Monday, December 17, 2012

Something practical for Christmas: 22 Google form templates

While the bigger questions around the meaning of education are engaging and 100% necessary, sometimes it is great to have someone create something really practical and immediately usable. Med Kharbach (of Educational Technology and Mobile Learning) has shared, just in time for the break, some neat resources for Google Forms, including some templates that could be used by you with your students...or perhaps by your students with each other and/or their communities :-) Med writes:
So you love Google Forms but you are too busy to use it to create your own forms. Don't worry we have some great pre-made forms for you . But before I share them with you let me just remind you of the Chinese adage that goes " don't give me a fish everyday but show me how to fish ", you might find some of the forms included below useful but it would be way better to create your own tailored to your own teaching and learning needs. This is not a hard job to do and Educational Technology and Mobile Learning is here for you to give you a hand. You can read our easy and simple guide on everything you need to know about using Google Forms in Education to get you started . It is just the first step that counts and once you take it , everything comes together for you.
After "The 10 Google Forms Templates Every Teacher Should Know About" that we have posted here a couple of months ago, today we are providing you with another great set of forms created by Kern Kelley who is one of the most reputable guys in the field of educational technology. Kern has really invested a lot of time and effort in creating these forms and on behalf of all you , we send him a big thank you for this work and don't forget to have a look at his fabulous blog The Tech Curve.
You can read the rest of the post and find the links to the 22 Google Form templates created by Kern Kelley here.
Image: 'form.png'. Found on
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

It's Time to Stop Letting Fear Interfere With Youth Online Freedom

Another gem from Cynthia Lieberman and Diana (the CyberWise team), It's Time to Stop Letting Fear Interfere With Youth Online Freedom (by Larry Magid), is a well-expressed plea to not lock everything down and to enable young people to express themselves online.
Schools are blocking the very media that young people are using to express themselves and communicate with others. It's also one of the ways people learn and is the virtual gathering place for today's social activists. Schools that block social media today are no different than schools that blocked political speech during the sixties. Today's educators may think they're protecting students and keeping them on track just as some adults in the sixties argued that political speech -- including protesting the Vietnam war and advocating for civil rights -- was an unnecessary distraction for students of that generation.
The fact is that the open Internet has been used by young people since the early nineties and those early digital natives -- now in their mid to late 20s -- seem to be doing OK, despite the ready availability of online porn, drug sites, hate sites and sites advocating all sorts of social evils. My own kids -- now 26 and 28 -- had unfettered access to the Internet during their teens and both -- along with nearly all their peers -- are well adjusted normal young adults.
The skills to understand how to communicate well, stay safe, and think critically about what they are encountering, Magid emphasises, are essential. He also advises that we "can have a big impact by listening to, speaking with and supporting the young people in our lives and have an even more lasting impact by serving as good role models".
You can read the complete post here: It's Time to Stop Letting Fear Interfere With Youth Online Freedom.
Image: 'Message to and from Obama' Found on

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Online resources designed for teaching development

Jane Tryrell and David Snell opened their presentation with a spotlight on teaching video, which featured teachers talking about how they feel students learn. They also shared a flyer, which comprise the online tools they have developed for staff at one Massey Campus.

The JISC publication that looks at Emerging practice in a digital age was used to highlight the question if there is a new paradigm for tertiary education. At Massey there is a new model of PD at Massey, which is a shift away from the generic workshop model. The new model looks to "fully exploit opportunities provided by new media and provides them with lifelong learning opportunities.

With this underpinning agenda there is a move to develop a range of different initiatives including formal f-2-f, formal online, informal f-2-f, and informal online.What was found was a shift from generic to customised, which can seem like a daunting job. Teaching issues tend to be similar across schools, and the 'solutions' are transferable between disciplines, and the shift in pedagogy applies to all.

A year ago the presenters were given a brief to develop a raft of online resources. The videos were to enable academic staff to access colleagues' philosophies, ideas and experiences. Selected Massey teaching staff were chosen to do this, although the process of identifying them were quite challenging. The aim of the content was to inspire, challenge preconceptions, motivate change, offer alternatives, and provide contacts and go-to people. The topics had to be genuine teaching and learning strategies in line with Massey expectations and desired outcomes. They also had to be demonstrable, specific acts of teaching that was linked to theory and practice.

The model is aligned with principles for sustainable change, which provides strong support at significant leadership levels.

Will try to find out if the resources are open and can be used by other institutions.

Twitter analytics in R...and using Twitter in teaching

For this presentation, Lyndon Walker started by asking the questions who uses Twitter (nearly everyone), and who uses Twitter in their teaching (not many). He then moved on to look at different ways Twitter can be used in teaching starting with 'transmission' (e.g. reminders that appear via Blackboard directly to a student's Twitter feed), and others such as class questioning, microblogging, interaction (such as debate and discussion), and sharing of social media links.

