Friday, 6 September 2013

Thinking iPads - what guides your decision making?

Many schools are now considering the introduction of iPads to assist and promote student learning. As schools plan to select, introduce and implement the use of iPads they need to consider a multitude of elements directed by the overriding question - ‘What difference is this going to make to student learning and achievement.’ This process needs to be carefully considered and strategically planned. Key questions arise:

  • What resources are available to assist schools in the strategic planning process?
  • What needs to be considered?
  • What guides this process?

    The Educational Positioning System (EPS) developed by CORE Education in conjunction with Dr Julia Atkin provides a comprehensive process for future focussed school review. The EPS provides a framework to the  guide the decision making and strategic planning process required for the selection, introduction and  implementation of new technology.

    Philosophical Framework

    This dimension looks to explore the fundamental essence of learning within the school.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • What is your ‘educative purpose?’Is this clearly understood and shared by all? What are the key values, beliefs and principles that guide learning in your school?
    • Have these been explored, discussed, debated and developed to ensure that these are indeed meeting the needs of learners?
    • Have you identified what you consider constitutes powerful learning? Is there shared understanding and commitment to the development of a culture that promotes powerful learning?
    • Do these shared values and beliefs guide decision-making?

    • Have your clearly identified your overriding educative purpose and are you using this to guide the selection process?
    • Do you know what type of technology you want and why? Which type of technology will best support and promote your school beliefs about learning?
    • Are new technologies explored in terms of their potential to transform learning? Have you had the opportunity to explore the potential of these technologies to see which one best aligns with your schools philosophical framework for learning? Which technologies will best meet the needs of your students / teachers?
    • Which technology will best promote ‘powerful learning’ empowering students to be confident connected learners?
    • How will this technology support your school’s metacognitive approach for learning?
    • Does your philosophical framework refer to the potential and use of ICTs? Is this a shared understanding and belief across the school. If not, do you need to provide opportunities to update this?

    Community and Culture

    This dimension looks at the school as a learning organisation.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Does the school culture reflect the school’s philosophical beliefs about learning?
    • Is the school informed and up to date with latest research and initiatives. It is ‘open’ to developing new opportunities and initiatives that would enhance learning opportunities for students? Does it consider new possibilities? How does it reflect, review select and identify areas for change?
    • Are the dispositions required for learning in the 21st century modelled and fostered? For example are collaboration, open-mindedness, informed risk taking, critical reflection evident?

    • Will this technology enhance the learning culture at your school?
    • Does this technology align with the vision and values of your school. For example if your school vision is to create confident, connected, communicators who are life long learners  - how will this technology enact this? Are all members of the community aware of the vision? Do they have ownership of and commitment to this vision?
    • Does this technology foster opportunities for collaboration, informed risk taking and critical reflection?
    • Are you prepared to take risks, be open-minded and  receptive to the change that may be required? What is required to ensure that you teachers are empowered to be confident users of ICTs? What needs to be considered, planned for,  to ensure that teachers are encouraged but not overwhelmed with the new technology?
    • Will this technology strengthen your learning culture? How can it be used to strengthen home school partnerships?

    Strategies and Structures

    This dimension looks at how the school fosters and develops the learning culture and enacts it’s philosophical framework.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Do the strategies for school curriculum design, assessment, reporting, teaching and learning align with the school values and beliefs about learning?
    • Are ICTs being used to translate your school philosophy into practice?
    • Are ICTs used discerningly and integrated seamlessly into learning programmes?
    • Is the organisational, technical and physical infrastructure developed to support and promote learning in the 21st century?
    • Are learning, thinking and teaching strategies current? What systems and processes are in placed to review what is working well and what requires further development?
    • Is curriculum design personalised to meet the needs of learners?
    • How will this particular technology enhance teaching and learning in your school?
    • Can this technology be integrated seamlessly and used discerningly in learning programmes?
      • what is required for teachers? How can your professional learning programme strengthen teacher capability?
      • what is required for students?
    • Have you fully explored the capability of this technology - do you know what could be possible? it’s limitations?
    • Will the school’s current infrastructure sustain the introduction of this new technology?
    • Is this technology fit for purpose?
      • durable?
      • child friendly
    • How can you ensure maximum use of this technology
      • allocation?
      • access for all students?
      • storage?
      • charging?
      • security?
      • maintenance?
      • monitoring?

    Selecting and purchasing new technology can be a difficult process for schools. Many school leaders feel  pressured into purchasing technology by suppliers or groups within their schools. It is important to keep the focus on learning, not the device, by clearly identifying what you want the device to do. 

