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.

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

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

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

 

My Professional Journey circa 2015

Overview

My goal has long been to help educators and schools nurture meaningful student achievement.  Often this includes a conceptual shift from teacher-delivered lessons to student-driven learning.  I’ve spent decades working on this problem and would like to use this post to describe how I’ve come to what is a new chapter in my professional life.

The Past

This journey begins when I was a classroom teacher, integrating word processing, multimedia and desktop publishing into circa 1990s high school English classes. District technology mentorships and other recognition at the time indicated that my attempts were viewed positively. Yet I was fortunate enough to work as an occasional teacher education instructor at the time which exposed me to the latest learning theories. These helped me see the fil-bluewebnweaknesses in my classroom units and inspired me to get a Masters degree in Instructional Design.  After almost a decade I left the classroom because I wanted to focus on creating the best learning experiences I could.  This was the period, 1994-97, was when I worked with Professor Bernie Dodge to develop the WebQuest approach and I went on to articulate other formats to integrating the Web into rich and authentic learning experiences.  I mention this phase of my career because it relates to this post’s topic in two ways.  First, Understanding by Design was the assigned text for one of the courses Bernie and I team taught, thereby immersing me in the work of Wiggins and McTighe early on. Second, you can see that my focus was on designing and developing classroom learning activities: thus curriculum, not technology.  More about why this is significant shortly.

 As the Years Passed

After leaving the university and moving to Australia, it was only natural to keep developing Web-based learning strategies. This early flurry of work included model activities like Searching for China and Eyes on Art as well on the online design environment called Web-and-Flow. My main audience were other “pioneers” in Web-based learning and authentic education and we wanted to “push the boundaries” to create inspiringly rich and meaningful learning activities for our students.  But there was a problem.  And the problem has only grown as technology has gone from “emerging” to “ubiquitous.”  The problem is that to make any real difference, “rich and meaningful learning activities” can’t be a “one-off” or something students did in 6th grade with Ms Tech-Savvy.  The problem is analogous to when one teacher tries to enforce a rule the rest of the staff tacitly ignore: students adapt to the dominant culture.  So many early adopters of ICT-enhanced learning discovered that most students had learned and preferred the easy path of “playing school: you pretend this is learning and we’ll pretend to learn.”  Back in 2001 I explored this challenge in an article titled “Re-Tooling Schooling” and it denotes a shift in my thinking and focus.  Yes, I want students in a classroom to engage in great learning activities, but as someone who wants to make a real difference, I realised that the only solutions from this point on had to be systemic.  If a whole school or system wasn’t transforming itself, the spirit of inquiry would find it hard to flourish in a culture of passivity.  So where are we now?

The Present (The Problem)

Unfortunately, as technology has gone from emergent to ubiquitous, it has failed to make significant differences in shifting schools from teacher-delivered lessons to student-driven learning.  I have two theories for this.  The first I call “tech’s appeal” and fully intend the rhyme with sex appeal. Because of the amazing advances we’ve all experienced through new technologies, we’ve been smitten by a kind of collective mystique that some new gadget or software will achieve the desired transformation.  We’re blown away that Walkmen have become iPods that have become smartphones that have become cameras that have become GPS transmitters that have become friend finders, that have become watches, that will become…?  So in education we swoon before tech’s appeal, wanting to believe the same magic will transform school-based learning. We fall for the allure and buy computer labs, videodisc players, CD-ROM encyclopedias, interactive whiteboards, iPod Touches, clickers, iPads, eTexts, course management systems, and try HTML, blogs, QR codes, YouTube, podcasts and TED Talks.  And on and on…  But things haven’t changed fundamentally.  Maybe the technologies aren’t really “there” yet, but there’s a second problem besides blind faith in the power of technology.

