"We believe that the industrial age model of purely passive learning is a disservice to students, the profession, and the community.
We believe that students and teachers in every country deserve to teach and learn in flipped schools, flipped school districts, and flipped school systems where active learning is foundational."
Tomorrow afternoon, I will be driving to Cronulla, where I will be staying for the duration of FlipConAus rather than drive the roughly two hours back home each day. This will be my fourth FlipCon (third in Australia and I have attended one in New Zealand), however, this one feels different.
Jon Bergmann, through flipped learning and FLGobal.org, has completely changed how I think about teaching and has shown me how I imagined I wanted my classroom to operate, focusing on doing rather than chalking and talking, with my students applying what we were learning about. There have, however, been some shifts in flipped learning this year as more and more research emerges, which Jon talks abuot below.
The potential for flipped learning is still significant and the impact that it can have on student-teacher relationships and learning outcomes is now unquestionable. The research is quite clear now that flipped learning has a positive impact. I had a conversation with a science teacher today who mentioned in passing that he has a forward board and is dabbling with flipped learning. Cue a conversational direction change for the next fifteen minutes. We have worked out a time when we can catch up to chat more specifically about flipped learning and working together and the conversation left both of us excited for the possibilities.
I still visit a lot of schools where they've not heard of flipped learning or do not believe that it works. I do not, at this point, push flipped learning without an invitation from whomever I am speaking with. There needs to be a willingness to engage in the conversation, however, for those whom I do speak with, there is always a sense of excitement for the potential.
If you are not attending FlipConAus this Thursday and Friday, keep your eyes on #FlipConAus on twitter over the next few days. As Jon reminds us in the above video, leadershpi is not about authority or position; it's about commitment to do what you can wherever you are to make change happen.
If you want to connect with other flippers, but you are not a Twitter user, there is an Australian Flipped Learning Network on Facebook as well as a New Zealand Flipped Learning Network. I daresay there are networks for other countries, however, those are the two that I am familiar with and have contacts within.
As always, feel free to reach out to me via the contact page, or over on Twitter or Facebook.
I look forward to hopefully seeing many of you at FlipConAus this weekend.
In this FLipped Teacher Professional Development video I show you how to set up your GDocs (Or GSheets, GSlides) to enable you to create and then edit new documents offline.
For more helpful FTPL videos, please click here.
As I write this, we are just over a week away from FlipCon Australia 2017 and I've just uplaoded the last of the pre-learning videos for my workshops. If you are attending any of my sessions, please find the relevant learning objects included below.
Please note that I have included some instructions for each session in terms of what you will need to bring with you for the workshop.
Workshop One: A Starting Point for Flipped Learning
For this workshop, please watch the three short videos below (total duration is about eleven minutes and bring with you to the workshop any particular concerns you have about obtaining buy-in from stakeholders, or teaching students how to engage with flipped content.
Workshop Two: Flipping the Lesson
Part of successfully flipping is starting small and manageable and then scaling up, which usually means starting with flipping a single lesson. In this workshop we will be working through how to do that, with a focus on planning for success using my flipped lesson planning template.
Please watch the below learning object, download a copy of the planning template from here and start to bring with you at least one lesson that you have coming up in the next month that you wish to flip.
If you are just beginning to engage with flipped learning, you may find the three learning objects set as pre-learning for my Starting Point with Flipped Learning workshop useful.
Workshop Three: Flipping the Unit
In this workshop, we will be working through the process of planning to flip a unit of learning with a focus on the differences to traditional planning. There is a flipped unit planng template available here for download if you wish to utilise that. Please watch the below learning object and bring with you a unit of learning that you wish to flip either this term or next.
Workshop Four: Flipped Resources Made Simply
The final workshop that I am running is all about making learning objects that are video-based, using a tool called Camtasia which allows you to record and edit video in a range of styles. If you are attendign this workshop, please watch the below video which provides a very brief walkthrough of where to access Camtasia, how to download it, and then how to get started with recording a video. Please bring with you to the workshop one video to work on edit, or be prepared to record one during the workshop.
Please note that although Camtasia is available for both Mac and Windows, that I will be demonstrating using the Windows version.
I'm also excited to announce that thanks to Camtasia, there is ONE free license for Camtasia that will be available during the Fun-Money Auction which can be redeemd for either Mac or Windows. You do not have to have attended this workshop to be eligible for this item in the Fun-Money Auction.
In addition to the above workshops, I willbe joining Jon Bergmann and Matthew Burns on the Panel for the Primary Discussion session, talking about different ways to flip in the K-6 space. Additionally, Steve Griffiths and I will be running a drop in session to allow people to record flipped content using a forward board. Check the FlipCon Program for times.
If you are unable to attend FlipCon at all, keep your eyes open for #FlipConAus on Twitter to stay in the loop. It promises to be an exciting time with Jon Bergmann, Joel Speranza, and Errol Smith providing the three keynote sessions, as well as thirty-four educators sharing their knowledge and experience.
I look forward to seeing you there.
"We believe that the industrial age model of purely passive learning is a disservice to students, the profession, and the community"
- Flipped Learning Global Manifesto. Retrieved from http://flglobal.org/the-manifesto/ on 3 October 2017
Anyone who has spoken to me about education in the last few years has likely heard me mention flipped learning. It has become an entrenched part of my pedagogical belief and also my education philosophy. I have written about flipped learning at length, presented at whole-staff and inter-school professional development sessions, presented at EduTech, and late last term I ran the first of (hopefully) many flipped learning boot camps.
On Friday 20 and Saturday 21 October I will be joining thirty-four of my flipped learning colleagues in presenting at FlipConAus 2017, sharing my knowledge, experience, and mistakes with those wanting to learn more.