Learning analytics, Lyndon advised, is the application of statistical analysis to learning data to enhance learning. R is free (, is widely used and is well supported.

One example that was presented were usage statistics, which is basically a tweet count by user, which can be shared back with the students in various forms to discuss what they felt was going on, and in a statistics class students could work with the raw data. Slightly more complex, are networks, which enable you to map followers across the world for example. Can be a conversation starter, and this can be complemented by network graphs (who is tweeting who for instance). A third example was sentiment analysis - in other words what students are tweeting. This can bring up emerging topics, concerns and ideas, and can be helped students to reflect on what they had set out to learn, but maybe got side-tracked.

Twitter has useful teaching applications, and the data can help learners engage with Twitter on a different level.

To be or not to be...student engagement?

Norm Vaughan was one of the key note speakers on the second day of the ASCILITE 2012 conference. The 3 Rs of engagement are relevance, rigour, and relationships (Dennis Littky, 2004 The student sense of wonder and inquiry are key to engagement, but with depth, and built around relationships and communities.

Optimal flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus. Taken along side Daniel Pink's notions of autonomy, mastery and purpose, this can provide a powerful foundation for creating a series of instruments about what flow looks like. Social engagement, academic engagement and intellectual engagement are key - the move away from a sense of 'jumping through the hoops'.

Blended learning is the organic integration of thoughtfully selected and complementary face-to-face and online approaches and technologies...and this is closely links to fundamental re-design. Blended learning in a weak sense is simply an additional layer to current teaching practices. Putting together various technologies, there are some great examples of the use of non-institutional social platforms, where the focus is on empowerment, collaboration and co-construction of knowledge.

Local mentors are paramount to support people on the ground when implementing blended learning to help address challenges. It is also about the networks that you develop. The five clusters to help shape blended learning are:

  • Active and collaborative learning,
  • student interactions with faculty members,
  • level of academic challenge,
  • enriching educational experiences 
  • supportive campus environment.
Workload (overwhelming), out of class time and inquiry based learning are linked to the least effective aspects of courses.

Blended learning using the guidelines that were introduced in this session, Norm advises, can provide the scaffolding that can support students in a move toward more autonomous  collaborative learning experience and skill-set.

ImageImage: 'February Dawn Found on

Using reward contingencies in online activities to facilitate engagement in a statistics class

This presentation was by Xochitl de la Piedad Garcia opened by introducing a definition for engagement which is the time, energy and resources that students devote to activities designed to enhance learning at university.

With statistics, the course and the knowledge-base is cumulative, so the question is how to facilitate students engagement in a first year statistics unit? Using behaviourism as a framework, the idea was to encourage those behaviours that was going to increase the likelihood of students developing specific bhaviours that are related to improved performance. The relationship is mediated by behavioural and emotional factors.

The aim was to use an online learning management system to deliver weekly online exercises to facilitate engagement in the unit, while also opening up opportunities for providing detailed feedback on performance so that students can track their progress and understanding. Two-hundred and thirty-two students enrolled and they had 10 weekly online exercises from week 3 to week 10 to complete - while they had their notes and text books beside them, and there was no time limit to the completion. After answering each question students were given detailed feedback. If students did not complete an exercise they could not complete the other exercises (this was not well-received by some people in the university).

The feedback from students (from 50) - 31 students provided positive comments, 19 were negative. The negative comments always made reference to the fact that this was an unfair system.

This felt like we weren't just staying still, but we were sliding backward into a time where learners were punished for not doing something that the teacher mandated was important. It was quite depressing...I had to ask 'why'? If students weren't engaging maybe the faculty needs to look at the design of their course design, and the form of assessments...just a thought.

Unsupervised online constructed-response tests

Genevieve Johnson started by looking at how new technologies are often used in the same way as the old technologies (horse-less carriage = car). Therefore the 'e' in assessment is just that - old assessments shifted online.

Diagnostic testing plays an important part in shaping a course, and formative assessment shapes the teaching. It is a way of enabling learners to see if they are ready to go on to the next step (although this worries me as it means that all the students in a class have to be at a specific point at a common time before they can move on).

In HE Johnson purports that technology is changing teaching, but the patterns are still really familiar.The grade that appears on a certificate has 'consequences' - for now that's what we're stuck with. Even when a course is online we need a grade. One of the re-occurring criticisms of technology and e-assessment is 'how do we know it's the student's work?' What are we to say? With the first cars there was no infrastructure, and people using the horse and buggy trotted past when cars broke down. There are some challenges.