    The framework of the EPS provides a valuable reference and guide for this decision making - ensuring that the technology selected will best meet the needs of the students by keeping the focus on the learner and the learning.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A challenging view of leadership

I recently attended had the opportunity to attend a fascinating presentation on leadership. You know the feeling you get when a presentation starts and you realise that you are about to hear something very powerful  .... well this was exactly that. I sat and listened to a passionate and humble man talk about his life and his learning. It would be fair to say it was one of the most inspirational presentations I have heard. This gentleman held a captive audience in the palm of his hand while he told his story.

Ngahihi o te ra Bidois  presentation was based on his book entitled Ancient Wisdom, Modern Solutions.

He talked about leadership in terms of influence, by skillfully weaving this into his own life story
Through listening, looking & thinking we gain the wisdom to speak.... Leaders ask courageous questions....Through proverbs and people we achieve our purpose..... If it isn't broken .... fix it! Image if Apple thought that land lines were all we needed..... Identify your eagles - who has influenced you in past? .... Who will influence you in the future?
It was a privilege to listen to Ngahihi's story, an inspirational guide and challenge to leaders.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Making movies

Over the last couple of weeks I have undertaken a real learning journey. Technology enables us to communicate in more ways than ever before, in fact the choice is endless. New technologies and capability are continually evolving, so it is important to be aware of what is available and be very clear about what it is you want to achieve.

I have been wanting to develop some movies to promote the capability and capacity of a range of tools. I wanted to do this in a way where I could include the key information as text, provide an audio explanation and have some music playing in the background. Sounds simple ..... I know.... but the reality was somewhat different.

The first step of this journey was a posting by Richard Byrne 5 Ways Students Can Create Audio Slideshows. In this posting Richard highlighted - Narrable, UTellStory and three other applications. I explored Narrable first, but quickly realised that I couldn't have both the soundtrack and the audio. UTellStory is a quirky application to use and enabled me to create the exact type of presentation that I wanted. It was very user friendly and you could easily adjust the audio recording slide by slide, however, it was not easy to share with a large group of people. It can be embedded in a blog, but the organization that I was preparing the video footage for did not want this, they just wanted to share a link.

In the end, after lots of investigation, the solution was very simple. Create the presentation in Keynote, add the sound track and audio using the 'Inspector' tool, then export to Quicktime. When adding the soundtrack and audio, you need to upload the sound track first and then add the audio. Video clips can be shared easily via Dropbox. With larger videos it pays to save them as small or medium sized movies, otherwise you will exceed the capacity of your dropbox.

So hope my many hours of learning and investigation provide a short cut for you.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Scenario planning

I am still playing major catch up here.... but the course content looks so interesting that I am determined to find the time this week.

A brief overview of clarification and new learning to date. Scenario planning:

  • is a metaphor of rich narrative designed  to help you consider alternative / potential futures
  • provides an opportunity to explore how your present strategic decisions can / could impact on the future
  • Scenarios are not predictions of the future, but mental models to gain a better understanding for decision making. Scenarios help answer the question: What will we do now, if that future were to happen? In other words scenario planning provides an opportunity to 'scope.'

The key elements for scenario planning are creative thinking and the use of qualitative subjective information. I would add open-mindedness, as I believe that you would have to be open to truly engage in the scoping aspect of scenario planning.

This slideshare presentation provides a brief overview of scenario planning and outlines a workshop process

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scenario Planning

It is amazing how quickly the days seem to fly by. A colleague of mine has a wonderful saying which he uses to explain how the tyranny of the urgent overtook the best of intentions. 

I have been hearing a lot lately about Scenario planning and Futures Thinking as a way to navigate new and uncertain times. I started to investigate and quite by chance came across this Scenario Planning course for educators. So ... I have signed up - so watch this space and learn with me.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Digital Literacies

In a recent post I discussed how Jeremy Kedian (presenter at the NZ Primary Principals Conference) referred to the importance of 'cultural literacy.' I was interested to see this theme in a TED talk by Doug Belshaw: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacy. In this video clip and slideshare, based on research for his thesis Doug Belshaw highlights:
  • eight literacies, not one literacy
  • the importance of discussing digital literacies as literacies are context dependent and need to be socially negotiated.
  • digital literacies change
  • digital literacies need to be 'remixed'and used to meet the context required for learning
Belshaw identifies eight literacies.