I will be presenting four sessions; A starting point for flipped learning, Flip the lesson, Flip the unit, and Flipped resources made simply as well as joining Jon Bergmann and Matt Burns on the Primary Discussion Panel (see full FlipConAus program here).
There are some amazing educators who have put their hands up to share their time, knowledge, and experience with delegates, and I still find that I learn something every time I attend FlipCon. If you have any interest in flipped learning, even if you're just curious, register here and join myself and thirty-four other (far more brilliant) educators as we share our knowlegde, experience and passion.
I hope to see you at FlipConAus, hosted by the amazing educators at Inaburra School, Sydney, in a few weeks time.
"All of a sudden, the car experiences mechanical failure and is unable to stop. If the car continues, it will crash into a bunch of pedestrians crossing the street, but the car may swerve, hitting one bystander, killing them to save the pedestrians. What should the car do, and who should decide? What if instead the car could swerve into a wall, crashing and killing you, the passenger, in order to save those pedestrians?"
- Iyad Rahwan. September 2016 at TEDxCambridge
The interest in artificial intelligence (AI) in society is growing and this is bleeding into education, where there seems to be a new tool, toy, or shiny thing that purports to take AI into the classroom in an authentic way. I have played with AI in the online space, but at this point in time I don't think there is the depth or strength to the technology to make it useful in the classroom. Please note that AI is different to AR (augmented reality), which is outside the scope of this article.
In my current professional role I spend a lot of time in the car driving to different schools around the state which means that I am constantly dropping in and out of different radio stations and so it is easier, and I prefer, to listen to podcasts. One of these is TED Talks Daily (subscribe here) and recently I listened to a talk that addressed AI and driverless cars.
Should your driverless car kill you if it means saving five pedestrians? In this primer on the social dilemmas of driverless cars, Iyad Rahwan explores how the technology will challenge our morality and explains his work collecting data from real people on the ethical trade-offs we're willing (and not willing) to make.
In this TED talk, Iyad Rahwan asks a difficult and challenging question; one that Albus Dumbledore would have loved, what is the greater good; saving yourself or allowing yourself to be killed to save five others? Iyad poses this question as the potential of driverless cars is significant, but as this article from the ABC in March 2017 points out, there are significant other questions around safety, libaility, and of course, morals.
To the main question, however. What do you think?
Two of Iyad's students, Edmond Awad and Sohan Dsouza, built a website to help gather some data about what society thinks of this question, and to help gather data for researchers to make recommendations to legislators about these issues. The website is called Moral Machine and gives you the opportunity to make judgments about who to save in hypothetical scenarios involving driverless cars.
How does this help in the car though? Ethical Understanding is one of the general capabilities outlined in the Australian National Curriculum, yet ethics can be a challenging concept to teach. While ethics are externally driven through social norms and through laws, these social norms and laws are often driven by morals, which is our internal sense of right and wrong. There is something of a circular loop here, with our morals often guided by the social norms (ethics) which are in turn influenced through the collective moral position.
The Moral Machine website is an interesting challenge and can present some highly challenging conversations around morals and ethics such as in the scenario below.
Morals and ethics are an important part of our development as well-rounded humans. Moral Machiens presents some potential real-life scenarios where you need to make a judgement.
What would your choice be in the above situation? Leave a comment to let me know.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video I show you how to use the Restore Previous Version feature in Google Suite to recover previous versions. This feature is great for when you discover old editing errors that you've made, or for group work where there is accidental overwriting of information.
For more helpful FTPL videos, please click here.
"We don't even know how strong we are until we are forced to bring that hidden strength forward. In times of tragedy, of war, of necessity, people do amazing things. The human capacity for survival and renewal is awesome."
- Attributed to Isabel Allende
It is currently the start of week ten, the last week of the school term for NSW schools and the beginning of the downhill run to a two week break from the trials and triumphs of the classroom. There is something about term three. I personally found over the last few years in the classroom that term three felt like the accelerator had been jammed wide open and all you could do was to try and hang on.
I asked a teacher last week how she felt about this, the breakneck pace that pervaded the term, and she indicated that she had been teaching for about twenty years and that term three used to be the quiet term. There used to be very few events that would occur in term three other than the trial HSC exams but that over the last ten years, this empty nature of the term had resulted in everything being dumped into term three leaving it, in many ways, far busier than the rest of the year.
This year, that feeling of just hang on has been compounded by an unusually severe flu season. I have had a number of schools postpone scheduled visits because the person I was meeting with was off sick, I myself have had some days off sick (and those who know will know how rare that is), Youngling picked up bronchiolitis and was sick for a while, and teacher-friends have told me how they've had incredible numbers of absences, beyond anything they've seen in the past.
So take this impending break to rest, recuperate, and be ready for the final term. Get your health sorted and catch up on your sleep. See you next term.
In this FTPL video I show you how simple it can be to insert images into a Google Slide deck, particularly using the inbuilt search function that highlights images labelled with permission to reuse with modification.
For more FTPL videos click here.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I demonstrate the import slides feature in GSlides. For more helpful FTPL videos, click here.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I remind viewers of a feature that was quietly introduced to Google Classroom some time ago - the ability to group posts based on a topic tag.
For more helpful FTPL videos, FTPL Videosclick here.
The Teacher Education Review podcast is a one that I listen to when it comes out because of the well thought out discussions and research-driven conversations it contains. As Cameron Malcher says, it bridges the gap between research, policy, and practice. A recent episode, TER #096, featured an interview that Dan Haesler conducted with Katharine Birbalsingh, the Principal/Head Teacher of the controversial Michaela Community School in the UK.
I have to admit that I know very little about the Michael Community School, other than it is regarded as controversial due to its no excuses approach to education and so I was intrigued to hear about the school from the Principal herself.
