“The methods that will most effectively minimize the ability of intruders to compromise information security are comprehensive user training and education. Enacting policies and procedures simply won't suffice. Even with oversight the policies and procedures may not be effective: my access to Motorola, Nokia, ATT, Sun depended upon the willingness of people to bypass policies and procedures that were in place for years before I compromised them successfully”
- Attributed to Kevin Mitnick
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 is through a media pass provided by the event organisers.
Friday. A day of rejoicing for teachers, and a day where the attendance at the afternoon sessions of a conference dwindle as people rush to make their planes and trains home. A day where you are often able to have good quality conversations with speakers after their sessions as the crowd numbers in the afternoons are lower. Friday at EduTECH 2017 for me will begin in the School Business Management congress with a panel discussion on facility management and sustainable resourcing. This promises to be an interesting start to the morning given the vast number of capital building projects I have seen going on at a wide range of schools this year across all sectors.
Following this, I will be moving to the IT Directors and Managers congress where Professor Richard Buckland of the School of Computer Science and Engineering at UNSW will be presenting on cyber-security and the challenges that school IT Directors and Managers face. There are many challenges in this area, not least of which is students who like to challenge themselves and see if they can beat the school defenses. Beyond that, there have been a wave of high profile cyber terrorist attacks this year (such as the WannaCry attack on the British NHS system reported here) and there has long been discussion of concerns around privacy of student data and the implementation of NAPLAN online.
In a complete thematic shift, the Future Library congress to hear Chelsea Wright speak on VR, AR, and the future of libraries is next on my timetable. This is an area of professional interest both as a teacher and as someone working for ClickView. I have toyed with AR in the classroom using Aurasma, and have heard a range of talks on the topic before (this one, for example) and while I can see potential for it as a genuine pedagogical tool, VR/AR is just not quite there yet; either in the resource and content or in the equity of access.
A mental health / writing break follows Chelsea and then it is the mid-morning break for networking before heading off to the Tertiary IT Leaders congress to hear Robert Livingstone speak on the topic of protecting data from accidental data breaches and (deliberate) cyber crime. There will be, I suspect, some parallels between this session and the earlier session with Richard Buckland and it will be very interesting to hear what advise crosses over the congress-divide and is common to both.
The final session before the lunch break will be spent in the IT Directors and Managers congress with Michael O'Leary speaking on the current trends in eLearning. Given the nature of ClickView, this session is of professional interest; however, as a teacher who has experimented with a range of eLearning and LMS arrangements over my teaching career, it will be very interesting to find out what is currently being viewed as best practice in this space.
Jared Cooney Horvath will be speaking about neuroscience and specifically, about what lessons can be taken from neuroscience and applied to education within the VET/RTO Leaders congress. I am particularly interested in this session as there has been a lot of conversation on social media in the last six months around whether or not neuroscience that has been pulled across into education does actually have a place in education or whether the results in the laboratory belong there. Given the abstract talks about memory and learning processes, I am very curious to hear where cognitive learning theory comes into play and the relationship that Jared sees it having with education.
Well-being and stress is next on my timetable, with a session presented by Dr. Caroline West as part of the Workplace Learning congress. This is a phenomenally important issue in education with the annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Wellbeing Survey results released in February 2017 indicating that instances of sleeping problems, depression, burnout, and traumatic stress among the nearly two-thirds of all School Principals who responded, are all around double the incidence of the general population, with some research, noted in this document by the University of Western Australia, indicating that "[t]eachers report the highest level of occupational stress in Australia, the United Kingdom, and America." It is an area of great need and there is arguably an impact on student learning outcomes when they have highly stressed teachers. I very much look forward to hearing this presentation.
The final presentation before the closing plenary session will be in the K-12 Leaders congress with Professor Richard Telford speaking on about the cost to our children of the under-prioritisation of physical education. The abstract refers to randomised controlled trials, that holy grail of research methodology, and the evidence stemming from research of that nature. I do not think that there many teachers who would disagree that physical education receives less time than what it should, however, there are requirements to adhere to teaching times vis-a-vis how much time is dedicated to given subject areas (in NSW Government schools at least), and PE only receives two hours despite the purported health and academic benefits therein. This is another session that I am looking forward to as the growing issues around obesity are going to cause significant problems for our country's economy in the future unless we arrest the issue now.
