Finally, I’ve written a new post, creatively titled “Finally, A New Post.” I won’t trot out my usual excuses for not writing … I’ve got new excuses! I have been exceedingly busy on a whole range of projects which have finally come together. What are they? I’m glad you asked.
I devoted a good deal of time to reading the extraordinary text “Open: How We’ll Work, Live and Learn In The Future” by David Price, OBE. Of the myriad educational texts I’ve read over the last five years, none has influenced me as much as this one. Price gives a wonderful account of how a health scare led to a revelation which led eventually to Open. Within the learning aspect he provides telling insights into why schools need to become both O.P.E.N. and S.O.F.T. For more detail you can read my review of Open on Fractus Learning. This link will take you there: http://www.fractuslearning.com/2016/04/20/social-learning-heutagogues-coming/
Yes, you must “Man The Walls: The Heutagogues Are Coming.” Go on, you have to read the review now just to find out what the hell that title means. Price’s ideas will also take centre stage as a key element of my Education Nation session on June 7. If you haven’t registered for this great new Sydney conference then you absolutely should. Apparently, I’m going to be epic. Or I just have one of the biggest heads.
Yes, I’m officially EPIC!
But that’s not all. I’ve also officially become a “brand” with a small business; a small business cleverly called The Connected Teacher. What do we offer? Small group Professional Learning paired with great food and wine at Lambert Estate in the beautiful Barossa Valley. You can read about my fledgling enterprise in the PD section of the latest Australian Teacher Magazine. (I’ll save you some time by pointing out that it’s on page 46.) Alternatively, you might want to read all about it on the new website www.theconnectedteacher.com.au
Why not spend a day or even a long weekend in the Barossa. Of course, you might also suggest it as a great idea for your colleagues. I can promise it will be unique professional learning, quite unlike anything already in the market and at a low, all inclusive price. Go on, register now.
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)
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.”)
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.)
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 …
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.
Some of you may just get the obscure, tortured reference in my title. (Yes, to the Rodgers and Hammerstein song from Carousel. Sorry, there is no prize.) The recently completed month of June was certainly hectic and also marked my 55th birthday; I know I don’t look a day over 70! I want, in this post, to give an account of how June unfolded; of its challenges, its diversity and ultimately its rewards. It was a month that was, in most respects, amongst the most exhausting, yet productive and gratifying, of my career. Here’s why …
In the first week of the month I attended EduTech 2014 in Brisbane. I hadn’t intended to until I was invited by CEO Craig Macfarlane as a response to criticism of EdTech conferences in my Fractus Learning article “You Can’t Handle The Truth.” I was duly impressed that Craig had read my article, agreed with some of my concerns and made an effort to meet with me. There was much to like about EduTech this year; Adam Spencer was an awesome host and Sir Ken Robinson delivered the Day One keynote. But as my History teaching colleague Matthew Esterman (@mesterman on Twitter … follow him now!) rightly tweeted…
“Have loved having gr8 keynotes to listen to but #EduTECH has also affirmed my belief that the rock stars of ed are in our classrooms.”
And, I had the chance to meet some of those “stars” including Dan Haesler, Jarrod Lamshed, Steve Box, Corinne Campbell, Cathy Hunt, Zeina Chalich, Jacques du Toit and Matthew himself (… apologies, I know I’ve overlooked many others!) The opportunity to meet and talk with such great thinkers (and doers) will always be amongst the very best moments of any conference. I did get the opportunity to deliver a Show Floor Presentation entitled “Death to PowerPoint” although, ironically, I had to have my slides in PowerPoint! My greatest enjoyment came from attending and presenting at the #TeachMeet sessions instigated by Matthew (… told you he was a star!) These sessions saw “ordinary” teachers sharing ideas and successes with a small audience of their peers. If you’ve never attended a #TeachMeet why not organise your own!
The Connected Teacher connects … Great bald spot!
Whilst at EduTech I also had the opportunity to be interviewed by Corinne Campbell for the TER Podcast. Absolutely loathe, like most people, the sound of my own voice but you might want to check it out anyway. You’ll find me at the one hour 17 minute mark. (You can listen and subscribe to TERPodcast on iTunes, Android Smartphones and on Stitcher Online Radio.) As EduTech reached its final day I also had my latest article appear on Fractus Learning; “Declaring the Digital Rights of Students.” Of all that I’ve written over the past 2 or 3 years, this was the piece that I agonised over and revised several times. I would greatly appreciate feedback if you haven’t had the chance to read it as yet.
In the ten days after EduTech I wrote a guest post for the iAnnotate Blog and a Help Desk article for the Australian Teacher Magazine. Both will appear in the near future and we all know I’ll relentlessly promote them via Twitter. At the same time Noelene Callaghan (on Twitter @ncallaghan1) asked me to appear in the Australian Education Times as Teacher of the Month. (http://www.educationtimes.com.au/issue/july-2014) I welcomed this as another great opportunity to “put myself out there.” During this same period I also moderated a #histedchat on Social Media as a Learning Tool (You’ll find the Storify at sfy.co/ejkU) I also dealt with one other small matter; I assessed 120 essays and research tasks before writing the same number of reports.
