Helping VCE Staff explore, adopt and use iPAd apps beyond the subject specific
Working with schools I often encounter iPad programs that are developed, explored and built around primary and middle years programs. But what happens when those devices make it to the VCE?
Staff may need help identifying Apps that they can use in class, but at this level of study content is so highly specialised this can prove to be a challenge. It is not uncommon to hear
"We have so much content to get through I can't possibly add more to it!"
"Why waste time using technology to do things when we can just do it by hand?"
"The exams are still done by hand and we need t practice this"
So I thought lets come at it from a skills point of view, rather than a specifics point of view. What this means is we identify what things unite all VCE subjects in terms of what we want to develop in our learners and what skills are we really building in addition to content understanding. That way staff could develop their capacity to enhance these skills using technology tools.
To give you some context the school I was working with already had a school wide Learning Management System that was used to access curriculum documents and resources. Every VCE student had an iPad and another device of their own choosing if they wanted to bring it, but there was very little evidence of the iPads in use in the VCE centre. There was no set Apps and if teachers wanted to use the iPads it was up to them to request the technicians to deploy the Apps. Some PD had been delivered surrounding finding subject specific Apps, but no follow up or action had occurred.
MY MORNING BRAIN DUMP - THINKING ABOUT COLLABORATION, CONNECTION AND ACTION
As an educator the lessons I enjoyed most were not the ones I slaved hours over preparing, Those ones inevitably failed to be as great as I had envisioned - mainly because the lovely young folk I taught could not always understand why I wanted them to bask in my greatness and to feel the hours of works I had put into creating those resources for them... No doubt they left with some knowledge but it was knowledge I had isolated, crafted and homogenised into a single 48 minute lesson. My favourite lessons were the ones were I provoked the students - got them thinking, got the contributing, getting them excited, angry, passionate and they are the lessons we were empowered and remembered - and these collaborations often led them to more exciting art projects and even deeper, creative thinking.
The best collaborations (lesson suggests limited learning outcomes, collaboration suggests working together to discover and grow) were those where I did not underestimate my students capacity to think, challenge and engage with relevant intriguing content. The best collaborations are those where students work with me and their peers to identify what they want to learn about and I help them explore this - making mistakes and learning along the way. As a professional I know what is in the curriculum and I know how to help students learn - when to provide help, how to extend high achievers, how to ensure a text is accessible for a variety of learners, how to set up a task so learners of all ability can achieve, when to provide different perspectives - in short how to teach and to do it well.
Being a VCE teacher I understand there is a lot of content to get through. But if we could change up the way we did things using eLearning ideas, innovative resources and curriculum modelling that empowers learners, we could cover the content but also foster curiosity, metacognition, appreciation of diversity, reflection, empathy, entrepreneurship and all those other things that make confident, connected learners.
Yes - sometimes you do just need them to know how to do something skill based or do need them to know the content, vocabulary, formula and this is the reality. As a professional you know what they need to know and strategies and ideas to help them understand that. But if we could actually foster an ongoing, genuine interest in the content we could provoke the next generation into thinking and action using our thinking, questioning and structuring skills. What if the content was modern, drawn from real life and allowed for choice and scope in the topic explored and the depth required? I would argue the skills and content required can be crafted through genuine engagement and thinking around challenging ideas.
Learning is empowering when focussing on relevant, inquiry based questions we want to know more about, where teachers we set up the structures, the environments, the conversations, the challenges, the curiosity and act as a coach when needed, a collaborator when needed and a co learner with students. Learning is rad when all students have access to it, are engaged in it through thinking and creating and it is relevant to them - each one of them!
Not Underestimating Our Youth - Some Ideas link
Taking Hattie's ideas and making a practical, free and accessible tool for teachers, students and peers to collaborate with
There is much exploration and focus on feedback in schools at the moment - and for good reason. Feedback should be what drives learning and teaching, the direction learning takes and should help refine our practices and methods. Recently prompted to think about this by Assistant Principal and thought provoker extrodinaire Margo Edgar, I got started with these two resources;
From this I established the key points Hattie was talking about;
What type of feedback?
I think it would be great to simplify this model - to make a quick 1 minute format that allows students to provide instant feedback - a Google Form would work but it would need to be simpler - with one click and short text responses. Also using it with learners highlighted the ongoing need to foster understanding of why, when and how we use feedback with students. I am also thinking about developing a 1 page infographic for teachers regarding feedback for those using platforms like Edmodo so they can still apply Hattie's thinking but to a feedback loop they have already established.
Thinking about ray nashar's leading innovation clip
CONNECT - "It's not coming up with the ideas, it's spreading them" is the point that resonated with me. I have so many ideas about how eLearning could be used to enhance learning and teaching, reporting, the delivery of curriculum, the process' we use in schools and the list goes on. And what is a priority for some staff is varied from another - how do we enable all staff to grow in their eLearning at the point they are ready to? How to get others on board with this is always an important question, so it's not just powerful, connected eLearning for some but for all students.
EXTEND - The notion of occasionally dipping into the top carriage made me realise this can be done using ICT - why not set up a learni.st board for those top users to tap into when they need inspiration? What about a PD twitter feed for those keen to find out more? What about a monthly Techie Breaky aimed at top users and advancing their skills - or even better supporting them to present their ideas as well? This would work especially well at multi-campus colleges.
CHALLENGE - The next challenge that springs to mind is once you have people moving into those first few carriages how to you ensure you continue to challenge and grow their capacity - essentially rearranging the carriages again? The dynamic, behaviour and norms will have shifted but how to sustain that is interesting and exciting. Another challenge is how do you celebrate the courageous first middle car movers to encourage and "..influence but not directly" without alienating the other 2 carriages? It highlights the importance and value of peer sharing and peer modelling aside from having just the eLearning leader as the expert.