"Learning and Wellbeing are inextricably linked."
- Anne Johnston
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 was through a media pass provided by the conference organisers.
Following Brad Loiselle's presentation in the plenary session was a panel discussion about the United Nation's and seventeen sustainable development goals. The panel consisted of Caroline McMillan (Vice-Chancellor, University of Newcastle), Pam Anders (Director of Public Engagement, Oxfam Australia), Dermot O'Gorman (CEO, WWF Australia), Anne Johnstone (Principal, Ravenswood School for Girls) and was chaired by Scott Davidson (Principal, Cabramatta Public School). It had been on the schedule in between Carol Dweck and Brad Loiselle, however, due to the atrocious weather, the flight of one of the panellists was delayed.
The panel was interesting. It very much came across as pre-scripted, however, there was some fire and passion amongst the panellists and some interesting responses. The first question was about the future for students and the discussion on that point appeared to centre around the global context, glocalisation; and the need for students to have dispositions towards continual learning and skills development as the market changes and different industries come and go and the skillsets required change over time. We are teaching students now who wll potentially see the change of the century.
The second question was how do we optimise quality education for all students. Given the context of the panel focus I took this to mean all students globally rather than just all students in Australia, and Anne Johnston's quote at the top of the article came in at this point. The task of optimising quality education for students from such disparate learning contexts as suburban Mumbai to rural China, the Pacific Islands, Europe, and of course Australia is an incredibly challenging one. We are unable to find consensus on what good education looks like and how it should be measured in Australia, I can only wonder at how that consensus would be achieved internationally.
It was noted that there are eight men in the world who own the equivalent wealth of fifty percent of the poorest of the global population, an astounding yet also unsurprising statistic. In Australia alone there is a gender-based wage gap of sixteen percent, exacerbated by the (uncited) fact that one percent of Australia's wealthiest own the wealth equivalent of seventy percent of our country's poorest.
I then heard a comment that I have not heard before, nothing about us without us. Apparently that is rather surprising. Once I Googled it to find out what it meant I realised that I had heard the sentiment before, just not expressed in that way. It was an interesting comment on the back of the Youth Brains Trust that Jane Burns spoke about in her masterclass the previous day; and one which makes a lot of sense. Pam pointed out that we need to try to avoid being the victims of change, that we need to embrace it early and in doing so guide the change positively.
The remark that talent is everywhere whilst opportunity is not struck me as interesting as that is almost the opposite of what we tell our students. There are plenty of opportunities out there, you just need to have the drive and work ethic to see them and take advantage of them is a message I have heard many times in many different parts of education. It seems an interesting juxtaposition that on one hand we try to encourage our students by telling them there are lots of opportunities and that hard work and effort are all that is needed whilst also saying that there is lots of talent but no opportunities. I suppose then it coems down to what is beign defined as an opportunity and an opportunity for what, exactly.
Sally-Ann Williams commented on twitter that Pathways programs are doing a lot of good in resolving the issue of there supposedly being a lack of opportunities. The follow up to the opportunity remark is that talent (and hard work!) should be overcome any background problems if there is equitable education access, which is, I think , the heart of the UN's goal for equitable access to a quality education for all students rrespective of their geographic or socio-economic location, which is a link back to Brad Loiselle's talk and overcoming a disadvantaged background.
This is, I believe where technology can play a role and where glocalisation can be a positive influence through the scalability of technological communication and the ability to influence change as has been seen through the development of the Earth Hour movement, the Arab Spring a few years ago and the I'll ride with you social help that came on the back of a Lindt Cafe terrorist attack to support Muslims afraid of the social backlash.
We as educators need to set our students up with the skills, knowledge and disposition to tackle social justice and inequality issues to change our world. As Kirschty Birt commented on Twitter, it is dfficult for one person to make a difference, but people connected by technology can change the world.
The panel session ended with a modified Trumpism; let's make the planet great again, and then it was time for the morning break. The panel session was interesting, but not an event that had a place in a keynote plenary, in my opinion. It would have been better suited to the individual sessions, where the audience could perhaps have been involved with some question and answer time, interrogation of responses and the research to back the statistics being mentioned.
Thank you for reading this. If you have missed any articles in the EduTECH 2017 series, you can find them here.
“If you are the expert on flipped learning, be generous and be polite”
– The Primary School Discussion Panel
Following the opening address by Rupert Denton (@rupertdenton) and the Keynote by Jon Bergmann (@jonbergmann), both of which I reviewed in the previous article, the conference delegates split off into their first session. I attended a Primary School Discussion panel consisting of Jon Bergmann, Matthew Burns (@burnsmatthew) and Kirsty Tonks. It was an intimate group, with around twenty delegates in the room to ask questions.