The interview with Katharine begins at the 45:11 mark in the episode and I would very much encourage you to listen to it. It is a reasonably lenghty interview and addresses some of the most common critiques that are apparently levelled the school. I found it very interesting. From what I have heard in the media and through social media outlet, you could be forgiven for thinking it was a school run by the wicked witch of the west. Katharine, however, came across as very articulate, passionate, and knowledgable about education. Granted, that does not equate to a good educator, but it is a good base from which to have a conversation with someone.
I found it intriguing that at various points I found myself nodding in agreement with what Katharine was saying. Her thoughts on engagement, that it should be about the subject being engaging in and of itself through the authentic pedagogy rather than engaging because there is a singing and dancing teacher (obviously hyperbole, but the message comes through I believe) is something I think many teachers would agree with. Her comments around behaviour, and I am paraphrasing here, that students behave because they buy into the school and realise they are getting something back (an education) when they behave and that misbehaviour is the result of a disconnect between the teacher and the student through the pedagogy, was intriguing.
This is a perspective on behaviour that I have not heard before and I would be interested in your opinion on this area. Personally, I feel that I can see where Katharine is coming from with this, but that it is only part of the equation. I am a big believer in physics (hard not to be) and that there is a strong connection between physics and the classroom. Newton's third law of motion states:
that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction.
The connection may seem woolly, but my interpreation of this into the classroom is that everything happens for a reason. A student is acting out, misbehaving, for a reason, and often there is some sort of deficiency, either in the classroom or at home, that is causing this. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs should be at the front and centre here, and we should be asking ourselves, when a student is acting out, what has happened that caused this reaction? I do not buy, for one moment, the notion that some kids are just naughty (hat seems as accurate as saying that some people are just racist) and so the notion that misbehaviour is a lack of buy-in into the school is an interesting one.
I think the only real area where I was in outright disagreement was the no excuses policy itself. I can see where Katharine is coming from with this, but I disagree. There are going to be factors outside of a child or parent's control that causes an event or incident that is at odds with school policy or rules. Punishing the child for that seems unjust in my opinion.
I would very much encourage you to listen to the interview and share your thoughts, either here through the comments, or on twitter.
Some of you may remember that in the mid-year holidays, I sent out an invitation to teachers interested in flipped learning, to join me at the ClickView to utilise a forward board to record content for use in their flipped classroom. The response was huge and we had lots of interest and some great conversations with teachers who joined us.
I am excited to announce that we will be again opening up the ClickView office to teachers who are interested in joining us to utilise my forward board to record flipped learning content. On Thursday 5 October, teachers who book in for a thirty minute session will be able to come to Clickview's Pyrmont office to join us in recording content to take back to their classroom.
If you are interested in booking in for a thirty minute session please contact me via the contact form here or via email at email@example.com.
If you are not familiar with what a forward board is, you can see an example here. If you are interested in building your own forward board, they are not particularly difficult. You can access the plans I used to build mine here. Feel free to share around with anyone you know how may be interested.
In this flipped teacher professional learning video, I focus on Turbonote, a tool that allows you to annotate videos and generate PDFs from those notes. Incredibly useful as a study tool, and a tool that will potentially play a big role in flipped classrooms.
For more helpful FTPL videos, please click here.
After one of the breakout sessions I presented on flipped learning at EduTECH last term, I had a number of people coming up to ask questions, one of whom was a young lady named Ella. Ella is in year six and wanted to know how she could convince her teacher to use flipped learning in the classroom. Knowing her mother through meeting at FutureSchools, we arranged a time to chat further over Skype so that I could find out more about why Ella wanted to have flipped learning happening in her classroom. The two videos below represent the two parts of that interview. Part one focused on Ella and her views with some contribution from Mel, her mother; whilst the second part focused on Mel's thoughts on flipped learning and how she flips in her roles as an IT Integrator.
"ipsa scientia potestas est" ('knowledge itself is power')
-Sir Francis Bacon's Meditationes Sacrae (1597)
This is an article that I wanted to write back in March but did not have the time to do so, so it is rather out of context now in August. There had been a series of tweets as part of a lengthy discussion amongst several people about knowlegde vs the four Cs and domains of knowledge and the tone that came across was completely derisive of knowing stuff with comments giving the impression that if an activity did not require one of the four Cs or an upper level activity from domains of knowledge, then it was useless in the classroom.
This attitude is coming through in the media as well such as in this article from The Sydney Morning Herald. This article does acknowledge that the league tables and accountability pressures that stem from NAPLAN and similar tests are detrimental to teachers as well as students and have changed the face and perception of education in Australia. I remember taking the Basic Skills Test in Year Five and there was no hullabaloo whatsoever. It was a short test that we just did and then got back to our normal routines in class. Not so with NAPLAN nowadays.
But I digress.
The impression I was getting from this conversation was that unless my students were engaging in upper levels of domains of knowledge, I was a poor teacher and doing my students a disservice. I agree that we need to have our students engaging with those upper levels, however, if they do not know anythign, how can they do so?
My question is this: when did we devalue knowledge and focus on the need to be able to do somethign with it? It does not matter how good your lesson is, or if it is on the top level of domains of knowledge / Bloom's Taxonomy, if the students know nothing about that topic they will not be able to engage with it. We need to find a balance and stop denegrating knowledge for the sake of appearing that we are doing something with knowledge. I think that this comes back to cognitive load theory, which I have written about in the past, and remember that if a student is too busy trying to remember what something is or means then they will not be able to apply, analyse, synthesise, or create, let alone collaborate, communicate or think critically with that knowledge due to the load on their working memory.
I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this issue. Have you come across this sentiment yourself? Do you think I have the wrong end of the stick entirely? Let me know in the comments.