In brief, he describes these as:
Cultural: The Cultural element of digital literacies is all about seeking ways to give people additional ‘lenses’ through which to see the world.
Cognitive: This literacy is about 'expanding the mind through developing a set of cognitive tools - using technologies to foster the other literacies.
Constructive: Using digital tools to create, construct new meaning and knowledge
Communicative: How to communicate effectively in a digital world - to understand others and contribute in a way that is relevant and meaningful. In other words the skills to communicate in digital networked environments.
Confident: to use technologies in a way that models exploration, risk taking, open mindedness
Creative:  doing new things in new ways.
Critical:  'reading between the lines, interpret? Can we critically evaluate the technologies we’re using?
Civic: Using the capability of technology to improve our lives and the lives of others in our world.
I like the way Belshaw refers to a range of literacies - being literate involves a comprehensive 'kete' of elements. Literacy needs to be considered in context as being literate in one context does not guarantee literacy in all contexts. I think Belshaw's research is a  timely reminder of elements to consider when designing our learning programmes.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Leading Learning for School Improvement

Over the last couple of days I have attended the NZ Primary Principals Conference and managed to hear some (unfortunately not all) of the presenters. The key focus of the conference was 'Power to Innovate' and presenters were skillful at weaving this theme through their presentations. A summary of tweets throughout the conference is available here.

School self-review and strategic planning are particular interests of mine so I really enjoyed listening to a session with James Nottingham - Innovative Leadership - lessons from around the world.  James highlighted the purpose of creating and having and a clear vision, that is shared, owned and implemented by the people who create it. He referred to the following diagram - emphasizing the importance of always starting with the vision, not the event.

Adapted from Organising for Learning by Daniel Kim, 2010

When leaders work with their communities to identify and develop a vision they undertake a process of clarifying 'educative purpose, values and core beliefs about learning.' Part of this process provides an opportunity to unpack and understand individual mental models. This is a critical phase - as only through this phase can we gain an understanding of others perspectives. Using this process to develop shared understandings and beliefs promotes ownership and commitment towards achievement of the vision. 
Vision provides a goal, a focus and direction for future school growth and development and it is our job to turn the vision into reality. I have continued to reflect on James's presentation. As a school leader I would be asking the following questions:
  • Can all members of our school community clearly articulate our vision?
  • Is this shared, owned and enacted by all?
  • Is our vision a constant point of reference to guide our development and  decision making?
  • Is it consistently referenced and used to promote learning?
  • Is it visible?
In my opinion the sign of a good conference is when you leave with more questions, thoughts and wonderings than when you arrived. The opportunity to think, reflect, challenge, question, discuss, consider is invaluable, but as Sir Graham Henry so aptly reminded us, "It is not about the game.... it is all about the people."

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Leading Learning for School Improvement

Today I was privileged to attend two thought provoking presentations at the NZ Primary Principals Conference, Power to Innovate, in Hamilton.

The first presentation was from Jeremy Kedian of the University of Waikato who spoke on the importance of leadership - leaders leading learning in their schools. He asked the question - When was your last leadership failure? Reminding us that as leaders we need to be experimenting, taking risks and modeling the dispositions of learning.  He talked about leaders as architects - working with their communities, leading the design process for the physical, social, learning and future environments. He emphasized the importance of passion, creativity, growing relationships, cultural literacy and globalism and referred to John West Burnham: Seven Questions for leaders of learning.  He then drew on a quote from Leadbeater & Wong (2010) - Schools might be hitting the target, but are they missing the point?' In closing he referred to research (and I didn't capture the detail) showing that only 15% of leaders time is spent on leading, making the point that we better make it count!

I then attended a presentation by  Dr Viviane Robinson - Too much change - not enough improvement.  In the introduction Dr Robinson reminded us that change and innovation do not always lead to improvement. As school leaders we need to be discerning and have processes to ensure that the initiatives we are undertaking will generate sustainable school improvement that is focussed on raising student achievement. She referred to the issue of school leaders and schools taking on too much, too many initiatives that resulted in little or unsustainable improvement.  Dr Robinson highlighted the importance of focussed and deep learning - taking time to clearly identify the problem, establish goals, identify barriers, locate expertise, plan, strategize, monitor and adapt to generate improvement that is sustainable. This learning can then be transferred, promoting a strategic and sustainable process for improvement.

On reflection - both presentations highlighted to me the importance of vision? Do we know what type of learning environments we want to create? Do we have shared understanding about learning -what is powerful learning and what is powerful to learn?  I think when we have clearly identified this - we have a point of reference for where to next. The key is planning how to get there!

