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A Higher Chance of Becoming Great? The “Twitter” Factor.

I walked into the room and I could tell right away.

This was a teacher I had never met and knew very little about, but the atmosphere in his classroom was great.  As I walked with my colleague, I asked her the question, “Do you think he is on Twitter?”  I wanted her to make an educated guess, and her thoughts were the same as mine; definitely.

How did we know this?

As I walked in, I saw unique seating spaces, posters all over the wall that focused on “taking risks” and encouraging students to think different.  The walls were also covered in information about “Genius Hour” and their recent “Maker Faire”.  At the time, the students were also learning how to play chess with a master player, who also happened to be a grandparent. Notice that there was no technology mentioned above, but just about a different learning environment.  There were multiple, amazing opportunities for learning in this classroom to reach students where they were at, and tap into their strengths and passions.

So when we asked the teacher if they were on Twitter, he mentioned that he was but he didn’t necessarily share that much online.  But it was his access to information that made things look differently in his classroom.  When I asked if he had seen an impact in his classroom from the use of Twitter, he wasn’t sure, but it was a type of “boiling frog” scenario.  The change could have happened so gradually that he did not notice the small steps that could have been made to where he was now.  Just being a “lurker” in that space though, had made a difference.

Now I am not saying that if you are NOT on Twitter, you are ineffective.  There might be several classrooms that look like the one I have briefly described that were designed by a teacher who may not be on Twitter, that receive their information elsewhere.  What I do know is that looked NOTHING like my classroom when I first started teaching, because honestly, I did not have the access to the same information that teachers do now.  Our opportunities have changed and people have taken advantage to benefit themselves, and more importantly, their students.

Isolation is now a choice educators make.  We have access to not only information, but each other. We need to tap into that.

Being on Twitter doesn’t make you a great teacher any more than not being on Twitter makes you ineffective.  There are a lot of great teachers who do some pretty amazing things that do not connect online.

However, I do believe that having that access 24/7 to great ideas through the medium and the connection to other teachers increases your chances on being great.  If you really think about it,  how could it not?

Categories: Planet

If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist!

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 26 March, 2015 - 22:24

I admit, I’m a little late to the party, and my recipes  are simple to say the least. But you know, one of the very best things about learning and working with students and fellow educators is always being fortunate enough to find more to learn! There is no shortage of ideas that can be done.

My main work is with professionals – teachers in schools and post school settings.  So we are not talking new learners!  Now I don’t buy the digital native argument for a minute, but I do wring my hands in despair at educators who don’t keep their minds and hearts open to exploration, innovation, and learning in whatever way is needed to ensure that the role we play as an educator is guaranteed to be useful – even if only in a very small way.

Yet I understand things not always coming easily. If you can’t ‘find the URL’ to a item, I’ll help you learn (yes, I still get asked that question). But I’d much rather you asked me a complex question about professional practice, information curation, or ways or managing information flow. Why?  Because these are some of the key challenges for educators.

So back to that basic recipe I mentioned – yes, I finally faced up to the fact that I NEED to be using IFTTT for more effective information gathering as part of my subject delivery processes. I have my colleague Dean Groom to thank for the final push. We’re playing in INF541 Game Based Learning, a subject which Dean is teaching after heading the writing team of Groom and O’Connell again. Wow, the years have flown since we got into online environments and virtual worlds with our small books back in 2010.

But nothing has changed since then. Still learning. Dean showed me how to set up IFTT to gather a running record of what’s happening in our subjects, and how to push that information back out as part of our participatory learning experience.

What is IFTTT?

IFTTT empowers you with creative control over the products and apps you love. Recipes are simple connections between products and apps.  I knew this, and until now the only recipe I had running was an email of a new recipe to me each week. But I never did anything else.  Dreadful.

The amazing thing is that IF Recipes run automatically in the background. Create powerful connections with one simple statement — if this then that.

For example:

So now I am using three recipes, taken from shared recipes available at the site, and also one customized by Dean.

Now we are both doing the following:

  • Collecting all the tweets with the subject #hastag in a Google spreadsheet.
  • Collecting all the blog posts that relate to the subject from my Feedly category to a Google spreadsheet
  • Sending back to twitter the new posts that turn up in the Google spreadsheet.

This is all automatic.  What does this allow?

Participatory sharing ||| Data collection ||| Subject tracking |||

Task 3: Taxonomies of Learning in Knowledge Networks ||| New post for #INF530 Check it out! http://t.co/tijUty643i

— Judy O’Connell (@heyjudeonline) March 26, 2015

Now we have the opportunity to quickly confirm (or otherwise) the extent of a students actual participation in the back-channel as part of the course experience – a vital part of monitoring student engagement and program effectiveness. There are many other formal channels, of course, but the social media aspect was one that I was never quite happy about.

I’m embarrassed I didn’t do this sooner! But of course, that’s why I am still learning from my peers. :-)
Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-ND ) flickr photo shared by venspired

Filed under: Blogging, Communication Tools, Connectivism, Curation, Digital Media
Categories: Planet

Top Teachers, Financing Education, and Improving Education: a #gesf Student Reflection

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 26 March, 2015 - 19:33

This conference day in Dubai was one of the best. Mr. Andreas Schleicher spoke with us about how teachers are not treated equally among other professions. Teachers make less money that other professions and are not respected, but they are just as important as doctors. Imagine this, if teachers stopped teaching then the world would be plain dumb. The same goes for doctors; if they stop caring then people will start dying. Teachers around the world feel as though they are not important and do not make a difference. The truth is that teachers do matter, the reason we have so many great people in the world is because someone taught them to be like that.

Andreas Schleicher’s Speech: State of Education in the World Today

I’m continuing to run reports from my students who attended the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. #GESF is also where the global Teacher Prize was awarded. It was a fantastic event, and I hope you’ll continue to encourage my students with your questions and comments as they share their perspectives on the conference and the state of education today. — Vicki Davis Interviewing Educators: If You Could Fix One Problem in Schools

I then went to talk with two exciting people Mrs. Julie Mercer and Ms. Jiaojiao Li. These are two amazing people in the field of education. Mrs. Julie Mercer is Deloitte’s Global Industry Lead for Education. She is passionate about her work and likes to help drive innovation in education. Ms. Jiaojiao Li is another prestigious woman. She leads the New Vision for the Education project at the World Economic Forum to shape the future curriculum for the greater good.

