPads include imitations of personalising shared use iPads (an oxymoron?)  and the challenges of designing transformational learning engagements.

Personalised Learning

Barbara Bray’s Personalized Learning site.

Screen Shot 2013-07-18 at 10.09.21 AM

Barbara Bray On Personalised Learning

Transformational Learning is about using technology in ways not possible without it. Its about extending or amplifying the pedagogy for purpose.

iPad Workflow.021

Traditional Classroom workflows are paper based. Computers required us to look differently at the processes in our learning environment. Even these “electronic” models don’t fit the way we work with iPads. Trying to force a traditional model doesn’t make sense. Would you “hand up” your iPad for the teacher to make comments on it?   iPads require us to rethink workflows  to personalise and transform learning using iPads to work with new publishable formats and architecture.

Some possible workflow solutions:

SAMR Resources

As always, I look forward to hearing about the learning journeys of other educators grappling with these same challenges.

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Building Learning Communities

Connecting to LearnBuilding Communities

Here are the resources I’ll be sharing in the Building Learning Communities talk for CEGSA 2013.  Please feel free to comment about your own experiences building your Professional Learning Network, Learning Communities in your educational context, creating a Connected Culture in your learning environment and tapping into or initiating purposeful Communities of Practice.

We need each other! People connect with like-minded professionals in purposeful ways. With modern technology, there are more ways than ever to connect in the “in-between” times of face to face gatherings. New opportunities to connect with people around the globe broaden our networks for our own learning, our students and for specific purposes and causes.

My Version of Alvin Toffler’s famous quote

“The literate of the 21st century will be able to learn, unlearn, relearn and co-learn.” C. Haynes

A Must Watch Video

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrgieoTvDE8]
Adam Bellow, ISTE Young Educator of the Year and Keynote Speaker,  EduTecher,  EduClipper  @adambellow

Ways to Connect 

Worth Reading

Essential for ICT School Leaders

Parent Community Examples

Email Lists and Newsletters

Professional Learning – Face to Face

    • ISTE: become a member and join your PLN at ISTE in Atlanta, GA June 2014.
    • EduTech: Exciting new Australian conference. Over 3000 delegates + a new library conference.
    • ACEC2014: National conference in Adelaide October 2014.

Other Tips:

Twitter. Follow conference keynotes and other leaders. See who they follow and connect with them. See the results in Storify of our Mini Twitter Chat conducted during the session.

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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?

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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.

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ePortolfios, iPads and Openness

After a whirlwind tour with George Couros and CEGSA, South Australia has been a-buzz on the social media scene (check out #cegsa and @CEGSAustralia).  Twitter eggs have hatched and the anonymous are becoming faces to follow.  Its not just about Twitter though, the blogs are happening and ideas are formulating and evolving through an interactive community.

So what?

A few new questions are emerging for me.

If Google is the new business card, what is the new ePortfolio? 


cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo shared by San Sharma

As a professional, I’m now blogging, evidencing the National Professional Standards for teachers, tweeting, created an about.me page, discovered storify and more.

But what about students? 

The power of blogging is two fold:

  1. Writing for and interacting with authentic audiences (continual learning)
  2. As a showcase of learning

In a web format, for older students I can see this can work well as students can take action, and with authentic audiences for meaningful purposes. Like Allysa (one of George’s favourites and shared over many of his sessions).

There are many opportunities to control the level of publicness and moderation through tools like EduBlogs, Weebly and Edmodo as our communities begin to value openness and input from experts while balancing moderation of outsiders access to contact young people. Being web-based content in any publishable format can be shared easily (PDF, JPG, MP3, MOV…)

Where do iPads Fit?

iPads allow us to create bite-sized snapshots of learning and put them together within apps, and within larger publications like eBooks. I see tremendous potential of ePubs (books published in an ePub format and read by an eBook/iBook reader like iBooks) to capture student learning in a variety of mulitmodal formats.  But what about sharing? There are options: ePubs can be shared in iBooks on the device they are created on, published to iTunes and shared through a school iTunesU channel, or published through a gallery connected to an app (eg. Scribble Press or ShowMe).   Each of these options still raise more questions for me:

  • will the eBook be available in the future?
  • will parents, grandparents and those in the broader community have the necessary  evice, app or reader  to view these student created collections?

How Public?

I’m an advocate of openness, yet still have a keen sense of responsibility toward child safety.  Finding the right balance as we create new policies on how Social Media is used in schools, by individual teachers and with students will challenge some of our previous ideas.  How do children build an identity and maintain privacy? Are restrictions on last names enough? Just as in traditional publishing it seems to me there needs to be an approval cycle before works go public.

Striking the Balance

When I recently attended the National CyberSafety Summit in Melbourne I had the privilege of listening to leading child psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg on preparing students for a world which is constantly connected and being offline is not an option.  His key strategy? Build digital resilience! Dr Carr-Gregg emphasized the importance of being flexible, optimistic and resilient.  Great advice for teachers too as we realise learning is no longer within school hours, within classroom walls or is within our complete control (if it ever was!).

Thanks George Couros @gcouros for giving me new strategies to be vulnerable, make connections and learn with and from each other,  Luke Schoff @schoffl for breaking new ground with me and the @CEGSAustralia community for learning and growing with me.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these emerging challenge.

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