Veni, VIDEO, Vici

Ok, I admit it … the title is not that “punny” but it is a nod to my great passion for Ancient History. I have found myself recently making far greater use of video creation; especially as a way to both engage and assess students. I’m assuming that your visit to this blog means that you accept the significance of “creation over consumption.” Modern students are visual learners and they are also great consumers of content. However, in my experience, nothing offers greater motivation than the opportunity to create content for a wide audience outside of the classroom. For me, this imperative is best encapsulated in the following extract from my 2015 HTAWA Keynote but most especially in the Ruston Hurley quote

“… I believe that authentic learning simply must be paired with authentic audience. Constricted by syllabus requirements, most typically at senior level, too many teachers continue to tell students to submit hard copies of assessment items. By contrast, Alan November tells us that we need to “stop saying hand it in and start saying publish it instead.” … Yes, this publishing will often have to be in addition to meeting the more mundane requirements, but it allows students to showcase their work in the real world. It will, with apologies to Red Bull, give their work wings. Ruston Hurley tells us If students are sharing their work with the world, they want it to be good. If they’re just sharing it with you, they want it to be good enough.”

Image sourced from:http://static.highexistence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/create.jpg

Image sourced from:http://static.highexistence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/create.jpg

I recently took teaching colleagues from my school through a professional learning session which focused upon some of the lesser known features of YouTube. The prolific video sharing site continues to build staggering numbers for viewing but very few teachers know of the ability to create videos within YouTube. Not only that but you can easily convert any PowerPoint into a film, upload it to YouTube and then add commentary or music. When you become a little more proficient you can annotate your videos to include student questions or even hyperlink to other videos and create a “choose your own adventure.” My favourite feature however, is the fact that you can create several channels using just the one email address. I now have four channels; my own “Connected Teacher” channel, one for sharing resources with staff and two others for subject groups.

The last task for my Year 11 Ancient History students this year was to create a two minute video about an aspect of daily life in Egypt. These have been uploaded to our special channel, “Pharaoh’s Film Festival.” This is a public channel; so, feel free to visit, use the videos, subscribe, use it as a model for your own classroom project or, better yet, leave some comments for the students. The full playlist of student videos can be found here!

I’ve embedded the Student Playlist below.

Time to Subscribe!

Time to Subscribe!

Given that I’ve been waxing lyrical about video creation I should at least leave you with some resources. My recent article for Australian Teacher Magazine entitled “Creation Over Consumption” (Go figure!) can currently be found online at

http://au.educationhq.com/news/37183/technology-helpdesk-creation-over-consumption/

My school based session on YouTube was shared as Issue 12, “YouTube and You” as part of my Bite Sized Learning series. The whole series (so far) can be found on my other site at www.theconnectedteacher.com.au

#IMMOOC 2. It’s Time to Starbucks Your School

When I was a teenager (just after the last Ice Age) I attended a well established all boys college in Hobart, Tasmania. I’ll pause briefly whilst some of you look Hobart up on Google Earth. That school has now entered its second century and it remains little changed in appearance or, I suspect, pedagogy. By contrast, the school where I’m currently employed is about to embark on a million dollar refurbishment of its oldest classrooms. As the eLearning Manager I’ve been involved in the design process. Come 2017 I will have the opportunity to teach in tech-ed up, glass enclosed, re-configurable learning spaces. Yes, we will have 85 inch interactive panels on the walls, funky “learniture” and numerous writable surfaces. Yes, some of you are envious. Will it all lead to innovation and improved student learning? Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.

As George Couros rightly points out in Part One of The Innovator’s Mindset, innovation is certainly not specifically about technology or stuff in general. I’ve long accepted that the most significant tool in any teacher’s kitbag is in fact their mindset. If my colleagues go into those new learning spaces next year with an old, fixed mindset then the school might as well have just saved the money. Indeed, some of you might still be wondering about the cost effectiveness of a million dollar refurbishment. George, as en pointe as ever, notes that Starbucks embraced the need to change and survived whilst Blockbuster didn’t and, well … went bust. We do live in an era of education where “innovate or die” has to be our unshakeable motto.