I asked both of these women one question.

If you could fix one problem in schools today what would it be?

Mrs. Mercer answered,

“I would wish for all schools to be local and efficient”

Ms. Li answered,

“I cannot choose only one, because many problems need to be fixed as well”.

I understand both sides. Mrs. Mercer was thinking in terms of a temporary solution, and she let us ask the question and she answered, but Ms. Li was thinking deeply and asked questions back while answering. If asked this question, I would do the same exact thing Mrs. Mercer did. I can tend to be rash in my thinking; I do things on the spot. In my opinion, this is the type of learning we do not want to teach. We want to teach kids to ask questions and think deeply before they answer. In college, this is how most professors want us to act. Unless we get a boring teacher, and he or she lectures us the whole time which will teach us nothing.

Where is the Money? Financing Education

Then, I went to a panel, and Junior Plenary session called “Where is the money? Financing education”. Two major highlights of this session are how to fill funding gaps and corruption. To fill a funding gap, you can either take the money from somewhere else in the budget or get money from someone else. Corruption was another major concept in the session. Corruption is human natural when people sin it’s never good. Corruption can be a major setback to education if it happens. At

Corruption was another major concept in the session. Corruption is human natural when people sin it’s never good. Corruption can be a major setback to education if it happens. At end the day, I went to the Global Teacher Prize Award Ceremony. This ceremony was a prestigious ceremony, because they named one teacher best in the world and gave her one million dollars. The ceremony was great and the winner, Nancie Atwell, deserved that award for her dedication and hard work as a teacher. This first day was truly a great learning experience.

For those of you who teach blogging, you can take a look at my book Reinventing Writing, but let me point out a couple of important things Jason has done in this post. The use of hyperlinks is important. Also, embedding video if it is available. Finally, using more paragraphs and having whitespace is something you have in blogs more than in papers.

The post Top Teachers, Financing Education, and Improving Education: a #gesf Student Reflection appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

The Great Victorian Coding Challenge

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 26 March, 2015 - 11:38


  • Students and teachers alike are encouraged to take part in The Great Victorian Coding Challenge in the lead-up to Education Week this year. - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: 2015, event, coding, cs4hs, programming, ComputationalThinking, DEECD

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

FizzBuzz Revisited

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 26 March, 2015 - 03:30

I first blogged about using FizzBuzz in the classroom four years ago when I didn’t have a classroom and students of my own to use it with. (FizzBuzz–A Programming Question) Well times have changed and today I did assign the project to a room full of students.

Briefly stated the exercise is:

Write a program that prints the numbers from 1 to 100. But for multiples of three print “Fizz” instead of the number and for the multiples of five print “Buzz”. For numbers which are multiples of both three and five print “FizzBuzz”.

Most of my students finished it easily during the shortened period we had today. A few in a very short period of time which is great. I should say that these are not yet experienced programmers. We are not even half way though a one semester course. Though we have covered loops and decision structures. So they know the concepts but haven’t had a lot of practice by any means. So I’m pleased with the results. What pleases me the most is that the solutions are not identical.

There are at least three different ways students set up the if statements to determine what to show when.

  • Check for evenly divisible by both 3 and 5 first.
  • Check for evenly divisible by 15 first
  • Check for divisible by 3 but not 5 first and 5 but not 3 second.

They all work of course. The last one, while more complicated, demonstrates a good grasp of compound comparisons. That is sort of a plus.

In my project instructions I asked students to display the results in a listbox. We’re not doing command line programs and haven’t covered file usage yet. We have used listsboxes though. A number of students wrote code that always adds the number to the listbox but then removes it if it is not necessary. Again a bit more complicated and probably slower than other solutions but interesting since I did not teach them how to use the Remove method for listboxes. Clearly someone (or several people) is looking things up. That also makes me happy. I like students to go beyond what is covered in lectures. Plus this is an implementation that for some reason never occurred to me. Who know but that may turn out to be helpful to me some day. I learned something knew and I love learning new things from my students.

Tomorrow we’ll talk about the various solutions and I will have the students explain why they choose the methods they did. Hopefully we can have some discussion about the performance aspects as well. Should be fun.

EDIT: I went looking for an image to post with this article and found one that suggested a visualization of FizzBuzz. I may assign this one next time.

Divisible by 3 is blue, divisible by 5 is red, and divisible by both 3 and 5 is green.

Categories: Planet

The facts about educational fads

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 25 March, 2015 - 15:25

I don’t believe quality instruction ever left the classroom. Successful teachers have always had a thorough understanding of how students learn and have adopted and adapted pedagogies informed by research, reflection and inquiry.

The essential principles of effective learning provide us with the foundations of appropriate pedagogies but they must be creatively applied in ways which maximise opportunities and respond to demands of today’s world.

However, if you read Kevin Donnelly’s latest opinion piece, traditional teaching is somehow making a comeback. Donnelly claims that the ‘tide has finally turned’ against educational fads such as open classrooms and discovery learning.

Donnelly doesn’t define traditional teaching so I’m assuming he is referring to the type of didactic teaching associated with a traditional model of schooling.

According to John Hattie, direct instruction (which isn’t traditional) is reflected in the way teachers work together ‘to plan and critique a series of lessons, sharing understanding of progression, articulating intentions and success criteria, and attending to the impact of student and teacher learning.’ (Visible Learning for Teachers)

While it’s true that the learning space is never a substitute for quality instruction, agile spaces provide opportunities for teachers to engage in the kind of planning and teacher learning that is most effective in improving student learning.  Many teachers I have spoken to have said the new spaces support collaboration and therefore the process of direct instruction.

Donnelly however cites results from a survey of noise levels in open classrooms in which 50-70% of children said they couldn’t hear their teacher very well.  What Donnelly failed to include in his piece, was that the survey was conducted in four schools only.

