Feed aggregator

Enterprising schools

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 6 hours 55 min ago

Harvard Professor, Richard Elmore once asked ‘is it possible that schools can continue to operate in the 19th century while the rest of society moves into the 21st century?’ The simple answer is no – although the adversarial position historically adopted by unions suggests otherwise.

NSW and ACT Catholic employers are currently in the process of discussions with staff and the union on a new enterprise agreement that we believe reflects the need to create contemporary working conditions relevant to a twenty first century model of schooling.  This conversation is not limited to teaching profession, it is happening in most professional organisations around the world.  Federal education minister Christopher Pyne recently said that education is one of the last bastions in the working world where length of service is still rewarded.  Length of service in any profession does not guarantee that you are the best you can be.  It simply means you lasted the distance.

We want all teachers no matter what stage of their career to develop high level skills and knowledge in their work.  I know the majority of teachers want greater control of their working lives.  As John Hattie states ‘schools need to collaborate to build a team working together to solve the dilemmas in learning, to collectively share and critique the nature and quality of evidence that shows our impact on student learning, and to cooperate in planning etc.’

This calls for a new professional maturity that provides teachers with greater autonomy but acknowledges the need for all teachers to adopt a rigorous and intellectual approach to improving teacher practice. In 2018, Australia will have a new national teachers standard administered by AITSL.  This is one of the foundations of the new Catholic schools enterprise agreement. The standards are imminent and non-negotiable.

What is negotiable under a new enterprise agreement is how each local school community structures and shapes learning and teaching.  For more than a century the working lives of teachers have been controlled by bells, timetables and externally imposed agenda. Do we continue to defend an industrial model of schooling in the face of the irrefutable and overwhelming impact of a knowledge age or do we embrace the opportunities for teachers to chart new waters?

Enterprise is defined in the dictionary as a ‘readiness to embark on adventures with boldness and energy.’  Educational expert Yong Zhao believes the time has come for schools to be enterprising, for students to be entrepreneurial and for teachers to be bold in re-shaping the educational agenda.  This is what the new enterprise agreement is about.  It challenges teachers to think about new ways of working together to improve the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

We don’t just want teachers to last the distance, we want them to shape their profession and to continually raise the bar of excellence for themselves, the school communities and most of all, the students they teach.

If twenty first century schools are enterprising schools, then we need a contemporary enterprise agreement which reflects a 21st century teaching profession.












The proposal for an enterprise agreement stems from a recognition that a new century requires new ways of working in schools.  It aims to increase collaboration at a local level by supporting leaders but most of all, it aims to bring alignment in the standards





Enterprising schools need enterprise agreements.  It’s time for educators to be bold and to lead the way with imagination and initiative on how we want to work.



Categories: Planet

One semi colon away from disaster

At a recent workshop Alexander Repenning said that sometimes teaching programming is “one semi colon away from disaster.” How true that is. Minor syntax issues, especially when dealing with beginners, can make a program look like a complete disaster.

Last school year I had more than a few students come close to panic when a compiler reported dozes, scores or even hundreds of errors. Typically adding a semi colon or a curly brace in the right place made most of the errors “go away.” The words “in the right place” are bold for a reason. At times is seems as though beginners start putting in semi colons or curly braces closely to random locations in hopes of making the errors go away. Sometimes the syntax errors go away but create interesting logic errors. Since too often students associate compiling and running with success the results are not happy for grading purposes.

I’ve been thinking about decorations for my computer lab. I’m starting to think that a couple of signs might be useful. One would say “Don’t panic” and another one just say “Think” like the old IBM signs used to say. And maybe “slow down to make faster progress.”

Panic is bad as it prevents sound thinking. And speed without thought seldom seems to get people where they want to know.

Returning to semi colons, yes we have to, they are one of the reasons so many people like to use block programming languages. Or other forms of drag and drop programming. They do help with talking about concepts and helping students to achieve some success with programming. But do they help when it is time to move on to “real” or traditional programming languages. It seems like a big jump and research seems to be light on the subject.

