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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.

The post The Role of Private Education #gesf Session Summary appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

The Hidden Qualities of Effective Educators

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 20 March, 2015 - 02:03

Matthew Kohut claims people make a decision with a tenth of a second about a person’s warmth. Projecting a sense of warmth is imperative for teachers. Matthew and co-author John Neffinger, said in Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential that character is how one chooses to be not the way one is born.

Listen now to Matthew Kohut

Add @besmonte to your PLN

Listen now to Matthew Kohut

Matthew Kohut- Show #81 – The Two Hidden Qualities of Effective Educators

Based upon research in social science, Matthew Kohut claims there are universal metaphors that cue our bodies via hormonal boosts to trust people. Humans can influence their public speaking abilities by body pose and influence others with non-verbal communication. Matthew reminds us to align the visual, the vocal, and the verbal when speaking to others. These are three channels that are most effective when they work together. Matthew reminds us effective educators also project a sense of strength and warmth. Listen now to find out more on this research about the qualities on which our social judgements hinge.

This show centers upon something called “embodied cognition.” The position of your body impacts how you think and feel in powerful ways. I highly recommend Matthew Cohut’s book Compelling People as a way to understand this concept. — Vicki Davis 5 Useful Things to Gain from Listening to this Show
  • The ideal pose to take before you speak
  • Warmth and Strength and how they impact you as a teacher (and are different for men and women)
  • What is embodied cognition?
  • How do we decide what people we will trust and like?
  • What is some interesting research to help me understand how my body impacts how others view me?
Every Classroom Matters is a bi-weekly Radio Show by Vicki Davis on BAM Radio network with best practices for busy teachers. Subscribe. Need help listening to the show?

If you’re clicking “Play” on the BAM Radio Site, this often works best in Internet explorer. Or subscribe in a podcatcher. If you need help, use this tutorial.

The post The Hidden Qualities of Effective Educators appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

Thankful for Teacher Devotion: A Message from a Student #gesf

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 March, 2015 - 21:12

At the Global Education Skill Forum in Dubai, one of the things that I noticed was the overwhelming devotion of teachers to their profession and their students. I have encountered many wonderful and caring teachers throughout my career as a student, but I was overwhelmed with the passion for teaching that many of these teachers exhibited during the conference. These teachers also display this passion even in times of significant adversity. Many of the top ten finalists for the Global Teacher Prize taught their students in challenging times; some of them even risking their lives in the name of education.

This post is by Mark G, a student reporter from Westwood Schools at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai. When we have education conferences, we must include student voice. An education conference without students in attendance is missing out on the reason we pursue this profession. I hope you’ll find Mark’s views about teachers as uplifting as I do. Please comment if you do. Thank you, teachers. You matter! — Vicki Davis

Mr. Azizullah Royesh, a teacher from Afghanistan and a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, started facing adversity at 12. He was forced to leave Afghanistan when the Soviet Union invaded. The last words his father told him were ”I wish that you stay alive.”

After fleeing to Pakistan, he started teaching at the age of 16 so that he could share his literacy with the other refugees. Throughout his career as a teacher, he also was faced with stressful situations. In one situation, many of his female students were protesting a controversial law passed by the clerics. The clerics, who drafted the law, stormed his school, tried to burn it, and called for his execution. He later moved back to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime.

Mrs. Phalla Neang, a teacher from Cambodia and a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, opened up a school for the blind and deaf. In Cambodia, people with disabilities are regarded as having sinned in a former life, and are persecuted and shunned by society. Many of them receive no quality education.

Mrs. Neang has opened up five schools across Cambodia to give blind and deaf people the opportunity to have an education, and also to educate the people of Cambodia of the worth of people with disabilities in society. She works ceaselessly to give her students a quality education, and when students don’t show up, she visits them to check on them.

Great Teachers

All great teachers share a common characteristic: A devotion to their profession and their students. This devotion was prevalent among all teachers attending the GESF conference. In a panel discussion at the conference, one question was, “what makes for an effective teacher?” The most common answer was that for a teacher to be effective, they need to be passionate and devoted to their job, and dedicated to their students.

The Winner of the Global Teacher Prize: Nancie Atwell

Nancie Atwell, the winner of the Global Teacher Prize, said that in her classroom, she allows her students to make decisions about what they want to read. She enables them to pursue their passions in literature. She is very committed to her pupils, allowing their voices to be heard in the curriculum and letting them have more control over their education. Mrs. Nancy is one of those teachers who is not content with a paycheck, she wants to see real results in her craftsmanship. She shapes and molds her students with her immersive literature curriculum, and makes a lasting impact on all of her students.