When you don’t understand the world in which today’s learners live, it is easy to disparage contemporary approaches to schooling.  In fact, most contemporary approaches are still largely influenced by traditional structures, curricula and mindsets.  We don’t have enough examples yet of great contemporary practice to point to – not because it doesn’t work but it doesn’t yet exist.

These so called educational fads are not designed to replace quality instruction – they are designed to support it.  Agile learning spaces support a range of learning activities. And isn’t discovery at the heart of learning anyway?

Replicating an industrial model of schooling has only led to the gap between schooling and learning growing wider in an online world.  We can’t hark back to the past if we want to change the future. We are challenged to think differently by virtue of the fact we live in age that now values critical thinking, creativity and collaboration.

The OECD recognises the importance of these skills not only for the success of economies but also for individuals participating in a knowledge age. It’s worth noting that PISA will test creativity from 2017.

We have always known that the most effective teaching is evidence-based.  It’s a pity Kevin Donnelly’s arguments still seem to be largely ideologically driven.







Categories: Planet

3 Important Shifts in Education

The Principal of Change George Couros - 25 March, 2015 - 00:17

(I really struggled with the title of this post, because I am not really sure if these are “shifts” or just ideas that have evolved that I am paying attention to right now. Also, these ideas are definitely not only connected to education, so take the title with a grain of salt.)

“We’re still in the first minutes of the first day of the Internet revolution.” Scott Cook

The above quote resonates with me strongly, because we are currently living in a culture that not only seems to have endless answers, but endless questions, both which are subject to change.  I think of some of the things that we used to talk about in schools, now shifting to something else.  For example, I remember once working with my students talking about the importance of staying anonymous online, and now we have shifted to working with our students to develop a positive digital footprint where they actually can be found.  I often wonder “what’s next?” Our answers now, may shift, and we need to be able to be adaptable to a constantly changing landscape.

In education, I have noticed some trends not necessarily changing, but shifting in thought. In learning, we have to be open to change and take what we know and think about how to move forward.  Curriculum should not be written in ink anymore, but on a google doc.  It seems to only make more sense as we continue to move forward in both school and education.

Here are a few things I have been thinking about that I am seeing shift right now:

1.  “Digital Citizenship” to “Digital Empathy”

I struggled with the heading for this one because it could simply be “Citizenship to Empathy”, but sometimes we have to focus on the impact “digital” has and also realize that empathy is actually an important part of citizenship. We talk to our students about the importance of being good “digital citizens” and putting their best foot forward online, yet in reality, many of us avoided the same mistakes as a youth not because we know better, but the opportunities to share online didn’t exist.  It was not our wisdom that saved us.

Monica Lewinsky’s recent Ted Talk on “The price of shame”,  she states that we have a “compassion deficit, an empathy crisis”.  People make mistakes, young and old, and we have to realize that being a “good citizen” is also being good to each other, even when it is tough.  It is important to talk to our students about the possible mistakes that we can make online, but it is also important to teach understanding and forgiveness.

One of my favourite quotes is, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”  We have to always remember this.

2.  “Student Voice” to “Student Leadership”

Student voice has always been something that has been valued in our world, but do listen to students to only hear what they say, or do we truly bring them into the conversation and tap into their wisdom for growth in our system?  In a recent TedX from Kate Simonds, she calls on schools to not only listen to students, but to empower them in the change process.  If innovation starts with empathy, who better to tap into  then the people that we are trying to serve in the first place.  The typical thought when the term “student leadership” is about students leading amongst their peers, not necessarily at the system level.  It needs to go further.

Listening to students is not enough; we must bring them into the change process.

3. Growth Mindset to Innovator’s Mindset

Carol Dweck’s work on the “growth mindset” has been something embraced in the field of education and has made a major impact on the learning of so many, educators and students alike.  One of the quotes that has really resonated with me is from Thomas Friedman who states, “The world only cares about what you can do with what you know.”  As educators, who now have access to not only all of the information in the world, but to each other, we have a greater opportunity to come up with new and better way of serving our students.  Shifting our thinking and embracing “the innovator’s mindset“, allows us to create better opportunities and serve learners in powerful ways.  Isolation is the enemy of innovation and we have to be willing to tap into one another to create a better today and tomorrow for our students.

Like I said earlier, these are not necessarily movements from one extreme to another and many of these ideas are correlated.  Being a great “citizen” means to be caring and empathetic.  Without listening to student voice, leadership doesn’t happen. An “innovator’s mindset” does not exist without embracing a “growth mindset”.  This is more about taking what we know and pushing forward to think about what is possible.

What are you seeing changing or moving forward in our world today?

Categories: Planet

Learning For Life Versus Learning For Grades, College, or Career

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 24 March, 2015 - 22:32

In today’s featured show, Chandler Bolt talks about breaking out of the mold and getting life done. Breaking Out Of A Broken System, was written by Chandler and his brother Seth. The money goes to fund some of their work in Africa and it is a fantastic book for students to read and discuss. Listen now to find out what the brothers meant when they said “rebellion is a good thing”. Knowing some of you out there who listen to the show and read this blog, you might just agree.

This is one of those shows I listened to with students. The book itself is quite edgy and they did things with it graphically that “aren’t supposed to be done.” Their unique perspectives on debt, education, and life — whether you agree with them or not — will foster great discussion. And the cool factor of these hip brothers is one that will appeal to your teenagers. As you look for something different this spring to talk about with students — this is it! — Vicki Davis

Listen now to Chandler Bolt

Add the Bolt Brothers to your PLN

Listen now to Chandler Bolt

Chandler Bolt – Show #83 – Learning For Life Versus Learning For Grades, College, or Career

Seth and Chandler have written a book, Breaking Out Of A Broken System, about creating a life instead of letting life happen. With this book, they hope to get people to act on their dreams instead of settling for the status quo. For example, the brothers viewed accruing debt, not as the status quo but as a mold that cannot be broken. Chandler is a very successful entrepreneur, and Seth is a very successful musician. Chandler refers to innovators as heroes. Listen now to find out why.