"I'm realizing for the first time, your life goes on while you're trying to pursue this career. I saw my career as everything. But you have this life, too. Living your life fully, you come to know yourself better. You'll find the place for it."
- Attributed to Nicholas D'Agosto
Whilst this is rather late, given that term two ended nearly a month ago, I have been struggling with time and juggling a new direction in my career along with my family responsibilities and have not had time to write. Term two was, for me, incredibly hectic with trips for work visiting schools in Wagga, Wollongong, Tamworth, Coffs Harbour (twice), Port Macquarie and Nambucca Heads, and Dubbo, attendance at FutureSchools in Melbourne, the Association of Independent Schools IT conference in Canberra, EduTECH, FlipCon New Zealand, two deaths in the family which resulted in a funeral in Tamworth on one day followed by the second in Western Sydney the following day, as well as continuing to wrap my head around being a father to an increasingly independent and cheeky daughter.
One thing that I learned in term two was that I am often too focused on the details and forget to look at the bigger picture. I was away from home far too often in term two because I would look at a week and see that I had no bookings and so could get in a trip to a regional area to visit schools without looking how often that would have me away overall. A rookie error and one that I've corrected by blocking out the weeks when I will and will not be travelling regionally throughout term three and four to ensure no more than five regional trips of two to three nights each. Mrs C21 is much happier about that arrangement than she was with term two's travel arrangements.
I know that I have commented on this before, but I have noticed how there is a common threa running through every school that I have visited thus far, irrespective of socio-economic status, sector base (i.e. Public, Denominational, Independent etc.) and that is that students are all trying to deal with being teenagers and teachers are trying to do the best they can with what they have. As someone from w wholly public school background, as a student and a teacher, it is easy to fall into the trap of just assuming that non-public school teachers are in rich schools and therefore have it easy. I am coming to realise that that is certainly not the case. Whilst the school may be better funded and thus have access to better or more resources, the expectations and demands placed upon teachers are commensurately greater. The obvious example of this is the expectation in many non-public school that every teacher is involved in coaching a weekend sporting team and thus required to spend Saturday morning at a sporting ground with that team.
This realisation has reinforced the need for us as a profession to band together and protect our professionalism and use our expertise as educators to know how to teach to build and maintain networks to share knowledge, resources and practice across schools as we support the influx of new teachers to the profession. A quote from someone at FutureSchools has stuck with me; there is not a dearth of excellence i teaching, but the distribution of excellence is uneven.
Get involved in your local TeachMeet group and help promote professional unity and collegial sharing. Find an early career teacher with whom you can work and mentor to help support their growth as a teacher; but be mindful that they can also possibly teach you something. Brian Host said something to me a few years ago that has stayed with me and gave me the courage to be more active in sharing. He asked if I was presenting at FutureSchools (which is where we were when we were chatting) and I laughed at the apparent absurdity of the notion, remarkign that as an early career teacher I had nothing to offer on par with what others at FutureSchools could offer. Brian said (paraphrasing) that it is not about how long you have been teaching but about how you have been teaching.
I think that my mentality at that point in time is typical of many early career teachers as there seems to be an undercurrent of bias towards more experienced teachers, especially when it comes to trying to find a permanent job. We all come to teaching with out own backgrounds and we need to find a way of sharing that appropriately. Put your hand up to share at a TeachMeet, ask your Principal if you can share a pedagogical approach that has been working for you in the next staff meeting, apply to present at a conference...get involved and share your knowledge and expertise. Early Career Teacher is non synonomous with has no idea what they are doing. There will be somethign they are an expert in and as more experienced teachers we need to find and nurture those things whilst supporting them in the areas where they are strggling.
There is a great chance to get involved coming up. Steph Salazar is organising a TeachMeet event focusing on support and encouraging Pre-Service and Early Career Teachers which is taking place on Tuesday 22 August at Woolpack Hotel Parramatta.
"Have something cool to share as a PST or early career teacher? Perhaps you have golden advice for PSTs! Indicate below that you are interested in doing a presentation and we will be in contact. Any questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me @stephygsalazar."
The above snippet is what this particular TeachMeet is focusing on. Not in Sydney? There is likely a TeachMeet group in your area and if not, then why not start one? TeachMeet events in my area started quite small several years ago and were organised by one person once a year. Now TMCoast runs an event each semester and has a consistent showing of between forty and fifty educators.
I will end this article there as it is will and truly well away from where I thought it would go. I would encourage you to register for TMWooly though as it will be a great event with lots of knowledge for and from pre-service and early career teachers.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video, I show you how to add columns in GSheets and then update your sum and average formulas.
For more FTPL videos click here.
"Key points from #FlipConNZ: 5. #flippedlearning allows more powerful relationship-building with students"
- Stephen McConnachie
Last term I had the opportunity to travel to Wellington to attend the very first FlipCon event in New Zealand. It was fantatic to meet so many people who were interested in developing flipped learning in their school or in finding out about it for the first time. The host venue, Samuel Marsden Collegiate School provided an excellent venue, though they were unable to bring the weather to the party and as an Australiam it provided a moment of hang on....what? when we were given the emergency notices which consisted of in case of en earthquake.... but which of course is part and parcel of living in New Zealand these days.
There were lots of interesting conversations around flipped learning and a lot of educators just taking the first steps on their pathway towards becoming flipping teachers. It was also great to meet a few New Zealanders whom I have known via Twitter for a long time as well as to catch up with Jon and his team again. There is a lot of interest in flipped learning and I hope that those people were supported and encouraged as they returned to their schools and endeavour to develop their flipped practice. There is always lots of online support for flipped educators via Twitter of course, and Jeremy Cumming has set up a New Zealand Flipped Learning Network facebook page.