One of the questions was about strategies to check that students have watched the video. A useful strategy that was offered up was to have students submit an entry ticket as a summary of what they have learned, or that an interesting question related to the flipped content needs to be offered to the class for exploration during the subsequent lesson or unit.
The question was asked about what do students prefer vis-a-vis flipped learning compared to traditional pedagogical approaches. Matt Burns spoke to this and indicated that he actually asked his students for their thoughts on this and that it was typically a mix between some preferring straight flipped, some preferring straight lecture and some preferring a mixture of flipping and lecture and which was typically around 70% / 10% / 20%. Looking back at that conversation, I wonder if the results are influenced by how much which teacher-made videos are used in comparison to teacher-curated as the research by Peter Whiting which I referred to in the previous article and will write about in more depth in a later article indicated that that can have a significant impact on student academic outcomes.
This also fed into a question about how to manage the forest of hands in the air requesting assistance during the group learning time and understanding who wants to be rescued from thinking and who is unable to continue without assistance because they do not understand a concept. A very simple solution was offered up, and it was also pointed out that squeaky wheels sometimes are the ones which do not need the attention.
A criticism that is often leveled at flipped learning is dealing with students not completing the homework, now referred to as the individual learning. The response really is quite simple. Students often do not do assigned homework in the traditional context because it is either too difficult, takes too long, is too boring, so this problem is not new at all. However, flipped learning can encourage students to complete the homework. One of the keys to a successful flipped classroom is that the flipped content is succinct, therefore the individual learning space for a single class should not be longer than perhaps ten to twenty minutes allowing time to watch, rewatch, make notes, and answer and also ask some questions based on the flipped content.
Someone asked a question about whether there has been a noticeable age where the shift from in-flip to out-flip is a good choice. Jon responded that from what he has seen, the tipping point appears to be in Year Three. Prior to that, in-flipping definitely appears to be a better choice for implementing flipped learning, while from Year Four onwards, out-flipping appears to be the best way to utilise flipped learning. Within Year Three, it appears that it will depend on the particular cohort of students as to which option will work best, or perhaps even use the year to transition from in-flip to out-flip.
There were a range of other issues discussed to varying degrees. Recording the marking and feedback of student work was posited as being a worthwhile way of providing higher quality and quanitity of feedback, particularly in writing, and projects within the applied sciences and the creative arts. We were reminded that how we think we sound is not how we actually sound. The way our voice sounds on a recording is our actual voice and irrespective of whether we like the sound of our voice on a video, it is what our students hear everyday anyway. Essentially, tough luck and get over it!
The panel were asked about differentiation in a flipped classroom and whether multiple videos are recorded to suit each level of learning needed in the classroom. One suggestion was that you record your video as normal and then when you reach the point where the content is going to step up to a higher level simply say in the video that the next level of content is for Group X and then give the next level of the concept or skill in that section of the video.
The next interesting discussion point was around the benefits to utilising flipped learning. We are often told that it is a good thing when students ask questions, and in many cases that is most certianly true. However, there are times when it is not a good thing for students to ask questions. One of the benefits of flipped learning is that you can give the full explanation of the concept or skill being addressed without being asked a question that you were going to answer in your next sentence, or any other of a dozen types of interruptions that make a five minute explanation take fifteen minutes.
Discussion returned to homework, and I asked Jon, via e-mail after the conference if he could elucidate vis-a-vis his thoughts on homework as it related to flipped learning and the research around homework and what education thinkers such as Alfie Kohn (@alfiekohn) have said about homework and he advised that he has written a book outlining in detail his thoughts around homework and how to adress it as part of flipped learning, Solving the homework problem by flipping the learning, which will be released in April 2017. Jon also reminded the audience that the evidence around homework is not as conclusive as Alfie Kohn has made it out to be.
The panel was asked whether flipped learning works with disadvantaged or those students who might be considered academically challenging or disengaged. Some of the best results are being seen with students who are disengaged, such as Clintondale High School who saw a significant reduction in negative and anti-social behaviour and a rise in student engagement and academic outcomes for their students.Part of this success comes with using a single system for managing student access to the flipped content, a learning management system or LMS. The audience was told that it typically takes two to three to really become comfortable and au fait with a learning management system and then another year or two after that to really decide whether or not it is suitable and works within the specific context.
The panel was once again a very informative and interesting session. It was great to hear from other primary educators and get a feel for what challenges and concerns they are dealing with. As always, thank you for reading, and if you missed the previous article in this series, you can find it by clicking here. It will likely be early next week before I am able to get the next article out, however, I will aim to have it up on Tuesday afternoon.