E-assessment is fully online and there are all sorts of mechanisms of proctored exams - but is this just an assumption that we've carried over from the face-to-face environment. At the moment we take the tools we have and try to satisfy the requirements of the critics.

In this particular case-study, the students enrolled on an online course where they were required to complete 3 unsupervised constructed-response tests in Blackboard. The course was organised into weekly modules that included Elluminate Live, readings, discussion and activities. Each modules contained study questions which helped students focus on their learning efforts.

Test items were randomly drawn for a subset of questions corresponding with content covered during specified weeks. Test times were reduced across the three assessments.

Sustainable learning through formative assessment: Using quizzes to maintain engagement

The ideal is to move from a teacher-centered to student-centered education. There can be a trap where people can fall into a technology-centered education (rather than technology-enabled). The presenter, Lynette Nagel, talked about the Chartered Accountants course at the University of Pretoria, for which there is increased demand, a call for international accreditation, and challenges such as a set curriculum and inflexible standards.

Pass rates have been dropping over the last few years to less than 60% in 2010. More students have been allowed into this qualification even if they hadn't done accounting at school, and had a poor score in an aptitude test. In the supplemental groups - Q1 there were 12 lectures per week, and Q2-4 there were 8 lectures per week. The group knew that the students had been working with unskilled teachers with a focus on rote learning, and they have poor English, little vocabulary, and poor problem-solving skills.

The group started with focus group interviews with the students, and explored why the students did so poorly initially. Social commitments, poor time management, other subjects, and a large number of tests were big issues. Accounting was not seem as important and the students did not realise that the theory was important.

The initiative first addressed the issue of Accounting not being seen as important...and increased the scaffolding, so, for example, students realised that they had to study the theory before doing the practicals. The numbers grew in the supplemental teaching classes with students sitting in the aisles. One solution was to use the tutors. The tutors are second year, average students, and are closer to their students than the lecturers are. Technology was then used to create a Socratic environment drawing on a 3-step process. The Tutors were supported to create a good multiple choice quiz, and only focussed on the key concepts of a specific theory per week. Simple lay-language was used, and each question had to have feedback in ordinary language. Catches in the question were also explained, and calculations came with explanations. The questions were all uploaded into WebCT Vista.

The students completed the quizzes, and the tutors were able to see where the issues were and help the students individually. The students reported that they found the quizzes useful, and particularly liked the immediate theory. There were also comments about being able to chunk up the learning and have a cumulative sense of learning. Eight-one percent of students repeating the course saw the quiz as generally useful, 84% saw the feedback generally useful, the first time students (86%) valued having a second attempt at the quiz, but only 38 to 50% saw the quizzes were useful for preparing for formal tests.

By 2012 the pass rate was 75%. This appears to be really strong support for a way of scaffolding students who are used to a teacher-centred, rote learning environment. These students may have found it quite tricky to transition to a less structured approach. While it wasn't a ground-breaking study, it did illustrate how a combination of online learning and a tutor-based approach can be effective.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Towards a sustainable support strategy for online students

English: Steph's Rol Model
English: Steph's Rol Model (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This was a presentation given by Elizabeth Smith and Anne Lonie. The objective of the course is to introduce students to engineering, and the professional sustainable practice that goes alongside the engineering skills. Some of the personal attributes that are covered are effective teamwork. cross-cultural sensitivity, and effective presentations. There are 3 assessment tasks that are part of the course, including an individual report (15%), an individual development portfolios (35%), and engineers without borders group project (50%). These activities worked well on-campus, but did not translate well to the online environment. Commencement of teaching - 39 students, week 6 - 29, by week 13 - 26 were still enrolled...and only 6 passed the course.

A range of strategies were trialled around offering the students support in an effort to support students and help with retention and success.

Reflective practice was an issue, so to help students get started a video was put together, along with, for example, detailed hings and open ended sentences. This provided an opportunity for early formative feedback. Students struggled with the progressive nature of the course too. The discussion forums were quite successful with a high contribution rate. To support the early stages of teamwork there was an introductory forum for students to respond to, as well as the use of an ice breaker wiki, virtual helpdesk sessions, and a Belbin inventory. Out of 6 groups, only 1 group completed the assessment successfully. The successful group made regular use of the collaborative tools, the online forums, and had an obvious leader who was motivated.

To improve the course there are plans to reduce the scope of the group project, and students will be able to submit work progressively. Tutor training in providing efficient and effective feedback is important, and the re-structuring of the course so that support resources are obvious.

