Days 7 & 8: Temples 21 to 23

Lots more walking up to temples and down into valleys and then back up again. Thank goodness for leg support socks, a knee sock and a big stick – protecting my legs on the inside trying not to tear a ligament and on the outside – fear of  those pesky snakes – unlike Crocodile Dundee with me who just wears shorts.


Some wildlife:

And some images around the temples:

And some lovely views now we are at the coast:

Days 5 and 6: I think

The signposting is not great and we’ve got seriously lost in the past couple of days. Yesterday we decided to take a more obscure route over a mountain instead of through a city/town and ended up hiking up and up and thinking we had definitely got higher than 140m and eventually came out on a road and ended up walking for miles down the hill only to find we had gone completely wrong. Damage: about US$25 for about 10km ride! Today was the same, we were supposed to start at temple 18 but somehow missed it and had to come back on ourselves then we did it again at temple 19 and somehow manage to bypass it without noticing in the pouring rain. This time we were given a ride back to the temple from the service station. Then off again to temple 20 and looking forward to getting some snacks at Lawson (like a 7-11) and it was closed! However, one again a young man on his moped helped us out – asked us to wait 5 minutes and went and got his car and drove us 5km to the next 7-11 type store. For our final challenge up to temple 20 – a mere 550m climb – I decided to take my chances on the 5.5km wiggly road and let Stephen race up the 3.5km walking track (more like ladder). I won! I cheated as a kind old man stopped and offered me a lift straight up to the temple door! Had a lovely hour lying on a bench, drying out my shoes and socks and listening to BBC podcasts! Here are a few photos:


Days 3 & 4: From Temple 11 – 13

I have to say that had I known what was in front of me, I would never have done these two days! To get from 11 to 12 was about 12.8km BUT required a three massive consecutive climbs with no break in between. From temple 11 was a climb up to 600+m then down to 500m then back up to 800m then down again this time to 400m then back up to 700+m to temple 12 then another descent to our ryokan at what seemed like below sea level! It was supposed to be about 16km all up – but my iPhone recorded 22.3km. 


Not feeling amused! This was a killer!


The next day was not as bad but slow – we had to do one small climb then the rest of the day on the flat but my legs were sore! 

A lovey Japanese man gave us these bags of lollies and crackers – it was like Christmas!

Day 2: Temples 6 through 11

The health app on my iPhone tells me we walked 21.7km today and 18.6km yesterday. Today we only took day packs as we are staying at the same place. It’s low season and not as many accomodation options so we organised to get picked up and dropped off so we can walk from temple to temple. No rain today either! Shikoku is famous for odon noodles and we had an excellent bowl  at temple 7. It’s super quiet unlike the Camino which was buzzing with pilgrims; however, we are enjoying the peace and quiet. Most of today’s walk was through small villages on the side of the very quiet and narrow lanes. Here are some photos:

Day 1: Our Shikoku Walk

After a minor hiccup (we got on the wrong bus at the airport) we made it in the rain to Tokashima and stayed in a small business hotel – nothing special. This morning we jumped on another bus to start at temple number 1 and then walked about 18km all the way to temple 6.  There are very few people walking and most travel by bus or car around the temples. It’s also the rainy season so we didn’t encounter many people at all. Here are a few pictures from today.

Off On Another Long Walk

We are getting ready for our walk this summer. This time we are off to explore the  Shikoku Henro Trail which is Japan’s famous 88 temple pilgrimage, a 1200km loop around the island of Shikoku. Just getting this blog ready so I can post as we go.

The Power of Twitter: Chats and Crowdsourcing

Thanks Tweet Tribe!

This week I’ve really experienced the power of Twitter.

On Tuesday we had an excellent #l2chat hosted by the fabulous trio: team @sherrattsam, @lori_uemura and our own @FriedEnglish101 posing as @learning2 where we had an intense rapid Q&A session with over 300 contributions – that’s not counting the ones where folks left off the #l2chat tag and the numerous private exchanges in Twitter messenger.