Thank You Teachers for Your Devotion

In order to change lives and change the world, teachers must be devoted to their profession. As an attendant of the GESF conference, I can testify that all teachers present do not only have a devotion to their job, but have a passion for it that defines them as human beings. Because teachers are devoted to their job, world leaders are created, doctors are made, and the world becomes a better place. Thank you, teachers of the world, for your devotion to me and all my fellow students.

The post Thankful for Teacher Devotion: A Message from a Student #gesf appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

A Simple Hug

The Principal of Change George Couros - 19 March, 2015 - 13:27

It is almost two years ago that my dad passed away.

I still struggle writing and seeing those words.  Sometimes I find myself laughing thinking about stuff that he did, or crying because he is not seeing things happen in my life right now.  Although we tended to argue about certain aspects of my life, I know and always knew he was trying to look out for me.  Every person needs someone in their life that whether you like what they say or not, you know that they are there for you.  That was my dad.

As I received the news of my dad passing through a google chat message from my brother because I had shut off my phone prior to a presentation, I can still that little pop up window that rocked my world.  I saw it, closed my computer, and immediately informed the group that I would have to leave.

As I arranged plans to fly home to be with my family, I remember sitting in the Denver airport in a little restaurant off to the side, where I wrote about my dad passing away and what he meant to me.  Writing was seemingly the only way that I could hold things together.  Today, as I flew to Detroit from the Denver airport, I passed that restaurant again and I was reminded of a special moment.  As I wrote about my dad, with tears in my eyes, the server had brought me food that I ordered that I had not planned on eating.  I was the only one in the restaurant at the airport at the time, and although the restaurant was not busy, she kept asking me if I needed anything, with service more attentive than I had been used to.  All of a sudden, the server came up to me, and she said, “I am really sorry, but I saw what you are writing over your shoulder, and I am incredibly sorry for your loss. Would you mind if I gave you a hug?”  Needing that more than anything, I stood up, and cried uncontrollably as a stranger cried along with me.  I remember that she had hugged me until I let go, and I was incredibly grateful.

Walking by that little spot in the Denver airport always makes me pause, but today, almost two years later, it really hit me.  It also reminded me that although it can be really easy to get caught up in all the bad in the world, total strangers sometimes do the kindest things, and people sometimes show up unexpectedly when you need them the most.  I was also reminded of hearing someone say that when a kid in school comes up to hug you, never let go first.  They will hold on until they get what they need.

That is what that kind stranger did for me that day, and I am forever grateful.

Categories: Planet

Do You Want To Write Some Code?

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 19 March, 2015 - 04:28

OK I feel better. I was overcome with an urge to write some code. Now I have a program I should write. I want to combine my seating chart program (with pictures) with the program I use to randomly pick on students. I mean randomly pick who to call on. Whoops. But I don't have the time to work on that right now.

So I wanted a "toy program." I remembered that I had been playing with a simple Caesar cipher program  (who else remembers ROT-13?) What I have long been meaning to do was to write a program that took a string and rotated it though all 25 possible rotations (26 puts it back the way it was) and build a list so that if you suspected a Caesar substitution you could test it to see how it was rotated. Fine.

So I took the code for rotating in the encoding program and made it a simple little string function. Added a loop to pass a string to the function with different values to rotate and put the result in a listbox. By reusing code I was done in about 10 minutes. And I have a toy program I will probably use once every couple of years and could probably find a web app that does the same thing in about the same time it took to write the code. But oh so much more satisfying.

Who knows - I might assign it as a programming assignment someday as well. BTW Mike Zamansky has a closely related (and probably more useful post) on his blog  Rot13 - Gateway Drugs Techniques

Categories: Planet

Confidence and Competence

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 March, 2015 - 23:59

“Schools kill creativity.”

“Innovation is crucial in education.”

“We are preparing students for jobs that don’t currently exist.”

“Education needs disruption.”

These are all statements that you might have heard on a Ted Talk, at a conference keynote, or on any professional learning day.  They push thinking, make people feel uncomfortable, and are tailored towards systems thinking.  A powerful vision for education is needed in our world today.

Yet what comes after these statements?  Many school districts around the world are rushing to revamp outdated mission and vision statements to reflect these changes in society, yet if nothing changes in student learning, these statements becomes  only new words followed by previous actions.