This was a refreshingly honest overview of something that didn't work, and where the presenters are going to use their findings to address the issues.
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Sustainability, creativity, innovation and inclusion

1986 Faroe postage stamp celebrating Amnesty's...
1986 Faroe postage stamp celebrating Amnesty's 25th anniversary – Painting by 11 year old Rannvá Kunoy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social inclusion versus social exclusion is a big area of continuing concern. Grainne Conole asserts that new approaches to design and learning analytics can help address the issues.

There are a number of facets including lack of access to earnings, education and support. Social exclusion is a process whereby individuals are pushed to the edge of society and prevented from participating fully. Inclusion is a process that ensures that those at risk of poverty and exclusion fain the opportunities and resources to participate.

Grainne showed an incredibly powerful Amnesty International video via Pambos Vrasida.

There are several forms of voluntary exclusion (such as choosing not to connect to the internet), versus involuntary exclusion. One way of combating social exclusion is by increased openness. How do institutions re-position themselves in an information rich world where tools and resources are freely available?

We know that there are now a wealth of technologies, free resources and tolls - but they are not being used effectively, as they are replicating old pedagogy. A group has come up with a framework for an alternative approach to design to that used in Instructional design. The tool is focused on guidance and support, communication and collaboration, and reflection and demonstration as opposed to content.

Learning analytics can also be used as a complementary aspect to the alternative approach to design. They can be used directly with students, as well as with teachers.

I wonder if it this alternative approach will have an will it be shared with educators and people involved in learning? Students? Will it be enough to make a difference?

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Data mining interactions in a 3D immersive enviroment for real-time feedback during simulated surgery

An illustration of the sources and data types ...
An illustration of the sources and data types used in cyber analytics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The presenter, Gregor Kennedy, started by saying that this is a bit of an odd presentation. He was presenting on behalf of quite a big team, including a couple of data mining experts. Learning analytics are a hot topic..."and why not?" Kennedy said that it is a gold mine for providing information to identify students who are at risk, and promoting a shared understanding. Learning analytics looks at the micro level of what students do in virtual environments (which are usually 'hidden') to understand what they are doing. Academic analytics offers a much more macro view, and is more of managers and administrators rather than students and educators.

The intelligent tutoring system grew out of the 60s - you have an area of knowledge within a domain, and the model indicates what students are expected to do within a specific pedagogical model. There is a long history of educators being interested in learning analytics, although they weren't necessarily very sure what they were going to do with it. By the 1980s intelligent tutoring systems were discredited, in part because of the rigidity of the model and approach.

There are some concerns with learning analytics. They are often descriptive (useful), but do not complete the feedback loop for students. There is quite a rich body of research around how students use technology.

A demonstration of one of the simulations gave us an idea of what and how students can experience in this type of 3D environment and some of the benefits. The haptic controls mean that the students can 'feel' the different textures that they would if they were actually performing the surgery. Usually a surgeon will sit on the shoulder of a student to give feedback as the student performs surgery. In this trial there were 30 novices and 30 experts involved in simulator rums. Data was collected throughout and categorised (e.g. burr metrics, anatomical structure metrics, and bone specimen metrics). The idea was that by using the data they could gain a sophisticated understanding of what was 'going on'. Forty-five percent of the surgeries were completed, with an average force magnitude of less than 0.23 Newtons, when this was the case 78% of these were performed by novices.

The presentation was interesting and it was good to see an approach evaluated so rigorously. The patterns of behaviour demonstrated by a novice were identified, and this means that feedback can be given to assist students to improve their skills. There is a balance between providing feedback, and knowing about a particular student's behaviour. The way this was resolved was by looking at a surgeon's usual micro pauses, and then make decisions as to whether feedback was given. Making meaning from the data is tricky - and there needs to be a conceptual framework that you need to keep going back to to make sense of the data (in this case going back to the surgeons). There is a lot of data and a lot of 'noise' too, which makes this tricky.

Future steps include providing different types of feedback (not just around force), and finding different ways of providing feedback to users who are concentrating on a task in a virtual world.
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Conducting and reporting on educational technology research for institutional impact

The Prentice School Educational Assistive Tech...
The Prentice School Educational Assistive Technology Classroom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This was an international initiative. The team consists of 2 mentors, who mentored the educationalists from 5 institutions across 3 countries. Harriet Ridolfo gave an overview of the team, and the experience that the members of the team brought to the group. Some of the people involved did not have 'acknowledged' time to conduct research, but this was something that they were doing as part of their roles.

The ARCS framework (Heller) was used as a design tool to evaluate and report on educational technology research. Several approaches were adopted different institutions and these were shared and considered as to whether they have been effective. Some of the approaches for 'drawing attention' included book clubs, announcements, road-shows, and general updates. Around 'demonstrating relevance', strategies included sharing examples, committee meetings, champions, and group sessions. Developing confidence included workshops, drop in sessions, and developing satisfaction, mini grants, innovation awards, and a professional development portfolio for promotion.