At the invitation of @PanaAsavavatana on our #l2chat, on Wednesday I dropped into #kchatAP which is far removed from my day job as a High School educator although I always learn so much and love escaping from the silos and into pastures new.

Both of these chats have been storified: #l2Chat and #kchatAP

And then it gets to Friday and I’ve been asked to go and do a session with Grade 3 students on Mac tricks and tips. So this morning, I threw out a request or two to my Elementary contacts on Twitter and crowdsourced an amazing array of ideas.

I’ve collated into a Bingo card (see below) where the idea is that the students have to demonstrate their knowledge before being able to cross off one of the cells. A massive thanks to the many contributors – too many to mention!

Mac Tricks SHOW ME Bingo!
Find a person and show them how you can do ONE of these tricks. Have that person sign their name in the cell on YOUR sheet. Call “BINGO!” when you have 5 items in a row or column.
I can make a screencast to show one of these tricks using QUICKTIME (with voice over and mouse clicks) I can use colour tags to organise my files and folders I can use Air Drop to send and receive files I  can use all the function keys!  My favourite function key…. I can take screen shots (CMD SHIFT 3 whole screen, CMD SHIFT 4 select area & CMD CTRL SHIFT OPT 3 or 4 to save to clipboard)
I can set up THREE different desktops: one for my browser, one for Pages and one for Preview? I can use CMD ~ to switch between windows in the same app I can put shortcuts to files on my desktop I can zoom in and out on the screen using CONTROL and the two finger scrolling on keypad I can use different views in Finder (icons, list, columns or cover flow) and organise my files (for example by DATE MODIFIED or SIZE or TYPE)
In my BROWSER, I can use CMD and NUMBER keys to switch between tabs I can copy text from a website and in PAGES and then use CMD SHIFT OPTION V to paste and match the style In Preview, I can scan in my signature and use it to sign documents I can split the screen to have two screens side-by-side (Preview on the left and Chrome on the right) I can make the screen brighter or dim the screen (to save battery)
I can add languages (eg Chinese) to the menu bar AND can switch between English and the other languages In FINDER, I can use SPACE to preview a file I can use CMD TAB to toggle through all my open applications I can change the clock view from analogue to digital and back again on the menu In a pages document, I can use OPT-CLICK and DRAG to duplicate anything
I can convert a file to PDF format (clue – it’s like printing) I can do math problems using Spotlight (what is 34 times 7 plus 8 minus 100?) I can rearrange my apps on the dock I can drag a photo from Photo Booth onto my desktop I can find out how much battery life I have left and I can change settings to save battery life
Western Academy of Beijing (2 June 2017) – crowdsourced through Twitter @mbrookes

Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age

I explored connectivism in the context of blogging for my culminating assignment in #inf530 Concepts and Practices in a Digital Age in my Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation).  Over the past few years, schools have introduced blogs for their students although it would appear that these are not used extensively. Certainly, the students in my school in the higher grades are not fans of blogging.

eight-principles-of-connectivism-siemens

I started to explore connectivism,  a new emerging learning theory widely attributed to Siemens (2005) and Downes (2005), and the connected tools that are essential to promote a connectivist learning environment. Certainly, the extensive features of a blog hits all the buttons.  My goal was to examine the relationship between connectivism and the use of blogs in a K-12 environment and try to understand the conditions required to promote a connectivist learning environment.

The comments from my inspirational lecturer (@junewall) led me to sharing this work through this post and at the recent Learning2 Asia conference at SSIS. Clearly I was not going to read out my paper over the three-hour extended session at Learning2 and therefore, with the help of @jenasimon, a colleague at WAB, found a way to present my findings through an interactive, hands-on, learning-by-doing workshop. I also reached out on twitter to those posting under #connectivism and  was fortunate to be given feedback on my workshop outline from Katie O  (Thank you Katie and Jen).  What I discovered was the power of being brave and putting your stuff out there!

The slides are here and resources here.

connectivistlearningblogframework

So what next? @jenasimon has written a wonderful blog post entitled The Blogging Dead: Infuse New Life into ‘Zombie’ Blogs and we are now presenting a shortened version of the workshop for colleagues.

