We are now in Cycle 3 of our Collaborative Action Research iPad trials in the High School here at WAB. We are exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. Our research question is: In which areas is an iPad a better learning tool than the MacBook Pro?
In May 2013 we completed the analysis of Cycle 2 of our Action Research iPad project. We found that:
For a school that is already 1:1 MBP, the iPad does not outperform the computers in most areas. As one teacher put it, “MacBooks are the real workhorse,” and the student data reinforces that, with over half of students either unsure or disagreeing that iPads are an effective learning tool.
The areas where the iPad outperformed the MBP were in areas where the iPad was used at the redefinition level of the SAMR model. The iPad allowed for the creation of new tasks, which were previously inconceivable, even on the MBP such as using Coaches Eye and NearPod.
While we initially believed institutional ownership of the iPads would not be viable, given the iPads individualized nature, if only used for specific, transformative tasks, iPad carts seem a more reasonable way to go, rather than implementing 2:1 policy for 2013-14.
By far our biggest surprise lay in the power of the action research process to create a community of empowered learners. Almost without fail, when surveyed as to the highlight of this project, for them, teachers replied, “Sharing ideas,” “It was interesting to see how different teachers utilized the iPads in their classroom,” and “Teachers from different departments work together, share ideas, and inspire each other. You can think out of box that iPads can be used in different ways in different subjects.”
Thus, we feel the need for another cycle, exploring how to use the iPad for transformative learning. We started in December 2013 and will publish our findings in May 2014. The course is available through iTunes U and is based on the course we developed for Cycle 2 with considerable revision.
The WAB team (comprising newbie Jeri Hurd, alumni Ray Gentleman and me) has just got back from the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Institute in Bali. The Institute welcomed over 230 new ADEs from across the Asia-Pacfic region with representation from afar as New Zealand to Japan, Korea, Indonesia and Greater China (Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing). The application process and the competition was fierce and Team Greater China welcomed our very own WABbie, Jeri Hurd (HS Librarian) into the ADE community. As usual it was an action-packed, high-energy, intense and rewarding experience.
Here’s one of our professional highlights:
There’s a lot of buzz going on about action research in the Apple communities and more so about the iPad. Jeri (Hurd) and I were asked to showcase the action research journey we have embarked on in our high school in order to find out how the iPad transforms learning in the classroom.
In a ten-minute ‘TED’ style talk, we used the WAB mission statement ‘Connect, Inspire, Challenge: Make a Difference’ to ground our story which we segmented as follows:
a simplified version of our action research model;
our first action research project which resulted in the fabulous collaborative multi-touch book written by 27 MYP Grade 10 history students entitled ‘World War Two: Illustrated Histories’
where we are now: working with twelve plus HS faculty to scale the action research project across various curriculum areas
I have been to a number of Apple events and I know the high standards expected. We were hand-picked for one of the twelve showcase spots to get up in front of our peers and inspire; the pressure was certainly on and we spent countless hours and sleepless nights putting it together to ensure that we told the story in a simple way while also doing justice to the work that had been put in by our colleagues and students – after all, it was their work that put us up on the stage.
Of course, no talk would be complete without some technical issue and the recovery the ensues. To our peers, this was the unintentional highlight in that we celebrated every teachers’ nightmare. Note to self: never rely on the network in a live demonstration on an iPad when you are sharing the network with over 1000 devices!
The keynote slide deck (ActionResearchSmall.mov) was amazing thanks to Ray Gentleman (MS Design) who was our support and champion throughout. The impact of great graphics in presentations must never be underestimated and there’s a lot of respect and acknowledgement for Ray’s design expertise in both the ADE and Learning 2.0 communities.
Now the eyes of the ADE community are on us to see what we find out and how our iPad trials pan out. We are documenting our action research journey in the public WAB iTunes U site. Our iPad course is here. Please visit from time to time to follow our story.
We are beginning to organize a number of short trials in our High School here at the Western Academy of Beijing looking at how iPads could/should/may be used as a powerful learning tool. We are a 1:1 (MBP) school so we have many questions that we are looking to explore: do we become a 2:1 high school, what value does an iPad add in addition to a MBP in our high school curriculum (IB MYP and IB DP), will the iPad replace the MBP, should we have a bank of bookable loaner iPads or is the value-add in the ownership and personalization of the iPad? The questions are endless!
Who else is doing trials? Or has the answer(s)? Or who would like answers and would like to collaborate? What data are you gathering? How are you gathering this data? For example, if we do not use a control group for some of our trials, how should we proceed with our research to find out if the iPad does add value or is it just the once-only novelty of using a new technology. In short, we are looking for help and advice.