The Second Problem

Education has Attention Deficit Disorder.  I base this on the multiple messages I receive everyday from my educational networks. Posts, links, tweets and emails buzz constantly about “the new:” gadgets, apps, ideas.  The current flavors are PBL, STEM/STEAM, Maker Movement, coding, gamification…  Don’t get hung-up on these examples because they are no better or worse than the dozens of others that buzz about the press daily. Over the years other such ideas have borne the weight of high expectations for improving schools: flipped classrooms, PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) or SOLEs (Self Organising Learning Environments). Rather than change education, these good ideas and frameworks have probably yielded nothing more than Educational Attention Deficit Disorder.  See if you don’t feel like our friends below:


 

How are we meant to engage in any substantial transformation when we’re buried by a stream of constant “good ideas” and “necessities?”  We have to focus.  And be honest: if an easy answer or silver bullet solution were out there – one that really produced the results we want – in this age of instant communications we would all hear about it and re-tweet exponentially so that schools everywhere would be transforming with the virality of funny cat animations. So what is the honest truth?

The Honest Truth

Like any human organisation, education is a complex endeavour with many interconnected parts. Even knowing where to begin the work of transforming schools is a challenge. The video above illustrates that. So the problem is not a shortage of good ideas. After many years wrestling with this, I’ve come to believe we lack three things: a focused vision, a worthy process and sustained effort.

A Focused Vision

I’ve written elsewhere about recommended steps and benefits of clear and focused vision, so I won’t labour the point here, but let’s highlight the obvious: unless we’re sure where we’re headed, we’ll never get where we want to go.  The twists and turns, detours and distractions, are too numerous.  Similarly, if everything’s urgent, we’ll never get to the essential.

 Understanding and other worthy processes

The business world long ago realised the importance of a process for continuous improvement. Things like Total Quality Management (TQM) turned Japanese cars from flimsy to first-class in a generation. Unfortunately, most schools continue to operate based mostly on habits and engrained patterns.  Being the complex places they are also makes it tough to know which processes to use as the lever for change.  Amidst the buzzing of new ideas and Ed Tech ADD distractions, it probably sounds like the oldest, most boring solution, but there is one aspect to schooling that touches every student and teacher in every grade level and course: our curriculum. Unfortunately, I’ve found that an impoverished definition of curriculum often prevents this powerful tool from realising its potential.  Start with the vision: what amazing things do we want our students to achieve?  what does successful achievement look like?  Let’s make authentic performance of these achievements the heart of our curriculum.  To encourage success, let’s be specific about success criteria and provide samples of such achievement by previous students.  These measures are the kind of assessments that guide students and empower their ownership of learning.

jmctighe-tmarch-bangkokEducation is fortunate that we have evidence-based processes to use.  My preferred frameworks are Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding and Schooling by Design®, Robert Marzano’s High Reliability Schools and integrations of research by folks like John Hattie and the team at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education.  Each provide processes that, used over time with quality-reviews, can empower a school’s continuous improvement.

My Best Chance to Make a Difference

Having arrived at this point, 2013-2014 was a period where I explored avenues where I could apply the above learnings to make the biggest difference.  This included a time in Cambodia working on the senior education team at a lapp-farewellrge NGO as well as focused-upskilling on my part with Jay McTighe who’s been generous and gracious in supporting my expertise in Understanding by Design to the extent that I am now a member of the McTighe & Associates Consulting group and we have co-authored an article.

However, as a pioneer (e.g., Filamentality) and believer in the power of smart software to accelerate what I call Next Era Ed, I entered into discussions with companies who support a richer view of curriculum.  My thinking was that working for the right company on a good team who was committed to evolving a “smart digital environment,”  I would be in contact with many more schools in an ongoing partnership as they develop their use of the software to continuously improve the achievement of their vision.  Fortunately, through a lucky synchronicity of timing and opportunity, I joined Hobsons at the beginning of 2015 as the lead consultant for teaching and learning.  What set Hobsons Edumate apart edumate-logowas that rather than only curriculum mapping, they offer a unified system of what I call “closed loop” curriculum: vision > unit design > online learning space > rich student assessment > back around to vision and unit design with revisions based on students’ actual performance.  So more than a “written” curriculum, we move past the “taught curriculum” and capture the “learned curriculum.”   In my role I essentially provide my “strategic friend” consulting, but also influence software design and help school leaders with pedagogical integration and change management.