Drive by Dan Pink: Scholarly Book Review

The following is an assignment submitted as part of the Master of Education (Knowledge Networks and Digital Innovation) through Charles Sturt University in NSW, Australia. 

Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Penguin.

In Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, Pink (2011) draws upon almost 50 years of scientific research to suggest that there is a gap between what science shows and the practices of businesses in terms of motivation. He proposes that external ‘carrots-and-sticks’ motivation no longer work as individuals seek intrinsic rewards that are not easily quantifiable. The book is divided into three parts with part one setting up the premise for the book and part two unpacking the what Pink believes to be the three key elements of motivation autonomy, mastery and purpose, a remix of Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1988). The crux of the book is over at this point and part three, almost half of the book, is filled with to-do lists, exercises, a large index and condensed versions and recaps of parts one and two.

Nevertheless, with 159 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us has been an extremely popular book and has been praised by  numerous educators (“About Daniel Pink”, n.d.). For example, both Lent (2010) and Parker (2012) present anecdotal evidence as examples and suggestions of how the ideas offered by Pink could be applied in an educational setting; however, what lacks is a deep pedagogical analysis to support these ideas. Furthermore, in part three, Pink offers a section for parents and teachers which also lacks pedagogical foundations. This critical review will therefore examine Pink’s proposition and model of motivation through the lens of pedagogical theories and emerging educational practices to determine the relevance of the book for educators.

Pink (2011) contends that business models are now incompatible with the traditional Motivation 2.0 model of “extrinsically motivated profit maximizers” (p. 31) and need to upgrade to Motivation 3.0 “intrinsically motivated purpose maximizers” (p. 31). He argues that as markets are being disrupted by technology, tasks are becoming autonomous or outsourced resulting in traditional, hierarchical organizations changing into flatter and leaner businesses. He notes that in 2005, only 30 percent of job growth came from routine, algorithmic work while 70 percent came from more enjoyable non-routine heuristic work performed by creative, self-directed, critical thinkers (Pink, 2011, p. 28). If what Pink suggests is a reality, we have a responsibility to ensure that our students develop skills to perform heuristic tasks in order to compete in the job market.

Our students already have access to tools such as mobile phones and devices through which they interact with and make sense of the world thereby developing essential twenty-first century skills. Furthermore, many of our learners are already disengaged as traditional learning cannot keep pace with the rapidly changing world (Thomas & Brown, 2011). Prensky (2001) suggested if educators really want to reach students, which he calls digital natives,  then they will have to change and teach current and future content in a language that students understand. However, despite students being highly skilled, creative and active in online social interactions, educators are unsure how to capitalize on this and the adoption and transformation of learning is slow (Haste, 2009). As with industry, the impact of technology on school systems is inevitable and if students are to be prepared for the future, the educational systems must change. Perhaps Pink’s model may be a solution worth considering.

While Pink does not explicitly make the link between industry and education, his Motivation 3.0 is based on Self-Determination Theory (SDT), a model that received, and continues to receive, a good deal of attention in education since its inception in 1988 . According to SDT the three basic psychological needs for motivation are competence, where one feels effective and efficacious; relatedness, where one feels close and connected to others; and autonomy, where one feels causation and ownership of one’s behavior (Deci & Ryan, 1988). Pink’s model is based on two of these three key elements, autonomy which he defines as “our desire to be self-directed” (2011, p. 10) and competence, which he renames as mastery and defines as “our urge to get better and better at what we do” (2011, p. 10). Yet, with no justification, he replaces the relatedness from SDT with purpose which he defines as “our yearning to be part of something larger than ourselves” (2011, p.10). Interestingly, relatedness is considered an important motivational factor in the emerging trend of digital games based learning (DGBL) (Lieberoth, 2015). With that said, to what extent is Pink’s remix model applicable in what Thomas and Brown (2011) describe as the “new culture of learning” that centers on socially engaged, collaborative, adaptive, demand-driven forms of learning?