I had a conversation at the CSTA Annual Conference and found that there are others who are skeptical of the transference from block languages to traditional ones. We could use some more research on this. Does it work? How can we make it work better? What is the best way to help students with the progression? A lot of questions but in the mean time there are days when we still walk one semi colon from disaster.

Late edit but it belongs here:

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 21 July 2014

What a week I had last week. The CSTA Annual Conference, the National CS Principles Summit and then the CSTA Board meeting. I need a rest. I tweeted a lot from the first two events. Not from the board meeting though because that information properly comes through the Board Chair and Executive Director. It took me a while to scan though things but I believe I have some good links to share. I hope you find some value here.
I find it interesting that this is happening. Business schools are realizing that even if you are not a programmer it is valuable to be able to share some common vocabulary and experience with programmers. B-Schools Finally Acknowledge: Companies Want MBAs Who Can Code via Business Week @BW
Delphi for fun - looks like some interesting projects thanks to Peter Beens @pbeens for the link.
One of the events of last week was the National Computer Science Principles Summit. I tweeted about it a lot but you can get a lot of the resources and videos at the CS Principles Summit web site.

Link to Rich Kick's resources for Computer Science Principles
An Office Mix presentation on using Code Hunt A good way to get a quick introduction to what Code Hunt is all about.
Interested in learning more about App Inventor? Follow the link for an online course. http://bit.ly/1jJgUA6
HTML5 Canvas Basics handouts http://www.missblomeyer.com/csta2014 from the CSTA Conference.
Teachers new to programming, nice resource for getting started especially with CS Principles.
Resources from computational thinking through game design workshop at the CSTA annual conference.
Categories: Planet

Information ecology at the heart of knowledge

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 19 July, 2014 - 23:42

While technology is changing the information environment (including information places and spaces), the transactional nature of information interactions and knowledge flow underpins learning. Information can comprise both physical and virtual parts for operation and interaction.

I see that a  major challenge for education is to enable and facilitate the generation of new knowledge via an appropriate information environment, to facilitate integration of new concepts within each person’s existing knowledge structure.

Information ecology presents the contexts of information behavior by analogy with ecological habitats and niches, identifying behaviours in biological terms such as ‘foraging’ (Bawden & Robinson, 2012. p.199). In this context of adaptive and responsive co-construction of knowledge, we can facilitate a viable praxis in digital environments, influenced by concepts of rhisomatic learning. Seen as a model for the construction of knowledge, rhizomatic processes hint at the interconnectedness of ideas as well as boundless exploration across many fronts from many different starting points. (Sharples, et al. 2012 p.33).

By creating curriculum and subject delivery which can be reshaped and reconstructed in a dynamic manner in response to changing environmental conditions or the personal professional needs of students, a digital information ecology provides the opportunity to work with information in the construction of knowledge in more dynamic ways, connecting learning experiences across the contexts of location, time, devices and platforms.

Researching how digital technologies may be used to create a more responsive learning ecology both in use of online tools and assessment practices can provide a valid way of examining effectiveness if the link between the use and the learning is explicit. Research to date rarely makes this link explicit and evaluations appear to be based on researcher beliefs about learning which are either not expressed or vague (Starkey 2011, p20.)

Starkey (2011) provides an excellent summary of the key concepts of critical thinking skills, knowledge creation and learning through connections that epitomizes 21st century learning. Technology can be used to evaluate learning, though the link between digital technologies and student performance is complex. Yet the digital age students, who can think critically, learn through connections, create knowledge and understand concepts should be able to connect and collaborate with others beyond a constrained physical environment; understand that knowledge is created through a range of media and created through networks, connections and collaborations; be able to think critically and evaluate processes and emerging ideas. The ability to evaluate the validity and value of information accessed is essential.

In such a context and information ecology, enabling learning involves the creation of assessments and environments for knowledge building to enhance collaborative efforts to create and continually improve ideas. This approach to knowledge building exploits the potential of collaborative knowledge work by situating ideas in a communal workspace where others can criticize or contribute to their improvement (Scardamalia 2012 p.238 ).

