DigiCon16

It’s that time of year again so off to Swinburne Uni in Hawthorn for DLTV’s DigiCon.  I’ll be doing just one short session on Next Era Ed and particularly, stepping attendees through an inventory of what they are already doing well and what they might look more closely at. I’ll use a new worksheet:

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School Library Conference WA

SLCWA-In_your_Dreams

Links for the sessions:

 

I’m excited to be participating in the The School Library Conference (SLC) on 3-4 June at Wesley College in South Perth.  The conference is presented by the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia (AISWA) Libraries and the Western Australian School Library Association (WASLA).

Because of my long association and friendships with teacher librarians in Western Australia – and their great conference theme — I’m using this as an opportunity to reflect on my dreams as a young educator and the decades-long journey into the current reality.  As I described the keynote for the programme:

What Happens to a Dream Achieved?

In a time of change and turmoil, poet Langston Hughes asked his provocative question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” As we continue to tick along into the 21st Century surrounded by more gadgets, richer media and smarter algorithms, we might want to ask, “What happens to a dream achieved?” Unravelling both questions allows Tom March to explore the recent past and current situation with the goal of daring to dream a desirable future. Inspired by the conference theme and his many years in education meeting with teacher librarians in Perth, Tom uses this keynote as an opportunity to venture into the world of “In Your Dreams.” Weaving together an illustrated story of personal anecdotes and professional aspirations, Tom hopes to both inspire and challenge his fellow curriculum leaders currently working in WA school libraries. The presentation uses the personal to appeal to the universal. It blends a young educator’s goals and the professional journey that has followed through reflective story telling. Tom ventures into the worlds of great literature and literature review; former students and future world leaders; old models and new paradigms – all with the intent of engaging the audience in a significant shared experience that leaves us all with a dream in all our hearts and a direction in our steps.

I will also lead concurrent session offered twice in the day:

Unpacking your next era of education
All schools have made progress with student access to rich media, one-to-one devices and smart software. Many have jumped in with both feet and a handful of initiatives. Does the right hand know where the left foot is going? In other words, when left to their own devices, are students flourishing like never before or is technology more disruptor than accelerator of learning? Perhaps something was missed when the digital initiatives were designed? This session unpacks Tom’s Next Era Ed model and empowers teacher librarians to contribute to their school’s wisely-guided systemic change.

During the sessions I will share some of the latest features in Hobsons’ constantly-developing curriculum Design and Delivery platform.

This will be a great couple of days so if you are in the Perth area, I encourage you to come along.

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Free Workshops – Looking for Your Interests

I’m using this poll to gather input on a series of free workshops to be held in the eastern states of Australia. I will also create videos / webinars to share online for the 3 most popular, so vote away!
Also, use the comments link to share other topics you’re interested in.

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Viva La Revolution – Using Tests to Break Education Paradigms

Tom's ETS article, April/May 2016I’ve enjoyed writing for Education Technology Solutions and they have decided to make my latest article their cover story for the April / May 2016 issue.  How great – thanks!

As the “Director of Innovation” at Hobsons Edumate, combined with the Australian Prime Minister’s recent focus on Innovation, I thought it worth reflecting on why we haven’t seen any real innovation in the our K-12 classrooms.  If this piques your curiosity (or throws its intended gauntlet), please have a read and add your comments below.

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My Memory Lane for Techies

memory_lane2

Why this post?

ICTENSWlogo200x100In my new role as Director of Innovation K12 at Hobsons APAC, I don’t get to keynote as much as I used to.  This is kind of a nice thing because it means that every time I do it’s a chance to reflect.  On Sunday, I’m pleased to present at the ICTE NSW conference held at ACU in North Sydney.  This prompted me to recall that the first time I presented in Australia was as the NSW Computers in Education Group in Bathurst.  This was only months after emigrating and it was lots of fun to share what we’d been doing at San Diego State with WebQuests, Blue Web’n and Filamentality as well as meet some people who have become longtime friends and colleagues in the profession.

There is a method to this madness of hyperlinking a slew of the droppings I’ve left along the Web these past couple decades.  You’ll have to attend the talk or chat with me later to find out what it is!