If you are interested in engaging with Jon's Flipped Learning Level I Certification, you can find the it here. If you are interested in connecting with other educators, you can find my list of flipping educators on twitter here, as well as reviews of previous FlipCon sessions.
"Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways."
Mental health is a topic that we a society do not seem to like talking about. There is so much stigma around it which continues despite the high-profiile people who have come out expressing how they are battling with it, the high-profile suicides on the back of depression that have occurred in recent years, and the work that organisations such as Lifeline, Beyond Blue, and The Black Dog have done to raise awareness of the legitimacy of mental health.
When I sat down to write my presentation for FlipCon during the week after EduTech it was all I could think about, was mental health and the impact that student-teacher relationships can have on our students' mental health. There was nothing else coming to mind, every idea that came up ended up leading back to mental health and so I worked with that and delivered a speech that I am, content wise, quite happy with.
It generated some very interesting discussions about mental health that I do not think would have come up otherwise and I wonder how many teachers would like to be able to do more about this issue but do not know where to start.
Abraham Maslow's 1943 article A Theory of Human Motivation was the world's introduction to the now famous Hierarchy of Needs and it changed the way many people, especially educators, understand of childrens' socio-emotional development and is still a core component of many educational psychology courses.
There are many resources available to educators to help understand how to deal with mental health challenges in their students, how to appropriately teach strategies for working through mental health issues, and for pointing students towards appropriate help. BeyondBlue have a Secondary Schools program; and as part of the masterclass with Jane Burns, we spent time talking about a range of options available to both students and teachers that can support mental health strategies, which you can read about here.
If you know someone struggling with mental health, please do not delay in helping them seek treatment. Give it the same consideration you would a physical illness.
In this Flipped Teacher Professional Learning video I show you one way of setting up your Google Form to e-mail the responses to designated e-mail addresses.
For the full list of FTPL videos, please click here.
In this form I explore how to set up branching in Google Forms. This function allows you to have different pathways and questions through a Form depending on the repondents answers to particular questions.
If you have missed any of the videos in the FTPL series you can find them all here.
"What is the most valuable use of your face-to-face time with your students?"
- Jon Bergmann
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 was through a media pass provided by the organisers.
In 2014 whilst on my final professional experience placement as part of my initial teacher education, my supervising teacher was exploring flipped learning. We had a chat about his understanding of what it was, how it worked, and how he was modifying things to suit his class. That particular class was a combined Year Five and Six class and he was using what I now know is in-flipping. The experience was enough to whet my appetite and so when I saw that Jon Bergmann was running a masterclass on flipped learning as part of the FutureSchools conference the following year (read my review of that masterclass here), I registered and began my journey down the flipped learning rabbit hole.
As my regular readers would be aware, I am now employed with ClickView, whose core business plays neatly into flipped learning. As part of their sponsorship package woth EduTECH this year, they were able to run three thirty-minute breakout sessions, and asked me to run them on flipped learning. It would have been very easy to talk for thirty minutes about flipped learning from a ClickView perspective, however, as a teacher I know how annoyed I have been to have been given a sales pitch in the breakout session. It would also have been incredibly simple to spend the thirty minutes explaining what flipped learning is and why it is so useful as a paradigm for education. Again, as a teacher I would have been annoyed to have been given a presentation in a breakout session which had nothing I could take away and put into practice and so I decided to flip the breakout session, recording the below pre-learning video.
The above video is a very brief introduction to the why and what of flipped learning, however, there is enough in there to give anyone watching it a basic understanding. This meant that in the breakout session, Josh Aghion and I could spend the entirety of the session focused on the how of flipped learning. The reason I wanted to do that is that I wanted the audience to have an understanding that flipped learning can be easy, can be cheap to implement both financially and in regards to time, and that there are plenty of resources to support their learning as they develop their flipped classroom skills.
During each of the breakout sessions, I spoke about the general workflow of flipping your classroom. As part of this component, Josh actually provided two live demonstrations of creating flipped content. One was done using some screencapture software called Camtasia (my preferred tool) and we spoke about Screencastomatic as a free alternative. Josh recorded a short demonstration clip (less than two minutes long) from a slide deck we had prepared on adding with decimals which would then be able to be used immediately in class. The other live demonstration that we did was recording something using a smartphone or tablet whilst writing on a whiteboard or similar. Again, this video was less than two minutes long, but still got the key learning objective across and was very easy to do. We also showed some prerecorded videos showing other options for developing flipped learning video content; a video by Matt Burns using a document camera, a video using a forwardboard by Heather Davis, and a video recording of physical action by InnovativeTraining4All that I have actually used the last two years to teach students how to play (modified) Tic Tac Toe.
I was incredibly nervous leading up to the first breakout session as I knew that it was scheduled to be a packed house and it was an unfamiliar environment to present in. There was also the (self) added pressure of there being people in the room that I knew. That said, I feel like each of the sessions went well. The live demonstrations went off without a hitch, I did not get too caught up and stumble over my words, the slide deck was all in the correct order, and we finished the presentation with about approximately ten minutes to spare. There were a few questions proffered by audeince members in each session, however, people were able to leave with about five minutes to go before the scheduled end of the session which I think was a nice change from many sessions where you are busy checking your watching and internally wishing the presenter would hurry up. A number of people came up to myself or Josh after each session to ask specific questions and as we had finished early we were able to spend the time with them answering those questions.
I realised when I returned to my hotel room that night that I had forgotten to talk about one important potential use for flipped learning and that is for our own professional development. I made a short comment about it over Periscope that night. I also realised, after I was asked about flipping in infants classes on Twitter that afternoon that I had completely forgotten to speak about in flip vs out flip and so made a slightly longer comment over Periscope on the weekend about flipping in an infants class.