In essence, autonomy is about giving students choices in order to direct their own learning and there are many systems available that differ from traditional classroom practices, for example Massively Open Online Courses (MOOCs), such as Khan Academy and Udacity, and the flipped classroom, through online resources such as YouTube (Ito et al., 2013). In schools where many students are non-native speakers, the worldwide web provides access to of knowledge environments in the students’ native language including online newspapers, Wikipedia and country specific search engines like baidu.com. Rather than use the traditional text books and handouts, students can construct their own knowledge environments using tools such as blogs, wikis and online forums to reflect and share their learning and, most importantly solicit feedback. Motivating students through choice can be as simple as allowing students to customize their blogs, such as the use of font (Yang & Chang, 2012). With that said, students need to have critical evaluation skills to assess the value of information they access and the networks they explore, particularly those in languages other than the language of instruction (Starkey, 2011). Giving autonomy to students requires a big shift in the role of the teacher from knowledge giver to facilitator guide; nevertheless, providing opportunities for choice is certainly achievable.

Throughout his book, Pink discusses the Csíkszentmihályi’s optimal human experience and flow, which describes how a person can be rewarded by the work itself (1990). “Flow activities” have clear goals and challenges that are just within reach that allow learning to occur (Csíkszentmihályi, 1990). While flow is essential for mastery, it happens in the moment, whereas mastery can take decades of practice and effort (Pink, 2011). Pink cites businesses that create flow-friendly environments to support workers to gain mastery and hence satisfaction and higher productivity and offers strategies to promote flow experiences, for example turning work into play which he describes as the “Sawyer Effect” (2011, p. 37). The idea that play can promote flow is supported by several studies that advocate for digital games based learning (DGBL) due to the intensive experiences and extended time spent in the game by students . Nam & Fry (2012) tell us that flow is a characteristic of engaging social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and with their potential for infinite connection, opportunities for self-expression, these tools could be leveraged to support learning. Furthermore, by facilitating the zone of proximal development, flow states can be extended for longer periods and more frequently when a teacher helps a student solve a problem through scaffolding (Hung et al., 2015; Vygotskiĭ & Cole, 1978). Overall, promoting mastery through flow-friendly classrooms is certainly a reality and adds weight to the Motivation 3.0 model.

Pink describes mastery as asymptote, in that learners get close to but never actually attain mastery, suggesting that this is a source of allure that people reach for. So what does this look like in education? Starkey (2011) suggests that creativity is the penultimate learning experience and that sharing the knowledge is the ultimate goal (p. 25), a concept supported by Siemen’s (2004) connectivism learning theory, where learning and knowledge rests on a number of opinions that when connected allows us to know more (2004). The knowledge that students create and share, for example, through blog posts and most importantly the comments, can be challenged, debated and critiqued allowing the learner to revisit their ideas, revise and create new knowledge in a move towards mastery (Yang & Chang, 2012). The  concept of knowledge as a continuous state of evolvement suggests that there is always more to learn where perhaps “the joy is in the pursuit more than the realization” (Pink, 2011, p. 125). The application of connectivism as a learning theory to motivate students could well be compatible with Pink’s assertion that “mastery attracts precisely because mastery eludes” .

And, finally, what of purpose? Pink argues that purpose not profit goals bring success in both individuals and organizations for example the TOMS Shoes company that describes itself as “not-only-for-profit” (2011, p. 143). So how does this relate to schools? Similar to Pink’s examples, engaging students in service learning was suggested by Lent (2010).  Service learning is a strategy that integrates community service in the learning process in a way that enriches experiences, teaches civic responsibility, and strengthens communities. So one idea that may resonate is the marriage of service learning with entrepreneurial spirit (Apel, 2016). A number of emerging trends in the digital age to promote creativity include the design thinking approach, makerspaces and coding (Adams Becker, Cummins, Davis, Estrada, and Hall, 2016). By providing the opportunities to create products, students can then leverage online publishing and sales platforms to share and perhaps sell their wares and use the financial gains to support the needs of others, for example, to provide loans on microfinance sites such as kiva.org (Apel, 2016). So as Lent (2010) suggests, providing opportunities for students to be part of something larger than themselves is clearly a viable proposition where students pursue “purpose” goals that serve others as opposed to “profit” goals, such as good grades, that only serve themselves (Pink, 2011, p. 142).