So here’s a trip down memory lane from Tom’s start in Australia to where we are now.

A Chronology

The 1990s – early excitement and sharing

2000s – Making Models to leverage learning

2010s – the Dark Side or our Bright Future?

 

 

Image attributes: Memory Lane from Flickr user Paul Yoakum and HTML from Wikimedia Commons User Eric Dimas
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Edumate Confab – October 19

Welcome!

edumate-logoIt’s a pleasure to be part of the inaugural Edumate Confab to be held 19 October at Pymble Ladies’ College.  Our Hobsons Edumate team have been working hard to make this day as useful as possible for our schools.  My sliver of the day (everyday, in fact!) is focused on how to help schools achieve what matters most (for them).  For me this translates as “student success” as defined by each individual school community.

My sessions at the Confab all focus on teaching and learning, from the biggest issues confronting today’s schools to best practice approaches to designing, delivering and achieving the school’s goals for student success.

I hope you can join us!

General Assembly Keynote

Curriculum Module –  Best Practice Session

Help Articles:

  • Curriculum Planning Quick Reference Guide
  • Curriculum Planning Detailed Overview

Teaching & Learning Roundtable – Bring your questions and challenges

Curriculum Module – Masterclass

Learning Alignment System Best Practice

  • Help Article: How to Create Units in LAS
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New Article – Next Era Ed Overview

ets-next-era-edEducation Technology Solutions has published online the full version of an article of mine they are publishing over two issues.  Schools: Invent The Next Era Of Education is the best source for the complete view of my “Next Era Ed” model with directional questions for each:

  1. Vision – is it articulated and shared?
  2. Evidence – exactly what does achievement of the vision look like?
  3. Learning theories – are research-based pedagogical models that promote such student achievements used?
  4. Curriculum 2.0 – are units designed to leverage the pedagogical models and personalise ICTs?
  5. Review – has a systemic review process that ‘closes the loop’ for continuous improvement been embedded?
  6. Smart digital environments – are technologies being used to increase efficiencies and enliven Curriculum 2.0 as well as tap into data analytics to support systemic review?

Please read the article to see how a school you might know might be shifting from “mass produced teaching to personally meaningful learning.”  Here’s the model graphic to help your reflection.  All feedback is always welcome!

 

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DLTV DigiCon15

DigiCon2015

I’m really looking forward to joining in at the DLTV DigiCon for 2015 on 24 – 25 July at Swinburne University campus in Hawthorn.  I’m doing two sessions on Saturday.

Session F (11:45) – Leading Schools in a Digital Era (AKA R U Ready for Next Era Ed?)

Spark Talk – “Let’s Make New Mistakes”

  • These 12 minute sessions are meant to stimulate thinking and discussion.  I hope to inspire action.

NextEraEd_600

Vision

Does your school have a vision of student success that is aspirational and includes articulated descriptors?

Evidence

Using backward design, does your school have a continuum of rich performance tasks that validate the vision and prompt interdisciplinary demonstrations of students’ understandings that require their transfer to new contexts?

Learning Theories

Given the student performances your vision describes, what learning theories – and their research findings – are most likely to generate the desired evidence of your achievement as a school?

Here are few favourites:

Curriculum 2.0

Are your teaching and learning practices founded on the Learning Theories and lead to student demonstrated evidence of the vision? Also, in an age of rich digital resources and personalised devices, are ICTs used to engage students in personally meaningful accomplishments?

Review

Do you have systemic reviews embedded that “close the loop” for continuous improvement?

(Smart Digital Environments)

What technology platforms or software does your school use to support teaching, learning, curriculum development, student learning profiles, etc.?

  • I started working for Edumate in 2015 because I saw it as the best smart digital environment available in the Asia Pacific. I’m happy to discuss how it supports all aspects of Next Era Ed or use this contact form if you’d like someone to get in touch and visit your school.
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Back to Adelaide!

I’m really looking forward to joining in at the EdTechSA conference coming up on 15-16 July.

Warm-up Poll – Gathering Data

Session 1 (9:45) – Next Era Ed Readiness Check

Session 2 (2:45) – How Hobsons’ Edumate Accelerates Next Era Ed

If you’re interested in how one software platform integrates the phases of Next Era Ed, come to this session and we’ll explore it together.