I was chuffed to hear that after each breakout session there was a mini influx to the ClickVIew stand of people wanting to know more about the Forwardboard. The plans for my forwardboard, the one on the ClickVIew stand, are freely available here and includes a list of materials and costings, a time lapse video of the construction process, and step by step instructions. As I mentioned in the sessions, mine cost me $315 in materials and about three hours of labour to make. A second set of hands is helpful or needed at a few points, but it is a fairly easy process and would potentially make a good project for a senior TAS class. You can see an example here of what a video looks like as raw footage and as finalised footage here.
It was also exciting to see and hear the impact of the presentation. James Gray tweeted that he had gone home and made his first flipped video and another came to ask me some questions and had her daughter (currently in Year Six) who wanted to know how she could convince her teacher to use flipped learning. We are in the process of organising an interview as I want to hear more from mother and child about their perspectives on flipped learning.
I personally feel like the breakout sessions were a success. The feedback has been largely positive (though if you do have constructive feedback, please let me know), and the conversations on Twitter that I have had as a result have also been positive with people wanting to know more.
If you do want to learn more abuot flipped learning, I have restructured my Starting with Fipped Learning page to be more user-friendly with distinct sections. It has a range of other resources that you will find useful, including review articles from FlipCon 2016 and 2015. I am also in the process of planning more videos on the how side of flipped learning. Additionally, if you have not done so I highly encourage you to undertake the Flipped Learning Certification as it is a very comprehensive prorgam that covers all areas of flipped learning.
Josh and myself are planning to run a day during the holidays for teachers to book a half-hour timeslot to visit the ClickView office and record some content using the forward board. THe date we have set aside is Thursday 13 July and will initially be offered to those who registered for the breakout sessions and they will be contacted once we have details finalised; though it will of course be first in best dressed.
If you are not from Sydney and therefore unable to make it for that day, we are looking at doing something similar in Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as developing some Flipped Learning Masterclass sessions that we can offer. Stay tuned as we will let you know through various channels when those details are finalised.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have missed any of the articles in this EduTECH 2017 series, you can find the complete list here.
"Why have a computer lab? You wouldn't put the pencils and paper in their own room."
- A teaching colleague
Greg Whitby was next on my dance card, speaking about schooling in a 1:1 world in what promised to be an interesting presentation. As someone who follows Greg on Twitter and has interacted with him on occasion, I have found him to be honest and forthright vis-a-vis his opinions. Never in my experience to the point of being rude or disrespectful, but you know exactly where he stands. 1:1 as an approach to education is a topic of much interest and in which many schools have invested significant financial resources into rolling out, however, sometimes forgetting to put appropriate investment into infrastructure, teacher professional development, or into the students around ensuring they understand how to get the most out of the technology.
1:1 schooling is still a contentious issue as was seen in March 2016 when then Headmaster of Sydney Grammar School, Dr. John Vallance, was quoted in this article that technology in the classroom is nothing but a distraction. Whilst I disagree with that sentiment, I completely agree with him that I personally would invest in staff before technology, however, I believe that to discount technology as a legitimate pedagogical tool en masse is a mistake. What I can agree with is that it can be a distraction and a money pit; if the appropriate investments in staff pedagogy are not made. However, I digress.
Greg began by reminding us that the pace of change in technology is so rapid that as a society we cannot possibly keep up with everything, especially when we take into account that there are self-learning algorithms in play and that Microsoft recently shut down Tay, its AI driven supercomputer. Referring to the current trend of getting coding into as many schools as possible, Greg asked why we need our students to learn to code when the algorithm can do its own coding. There are a lot of obvious responses to the literal question, however, I suspect that Greg was driving at something deeper, questioning the wide-sweeping move towards embedding coding into the curriculum, however authentically that is or is not being done. It is a critique I can understand and share, I am not sold on the need for coding to be embedded into the curriculum. What is being taught that cannot be taught in a different way that does not result in more being added to the workload of teachers?
Greg moved on remark that he would be happy with glacial movement in the design and development of curriculum in NSW. This would mean there is at least some movement as opposed to no movement. I found this interesting. I have no experience with the process of writing a curriculum document, either now or at any point in the past, however, from what I have gleaned from staffroom stories across different schools is that the process is the same but the focus in the new curriculum is simply a little bit different according to the flavour of the decade.
This frustration seems to come back to the supposedly new skills often referred to as twenty-firsty century skills, in particular, (critical) thinking. SInce when, Greg argued, has thinking been a soft skill? I have written about the oddity of twenty-first century skills. With regards to thinking skills, the argument was made across social media that many students (and adults, for that matter) detest actually needing to think for themselves, at least if you ask teachers; whilst they are also used to the game of school wherein they are often drip-fed the information and answers they need to pass the test or exam at the end of the unit.
Greg's fire and passion for the topic was coming through loud and clear as he exhorted the audience to let go and be learners ourselves. Part of this continual learning is about being flexible to each day as we school pedagogical and timetabling structures change to meet the needs of society. There are now many teachers who do not know what their timetable looks like each day until they arrive as it is dependent uopn what their students want or need to learn. THis was exemplified in a video of Rusty from High Tech High. Rusty said that his focus is on asking students what they need to learn in order to achieve the big objective and to act as their guide and mentor as much as their teacher.
Good learning, Greg continued, has always involved STEM subjects integrated together. STEM is another area that I find puzzling. I do not deny that STEM, as individual subject areas are important, by howver, I do question why those subject areas? Why not The Arts, oratory/rhetoric, or philosophy? One of the lessons of my own education that stands out to me was from Year Six with Mr Hawkins (long since retired I suspect). We read The Lighthouse Keeper's Lunch by Ronda Armitage and one of the tasks that we needed to complete was to devise a way to get the Lighthouse Keeper's lunch to him without the seagulls getting into it.