“A vision without execution is an hallucination.” Jeffrey E. Garten

To be an effective leader, it is necessary to be able to take these statements and give concrete examples of possibilities.  “Systems thinking” is useless if it is not turned into action.  Robert Sutton, author of “Good Boss, Bad Boss”,  talked about the importance of helping move people along a continuum to a larger vision.  Small steps are necessary to help people build success along the way, which leads to building confidence and competence.  I wrote and revisit a post that I shared a couple of years ago on “8 Things To Look for in Today’s Classroom“, because I wanted to go deeper into a vision for the classroom today.  How could I be an effective leader at the organizational level if I didn’t understand the opportunities for students today?

One of the benefits of mobile technologies is that no leader is tethered to any room at any time. Spending time in classrooms, seeing great practice in action, and being both a part of the teaching and learning, is not something that is only recommended, but is necessary to move organizations forward.  Model in what you seek.

Systems thinking is important. but if you aren’t able to go deeper into a vision and articulate what it could look like for the learners we serve, all of those statements become only tweetable moments as opposed to actionable items.

Categories: Planet

The tip of the iceberg

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 18 March, 2015 - 15:44

If you ask the general population about their perception of teaching, I am sure the response would be 9-3pm working day, lots of holidays. Teaching is a profession that is still defined by its (industrial) conditions.

The scope of teachers work remains categorised by a school week, a school term or a school year. The roots of the industrial model of schooling extend well into the 21st century. How many people including teachers themselves believe this is the totality of teachers’ work? Think about how we define teachers work today: number of students in a class, number of hours they can expect to be face-to-face, hours on playground duty etc. School days are divided into periods separated by a bell and controlled by timetables. School years are divided into four terms punctuated by breaks.

This has inevitably influenced how teachers’ work is perceived and even defined by the profession itself. However we know the work of teachers is complex and deeper than is recognised.

Christopher Bantick wrote recently that teaching has ‘become a milch cow for commentators and critics who have either never spent time in a school or whose experience of schools is outdated and ossified. Everyone has a view, but few have actual present classroom experience.” Bantick argues for increasing ATAR scores for teacher training arguing that you “can’t make a teacher out of someone who is not academically excellent.”

Teaching must attract the best of the best. In Finland for example, teaching attracts higher results than medicine or engineering. For me the issue is not simply one of academic rigour, it’s also a question of fit for purpose. You can’t become a great teacher unless you have a passion to teach. Teaching is highly relational and as Educational Leadership Professor Richard Elmore states if you can’t see the relationship between teacher, student in the presence of content in a classroom (instructional core), then it isn’t there.

Two of my colleagues from Parramatta Marist High recently returned from Finland where they participated in the Global Education Community conference. Kurt and Gavin identified three key lessons from their Finnish Education experience:

  1. There is a huge investment in developing high quality teachers. Bantick is right in that you need to start from a high base but teachers are like raw diamonds, the finer the crafting the better outcome. High quality teachers need continual polishing and re-polishing.
  2. Decision making and assessment is locally driven. This acknowledges the professionalism of teachers to make critical judgments on the ‘length, breadth and depth of the curriculum’ to meet the changing needs of students.
  3. Teacher autonomy leads to greater trust. It is a given that teachers know how to teach, know what is required and are able to focus their efforts and attention on improving student learning. Nothing more and nothing less.

I asked them to reflect on what it means locally. In their view, teacher professionalism in Australia needs to meet “the needs of the 21st century especially in terms of graduates coming from university.” Teaching needs to be seen as a profession not a job so that teachers themselves are responsible for making the best decisions for learning and teaching.

As Finland has demonstrated, minimum academic standards for teaching are just the tip of the iceberg. Only when we invert the iceberg will we begin to see not only the depth and breadth of teachers’ work in today’s world but it’s direct impact and influence on student learning.

Categories: Planet

2015 CSTA Administrator Impact Award Nominations Open

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 17 March, 2015 - 20:59

Dear CSTA Community, 

Nominations are currently open for the 2015 CSTA Administrator Impact Award! This prestigious award is given by CSTA to recognize an administrator who has made an outstanding contribution to K-12 computer science education. 

The winner will be presented with the Administrator Impact Award during the CSTA 2015 Annual Conference, July 12-14 in Grapevine, Texas. The winner and the nominating teacher will receive registration, travel, and accommodations for the CSTA 2015 conference. The award winner will also be featured in an article in the CSTA Voice and recognized on the CSTA website and Advocate blog.

Award applications open today, Monday, March 16 and will close on Sunday, April 5 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time.

Teachers are asked to nominate an administrator they believe has demonstrated significant impact on computer science education in their school, district, or state. The award winner's work must be shown to have broad impact and influence, and to demonstrate leadership in a variety of ways, including innovative approaches, mentoring of teachers, and visionary thinking.

Submit your nomination now!

For questions regarding the Administrator Impact Award, please contact customerservice@csta-hq.org.