Monday, 1 July 2013

How do you gauge your success?

Over the last few months I have been working with several schools as they look to develop their strategic plans for future development in eLearning. As a facilitator my role is  pose questions and  scenarios, challenge thinking, prompt the exploration of possible options and in some cases suggest alternatives. As I work with schools I always reflect on these questions:
  • what guides and determines decision making?
  • what strategies are available for exploring options, considering possibilities, future thinking?
  • what opportunities are available for professional dialogue? Do these opportunities foster and promote the dispositions of 21st century learning - collaboration, critical reflection, risk taking and open-mindedness to assist them build capacity from within?
  • how do schools know what they don't know? What systems and processes do schools have to keep up to date and informed of new initiatives, trends, opportunities? 
  • what other networks are available to assist this school on their journey?
  • whose plan is it?
At the end of the planning development session I like to take time to critically review my performance.  I am proud of my role in the process when a school is  empowered to implement their strategic plan. At that point I become somewhat redundant.  I am available for support, but I am not the driver, the impetus for development comes from within. In many ways effective facilitation is like doing yourself out of a job. When empowerment is the focus, redundancy is a measure of success.
However, the ultimate success is when the same school invites you back to facilitate the next stage of strategic planning and development.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Are you ready for this?

I recently caught up with some of my 'nearest and dearest' and had the pleasure of observing my great nephew as he contemplated the differences between technologies. He had been playing a game on an iPad and then switched to watch a DVD on a portable DVD player. I watched with interest as he pinched and expanded his fingers, on the screen, in an attempt to make the screen bigger. As a two year old he has already identified some of the key functions, similarities and differences between technologies. He knows which technologies to use for particular functions.

I have reflected on this over the last couple of days and I wonder - 'Are we ready for him?' As a two year old he has another three years of pre-school learning before he enters his first primary school. Imagine how much knowledge he will have developed by then.

What will his first school learning environment look, sound, feel like? Will we have learning programmes, that are personalised and designed
  • to build on his existing knowledge, fostering new knowledge
  • to challenge his thinking and stimulate his inquiring mind
  • to capture and foster his creativity
  • to promote the dispositions of 21st century learning eg. collaboration, risk taking, open-mindedness, reflection
  • to integrate technology seamlessly and discerningly

He will be expecting this. Will we have the capacity and capability to deliver?

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A great way to learn

Tonight I saw the perfect example of how professional learning is changing for teachers. I attended a  Connections Open Meeting with the ConnectED Cluster 

This cluster have strategically developed and sustained a professional learning community that is now inspiring the region. For this occasion there was no guest speaker, just a planned opportunity for enthusiastic and passionate teachers to connect, collaborate, communicate and learn from each other.

Approximately 200 educators from schools and organisations throughout Hamilton and the wider Waikato region attended.  The attendees were welcomed by Dave Winter, Project Leader, Marcus Freke and Tanya Thompson from the governance group who highlighted that delegates would 'get out' of the evening what they 'put into' the evening.

Tables were allocated for discussion on set topics with a volunteer nominated to facilitate the discussion. Topics ranged from Digital Citizenship, Modern Learning Environments, Student Opportunity, iPads for Learning, Great Apps, Emerging Trends, Teaching as Inquiry, Cybersmarts and Leadership to name a few. There was plenty of opportunity for networking and discussion during the evening.

This evening modelled the learning opportunities associated with the pedagogy of modern learning environments. It was:
  • learning focussed, personalised, driven by and designed to meet the needs of the participants.
  • mobile and flexible, cultivating networks of connections through the effective use of technology
  • building capacity and community, providing opportunities for communication, collaboration  
Congratulations ConnectED on another successful learning opportunity.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Time to make time

Over the last two days I have been privileged to have attended a workshop with Kevin Honeycutt and Ginger Lewmann. As educationalists how do we ensure that we are modeling and enacting the advice, we espouse, in regard to the dispositions of learning. How can we ensure that we are preparing our students for their future?

To be honest I do not know the answers - two days with Kevin and Ginger left me with more questions than answers ..... but .... I left today enthusiastic to embrace some new challenges. Challenges that will assist me to become better equipped in my role as a facilitator. The first was to capture the some of the gems, rich takings from the session via the twitter feed.

The second challenge - is this blog. For many years I have been saying - I will get around to writing a blog when I have time. The last two days have made me aware that I will never have more time, but if I value the opportunity to reflect, wonder, question and share my wonderings, then it is time I started.

So here goes....