We need to target audiences for maximum effect. The researchers divided their audience into 3 categories: leaders, educators, and academics, which were related to implementation, support and users. Timing was a key point, which was emphasised.

I felt this was a positive example of a group working together, sharing practice and ideas from geographically disparate locations, and using a strong base of mentoring. These factors appear to be something of a theme in the conference so far, and maybe indicative that groups are using the affordances of technology to help with their own professional learning, rather than focussing on the technology itself.

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Designing evaluation and research into edcational initiatives

College of Health Sciences Summer Research Program
College of Health Sciences Summer Research Program (Photo credit: Marquette University)
Jo-Anne Kelder, Juliette Sondermyer, Rob Phillips and Anne Rothwell presented this session where they introduced the Global Perspectives programme and the associated case study design and findings. The project was based around developing a programme that would be embedded into the first year units offered by the Faculty of Health Science.

The pilot programme was used to inform the research design. The programme is not yet online, and the first 2 phases have provided quite a lot of data, and they are ready with phase 3 where they will be working with 2013 students.

One of the recommendations was to have a supportive system in place when designing research, especially when using an existing framework. In this case, the author mentored the researchers through the process. There were some issues about applying the framework from a book, including an alternative focus, and idealised versus actual phases of research. The mentoring role was extremely important.

It was an interesting paper, especially the way that the presenters identified some of the positives and issues around their approach, but the real bonus about having the author as a mentor. I would have really liked to have seem some of the emerging themes and findings, and will watch with interest.
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The future is new - the future is now!

Wikisource logo, no text variant
Wikisource logo, no text variant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
At the opening of the Ascilite conference 2012 (Te Papa, Wellington), Neil Selwyn opened by explaining that his aim was to make the audience feel uncomfortable - to ask questions about some of our assumptions. Ed-tech is often seen as a positive project. There is little doubt between the inherent connection between learning and technology. The default role of the ed-tech person is making decisions and trialling things that will make things better. There is also the issue of the 'allure of the new'. We are desperate to find out what the new, and this is closely allied to the allure of speed. Technology promises speed, as well as the promise of substantial change - social, political and economic.

Neil is concerned that we are continually looking toward the future, The stuff at the moment really isn't working very well- we are just stuck in a cycle of hype and hope, and then things don't work out. Why are we stuck in this cheerleading cycle. The future and the new have become a weakness in this area of academic research. This focus limits our questions and what we have done so far. We have a tendency to be limited to small case studies. We are interested in 'what if scenarios', looking for a way to support the statement that ed-tech makes things better.

The idea of history is one of the most important things we should be looking at was posed - the historical perspective can give us a long view for the technologies we currently have. There is a tendency to over-estimate the short-term impacts of ed-tech. The future is incredibly difficult to predict, and we often get it wrong. Both pessimists and the optimist have got the future wrong. There are lots of examples of this. Even when we get the technology 'right' we often get the 'education' wrong.

We pretty much know what the technology is going to be, but how can we do better around how they are used. We need to tell the stories around these that have depth and richness. Nick Zepke (2008) talks about the science of the probably, the art of the possible, and the politics of the preferable. And Nick argues that ed-technologists tend to focus on the third one, but should rather be looking at the first two. "The basic premise is that what happened in the past is no longer a highly reliable guide to the future - Nick however, believes that this should be turned on its head. He is not sure how disruptive or tranformative the technology and approaches in the conference actually are.Is technology just doing old things in different ways...has it been used to re-enforce old practice? There is a big concern that formal education is being made ubiquitous, with its focus on assessments and qualifications. Technology is also exacerbating the provision of education via corporations and big business.George Simens and Stephen Downes' connectivism ideas that captured in the MOOC focus, have now been adopted by big business to make a profit.

Digital divides remain. There are big disparities in terms of social class and backgrounds, and there are big gaps.

Technology is likely to make individual much more responsible for their own education, and whether they succeed or fail. Where does education as a collective 'good' then become placed?