Listen now to Chandler Bolt

 Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly Radio Show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers. Subscribe. Show notes prepared by Lisa Durff, Production Coordinator for Every Classroom Matters. Need help listening to the show?

Click play on the BAM Radio site or subscribe in a podcatcher. If you need help, use this tutorial.

The post Learning For Life Versus Learning For Grades, College, or Career appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Madeup: a Programming Language for Making Things Up

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 24 March, 2015 - 21:26

One of the things I have been wondering about is how to make a real connection between 3D printing and learning computer science. Sure most 3D printers are attached to computers and CAD software is used to create models for printing. That is not quite computer science to me. And it sure isn’t programming. Recently I learned about a project to create a language to program 3D models for printing. It looks interesting even though it is still under development.

Chris Johnson at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire is working on it and it is called Madeup. Madeup is a Logo-like language that can be used to “walk paths through 3D space, and then generate models based on those paths. Previews of the models are rendered on every keystroke in a WebGL canvas.”

Chris has a KickStarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1975355456/madeup-a-programming-language-for-3-d-models) to raise some funds to allow him more time to finish the project up so that it can be used in classrooms. I’ve contributed a small amount so that I can get an early copy for my own use.

I think the 3D renderings alone will make things more interesting than 2D graphics but being able to create a physical representation is really exciting to me. Take a look at the video on the KickStarter and let me know what you think. Does this look useful to you?

Categories: Planet

10 Things Everyone Should Know About Passwords

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 23 March, 2015 - 21:52

Your bank data, your accounts, your email, and your life are all wrapped up in your ability to create secure passwords and remember them. This wordcloud shows the most commonly used passwords. If you see one that you use, stop now and immediately change yours!

1 – Never Tape It On Your Desk

Most password theft happens because of “social engineering.” Most people keep their password taped under their keyboard or in the right or left hand drawer or wallet. Get an app like Password Caddy (http://j.mp/pcaddy)  on your phone and store your password there, not out where the world can see it. (Or use Last Pass!)

2 – Switch to a passphrase

Just using a phrase Use a phrase instead with uppercase, lowercase, and numbers included. Ilovetofishat6:00am! is an example.

3 – Don’t be obvious

If you look at the worst passwords of 2013 (http://j.mp/worstpass) 123456 and password top the list. (Sunshine and letmein are also in the top.) Don’t use your spouse’s name, kids, grandkids, birthdays, phone numbers or a keyboard row of any kind.

4- Never save your passwords in your web browser

If you have to, use a tool like LastPass to keep it safe but if you save it in your web browser, you are an easy target.

5 – Have a unique password for your bank and email account NOW

When you sign up for a site that asks for your email and password – DON’T ENTER YOUR PASSWORD TO YOUR EMAIL. It is asking you to set up a NEW password for that particular site. No one will ever ask for your email password. No one.

Your email password and your banking password should be unique and NEVER USED AS THE PASSWORD ON ANY OTHER SITE.

6 – TRICK: substitute numbers and letters

Pick certain numbers to replace letters – like a code — you could always use the number 7 instead of T’s for example.

7 – TRICK: Use the site name somehow in the password

You can have a system for passwords but make them unique by using the site name you’re logging into somehow.

8  – Use a password manager

Many experts are recommending password managers after the recent Heartbleed bug (http://j.mp/pwdmgr)

Remember that if you mess up and forget your master password you’re locked out of everything permanently. LastPass or Dashlane are 2 good ones. (PC Magazine recently reviewed some, so you can take a look at their 2015 Password Manager Recommendations)

9 – Use a fingerprint reader

Biometrics or the using of your fingerprint or some other unique identifier related to your biology is definitely the way things are going. I love the fingerprint unlock on my iPhone 5s. (NYMI has a heartbeat sign in tool coming soon.)

10 – Lock your screen and log out

If you step away from your computer or mobile, set it to lock or log out. This is particularly important if you have anything secure on your computer.

Having a method to remember highly secure passwords will keep you and your loved ones safe. Spread the word.

The post 10 Things Everyone Should Know About Passwords appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 23 March 2015

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 23 March, 2015 - 21:10

Some great links this week. Images to use in class, a video for a TV show (yes about girls computing), and lots more. One of my best collections in recent weeks if I do say so myself.

Program Computers, Not Kids is a great post by Vicki Davis aka @coolcatteacher Key line?

If you see technology controlling students, then you’ve got a classroom using 21st century technology for 20th century teaching. If you see students creating and programming the technology, then you’ve got a more modern classroom approach.

XNA is no more but as the phoenix rises from the ashes MonoGame, may be the replacement. the next generation . Check it out for multi-platform game creation. And a way to continue to use any XNA curriculum you may have.

iD Tech and http://Code.org are giving 100 Girls Scholarships to Attend Summer STEM Program See the web site for more information http://www.iDTech.com/girls

Zoomable map of undersea cables connecting the world of the Internet. Great as a topic of discussion. Ask students why Bermuda has so many connections. I suspect it is because of money. Bermuda is a world-wide center of international reinsurance.

Late last week I posted a large collection of questions to use while interviewing candidates for Computer Science teaching jobs.

Are you using Scratch? You may find these printable graphics of Scratch commands useful.

The TV show Road Trip Nation is looking for a couple of people between 18 and 30.

Roadtrip Nation and Microsoft are teaming up to send 3 young people with backgrounds that are underrepresented in the technology industry and who are interested in computer science on a cross-country adventure to discover the exciting--and growing --possibilities in the industry. Selected individuals will travel in Roadtrip Nation’s Green RV, and will interview professionals all over the country who have turned their passion for computer science into fulfilling careers. The experience will be filmed and will appear on Roadtrip Nation's long-running documentary series, which follows young people all over the world as they seek to figure out their futures. More information at Roadtrip Nation: Code Trip Application 

Early wearable computer: Qing Dynasty abacus ring. You know it’s cool!