This would be considered a STEM project, however, it was just a way of combining a range of subject areas into one unit for effective teaching. We learned about angles, the hypotenuse, design principles, how to use hot glue guns and balsa wood, addition and subtraction with decimals, some basics of thermodynamics (what if it was a hot lunch and what about his coffee?), some introductory physics relating to gravity, mass, and momentum and that is simply off the top of my head (I think there was also some sort of creative writing task as well, however, cannot recall details about that part). That single unit stands out in my memory as fun, challenging, rewarding, and a highly effective use of teaching time from a single stimulus. It highlights Greg's point that an experiential learning framework can be part of the larger picture, especially when driven by an inquiry cycle.
Greg changed tack now, remarking that he no longer talks about improving schools. That conversation has been going on for over a hundred years and arguably has made no impact; they look the same, the pedagogy is often the same, much of the content is the same. The issue around schools is not that we need to improve them but that we need to transform them; and to this end STEM is merely a lens to look through, not the sole thing that we should be doing as STEM is driven by the business model, they are skills that business need. However, the business-driven model has not worked thus far for education and I trust that we all know the saying relating insanity and repetition.
There is no silver bullet or panacea in education as it is far to complex and varied and so we need, as teachers, to be able to adapt to what the demand is. There is change happening in many schools, however, as Lisa Rodgers remarked at FutureSchools this year there are pockets of excellence but the distribution is uneven.
This need to grow and adapt should be driven by the lead learner, which I saw from another congress should always be the Principal. As part of their leadership they should be modelling what Greg refers to as the three Rs, however, rather than reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic, it should be radical, relentless, and resilient. This should be Principals empowering teachers to truly transform their classrooms. Simply putting new technology into old classrooms merely results in old classes with expensive technology and no transformation unless there has been pedagogicla development. This need for transformation is the radial urgency of the now according to Greg.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have missed any articles in my EduTECH 2017 series, you can find them all on this page.
"I'm yet to have a student tell me they can't use technology in class because they haven't had professional development on it."
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 was through a media pass provided by the organisers.
I was particularly looking forward to this presentation from Kim Maksimovic (@Kmakly). The discussion of I'm not good at tech is one that I hear from both teachers and from students. This issue of self-efficacy around the use of technology is a significant one for both students and teachers given the dependence in so many areasfor technology in our school and general society. The term digital native is one that comes up a lot and it has entered common parlance in society, yet there are a lot of issues with the binary interpretation of digital nativness (such as here and here).
Kim began by outlining the historical context of Pymble Ladies College (PLC) and that the school began their Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) around twenty years ago. PLC has a long history of having an IT Integrator role on staff, whose purpose is to keep up to tdate with new technology and an understand of its use in pedagogical practice. This then allows them to be able to work with teachers, helping them understand how they can achieve their goals in flass through appropraite and authentic use of technology. It is a critical role and one that I am seeing more and more of across the state.
Kim next introduced us to Annie, a Year Twelve student who identified as having low self-efficacy with technology yet identified a need and founded the school's Entrepreneur society to promote links between current and former students along with Alumni. This is an incredibly powerful connection yet one that I really one see occurring in private schools. I would love to hear from anyone who has some thoughts on why that is. Is there some sort of cultural difference that creates the environment in which old boys / old girls networks are formed and maintained in private school schools but not state schools? Is it financial? Is it purely tradition? I would be very interested in people's thoughts on this area. But I am getting off point.
Students are often consumers of digital media and we need to encourage them to refocus their use of technology to productive learning and creation of content. On the back of this, Kim posed a question to the audience; what does it mean to be good at technology? This is an interesting question and I wonder how different our responses to that question would be. The question is complicated by a range of actors identified by Chris Sacco in this tweet. To that end, I have set up an open Google Form asking that question and have included it below.
As part of the Entreprenuer Society, a group of students attended the Amazon Web Summit and one stuent was quoted as saying that "...as someone who had little interest in the tech industry, I found it absolutely amazing to be able to participate in this experience. For another student it highlighted the stark gender inequality in the tech industry and that they "...feel empowered to explore [technology and its endless potentials] in order to create a movement of advancement for the future" (quotes here).
These comments highlight that just because our students now have been born in a time where technology use is ubiquitous and embedded in many ways into the fabric of our society, this does not mean that they are digital natives. While they absolutely are if we are referring to the time in which they are born, this is rarely the context in which the term is used. Having smart phone in your hand regularly from an early age is not indiative of being able to utilise that device (or other digital technology) either effectively or appropiately. I also feel it is worth noting that not being a supposed digital native is also not indicative of a lack of self-efficacy with technology. Many teachers using technology brilliantly and trying new things are from Generation X and many teachers who are not comfortable with tehnology are from Generation Y.
One strategy to support those who self-identify as having low self-efficacy with technology is to leverage the help of those who profess to high self-efficacy; a structure of students as experts. I have seen structures in schools wherein the technical support is provided by a student body, tech ninjas, and their services are bookable. There are lots of ways of managing this kind of structure depending on the school context.
Part of being a teacher, Kim commented, is about being a learner first. We need to acknowledge what we know, however, we also need to acknowledge what we do not know and seek assistance in filling those gaps, including technologically. I'm not good at IT is, in my opinion, a cop out excuse these days. When there are so many tutorial videos freely available on so many aspects of using technology I cannot see a valid excuse for not engaging (except perhaps for retiring in the next twelve months). Kim then quoted Michael Fullan who remarked that pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator. For me, this means selecting technology based upon what we need or want to achieve pedagogically rather than choosing the lesson based on the shiny new tool, as Paul Hamilton shared form his experiences here.
Another strategy for helping students to utilise technology effectively and appropraitely is to work with them to explore, build and maintain their own networks. One way that we can help our students with this is to build up inter-school networks and events such makerfaires, coding clubs, or any number of other similar groups.