Categories: Planet

What is ‘competence’ and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate ‘competent civic agents’.

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 17 March, 2015 - 11:21


  • This paper addresses the competences needed in 21st century life especially in
    relation to civic participation, and the educational requirements to foster them in
    young people. New technologies are widely used by young people for informal
    social interaction, video game-playing and giving voice to their views.
    Incorporation of these practices into the classroom has been fairly slow, despite
    their manifest potential for promoting agency and civic engagement. The paper
    argues that this is in part due to the need for a cultural shift in education to
    accommodate them. Currently, many competences young people will need for
    the future world of interactive technology and ‘bottom-up’ information,
    communication and democracy are mainly being developed through informal
    practices. These competences, which include adaptability, managing ambiguity,
    and agency are discussed in relation to civic participation.  - Kerry J

Tags: education, learning, teaching

by: Kerry J

Categories: International News

Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit 2015

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 16 March, 2015 - 23:06

Last week I was fortunate to attend the Australian Data Centre Strategy Summit that was located on the Gold Coast – a very nice location for a very serious conference! The conference focus was about, yes, you guessed it, Data Centres, and the decisions businesses are making when it comes to hosting their infrastructure in the ‘cloud’. The reality of any ‘cloud’ service is that these are bricks and mortar data centres, located in physical locations both in Australia and overseas. For an organisation, you are making decisions to have infrastructure hosted elsewhere and your employees/students will be pulling data down from these data centres to your physical location. Think Google Apps for Education. Similar concept, but that is software as a service (SAAS) whereas infrastructure hosted in a data centre is infrastructure as a service (IAAS).

I do feel a need to point out that I was one of five female attendees (I was counting, and it wasn’t difficult to spot the women in the room). C’mon girls – we need your presence at IT conferences, and as participants rather than as organisers of the event. There were quite a few pretty young things handing out materials, but I did almost cheer when I saw Australia Post’s general manager for service integration and operations Claire Bourke enter the room. She delivered a presentation about Australia Post’s switch to active-active data centres using the Melbourne Next DC facility and Fujitsu’s Noble Park facility. If you’re interested, you can read about their motivation for this transition here. 

There were only two schools present. Toorak College, and St. Luke’s Anglican School in Bundaberg, ably represented by Mitch Miller, their IT Manager who has done some groundbreaking work in his school to move infrastructure to Amazon Web Services. The school’s approach has been the subject of an Amazon Web Services case study and I’d encourage IT Managers in schools to take a read.

You can access my Storify of all of my tweets from the conference here. 

Some highlights for me (other than Mitch’s presentation, which was specific to school environments, but more than applicable to business operations too).

Mark Thiele’s presentation about the impact of the Internet of Things on the Data Centre. Mark made some really salient points about the need to seek out talent for IT in your organisation to enable innovation to flourish. His article about Innovation vs Cost Center in relation to IT is a must read for anyone heading up IT, as is another written by Mark exploring the ‘IT Hero and Firefighter Mentality‘ that can pervade organisations. Really worthwhile reads that give you much to contemplate and work with.

Chris Taylor, CTO at Qantas, delivered a fantastic presentation that I wasn’t permitted to tweet. However, their cloud strategy has been explored in an IT News article that is well worth reading. I did take notes, and I think there are aspects of it that I can share as a lot of it is spelled out in the IT News article. Chris stated, “Cloud is the best thing to happen to IT systems”.  Some great points he made regarding a shift to utilising the benefits of the computational processing power of cloud services were:

Innovation and agility


Speed to value and business outcomes

Cultural transformation

Speed is life – to get speed you need to take complexity out

Respect your customers – they want better service

Fail fast. Cloud allows you to do this

Test – learn -pivot – redo

Glenn Gore is Senior Manager, Technology Solutions at Amazon Web Services and he ran a workshop outlining AWS and their security, something I was keen to explore. This was very interesting, especially considering this was an ‘I am the only woman in this room’ session, and the fact that Glenn asked participants to say who they were and why they were there. I was ever so slightly intimidated as I realised I was surrounded by CIOs from major corporations and Government agencies, and I had to say that I was from an Independent Girl’s School in Victoria! Nonetheless, I was not deterred and asked quite a few questions. Some key takeaways from Glenn’s session (for me, anyway):

There is cooperation between tier one telcos to try and combat attacks that are becoming more frequent.

People are moving to encryption of data when it rests in data centres (and as it travels there). Key management becomes critical – rolling keys updating every hour etc to secure the management layer you are responsible for when storing in what is considered the ‘public cloud’.

AWS will encrypt on a vendor’s behalf if you want that.