Beware anyone who says they are certain about the future. Deep down, we are not looking at things being really different, but things staying the same. The question to ask is 'what is technology doing that is making things truly different' here?
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Practical strategies to help you think deeply at work

Another gem from The Learning Wave blog, this article gives a brief overview of how we can make sure we can maximise our thinking. The article offers an insight into 'why' (how brains work), as well as some practical ideas around how to make use of your understanding of the why, such as using a short distractor task to help refocus your mind, scheduling four-hour blocks of time to focus on key tasks, tackling demanding tasks first thing in the morning, and, chunking your ideas when you are heading toward overload.
Here is a taster:
A study of 6,000 people conducted by the NeuroLeadership Groupin collaboration with a large healthcare firm asked respondents questions about where, when, and how people did their best thinking. Only 10 percent said it happened at work. At the NeuroLeadership Institute, we've been looking at ways to bring more of that deep thinking into the workplace. More specifically, we've been conducting research into what brain science shows us about how leaders think, develop, and perform, and recently we've been studying the role of the unconscious mind.
We've identified three particularly promising techniques, backed up by research, than can help you think more deeply
(Click here to access the original post in full: Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work, by David Rock, Harvard Business Review, September 28, 2012)
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Friday, October 26, 2012

BLENNZ learning library launched: Stories & resources for children & young people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision

Yesterday I spent some time exploring the BLENNZ Learning Library. The description on the home page explains, "Here you will find a collection of stories about children and young people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision, written by BLENNZ educators for parents, whānau (family) and colleagues" (source).

Te manu e kai ana i te miro, nōna te ngahere. Te manu e kai ana i te mātauranga, nōna te ao. The bird who feasts upon the miro, resides only in the forest. The bird who feasts upon education, resides in the world.

 I found the site to be well-organised, informative, well set out, and easy to navigate.The 'clean' pages with plenty of white space suggest that accessibility was a priority when the design was put together. Most importantly, I felt, is the stance of the resources, which are written from a practical can do, how to point of view, as opposed to a deficit model. There is, however, also support for parents, and whānau (families), as well as students and teachers, that acknowledges the challenges, and offers empathetic support. The  BLENNZ Video Library on YouTube, for example, offers snapshots of parents speaking about their 'journey', as well as from the professionals - including, for instance,  the video of Gary Veenstra, Child and family worker with the RNZFB, talking about the area of grief and loss in his work alongside learners and their families and whānau.

The site is organised into age groups, as well as having resources locatable by category (listed below), and tags.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taking action against online bullying - what can you do?

English: Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, th...
Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As you're sure to be aware from the media Cyberbullying (and bullying in face-to-face environments) is experienced with all age groups, and in a wide range of situations. (See herefor example). It is reprehensible in all cases, and people need to know how they can respond if they are bullied, and how they can support each other in cases when a friend or colleague is being bullied.
Beth Caras (in this article) advises "“If you don’t want to respond back to whoever is doing this to you I understand, but you should tell the social medium whether its Facebook or Twitter, because they have people monitoring their traffic, and they have their compliance officers. But you should also tell the police, because law enforcement has computer crime divisions now and they can determine if the threat is credible or not".
Cyberwise, during the US Anti-bully awareness month, also identify a raft of useful resources for young adults who use social media, and their parents (read more here).
If you are not convinced that this is something for all of us to take action, and responsibility for, you may also want to read the following article that remembers Amanda Todd, a 15 year-old Canadian who recently committed suicide after being bullied. Diana Graber challenges us with the following (read the full article here):
It’s tempting to blame social media for this tragedy. But that’s too simplistic an explanation for a string of events that include not only the original unfortunate lapse in judgment, but years of emotional and physical bullying, and a very public plea for help. It makes you wonder were the adults were during all these years. And why issues like bullying, sexting, sharing inappropriate images on social networks, and more, aren’t embedded into our daily discussions both in the classroom and out.
If we can take anything away from this sad story, I hope it’s a call to action for all adults to use this event as a catalyst to talk to the young people in our own lives. Whether we like it or not, we must accept the fact that most of their lives are now being conducted online, so if we don’t learn how to speak to them about appropriate and safe online behavior, or better yet, inhabit the digital world they live in order to be better equipped to guide them through these unchartered waters—then shame on us.
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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Internet of Things (free e-book review by Derek Wenmoth)

If you are interested in where the connected world is heading then the e-book reviewed by Derek Wenmoth is likely to be something you might want to download and read. I watched the video embedded at the end of the post a while ago, and at the time the significance of the Internet of things did not quite sink in - and the implications. I wonder if there are some drawbacks as well as positives to the uber-connectivity that is envisaged. One positive may be an impact on efficiencies such that we use less power, for example. But I wonder what the drawbacks might be, as I am cautious about hailing innovation for innovation's sake...but do we have a choice? It would be great to hear your thoughts.

