Design Thinking: Innovation is a Team Sport

The recent #beyondlaptops mini-conference at Yokohama International School was #beyondexpectations. I learned so much, yet still have so much to learn.

PICNIC10 Paul Pangaro IIMy first share is the session “How Can We Solve Our Own Challenges”, an introduction to Design Thinking based on the work from the Institute of Design at Stanford. This session was excellently facilitated by Heather Dowd and Patrick Green (THE #knockemdead tech coaching team from SAS). I love hands-on workshops where the participants are fully engaged and this was one of those. Our challenge was to design something useful and meaningful for our partner in less than 60 minutes!  Here’s an outline of the stages of the challenge that we covered and some commentary my additional research, mostly gleaned from the d.school’s Virtual Crash Course resource page:

EMPATHIZE: We started off with interviewing our partner (4 mins each). It was important to gain empathy so so then dug deeper for stories, feelings and emotions. We needed to ask ‘why?’ (another 4 minutes each).

DEFINE: In three minutes, we needed to reframe the problem. Firstly by capturing our findings into ‘needs’  and a few ‘insights’ that we found of interest that we may use to leverage when creating solutions (in 3 mins). Then we moved onto defining the problem in a statement that is ‘juicy and actionable’: {name} needs a way to {user’s need}. Unexpectedly in his/her world, {insight}

IDEATE: Step one was to ‘sketch to ideate’ which meant generating, not evaluating, a number of radical ways to meet our user’s needs. This meant going for volume in a few minutes. Step two was to share our solutions and capture the feedback from our partner. We needed to listen to our partner and resist the urge to defend our ideas. The point was not to seek validation but to use this as an opportunity to remember that this was about building empathy (about 4 minutes each).

PROTOTYPE: Taking this valuable feedback, we incorporated what we have learned about our user and some of our suggested solutions, looking for areas where we hit ‘pay dirt’ and also where some of our ideas  ’tanked’. We needed to take the understanding and pull it into one single solution (3 mins). In a longer sessions, to build a prototype (in 6 or so minutes) we would have created a 3D model using whatever resources available such as lego, tape, paper, card, glue and other small items.

TEST: Finally, in 4 minutes, not as a salesmen but as an anthropologists, we needed to share and get feedback (what worked, what could be improved, questions and ideas). The idea of the 3D model would be that our partner could touch and feel the idea/solution that we were trying to communicate.
On completion of this challenge, it’s important to reflect on what we just did and why. The challenge was a quick exposure to the process where we focused on our user and their needs. However, the goal was to focus on ourselves as innovators and what we learned from the experience.
  • How did engaging & working feel like with a real person?
  • How did we feel about testing ideas with a real person?
  • How was the pace – the iterative, quick process?
  • What would we do next if we had to do it all over again?
  • What stages would we revisit?
  • How did (would) we feel about giving our ‘client’ unfinished solutions (prototypes)?
  • What did we learn from listening carefully to our ‘client’?
Overall we gained a sense of the attitudes required for this process:  prototyping,  understanding our client’s needs and being collaborative.

  “Innovation is a team sport”. George Kembel, cofounder and executive director of d.school

Rachella, my partner-in-crime and colleague, came up with a solution for my problem which was how I could share my learning from this conference (and continue to reflect and continue to learn). The solution was to use this blog to create a series of posts and then to share the links by email and other means to targeted audiences. Let’s see if it works!

The slides that Heather shared with us are here and lots of projects can be found here. For an overview of #beyondlaptops, please read Kim Cofino‘s post here.

How does this apply to me & my students?

I will certainly use this process with my IBDP ITGS students for their Internal Assessment which is a real-life solution to a real-life problem with a real-life client. This process closely mirrors the Design Cycle that we use in MYP Design and as a basis for the MYP Personal Project and therefore Rachella and I are planning to facilitate this challenge-based workshop with our colleagues to generate discussions on how we can use this process with our students. More on that soon – I hope!

Why Do I Examine?

I’ve been teaching the IBDP Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) for almost 15 years and have been examining for well over a decade, probably more.

Students will be writing exams in for foreseeable future
Students will be writing exams in for foreseeable future

So, why do I examine?

Yes, it’s great professional development

I am now a team leader for one of the papers and therefore get to be part of the online standardisation meeting and really get to grips with the paper. Then there is the mentoring role for the examiners in my team where you set up online group team meetings to go through the paper, answer questions and guide the team. During exam time, you are ‘on call 24/7’ to advise, discuss, coach, mentor, encourage… It’s a great collaborative effort and you feel very much part of the overall ITGS team.

Do I do it for the money?

Absolutely not! Like teaching, I don’t think that any of us are in it for the money!

Bottom line: I do it for my students

It’s mock exam week and I am now marking my students’ papers. Being so familiar with the workings of a paper has really paid off as students have risen above the common pitfalls, interpreted the questions correctly and have structured their answers to maximise their marks. OK, maybe we need to work on their content, but their exam technique is really coming along nicely.