Closing Keynote (Thursday) (3:30) – How Ready is your School for Next Era Ed?

I’ve been talking about this for many years and this presentation will take a reflective dip in order to encourage strong action to create a reality that is not only possible, but “imperative.”

NextEraEd_600

 

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WebQuests at 20: a lesson in “only new mistakes”

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seaching-for-china-0.1I wrote an article last month, The WebQuest: A Parable reflecting on the 20th anniversary of WebQuests (Education Technology Solutions magazine – also available as a pdf). I won’t repeat the article in this post but use what follows to provide a bit of evidence that K-12 education doesn’t need any new ideas, but new mistakes.

Evidence of Missed Opportunities

The heart of the reflection was that I think we’ve missed two decades of opportunities for educational technology in K-12 schools to make a difference, to achieve the goals we had for ICTs to empower authentic, personally rewarding and meaningful learning. As a way to verify this – and to double-check that I haven’t descended into a crotchety middle-aged pessimism – I recently asked a room full of ICT educators and leaders how often they observed the following happening in their school’s classrooms:

  • Essential questions and inquiry drive learning.
  • Students choose their own pathways through content.
  • Students analyse complex topics from multiple perspectives.
  • Learning activities are scaffolded to support differences among students.
  • Students use ICTs as tools for constructing knowledge and creating rich productions.
  • Students work in teams and collaborate with peers online.
  • Students get real world feedback from experts in the field.
  • By the end of every unit students have transformed information into understanding.

You can see the live poll here. The results are in no way a criticism of the people in the audience as I’d wager that this group is more sophisticated in their ICT integration and curriculum than most similar cohorts as they were a self-selected sample of keen educators who chose to attend an EdTech conference.  Here’s what we learned:

poll-SA

Ouch.  Of course the “gotcha” is that each of these teaching and learning bullet points are integrated into every real WebQuest. To verify this, you can take a look at What WebQuests (Really) Are. And these things aren’t radically difficult or cutting edge – and have only gotten easier as technology has becomes faster, more powerful and ubiquitous.  So I think it’s fair to say, as a general summary, that pockets of pioneering educators have ALWAYS done great things, but also, that we’re still far from pervasively improving what’s done across all schools.

I think that what’s heartening is that almost 20% identified that Carol Ann Tomlinson’s (et al) efforts in differentiation have had an impact.  Fantastic!  I have to be a little cynical, however, about the second most-observed aspect of “using ICTs as tools for constructing knowledge and creating rich productions.”  I justify my skepticism on two fronts.  First, again, these responses come from ICT integrators and leaders in the field so are not representative of an average school.  The second hesitation I have is around “constructing knowledge” and “creating rich productions” for which I set pretty high bars.  I see “constructing” as analogous to “understanding” and my work in Understanding by Design with schools indicates that many teachers still don’t have a great sense of the difference between “knowing” and “understanding” – not being harsh, just a reality that springs from mandatory curricula that tend to focus on covering content, not uncovering enduring understandings.  Also, in terms of “creating rich productions” the “richness” I seek is not just in terms of “rich media” which is great, but “richness” of thinking, relevance and authenticity: using technology to transform information into understandings that matter to the students and the world.

Of course the point is that the challenges schools face will not be solved by technology or any “new idea.” Just significant, hard, but deeply meaningful, work. The work, in fact, that only educators can and should do.  So let’s not fret or get too worked up by the latest buzzwords – today’s STEM/STEAM is yesterday’s “Challenge-based learning/ PBL” and last decade’s WebQuests.  This is why I say forget the “new ideas” and focus on making “new mistakes” because the mistakes people are making with STEM and the same they made with WebQuests.  Also, let’s not fixate on things we can’t change (unless you can) like high-stakes tests, government funding, cultural obsessions with technological silver bullets or social scourges.  Let’s keep focused on what we can do to transform our school cultures and curriculum from accepting calendar-based, mass produced teaching to competency-based, personally meaningful learning.

Thoughts?  Leave a comment.

</soapbox>

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