Benefits of coding

That cartoon came up on my Facebook again this morning, endorsed by a teacher. We live in the digital age and we can be victims of it and put ourselves in the position of being constantly rescued or told, or we can take control of it and have some input, some capacity to see what is happening and have sufficient knowledge to be able to manage what happens with devices and computers. I am not a big coder but I know enough to know when to alert sites, to know how to discuss technical problems and to negotiate improvements. I know when to be concerned or not when something goes wrong and I know how to customise some things when I want to and it’s possible. Knowing code puts you in the driver’s seat. You make better choices. Coding is cardio for you brain and The Smart Girl Workout explains it well. The article on the Benefits of Coding explains why it is good for anyone to learn how to code and then provides a number of links to support the arguments. It covers a number of different benefits including sustainablity. Douglas Rushkoff, in the video, has looked at our digital world from all angles and has widely shared his ideas. He analyses and questions our digital world  in a comprehensive way. Rex Salisbury looks at the benefits of immersive learning at coding bootcamps where you are in an intensive learning situation and come out of it with a strong sense of achievement and knowledge. For some that would be a better way of going about it rather than being drip fed. Immersive learning cannot be sustained because it’s exhausting and demanding but it’s a great way to get a head start into the ongoing brain cardio work of coding.

Our outboard brain

Discussions around the outboard brain were strong around 2007 when wired magazine and others picked up this notion of us now having an outboard brain and outsourcing some of our thinking to a device. The article Your outboard brain knows all was a lively discussion of this issue:

“My point is that the cyborg future is here. Almost without noticing it, we’ve outsourced important peripheral brain functions to the silicon around us.”

It made me think. I love being able to look anything up when I do not know. In that sense I am more informed. My blogging has really contributed to my knowledge but I have just done exactly what the article is talking about. I surprised myself by finding a blog post about the outboard brain on another blog of mine. I had forgotten all about it. The issue is still relevant and David Bowden’s poetry examines the impact of technology on us. There is another poem The inner net which examines our so called connectivity and what the impact of that has been in human terms.

I have ready access to factual information because blogging makes me think and integrate that knowledge into my own database. I’d say technology has contributed well and effectively to my ever growing brain. To ensure this though I make sure I put myself at risk technologically by learning new software, a new OS, a new gadget. Nothing like databases to force a literary brain into chaos and ensure it HAS to learn!! Technology is for me a tool, not a substitute…and I thank this poem for helping me think this through.

One minute videos are the thing

With video , you can achieve so much in one minute whether it’s instructional or informational. Snapchat knows it. Instagram knows it. Facebook is revisiting it and YouTube and Vimeo are embracing it. One of our local councils used to have a one minute video competition for 16-25 year olds but appears to have stopped it after last year. The featured video was designed to help the aspiring video makers for that competition in 2013. Like the 140 characters of Twitter, a one minute video is a skills and competencies challenge which disciplines  thinking and approach. When you have limits like that you have to think, plan and create very carefully. It forces you to have a laser focus on optimum content delivery and visual presentation. There are plenty of sites to help and inspire you with one minute videos:

oneminutewonders

one minute videos on YouTube

one minute travel films

one minute videos on Vimeo

how to make a one minute video

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.

It’s not working!

Oh yes. There are always times when it doesn’t work.

I can’t get onto the wifi! My blog’s blocked!!!??? I can’t post my image! My iPad is dead! My iPad is upgrading and stuffed! I can’t load the site! I can’t upload my work! I have been waiting for HOURS and my iPad/computer is doing nothing. I forgot my login!

There is a whole chorus of not working variations. It applies to me too.

Sorry, I can’t seem to load the class list. Sorry, the board won’t connect. Sorry , there’s no sound.

You could let it all fall apart. You could blame technology. You could just have a hissy fit and melt in a spectacular public display. If my technology isn’t working I have a whole head full of little things we can do to fill in the time. We can do verbs, numbers, answer questions, tell me what they did this morning , think of all the things we can that are red. By then I am usually right. Nothing usually goes on for that long. If necessary I swap activities. The great thing about technology is I have lots of options. As for the students , we ask questions. Did you connect and reconnect? Did you shut down and start again? Do you want to borrow an iPad? Let me have a look. Most times I can talk them through it and we can resolve the issues. If it is a curly problem then we brainstorm quietly and calmly together . When we run out of options or time then our technicians have magical technician fingers which resolve 99.5% of our problems. This video reminds us to use these moments to learn because we are teachers.

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