Is this sort of plot addition to a TV show the answer? Made with Code - Cierra Ramirez: https://youtu.be/CM3ssbPLM98 via @YouTube

Categories: Planet

Enhancing the student digital experience

HeyJude Judy O'Connell - 23 March, 2015 - 10:09

The challenges of learning and teaching in online environments are ones that all educators face today – or at least should! So in this context, I was pleased to see the latest @JISC report for the university context:- Enhancing the Student Digital Experience: a strategic report.

The report seeks to provide answers to key questions:

  • How are you responding to the changing digital needs and expectations of your students and staff?
  • Do the experiences and the digital environment you offer to your students adequately prepare them to flourish in a society that relies heavily on digital technologies?
  • What are you doing to engage students in dialogue about digital issues and to work collaboratively with them to enhance their digital learning experience?
  • How well is the digital vision for your establishment embedded in institutional policies and strategies?

A must read and addition to your professional collection.

However, from my experience in  Higher Education what we do is probably far more complex and less likely to come to a happy resolution than in schools. This is not because we are any less competent, but rather that many in tertiary see ‘teaching’ as of secondary importance to everything else, whether that is research, writing or administration – because of the pressures put on them.

This ‘dilemma’ leaves me somewhat unhappy with the trajectory and resolution of competing interests in my own small ‘realm’, particularly when as Courses/Program Director part of my brief is to nurture good quality learning opportunities for students.  It puzzles me  when I see a messages come into my mail about  “strategies for assessment design that reduces marking time”, or “designing subject content and/or assessment to increase alignment with your research interests and why this is justifiable.” Both could (in my mind) run counter to overall course design, and/or quality engagement with students if taken in the wrong way. .

So the real problem of course is not commitment of lecturers, but the priorities, that often make teaching the thing that you have to do rather than the thing you want to do. I would love to know how many folks in HE love their teaching, and work tirelessly with students to achieve the best outcome possible.  I’ll leave it to you (from your personal experiences) to think of an answer.

Conversely, of course, students come in many shapes, and dispositions, so the overall learning experience is still a dual experience.  We can’t always meet everyone’s needs in online learning environments – after all, the learners themselves have to take a lead role/responsibility in the process.

I’ve kickstarted another great year in my favourite education degree http://www.csu.edu.au/digital where we encourage students (amongst other things) to share their experiences in the Twitter back-channel.  You have to have fun with learning too!  Two subjects that I am involved with are underway #INF530 Concepts and Practices for a Digital Age, and #INF541 Game Based Learning. I encourage students to joke around about the challenges, as that helps to lighten to pressure on us all.   (Of course, if they are using the back channel already, they are usually doing very well! Good on you Amanda and Simon!)

Amanda is feeling overwhelmed by technology.#inf530 pic.twitter.com/h0GGzkhHet

— Amanda Brown (@AmandaBrowna) March 22, 2015

Intel report for #Ingress Portal Leveson Street Art. #inf541 play. :-) pic.twitter.com/IM5dNyIaxR

— Simon Keily (@aus_teach) March 18, 2015

Ok @heyjudeonline@hunch_box A comic start to our games in #INF541#gbl The hashtag to watch over the next few months pic.twitter.com/QhAk3oBplN

— Simon Keily (@aus_teach) March 1, 2015

 Image: creative commons licensed ( BY-NC-SA ) flickr photo shared by giulia.forsythe

Filed under: Digital citizenship, Digital Media, Future Directions, Higher Education Tagged: Academia, e-learning, education, Educational technology
Categories: Planet

Innovation has no age barrier.

The Principal of Change George Couros - 23 March, 2015 - 03:18

Recently, I was blown away by this TedX Talk from Kate Simonds, talking about the importance of tapping into student voice.  Her talk was so simple yet so powerful, and as a speaker, I was so impressed by her talk.

Kate discussed not only celebrating the students that blow you away with incredible projects or inventions, but tapping into all students.  She goes beyond “hearing” their voice, but actually tapping into the wisdom of our students.  She implores the audience to tap into youth who may have a different way of looking into a problem.  She also challenges the audience to really think of what we want from students, and what our system promotes:

“As students we have no say in what we learn, or how we learn it, yet we are expected to absorb it all, take it all in, and be expected to run the world some day.  We are expected to raise our hands to use the restroom, then three months later, be ready to go to college, or have a full time job, support ourselves, and live on our own. It’s not logical.”

Powerful stuff.  Are we listening?  Even if we are, are we doing anything about it?

She also referenced a quote from her teacher that was quite sarcastic, but seemingly true:

The problems that we currently have in education, were made by the same people now trying to solve them.  She has a very valid point.

Kate’s approach and belief of tapping into students is powerful, and I have seen areas tap into this.  Ontario currently has a “student trustee” on every board in the province, that has a voice in the organization, yet this is one province that I know of, with a minimal percentage of the board represented by a student.  This needs to be expanded.

Way too often, “leadership” taps into a very small amount of people to generate ideas.  The smaller group, the more limited we are in hearing different ideas. Once you decide the group that you listen to, you limit yourself to the ideas from those voices.  This is why it is so important to open up communication and garner those ideas from anywhere.  Innovation best flourishes in a flattened organization.

One of the things that happens in Parkland School Division is that we have a student committee that looks at what is happening in our schools, and encourages them to discuss and share ideas.  Recently, the students were encouraged to take a visual created based on my work to start a conversation with the teachers at their school (shared below).

If this is their education, it is important that they have the opportunity to discuss it, but also help guide the direction and help come up with new ideas.  I would love to see more schools encourage students to sit on leadership teams, professional learning opportunities, and whatever other opportunities we have so that we can learn from each other.  We often forget to tap into the best resource we have in our schools; our students.

The conference I attended this past week (MACUL in Detroit, Michigan), had a student showcase right outside the main hall.  Students were not only discussing their learning, but were empowered to teach adults as well.  This should be the standard, not the exception.

I am proud to say that in my TedX Talk a couple of years ago, I wanted to tap into “our voice”, which was not limited to educators, but was really about also empowering the voice of our students.  Kate reminds me deeply why this is important.

Whether you are 5, 50, or 100, you can have a great ideas, and we need to recognize that we are lucky enough to have curious and creative minds in education at all ages.

