I’ve just got back from Learning 2.011 in Shanghai. It was an exhausting, exhilarating, challenging and truly collaborative experience: both in the planning and the execution.
I’ve just read a wonderful quote from a teacher sharing experiences in the K-2 Cohort:
The most important thing that I have gained from this conference is confidence to take more risks with technology.
Learning 2.011 has been part of my life for almost a year – not one day has gone past without a thought (or 50) about the conference; however, I want to do it all over again & again at least 20 times so that I could:
be part of each of the cohorts and learn, learn, learn
attend all 75+ number of diverse workshops and presentations
drop into the many ‘unconference’ sessions for just-in-time learning
listen to those inspiring keynotes again and again – especially from the students
hang out more with the Learning 2.011 committee in HQ
and lastly, connect with each and every participant face-to-face (there were so many friends and colleagues there but I just did not have the time).
OK – so that’s not going to happen although I am going to enjoy reading the rich resources, reflections and blog posts – check out this one from Thomas Galvez)
And now, I am going to start all over again. I’m in transition mode: moving from co-chair of Learning 2.011 to chair of Learning 2.012. Do you want to get to know a bunch of educators and connect with them on a daily basis? Do you want to help plan this amazing event? Do you want a voice? Come and join us for Learning 2.012….meeting dates will be posted soon!
This year we were able to roll out the new Macbook Pro laptops the Saturday before school officially started. Each year the annual laptop rollout becomes easier and easier; a well-oiled wheel. We divide up the roll-out into lots of 20 and place in classrooms with one member of the team responsible for taking the student through the process of logging in, checking the spec (some order more RAM) and accessories. After they have collected their laptions, we invite students and their parents to our rolling sessions of Mac@WAB 101 in the central amphitheatre:
how they might log into the Internet at home (after all they will have the rest of the weekend exploring);
a rock-around-the dock & some quick Mac OS tips
applications that we tend to use mostly at WAB in the learning process: iPhoto, iMovie, Photobooth, MS Word/Excel, Keynote and Evernote
backing up and restoring with time machine
WAB essential online services for students such as my.wab.edu, Powerschool, email and Moodle.
After 45 minutes and a few Q&A, we send the families on their way home – and remind our parents that if they want their child to sleep that night to take the power cable away at least 5 hours* before sleep time!!
*about the time that the Macbook Pro battery lasts depending on usage!
New Student Login Names
This year we changed all our student usernames and passwords in the Middle and High school (except for our Grade 12) to a more logical system that had the least number of duplicates. So now all students have login names that start with the year they graduate, their preferred (nick) name, and the initial of their last name. So my son, now a High Schooler is 15harryb. I do hope that does graduate in 2015!
We are now in 3rd official year of Moodle – we have been running Moodle for a lot longer on a less formal basis, but for the last 2 years and now for the 3rd year, all MS and HS classes have an associated Moodle course. We are still on 1.9 version as there is no easy way to easily convert to Moodle 2.0 at this point – maybe next year. We work with each teacher to build the course that they want: new or copied from previous years, topic or week-by-week format, use groups if the teacher has more than one class with same course and so on. We are also having more and more Shared Resources courses – meaning that any courses that are taught by number of teachers are linked to a shared course where all resources common to the course are stored. This prevents duplication of resources in many courses and prevents documents/resources getting outdated by maintaining common resources in one place. This Shared Resources course also becomes a single point for resources and links to be uploaded by our librarian. Each Shared Resources course is assigned one of the teacher that teach the course to manage that course although any teacher with an associated course has automatic editing rights. Students enrol in their class course and again, get automatic enrolment to the shared resource. This is the meta-course option in Moodle.
