Tagged: ICT integration

12th thing and golf balls

//farm3.static.flickr.com/2161/2208221742_449507a15a.jpg?v=0Ever since I stumbled upon the 11 Things that make a difference by Bryn Jones and Chris Betcher a few months ago, I have often marveled at their uncanny assessment of critical criteria needed for successful ‘meshing’ of teaching with ICT. Within our ICT working group we often talk about and check our school’s progress against these 11 criteria. Yet we can’t help the feeling we need to add another one.

The staff at our school are currently completing (what looks like) a survey on the current level of their ICT skills, obstacles and aspirations. The ‘survey’ is in fact a fairly simple database activity in Moodle, designed to kill several birds with one stone – we get more than just a snapshot of where we are at and what we need. Through this simple, easily searchable database, people can quickly see who in the school has the skill(s and attitude) they (may) need, sometimes literally on the spot, just-in-time, where there is neither chance or time to attend some PD but simply problem-solve and learn from it. Staff can update their entries, comment, thank each other, inquire and so on in a way true to the 70:20:10 principle underpinning our ICT-related PD efforts this year. It is working really well but I might describe it in more detail in another post – back to the ‘12th thing’.

Even after a cursory analysis, something clearly stands out from the data from approximately 75% of staff so far – lack of time they have to ‘play with’ ICT, improve their skills and consider the improvements to their practice ICT can/could have. In the data, I can see (in)direct references to the other 11 Things but “(lack of) time to learn and work on/with ICT” comes through really strongly and makes a strong case to be the 12th Thing. Surprised? Not me.

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Rita’s story

//farm4.static.flickr.com/3026/2848788126_0b9dc2fea1.jpg?v=0No, nothing to do with the book with the same name but there are, if unintended, similarities.

My teaching story has been inexorably linked with one colleague – Rita. Ever since she supervised me on my first teaching practicum many years ago our paths have managed to cross in different locations. Over the last three and a half years, we have shared a desk, made each other coffee, covered each other’s classes, team-taught on several occasions, laughed and cared about each other. With her grace, wisdom and impeccable respectfulness, Rita has helped me better understand and deal with students we teach. In return, I have helped her with a gentle lead into the crazy, hyper world of instructional technology.

Rita has been teaching mostly History and Society & Environment (old Social Studies) for 25 years across many public schools, first in Germany then in Australia. When I rang her tonight to ask for her permission to write about our conversation this afternoon she asked me not to disclose her age, but laughingly agreed to my ‘diplomatic’ description of her as “closer to retirement than to her first day in class”.

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An analogue meal with kindred digital educators

connectA couple of days ago I attended a dinner with a world-renowned educator and presenter Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, her family, and a few fellow Perth bloggers and ed-tech enthusiasts. The company included a famous chocoholic and THE Edublogger Sue Waters, whom I met personally for the first time, Jean Anning, Jane Lowe and Paul Reid. The evening was very enjoyable and sprinkled with a wonderful dose of fun-spirited Aussie/American bashing and ‘war stories’ – all in all, we hit it off well (I am just not sure how much Sheryl’s family members enjoyed our passionate and often noisy rants, complaints and (mutual) inspirations).

I was particularly pleased and in many ways reassured to hear Sheryl’s passion to push for greater use of ICT and particularly the Web 2.0 (for lack of better word) tools with ‘tough’ schools and kids like ours (see my previous, cathartic post for details – thank you good people for your comments). And as we started getting into the thick of discussion, we recognised that not only the group of people present, but a wider community of bloggers, ed-tech educators etc. (you know the labels…) is vulnerable to the ‘echo chamber’ effect. We all pretty much agree on many things, we fuel each other’s passion, we share and exchange ideas, in short – we ‘get it’. That’s all good but we act mostly in our own individual spaces, despite creation of large (inter)national networks, so easily afforded by the tools whose usefulness and transformative power we try to unveil to others. We are doing great things but without generating the amount of synergy that would make powers-that-be stand up and go beyond, in the words of Seymour Papert (thank you for correction Bryn) ‘strapping a jet engine [of technology] on a horse and cart [of 18th century model of education]’.

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How can Moodle change a school

Before starting to work as a part-time technology integrator at our school this year, the principal asked me to come up with one ‘thing’, one key strategy for staff and students to ICT to improve their teaching and learning. After seeing the flexibility, robustness and ‘organic’ nature of Moodle the choice was pretty simple to make.

The video, shown here in two separate clips, is not so much about the technical features of Moodle but about people using it. I am forever indebted to our wonderful network administrator Russell Clarke, my colleagues from Moodle champions to Moodle beginners, and the students, who have taken to it so well (well, a healthy majority of them at least). Without them, none of the things shown in the clip would happen.

The focus of the first clip (9:58 min) is on the ways different, mostly standard features of Moodle have been used by various teachers and students at our school. If you can’t see this video (Part 1) please click here.

The second clip (5:43 min) shows the positive and in some cases very significant changes the establishment of Moodle has brought to our school in terms of using ICT to improve our core business – teaching and learning while modelling, establishing and maintaining healthy human relationships. If you can’t see the clip (Part 2) please click here.

I end this post with an anecdote from a teacher at our school. Over the last couple of weeks of holidays, my colleague Kim Bebbington built a fantastic course on Australian History, now shared by four other Year 8 classes. The course includes an assignment, due in week 3 of the upcoming term.

Deliberately or not, Kim left the course open to students to enrol and look at as he was building it. Imagine his (pleasant) surprise when he received a fully completed assignment (due in week 3) by one of the students in his class two days before the start of term.

But as wonderful and useful as Moodle has been, it is the people who are making the difference. It is not the technology itself – it is what we do with it.

If you are a ‘moodling’ teacher yourself, looking into it, or a person responsible for getting (particularly) teachers up to speed with Moodle and ICT in general I would love to hear from you – there is much to share and learn from each other.

Staff ICT Expo – 70:20:10 in action

This week, my colleagues in the eBCC ICT working group and I organised and ran the first ICT Expo at our school. The expo had 16 ‘stands’ over a handful of classrooms and a large central area. As pictures often tell what words can’t quickly describe, have a look below at the short clip from the event (if problems, use a link to the video on TeacherTube).


Here is more about the occasion pictured in the video…

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