A communal workspace, a collaborative and formative framework for assessments, and research into the impact of all this on learning futures – now that would be grand to see!

Rhizomatic learning new to you?  You might like this fireside presentation from Dave Cormier about embracing uncertainty.


Bawden, D. & Robinson, L. (2012). Information behaviour. In Introduction to information science (pp. 187-210). London : Facet.
Scardamalia, M., Bransford, J., Kozma, B., & Quellmalz, E. (2012). New assessments and environments for knowledge building. In Assessment and teaching of 21st century skills (pp. 231-300). Springer Netherlands.
Sharples, M., McAndrew, P., Weller, M., Ferguson, R., FitzGerald, E., Hirst, T., & Whitelock, D. (2012). Innovating Pedagogy 2012: Open University Innovation Report 1. Milton Keynes: The Open University.
Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: A digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19-39.

Image: Learning (Photo credit: Anne Davis 773)

Related articles
Filed under: Connectivism, Innovation & Creativity, Knowledge networks, Learning and Teaching Tagged: Information ecology, Pedagogy, Praxis
Categories: Planet

A Different Perspective?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 July, 2014 - 05:04
#459991855 / gettyimages.com

Summer is a great time for reflection and throwing ideas around, so here is something that has been floating around in my brain.

The other night on the ESPY Awards, when Stuart Scott was awarded the “Jimmy V Perseverance” award (an amazing speech that you really should watch) for his fight against cancer, his friend Robin Roberts came up to the stage and talked about a new initiative in the hopes to cure cancer.  Although she mentioned it very briefly, my interest was piqued considerably when she talked about the idea of bringing in people outside of the profession to give new ideas to think about curing cancer.  My interest was piqued considerably at the idea that people outside of a profession look at solving a problem.  In education, many of us have spent many years looking at the same problems that the system we are in created; a different perspective on things could be helpful.

I will admit that one of my biggest pet peeves is hearing people say that people outside of education shouldn’t speak at education conferences because they do not know what it is like to be in the classroom.  The same “growth mindset” that many of us preach seems pretty closed when we hear sentiments like this.  I myself have been guilty of saying, “what would they know, they’ve never had to teach”, yet still love when hearing a student’s perspective about school, when they also have never taught.  We can learn from anyone about anything, and what is important is that we learn to make connections to what we do in the education system.  If you go to many conferences, many of the same ideas shared by educators are ones that are often reiterated from others but with a different perspective or “twist” to the story.  Many people are wanting some vastly different ideas.

Now there is a difference between having a non-educator talk about how to solve problems in the classroom, as opposed to hearing someone’s story from outside of the education realm.  A doctor doesn’t know what it is like to have 30 kids in a classroom, no more than I know what it is like to remove someone’s appendix.  It is important to understand that in any profession we respect that experience often trumps research.  I am not looking for Bill Gates to give me ideas on how to run a school.  I would however be interested to know what Bill Gates has done in his own work to create change and make what he does better.  I would also like to know about the changes that have happened in the music industry, and how people in that field have created an environment where they thrive.  How did Uber come about and what are traditional taxi services doing to change the way they do business? The Edmonton Humane Society has totally changed my perspective on how an animal shelter should look like (it is an amazingly beautiful place and looks a lot different from the small cage that I got my first dog Kobe from), and their outreach to the community through their Twitter account has been engaging and powerful.  How did they get to that point and why did they change?

The thing that education has in common with many other fields is that change has been thrust upon them because of the ease of access to information and the easy ability to connect with one another.  Schools aren’t the only organization that is having to look at drastic change.  Many industries are facing similar challenges. What can we learn from them about what they have done and how can we make it applicable to the challenges we are facing?  Creating those connections to both ideas and people could be extremely valuable to the field of education.

So the idea that has been floating around in my head has been hosting an “innovator summit”. This would have people from different fields that are looking at creating, and have created change in their respective fields.  How did they do it?  What worked? What didn’t?  What could we learn from each other?  This would also include people from the field of education who have been successful in creating valuable changes in their own organizations.  There is a lot that different industries could learn from us and apply to their own work.  Truthfully, if anyone should look at hosting a conference where we can learn from one another, shouldn’t it be the field of education?

