Sunday, May 22, 2016

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, May 09, 2016

#satchatoz - A Tweetchat with spirit and soul!

Last Saturday morning, with the sun shining brightly and the waves on our South Golden Beach calling me, I chose to participate as host in the #satchatoz Tweetchat

This is no ordinary regular Tweetchat - this is a globally aware chat session with spirit and soul!

Organiser Tina Photakis and co-founder Andrea Stringer were both in there cajoling the many local and global participants and responding to the theme:

Conversations and contributions revolved around these five questions:

Don't miss the NEXT #satchatOZ! The best professional learning that takes you and your thinking beyond the local into the global!

Relive the chat via Storify!


Sunday, May 08, 2016

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Building an online school community using WeChat

 This is the first of many blog posts cross-posted from the Connect with China blog and sharing education highlights from our trip to China in April 2016!

Our Connect with China trip in April 2016 took us to Beijing BISS International School, a small IB world school located on the 3rd ring road in Beijing. This was the school I worked in as E-Learning Coordinator and MYP Coordinator, and I wrote about our interactions with students while there in a previous blog post on the CCC blog.

This blog post features the Head of Elementary School, Shannon O'Dwyer, who not only spent the morning with us sharing the Connect with China Collaborative with teachers and students, but also took the time to share with us her evolving use of WeChat (a very common app used by most/all Chinese and others beyond China, and also used by our Connect with China Collaborative participants) as a tool to build community within each class.

This is a significant discussion for the following reasons:

  • Shannon shares that the use of WeChat is very new in the school in terms of communication between stakeholders
  • She describes how it's use is developing on the fly - and is viral in the way the benefits outweigh the disadvantages
  • A school often creates policies first and then implements communication modes - but in this case the 'policy' is being developed on the run as users (parents, teachers and students) continue to explore and innovate using the WeChat app
  • Parents and students are learning how to be online global/digital citizens and forming strong community bonds through the ongoing use of this simple tool

I consider Shannon a 'teacherpreneur' and as such someone who is not afraid to lead for change. Although she might modestly disagree with me, she is forging new pathways for communication and collaboration in a PYP school that are agile, creative and inspiring. This is in a learning environment where the middle and high school counterparts have banned mobile phones in the classroom - for Shannon she tells the students they are in trouble if they do NOT bring their phones to class! I encourage all global education leaders to be encouraged by the work of Shannon and learners at BISS. New attitudes and habits of learning that include the use of emerging technologies show us new ways of connecting and communicating support learning. According to Shannon WeChat is providing a vital connection to everyday events in the classroom and in the community - beyond the facility of a classroom blog. Students and parents interact with teachers and school leaders sharing ideas, questions, activities and more. The interview is about 8 min. long - but I encourage you to watch it all! 

 READ Shannon's blog post about our trip 'Connect to Learn'

Some images from our trip:
Classrooms, teachers, students, Beijing BISS International School, and lunch at a local favourtie restaurant!

Read more about the Connect with China Collaborative that joins teachers, students and community members from within and beyond China for collaborative learning and global understanding.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Global Education Highlights (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Ban Technology? No, let's ban outdated learning and teaching instead!

This post is in response to an article in the Australian written by Natasha Bita and published March 26, 2016: 'Computers in class 'a scandalous waste': Sydney Grammar head'

Brought to my attention via Twitter by the organisers of Education Nation (a conference being held in Sydney in June), I responded with a tweet.....

Let me explain my thinking further. In the spirit of mediation and trying to understand divergent thinking within the Australian education system I must say that ultra-conservative leadership within Australian education continues to be alive and kicking - both at the independent and public levels. It is almost as though our students are being held to ransom while leaders ignore much of the digital technology revolution that has taken place in the past 10 years.

To the article.....

Money....Yes! Lots of money has been wasted on technology...individually and institutionally - that is the generation we live in (like it or not). 
John Vallance (Head of Sydney Grammar) is quoted as saying, “I’ve seen so many schools with limited budgets spending a disproportionate amount of their money on technology that doesn’t really bring any measurable, or non-measurable, benefits,’’
If schools have spent money on technology that has been above what may be considered a reasonable budget then there is likely something wrong with the system - however it is the accountability part of this that aligns intention with outcomes. What are the measurement tools being used to account for this? Better performance on tests? Higher marks overall for university entrance? Is that our ultimate goal (as the article seems to indicate) for education? What about the intangible outcomes such as improved digital fluency for life's purposes, ability to connect online beyond the classroom to learn with others.... how do you measure and evaluate those?
Vallance, "“Schools have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars­ on interactive whiteboards, digital projectors, and now they’re all being jettisoned.’’ is true, money has been spent (and don't get me started on interactive whiteboards....ok, in a fair and just world where schools have all the money they need then a modern classroom should have these boards....but on limited budgets I would always choose technology in the hands of the student) but then effective schools (and businesses!!) plan budgets for technology replacements and updates - that is what we have to do now - it is part of the overhead of learning and of running a business.

