"Important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning."
- Attributed to Carol Dweck
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 is under a media pass provided by the event organisers.
The process of selecting sessions to attend once again resulted in a spreadsheet of each stream with session details, much frustration as I realised that two sessions I wanted to attend were on at the same time, and balancing the challenge of getting to as many sessions as possible with my own mental health. I am quite happy with my selection and am looking forward to the first day of EduTECH.
It will begin early, as I am co-hosting a webinar with Ryan Gill focusing on Cultures of Thinking from the ClickView office in Pyrmont, just a short stroll away from the ICC (click here for more details and to register), and it will end, quite possible, rather late, as I am attending the EduTECH Gala Dinner (I am particularly looking forward to hearing Sam Kekovich as, like many, my knowledge of him is from the Australia Day lamb advertisements).
The opening plenary sessions look rather interesting, with Professor Carol Dweck delivering the opening keynote. I am passingly familiar with her work, but have never had the opportunity to hear her speak on it before and am looking forward to hearing about her theories on Growth Mindset than what I have had the opportunity (or time) to do so in the past. I have heard some educators comment that they believe growth mindset is an overdone theory, but I certainly have not heard enough about it to comment either way. I will of course be live-tweeting and will hopefully be able to expand my understanding of growth mindset.
Following Carol Dweck is an interesting panel session titled A Global Context for Education in meeting the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This seems an interesting topic to have in a plenary session, and the personnel involved are a broad mix of education and corporate/charity. I have to profess a complete ignorance of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development goals as a concept, though a quick look at the list indicates that achieving all of the goals would be tantamount to a miracle. With the background of the individuals involved in the panel, I look forward to hearing their take on this broad list of goals and how we can contribute to them as educators.
The final session in the plenary session is being delivered by Bradley Loiselle and will be addressing the changing needs of education in emerging countries such as India. Specifically, the abstract for this presentation indicates that technology will be the equaliser, giving the impression that this talk will focus on how to put the technology in the hands of educators and students in those emerging countries in, presumably, an appropriate and sustainable way.
Following the plenary sessions is where my juggling act begins. I need to get to each stream at least once, allow myself time to eat (at least) lunch, give myself time to decompress and mitigate conference-itis, as well as get some writing done and catch up with colleagues and members of my online professional learning network.
I plan to start in the Higher Education stream, with Jack Hylands' presentation on Preparing Students for the economies of the future as the start facts presented by Jan Owen at FutureSchools earlier this year highlight this as being an interesting insight into how the higher education sector is adjusting to the demands placed on them by our changing society and work forces. I will be staying on theme, though shifting across to the Tertiary Education IT Leaders conference, to hear Professor Louise Stoll speak about professional learning communities and why building those networks and relationships is important.
Following Professor Stoll's presentation, I am looking forward to Kim Maksimovic speak in the K-12 Ed Leaders stream on the topic of engaging students who lack self-efficacy with technology. This whole topic is an interesting one as it really destroys the notion of digital native vs digital immigrant (which I have written about briefly before, see here). I have seen a fantastic re-imagining of the gap between those who are au fait with technology and those who are not, however, I can find no trace of it in my previous writings. It was a video shown at a conference, and it was a brilliant discussion of the difference and why digital native/immigrant was not an appropriate way of conceptualising the gap.
The next session, presented by Greg Whitby, is of particular interest to me both with my teacher hat on and my ClickView hat. Schooling in a one-to-one world is billed to be an analysis and exploration of the frameworks within which one-to-one schooling operates and how these shape pedagogy. One-to-one is not quite at the level that I would call pervasive, however, the terminology is now widely known and the vast majority of schools that I have visited this year have either moved or are in the process of moving to this scenario. The one school that I have visited who have indicated that there are no plans to roll out one-to-one have done so because of the extreme low socio-economic status of the area and the school )I did not enquire into their RAM funding as that would clearly not have been appropriate).
After Greg's session, I have about twenty minutes for a mental break. I will most likely spend it reviewing the breakout session that I will be presenting, yet will ensure that I take some time to stop and breath. The lunch break will be shortened so that I can ensure things are ready to start on time as immediately afterwards I will be presenting three x thirty minute breakout sessions. I rang the contact person to chat abut what I wanted to achieve and discovered that, where I would have been excited to have thirty people in each session, that over one hundred had chosen to attend my breakout session on flipped learning. There may have been some stunned silence on my end of the phone. I have had to tweak how I wanted to run the session due to the numbers, however, I have still been able to flip the session (pre-learning video below) to ensure that the session is as useful as possible to attendees. I have also had a few people in my twitter network indicate that they are attending which increases the (self-imposed) pressure.
After the breakout sessions is the afternoon tea break, which I will undoubtedly spend coming down from the adrenaline and nerves; and hopefully engaging in some follow up discussions with various attendees from the session, before heading into the final plenary sessions for two very interesting talks.
Abdul Chohan will be presenting on utilising classroom technologies to lead effective pedagogical change. The pedagogy should absolutely lead the choice in technology rather than the other way around, and it is a difficult balance to find. Schools that I have visited who have succesfully implemented various changes including one-to-one, makerspace, project based learning, flipped learning, have done so by beginning the change by asking what the desired impact on pedagogy and learning is. The conversations that I have had with Ryan Gill around Cultures of Thinking and the courses that he runs at Masada College; and the work they do with other schools in that area, all stem from asking what is the desired outcome, what is the pedagogical need or question driving the choice to engage with cultures of thinking. The dog/pedagogy should wag the tail/technology, not the other way around.