Businesses/corporations should be using 2 factor authentication to secure data.

AWS use real time security frameworks – they use algorithms that flag when patterns of activity change allowing them to identify suspicious activity. They often flag sites and check with owners of data to see if there may be reasons for changes in activity level.

AWS have a shared responsibility model – AWS manages infrastructure. Hacks are happening at apps level. No attacks coming through infrastructure level. Here’s some info from their security page:

Because you’re building systems on top of the AWS cloud infrastructure, the security responsibilities will be shared: AWS has secured the underlying infrastructure and you must secure anything you put on the infrastructure or connect to the infrastructure. The amount of security configuration work you have to do varies depending on how sensitive your data is and which services you select.


AWS does not publicly display roadmaps and dates -this is part of their security profile. They don’t care about delays to their roadmap because security is the main priority.

AWS security engineering team- develop their own patents to deal with protecting their infrastructure

Duty of care – will note suspicious traffic vectors and send out calls to check.

AWS will Scan for open ports.

You as the user of the system, have to protect your encryption keys and access to systems – don’t lose sight of this.

AWS are the first cloud provider to meet IRAP in Australia. Now this impressed me. Here’s what that means:

Amazon Web Services was audited by an independent assessor from the Information Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP). The assessment examined the security controls of Amazon’s people, process and technology to ensure that they met the needs of the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)Information Security Manual (ISM).

One of my questions to Glenn was, “Who do you see as your closest competitor”, because, quite frankly, after all of my reading I can’t see anyone who gets close to what AWS can do in terms of understanding data centre cloud storage and the security necessary to run it. Here’s where they sit in Gartner’s magic quadrant:

Glenn’s answer: he sees their competitors as the people thinking they can build their own data centres and protect it adequately. I think he was referring to people with the mindset that is fearful of the ‘public cloud’ who have limited understanding of the security offerings a company like AWS can provide. (If anyone reads this who was in the room and who thinks I misinterpreted this, feel free to correct me).

All in all, a really worthwhile event for a woman from an Independent School in Melbourne to attend. ;)

Here’s a few links to information regarding security and AWS for those of you interested in reading a bit more.








Categories: Planet

Interesting Links 16 March 2015

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 16 March, 2015 - 20:56

Last week I was not at SXSWedu. There were not as many tweets about it in my stream as there were from SIGCSE. I still want to go some day though. With progress reports due last week I had more than enough to keep me busy though. I’m sure the same it true for most people. Just a few links this week and two of them to my own posts. I tend not to post on the weekend or late on Friday because those posts tend not to get read. But I was out of control.

The first was about the new (not yet real) BBC Micro Bot. I just had to write about what I was thinking so I did at Is the BBC’s ‘Micro Bot’ the Silver Bullet. The second was about a fundraising teaching CS opportunity for US public schools at Choose to Code With TouchDevelop.

Garth Flint wrote about The value of guest speakers in CS. He’s been having a couple of them come in and talk to his students. Seems like it is working well.

I had no idea there were languages for programming music until I saw this  List of Programming Languages For Music: Did you know about these?

How long do you spend teaching variables? I just spent three weeks. This is an interesting post from Dawn DuPriest @DuPriestMath who is self described as a “Middle School computer science / math teacher and proud geek.”

Will an 'Hour of Code' Change Schools?  is a good commentary but Audrey Watters. @Audreywatters

Categories: Planet

MultiBrief: The 4 C’s of 21st century learning for ELLs: Critical thinking

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 16 March, 2015 - 16:53


  • "This is the first article of a four-part series on teaching the four C's effectively to English learners: Critical thinking | Communication | Collaboration | Creativity" (deck, 2015.03.16). - Paul Beaufait

Tags: education, communication, critical thinking, English, English language learners, higher order thinking, learning, problem solving

by: Paul Beaufait

Categories: International News

The Global Education and Skills Conference is a Cultural Smoothie #gesf

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 16 March, 2015 - 16:12

Coming from a small, traditional farming community in the southern United States, it’s a bit of a shock to suddenly find yourself immersed in such a diverse array of ethnicities and cultures-ancient and modern-young and old. New ideas and ways of thinking mix with the traditional views and cultures of people around the globe as people from a myriad of backgrounds come together at the Global Education and Skills Forum held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It is so diverse that it is almost like a smoothie with a little bit of everything in it.

Authored by Elizabeth G and Rebekah B, student reporters from Westwood Schools attending the Global Education and Skills forum in Dubai with their teacher, Vicki Davis.