What do I really think about exams?

Ideally I would love to see the demise of the high-stakes terminal examinations (and I could write a whole Extended Essay on the reasons why) but the reality is this: if you are an IB DP humanities teacher, your students will be writing their exams, by hand, in your school gym each May (or November) for the foreseeable future. So the best I can do for my students is to ensure that they are fully prepared for those exams and if that means teaching them how to play the ‘exam game’, then so be it.

Oh, and one more thing, if you are in a 1:1 school like I am, you may also want to give them handwriting practice…and ‘gift’ them a black pilot pen or two!

MYP ITGS Social Media Class: Blog Post Example about Flickr

My Grade 10 ITGS Social Media are looking Flickr as a way to report the news. They have compare and constrast two images posted to Flickr of the same news story: one from a professional agency/photographer and one from a ‘citizen’. Below is the assignment in full and my attempt (if I can’t do it, how can I expect my students to do it?).

Flickr Assignment

Go to flickr and find at two images from a recent news story. Try to find images that are similar: for example both images are of Nadal at the Mens Final Australian Open last night, or two images showing the Costa Concordia ship on it’s side.  Please try to find:

  • 1 posted by a ‘professional photographer’ with all rights reserved (copyright)
  • 1 posted by a ‘citizen’ and few rights reserved.

Compare and contrast the following information:

  1. The title and caption of image (and accuracy)
  2. Are there any links or extended information about the image?
  3. Tags (for searching)
  4. Copyright/creative commons licence,
  5. Quality of image (can you access in all sizes, is it a professionally taken image or just a snapshot – clue, look at the camera that it was taken on as this information is often given),
  6. Date published
  7. What can you find out about each of the photographers (look at their photostream)?
  8. Is each image part of a series of images?

For each image, explain WHY you think the image has been uploaded?

My Attempt: Djokovic loses the Australian Open

Image 1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/syd/6786158479/

And it goes to #Djokovic. Over 5 hours. #tennis #australianopen #australia #espn
Image 2: Not-so professional image

Image 2: http://www.flickr.com/photos/syd/6786155701/

Title and Caption: Tennis 2012 – Australian Open – Men’s Final Novak Djokovic (SRB) celebrates after winning the men’s finals match on day 14 of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Australia.Rafael Nadal (ESP) and Novak Djokovic (SRB) pose for pictures with their trophies at the men’s finals match on day 14 of the 2012 Australian Open at Melbourne Park, Australia.

Title  only: And it goes to #Djokovic. Over 5 hours. #tennis #australianopen #australia #espn

The first image has a full title and caption which give clear information about the image whereas the second image just uses keywords/tags with the # to denote a tag. The first image has a comprehensive set of tags posted on the right of the image including Australia Open 2012, Day 14, Djokovic whereas the second images uses tags such as normal, square which do not give any information about the tennis.

The first image has all rights reserved and there is contact information about the image should you want to use it. In addition there is a watermark on the image (South Creek Global Media). The second image has only some rights reserved: you can share, remix, attribute but not use for commerical purposes. That’s why I can add the second image.

Tennis 2012 - Australian Open - Men's Final
Image 1: Professional Image

Both images were taken at the same time (at this was as Djokovic won). The quality of the first image is excellent compared with the second image. The first image was taken on a Nikon D3S com whereas the second image was taken off a television screen – the person wasn’t even at the event!

Andy King is the photographer of the second image. Looking at his photostream, it appears that he just posts images of things/events that he is interested in. His profie says that he is a student from the USA. The first photographer is Sydney Low and looking at his photos and profile, we see that he is a professional photographer from Australia. Sydney has a whole set of images from the event whereas Andy just posted two images both taken from the TV.

I think that Andy posted his image because he is a tennis fan and wanted to capture the moment even though it was off the TV whereas Sydney is using Flickr to advertise his images and his photography business.

Students: Your turn now!

 

Looking for a way to electronically mark students’ work?

…Or are you looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues?
Crocodoc - web-based annotation tool

Over the last week, I’ve been using crocodoc.com with my IB examining colleagues in order to discuss samples of students work. I can certainly see many benefits for us in the High School.

Crocodoc is a very easy way to annotate and mark student’s work that is in PDF, word document for or even images. You create an account and upload files which you can then share with students and colleagues. Anyone you share with can add comments, highlight areas and make annotations.

And a note about the upcoming mock exams…

Now that we are coming to the examination season, our Grade 12 IB Diploma students are required to ‘hand-write’ their papers which means that there is one hard copy of the student’s work. That’s fine as you can physically mark and comment on the paper and give feedback to the individual student. However, why not consider scanning, uploading and annotating electronically one or two high-scoring papers to Crocodoc to share with your students to provide and discuss the marking and allow all students the benefit of the feedback as well as providing good model answers? An added benefit is that you have an online record of the annotated work that you may want to share with other students or colleagues for moderation purposes in the future.

