Tablets in the classroom

The Pedagogy Podcast

Image: The Pedagogy Podcast 

Teachers are not the media stereo type, vacuous nincompoops with 50s hairdos in front of perfectly groomed, smiling students with their hands up as they teach from the board often with their arms folded or a weirdo lean. Teachers, in my experience , are real people with a wide variety of exceptional talents and competencies who hone in on detail. They are like Patrick Trowse (@wklifebalance) whom I got to know in the #aussieED teacher chats on a Sunday night. Teachers are sociable and they want to learn. Over a year ago Patrick started his blog wklifebalance and I just pointed him in the right direction. The blog is valuable because he looks at the sorts of things which affect the work – life balance of teachers, how to stay healthy and how to manage a very demanding, rigorous job. Since then he has grown and developed himself into a podcaster and his podcasts are well made, interesting and about the sorts of things which teachers need to know and manage. You cannot replace experience. You cannot beat information from someone who has been through the process and you cannot do without podcasts! I load up a USB stick with all sorts of podcasts. They help me to keep my other language skills up, they teach me about health and ecology and they provide things to think about and practical ideas for education.I play them in my car as I commute. Patrick’s podcast on tablets in a classroom, where he speaks with a technician, is invaluable because it covers the issues The podcasts on The Pedagogy Podcasts are then reinforced with written information to check and consider. That is a teacher. A teacher knows you have to provide information in multiple modes so everyone can learn.

You can tick the boxes on the Professional Standards for Patrick as he develops himself, collaborates with others and shares his knowledge:

1.1 Lead colleagues to select and develop teaching strategies to improve student learning using knowledge of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students.
1.3 Evaluate and revise school learning and teaching programs, using expert and community knowledge and experience, to meet the needs of students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds.
2.1 Lead initiatives within the school to evaluate and improve knowledge of content and teaching strategies and demonstrate exemplary teaching of subjects using effective, research-based learning and teaching programs.
2.2 Lead initiatives that utilise comprehensive content knowledge to improve the selection and sequencing of content into coherently organised learning and teaching programs.
2.6 Lead and support colleagues within the school to select and use ICT with effective teaching strategies to expand learning opportunities and content knowledge for all students.
3.1 Demonstrate exemplary practice and high expectations and lead colleagues to encourage students to pursue challenging goals in all aspects of their education.
3.3 Work with colleagues to review, modify and expand their repertoire of teaching strategies to enable students to use knowledge, skills, problem solving and critical and creative thinking.
3.4 Model exemplary skills and lead colleagues in selecting, creating and evaluating resources, including ICT, for application by teachers within or beyond the school.
4.2 Initiate strategies and lead colleagues to implement effective classroom management and promote student responsibility for learning.
4.5 Review or implement new policies and strategies to ensure the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.
6.3 Implement professional dialogue within the school or professional learning network(s) that is informed by feedback, analysis of current research and practice to improve the educational outcomes of students.
6.4 Advocate, participate in and lead strategies to support high-quality professional learning opportunities for colleagues that focus on improved student learning.
7.4 Take a leadership role in professional and community networks and support the involvement of colleagues in external learning opportunities.

In 2016 the Professional Standards are supporting and encouraging teachers to develop and share their skills. In 2016 a contemporary teacher can use technology to improve themselves, improve others and engage with the real world in a way which benefits others and impacts on student learning in an effective way. It is all based on sharing and collaboration. Creating the content, joining the dots and getting feedback.

UX in the classroom

good-ux-designImage: Flight Media

UX = User Experience and we need to pay attention to it in a classroom. John Knight’s article Can Anyone Do UX? raises so many pertinent issues with regard to UX in contemporary times but he has a level of awareness about what that means and the way forward for his industry. Adaptability is increasingly becoming essential as is cross disciplinary work and learning from each other. He is discussing how UX design can appear to have lost its way and its standards because technology is ubiquitous and people are growing up with an inherent knowledge of UX simply because they are always on their phones, tablets and laptops:

“Guess what? the new generation has imbibed the principles of good design and HCI from the products and services they use on a day to day basis so that its second nature. Today, we live in a world of democratized design that exists outside of the traditional education system and is seen in everything from the start up scene to some of today’s great entrepreneurs. We can either go with the flow or try to stop it by developing professional standards”

Our professional standards have to be there but they need to be fluid and flexible because we are at a point in classroom delivery where the walls are coming down, the opportunities for global and 24/7 interaction abound and our capacity to peer review, share and care has increased exponentially. We then have to look at whom we are teaching and consider their experience. It is not one experience for everyone . HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is something we need to consider as well, both from the point of view of an individual’s approach to a device, and from the point of view that we can interact with each other online. This is where professional standards need to be able to manage and bend to meet the growing need to connect but to keep school based personnel and students safe.Fortunately ACARA and aitsl seem to be on the ball with this and other key fundamentals with regard to UX.

John Knight makes some interesting recommendations as to how  the UX industry can address the pressing needs it has with the technology changes which are flowing fast into our lives. I’d like to take those recommendations and apply them to education (read education where he writes design):

“1.Back to basics on the empirical basis of design through research. Unlike our predecessors though, we have a broader set of inputs and tools that just design research.

2.Continuous evolution of professional standards including core competencies and role descriptions that link back to capability initiatives such as SFIA and drive excellence.

3.Repositioning of deliverables from manifestation of requirements to findings of ‘design experiments’ ranging from ‘Critical Design’ to prototypes at differing levels of fidelity.