Classroom management...... 
"But Dr Vallance regards­ laptops as a distraction in the classroom. “We see teaching as fundamentally a social activity,’’ he said. “It’s about interaction ­between people, about discussion, about conversation." 
Oh my goodness......if I hear one more time from an education leader or teacher or even a student that technology is a distraction I will throw something.....Technology is only a distraction when the associated pedagogy has not evolved to embed digital learning. In 2003 I was eLearning coordinator at the International School Dhaka in Bangladesh. Students had personally owned laptops in Grades 9-12, a wireless network, and an optimistic approach to learning how to learn while digital as a teaching faculty. Yes there were a few who considered laptops a distraction - but they were the teachers who continued to stand at the front of the class and demand 'eyes to the front' attention with a lecture-style pedagogy; they were the ones who wanted ultimate control of thought and action, and did not trust that students could not only use but benefit from online learning modes. But that was over ten years ago....surely all schools across the world have moved on? Surely we all know and understand today how to manage mobile technologies in the classroom to advantage learning outcomes??Surely we all know how to design online learning experiences both locally and globally?? (sigh...)

Teacher professional learning..... 
Vallance is quoted as saying, “If I had a choice between filling a classroom with laptops or hiring another teacher, I’d take the other teacher every day of the week.’’
 OK, this is not exactly a statement about professional learning...but let me say this, all teachers need to update their pedagogical approaches to include learning with digital and online technologies - there is no mid-point here. You are either stuck in the past (no technology in the class) with a pencil and paper approach, or you embrace and embed new modes that include designing online and interactive learning environments. The major problem I see in Australia right now (and I have worked with many schools and teachers across Australia in the past 4 years) is the very low level of digital fluency coupled with an even lower level of understanding of how to use online tools and blended learning to support K-12 levels (oh...and Higher ed as well...but let's keep focused here...). I continue to run workshops, and even in 2016, where teachers do not know how to access a Google doc and even ask me (I am not joking, this is a true story) what Web 2.0 is. So yes, hire more teachers instead of replacing laptops after 3 them for 4 years and fix the budget that way - but the imperative action is teacher professional learning along with enlightened leadership attitudes and approaches to what learning really does look like in a modern classroom.....

In the words of Michael Fullan (Fullan, Langworthy and Barber, 2014),
"Pedagogical capacity, an educator's repertoire of teaching strategies and partnerships for learning, has and will continue to change as technology becomes more pervasive to include content delivery and consumption as well as collaboration and creation of new knowledge and a focus on the process of learning"

Socialisation of learning......
 “We see teaching as fundamentally a social activity,’’ he said. “It’s about interaction ­between people, about discussion, about conversation.
“We find that having laptops or iPads in the classroom inhibit conversation — it’s distracting. Dr Vallance said computers in the classroom robbed children of the chance to debate and discuss ideas with the teacher.“One of the most powerful tools in education is conversation,’’ he said.
The sociability of online learning has been researched and written about for 20 years. Yes, teaching is a social activity....and so is learning! Absolutely it is about interaction between people, discussion, sharing ideas, debate, conversation etc. But why limit this to one set of 20 students and one teacher (!!???). The use of digital technologies 'flattens' the learning so that others can be brought into these conversations and students ideas and outputs and learning can be merged, integrated, collaborated with experts and peers. In addition, digital technology allows learning to be visible - curation and sharing of resources online, blogging, collaborating via a wiki or Google doc, online discussion forums...all of these actions are valuable 'social learning' activities that can be shared beyond the immediate classroom walls as needed...and the best vehicle to do this is to use mobile technologies. Gone are the days when learners should have to walk to the computer laboratory in order to access their blog or social bookmarks or interact online! I closed the last computer lab at my school in Beijing, China when I was IT Director in 2011....good riddance we the technology is in the hands of the students and can be accessed when needed (and put down when not!).

In terms of socialisation - learning is about building relationships, networks and communities of practice - and we should be encouraging students to build their own personal learning networks at a young age, and teaching them how to work in a collaborative capacity online....surely it goes without saying this is the future for them? It is the current state of how many of us work already!

Finally - Choices!......

My final words....or this will become a 2000 word paper.....learning today is global, it demands intercultural understanding and across borders interaction and collaboration, it requires new peer-to-peer learning modes and active online teacher presence, it requires an agile and flexible curriculum, and it relies on educators who understand emerging pedagogies for online collaborative learning. Current research related to educators as agents of change, qualities of and conditions for implementing online global collaborative projects using ICT, and pedagogical beliefs shows that barriers to technology integration not only include hardware and software issues but teacher beliefs and attitudes.
What is the catalyst for changing educators’ practice to more constructivist or connectivist approaches? In my view one of the catalysts is having technology in the classroom - available and working at all times. Then it becomes a matter of CHOICE - yes, at times it is best to hand write or use paper and pen, at other times it is best to use technology. It should not be an either has to be both. Put the choice in the hands of the not inflict one mode or the other. I know I have made mistakes in the past as a leader of new technologies when insisting on everyone conforming to digital it has to be about choice, and adopting a variety of approaches when learning.

I will be speaking at the Education Nation Conference in June and look forward to further conversations about the role of digital technology in learning in Australia. There is much more to be said about this.

I welcome your comments and input to this discussion.

Julie Lindsay

Fullan, M., Langworthy, M., & Barber, M. (2014). A Rich Seam: How new pedagogies find deep learning. London: Pearson.