Innovation has no age barrier.

(Please take time to watch the TedX Talk below from Kate Simonds. Share it, discuss it with your staff and watch it with your students.  I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this brilliant talk.)

Categories: Planet

10 Health and Fitness Apps To Make Getting Fit Fun

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 22 March, 2015 - 22:03

“Exercise is a dirty word. Every time I hear it I wash my mouth out with chocolate.”

Charles M. Schulz

I’ve previously shared about cooking, let’s get physical.

1. Lose It


Track calories, weight, and exercise. People who faithfully track calories in this app really do lose it.

2. Fit Bit


Lots of us around town are wearing Fit Bits or Fuel Band (by Nike) to track steps. It will even wake you up when you’re sleeping your lightest. (Don’t do like Big Hoss did on Pawn Stars and tie yours to a paint shaker, that isn’t honest.)

3. Fitocracy


Fitocracy is THE social network for fitness where you encourage and level up with your friends. Great way if your closest friends don’t live nearby.


4. Weight Watchers


Yes, you have to join the online Weight Watchers to use the app. It helps you stay on the program and tracks everything.

5. FitStar


My student Reid Ford showed me this app full of fitness videos and exercises. You can pick the type of space that you have and the time you have and it will give you videos (some free and others cost money).

6. Fitness Buddy


My student Mary Kate Dallas loves this app because it gets you on a fitness routine. You can make a schedule and know your workout routine for every day. It pulls from 1000+ exercises that you can do at home or in a gym.

7. YouTube

Do you know that most of your favorite fitness professionals have free videos on YouTube? Before buying another video, look them up there and try it out. (Like this video from Jillian Michaels  coolcatteacher.com/jillian )


8. Nike+ Running


When I ran, I LOVED this app. Sometimes I alternated this with Runkeeper (http://runkeeper.com/) – they are both great apps for tracking your run. Nike even links with Facebook and you’ll hear a cheer when someone likes your run.

9. Withings


The withings scale tracks your body weight and BMI and will send it to an app to track your weight every day via wifi.

10. Zombies Run!


This is a crazy app and yes, I’ve used it. I don’t recommend this for kids as it scared me and I’m… ahem… older. So, in this app you’re listening to a story and there are certain times you have to run to save people on an epic quest as zombies snarl at your heels. It is a fun way to run.

Many of these apps link together and even more importantly can link you to a support group to help you achieve your fitness goals. Apps can help us get fit but ultimately we’re the ones who have to sweat.

The post 10 Health and Fitness Apps To Make Getting Fit Fun appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Google Classroom*

Darcy Moore's Blog - 22 March, 2015 - 19:01

‘More teaching, less tech-ing’**

My employer has provided Google Apps for Education (GAFE) since the beginning of the year.

Actually, this started five years ago when the student email service was hosted by Google but has taken some time for the full suite of tools to become available. We have been promised GAFE for the last two years but various challenges have delayed the launch. This is what I now see when I login into Google Apps at my professional portal:

My Year 9 Big History class have been using the tools, especially Google Docs, Drive and Classroom since the first week of the academic year. It is great that students can logon to the student portal and have access with this one password.

I have used Edmodo since 2008 but in this new context, have not had this class create accounts as they no longer seem as useful with the GAFE suite on offer so easily. I particularly like the potential of Google Classroom.

The key advantages of using Google Classroom in a BYOD environment are:

  • works on all devices and students who are absent have easy access to missed lessons

  • unlimited storage space in Google Drive  

  • the seamless integration with the GAFE suite ie. Google Docs automatically saves student work as do the other tools like Slides and Sheets

  • the advanced sharing features for teachers and students which allow collaboration

  • the folder structure (automatically created in Google Drive) when I set an ‘assignment’ rather than ‘announcement’. The kids respond in Docs (or whatever tool they like) and I can make comments, changes etc. (see below examples of the folders as well as announcements v assignments).

The main disadvantages of using Google Classroom in a BYOD environment are:

  • the wifi is going to be tested and will likely need upgrading as more classes make regular use of the suite
  • concerns over the corporatisation of educational spaces with brands gaining even more of a foothold
  • students may become de-skilled by using such simple tools rather than an expanding their Personal Learning Environment
  • the growth of Google tools being a poisoned chalice as student horizons are limited to one brand

For most teachers Google Classroom none of the above will be much of a concern as they will find this tool to be a complete BYOD package for sharing, collaboration, writing, presentation and storage needs.

You may find my Google Classroom bookmarks useful.

Closing thoughts

*This post could have easily been about the corporatisation of education. Citizens of NSW may wonder about students at schools who have their data stored by a corporation that pays very little tax in Australia but what is a teacher or students practically to do? They are offered unlimited storage, free tools and the support of their employer to legitimise students making use of these apps at state schools. Plenty of teachers in school systems around the world have experienced the poor quality of in-house tech tools over many years and will find the ease of these Google ecosystem products more enticing than worrying.

Digital citizenship training assists students to become more critically literate about the online world. Teachers should spend time discussing technical and philosophical issues to ensure that students are informed as citizens as well as consumers. Some possible activities are looking at open source platforms like MOODLE in contrast to Google GAFE or considering why Google would be so enthusiastic to be in the ‘education marketplace’ by offering unbeatable deals to schools.

Many students can already see that free services likely mean that they are ultimately the product.

** ‘More teaching, less tech-ing’ is the Google slogan promoting their Classroom product and the reality is, it is very likely that teachers will find this to be the case. Everything just works seamlessly and will suit even the least ‘techy’ kind of teacher. 

What do you think about GAFE?

The post Google Classroom* appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

Good To Great Advice for Growth Mindsets

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 22 March, 2015 - 14:13


  • Recently I read 'Good to Great' by Jim Collins a book that describes the processes and structures that allowed eleven companies to transition from good to great and outperform the market by a factor of three for sustained periods. One story stands out as a metaphor for a growth mindset. - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, resources, learning, growth, mindset

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Program Computers, Not Kids

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 21 March, 2015 - 21:11

If you see technology controlling students, then you’ve got a classroom using 21st century technology for 20th century teaching. If you see students creating and programming the technology, then you’ve got a more modern classroom approach.