Image Sourced from www.brandextenders.com

Image Sourced from www.brandextenders.com

It would seem that the Starbucks “lesson” is gaining wider acceptance as an analogy for the current situation in education.  I recently read two excellent online posts which I’ve hyperlinked immediately below.

http://www.focus2achieve.com/blog/2016/6/2/starbucks-my-classroom-project-the-master-plan (by Oskar Cymerman @focus2achieve)

https://www.edsurge.com/news/2015-10-01-why-the-21st-century-classroom-may-remind-you-of-starbucks (by edsurge.com columnist Kayla Delzer)

I enjoy a good coffee, like all teachers it runs through my veins, but I’m also keen to lead a move to Starbucks My School. For me, Part One of The Innovators Mindset has one resounding key word … empathy. That particular trait is all about building relationships, about “knowing who you serve.” When a customer walks into a Starbucks, the counter assistant never says “I don’t care what you want to order, you’re being given a half-double-decaffeinated-half-caff.” (Nods to Steve Martin in LA Story.) So, finally I arrive at this week’s prompt … what sort of school would I build? I would build the school that my customers demand.

Image "borrowed" from www.pinterest.com

Image “borrowed” from www.pinterest.com

PS: A song for this week … “You Can Foam Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Macchiato

Consulting The Oracle

So, after a two month hiatus (love that word) it’s time to blog again. Hopefully, this will put paid to the rumours that I celebrated Christmas by systematically visiting all 127 Cellar Doors in the Barossa Valley. Such a lie; I’m only just up to the letter P.

Later this year I will be speaking at the Education Nation conference in Sydney … here’s the proof.Education Nation

The title of my Day One presentation is “Have We Just Made Everything Worse? Technology in Our Schools.” Although the event itself is still three months away, I’m sure the organisers will be glad to hear that my planning is well under way. Indeed, one aspect of that planning is to put into words in this post a half formed idea that I had recently. There is a genuine risk that some of you will immediately label me as the poster boy of the lunatic fringe … but here goes. I would greatly appreciate any and all feedback.

At the start of the school year this past January, our Faculty Head of Religious Education (the programme is now called LIFE) was addressing the full teaching staff about changes to the subject including the new soubriquet (Ooh, I like that even more than hiatus!) He began with this quotation:

“One might define spirituality as the search for connectedness and meaning …”

I’m certain that regular readers here know how much I write about and indeed value connectedness. We hear frequently about Internet and device addiction; in fact, a major Adelaide radio station recently ran what they termed a “digital detox” for parents and their “addict” children. And then, the proverbial penny dropped. Is the connection that so many of us now feel to our mobile devices really a form of spirituality? So much of what we do online is about “… searching for connectedness (think Facebook or any other social networking site) and meaning (think Google or indeed any web browser.) In an era where organised religion is frequently shunned by young people, have they turned to the digital realm to find meaning and eternal life? Already, a significant number of companies are selling services which can continue your digital presence long after your death. For a sample of these you could visit www.thedigitalbeyond.com

Image Source www.media.npr.org

Image Source: www.media.npr.org

Walking away from that January meeting, I was chatting with another colleague about my idea. His reply was immediate … “You could be right, every time I go on Google I feel like I’m consulting the oracle.” Certainly it bears thinking about … what happens to my digital music library when I die? What about my photos? Will I still be connecting via this blog with teachers who aren’t even born yet? Will I be tweeting from beyond the grave using a service such as DeadSocial or LivesOn? (Their motto: When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting.) For your sake, I hope not.

eParalysis

(#Bloggermore2015 14/26)

And so boldly I launch into the second half of my self-imposed blogging challenge (I know, I know, it’s October!) On this occasion I want to reference two great posts that I’ve read recently; one from Guy Trainin (@tgite) and the other from the Matt Esterman (@mesterman) “Museum.” In his post “The two emotions that matter when we ask educators to integrate technology,” Guy identifies four teacher responses to the introduction of technology. The powerful graphic below identifies these responses:

The Four Teacher Responses (Sourced from the Guy Trainin blog hyperlinked above)

The Four Teacher Responses (Sourced from the Guy Trainin blog hyperlinked above)

Guy emphasises the fact that there is an imbalance between the excitement and apprehension. He suggested that 90% of the educators that he was working with were part of the “Gung Ho” and “Careful Enthusiasm” groups. Whilst I agree that it’s these two groups that we need to cultivate and keep in schools, I suspect that eParalysis is more widespread than we would want to admit. On a daily basis I see teachers unable (or is it unwilling) to complete the most rudimentary IT tasks. This, I believe, is infringing the “digital rights” of students. (*You might like to read my 2014 article from Fractus Learning on these student rights. It is, rather cleverly, called “Declaring the Digital Rights of Students.”)