Finishing the day, before the networking drinks and gala dinner, is Peter Adams who will be addressing PISA, the myths and the facts around the data that emanate from PISA and what we can learn from the success of others. I have heard talks on PISA in the past (this presentation by Brett Salakas for example) and the arguments for an against PISA are plentiful. I look forward to hearing Peter expand on the facts of what PISA tells us and what, if anything, we can learn from other countries and their own PISA results.
Thank you for reading through this article. If you are heading to EduTech, let me know via Twitter as it would be great to catch up with some of my PLN, especially over dinner and a few drinks if you are attending the Gala Dinner.
For all articles in this series on EduTECH 2017, please click here.
“We put finished works up, but how often do we put up work / learning in progress to model that learning is an ongoing process?”
After listening to Peter Whiting (@Mr_van_W) speak about his action research (which I wrote about here), I settled in to hear Ryan Gill (@ryanagill) speak about Delving Deeper – developing critical and creative thinking in flipped classrooms. I was curious about what I would here in this for two reasons. Firstly, I had not been in the room for part one, but the twitter conversations I had seen looked very interesting
The other reason I was interested was that critical and creative thinking are two characteristics which are firmly embedded in the Australian Curriculum and are spoken about by some as being twenty-first century skills, which gives me the impression these people are being either facetious and acknowledging that there is in fact nothing new about them whatsoever, or they are utilising them as buzzwords (click here for buzzword bingo…great for your next staff meeting) and are ignoring, again, the fact that these characteristics or skills have in fact been around for millennia.
Ryan began by discussing his journey through Visible Thinking and Cultures of Thinking and providing an overview as to what they are and how they are related to his flipped class journey, which has been ongoing with Year Eleven and Year Twelve courses for the last four years at Masada College. What Ryan was telling us about Cultures of Thinking and the handouts he provided us with looked and sounded very similar to what I heard from some presenters during the Teaching for Thinking forum I attended last year (read those articles here).
Cultures of Thinking originates from Project Zero at Harvard Graduate School of Education and makes explicit a range of thinking routines that fit into different contexts and have a different thinking move appropriate for that routine. The routine chosen is contextual, with pedagogy being the driving tool behind the routine chosen. Ryan made it clear that many of the thinking routines are already being used by teachers, however, they do not necessarily think of them as routines but as a strategy for student engagement.
Cultures of thinking makes explicit the thinking that teachers are asking students to do, enabling teachers to explicitly teach students’ strategies to think more deeply about their learning. An example that Ryan provided was to use a thinking strategy such Zoom In rather than asking the class a few questions. As he reminded the group, no thinking means no learning is going on…are your students actually thinking or are they getting through the stuff?
Ryan next spoke about cultural forces which impact and define our classroom and which are important for our students’ growth as thinkers and learners. Ryan said that rich and deep thinking often requires slowing right down and allowing time for the thinking to occur at deeper than surface levels, which is something we do not often do as educators. I have tried to encourage my students this year to not make a guess straight away or to call out when they think they know an answer to a question but to take at least five seconds to stop and think about it and I have to admit that I have not been particularly successful in breaking some of the thinking habits of my students; they still throw their hands straight in the air, even when explicitly told that it is thinking time or brainstorming time. Ryan showed us a video of Debbie O’Hara speaking about using the explanation game as a way of teaching students to think more deeply and more critically.
As a follow on from the video, Ryan asked us to think about the cultural forces that we observed in the video and to consider how they impacted upon the students’ learning. It was a rich discussion with a range of ideas and thoughts. Ryan acknowledged that we all operate within our own context and that every context has constraints handed down and enforced from those hierarchically above us. Within those constraints, however, we should work to create the culture that we want in our class.
The level to which we should allow our students to muddle or struggle with concepts as part of their learning was raised. Ryan spoke about it being an important part of the learning process and that the discovery or Eureka moment is a powerful factor for further learning, engagement and retention of learning. Furthermore, allowing kids to remain in the muddle can foster curiosity, resilience, and creativity. Helping students to remain in a safe muddle, a place of cognitive dissonance can depend largely on the questions and the language that is used within class discussions, a concept which Jennie Magiera (@MsMagiera) raised during her Masterclass at the FutureSchools Conference this year (read part one here).
Ryan spoke to us about The Putin Principle, though I do not remember the context, and asked us to consider the above image, and explain who we thought was correct using a thinking routine called claim, support, question. It was an interesting process and the range of ideas about the veracity of any one position espoused in the Slugville Election was intriguing, and Ryan played the devil’s advocate will a significant amount of delight, challenging the ideas presented by various delegates. The process reminded me of The Obi-Wan Principle:
Ryan used this exercise to point out that our own biases and points of view can unconsciously influence our students’ ideas and points of view. Additionally, he added, our language can either encourage or discourage our students and that we need to be aware of our words and our meaning.
Ryan closed by using a zoom out exercise, showing us a small part of an image to start with and asking us to consider what we can observe and what impressions that gives us of what and where the image is. As he showed us each level of the image, we spent a few minutes discussing as a group our observations and ideas on what we could see and what factors influenced our assumptions about our observations. It was a very interesting process and a clever way of closing out, using one of the thinking routines we had been discussing.
I thoroughly enjoyed Ryan’s session and would have liked to have been able to be in two places at once so that I could listen to Part One whilst I was also in listening to Peter Whiting. If you are interested in learning more about cultures of thinking, I have included links to various resources throughout this article. Additionally, you can get involved with the cultures of thinking chat on twitter using #cotchat or looking up Project Zero. Thank you for reading and I would appreciate any feedback you may have on this article. If you have missed the previous articles in the series, you can find the full list here.