I have been tossing this idea around in my head.  Perhaps having an “Ignite” style day with short talks, but with the opportunity for conversations with other people.  Maybe even an “Edcamp” type conference.  The idea is definitely in its infancy.  The one thing that I know I would NOT want is people from different fields coming in to tell educators how schools should be.  I have seen that before and it has been a lot of “how to” on getting students to do better at tests, and behaving, etc.  Are we focusing on “doing things better”, or “doing better things”?  Those are two uniquely different ideas and my hope is that we are moving to the latter.

Maybe this has been done before.  Maybe it hasn’t.  It is pretty hard to have an original idea in today’s world but I would sure love some feedback and thoughts on what this could look like or if this is even something that would be beneficial in our work to help our students.


Categories: Planet

Global Connectedness

At the recent Flat Connections conference in Sydney, the program included a several “Supporting the Challenge” bootcamps which allowed participants to choose the topics that were of high interest to them. “Global Connectedness” was the theme of one of my offered workshops (bootcamps).

In this session, the following questions and topics were shared and discussed.

  • What is a global community?
  • Some examples of global communities.
  • Where can educators start to connect with the world?
  • What are some of the most popular networking tools to build a community?
  • How can a global community be successfully maintained.
  • Tips for sustaining a global community.
  • Challenges

View the presentation:-

Categories: Planet

Save The Date for the 2015 CSTA Annual Conference

Yes, we just finished the Computer Science Teachers Association conference. And it was a great one. You can get copies of many of the presentation decks at http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTA14/Presentations.html and video of many of them will be available soon. But it is not too soon to save the date for net year’s conference.

The 2015 CSTA Annual Conference will be held July 13th and July 14th at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine Texas. Yes! CSTA is coming to Texas. More information will be coming out in the coming months but you can put the date in your calendar.

Categories: Planet

I won an academic award!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:29

Who could have thought five years ago that in 2014 I would be a recipient of a Faculty of Education Award, from Charles Sturt University?  Not me!

Today saw the official announcement of the 2014 awards, and yes – my name was there.

I have to thank all my colleagues past and present who have made this possible. This is a little special for me, as it encourages me to keep doing what I have been doing to support learning, teaching and innovation in schools and beyond.

Thank you!

Image: Thank you CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 by hellojenuine.


Filed under: Higher Education Tagged: Award, Charles Sturt University
Categories: Planet

Launching Designing Spaces for Learning – our new subject!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 17:03

Our newest program/course/degree (terminology depends on the part of the world you are in) has been keeping me very busy.  Here at Charles Sturt University I  launched the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) in March 2014.  We have just completed some of the subjects, and I will have to share the outcomes.

But before I do share this, I want to welcome my good friend Ewan McIntosh of NoTosh fame,  to CSU as a newly minted Adjunct lecturer – all ready and engaging as of this week with a new clutch of students. We have people from all around the world, who will be pulling and teasing ideas around with Ewan in the first iteration of the grand new subject.

Ewan said:

When most people find out that they are in line to create a new physical or virtual environment for their school, few have really driven deep into what the research says, and how it might pan out in practice. And, with deadlines in place, and architects producing their “masterplans” based on what they have been able to squeeze out of school communities, the clock is ticking too fast in most cases to begin that learning journey in a timely fashion.

School principals, deputies, librarians and innovator educators can base multi-million dollar decisions on hearsay, gurus’ say-so, and what the Joneses have done with their school. For the initial cohort of students on our inaugural Masters subject on Designing Spaces for Learning at CSU (Charles Sturt University), the story will be very different.

Do visit his blog post Launching a new Masters: Designing Spaces for Learning #INF536. and check out his wonderful welcome video.  Visit the course Facebook Page too!

Perhaps you would like to join our course and his subject in 2015?