Throughout the book Pink makes a number of claims that are somewhat unsupported. In Chapter Three, he claims that there are two types of people: Type I, who seek intrinsic rewards and Type X, who seek extrinsic rewards such as pay rises. In a latter section, he makes a sweeping statement that all children start out as Type X personalities but offers no evidence to support this idea (p. 185). Furthermore, Pink makes several references to Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2006) and one can’t help consider Ikheloa’s contention that this association with the Stanford Psychology Professor is a deliberate marketing strategy (2012). His personal interviews with popular academics Csíkszentmihályi, Deci and Ryan may also be a promotional ploy. Indeed, throughout the book he recalls conversations with his interviewees, and while this gives the impression of authority through his depth of primary research, the transcripts are not included to verify his claims.

Although Motivation 3.0 model appears to remain an unproven theory, as it is largely based on SDT, it could certainly serve as partial framework for developing twenty-first century skills and promoting intrinsic motivation in school. While it is clear that each of the three elements, autonomy, mastery and purpose, are interrelated, the model may be better served by restoring SDT’s relatedness to foster socially engaged learning. We should consider if students want to connect and collaborate with others in meaningful ways rather that work in isolation (McLeod, 2013).

Overall Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is an easy and engaging read; after all, as a former speechwriter to Al Gore, Pink is certainly experienced with persuasive discourse (“About Daniel Pink”, n.d.). However, despite the immense popularity of the book with educational thought leaders, schools should be cautioned not to just jump on the Motivation 3.0 bandwagon and stop to consider if what Pink suggests is a good fit. With that said, if read together in professional reading groups, it will certainly provide an additional perspective on education reform in the digital age. 

References

Apel, W. [Learning 2.0]. (2016, April 6). Warren Apel – Make it Real [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/UoYiWHVJnNk

About Daniel Pink (n.d.) Retrieved April 15, 2016, from http://www.danpink.com/about/

Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., Estrada, V., and Hall, C. (2016). 2016 NMC Technology Outlook for International Schools in Asia: A Horizon Project Regional Report. Austin, Texas: New Media Consortium.

Bernstein, D. J. (1990). Of Carrots And Sticks: A Review Of Deci And Ryan’s Intrinsic Motivation And Self-Determination In Human Behavior. Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 54(3), 323–332. doi:10.1901/jeab.1990.54-323

Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1990). The conditions of flow. In Flow : the psychology of optimal experience (pp. 71–93). New York: Harper & Row.

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1988). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. Contemporary Sociology (Vol. 17). doi:10.2307/2070638

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Head Neck. doi:10.5860/CHOICE.44-2397

Haste, H. (2009). What is “competence” and how should education incorporate new technology’s tools to generate “competent civic agents.” The Curriculum Journal, 20(3), 207–223. doi:10.1080/09585170903195845

Hung, C.-Y., Sun, J. C.-Y., & Yu, P.-T. (2015). The benefits of a challenge: student motivation and flow experience in tablet-PC-game-based learning. Interactive Learning Environments, 23(2), 172–190. doi:10.1080/10494820.2014.997248

Ikheloa, I. R. (2012, February 28). Daniel Pink on Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. Retrieved from https://xokigbo.com/2012/02/28/daniel-pink-on-drive-the-surprising-truth-about-what-motivates-us.

Ito, M., Gutiérrez, K., Livingstone, S., Penuel, B., Rhodes, J., Schalen, K., … Watkins, S. C. (2013). Connected Learning.

Lent, R. C. (2010). The Responsibility Breakthrough. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 68.