The remaining sessions are back in the plenary setting with presentations from Philip Heath and Jan Owen AM. The title of Phillip's presentation, Darkingjung Barker: a lesson in closing the education gap, very much gives me the impression that there is a focus on Aboriginal education. I am intrigue to hear about this, particularly if there are meaningful strategies that can be taken away and applied in the classroom. I have attended a staff Professional Development workshop on Indigenous Craft and embedding Indigenous culture within the curriculum which was led by an Aboriginal woman and it was genuinely fantastic, one of the most engaging professional development sessions that I have attended. She made a comment which resonated with me that (paraprhasing) the feedback she hears is that many teachers do not engage with Aboriginal culture in the classroom because they are afraid; of getting their information wrong, of offending someone, of using the cultural knowledge inappropriately. This rings true for those with whom I have spoken to and, if I am being honest, my own feelings.
Closing out proceedings is Jan Owen AM on Embracing the New Work Order. Given that the title is the same as the presentation she delivered at FutureSchools earlier this year, I suspect it will be the same content. I have reviewed that presentation here, however, I will stay for the talk to ascertain if it is different.
After that, a train trip back to Gosford to see my wife and daughter and a weekend to recover from the tiring nature of EduTECH. I look forward to meeting up with you if you are going to be there (let me know on Twitter), and watch for the live-Tweeting from each session; it will, as always, fly thick and fast. I will endeavour to storify each block of sessions, as much for my own sanity as anything else, and I hope to get my articles written and published quickly while people are still talking about EduTECH.
If you have missed any of the articles in the EduTECH 2017 series, you can find the full list here.
Welcome back for this, the final article in my review of FutureSchools 2016. If you missed the previous article, you can find it here. I had looked at the agenda for the afternoon session and was not particularly excited by what I saw and did consider leaving early, but made the decision to stay and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the final session and how engaging both Marissa Peters and Jim Sill were.
Marissa Peters is an ICT Specialist from St John’s Primary School in East Frankston, Victoria. Marissa’s presentation title of The Dreams You Dream! The Use of Virtual Reality in the Classroom did not grab my interest as virtual reality (VR) is not something that is on my radar for use in the classroom. Marissa opened by commenting that the world of reality is limited, whereas our imaginations are boundless and that VR takes our five senses and extends them further.
Marissa spoke about Google Cardboard, which I had previously heard of, but never actually known what it was or how it worked. It seems like it has some potential for use in the classroom, but requires smartphones, which, when schools are pushing towards tables, is mildly annoying. That said, I am not sure that it would be comfortably usable with a tablet.
Marissa also spoke about how they let the students play in order to become comfortable with the concept of VR, with titles including Minecraft, Titans of Space, Photosphere, Alice and Google Expeditions. Marissa identified that as part of their entry into the VR space, her and her students became consumers rather than creators, which is difficult to change at this point in time. There are some tools out there to allow students to become creators of content, such as Unity 3D.
It was acknowledged that VR takes significant time to embed in place, and to train students and staff in obtaining the most benefit from the experiences, rather than it simply being an interesting gimmick. I can certainly see a place for Google Expeditions in the classroom, however, once again, when we are asking our students to bring tablets into class, it is difficult to turn around and ask that they also bring phones in, particularly in a primary school context.
Marissa closed with a quote attributed to Thomas Edison and posited that as Educators, it should be a motto for us to guide as and remind us to push through failures.
Jim Sill (@MisterSill), Director of Global Development with EdTech Team and his title of The Wild and Reckless World of Creativity was rather ambiguous, and he opened by showing us a clip from Madonna’s 1984 music video for her single Material Girl, telling us that we now all lived in a Twitter world, with the Twitter culture permeating most facets and most societies in the world.Personally, I am a fan of Twitter as a professional development tool and as a tool for learning, and Jim described getting the best use from Twitter as taking a cup, dipping it in a river and having a drink from the cup. “You don’t try and capture the whole river” Jim reminded us, and the admonishment to not worry about keeping up with all of Twitter, which some try to do, or feel that they should be doing, is a useful one, particularly for those new to Twitter.
Jim continued by talking about selfies, selcas (the Korean term for selfie), the toilet selfie (“It does not matter how well dressed you are, you are still taking a photo in the room where you poop!”) and categorised these as a form of self-branding and self-identification which form part of the user’s online footprint. As a side note, I have recently heard digital footprints being referred to instead as digital tattoos, which I think is an interesting and important distinction. The below video by Juan Enriquez speaks to this concept and is well worth watching.