image from www.emaze.com

eParalysis image from www.emaze.com

On a related matter, I also read Matt Esterman’s post “Dropping the e” in which he argues, eruditely and convincingly as always, for removing the e from eLearning. Whilst I frequently read Matt’s “My Mind’s Museum,” this was an occasion when I felt compelled to also post a comment. Naturally, to make sense of my comment, you will need to read Matt’s post first! And no, I’m not being paid for driving traffic to his blog. Here’s what I had to say …

“I too have a cheque book … somewhere. We are in an era where the “screenagers” we teach have a new, ever evolving relationship with their devices. Some argue, I suspect quite rightly, that the device has become an extension of self. For older teachers (I’m an exception) technology is valued primarily as a time saver, for how it can improve our own work life. I detest the labels, most especially “21st Century Learning” … it’s just learning. But the majority will want to keep that damn “e” because they view it as other learning, a different process. My greatest frustration remains the paralysis that overcomes so many when asked to employ technology as a means of accelerating, enhancing or redefining learning.”

Of course, as always, I would welcome your comments. (Alternatively, leave one for Guy or Matt … neither of them suffer from eParalysis and will therefore reply.)

The iPad is Dead; Long Live Laptops

(#Bloggermore2015 10/26)

OK, time to smash out another post because my #Bloggermore2015 project is almost dead in the water. I always have an excuse, but this time it’s a legitimate one rather than pure fantasy. I have spent considerable time these past few weeks looking at my school’s IT plan for the next three years. At this stage we have all Year 8-10 students with their own iPad provided at parent expense. Our senior students are involved in a loose, informal BYOD program. But now, that’s all going to change.

Those of you who read my rants on a regular basis would know I am an unabashed fan of the iPad as a classroom device. My wife likes to refer to my iPad as the “third person in our relationship!” However, my colleagues, our students and their parents have now voted overwhelmingly for a full, school wide laptop program. My reaction was calm and understated …

If only I still had hair to pull out! Image Sourced from www.wordstormpr.com.au

If only I still had hair to pull out!
Image Sourced from
www.wordstormpr.com.au

So, “The iPad is Dead, Long Live Laptops.” I fully expected objections from parents and teachers. The surprise was certainly the reaction from students who declared that they found their iPad a distraction and would much rather carry a laptop. One particular student survey response had us all rolling in the aisles.

“Please get rid of the iPad, it’s so distracting. If you don’t get rid of iPads I will not do well in school, resulting in bad grades, which means no good paying work, ending in not having a home, and then being homeless. IF YOU DONT CHANGE THE DEVICES IN THIS SCHOOL I WILL BE HOMELESS, I WILL BE LIVING ON THE FROZEN OVER CEMENT STREETS OF AND IT WILL BE ALL YOUR FAULT. Thank you for your concern.”

It seems that the students still see iPads as a consumption and entertainment device. Personally, I see it from a slightly different viewpoint; teachers have failed to demonstrate for students how to unlock the full learning potential of their tablet device. This is not a criticism; the pace at which technology continues to advance will inevitably leave time impoverished teachers struggling to keep pace.

My next problem; what to do now to ensure that laptops are used to redefine student learning? (Please send your fully comprehensive programs to me by November … oh, go on, please!) Otherwise, here is my Plan B.

PLAN B Image Sourced from timenerdworld.files.wordpress.com

PLAN B
Image Sourced from timenerdworld.files.wordpress.com

“You have to believe me Your Honour; they all just spontaneously burst into flames!”

You Can’t Have STEAM Without HEATT

(#Bloggermore2015 7/26)

I’m seriously behind in my endeavour to publish 26 blog posts in 2015. Four months in I should have posted at least eight or nine pieces; this is only number 7. I certainly have plenty to write about but once again time has become that elusive commodity. Before moving on to new pastures I just want to have one final rant about STE(A)M and its prominence in educational dialogue. Just last night I came across several tweets bemoaning the fact that STEAM is lagging behind in Australia. I certainly don’t object to multi-disciplinary approaches. In fact, at this time, I am involved in teaching an inquiry based amalgam of Year 9 History and English under the title of “Making a Better World.” I won’t say anything further here about MBW as we call it … it’s the focus of my next piece in Australian Teacher Magazine (so, stay tuned!)