After working mostly alone since starting ozline.com in 1998, it’s a joy to be part of an enthusiastic team, driven by a passion for helping schools to authentically move from “schooling” and “teachers” to “learning” and “students.”  We’ve wanted this for decades and now, with 1:1 devices and evidence-based pedagogies, we can make the dream a reality.

Exploring Leadership

1. The Characteristics of Leaders

Last week students at CCF6 brainstormed the characteristics that they thought good leaders demonstrate.

Here is a list showing the terms used as nouns and adjectives with their syntactical context.  Use this page to help you write your sentences in the next step:

The list is now in a Google Doc where students should write correct and meaningful sentences for each term.  Students can count-off or choose their favorite terms to write sentences about.  When the sentences are drafted, they will be reviewed for correctness and then rehearsed aloud to practice English pronunciations.

2. Finding Characteristics You Value

The class brainstormed 18 different — and important — characteristics for for leaders.  But no one in the world can be this good!  Please choose 4 – 6 that you think are the most important. You will use these to analyse different leaders from the past the present.  Let’s practice with one leader who has recently died.

Remembering Nelson Mandela

Watch the video and pay attention for examples of any of the 4 – 6 characteristics of a leader that you chose.

When the video is over (or we have watched enough), you will answer this question and support your answer using your 4 – 6 characteristics of a leader:

Was Nelson Mandela a Great Leader?

Claim Support Question

1. Make a claim about the topic

2. Identify support for your claim

3. Ask a question related to your claim

Some Crazy Cliff

New Resource Site Launched

crazy cliffWhen I left the classroom in 1995 for a fellowship to develop things like WebQuests and Filamentality, one of the first projects I thought I’d work on was a comprehensive Web-based resource for The Catcher in the Rye.  Ok, so almost 20 years later I get around to it….

The site is (appropriately) called Some Crazy Cliff and focuses on an Understanding by Design approach to unit planning and classic WebQuest formatting that leverages great rich media to promote authentic and meaningful student learning.

Please take a look and send me any feedback.

A Day with Stella Maris

 Welcome!

stella1Today is a full day of professional learning with the whole staff of Stella Maris College.  As the starting point for everything, we’ll see what people see as the Challenges they face.

Agenda

Here’s a list of the main points we’ll focus on for today:

  • Understanding the challenges we face
  • Defining how we see our job
  • Setting a clear, indisputable and shared vision of our goals for students.
  • Using technology to facilitate authentic, engaging and personalised learning
  • Considering what’s needed to revise the curriculum to support 1:1 Digital Learning

Activity #1: Your Greatest Challenges

Brainstorm (anonymously?) the greatest challenges of your job

stella-wordle

Activity #2: What is your Job?

  1. Work in your small groups to discuss this question.
  2. As a small group, compose one sentence that best captures your group’s thinking?
  3. One at a time each group will modify a compilation description:

What is your Job? One Sentence Essence

When you are not the “modifying group,” you will engage in Activity #3 below.

Activity #3 – Explore “Look to Learns”

While your colleagues are modifying the “One Sentence Essence” of your job, please explore the links below. After this “discover immersion” session, You will be asked the following questions:

  1. What are the key components of the activity format?
  2. What do you think the purpose of these activities are?
  3. What would be the educational value of such activities?
  • Also – Explore the latest Look to Learn’s in the Stream or Archive

Morning Tea

Activity 4 – Review & De-brief

Challenges

  • Challenges: Logistics or Learning?: Wordle and Word Doc
  • Review – 20th vs 21st Century Schooling?
  • Presentation on Learning?

Our Job

  • Review the One Sentence Essence & its evolution.
  • Our Job: Teaching or developing successful Learners?