The Training Begins…
Now that we have two integrators in the High School, we are able to ramp up the training for teachers and students. This Wednesday we have Grade 9 Orientation day where much of the day will involve technology training and upskilling – although at this stage I am not sure if it’ll be the teachers upskilling the students or vice versa. On Thursday and Friday, we will have drop-in sessions for teachers to help get started or tweek their Moodle courses and next week our more structured Moodle 101 & Mac 101 courses will start for the newbies and the teachers who would like refresher courses. And then there are the Interactive White Boards…hmmmm
Apple recently had request from a customer who wanted to visit a school that had been using iPads for more than a year. Of course it was not possible – as the iPad only came out 12 months ago!
Remember Learning 2.010 last September? Schools were beginning to purchasing the odd one or two to explore. We envied our colleagues who bought along their new toy! Fast forward to this September…I wonder how many schools coming to Learning 2.011 have now purchased class sets and can’t live without them? I wonder how many cohorts will look at iPads and mobile devices? I wonder how many workshops will explore iPads and apps? And most important of all, how many participants will turn up with their brand-spanking new iPad2?
So here is our challenge with Learning 2.011. How can we put on a conference that is relevant, flexible, adaptable and responsive to the needs of the participants?
What we think we know is this – that over 400 educators will attend the conference.
What we don’t know as yet is who these 400 participants are and what they want to learn more about.
So here is our game plan for building Learning 2.011:
On sign up we ask participants to select a cohort (in fact we ask participants to choose up to 3) and the grade levels that they are interested in.
On June 1, we hope that most participants will have taken advantage of our early-bird registration fee so that we can work out which cohorts are viable, which are not and which can be divided up into upper, lower and even grade level groupings. Then we look at our pool of cohort leaders and match up the leaders to the cohorts.
So what about the cohort leaders? We have a small group of cohort leaders mostly from outside the region booked and confirmed – inspirational educators who are in high demand in their home countries. Then, mostly from within our region, we have a wonderful group of highly-respected, extremely-experienced, talented and exceptional leaders, all of whom have been nominated by their peers, who have accepted our invitation on the understanding that we can match them to a cohort.
Workshops and Presentations
But that is not all – the cohort model is only one feature of the conference. In addition we will be running presentations, workshops and mini-keynotes. Again, we have to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the participants. We have surveyed individuals in schools to find out what they want to learn and we have asked participants to share the learning that is happening in their schools by offering workshops and presentations.
And then we have the ‘unconference’ session – an empowering, just-in-time ‘tool’. It allows for us to be curious and spontaneous in our thirst for knowledge. It enables us to seek out others to share and discuss learning.
So what do I ask of you?
Please join us for Learning 2.011 and help us build the best conference by registering by June 1 so that we can create the best experience for you and your colleagues. And why not submit a presentation or workshop idea and engage more deeply in the conference by sharing your experiences?
Once again, please note that Learning 2.011 is organised by educators for educators. The organising committee is a volunteer group of dedicated educators from international schools in Shanghai and Beijing.
If you have any questions, feedback or suggestions that will contribute to the success of the conference, please email me or one of the committee members such as: Chris McAnally – SCIS (chair), myself (vice-chair), Melinda Alford & Mike Boll (Concordia).
Learning 2.011 runs from Thursday evening September 8th until Saturday evening September 10th and will be held at Shanghai Community International School’s Pudong Upper School Campus (SCIS).
I have just been at the ADE Asia Insitute in HCMC and I feel that I have arrived back at home with the bends; I am giddy with exhaustion and need days in a decompression chamber to unravel and process the incredibly rich and intense experiences of the last seven days. I am going to take Pav’s advice and post this reflection because as the day goes on I see that I need some closure so that I can tackle the mountain of work that awaits me.
WAB’s Mission Statement is Connect, Inspire, Challenge and Make a Difference and for me, that really sums up the ADE Institute.
Connect – So many rich conversations with a diverse range of 68 awesome educators (60 new ADEs plus the other 8 Advisory Board members). The connections, in the words of Karen Carpenter have ‘only just begun….’
Inspire – Words cannot describe how many times I was inspired – from each and every double-click video to the amazing thought processes and actions. I think that the Saigon 360 nailed it for me.