However; rather than write a fresh rant, I have decided to (cheat and) include a short section from my recent HTAWA Keynote. Clever, eh! (The blog post you ‘write’ when you’re short of time!)

“In the US, STEAM is gaining immense bipartisan legislative support and significant funding to run decade long programs. The fastest growing employment area in the US over the next decade will be in the field of statistics, growing at two and a half times the rate of other careers. The US Bureau of Labour believes there will still be a shortfall of 190000 people with “deep analytical skills.” Now, I wonder where else you might acquire those skills? … Surely, if we endorse an educational system that is fixated solely upon employability in an imagined, technologically rich future, then it will be at the expense of so-called traditional subjects such as History. The real challenge is to transform the image of History as a subject, to demonstrate its value and relevance in a connected, digital world. For a decade, Dr. John Newton was, until the end of 2014, the Headmaster of the prestigious Taunton School in Somerset. He is now Principal of Scotch College, Adelaide and an internationally respected educator. He has rightly pointed out …

“The key to new directions in IT is original, often
tangential thinking. The study of Literature or History and the
encouragement this gives to forming one’s personal views
will help the builders of new digital systems.”

Yes, the entrepreneurs of the future will need STEAM skills but to be true visionaries they will also need the thought processes and communication ability cultivated through studying History.”

Yep; it's a "Shameless Plug."

Yep; it’s a “Shameless Plug.”

And now for a quick, shameless plug. I am now running a secondary Twitter account @HEATT2015 and I certainly need more followers. So if you’re into the possibility of History Education Advanced Through Technology (HEATT) … do join us. After all, I firmly believe, you can’t have STEAM without HEATT. If you join and contribute just a few out of school minutes each night to tweeting your ideas, it will change your life. I promise; just look below!

Bring the HEATT Become a ninja

Bring the HEATT
Become a ninja

I Was That Guy

(#Bloggermore2015 6/26)

Friday, March 27 2015

One day in late June of 2013 I had a revelation, or an epiphany or maybe it was an aneurism! Up until that particular day, I typically referred to myself as “just a teacher.” I certainly knew more than most about educational technology but I didn’t categorise myself as anything special. The Banyo Campus of the Australian Catholic University had chosen me as one of several, experienced classroom teachers to become sessional tutors. As a group, our main responsibility was to help prepare pre-service teachers for their first practicum. When my passion for EdTech was discovered, I was invited to deliver a guest lecture. On the appointed day, a senior member of the Education Faculty introduced the guest speaker and each statement was met with a murmur, a comment or the occasional, “Wow!” Clearly, the attendees viewed their guest as someone special and … I was that guy. I realised that surviving over 30 years in the classroom was an achievement in itself and these young people were a willing audience.

In the subsequent two years, I’ve become increasingly “sought after” as a speaker and writer. Indeed, these first two hundred words (well, 197 actually!) were written on a plane to Perth where, tomorrow, I’ll deliver my first Keynote address at the annual HTAWA (History Teachers Association of Western Australia) State Conference. So, how did it all go?

Launching In to My Very First Keynote

Launching In to My Very First Keynote

Wednesday, April 1 2015

I was pleasantly surprised by both the size of the audience and the number of familiar (Twitter) faces. My chosen focus “Turning Up the Heat: Teaching History in a Connected Digital World” was a “nice fit” for the conference theme of Connect, Engage, Respond. I did my best to provide attendees with a clear vision of what I believe a modern history classroom should look like. Most were duly impressed with the various apps and Web tools that I introduced: Haiku Deck, ThingLink, Trading Cards, TimeLine HD, Pinterest, Zaption, Nearpod and more. My main purpose however was to unveil a secondary Twitter account that I have called HEATT. As much as I normally loathe acronyms, this one stands for History Education Advanced Through Technology. (Clever, eh!) My idea is to make it a space for all History teachers to share digital resources. You can join that account @HEATT2015 It is an attempt to chip away at the image of History teachers as “parroters” of content. History must now be about collaboration and content creation. I would like to say more, but I will eventually upload the full text of my keynote.