Derek's blog post can be accessed here, and as a taster:
The Internet of Things will be the most complex structure mankind has ever created. In a generation, there will likely be a trillion nodes measuring anything on Earth that can be measured, and with the insights culled from that data, we’ll control every aspect of our built world.
We live in a connected world, where millions of people and objects are interconnected by the Internet. In many of my presentations over the past couple of years I've referred to the Internet of Things (IoT) as one of the key trends we need to be watching for – this topic was one of CORE's ten trends in 2011 - in that year it was estimated that there became more 'things' connected to the internet than people.
Tonight I downloaded a free e-book titled The Internet of Things, developed by Accenture in conjunction with the Bankinter Foundation of Innovation. The publication describes the state of the art of this promising technology.
The e-book is over 70 pages long, and provides an excellent overview of the range of areas of our lives and the societies we live in that are being or potentially will be impacted by the Internet of Things.
Anything imaginable is capable of being connected to the network, become intelligent and therefore offers endless possibilities.This topic can be quite mind-boggling for some, and a focus of real fascination for others. Whatever your thinking, there's a lot to think about with this topic, and it's definitely worthy of some time to consider.
To

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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The iPad as a Tool For Education - a case study

English: iPads offer a variety of software
English: iPads offer a variety of software (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This case study focuses on the implementation of an an iPad programme, at Longfield Academy in Kent (UK). Longfield Academy is a mixed secondary school for students aged 11 to 18 years of age. There are currently around 970 students at the academy, with around 160 of these in the sixth form.

Overall, the case-study reported that the use of iPads has positively impacted learning and teaching. One teacher asserted that, “The iPads have revolutionised teaching”. I wasn't so convinced that this case study added much to support the use of iPads in education. There did not appear to be a transition to a knowledge building approach by students, where they work on ill-defined problems, in authentic contexts to co-construct their own knowledge in context - in their community for example. Would be good to hear what you think....

As yet, data around improvements in students achievement has not yet been collected.
You can download the full report (see below) - as a taster:
Such devices cannot be dismissed as mere toys or distractions and while they bring with them technical and management issues, these are far outweighed by increased student motivation, progress and collaboration. Students using them regularly indicate that their iPads have become an indispensable tool, facilitating research, communication with teachers and, as in art, saving considerable time so enabling greater achievement.
Teachers too, though perhaps with the same inbuilt cynicism that many have for any new technology, are very positive about the value of the iPads and articulate many of the benefits, not only for learning but for themselves. In the context of a restructured school in brand new buildings, to enable almost all students and all staff to have a new tablet device, one not designed for such a situation, and to integrate it into learning and teaching, as has happened at Longfield, would be considered brave by many. Yet the project proved to be extremely successful. While the technology has been an integral part of that success, a key factor has been the quality of the initial and ongoing project management, without which the outcome may have been very different. Sound change management principles have been applied and other schools intending to implement similar projects should learn from the experience of Longfield Academy.
In a presentation to schools and industry in March 2012, the Principal, Anne Davis, set out nine lessons that the school had learned from the project up to that point and it is useful to repeat these here:
  1. Develop a clear vision and strategy for your 1:1 scheme
  2. Define your learning culture
  3. Define and create your user experience and support model
  4. Work with a traffic light and reporting system
  5. Evaluate your existing position
  6. Know how many staff and students already own, in this case, an iOS device
  7. Get everyone involved –don’t let a perception grow that it is a ‘done deal’, even if it is!
  8. Get devices in teachers and learners hand as soon as possible
  9. Record and share your experiences
(source, p. 50)

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Learning in the 21st Century: A 5 Year Retrospective on the Growth in Online Learning

English: Diagram of technology-empowered profe...
English: Diagram of technology-empowered professional development for teachers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This is report you may be interested in (recommended by John S Oliver). It is from a USA-based study (but the tends are likely to have some relevance to you) that analyses and reports key findings from 416,758 K-12 students, parents, teachers and administrators. The Speak Up team mention that by "comparing the issues we reported on in 2007 with the online learning headlines of 2012 we can easily see an increased experiential sophistication around different implementations of online learning as well as a new blending of emerging technologies such as mobile learning and digital textbooks into our online learning discussion" (source).
Key trends highlighted by the Speak up team from the report include (source):
    • A majority of teachers, school site administrators and district level administrators now report participating in an online class for their own professional development. For teachers, this represents a 148 percent increase since 2007.
    • Teachers’ value proposition on online learning for their own professional development is directly related to their previous online learning experiences as a teacher or in an online training class. 30 percent of teachers say that online PD is now their preferred approach for continuing education.
    • A new, positive correlation exists between educators’ experiences with online learning and their interest in mobile learning in school.
    • The profile of a typical student interested in taking an online class today is a middle school girl who values the use of a mobile device in school and sees online learning as her ticket to a more personalized learning environment where she is in control of the learning process.
    • One-third of parents now support increased investments in online learning.
You can download a free copy of this report via these links.
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vital to education: Non-cognitive skills

Depression 4
Depression 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I found Back to School (by the This American Life Team) an eye-opening podcast that makes a huge amount of sense. In part it asks, how much can we expect teachers to do?