There are people from every corner of the globe here and it is just amazing to see how all these people come together with a common goal of furthering education around the world and making the world a better place. The collaborative atmosphere of the people here at the conference is really incredible and it is truly an eye opening experience to be able to talk with other people from around the globe with different viewpoints and learn to see things from a different perspective.

It seems like everyone here is completely dedicated to the task at hand and has a heart and passion for education. So, even though the delegates of the conference all come from different walks of life, they are able to blend their cultures together and bridge the gap to make lasting relationships as they pursue a common goal of education, equity, and employment for all.

A note from teacher, Vicki Davis. I believe that conferences about education should include students. I’m excited that the organizers of the Global Education and Skills conference do as well. This is a very important conference because it brings together policy makers, politicians, principals, teachers, and world leaders to envision and push forward education in the world. You’ll be seeing the voice of students shared on my blog as they experience the conference and share their thoughts. Related articles

The post The Global Education and Skills Conference is a Cultural Smoothie #gesf appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

If knowing is obsolete. . .

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 15 March, 2015 - 12:52


  • Speaking in 2013 at 'TED' Sugata Mitra (2013) posed the question 'Could it be that at the point in time when you need to know something, you can find out in two minutes? Could it be that we are heading towards or maybe in a time when knowing is obsolete?'. What does this mean for education? - Nigel Coutts

Tags: education, Technology, learning, knowing

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

Rebooting innovation

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 11 March, 2015 - 19:23

In 1979, Sony produced the first portable cassette device – the Walkman.  It was a game changer for consumers and the music industry. Sony ended up selling 200 million devices worldwide.  Long before Apple or even Google established themselves as innovators, there was Japan.

The BBC recently had an interesting article on how Japan is trying to ‘reboot innovation’.  In an effort to encourage innovation, a hub called a high-tech ‘makerspace’ has been set up in Tokyo open to anyone who wants to turn an idea into a product.

The 20th model of schooling is like the Walkman – a product of the times but it’s been superseded by mobile devices, which can do more than just play music.  Innovative is not imitation; we need to realise (like Japan) that we cannot make a better version of the current model.  We need something never seen before – the school equivalent of Japan’s high tech makerspaces?

It certainly makes Yong Zhao’s argument for an entrepreneurial model of schooling even stronger. A model that cultivates student creativity and collaboration but where the focus of learning is on the ‘product not the project’.  Perhaps this is where project based learning is headed in the future.

Until then, we should ponder the comments of a former Panasonic employee and now founder of a start-up company who said any organisation is capable of producing something innovative but it is up to management as to whether they allow the ideas to be developed.

The question for school and system leaders is whether we are champions of imitation or innovation?




Categories: Planet

What students think of their blended learning teachers | eSchool News | eSchool News

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 11 March, 2015 - 14:39


  • "A recent survey [in Australia] reveals that teacher training may impact student opinion in blended courses" (deck, 2015.03.11). - Paul Beaufait

Tags: blended learning, education, educational technology, learning, teaching

by: Paul Beaufait

Categories: International News

Lipstick on a Pig

Chris Betcher - 3 February, 2015 - 01:10

I was looking at school websites tonight trying to find some information I needed and I stumbled across a school that I won’t name, but on the front page of their website they had these two rather ironic images on display in a slider…

Click to view slideshow.

I’m fairly sure that neither of these images qualifies for the claim they make of “Best Practices in Education” or “Advanced Learning Environment”.

Is it that schools simply don’t get what those terms mean? Or are they just marketing to parents who don’t understand what those terms mean? I’m not sure, but I do know that images like these completely devalue any real sense of best practise or advanced learning environments because the school clearly doesn’t know what those terms actually mean.

A school is not innovative or modern or advanced or “best practice” because it says so in their marketing brochures. It needs to actually BE those things it claims to be.

Adding phrases like that to images like this is simply just putting lipstick on a pig.

No related posts.

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A Bicycle for the Mind

Chris Betcher - 24 January, 2015 - 23:29

I’ve been doing some work recently with a school that’s using iPads with their kids, and was asked to give a talk on the topic “The place of iPads in teaching and learning”. This post is just a bit of thinking out loud about that question.

Let me start by saying that I think the iPad is an amazing piece of technology. I dispute the common claim about iPads just being “consumption devices”. That’s a load of nonsense. Used wisely, iPads open up incredible opportunities for creativity. This point was driven home during my recent 365 project, The Daily Create, where I made a creative “thing” every day during 2014. Although this project wasn’t specifically based on using an iPad, the truth is that at least 80% of what I came up with over the course of the year was made on an iPad. Whether it was photo editing, making graphics, editing movies, composing music, building animations and 3D objects, or even just writing, the iPad was a perfectly credible tool for creation. And of course the actual management of the Daily Create project via a blog was mostly also all done on the iPad. So I know that the iPad can help people do amazing things.

