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.”

The Year Ahead: #Bloggermore2015 1/26

It’s been a big few months; new address, new state, new job, new-rotic! (You knew I would get a joke in early.) Most of my long service leave has been devoted to renovating and painting our 1930s cottage in the beautiful Barossa Valley of South Australia. I’ve even discovered that YouTube is a great resource for the DIY challenged like myself. It seems there’s a “how to” video for just about any repair job around the house … and some even ended up looking (vaguely) like the picture.

I didn't do this ... honest!

I didn’t do this … honest!

But now, my new position as eLearning Manager at Faith Lutheran looms large on the horizon. Yesterday I spent an hour in discussions with the school’s new principal and was certainly encouraged by his focus on learning and the significance of educational technology. My main responsibility will be to mentor my colleagues in the use of technology in order to redefine and enhance learning. No wonder I’m excited; but I’m also realistic about how much time I’ll have to devote to this role.

I also have two “big gigs” booked for later in the year. In March I will be delivering my very first keynote at the State Conference of the History Teachers Association of Western Australia. (HTAWA) I will also be returning to EduTech in order to present alongside fellow History teachers Jacques du Toit and Matthew Esterman. So, by now you’re probably wondering (at least I hope so) about the rather obscure hashtag in the title of this post. Yes, it is a direct nod to the J.K.Rowling website Pottermore but it is also a challenge to myself. Though, of course, you might want to join me! Over the past year my blogging has become, at best, irregular. What I plan to do, therefore, with time at a premium, is to share the details and observations of my year in a series of 26 posts … one per fortnight with an aim of restricting myself to an achievable 200-400 words in each post. Please keep me honest and on track.