Kim's presentation was interesting. I enjoyed hearing from someone who had some suggestions for working with students who self-identify as having low self-efficacy with technology and had some strategies to support those students. If you work in an IT Integrator/eLearning role and can add to this conversation, feel free to add your suggestions in the comments or let me know over Twitter.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have missed any of the articles in the EduTECH 2017 series, you can find them here.
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 was due to a media pass provided by the conference organisers.
The morning tea break followed the plenary session and then it was off to the Higher Ed Leaders conference to hear Jack Hylands talking about preparing students for the economies of the future. It was a small group in this congress, however, Jack began by giving the small group the good news about statistics on the Australian Higher Education sector.
I find these stats rather interesting as they are in contrast to the often negative message we receive about Australian education in the media as a whole. Jack continued on by telling us that there is so much focus on the payment side of higher education that it distracts from other areas and that the deregulation of universities has resulted in increasing enrolment numbers year on year across a significant number of degree courses. This may sound like it is a good thing, however, the result of ongoing enrolment increases has been a lack of focus on the need to continue innovating and developing the courses and the devlivery of courses.
This is an interesting point. I have written before about my own initial teacher education and much of it (and I suspect the vast majority of degrees in most universities around the country) are delivered through a combination of lectures and workshops, with the workshops being a mixture of lecture-drive theory and actual hands-on workshop (the ration depending on the actual course/topic/tutor). There are so many degrees that do not need a lecture, wherein the main concept that needs to be learned in that lecture can be distilled into a few sentences without all of the fluff that is added in to fill out the hour long timeslot. This lack of focus on continuously innovating and improving courses needs to change.
Jack then commented that graduate unemployment is at its highest preak since the recession in the early 1990s. I personally believe this is a major problem and is the result of the removal of placement caps within university courses. As long as Commonwealth funding continues to come through for each student who enrols, then why would there be a need to cap place numbers in courses? This focus on money has resulted in a glut of teachers (except within particular subject areas and in particular geographical locations), pharmacists (my wife's professional background and in a similar situation as teaching with regard to the number of underemployed and unemployed professionals), and lawyers to name just a few. Universities continue to produce high numbers of graduates in industries and professions whom they will struggle to find full-time work.
I went looking for data to support the above and was unable to find anything (in a quick search) to support either my belief or Jack's statistics. What I did find was the Graduate Careers Australia GradStats report from December 2015 which remarked that "...figures do indicate that the longer-term prospects for those with higher education qualifications remain very positive" (p.5). This is in contrast to this article on the ABC News website which cited research by the National Institute of Labour Studies indicating that the proportion of new graduates in full time employment dropped from 56.4% to 41.7% between 2008 to 2014. Jack remarked that market-based mechanics has not worked for higher education and I would add to that that is has not worked for primary or secondary education either.
When the goal of so many stakeholders in society is go to uni and that is the measure of success, with so many employment positions requiring a degree (irrespective of the ability to actually do the job) there are two flow-on effects. Firstly, TAFE and the Trades are devalued, with massive funding cuts to TAFE over the last decade and falling numbers of trades and apprenticeships in the same time period, do not see an argument otherwise. Secondly, to stand out, you need to have a better degree. A Bachelor's degree used to indicate that you were a cut above, that you were driven, focused, able to articulate yourself well in both written and spoken forms. Now, it seems that everyone has a Bachelor degree and to stand out you need to have a Masters, if not a PhD.
The domesetic funding model that drives this increasing funding model is not sustainable over the long term in its current incarnation, yet the Australian government wants to continue telling our prospective international students that we have the best higher education system in the world. Jack indicated that this is compounded by the fact that there are a number of multi-nationals who have removed the need to hold a particular degree to attai entry-level employmentas the ability to demonstrate competency to do the core task is more important than waving a piece of paper around. I wrote somethign similar in one of my articles about my own initiall teacher education, that my results in the high school finishing exam were not indicative of the kind of tertiary student I would be just as my university results were not indicateive of the kind of teacher I would be. That said, there needs to be a balance.
The other challenge for higher education is that they are no longer necessarily the gatekeepers of knowledge, as has been their role in centuries past. With the proliferation of the inernet and knowledge being freely available as a result, the role of higher education as gatekeepers has passed. To highlight this point, Jack then quoted some statistics from The New Work Mindset published by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) around the changes in our working future.
Jack introduced us to Reggie, citing that Reggie had particular needs around the structure of his learning compared to a regular full-time student. The standardised course which applies to everybody is fine; as long as it can also be personalised on a needs basis to meet the needs of individuals. As an example of this, Jack mentioned the ME310 Design Innovation course at Stanford University.
"Students in ME310 take on real world design challenges brought forth by corporate partners. Unlike many other academic engineering projects, which require students to optimize one variable, students must design a complete system while being mindful of not only the primary function but also the usability, desirability, and societal implications. Throughout one academic year, student teams prototype and test many of their design concepts and in the end create a full proof-of-concept system that demonstrates their ideas. "
This changes the conceptualisation of a university when the focus of the university is not on the traditional lecture and tutorial model of delivery. To further highlight what can be one to reimagine that traditional model, Jack spoke next about MissionU. This university model promotes free tuition for the life of your studies, with 15% garnishing of your salary for a three year period once you are earning over fifty thousand dollars (read more here), which sounds rather similar to our funding model here in Australia. The degrees themselves are focused on high-growth industries and include industry partnerships to foster networking and, presumably, graduate employment.
There is a future, and a potentially bright future for higher education. The challenge is going to be evolving to suit the new needs of emerging skills, economies, and our societal needs.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have missed any in this EduTECH2017 series, you can find the full list here.