Challenge – My personal challenge was to appear ‘worthy’ of my place on the advisory board in addition to the those 3 letters: ADE. It was a humbling experience. My game plan is, as ever, to mask inadequacies with humour – if you don’t have anything profound to share, at least make a stab at humour.
….and because of that…I hope Imade a difference
Some initial take-aways
Never turn away from criticism – look at it straight in the eye, learn and grow
I’m not the only one that processes by talking it through – but I also need quiet time to reflect and a good 30 minutes in the pool each morning helped
Listen, listen and listen
Diversity is a wonderful thing
And on a more practical level:
prepare cover lessons for the first 3 days back in school (so brain-drained that you can act like a cover teacher and read out the instructions)
have a trusted advisor to prep you for any meetings 10 minutes before the meeting and also prompt you in meetings by ichatting you your notes, links and other resources
remember that not everyone in the building wants to share your experiences – a quick ‘it was awesome’ is better than a blow-by-blow, minute-by-minute account.
Yesterday I was chatting with Andrew Churches (Edorgami) on Skype and he sent me this link to the Lynx marketing gimmick which uses augmented reality (AR). AR is the ability place computer-generated graphics in the field of vision of the viewer. The gimmick is a marketing strategy for Lynx set in London’s Victoria Station and targeted at the male commuters who pass through the busy station concourse. On the ground is a large black Lynx Excite box directing the commuters to look up. So, what do they see? A ‘sexy’ Lynx angel descending down to greet them and captured live on the huge screen on the station concourse.
Our (inevitable) question was ‘Wow! How did they do that?’ Here is a slightly edited version of our Skype conversation:
Andrew: ‘A vactor (Virtual Actor) is my guess plus the green screen to get the composite picture’
This turns to a discussion on who the actor is:
Me: She is a famous UK WAG – Kelly Brook Being British, I know that one of the fallen angels is in fact Kelly Brook – who I recall is quite a famous model and possibly a WAG. Good old Wikipedia describes WAGs as ‘as an acronym, used particularly by the British tabloid press, to describe the wives and girlfriends of high-profile football players’
Andrew: OK… is she a vactor of a wag or a real wag…for that matter does she bark and wag
Me: So, if she is a vactor, she has been ‘animated’ and made into an avatar (like in Second Life) and is controlled by the dude on the computer that we see in the video
it’s a merge of two live feeds on the screen. My guess is the second one!
A: Could well be – would take more than a laptop to run the vactor and I don’t know how good they are in realtime…
I have since researched Kelly Brook and found that she was due to give birth (March 16) about 10 days after the event (March 5). Thanks to Wikipedia (again), I found that the father is her Rugby Union boyfriend (so, Andrew, I was right there about the WAG thing).
As you can see from the images, she certainly did not look heavily pregnant when dropping out of the sky so I concede that Andrew was right and I was wrong! Kelly was not, in fact, acting in real-time and holed up in some studio being a little more interactive than a weather lady on TV which where is it all gushing winds and rain and a bizarre hand-eye coordination thing happening.
So back to how did they do it?
My revised idea: A series of set moves are pre-recorded of Kelly being a fallen angel set in front of a green screen. A laptop is loaded with these ‘set’ moves and the guy on the computer selects the move according to the behaviour of the general public (yes, there are rather ‘racy’ moves…)
Alternatively, like Andrew suggests, Kelly is turned into a vactor, akin to a Second Life avatar but much more life-like, allowing real-time interactions. The avatar is controlled by the guy on the computer.
For me, the final clue, and game breaker for me, was the Macbook Pro sighted in the video. No cables so must have been wireless (hmmmmm)….possibly OK to mix feeds in realtime and transmit wirelessly to screen but I am not sure it is powerful enough to render the lifelike graphics required for a vactor.
So what now? Could this idea be turned into a really coooool ITGS project? That led us to a conversation about ITGS projects being about products and not processes that may not lead to a final ‘product’ – more thought and discussion required here.