Of course, that’s not to say it’s not also a great consumption device. For reading eBooks, watching videos, listening to podcasts or music, browsing the web, playing games and so on, the iPad is a convenient, intuitive easy-to-use device that, for the most part, “just works”.

So yes, I like the iPad. But just because you can do certain things on a device does not necessarily mean it’s the best device to be doing them on. So the iPad, as a tool, needs to be kept in that perspective. While it’s capable of most things, it’s great at some and not so good at others.

For example, I’m typing this post on a Chromebook. Why not an iPad? Well, as much as I like iPads, I prefer the writing and editing experience on a device with a real keyboard. I like the extra screen area, the ergonomics of sitting it comfortably on my lap, and having a physical non-modal keyboard.  Could I type a piece of writing like this on an iPad? Sure I could (and have), but if given a choice I prefer to pick the tool that works best for me for that given task.

This is one of the reasons my school has gone down the path of having a combination of both iPads and Chromebooks. There are times when one is simply a better option than the other. They both have such unique strengths, and to exclusively choose one over the other tends to just highlights the weaknesses of each. That said, if you only have a choice of one or the other, either will be perfectly fine.

So back to the original question… “what is the place of iPads in teaching and learning?” It’s a loaded question really, because it begs the bigger question, “what is the place of technology in general in teaching and learning”. And to take it a step further, I think you should probably be asking the much bigger question “what is the point of teaching and learning anyway?” Thinking about the place that a particular technology might have in the teaching and learning process first requires you to think about what you’re trying to achieve in the first place.

Figuring out the place of iPads in teaching and learning should be pretty obvious once you know what you want teaching and learning to look like to start with. If you’re clear on the big idea of why, then seeing how is easy. You simply ask yourself whether this technology is helping you get closer to your goal or not. If it is, it has a place. It it doesn’t, then maybe not.

The school that asked me this question seems to have a pretty clear educational direction for what they are trying to achieve, and how they believe the teaching and learning process should look.

For a start, they want their learning to be transdisciplinary. The transdisciplinary model for teaching and learning is highly inquiry based and values collaboration, teamwork, curiosity and interconnectedness. It’s more than just thinking about a topic from different perspectives (that’s multidisciplinary) or by thinking about a topic by combining different subjects together like maths and science (that’s interdisciplinary). The idea of making the learning transdisciplinary involves bringing together multiple subject areas in such a way that the learning transcends the curriculum and becomes more than just the sum of its parts. If you’re a PYP school this should all sound quite familiar as it forms the foundation of that program. By taking a transdisciplinary approach the aim is to bring a more authentic, open-ended, personalised, contextual learning experience to each student.

Threaded through this core model for learning is a highly inquiry-based approach, a strong belief in differentiation according to student needs, flexible learning paths, and a fundamental goal for students to build their own learning through a Constructivist approach.

Would an iPad help support that kind of learning? Yeah, I think it would.

Steve Jobs once described computers as a “bicycle for the mind”, a metaphor borrowed from a study on locomotive efficiency in animals. Apparently for humans, walking is incredibly inefficient. Other animals can travel much further with far less energy. Steve observed how humbling it was for humans to be placed so far down the efficiency scale compared to other animals. However, he observed, if you allow a human to use a bicycle they become the animal with the most efficient form of locomotion of all. The larger point is that the right tool can make a big difference to what we are capable of.

Click here to view the embedded video.

Being given an opportunity to learn on your own terms, in ways that make sense to you, about things that interest you the most, forms the foundation of great learning. But without an effective tool to help, you’ll be like a human without a bicycle. You’ll probably get there, but it will take so much more work than it should.

So all of that pondering just leads me to my main idea, that giving a student an iPad (or any other piece of technology that helps them think more efficiently) can be a powerful thing. I think we intuitively know that, but it sometimes helps to step back and think about why we know it. And I think the “bicycle for the mind” idea is a pretty decent metaphor for why technology in the classroom can help support the kind of learning that we want. It can helps reduce the friction in curiosity, wonder, creativity and inquiry, and makes that process more efficient.

On the most basic level, having a device in the hands of a student that places them one click away of the sum of all human knowledge is in itself a pretty amazing advantage. (and one that no generation before them has ever had, by the way). We talk a lot about these devices helping students “connect, collaborate and communicate” so the simple idea of just being able to “look stuff up on the Internet” may not sound very impressive. But even though this might not be the wow factor that makes these devices “revolutionary and magical”, it’s still a pretty useful thing! To be able to look up a word, find a definition, peruse a map, verify a fact, ask a question or see a picture of something – instantly – is amazing. Don’t underestimate the power of that!