Activity 5: Our Mandated Job – Learning in the 21st Century

Presentation – How 1:1 Changes “School”

Melbourne Declaration

“The development of the Australian Curriculum will occur over three broad timeframes and is guided by two key documents: the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (pdf) and the Shape of the Australian Curriculum (pdf).”

from the opening paragraph on the Curriculum page of the ACARA Web site.

Validation from the Shape of the Australian Curriculum:

The curriculum development work of ACARA is guided by the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, adopted by the Ministerial Council in December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration emphasises the importance of knowledge, skills and understanding of learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities as the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st century learning.

The Melbourne Declaration’s vision of “successful learners” (what would you add?)

Where’s the Teaching?

Activity 6 – Look to Learn

Resources

Look to Learn

Edge-ucators Way

  C E QA LL / Seek all!

Self-managed Learning Framework for students

Working with Northside Christian College

 Hello!

ncc2Now that I’m back from the US, I look forward to working with staff at Northside Christian College for 2 days of professional learning.

Agenda

Here’s an evolving list of the main points we’ll focus on for the two days:

  • Setting a clear, indisputable and shared vision of our goals for students.
  • Using technology to facilitate differentiated, personalised learning outcomes
  • Using formative analysis of student work to refine learning activities
  • Revising the curriculum to support 1:1 Digital Learning

Activity #1: Your Greatest Challenges

Activity #2: What is your Job?

Explore

While your colleagues are modifying the “One Sentence Essence” of your job, please explore the links below. You will be asked the following questions:

  1. What do you think the purpose of these activities are?
  2. What would be the educational value of such activities?
  3. What are the key components of the activity format?

Review the One Sentence Essence & its evolution.

Activity 3: Presentation – Learning in THIS era.

  • Challenges: Logistics or Learning?
  • Job – Teaching or developing Learners?

Activity 4: Owning the Vision

Melbourne Declaration

“The development of the Australian Curriculum will occur over three broad timeframes and is guided by two key documents: the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (pdf) and the Shape of the Australian Curriculum (pdf).”

from the opening paragraph on the Curriculum page of the ACARA Web site.

Validation from the Shape of the Australian Curriculum:

The curriculum development work of ACARA is guided by the Melbourne Declaration
on Educational Goals for Young Australians, adopted by the Ministerial Council in
December 2008. The Melbourne Declaration emphasises the importance of knowledge,
skills and understanding of learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum
priorities as the basis for a curriculum designed to support 21st century learning.

The Melbourne Declaration’s vision of “successful learners” (what would you add?)

Activity 5 – Look to Learn

Resources

Blogging – WordPress

 

C E QA LL / Seek all!

Self-managed Learning Framework for students

 

Tom 2.0

trip-collegeSo begins a new chapter. Yesterday, on the 13th aniversary of my wife’s passing away, our youngest son joined the Australian Army, embarking on two long blocks of intensive military training. Our eldest son is in year 2 at UNSW studying Maths and Computing, working through the challenges of managing this phase of life. So today I begin what I’ve been calling my sabbatical, five months that I’ve been able to set aside to see what to do when the role of being a father changes literally overnight. Seeing this coming, I’ve organised some travel to explore life after single parenthood. The journey begins with several weeks back in Cambodia where I want to follow-up on things I didn’t get to complete when we did some service tourism there in January. The main thing is setting up an iPad for the students in Phnom Penh so they can video conference with myself and Aussie students and continue to develop a Web site we began where they write posts on their interests and what life is like growing up in Cambodia. Then it’s back to San Diego to reconnect with good friends of many years and then to Arizona for time with family. In June, I’m taking a month in my hometown of Milwaukee to reflect and write, to listen in open-heartedness for a calling to what comes next. The time off concludes with a couple months back in Austalia where I plan to complete drafts that I’ve been working on intermittently for years. I will continue to work with schools and cients to support their digital learning initiatives, but I also expect to use this time to define new ground, to integrate what we know about the mind, learning and motivation. Stay tuned.

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