However, just thinking about the possibilities for within our school – we have a tricaster system and a big screen on our sports field….what about our WAB Tiger mascot interacting with our players – or multiple mascots?
We have a great dance program – perhaps our dancers could interact with their audience? Even our WAB Elementary tri-weekly TV broadcast could find a great use for AR.
And what about in my own classroom? Perhaps a classroom management tool – I could set up a webcam in my classroom, project the feed onto the whiteboard and appear behind each of my students (simultaneously)….now that would scary!
This post is what I would call my ‘road-to-recovery’ first post! Yes, I have been so busy that I have neglected my blogging. I’m not sure who my audience is – perhaps it is an audience of one – however, if I don’t blog, how will I learn more about blogging?
We are almost done in Grade 12 IB ITGS class and as always I save the worst ’til last. I needed to get Expert Systems taught this week. It’s a topic that I’m flaky on and struggle with.
However, thank goodness for some lucid moments that I had some years ago…
Here’s what happened – my prep time got eaten up with other tasks. I decided that I needed a diagram – something visual – and would then ‘wing it’ – after all, the Grade 12s are so stressed out with their IB internal assessments that I’m not sure how engaged (or awake) they will be anyway. A few (very few) minutes before my class was about to start (or had it started?), I fired up google – yes, accessible that day in Beijing – went to images and then added the terms ‘expert system medical’. And behold – the ‘perfect’ (and somewhat familar) diagram appeared. In my haste I clicked through to the originating website and to my amazement & amusement, I found that not only was it the diagram that I used, there was a complete set of notes to go with it! And the author of the site? Me!
It was plain sailing after that! I think the lesson went well (well, better than expected). So, ‘thank you’ Wikispaces for preserving my space and not deleting it – and thank you ‘Google’ for being so intuitive!
Have you played the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ game? It was a favourite with our IT team when sitting in traffic on our way back from technology get-togethers in Bangkok. To quote Wikipedia:
[It] is a trivia game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and rests on the assumption that any individual can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. The name of the game is a play on the “six degrees of separation” concept.
So what’s this to do with Technology Integration? For an integrator, what is the best use of time to make the biggest impact on student learning? How many degrees of separation from the students is the ideal measure?
If you work directly with the students such as team-teaching or providing in-class technical support, that means that you can only work with one high school class at a time. No degrees of separation but time consuming if you multiply this for each teacher delivering the same course – which at my school could be 6 different teachers for one subject as we have 6 classes per year group. OK – so the students benefit from your expertise but how does this support the teacher for future, dynamic, seamless infusion of technology?
However, if you work with the whole team of teachers and use your time to co-plan, prepare materials, provide training and set up the systems and provide limited in-class support, that means that you are generally one degree of separation from the students as it is the teacher that is the one on the front line and promoting technology in the classroom – and in doing so, that teacher gains experience in using the technology, becomes more confident in using technology in the classroom and, mostly importantly, is to seek out future opportunities in which to use technology in the learning process.
What about 2 degrees of separation? Well, we think of this as any tool that indirectly impacts students learning, for example, training teachers to use their email or set up contact groups to use Powerschool or setting up Turnitin accounts.
3 degrees of separation could be working with Heads of Department or Grade Level Leaders to set up communication systems (for example, a wiki), for planning within their department or grade level. As an integrator, is this too far removed from the students? Would it be better to set up the wiki and then ‘train’ the teachers on how it is used, i.e. go back to to 2 degrees?
Anything more than 3 degrees and you may as well join the Kevin Bacon fan club or visit the Bacon Brothers website!
Ideally, for now, I am trying for the ‘1 degree model‘ – that does mean less direct contact with students but more time to work with teachers and build bespoke resources; however, I balance my time with two classes of my own – IB ITGS – which allows me to sandbox and trial new ideas and addressing the technical and logistical issues before ‘going public’.
Questions to ponder:
How often are you or your integrators closer to Kevin Bacon than your students?