Jim spoke about how YouTube is essentially a hook farm full of ways for teachers to capture students’ interest in a topic, how Instagram has changed our relationships with food, with tourism and with each other and how GoPro makes everything look awesome. Jim commented that many teachers do not try new ideas, new technologies, new pedagogies due to a fear of failure, whether as a result of having been figuratively burnt in the past, or a lack of support from colleagues, they are paralysed by fear, and that fear is the big killer of new ideas and products.
Jim asked us to consider what kind of world we live in and the types of tools that we use to activate and access our students, reminding us that our world, outside the bubble of education and the classroom, does not have a safety net. He invoked Prensky’s notion of the digital native and digital immigrant, not the first time Prensky had been referenced during the conference, and how it is an old concept (the paper linked above was published in 2001) yet it is still used today. Jim told us how because of when he was born, he was a bicycle native. He was born in a time when bicycles were commonplace and everyone had one, yet, they were once considered to be “…diabolical devices of the demon of darkness…full of guile and deceit.”
Jim reminded us that we all started with training wheels on our bicycles, and that the move towards two-wheeled freedom was a gradual one, guided by our elders. In the same way, we should be training our children and our students in how to truly use technology. Jim quoted Mike Welsch as having said that incoming students in his college courses were showing only a superficial familiarity with digital tools. The term digital native should not be used in anything but the general time-frame sense, but that the term digital naives is an accurate descriptor for many students in their ability to meaningfully use digital tools.
We were shown a portion of a 360 video that Jim had taken while travelling by rickshaw in Mumbai, and he spoke about how the use of videos such as this provided options for viewer choice narratives as the viewer chose what to watch, and while this could be a powerful tool, we need to keep asking the question is this relevant or useful to our teaching and learning?
Jim echoed the point that had been made a number of times earlier int he conference that all teachers need to start somewhere on the SAMR model, and that the innovators and early adopters can create a bridge from substitution and augmentation across to modification and redefinition to assist those teachers who are slower to take up technology and assist the way they integrate technology in their teaching.
“Your first few ideas usually suck” we were told, and that the zoom-in metacognitive strategy can help us move beyond the first ideas. Jim said that we should launch early and iterate regularly, with an interesting quote attributed to Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn:
I look back at the very first flipped learning videos I created and I cringe. They are horrible. Dry, slow, stilted, and most definitely uninteresting. Yet they were a starting point, and they have helped me to create better videos. Teachers need to maintain the beginner’s mindset, Jim continued, and that for some reason, education is always expected to be polished, which is unrealistic as it is not. As teachers, we regularly make mistakes, get our words mixed up, do not quite finish our explanations, forget to hand out enough materials for science and any number of other commonplace errors that are easy to make when you are managing a room of thirty very different students. He encouraged us to embrace our mistakes, which is advice that Joel Speranza gave us in relation to flipped learning video creation and, quoting Goethe, that doubt grows with knowledge.
Jim closed with a few thoughts. As teachers, we live in a world of creative minds and we need to be careful with those minds, lest we stamp out the creativity, whilst encouraging our students to remain young and not become a statistic that we hear about in the news. Embrace creativity and put a saddle on it and have a go; be open with stories of success and of failure to guide our students so they can learn from our mistakes and our good choices and that providing opportunities for our students to share their ideas globally can create powerful connections and turn students into teachers.
Jim’s presentation was energetic and engaging, an excellent speaker to close out the conference with on a Friday afternoon and I am glad that I stayed for both his and Marissa’s sessions. The conference overall was definitely worthwhile attending in my opinion. I had some valuable conversations with a number of people, was able to finally meet some educators that I had been interacting with via Twitter for a while and strengthen connections with others. I am unsure whether I will attend FutureSchools next year, purely from the perspective of it moving to Melbourne and EduTech moving to Sydney.
I hope that you have found some benefit from reading through these review articles, I know that writing them has been a useful process for consolidating my own learnings. As always, thank you for reading.
If you have missed any articles in this review series, please click here to see the full list.
“Minecraft is not a game, it’s a toy.”
– Bron Stuckey
My alarm went off at 5.30am Tuesday morning, and I rolled out of bed, ready for the ninety minute train ride back down to the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. The structure of day two was slightly different. Session one was the same, with two presentations followed by a morning tea break. The session between morning tea and lunch, however, would consist of all the conference streams coming out from their conferences and taking part in a series of roundtables. Delegates had seventeen different roundtables to choose from, across three different thirty minutes slots. The round tables were followed by the lunch break, which led into session three consisting of two more presentations, the afternoon tea break, and then the final presentation of the conference.