As part of Cathy Rubin’s series on the Global Search for Education, this month’s question is “What is the biggest mistake classroom teachers make when integrating technology into the classroom?”

Too many classrooms cover Lesson 52 today and Lesson 53 tomorrow and the next day, guess what they’ll do…. 54. These same classrooms will make a fatal mistake when using technology. Falling short of the potential of technology, they’ll program our children to just learn multiplication facts or grammar—not that technology doesn’t teach these things more rapidly… it will.

But we need to unleash creativity, not just find a faster way to learn facts. Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon talked about the tendency for “dumb technology” uses more than 40 years ago,

“The phrase ‘technology and education’ usually means inventing new gadgets to teach the same old stuff in a thinly disguised version of the same old way. Moreover, if the gadgets are computers, the same old teaching becomes incredibly more expensive and biased towards its dumbest parts, namely the kind of rote learning in which measurable results can be obtained by treating the children like pigeons in a Skinner box.”

There is a model for technology integration called SAMR. The first stage of implementing technology in the classroom is “substitution” where you just substitute technology for what you can do already. Teachers who just use technology to teach facts and routine items are stuck in substitution. To successfully implement new technology, we must get to the R stage of “redefinition.”

Redefining the classroom with technology can be seen in the Maker Movement, app smashing, and genius hour. All of these unleash student creativity. Teachers become coaches.

In my classroom, I teach the principle of convergence. For example, when your GPS and smartphone merged, that is called convergence. I used to have students just learn what had converged in the past. But now, I have students invent how they think technology will converge in the future.

This year, when I taught this lesson, Rebekah, a tenth grader envisions smartphones converging with contacts. She made the following video.

 We learned about the term convergence but instead of memorizing examples, students created something new. John Seely Brown says

“To fully utilize a new teaching technology you often need to invent new teaching practices as well.”

When journalist David Carr was asked to give advice to students, he said,

“You have to make stuff. No one is going to give a damn about your resume, they want to see what you have made with your own little fingers.”

But to create, we must give students permission. We must make classrooms places where they can experiment and fail. For without failure, there is no success. Without permission, there is no creativity.

“Studies of creativity suggest that the biggest single variable of whether or not employees will be creative is whether they perceive they have permission.” says management expert, David Hills.

We need to give students permission to create and innovate. Our classrooms are not prisons of the mind. We should not stifle students in rows and chairs, rotely entering numbers into an iPad, when their fingers long to create a movie.

Math facts may be significant, but the simple fact is that timidly using technology to program students is a waste of technology, a waste of time, and more importantly, a waste of mind. It is time to bravely redefine what a classroom can be.


Brown, J.S. New Learning Environments for the 21st Century, 2005. Retrieved from www.johnseelybrown.com/newlearning.pdf April 12, 2012, p. 5.

Kleon, Austin. Show Your Work, p. 41.

David Hills as quoted in Maxwell, John. How Successful People Think, p. 33

Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon, “Twenty Things to Do With a Computer,” Artificial Intelligence Memo #248. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1971).

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Categories: Planet

Interview Questions for Computer Science Teachers

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 21 March, 2015 - 05:29

As I looked into why several posts from a while back were getting so many page views lately I realized that search values similar to “interview questions for computer science teachers” were probably responsible. The two pages in question are two where I interviewed CS educators about themselves and their work. That is probably not what most of these searchers were looking for though. Since it has been a while since I interviewed for a computer science teacher position (as either hiring manager or job hunter) I went to social media looking for examples of good questions for job interviews.

People were very helpful. I quickly received dozens of questions. I’ve got the whole list below but I wanted to focus a bit on a few I felt were key. Oh and if you feel a question is missing or have thoughts on any in the list I would to read about it in the comments.

A couple relate to teaching in general.

  • Do you like kids? You’d better if you want to do a good job teaching. Kids know if you don’t like them and they will not respect you if you don’t like them.
  • Are you ready / willing to share your "war stories" with the class, to help humanize the subject?  This is important to me. I think teachers should make teaching personal and that means sharing your own history.
  • What strategies would you use to help struggling students? Everyone learns differently and the great teachers are not the ones who help the students who get it easily but the ones who help the struggling students.
  • I walk into your class..describe to me what's going on and why. Are they going to fit in with your school? Are they ok with a noisy class? That’s my favorite. Or do they favor the sit and get method of teaching?
  • What approaches will you bring to the classroom to make this subject matter worth learning?   Relevance may be an overused work in some circles but it is still important.

Some are more Computer Science related. Well at least somewhat.

  • What strategies would you use to attract and retain women and minorities in your program? If they don’t know this is an issue and haven’t thought about strategies for it they may not be ready.
  • Why are you passionate about CS? I think passion is huge. And it can’t easily be faked.
  • Why teaching instead of industry? Do I need to say more?
  • Explain the role of ethics within your CS program. With the massive changes that computing is making on society today having ethics being someone a teacher thinks about and addresses is important to me.

Here is the full (mostly unedited) list I received from a number of helpful teachers. It’s in no particular order.