What is the ideal degree of separation?
What is the ideal integration model?
Should integrators have their own classes?
When writing this entry, I stumbled upon SixDegrees.org, which is a charitable initiative of Kevin Bacon. SixDegrees.org is about using this idea to accomplish something good – it’s social networking with a social conscience. It was started with the nonprofit Network for Good in January 2007, more than 10 years after the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” made the rounds of college campuses and lived on to be a shorthand term for the small world phenomenon.
Being an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) has opened a huge number of doors for me: I am part of a great network of educators; ADE’s are enthusiastic and keen to share – I have learned so much. In addition, being an ADE has given me the opportunity to present at the Apple Leadership Conference in Hong Kong and consult for Apple in other schools in Beijing and beyond. I have been fortunate to be asked to be the ADE Asia coordinator for Beijing and now serve on the ADE Asia board. Apple also provides training and networking experiences for ADE’s, at the local level, for example, Apple helped us bring a fabulous photographic storyteller/educator/Aperature expert Joseph Linsachke, over to Beijing. I’ve also been invited along with a few other ADE’s to participate in the Flat Classroom Conference at BISS in February.
Since becoming an ADE, my personal learning network has expanded to the point where I was invited to be a cohort leader at Shanghai Learning 2.010 and I am now on the organising committee for Learning 2.011, as the co chair. The Beijing Learning Summit (BLS) 2009 was an initiative of 5 ADE’s with more coming on board for BLS 2010.
In a nutshell, being an ADE means that you can tap into a great pool of talent and get great people to present and attend conferences as well as spend online time with like-mined peers who are willing to share, coach, mentor and don’t mind having those ‘geeky’ conversations!
The Asia ADE Institute 2011 will be held in Bali, Indonesia. It is a 4-and-a-half-day residential Institute and begins the evening of Friday April 8 and ends on the night of Tuesday April 12. Some key dates are:
Application Deadline: 31 Jan 2011
Committee Selection: 1 Feb –19 Feb 2011
Acceptance Announcement: 21 Feb 2011
Can you help? Are you an expert in one of the following or know one?
My current grade 12 IB ITGS students at the Western Academy of Beijing need ‘experts’ to interview online or via email for their portfolio extension. They are 17-18 years old and have been (individually) investigating issues arising from the use of IT. Each student has produced a portfolio paper on their topic which is based on secondary research and now need to interview an ‘expert’ for further opinions for their extension. (The experts must be over the age of 18 and have first-hand experience of the topic.) Please, please would you think about your contacts and let me know if you are able to help? We are aiming to get these interviews done in the next couple of weeks (by Dec 17) – if possible! You can email me directly (email@example.com) or leave a comment here.
Here is the list of what we need (in the words of the individual students):
Topic: The effect of SMS on language of high school students Issue: The degradation of written language
Who you want to interview: a high school English teacher where the primary teaching language is English, a linguistic expert on spoken and written English.
Topic: Biometric Identification System in schools Issue: Privacy issue
Who you want to interview: The organiser of the biometric system in a school. Principal of school which has the biometric system.
Topic: The use of remote Webcam technology to spy on kids Issue: Privacy
Interviewers: A LANrev employee, and someone who opposes to use of technology to spy on kids
Topic: Health issues arising from the use of eBay to purchase medicine Issue: Health
1. Manager or better working for an online auction/shopping website that allows medicine/drugs-shopping
2. Medic/Doctor/GP who knows auction/shopping websites
Topic: E-book piracy Issue: The impact that E-book piracy is having on the publishing industry
People that I want to interview:
– Someone working in the publishing industry that is being affected by E-book piracy.
– An E-book pirate or uploader.
Topic: Google Earth Privacy issue Issue: Privacy invasion ranging from personal to country
Who you want to interview: I have a secondary interviewee but I need the actual government person who might be censoring Google Earth or any kind of official people who might be doing this job in an organization censoring Google Earth for some reason.