After a welcome back for day from chairperson Sue Waters, the day began with the keynote presentation by Bron Stuckey titled Game Inspired Learning – how it offers us a chance to change the paradigm. Game inspired learning is a concept that I have heard discussed, under the banner of ‘gamification’ and I was curious to hear what it was all about, in more depth and from someone who has put the concept into practice.
Bron was very quick to break Game Infusions Learning down into three areas; game design, game-based and game inspired learning and to discuss the subtle difference between the three areas. Bron listed two distinct points for each of the types of game infusion learning.
Game design is about engagement through design, wherein students are involved in designing games as part of the curriculum. Game based learning is about engagement through game play, where games are brought into the curriculum. Game inspired learning, often termed gamification is about engagement that is guided by elements of, or as Bron termed them, ‘atoms’ of gaming being brought into the learning structures, where a gameful approach to the curriculum is mapped out.
Bron provided some examples of applying ‘game atoms’ (game-inspired learning) to non-game situations, which you can see below.
Bron also provided some examples of Game based learning, where game attributes are brought into the curriculum. Two of the examples Bron mentioned were Murder Under the Microscope and Atlantis Remixed, both of which feature a variety of game attributes (including narratives, avatars, levelling, economy, cascading information, feedback, prizes/badges/points, virtual goods, friending) and are game inspired ways of learning curriculum concepts and skills.
There were a number of other game inspired platforms mentioned, including Duolingo, Race to the White House, Undergrad Life run by the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a degree that has been structured using game-inspired principles run by Concordia university, as well as a game-inspired professional development platform and 3D GameLab. Bron also stressed that being game-inspired is not necessarily synonymous with being digital. If game attributes are applied to a learning context, then it does not matter whether it is being done in the digital environment, or in the real environment.
Bron then moved onto the question that I suspect most people were wanting the answer, or at least some insight, to; how to get started. Bron listed four signals types that may indicate a benefit from utilising a game infusion approach, which you can see below.
If any of those four signals are present, then utilising game-design, game-inspired or game-based learning may be a viable and productive option. There are, of course, some potential pitfalls to be aware of. At the end of the day, you arenot building an actual game, you are creating a learning environment with some atoms or attributes of gaming, so it does not need to look and feel like a game necessarily. A few strategies that Bron has noticed increase the chances of successfully implementing game-inspired learning being a gamer yourself (I have that box ticked), leveraging your students current knowledge as to what they like in a game, and utilising platforms such as 3D GameLab to help build the learning structure.
My key learning from hearing Bron speak was that game inspired learning as not as daunting is it sounded or felt, and that in many ways, many of us are likely already utilising some elements of gaming in much of our pedagogical techniques.
“You don’t start the creation of a new amazing building with a tool. You start with a design. So why on earth would you start the creation of an amazing learning experience with an app?”
Following on from Bron, was Paul Hamilton, with a presentation titled Augmented Reality in Education. I had had no experience at all with AR prior to hearing Paul talk, but what he showed me left me somewhat curious. I think that AR holds some potential, but that you would need a significant amount of professional development to effectively implement it.
Paul was quick to differentiate AR and VR from each other. Where VR is immersion in a different, a virtual world, AR is augmenting what we see, by adding an additional layer over the top. Paul showed us an example of what this can look like, via a video, which I have found on youtube and you can see below.
Afterwards, Paul discussed his first efforts to utilise AR, and that it was a complete flop. It had no impact because the lesson had been designed around the tool – the iPad and AR, rather than around the learning goal, and that Paul indicated that was something of a Eureka moment for him. Paul believes that we, as teachers, are creators and designers of learning and that when we design a learning experience around an app, that we negate all of our training.
Paul indicated that he also utilises QR codes as part of the AR process as these are easier for students to utilise than hyperlinks written on a board, but that anecdotal evidence indicates greater learning retention and application from utilising the AR as opposed to the QR codes. Paul also listed some of the apps that he recommends using for AR planning and programming, including Aurasma, Daqri, Layar and Blippar, as well as plugged his book, Augmented Reality in Education, which is available, free, in the iBookstore.
The biggest key to success, according to Paul, was having a strong and genuine connection between the object of learning and the trigger. Paul believes that this is critical to a successful implementation of AR in education, and it does make sense. We say that learning must be genuine and authentic and significant to learners, and it is logical to apply this same thinking to the utilisation of any technologies in an educational setting.
The next article will cover the Breakout and Round table sessions, which went until lunch, and maybe some observations from the expo itself. Thank you for reading, and as always, please leave a comment. I’d particularly love to hear if anyone has any experience with AR and/or Minecraft in the classroom.
See here for the list of articles in this series.