Filed under: Design thinking, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Productivity Tagged: Charles Sturt University, Ewan McIntosh
Categories: Planet

Track those new Horizons!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 16 July, 2014 - 16:46

While it was published a little while ago, I am still pleased to share the NMC Horizon Report 2014 edition, in case you’ve missed it.

Launched in 2009, the NMC Horizon Report > K-12 Edition broadened the reach of the NMC Horizon Report series to include primary, middle, and high schools. The K-12 Edition explores the key trends accelerating educational technology adoption in schools, the significant challenges impeding it, and emerging technologies poised to impact teaching, learning, and creative inquiry.

I’ve been along for the journey in every K-12 edition as a member of the K-12 Expert Panel, which has been amazing! Now we have this amazing collection that tells an extraordinary story of change, development and innovation in education as part of the mapping of new horizons.  It is fantastic to be involved at this level in education – I love it :-)

> Download the NMC Horizon Report > 2014 K-12 Edition

Check out the trends, challenges and technology forecast in the report. Look for the opportunities where you can contribute to your school’s development, especially in ways that technology can be embedded into the curriculum programs.

Filed under: Digital Media, Future Directions, Innovation & Creativity, Learning and Teaching, Professional Learning
Categories: Planet

Where’s the evidence?

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 July, 2014 - 04:39
#172856791 / gettyimages.com

This is one of those posts where I might just ramble on but I am trying to clarify some thoughts in my head…

When talking about new and innovative ways to teach students, a question that I constantly get is “where is the evidence that this works?”  The problem with trying something new, there is rarely evidence to support it because it is new.  That being said, I am seeing many educators be the “guinea pigs” themselves and trying out new strategies for learning on themselves and with staff.  If there engagement and learning is improving from their own experience, it is more likely to make an impact on students.  We have often believed that teachers should be experts on “teaching” when the reality is that they should be experts on “learning” first.  Immersing themselves into learning opportunities will help them get closer to that standard than simply reading about teaching techniques.

As I have started to think about the “where is the evidence” question, I am wondering if it should be asked right back.  Where is the evidence that what we used to do was knocking it out of the park for all of our kids?  When I went to school, many students struggled then in school and it wasn’t the utopia that so many people have made it out to be.  Are grades the measure?  If they are, do we look at factors such as socio-economic status and their impact on test scores?  Do we believe that any one thing is a direct result to improved grades?  If you look at any school division that has improved, do they usually only have one initiative that they can directly correlate to a numerical improvement, or are there multiple factors?  Does critical thinking improve learning? Does helping students make healthy choices improve learning?  Or would a combination of both have an impact?  Or would one make an impact on one student, while the focus on another might be the different for another student?  It is tough to make standardized assessments on individuals; each person is unique and needs different things.

This brings me back to a conversation this morning that I had with one educator who had mentioned that her admin “didn’t think that kids would do well with this type of learning”.  What I told her is that we should never limit a kid to what we, as adults, think that they can or can’t do.  There is a saying that “whether you think you can or you can’t, you are usually right.”  It is one thing to have this mindset for ourselves, but when we decide our kids “can’t” before giving them a chance or showing a belief in them, their opportunities to grow and achieve something great are limited.

So I guess the next time when I am asked, “Where is the evidence that this works?”, my response might be that nothing works for all people. It never has and it never will.  Some kids will do better with pen and paper, and some adults will do better with a laptop; we have to be able to provide options that work for our students, not just ourselves.  I also believe that sometimes our faith in our kids could be as important (if not more) as some of the evidence we collect.  If we believe we can help our students do amazing things, continuously grow, and make the world better, isn’t it more likely to happen?

Categories: Planet

CSTA 2014 Day Two

CSTA like so many great conferences is as much about learning from face to face informal conversations as it is about formal sessions. I’ve been able to talk with a bunch of CS teachers about a bunch of topics. The picture on the right is me, Mike Smith (who I met for the first time) and Laura Blankenship who is one of my favorite CS bloggers.