Awareness of the importance of affective factors on cognitive abilities has been long-known, but this podcast focuses on "studies that show how poverty-related stress can affect brain development, and inhibit the development of non-cognitive skills".

There is a "growing body of research that 'non-cognitive skills' — qualities like tenacity, resilience, impulse control — are being viewed as increasingly vital in education". And, one of the positive points discussed was how non-cognitive skills can be taught to older students "who have gone much longer without learning things like self-control, conscientiousness and resilience".

The implications for curriculum design, facilitation and support of students of all ages, as well as assessment practices are huge. Would be good to hear your thoughts.

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Digital Literacy and Web 2.0 – the Scenario of Susie

This is a mindmap and hypothetical scenario that tells the story of Susie and her use of Web 2.0 tools to conduct research for her assignments. The mindmap: Susie Web 2.0 Research is designed to give an idea of the complex web of information, ideas, sharing, evaluation and analysis that can go on (in an ideal world) when the potential of the Web 2.0 is exploited fully.

Information Literacy and Web 2.0 - The Scenario of Susie
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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Engaging students through e-Learning and better school to work pathways

Clarence Yates shared this post with another community we are both members of. He writes:
This report came out last year and I simply forgot to post it then but the truth of the matter is that I did not know how to embed such a document into the Ning and thanks to our Hazel who took the time to show me. It is a pity that I did not share it earlier because it is certainly a report to read through especially when we are looking at the engagement of our students at school and how e-Learning can play a role here. Thanks to the New Zealand Institute who agreed that we could share this report here. However it is still very relevant at this time and probably in the near future. Dr Rick Boven Director, The NZ Institute in it’s media release and report more ladders.fewer snakes examines why NZ has one of the worst youth unemployment rates in the OCED and why e-learning and creating better school-to-work pathways could make a real difference in the future. Keeping young people engaged and at school means they will be more effectively prepared for work and less likely to become unemployed. Many school leavers are not successfully progressing from school to tertiary education or work. Dr Rick Boven speaks about this report in an audio recording Radiolive interview. A report also appears in the National Business Review. Dr Rick Boven was also interviewed on TV One Close Up Thursday, November 17th. 2010
If you want more information please contact:
Dr Rick Boven, Director, The New Zealand Institute
Ph: 09 309 6230 Email:

More Ladders Fewer Snakes
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Monday, September 3, 2012

You can’t motivate students with technology because technology alone isn’t motivating....

fun (Photo credit: hodgers)
This is, I felt, and insightful post, by Bill Ferriter (August 17th, 2012). In the post Bill, makes the point that was music to my ears:
Basically what I’m arguing is that finding ways to motivate students in our classrooms shouldn’t start with conversations about technology. Instead, it should start with conversations about our kids. What are they deeply moved by? What are they most interested in? What would surprise them? Challenge them? Leave them wondering? Once you have the answers to these questions — only after you have the answers to these questions — are you ready to make choices about the kinds of digital tools that are worth embracing.
I'd highly recommend reading the rest of Bill's post - Are kids really motivated by technology? - and it would be great to hear what your thoughts are on the subject.
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Making connections: 10 TED Talks That Could Be Used As Course Titles

Literacy... (Photo credit: hazelowendmc)
Why do. people give so much time, thought, and often, effort to sharing, commenting, and participating in online environments - for free? An inherent desire to share and receive feedback? The great moment when you make connections across topics, or someone Tweets back a link to the answer you have been searching for? To be extended and challenged in your thought? For me, it's all these and much, much more.

A concrete example from today's work for me was the 10 TED Talks that could be used as course titles...the Committed Sardines 21st Century Literacy Project was shared by Vicki Hagenaar (here), a quick perusal led me to Ross Crockett's post referring to 10 TED Talks, and finally to the Edudemic ezine where Katie Lepi had written and posted the original article. She had been inspired by a Twitter conversation to write a post that combined the thought-provoking TED Talks with course design. Wheels within wheels! And all freely available as inspiration.

An extract from Katie's post reads:

Long story short, most [course titles] are still stuck in the dark ages. Biology 101? World History 1812-Present? These titles may seem like they’re accurate and fit but… they’re boring.
In an effort to give school administrators and teachers a guidepost with which they can rethink current course titles (what better time than in July, right?), I offer up the idea being shared on Twitter this morning: that we take a page from TED and offer courses using their naming schema. In other words, make the course titles sexier, the descriptions more attractive, and get students excited to attend a class before they even step foot in the classroom for the first time.
So, without further ado, here are potential course titles that are actual TED talks / TED categories. I’ve put the actual name followed by what course it could actually be below it. Click the big title to learn more about each topic.
Read more here>>>
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