Topic: A “iPhone Program” implemented in UK schools for students to rate teachers Issue: Students abuse this power and teachers feel they have become slaves to student’s needs rather than how they should be doing their own method to teach.
Who you want to interview: An expert who knows a lot about how schools use technology to rate teachers.
The Beijing Learning Summit 2010 certainly delivered what was offered: ‘authentic, just-in-time PD that is both effective and affordable.’ We had over thirty presenters from eight different schools – the vast majority were classroom teachers who came to share ideas on how to enhance the teaching and learning in the classroom, and beyond, through the effective use of technology. We were joined by a diverse range of educators: over 170 participants from over 20 local and international educational institutions from Beijing, Tianjin, Nanjing, Shanghai and Bangkok, Thailand.
Our theme this year was ‘Ideas for tomorrow, tools for today‘ which was explored by our two
keynote speakers, both of which are parents of WAB students: John Ball from Microsoft and WAB board member, Ian Stewart. John presented a number of exciting future technologies such as the way we will communicate and interact and with technology through developments in avatar technology. His suggested that the student’s ability to succeed and excel will directly correspond to the skills and knowledge acquired whilst they are obtaining their education. Ian’s provocative ‘TEDtalk-type’ close challenged the relevance and purpose of today’s curriculum: to what extent are we preparing our students for tomorrow’s world?
The lunchtime student panel was insightful. For me, a HS integrator, this Q&A session was an anecdotal measure of the extent to which technology is an integral part of their learning. The panel comprised a handful of articulate and engaging grade 11 and 12 students; students who will graduate from WAB with a ticket to the next step in their journey. Some students believed that technology limited their capacity to retain knowledge and preferred to use more traditional ‘pen and paper’ tools for
note-taking and writing essays. It became clear to me that until the tools for assessment catch up with technological advances, (for example, the majority of these students will hand-write their exit examinations), we have a challenge on our hands trying to finding the right balance in the use of technology. I cannot help but wonder if we are effectively employing or applying the tools we currently have in order to enhance the learning of these students? And in the longer term, does and should the curriculum address the opportunities that are presented by the technological developments as described by John and Ian? Is it the curriculum itself or the delivery of the curriculum that may hinder our students’ digital development and hence limit their future prospects? Is the tension increasing between curriculum and technological advances? Can I detect an emerging digital divide? And if so, what as an educators are we doing to bridge this gap?
This summit certainly helped narrow this gap for me and I hope for many of the participants. Although it will take time to synthesize and make sense of the big ideas in order to effect change for the long term, I took away a huge number of diverse, practical and ‘just-in-time’ tools and ideas that I can use now in my teaching. One idea learned in the morning solved my problem of simultaneous voice recording; how to get a clear narration with 20 students in a small room all trying to do record their ‘sound bytes’ on individual laptops? Who would have thought that a paper cup with a tiny hole in it’s base placed over microphone would make such a difference?
So thank you to the 170 busy front-line educators who came together on a busy weekend to learn and share and continue the conversations. Although exhausted – I am looking forward to Beijing Learning Summit 2011. Who wants to join me?
The first Beijing Learning Summit (2009) was a grass-roots initiative led by five Apple Distinguished
Educators (ADE): Rob Cormack (ISB), Jeff Plaman and Thomas Galvez (formally ISB), Sheldon Bradshaw (WAB) and myself. This year, the core team (Rob, Sheldon and Madeleine) were were joined by Julie Lindsay (BISS) and Jeff Holte, Beth Gourley, Tom Adamick and Muhammed Azeem (all from WAB) along with major contributions from the ADE network in Beijing. This summit could not have happened without the support of the school representatives, the student geek force and discussion panel, the WAB student Fan Club (who provided hot cookies straight from the oven throughout the day), along with the sponsors to keep the costs down, Bitepita (for lunch) and Fish (beverages) the large number of behind-the-scenes staff, and the overall support of WAB.