  • What strategies would you use to attract and retain women and minorities in your program?
  • Experience in CS
  • what projects you have done in college
  • why are you passionate about CS
  • Teaching and tutoring experience at which levels.
  • What's your vision for the CS program here, what part do you want to play
  • what resources do you need,
  • which classes should we teach.
  • Why teaching instead of industry?
  • How would you explain what a ZIP file is?
  • What are the common misconceptions about nested for loops?
  • What have you learned from a student?
  • Pick a language and tell me why it's the best language for our students. Now tell me the challenges of using that specific language with these students, and how you would overcome them.
  • Students at this school need some help with <concept/skill>. Tell me how you would use your CS class to help them.
  • I walk into your class..describe to me what's going on and why.
  • How have/would you balance individual, pair and group assignments?, How does this impact assessment of your students' progress?
  • Explain the role of ethics within your CS program.
  • What strategies would you use to help struggling students?
  • How would you keep the students off Facebook and games during class?
  • One area is attitude and skills
  • Do they like kids?
  • How would you connect your curriculum to real world problems and core curriculum ?
  • In what ways can your program increase students overall problem solving and critical thinking skills?
  • Can they relate to age group of the students
  • Can they communicate?
  • Do they like to learn? Are they excited about learning? Are they still actively learning?
  • Are they disciplined? With themselves and in the classroom. Can they mange their time?
  • Not only can they teach but do they like to teach?
  • Do they have high expectations?
  • Do they know the tools (Windows, MacOS , IOS, Android)
  • Can they program?
  • Do they know the software?
  • Can they handle large classes
  • Is there 1-on-1 coaching
  • Can they make a lecture interesting?
  • Are they flexible in classroom environment
  • Are there self-paced classes and can they work with that?
  • What approaches will you bring to the classroom to make this subject matter worth learning?
  • Why is Grace Hopper worth knowing about?
  • What do you do when you've got a kid who, despite repeated attempts, just doesn't get it?
  • What was your favorite part in the movie "The Imitation Game"?
  • Are you ready / willing to share your "war stories" with the class, to help humanize the subject?
  • In your opinion, how does CS apply to everyone's every day lives?
  • What does "rigorous computer science curriculum" mean to you?
  • How would you implement a rigorous computer science curriculum while ensuring that students who have no prior computing experience can have a class that is both rigorous and accessible?
  • What are the most important topics to teach the beginning computer science student and why?
Categories: Planet

The Privilege of Kids #EDUin30

The Principal of Change George Couros - 21 March, 2015 - 01:35

This week for the #EDUin30 question, I asked about how you build relationships in your role with students.  The best teachers in the world connect on some personal level with their students.  They do not only know their students, but their students know them.

I talked about this in my post to the response to the question:

Be visible, connect, and see time with students as a privilege. #EDUin30 #EDUin30w3 pic.twitter.com/B1RxUnFlPh

— George Couros (@gcouros) March 20, 2015

Honestly, I remember hating doing supervision.  Teaching was really overwhelming for me and every minute that I had to myself, I really appreciated.  Having to “deal” with kids outside was a pain.  Then one of my administrators talked about the “privilege” we had in connecting with kids during that time and that we should see it as an opportunity as opposed to a burden.  That totally changed my mindset on it early on my career, and after that, I loved supervision.

After that, I would really connect with kids, talk to them about things happening, play basketball with them outside, and would actually walk back into my class rejuvenated.  This was not just kids in my class, but kids all around the school that I did not have the same opportunities to connect with during the day.  It became a privilege and an opportunity in my eyes and made my day so much better.

Nothing changed other than my attitude, and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

Categories: Planet

The Role of Private Education #gesf Session Summary

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 March, 2015 - 21:33

Over the last couple days, we have been attending the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF). GESF is a global conference with people from all cultures and backgrounds attending. Being students from a small private school in the small town of Camilla, Georgia, we were eager to attend a session on the role of private schools in the education system. Titled “Is there a place for “private” in education?”, the discussion was controversial and enlightening.

Mark G is a student reporter covering the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. In this post, he has chosen to recap the views of a controversial panel on the role of private education in society. While I typically work to remain apolitical and focus on what unites us in education, Mark has been given full liberty to share on this controversial topic. I also want to note that learning how to hyperlink effectively is an important part of blogging and Mark has done this very well, in my opinion. Mark includes the video of the session so you can view it. — Vicki Davis, Teacher

There was a distinguished panel that discussed this controversial topic. Jay Kimmelman, CEO of Bridge International Academies, Kenya, John Bangs, Senior Consultant to the General Secretary, Education International UK, Geoffrey Canada, President, Harlem Children’s Zone, and Sir James Mancham, former President of Seychelles.

Each one of the panel members was asked their position on this issue. There was a variety of views on this question. Sir James Mancham said that private schools are crucial to the education system of a country. He mentioned that in his country of Seychelles, their Constitution includes a provision for the preservation of the private school system. Private schools create competition between other private schools and public schools to create a need for constant improvement. He went on to say that private schools are more focused on hiring the best teachers and teaching an important and effective curriculum. He raised an important question about public schools, asking if it was public education or public indoctrination.

Geoffrey Canada remarked that private education is invaluable to the education system, but only middle class and affluent families could afford it for their kids. He said that every parent wants the best possible education for his or her child, and that parents should be able to have the choice to send their children to better schools if they have the money. Mr. Geoffrey was a big proponent of charter schools, saying that they allowed poor students to get a better education than they would receive at public schools. He said that private schools are critical to the education system because they give students a choice in their child’s schooling.

John Bangs and Jay Kimmelman had a slightly different opinion on the topic. Both of them agreed that it is important for parents to have a choice of various schools for their children to attend. John Bangs stated that parents do not only choose between a private and public school, they choose the best possible school for their children, that they can afford. Bangs said that state has a profound role in education, because education is the glue of society. Because education is crucial to the success of a country, he believes that it is the responsibility of the government to educate the people. Jay Kimmelman believes that all students have a right to a quality education. Jay works in Kenya, and has seen much inequality in the education system. He believes that it is immoral for privileged students to have a world class education, while many poor students are left behind in low performing schools. Jay was against private education that caters to a particular class of people, he believes that private schools must cater to all students, regardless of race or income.

All panel members were in agreement that private schools played a role in education; the only discrepancy was the extent of that role. Some members were in favor of private education as the dominant system, others believed that it should play the role of a backup to the public school system. Another opinion was that the private school system and the public school system should be balanced, both contributing ideas and innovation to improve both systems. As students attending a private school in Georgia, and by attending this session with these esteemed panelists, we can conclude that there is a role of “private” in education.

If You Comment:I encourage you to comment, but please remember that this post is written by a student as a summary of a session. I do moderate comments and hope that you’ll model effective discourse as you share your thoughts and opinions on this topic. I reserve the right to moderate all comments. Thank you for being part of this experience as I encourage my students to develop their voice and use their blogging skills for a wider audience. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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