If you’re running a classroom based on an inquiry model, the iPad truly can act as that “bicycle for the mind” machine that helps a curious kid instantly connect to any fact or statistic they need to keep inquiring. iPads are transdisciplinary in the sense that they don’t silo information into arbitrary subjects. A query is a query. Curiosity does not have to limit itself to whether something is “science” or “maths” or “art”. Picking up an iPad and asking “OK Google, what type of lettuce is used in a Caesar salad?” and finding out that it is Romaine lettuce, and then wondering why it was named Caesar salad, or where it was invented, or whether it’s less fattening than a regular salad, or how you make a crouton, or the million and one other questions that might spring to mind as your questions cascade from one to the next… that’s just one small reason why technology makes sense in an inquiry based classroom.

Of course it’s much more than that though. You can wonder something, learn about it, and respond to it by making something with that information. It can be the tool by which a student can respond to their own curiosity. An iPad is amazing because it is a not one thing. It’s a notebook, a camera, a recording studio, a stopwatch, an atlas, a sketchbook, an editing suite, a music synthesizer, an artroom. It lets you compose, create and explore ideas. It’s screen instantly changes to become whatever tool you need it to be. There is really nothing else like it in that respect.

Using an iPad you can publish a short story, compose a soundtrack or produce a film clip. You can build a 3D model of a house, record a timelapse of a science experiment, or add augmented reality to a poster. There are literally millions of apps in the App Store so whatever you might want to do, you can almost guarantee “there’s an app for that”.

Finally the iPad is an incredible tool for communicating and collaborating, from having access to email, to messaging, to videoconferencing, to cloud computing. The world truly can be your oyster. You can collaborate with amazing cloud-based tools that let students form crosscultural, transdisciplinary teams to work on projects that are authentic, meaningful and real.

Of course, in reality none of this is terribly new. In 1971, Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon published a paper titled “20 Things to do with a Computer” in which their key assertion was that computers are capable of doing so much more if we allow them to be used creatively, and that the real reason to introduce computers into schools is to empower students. If a computer (or an iPad) is not being used to give agency to student learning then we have missed the whole point of having them.

Introducing computers (or iPads) into classrooms is not about better forms of testing students or NAPLAN preparation or math drills. It’s not about data management, not about saving money, not about impressing parents and not about keeping up with the school down the road. It’s about giving students agency and independence to take control of their own learning. And with that simple goal usually comes a whole lot of change. Sometimes quite painful change, but change that has to happen.

Adding technology to a classroom without reimagining how that classroom works, and rethinking what your students can do because of that technology, is a waste of time and money. Providing technology to students gives them an opportunity to do not just the same old things they’ve always done, except now with a shiny new tool… No. we now have an incredible opportunity to do entirely new things that were never possible before, using an amazing array of digital tools designed to create, and reinventing the way the way we think about teaching and learning.

Giving students iPads and not making fundamental shifts in how we teach and learn would be like giving them that bicycle for their minds, but then expecting them to push it and walk along beside it.If they are to get the true potential from that bicycle you need to let them get on it, get the wind in their face and ride the damn thing.

Featured image “Speedy Bike” by Till Krech via Flickr. CC BY.

Related posts:

  1. Slam That!
  2. iPads, Games and BYOD
  3. Inventing the Wheel

Categories: , Planet

Paid in Full

Chris Betcher - 23 January, 2015 - 11:30

I haven’t seen an actual paper credit card statement for a long time because I’ve banked electronically for years, but I switched banks recently and they just sent me my first credit card statement on this new account.

I was really pleased to see a prominent section on the statement (mandated by government legislation) pointing out just how long this bill will take to pay off if I were only to pay the minimum amount. I think this is a great thing for developing financial literacy, as I’m always shocked at just how little some people know about money, especially credit, and how little they understand its impact.

On my credit card’s closing balance of $1898.20, it tells me that even if I spent nothing more on the card, and just paid the minimum required amount each month until it was paid off, it would take me 18 YEARS 6 MONTHS, and would accrue $4,348.57 in interest!

I hope we are teaching this stuff to kids at school, so they don’t fall into the “free money” thinking that so many adults I know still have.

My grandmother used to say “if you can’t afford to pay cash, you can’t afford it.” I think the more modern equivalent is “if you can’t afford to pay your credit card bill in full each month, you can’t afford it”

And yes, I always pay my credit card bill in full each month!

Related posts:

  1. The shocking cost of international data
  2. Calling Home
  3. A Question of Value

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