My first session of the day was about the CS Principles course. Several teachers who were part of the official pilot talked a out how they implemented in their schools. Since it was a pilot course there was a lot of mid course corrections as things that worked well in theory turned out not to work so well in practice. These pilot teachers have done a lot of work that will contribute to a good course as things are finalized before it becomes an actual APCS course.

My third session of the day was also about CS Principles (sense a thread?) during which the team from CODE.ORG talked about the CS Principles curriculum that they are developing.

My second session of the day? Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research talking about Code Hunt. He showed us how to create our own puzzles and how to integrate Code Hunt into interactive presentations using Office Mix. This combination shows a huge amount of potential. I hope to use it to help students get more coding practice as well and honing their problem solving skills.

The fourth session for me was about just in time programming. It focused around the question “why can’t you write this program?” And dealing with the most common answers?

The end of the day was a keynote by Michael Kölling which was awesome.  He showed a brief demo of some work they are doing with Greenfoot that is a mix of keyboard and graphical programming. I believe it was recorded and when the video is available I will link to it because I don’t think I can do his talk justice.

Overall a great conference and I am really glad I was here. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference.

Categories: Planet

My Big Learning at CSTA 2014 Day 1–Not From A Session

Usually I’m good about writing up the events of a conference at the end of the day and putting up a blog post. Not this time. I blame it on Peli de Halleux from Microsoft Research. Peli is running a Code Hunt Contest for CSTA 2014 Attendees and I have been hard at work on it. Unfortunately I have already lost out on the top prize. I also lost some sleep as I stayed up too late working on Code Hunt puzzles when I probably should have been blogging or sleeping.

The experience has been teaching me a bit about myself. I assumed I would whip though the puzzles and quickly win the contest. Not the case at all. I’m running into two types of problems. One is that I apparently don’t code enough. I keep running into stupid syntax problems. C# is case sensitive and I am a bit more comfortable in Visual Basic which is not. The other language available in Code Hunt is Java which is also case sensitive. Peli tells me that Java is there specifically because so many teachers use it. He is REALLY interested in making the tool educationally useful. So I forget syntax or language features that mean I have to think a bit about that.

The other problem I have is trouble figuring out the right algorithm. In a brief conversation with Peli I found out that there are puzzles with a wife variation in the number of attempts people make. One question for example is solved with a simple division. Many people solve it in a small number of tries. Other people take many many tries and get frustrated. I think there is a research study there for people interested in how people solve problems. Some of the puzzles seem to fit nicely into the way my mind works while others just don’t.

Code Hunt is very “sticky” according to Peli. What that means is that people who start working on it tend to stay working on it for a while. And they return. I suspect that some will get frustrated and stay away but that for people who find it a good way to play and learn it will indeed be sticky.

I’m going to be learning more about how to use Code Hunt features today. Apparently one can use it with Office Mix for example. (I blogged about Office Mix and Binary Numbers with a sample Mix linked.)

And teachers can create their own Code Hunt puzzles for their students. Combining Office Mix and Code Hunt will give me some analytics which I think will help me improve my teaching and student’s learning. Pretty exciting stuff.

Categories: Planet

Ed Tech Crew 250 - Can you hear

The EdTech Crew - 15 July, 2014 - 16:19

We celebrate our 250th Episode by having a hangout with some good friends. This episode also includes interviews from the Slide2Learn conference as well as a special announcement at the end of the show.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 14 July 2014

Another week another trip. Last one of the summer though. I am at the CSTA Annual Conference today and tomorrow. If you are as well look me up. I’ve wearing my hat. Also take a look at the Code Hunt Contest for CSTA 2014 Attendees from Microsoft and maybe win a Surface Pro 2.

Here or not you can participate virtually in the National CS Principles Summit on Wednesday.

(Must Read) Kids can't use computers I’m working on a blog post about this one. I’m trying think about how to teach kids what they need to know.

