This is 21st century teaching

EdTech Mixed Plate has a number of videos on YouTube where practising teachers join together to discuss ICT in the classroom. This is what we can do now as teachers. We can join together online and discuss things which are important in a classroom and how we develop and pioneer technology input – or anything else for that matter.The videos are professional development for the teachers participating but they are also professional development for anyone watching. The episode I am using today is on Minecraft in the classroom because Minecraft is gaining traction in classroom use. EdTech Mixed Plate discusses a range of topics and it is interesting to see how the teachers have become involved in edtech and mostly the co ordinator for edtech in their school. Worth a look because I am pretty sure this is the future and now such a gift to us in terms of professional development. Technology is offering us all sorts of possibilities . We are waiting for bandwidth so we can implement these opportunities more effectively.

Technology reads your mood

Scientist Rana el Kaliouby has been working on technology which can read your facial expressions and then know how you feel. The TED talk here explains her rationale behind it and then how it has been developed. Towards the end you can see for yourself how detailed and accurate it is. They have been researching and refining it for quite some time and soon it will be in place in the real world. They have been working on cognitive intelligence for technology. They are adding another layer to that by investigating and exploring emotional intelligence with regard to technology. Rana el Kaliouby was driven to work on this because she was separated from her family for some time and she really was only interacting with devices. She also wanted her family to better understand how she felt as she was only communicating with them through technology. I can see ,like her, that emotionally smart software might have a place in a classroom so that it could make better recommendations for students who are not engaging with what you have offered as a teacher. I can hear it now. “See? FooGoo is telling me I am bored with it. You need to show me something else. “ I can also see that the software might bypass the teacher and recommend something of its own which will engage the student. Fun and games to come. The gender differences with interaction were interesting and worth pursuing for what that really means.Do I need a device which reads my mood? I don’t think so, but I’ll have to wait and see what transpires by way of development. Technology is plastic and circuit boards. I don’t have a need to engage emotionally with it nor for it to know how I feel. I don’t talk to my pot plants either. Rana el Kaliouby says she expects this to be real in 5 years. It means we need some idea of what it will do, what it is capable of and , inevitably, how it can be misused, so that we, as teachers, are ready for it.

Sociotechnical systems

Education and schools are now sociotechnical systems and we need to pay attention to what that means. Ian Sommerville’s video explains it clearly and well so that you can understand the implications and the concept. It is now a discipline of study which has actually been around since the 60s but the implications of it and the necessity of it are  becoming clear.

“Sociotechnical systems are systems which include technical systems but also operational processes and people who use and interact with the technical system. “  Anywhere where people and technology are working together as part of a network with the intention of achieving organisational goals. If you look at the sociotechnical systems stack, you not only have a clear idea of how people and technology can work together, you also become more aware of how and where you should be focussing your attention for trouble shooting or improvement:

2.Operating system
3.Communications and data management
4.Application system
5.Business processes
6. Organisation
7. Society

Teachers have been busy in the last few years working in the area of application system to find the right tool, apps, software, devices and approaches to ensure students are meeting curriculum and examination board outcomes and requirements but also to establish what can and cannot be done with different aspects of technology in a classroom. They are now , probably, in a good position to give reliable and valid feedback which would grow that area. They are also in a position to align what they are doing with technology to school site plans and national curricula so that we can better define what can be achieved, what is being achieved, and more importantly address the pitfalls and sticking points. One of the more obvious ones , at the moment, is how to address electronic work which does not appear to be that of the student whether that is in a class situation or an exam one. We need to look at that and use our experience to remedy it. Before we were all trying to get it all up and running.

There is a similar growth which could take place in the communications and data management area. It is happening but we need to be looking at it clearly so that national bodies, school bodies and everyone connected to the education sociotechnical system can communicate better and more effectively in house, locally, nationally and internationally. The system stack is a convenient way to look at the sociotechnical system in schools to make sound judgements as to what can be improved, enhanced, addressed. It means you have a way of looking at the good processes occurring and then the ones which might be diverting the system from working optimally. Before we  continue  to extend and build our education sociotechnical systems we need to build in  review and reflection points of our systems. That kind of self-awareness will only grow our capacity to manage our sociotechnical system competently.

You can just sit there


Image: WeCoffee

You do not have to be doing all the time. You don’t have to always be trying new technology, software, ideas. Sometimes you just have to sit with what you have. Your brain and mind learn from repetition and practice and an opportunity to engage with educational theory. You have to allow time for the new things you have been learning to percolate into your system and practice so they take hold as real change and knowledge. It’s the action of repetition which then leads to refinement because you are thinking about what you are doing and then have the time and space to improve and enhance. In many respects it is the theory of games. You go over and over certain aspects of the game until you have mastered the skills and ideas. Then you level up and take on new knowledge and ideas and work on those. It is no different with classroom technology. There has to be time where you just do what you do with technology so you can see how to get the best out of it and then know what you are looking for next or can embrace the next stage in implementing a different approach , idea or device with technology. ReSit therepetition and practice then  talking about it , sharing, lead to growth.