On September 26th, 2012, students from Beijing City International School, Dulwich College Beijing, Ren Da Fu Zhong Xishan, and the Western Academy of Beijing met together at the Apple Executive Briefing Center in Beijing to initiate a new one-of-a-kind project, Mac 101. It’s goal was to teach educators in the worldwide community the basics of using Apple products such as the MacBook or the iPad to effectively utilize them in an educational context. And as a team, we aspired to achieve this target through producing a concise and didactic iBook and planning a full session dedicated to training teachers as well as others who need technological assistance.
In addition to some cool features available to Macs, the students were given a brief insight on what its like to be an educator: somebody with massive demands on their time, with little or no inclination to keep in touch with technology, much less spend time learning about it. In response to this, students learnt ways on how to effectively convey why technology is an important aspect of not only daily life, but also education. A short presentation was given detailing how something that is often overlooked, the Reader tool for Safari, could be of significant use in reducing the stress experienced by teachers through making their jobs easier, as well as enhancing the classroom experience. Furthermore, students were briefed on the advantages of Apple products in an educational context; especially iBooks and iBook Author as an interactive learning tool, and, according to Beijing City International School ADE, William Percy, “Going beyond the print metaphor” with iBooks to make the Apple learning experience fully interactive.
At the event’s opening, Melissa Li, the Apple representative leading the event, regarded the Apple Distinguished Educators (ADEs) as well as the students present as participants in a “world leading project”, referring to those gathered as the “crème de la crème” of the international school community, meaning that Apple couldn’t have gotten a more knowledgeable or adept group of technologically minded people working together on this project between diverse schools and cultures. The different groups collaborated on formulating innovative solutions and ideas in the form of brainstorming， promoting a “yes, and” mentality in place of the usual “yes, but”; all of this discussion and exchange truly represented what Apple stands for: innovation, creativity and collaboration.
Students were appointed eight groups from mixed schools, and were taught the fundamental aspects of being an Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE): Ambassadors, Advisors, Advocates, and Authors. As Apple representatives, the group will have to embody these characteristics.
After several sessions brainstorming, students learned of uses of integrated iBooks which may be included into the BCIS curriculum. The presentation showed the features of iBooks Author, as well as the interactivity that could be utilized in classrooms in Beijing and around the world. Other brainstorms also included ways we could introduce apple product to teachers in a comprehensible and easy to understand.
All in all, it was a great and educational time for everybody, a celebration of teamwork, collaboration, and of diversity.
I’ve had time to tweet and tweet and tweet #learning2
I’ve only Skyped/chatted/emailed @mscofino, @samay99, @cdiller & @julielindsay just once or twice today
It’s Monday evening and I am not in a Learning 2.012 online meeting
I’m not wearing a red shirt
My students have reintroduced themselves to me
I actually cooked dinner tonight
I seem to be very, very tired & can only write a short, simple blog post like this one
My personal highlight: my husband (can’t give a FB or twitter handle as guess what, he doesn’t do FB and twitter) returns home from Learning 2.012 on Friday evening and asks me in a matter-of-fact way: “Mads, do you have a blog?” Clearly he never reads my electronic signature, hasn’t noted the annual credit card statements from BlueHost or read anything I have posted in the last two years….clearly I need to blog more and something a little more profound…now that I have time!
We are running a 10 week course for a cohort of 20 teachers from across the school with the aim to strengthen and develop our technology-rich professional learning network at WAB through:
an examination of best-practice technology integration globally & how this relates to current WAB systems & practices
an examination of how mobile technology could impact the classroom (we provide an iPad 2 for each participant to use until the end of the academic year)
developing our understanding of WAB’s proposed transdisciplinary standards and how these can be implemented in a technology-rich environment.
Every two weeks we will have a f2f session for hands-on training, talks from various stakeholders, guest speakers and the inevitable rich discussions. In addition we will be using Moodle for our asynchronous discussions & resources.
I have been looking for resources and readings to help support our course and welcome any suggestions. For our introductory sessions, I am thinking of using these two videos to set the scene:
Above and Beyond: The Story of the 4Cs communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity) which is a short animated film produced by P21 and FableVision.
A Vision of 21st Century Teacher where eighteen classroom teachers “speak out” on the topic of tech integration and 21st Century skills for students.
Questions to ponder:
What professional readings would you recommend for our course?
Which blogs would be good for our teacher to follow?
Would you like to join the conversation and contribute to our course?
…Or are you looking for a way to collaborate with colleagues?
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.
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.