21st Century Literacy: New Initiative Makes the Case that Learning to Code is for Everyone 

I’m really enjoying reading about the summer CS program that Mike Zamansky @zamansky is running with some others in NYC. Read his latest at Building a SHIP - the Stewards 

An interesting look at what we may be doing wrong trying to get more women in Computer Science How not to attract women to coding: Make tech pink -  via @SFGate

I found a new CS Teacher blog Coding 2 Learn by Marc Scott @Coding2Learn and added it to my Computer Science Education blog roll

Congrats Ohio! You're the 23rd US state to allow computer science to count toward high school graduation.

Let’s end up with a little fun. Think about it.

Categories: Planet

An investment in hope

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 14 July, 2014 - 14:15

Last week I happened to catch an interview with Nobel prize winning economist Professor Joseph Stiglitz.  Professor Stiglitz was in Australia talking about his latest book on inequality.  What resonated was his comment that a country’s best investment is in its people not its resources.  This is why investment in education and teachers is absolutely critical.

Unfortunately many educators still believe that schooling is somehow an instrument of the government or the economy or both. In doing so we buy into an outdated and mechanistic view of the world that has little relevance to the world in which we live.  It would be OK if it were just this but  in reality it is no more than social determinism.  A view of the world in which learning is pre-ordained and pre-destined. We need to restate the purpose of education which has at its heart, the individual child.

Education in its truest sense is an investment in the individual- it builds on the nature of the learner.  It does not impose limits or attempts to squeeze learners into jobs that will no longer exist in a decade. Schools should be an investment in hope - equipping students to be life-long learners and hopeful about the future.  They are our agents of change and we must nurture their interests and passions as Yong Zhao says.

If creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship are the hallmarks of this age, then today’s learners will be creating the new world not our governments. Education is not designed to improve our economy but to improve our society by enabling all individuals to lead fulfilling lives. We can only challenge inequality in society by ensuring it doesn’t exist in our schools.



Categories: Planet

Airbnb, Google Docs, TripAdvisor and the ‘Grand Tour’

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 14 July, 2014 - 12:26

I’m taking my first ever stint of Long Service Leave this year – it’s been a long time coming.

The family and I are heading off to Europe and the UK for the Grand Tour in the coming months. A full month away from work and school commitments in the close immediate vicinity of one another is either going to make or break us! I’m hoping for the former but assume we will encounter some close to breaking moments along the way too. Let’s face it, we’re a normal family, and normal families aren’t perfect. :)

I’ve only had a week off during this school holiday break (I no longer get regular school holidays) and I’ve spent time planning the trip. It’s been a really interesting experience on many levels.

Level 1:

I’ve realised that this is the kind of thing normal people do. (Normal people who’ve worked for a long time and have access to Long Service Leave)

They plan their lives. They devote time to something other than their work. They don’t focus on trying to keep abreast of change and what it means for education.

Hmmnnn… quite the revelation. Will have to ponder on that more in the months to come.

Level 2:

I’ve also been booking accommodation through Airbnb, and it’s been quite the positive experience. For those of you unfamiliar with the service, airbnb is a site that enables you to book accommodation from people who offer rooms, apartments and even whole houses up for rent.

I registered on the site so that I could make bookings and they are pretty thorough in their review of who you are. I needed to provide verification of identity by providing my mobile number, my driver’s licence details (photo evidence) and linking to my Google+ account so you can bet I was checking that this was a https site. For many people out there who remain sceptical of the Internet, this would be a turn off. I accept that a site like this needs to ensure the people using it to make bookings are who they say they are, but my level of comfort using the Internet is different to many people’s comfort levels.

You can select a city and browse for accommodation options at the price point you nominate. When you find something you like you put a request through to the owner explaining traveller details and they decide whether or not to allow you to book their accommodation. Once approved, you begin a dialogue with the owner about the booking. I’ve made four different bookings thus far, and each time approval has come in from the apartment owners in under two hours.

You have access to a dashboard that outlines your trip details, your inbox (for communication with the home owners) your profile and account details. I’ve downloaded the App to my Nexus 7 and it’s a clean mobile interface providing the same detail. I was able to swipe through pics of the apartments we’ve rented to show my friend Helen the other day while we had a coffee. Nice.