4.Recognition of the craft element of our discipline; including building awareness of nuance, the craft of making and refining atomic level experience elements.

5.Support for the maturation of the domain, including ui elements that have reached the level of archetype, patterns and methods and that can be added to the body of knowledge and then used freely outside of the profession — so that we can focus on innovation.”

UI = User Interface – what you are looking at when you see a screen and how it operates with buttons/clicks/swipes etc. In that respect I think it’s a good idea to now create some tried and true ways of operating in a classroom with technology and looking at the sorts of interfaces which suit classroom use for tablets, IWB and laptops. We can also probably now come to some agreement, based on considerable experience as to which sites and apps are worthwhile and desirable in a classroom.

So, remember the tips from the Flight Media blog as you operate in your classroom:

1. Empower the user – and that means you and the students

2. Bring clarity through UX design – to your lessons, to your resources, to your plans

3. Ask for and listen to feedback

aitsl Reflection on Practice Tool

reflection on practiceThe new aitsl Reflection of Practice Tool is fresh out of the box and it is good that aitsl has put it out there so we can use it, work with it and give feedback so they can go away and bring us a better version. It differs from the SAT (self assessment tool) in that it works directly with the professional standards and you rate yourself against them rather than answering the series of random questions which the SAT came up with . Since it addresses the standards directly , I prefer it. I have been through various versions of assessment with SAT and it does look at your practice. My latest assessment put me at graduate level in assessment. I must have gone mighty wrong to be graduate level after 42 years in the classroom and working as a regional and state moderator along with all  the other things I have done and achieved. Have I totally lost contact? Have I not kept currency in 40 years? Is all that peer assessment I have been doing with my year 9s irrelevant? The same thing has come up in this Reflection on Practice Tool. If I asked for feedback, would people tell me I have not moved with the times and that a lot has changed in my 42 years in a classroom and it has all passed me by? It is me? Is it them? Is it the tool? What is it? Can I not assess myself properly? Already there are plenty of things I can follow up. Already there are plenty of things to look at and consider to get to the bottom of this assessment. I always teach my students to look at the data which comes back about them and to think long and hard about what it might mean, how it could be inaccurate and to formulate logical arguments to ensure the data is read properly. In a professional standards context, my self reflection and my self assessment always bring up matters which I can discuss and consider. To be honest, it doesn’t matter if it is accurate or not accurate. It is the conversations with colleagues and the conversations in a professional setting which set the picture straight. Both of these tools provide feedback. Both of them set up a framework for thought and discussion. The Reflection on Practice tool can be downloaded and used offline and so you have a copy to use and refer to whether you have internet access or not. It gives spaces to fill in your evidence. I find this one more suitable because it is directly connected to the standards. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

Finally! 21st century classrooms!

classroom technology Finally! Finally you can see and feel the difference. We are moving into the next phase of classroom teaching – the multimodal, connected classroom. We have teachers connected on Twitter, Facebook and other online sites. Teachers can develop their PLN across their own country and the world and are starting to do that with their conferences and classrooms. Teachers are developing expertise in different technology areas  whether it be apps, online sites like Google Education, Apple Education, Microsoft Education or mastering software and content delivery in a way which now shows confidence and expertise. We have our professional organisations interacting with us online and emails which are far more content rich and dynamic so that we are all starting to work together as a profession which is better enabling our classrooms , our skills and our content. The more we connect and share , the more we’ll determine good processes and ideas for education. It’s not even halfway through our school year in Australia. We are doing well!! performance standardsTechnology is organising content in a way which reaches out to more students and we are learning that .We are also sharing it as a profession and it shows. We’ve discovered the pitfalls and the work arounds and so we are able to move forward again. We are meeting our national performance standards really well.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

professional standards Given a lifetime of teaching I ought to know what I am doing and what I am capable of. I am working on a Powerpoint of the professional standards because I need to ensure I have currency. As time goes by you have to ensure you are up to date and in tune with your approach. The Professional Standards we have are a way of ensuring that since , given the layout, they can be updated as needed but as they stand they are solid indicators of performance and achievement. My focus is also to ensure I can meet the standards using technology. What I plan to do is take an indicator from each of the sections to calibrate myself. I want to test that what I am assuming about myself and the standards is actually what is occurring. Assumption can get you into a lot of trouble and on the wrong track so it is important to stick to an objective way of looking at your own performance. With respect to the standards, and because I am a classroom teacher now , then I probably have to be at the Highly Accomplished level. I have been in leadership positions so I ought to be able to fit into the Lead teacher category sometimes at least. On 1.1 I think I fit between both of them. I have worked on having a flexible repertoire for using technology in a classroom so that I can differentiate the curriculum and manage content delivery for a wide range of students and their learning styles. I use what I have learnt to share with other teachers both at school and on my blogs. I have so many strategies now for using technology in a classroom I am both a good resource and a pioneer.Sharing all this knowledge means I also have the capacity to attract new knowledge in this area and become someone whom others will share their ideas with because they know I am interested and will listen. That perhaps puts me more in the Lead category for this one. Having that information before me on a slide means I can think it through better rather than just guessing and assuming. In a professional conversation I’d be looking to have my decisions discussed so I can grow further and maybe even have a different perspective on what I am doing and thinking. To me this is a dynamic process not a static one. it ought not be a snapshot but looking through the performance standard lens to see what can be improved, changed, polished, maintained…

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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