Lieberoth, A. (2015). Shallow Gamification Testing Psychological Effects of Framing an Activity as a Game. Games and Culture, 10(3), 229–248. doi:10.1177/1555412014559978

Nam, K. A., & Fry, G. W. (2012). Re-imagining internet scholarship: Academic uses and abuses of the influential internet social network, facebook. E-Learning and Digital Media, 9(2), 157–172. doi:10.2304/elea.2012.9.2.157

Parker, D. (2012). a better way to motivate achievement. Leadership, 41(4), 32–34.

Pink, D. H. (2011). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. Penguin.

Siemens, G. (2004). Connectivism. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Starkey, L. (2011). Evaluating learning in the 21st century: a digital age learning matrix. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 20(1), 19–39. doi:10.1080/1475939X.2011.554021

Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A New Culture of Learning : Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. World Future Review, 137. doi:10.1080/00324728.1983.10408754

Vygotskiĭ, L. S., & Cole, M. (1978). Mind in society : the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Yang, C., & Chang, Y. S. (2012). Assessing the effects of interactive blogging on student attitudes towards peer interaction, learning motivation, and academic achievements. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(2), 126–135. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00423.x

C++ Programming Lock-In for Seriously Wannabe Geeky Students

We don’t have a formal coding class however we do have many, many wannabe coders in our school and we do have an extra-curricular Geek Force club who decided that our goal for the year was to learn how to code – and not just in any language but C++, a derivative of the mother of all programming languages (which to me is C).

IMG_0395So why C++? Firstly, our Geek Force are gamers and interested in learning C as it is widely used in gaming. Both C and C++ are low level languages that get you close to the silicon allowing for extreme optimization to maximize the resources available and make games slicker and faster.Of course, we are not aiming to get to that level of complexity nor are we looking at a deep understanding at object oriented coding however by learning C or C++, it will be easy to pick up another language with the added bonus that some students may develop an understanding of how software works on a lower level. Secondly, I used to be a C and unix programmer back in the day (yes, before C++ was even invented), so why not challenge myself to pick up C++?

Learning to program takes time and we tried to follow an online tutorial (C++ in 21 days) but as we only had a weekly lunchtime slot, we found that, collectively, we were not making much progress. What was needed was a big chunk of time to really lay down the basics and learn together. Hence the lock-in concept.
However, it takes some effort to organize such an event and so I enlisted the help of @rgentleman, our Grade 6 MYP Design teacher, who also was a programmer in a former life. Our objectives were:
  • to have time to develop C++ programming skills
  • to have a friendly competition where everyone can compete no matter what level of expertise
  • and to have fun!C++Schedule

We organized 3 x 30 minute challenges (sprints) with 3 x 15 minute team challenges in between each sprint plus some time for the obligatory pizza and diet coke! Surprisingly on a Friday night, we were joined by a number of budding geeks and two teachers who wanted to join the competitive fun. Here is the link to the fantastic write up from Michael, one of our Geek Force Leaders.

And here are some examples of the programming challenges:

Basic: First Program HelloWorld.cpp

Watch this short youtube video [C++ Hello World using Xcode (Mac)] to create your first program Hello World. Modify the code to output your name and age:

Hello World. My name is x and I am y years old.

Intermediate: Currency Conversions (using nested if statements)

  • Input: Choice of currency (eg USD, RMB or one more of your choice), amount
  • Processing: convert from choice of currency to target currency (eg USD converted to RMB)
  • Output: amount in target currency (eg RMB)

Advanced: Currency Conversions (using switch statement)

  • Extend the above program to have a number of currencies (maybe up to 5) so that the user can select the input currency and the target currency.
  • Bonus points for using constants (which are declared in UPPER CASE
  • Bonus points for using an easy user interface (for example, enter 1 for RMB, 2 for USD…)

The Arduino Challenge

In random teams of 3 or 4, students were given an Arduino set and access to a large number of input and output devices (lights, fans, sensors etc). The challenge was to create something – they could use the internet and even download code – however they had to modify the code or the structure and be able to explain what they did.

If you would like to have access to the challenges, please contact me by email (madeleine_brookes at wab.edu).