The really nice thing is the dialogue with the owners. This is personalisation of the travel experience. Another disruptive innovation that will turn the already fractured travel industry on its head. Interestingly, I feel more connected to the Airbnb accommodation than I do to the hotel accommodation we have booked on this trip. The hotel booking experience seems clinical, compared to the Airbnb experience that feels like you’ve begun a conversation.

Price wise, the deals seem pretty good. I’ve managed to secure what looks like really lovely apartment accommodation options in city centres where hotel pricing was out of range for our budget. We have access to cooking facilities, washing machines and clothes dryers  - things that will assist us in keeping costs down – important when it’s a family of four travelling!

Level 3:

Planning a trip like this and doing it all yourself is time consuming. I needed the week off to get my head around it all.

I set up a Google Doc with a table of three columns with the headings ‘Date/Location’, ‘Where we are staying’, ‘Where we are going’. As I make bookings, I add all the details to this Doc so that it becomes our go to itinerary. I’m including the cost of everything and I’ve now transferred those details to a spreadsheet so I can tally accommodation, train/car hire and sightseeing costs. I’ll have my Nexus 7 with me as we travel and I’ll be accessing the Doc through the Google Docs app (and yes, it will be printed out as a hard copy too for emergency access if I’m out of power on the Nexus).

I find myself constantly checking dates and referring back to the itinerary Doc verifying that everything is in sync. Heaven help me if I’ve mucked something up because it’s going to mess up everything if I have! I did book access to the Eiffel Tower on the wrong date after refreshing the booking page and not realising the date had changed. The official booking site won’t provide me with a refund, so, if you know of someone travelling in Paris on Sunday July 20th 2014 (next weekend) then get them to contact me and I’ll send them four Lift entrance tickets with access to the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower at no charge. :)   (Reading the site suggests they may ask for proof of identity – maybe if I provided a cover letter explaining the situation they would let be be used by someone else? Sure hope so.)

Thinking of using Google’s Tour Builder as well to map the trip out and share it with family and friends so they can follow where we are on certain dates. Will be fun to have a play with that if I can find the time.

Level 4:

TripAdvisor is my friend. :)

It really is. I need to know what I’m thinking of doing is the right option, and more often than not there is a forum thread on TripAdvisor dealing with exactly my query. I quite simply love you 10% of the population who make the effort to help other travellers out with your reviews and honesty. You’re enacting the true ideals of the Internet, making a place of relevance for the population of the world.

Note to self: Do the same on your return. Add to forums. Create a thread if necessary.


So there you have it. Am I looking forward to this trip? You betcha. Can’t wait.

Europe and the UK, brace yourself. The Luca family is heading in your direction sometime soon.



Categories: Planet

Code Hunt Contest for CSTA 2014 Attendees

Looks like you have to be registered for the CSTA 2014 conference for this one. I am and I’d like a Surface Pro 2 which is the big prize. Code Hunt is a very cool project from Microsoft Research (I’ve written about it before and tried it a little with students last year.) The idea is to make coding (and problem solving) a game. The UI is pretty good as it lets one enter and test code with the system showing you results. You have two programming language options BTW – C# (my preference) and Java (like one uses with AP CS students.)

If you are going to be at the CSTA Conference visit the Code Hunt CSTA 2014 web page for more information. For more on Code Hunt itself check out the main Code Hunt page. To be honest I like playing with the puzzles myself. I find it interesting and even challenging.

Categories: Planet

CS Principles Virtual Summit

Are you interested in the new CS Principals course that will be the new (additional) Advanced Placement Computer Science course? CSTA is helping to host a CS Principles Summit next week. While most of us can’t be there in person (though I wish we could) there will be a virtual summit this year.

Proceedings of the National CS Principles Summit will broadcast LIVE on the web this year using a new experimental format similar to online conferences launched through Google+ Hangouts on Air.

More information is at the CS Principles Virtual Summit web site.  For more information on how to access CSTA's broadcasts, sessions & social networks follow this link.

Categories: Planet
ACCE Partners