Overall, I was pleased with my first effort as a Keynote speaker; I certainly received positive feedback. But, I was over-prepared and over-length. I lost some of the “natural ease” which I think is one of my strengths as a presenter. Either that or Alzheimers has rocked up! I do know I want to do more and better on a wider stage. After all, I am “That Guy.”

BYOD: Bring Your Own Deceit

(#Bloggermore2015 5/26)

Self Deception Image Source as Cited

Self Deception
Image Source: www.alameleadership.com

Interesting title, you say! Unfortunately, the deception is mine; but let me explain. The IT Strategic Planning Committee at my school has decided the time is right to go BYOD. Or possibly BYODD or even BYOT. Lord, how educators love their acronyms. While the decision can be relatively simple, I’m sure you’ve all heard BYOD called “Bring Your Own Disaster.” Trying to get my head around all the possible advantages and pitfalls, I wrote a guest post for my good friends at Fractus Learning. So, to the deception; the next paragraph is a short extract from my article “BYOD: Bring Your Own Disenthrallment.” By pasting the extract here I will cleverly create the illusion of having done another blog post. Deception! And, by then directing you to Fractus Learning for the remainder, I create traffic to my full article. Deception!

“I fully understand that teachers are entitled to work/life balance; their own children have to be taxied to dance lessons, there’s grocery shopping or a well-deserved rest. But, it would seem to me, that teaching is one of the few professions where individuals do not see it as imperative to keep up to date with the latest trends. Just yesterday I visited the dentist for a filling. How would I have reacted if he had performed dentistry without anaesthetic and wielding a rusted, nineteenth century implement? (BYOD: Bring Your Only Dentist!) The teachers at my school are by no means in a unique position; I have come across this same dilemma before. But, by the same token, the claim “I don’t have time for this” simply no longer holds … My day has the same 24 hours gifted to everyone else.”

To read the remainder, please use THIS LINK to take you to Fractus Learning.

BYOD: Bring Your Own ...

BYOD: Bring Your Own …

This weekend I am off to Perth to deliver my first conference keynote. I promise to be back next week to comment on the experience and give you access to the presentation. Honest, NO deception. And, of course, as always, I would be delighted to receive your feedback and comments.

 

Teaching Digital Citizenship

(#Bloggermore2015 4/26)

Well; here’s my now customary opening … Yes, I know this post is overdue, I’ve been busy, so, so busy … whinge, whine, moan … hope for sympathy from readers. I have, in fact, been busily working on my application to become an Apple Distinguished Educator which I finally submitted last night. I know; brilliant isn’t it … already struggling to keep up, I decide to chase another commitment. Still, I seriously hope I am selected for the 2015 intake. I’d love to add that tiny little apple to my Twitter name.

Now, putting aside further self-indulgent rants, I should focus upon the actual subject of this post. One of my first duties at my new school was to present introductory lessons in digital citizenship to Year 8 and 9 students. I didn’t want to go down the track of “you must” or “the consequences will be” and so I set out to create a presentation that would be fun, informative but with a obvious message. Tomorrow evening I will be repeating the presentation for parents and so I have added further slides. I think it is unfortunate that so many parents see the school as being solely responsible for ensuring their children’s safety and reputation in the digital realm. The final slides, based upon an excellent webinar I attended with Tanya Avrith, put some of the onus back upon parents.

My digital citizenship presentation was uploaded to SlideShare and so I now offer it for your use and adaptation. You will certainly need to delete or modify at least one slide which gives details of a school based competition … and of course, the title slide too! All images and YouTube clips are credited on the final slide.

ACEC 2014: Riding the Social Media Wave in Education

The briefest of posts … Today I had the opportunity to present at ACEC 2014 in Adelaide; my first public appearance in my new home state. My chosen topic was the use of social media tools in the classroom; with a special emphasis upon Twitter, phrase.it and Chogger. Below you will find, as promised, the SlideShare upload of my slides. Of course, I would be more than happy for attendees to make whatever use of these that you may wish! I welcome comments and questions from all; not just those who were present.

PS: It was great to have Kathy Schrock (@kathyschrock) present for my session … and nodding in agreement. (I think!) PPS: Apologies for one or two misplaced images … a consequence of creating in Keynote, exporting to PowerPoint and then uploading to SlideShare.