The reports were due on June 26; I finished them on the 25th which was fortunate because at 9:00 am on June 27 I left for Atlanta and ISTE2014. That will be the subject of my next post! So, June was indeed awesome but I still can’t believe I survived unscathed; well, except for my birthday.
It’s good to be blogging again after the insanity that was end of term examinations and student reports. This post will be somewhat of a compilation although I’m certainly not ready as yet to release a “Best Of” or “Greatest Hits” collection. (Can you guess who attended a Blues Festival last week? Oh, and by the way Jimmy Cliff is still kicking it at 68. Only hope I’m as impressive fifteen years from now!)
In an online community which has started to utilise, whilst still debating, the term teacherpreneur, I have come to understand the need for “building a brand.” Whilst entrepreneurship and brand immediately summon up the idea of monetary gain, I can assure you I haven’t made a cent! Dave Orphal gives the following definition of a teacherpreneur as distinct from a teacher leader or an educational entrepreneur. (You might also want to use the link below to access Dave’s excellent Prezi on this idea.)
“These are part-time classroom teachers. This is the big idea — job sharing so that the traditionally non-teaching jobs associated with a school; the traditionally non-teaching role of ed-policy maker; the traditionally non-teacher role of researcher, staff developer, etc… can all be done by people still have a foot in the classroom.”
Having taught for over 30 years whilst holding a range of positions of added responsibility, this is the job I want now! Of course, I can’t see this happening in the real world; my school is highly unlikely to make me their resident teacherpreneur. So, I figure that the way to succeed is by building an online brand which is “legitimised” by the fact that I am still active in the classroom. The problem of course, is exactly how to construct my brand. I believe I have made the correct choices … so here are my “Four Cornerstones For Teacherpreneurs.”
1. Build A PLN: This Friday I will celebrate my first “Twirthday.” In that first year on Twitter I have accumulated 700 followers and have sent around 3300 tweets. Not a bad effort considering that I spent the first three or four months as a lurker. All of my followers are either teachers or companies involved in the field of education. Whilst I do occasionally tweet about films or books or music … I believe it is essential to be perceived by my PLN as someone who is excited about and heavily involved in education. I visit Twitter several times a day and ensure that I respond to all direct messages and mentions. I also consider it imperative to thank new followers for connecting and to promise to build a relationship of sharing with them.
2. Create Content: We certainly live in an age where creation has overtaken consumption. I emphasise this fact with my students and accept that I too must be a genuine creator of content. Obviously, this blog is one forum in which I can share what I am doing in class, what I believe and what I have “made.” It is also important to make your content available to the wider global market, to “put it out there.” Earlier this year, I created a Haiku Deck presentation entitled “The New Mindset” for colleagues at my school. (Yeah, I know I mention this at every opportunity!) I decided to put it online through the Haiku Deck gallery from where it has been picked up, tweeted about, pinned, embedded and shared. I am astonished that this presentation has now been downloaded over 6000 times and has garnered responses like this one. (Thanks, Matt.)
3. Seek and Accept Opportunities: I was pleasantly surprised when a random Twitter mention of owning a home in South Australia led to me being offered a guest post spot on Fractus Learning. (Nick Grantham, one of their principals, is an Australian!) Writing my contribution took a great deal of time but was well worth the effort, both personally and professionally. My post “You Can’t Adjust the Sails from an Armchair” was very well received and Fractus Learning offered me a “regular gig.” If you haven’t read my musings as yet, I would certainly welcome your feedback.
I am also delighted, as I’ve no doubt mentioned more than once before, to have built an association with Haiku Deck. Becoming one of their International Gurus has secured the opportunity for me to present about the application at conferences later this year. For me, the best part of this will be having the opportunity to meet some of my tweeps in person for the first time.
4. Connect With Preservice Teachers: I am flattered (… and that’s definitely the right word) that I have connected with many preservice teachers as part of my PLN. I think that all educators, especially those with lots of classroom experience, have an obligation to give back to the profession. I have begun to share resources and ideas via Twitter with young (and not so young) student teachers at Flinders, USQ and ACU. I sincerely hope that they remember that you can be 53 and open to the “Winds of Change” in education. This post has almost devolved into self-love but I want to offer one final artefact before signing off. I relish the downloads and the positive feedback but this video from preservice teacher Jenni Brown (follow her on Twitter @jenbrown01) is most definitely the kind of reinforcement I enjoy the most. It lets me know I’m well on my way to attaining my desired teacherpreneurship. (Is that even a word?)
Jenni’s video on “How ICTs Can Promote Professional Development” is well worth viewing, even if her drawing of “The Connected Teacher” looks nothing like me. We would both welcome your feedback.
PS: For the period from April 5-April 20 inclusive, I will be travelling overseas with my Year 12 Ancient History students. We will be visiting Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Athens, Mycenae, Delphi and Olympia. I will be live blogging during the trip. These posts (which prove to parents that I haven’t lost their children!) may be of interest to my fellow History teachers and can be found at