To get started and try out Crocodocs, go here.

Example of editing student work

Crocodocs is FREE and currently available here in China….so get started and see how you go!

Dreaming of Fallen Angels

A Fallen Angel
The Busy Concourse at London's Victoria Station

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’

Very lifelike - so how did they do it?

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

Interacting with the Fallen Angel

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

OR

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).

Bizarre hand-eye coordination required

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.

MacBook Pro - but what software?

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.

Ouch...did that hurt?

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!

For more about the Lynx Angels click here.

The ‘6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ Integration Model

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.

You can play the game here www.thekevinbacongame.com or oracleofbacon.org

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?

0 degrees

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?

1 degree

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.

Six Degrees of the Bacon Brothers (from Flickr by Peter Roome)

2 degrees

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

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?

3+ 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.

Seeking ‘experts’ for IB ITGS students to interview

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 (madeleine_brookes@wab.edu) 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
Interviewee wanted:
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.

Suspending the ‘micro-moments’ to actually think!

In my classroom today I find that the more students use technology, the poorer their note-taking skills have become. The majority of resources I present to my students are in electronic format. When asked to make notes, I find that the students tend to copy and paste sentences and phrases without little thought for layout and organization. When asked later to recall, students tend to just read from their notes without any deep understanding of what they have jotted down. Technology is not a substitute for thinking and I need to correct this; not only is the thinking time reduced but also the very act of writing the notes has been removed; and most worrying, the problem of plagiarism creeps in.

So how to we ensure that students develop good note-taking skills effectively using laptops?  Luckily for me I get in-class support from the ESOL department from Pat Bradley. I see this as a great partnership; Pat is able to offer a wide range of great strategies and I find ways to implement these in our 21st Century classroom. Here is an outline of a model we used in class with our new set of Grade 11 ITGS students – we were discussing keypads at ATMs:

  1. We tend to use web-based or electronic resources. By viewing the web-page in Safari, or a PDF document in Apple’s Preview, you can right-click on any work and the dictionary definition will appear. A great tool not just for our ESOL learners.

    Right-click in Preview for the dictionary definition
  2. We have students read a section at a time. Some students read ahead giving the others times to read. Once all had read the section, we close, yes – close, our laptops. We suspend those ‘micro-moments’ to actually think!
  3. Using the IWB (or lots of colored whiteboard pens) we brainstorm the key words and main ideas of each section. As our class is about the use of Information Technology, we tend to discuss technical terms, and this allows students to to add their own information so that the key points are expanded and become more detailed as well as give the students a sense of ownership.

    Brain storming on the IWB - keypads at ATMs
  4. Students then discuss the key points in small groups; this is very important for ESOL students as it helps with fluency and prevents regurgitation of meaningless set of words and phrases.
  5. Finally, students open their laptops, fire up Evernote and type up their notes using the prompts on the board.

Points to ponder:

  • What technology tools do you use to help students in note-taking?
  • Do you think that technology erodes thinking time?

The ITGS cyber-class is here

I have been teaching the IB diploma Information Technology in a Global Society (ITGS) course for almost ten years now. It is probably one of the most demanding IB diploma courses in terms of lesson preparation and delivery as technology moves so fast giving rise to new ethical issues and social challenges. Each year the range of online resources and tools become more powerful and sophisticated and I rarely delivery the same lesson twice. For example, this year the ethical discussions focus more on the pirating of eBooks, the introduction of the newspaper pay-wall to ensure high-quality news and the controversial airport security weapon – the body scanner. These replace the ‘so-last year’ issues of music piracy, gaming addiction, the wonders of citizen journalism and biometric information embedded in RFID chips in passports. In our ITGS classes, we are constantly connecting to new tools and resources to extend our learning and this year we are taking the next step by connecting with other ITGS students.  I will working alongside my friend and colleague, Julie Lindsay from BISS, as  we team up our two Grade 11 classes. Our intention is to work together to develop and co-deliver the course, have our students communicate and collaborate with each other, encourage participation from ITGS schools around the world, as well as documenting our journey along the way.  Our journey has begun! It is a journey that will explore the challenges of learning in the 21st century.  Our vision is for our students will become ‘connected learners’; students who can seamlessly move between our physical classrooms and our evolving ITGS cyber-school and beyond.

If you would like to learn more about our ITGS cyber-class, please visit:

insideITGS.net – our blog that aims to document our journey
insideITGS.ning – our global network that allows classrooms to connect, communicate and collaborate
insideITGS.wikispaces.com – our wiki of resources that we will build on the way

In her latest post in our blog, Julie writes:

“The Challenge with Connecting is finding the right tools to facilitate efficient connections AND adopting behaviors for connected learning. Participants in online learning communities need to realize that the learning and therefore the connecting does not stop once the face-to-face class has ended.”

Some questions to ponder:

  • Are your students ‘connected learners’?
  • What online learning communities do you participate in?
  • How connected are you for learning?